All Around the Web – June 5, 2020

AATWAlbert Mohler – The Centers for Disease Control, Coronavirus, and the Importance of Religious Liberty

John Stonestreet – SpaceX, Christianity, and a Worldview Big Enough for the Stars

Chuck Lawless – 8 Relationship Miracles of the Transforming Gospel

Thom Rainer – What Does Summer 2020 Look Like for Children’s Ministries?

Redeeming Productivity – 5 Bad Morning Habits You Should Quit Right Away

TGC – Back to Church: How 5 Congregations Reopened Last Sunday

Military – Last Person to Receive a Civil War Pension Dies at 90

Disrn – Dem prosecutor releases every rioter, looter arrested by St. Louis police without charges

Disrn – “1619 Project” author Nikole Hannah-Jones says “destroying property is not violence”

Disrn – Business owner whose shop was destroyed slams rioters: “You said black lives matter — look what you did to my store”

Disrn – Nashville cop, protester pray together during peaceful rally

Babylon Bee – Governor Cuomo Orders Nursing Homes To Admit Rioters

Babylon Bee – Here’s Our Guide To Being Prepared For Rioting

Babylon Bee – Unity At Last: Klansman And Rich Liberal Activist Join In Celebration As Black Neighborhood Burns Down

Babylon Bee – Nike Releases Commemorative Shoe To Honor Looters

The American Experiment has not Failed, Americans Have

United States - WikipediaFreedom without self-control leads to anarchy. Freedom without faith leads to tyranny. Having surrendered the bedrock of what makes freedom viable, we have chosen both anarchy in our streets and tyranny from our government.

John Adams famously declared “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Therefore, to surrender faith results in the demise of freedom. To surrender the Lordship of the divine is the demise of liberty.

This does not mean Americans do not self-proclaim liberty and freedom. It is to suggest these moral claims are spiritual chains. Without self-control there can be no true liberty. For decades, American culture has regressed into self-righteous tyranny. Call it secularism or woke religion, it is regressive nonetheless.

For the past week, Americans (still locked in their homes due to local, state, and federal pandemic policies) have been raging in the streets over a violent and intolerant act of aggression and murder from a police officer. We should grieve the death of this innocent victim. Was this murder motivated by racism? Does it reflect a broader culture build upon and sustained on racism? Given the violent riots and the broad looting as well as young, white liberals stirring violence that has led to the death of innocent souls (including African-American police officers), that narrative seems oversimplified. This is unchecked depravity.

This disease reaches beyond the streets of major American cities. It is fanned by a political elite who seek profit and powered by such violence and a media elite who promote oversimplified narratives. Our entire culture that is sick.

The American experiment has not failed. Despite her countless flaws, America has demonstrated that a nation built on both faith and freedom can not only survive, but thrive. It can be a beacon of hope and liberty for the world. This in no way justifies the many sins and acts of aggression of America, but recognizes that flawed humans under the banner of faith and freedom can make the world a better place.

But freedom without faith is impossible. Without repentance, America will choose a tyranny that tolerates anarchy. In our streets we will live in ancient Israel during the time of Judges (“everyone did what was right in their own eyes”) while our nation will be ruled by tyrants without character.

Americans have failed the American experiment.

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All Around the Web – June 4, 2020

AATWAlbert Mohler – Why Did the ‘Liberal Leaning’ Media Turn Even Further to the Left? An Important Article from the Former President of CBS News

John Stonestreet – Why the Bible is Not a Prop

Thom Rainer – 12 Marks of Bad Church Websites

Gentle Reformation – Civil War. Civil Rights. Civil Love.

Chuck Lawless – 12 Lessons from Missionaries to Guide Us Today

Crossway – How a Familiar Truth Forever Changed Hudson Taylor

Tim Challies – Write Better

Disrn – De Blasio: Large group protests OK but religious services not because of “400 years of American racism”

Disrn – Grant Napear, Sacramento Kings announcer since 1988, fired for tweeting “All lives matter, every single one!”

Babylon Bee – Episcopalians Confused By Strange Book Trump Brought To Church

Babylon Bee – Nation Wishes God Would Send Someone Who Could Unify People Across Races, Classes, Genders, Tribes, Tongues

Babylon Bee – Clever Churchgoers Avoid Arrest By Disguising Themselves As Rioters

Babylon Bee – Powerful: Protesters Spell Out ‘Love’ With Burning Homes And Businesses

All Around the Web – June 3, 2020

AATWAlbert Mohler – The Post-Christian Age and the Gospel of Truth

Kevin DeYoung – A Prayer for Mercy

John Stonestreet – Our World Split Apart and the Hope of Pentecost

Chuck Lawless – 8 Positive Traits I’ve Seen the COVID Crisis Reveal in Pastors

F&T – 3 Things That Stress Pastors Out (But Shouldn’t)

TGC – Crushing Rahab: Does the Old Testament Borrow from Myth?

F&T – What Families in Your Church Need Most as You Regather

Guardian – The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months

Paste Magazine – Peter Jackson’s LOTR Was an Improbable Miracle, and We’re Lucky to Have It

Disrn – George Floyd’s brother pleads for riots to stop: “What are y’all doing? Y’all doing nothing!”

Babylon Bee – Powerful: Protesters Spell Out ‘Love’ With Burning Homes And Businesses

Babylon Bee – WHO Scientists Confirm Coronavirus Only Spreads At Conservative Protests

Babylon Bee – Thousands Of Church Greeters Laid Off

Babylon Bee – Rioters Decline To Sign Colin Kaepernick

“The Two Towers” by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Review

I am not a literary critic and thus to write a review of a trilogy on a blog with belief that you will contribute to the conversation is rather foolish. What can one write or say about the Lord of the Rings trilogy in general or the Two Towers particularly that hasn’t already been said? As a result, what follows are just a few things that crossed my mind. Furthermore, it is now difficult to read and speak of these books without dealing with the movie.

First, of the three movies, the Two Towers film probably takes creative license the most. The climax of the Fellowship of the Ring movie is found in the beginning of the Two Towers book. The scene of Boromier betrayal and death open up the pages of the second book. Beyond that, Peter Jackson and company emphasizes the battle at Helm’s Deep, making it the climax, while Tolkien takes much longer in getting there. Jackson has Eomer on the run, Tolkien is not. And on and on it goes. Someone more qualified than me could give a seemingly endless list of differences between the film and book.

Some of these changes might have been necessary, but it goes to illustrate why when it comes to watching movie versions of books I try to separate the two. No movie is better than the book for various reasons. Furthermore, no movie follows the book perfectly. Thus I have found it best to allow the book be the book and the movie to be the movie. Certainly changes where made by Jackson that are a bit disappointing, but the spirit of the book, for the most part, remains.

Moving on.

One thing that sticks out to me regards Gollum. He is one of the most unique and important characters in literature. What he is remains mysterious. We know that he once was something like a hobbit, but apparently was not one. He is now a strange creature controlled by a thirst to get the ring back and it is that drive that brings him into the story. Gandalf had told Frodo that he suspected that Gollum would play an important role, and when Sam and Frodo break from the Fellowship, they rely heavily on the strange creature.

Regarding Gollum I noticed how he and Sam used the same title when speaking to Frodo but with two very different meanings. Both refer to Frodo as “Master.” Sam uses it in the sense of employment. Sam works for Frodo by keeping his garden in the Shire. His use of “Master” is much more friendly. Sam is not a slave, but a friend. Gollum, on the other hand, is a slave. Since Frodo possesses the ring, the very thing Gollum is enslaved to, the creature is obeys every command of Frodo, that is, until his “loyalty” to Frodo is proven false. His true loyalty is to the ring, leading Frodo and Sam to Mordor is a means to an ends.

This distinction is important especially regarding Christian theology. Jesus is the Master and Lord of all believers and thus we serve Him, but at the same time, Jesus makes it clear that we are His friends. As adopted sons and daughters of the Father, we become joint-heirs with Christ. Thus we do not fear Christ without understanding grace. In this sense, we are more like Sam. Master is a term of endearment, a reminder of who we truly are and who Jesus really is.

Sinners are more like Gollum. Enslaved to false idols who promise joy – the sort of joy Gollum believes he will find in the ring – is the subtle nature of sin. Idols enslave us with the promise of freedom but never gives us that freedom. As a result, when we don’t find joy or contentment we double down. Like Gollum, the unredeemed sinner really is a slave.

More could be said, but as I said, I won’t add much to what has already been said. The “resurrection” of Gandalf is interesting in light of Tolkien’s Christian faith. Wormtongue remains a strange character who serves as a puppet of Sauronman. I love Theoden as a king. Its a great story, but you already knew that. If you haven’t read the book already, do it now!