Last night was the tip-off for the 2013-14 NBA season.  With that being the case, here are my predictions for the year…

Atlantic Divisional Champions
New York Knicks 

Southeast Divisional Champions
Miami Heat

Central Divisional Champions
Chicago Bulls 

Northwest Divisional Champions
OKC Thunder  

Pacific Divisional Champions
LA Clippers   

Southwest Divisional Champions
Houston Rockets  

Eastern Conference Champions
Miami Heat

Western Conference Champions
LA Clippers 

NBA Champions
Miami Heat

Agree or disagree?  



My love (and concern for the future) of Pixar is well-documented.  My family enjoyed a movie night with Monsters University this evening.  With all that considered, here is my updated top ten films produced by that particular animation studio: 

10) Monsters University (2013):  I missed Boo.  This story lacked the emotional appeal of the original.  But fun nonetheless (and the animation was sharp!).  
9) Ratatouille (2007): Rodents just aren’t that lovable  Neither is France. 
8) Toy Story 2 (2002): Great sequel.  But still a sequel.  
7) The Incredibles (2004): One of their most creative concepts. 
6) Cars (2006): Many people do not care much for this work.  But I appreciate the tribute to a time period. 
5) Up (2009): One of the greatest montages on marriage ever witnessed. 
4) Toy Story 3 (2010): Near perfect ending.  Please, keep this as the ending. 
3) Finding Nemo (2004): Another world.  I hope the sequel in 2016 does these characters justice. 
2) Monsters, Inc (2003): One of my personal favorites.  
1) Toy Story (2000): The beginning.  

Do you agree with the films that I left out? How I ranked the ones mentioned? Now we have to wait for two whole years for a new release


Thinking on Ephesians…

I recently received an advanced reader’s copy of Mark Driscoll’s Who Do You Think You Are: Finding Your True Identity in Christ.  What a powerful and practical study of Ephesians. 
My favorite chapter dealt with the subject of appreciation.  The focus was on on when the Bible reads, “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:15-23, ESV).
Driscoll suggests, “Performance is done for the sight and approval of others. Service is done knowing that God is watching and approving whether or not anyone else is. Performance causes us to be enslaved to others’ opinions, unable to say no, and prone to being overworked. Service frees us to do what God wants, thereby saying no as needed. Performance presses us toward perfectionism, where we seek to do everything just right so others will praise us. Service allows us to do our best, knowing that God’s appreciation of us is secure regardless of our performance. Performance causes us to focus on the ‘big’ things and only do what is highly visible or significant. Service allows us to do simple, humble, and menial tasks—the ‘little things’—knowing that the peasant Jewish carpenter we worship equally appreciates them both” (62).  
Though I do not always endorse or embrace Driscoll’s theological conclusions, I can think of very few leaders who embody a fear of the Lord over the fear of man.  Driscoll  does not shy away from difficult topics even when they fly in the face of popular opinion.  He has a high view Scripture – and thus is willing to share the difficult teachings of Christ no matter the cost to himself.  
We must all come to terms with what we are to do and what are to say.  And more importantly, why we are to say them (and to who’s credit?).  We can do the right thing but for all the wrong reasons.
Identity is far less about knowing who we are and discovering what we are meant to do and far more about who our Creator is and what he has already done for us.  
You will enjoy this book.  


Thinking on Ephesians…

All In…

Mark Batterson might just be a modern-day Barnabas.  An encourager in the faith.  You cannot read his books or hear his messages without walking away with a strengthened conviction in the God of the Impossible.

This is the primary reason that I am always excited to read his latest release.  Picking up All In: You Are One Decision Away From A Totally Different Life was no exception.

I appreciate his voice in my life and therefore have read everything that he has published thus far.  In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day dared me redefine what obedience to Christ actually should look like.  The Circle-Maker prompted me to pray while clarifying my call to plant Blue Bridge Church.

He is such a gifted wordsmith and masterful storyteller.  All In is probably his most well-written book.  But the simplicity and uniqueness of Primal is still my all-time favorite.  That being said, and I have expressed this concern before, but I feel as if I have read great portions of this material elsewhere.  I understand the need for Batterson, under a new publisher in Zondervan, to reintroduce himself to a much broader audience.  But I am looking for him to branch out of many of his more comfortable topics and stories.  Will he write something that is far different in experience or approach with his next work?  The problem is that we will have to now wait nearly two more years to find out.

But back to the actual book.  The most challenging chapter had to be the one titled “Crash the Party”.  Batterson quotes “Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [who once] stated, ‘Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is.  Treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become as he can and should be'” (840).

He goes on to say, “The Pharisees reduced this woman [who anointed Jesus’ feet] to a label – sinner.  And we do the same.  We give people political labels, sexual labels, and religious labels.  But in the process, we strip them of their individuality and complexity.  Prejudice is pre-judging.  It’s assuming that bad stories end badly, but Jesus is in the business of turning bad beginnings into happily ever afters . . . Jesus loved, praised, and rewarded one thing: desperation for God that superseded decorum.  Jesus loved spiritual desperadoes” (864).

What a powerful reminder to the church.  To not see people for who they are (or for who we think they are) but instead to approach them as who they are becoming (or at least who they could become) in Christ.  Do we not only want the best for them but actually believe the best for them?

Pick up the book and let me know what you think.

All In…