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News That Illustrates for Sunday, July 20th – July 27th

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Canadians Rescue Detroit, Don't Pet the Tigers

The Planet of the Apes and Christian Eschatology
According to an article in Forbes magazine, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes debuted with a muscular $73 million over its debut weekend, displacing Transformers: Age of Extinction from the top slot." Russell Moore wrote a fascinating blog post summarizing and contrasting what the Planet of the Apes films say about the end times. First, there was Charlton Heston in 1968, then there was Mark Wahlberg in the 2001 remake, and then James Franco in 2011. Moore notes that all three movies are making statements about eschatology. But, interestingly, when Moore asked a group of seminary students if their home church had taught them about the end times, almost of them said "not much." Moore concludes: "But eschatology and discipleship in the church is kind of like sex education in the home. Just because you don't talk about sex with your kids doesn't mean they will grow up ignorant of sex. It means they'll hear about sex from somewhere else. Just because you don't preach and teach about the Christian vision of the future, that doesn't mean your church is void of eschatology. It means your church is picking up an eschatology from somewhere else, sometimes from the local Cineplex."

PREACHING ANGLES: End Times; Eschatology; Revelation

Why LeBron Went Home to Cleveland
After keeping social media buzzing for weeks, basketball superstar Lebron James has decided to head to his hometown—Why? He tells Sports Illustrated: "When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn't had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what's most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio … I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown … I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I'm from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there's no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get." You know, athletes can be arrogant, greedy, and lousy role models, but hats off to LeBron James. Would that all Christians were this intent on blessing their city!

PREACHING ANGLES: Church, mission of; Community impact; Ministry; Salt and Light

"Our Water is Their Water," Say Canadians of Struggling Detroit
Amid the city of Detroit's colossal city crisis, a basic need for tens of thousands of residents is in danger. Water. The bankrupt city, looking to close gaps on costs, is shutting off water service to households whose accounts are in arrears—while, some critics accuse—ignoring millions of dollars of corporate accounts that owe utility money to the city. The scale of the issue is huge (the UN has condemned the city's plan as a "violation of human rights"), and the impact on hard-hit families is immense. But the crisis provided an opportunity for the city's neighbors to the north to have a "Good Samaritan" moment. Maude Barlow, chairwoman of the Council of Canadians (a vocal advocate for Detroit), is leading a convoy of clean public water from across the border into the city during the height of the summer heat. While the city works to respond to the immediate needs of its citizens, the gap in service will be—even if only a little—alleviated by neighborly kindness.

PREACHING ANGLES: Good Samaritan; Kindness; Neighbors,

School's Test Results Letter an Example of Affirmation
The traditional school system is quite good at many things. But rarely do students receive formal affirmation for anything other than high test results or an outstanding project. Perhaps that is why a letter sent to students at a British primary school went viral last week. After a hard week of tests, the school's principle wrote a letter to their students. The BBC reports: "It tells pupils the school is 'proud' of them as they have demonstrated a 'huge amount of commitment and tried your best during a tricky week.' But it adds that 'these tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique.' The people who drew up the tests, it says, 'do not know each of you ... the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do.' These people do not know 'you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful, and that you try, every day, to be your very best,' it continues. The letter finishes by telling pupils to 'enjoy your results' but to remember that 'there are many ways of being smart.'" Wow! The power in honest encouragement and affirmation.

PREACHING ANGLES: Affirmation; Encouragement

Please Don't Hug the Tigers, They Might Eat You
According to the Wall Street Journal, guys who use the online dating site Tinder have a particular affinity for taking their picture with tigers, hence the name "tiger selfies." According to the Journal, some users of the site estimated that one in every 10 guys on the site had a tiger picture. Well, the New York legislature doesn't want you putting your life in your hands so you can show everyone you're buddies with tigers. According to one article, "State Rep. Linda Rosenthal … who sponsored a bill that passed this week, pointed to New York's history of tiger attacks—seven over the past 15 years, according to her office—as evidence the ban is in the public's best interest." Ms. Rosenthal said, "There is no safe or humane result when direct contact with wild animals is allowed. The bill bans "hugging, patting, or otherwise touching" tigers at fairs or circuses. "Getting caught doing so will cost you $500—which is still probably less than the hospital bill you could incur from trying to snuggle with a 500-pound jungle cat." God, like tigers, doesn't make a cozy buddy either.

PREACHING ANGLES: God, holiness of

America's Border Crisis and the Road to Jericho
In his July 13th blog post Russell Moore tackles the crisis taking place on America's southern border. Moore writes, "America's southern border is engulfed in a humanitarian crisis, as refugees fleeing violence in central America, many of them unaccompanied children, seek safety." Moore admits that it's a complex issue because border security is a legitimate need. But Moore also argues, "The problem is more akin to the situations we've seen on the African continent, with warlords dealing in human trafficking. These children and families are fleeing a drug war exploding in violence all around them. Moreover, it's the incoherence of the immigration system that fuels the problem, thus empowering the cartels and the traffickers. Immigration reform isn't about making immigration easier. It's about making the system coherent, so that we know who is here lawfully, and who isn't." Moore than reminds us of Jesus Good Samaritan story and concludes, "The gospel doesn't fill in for us on the details on how we can simultaneously balance border security and respect for human life in this case. But the gospel does tell us that our instinct ought to be one of compassion toward those in need, not disgust or anger."

PREACHING ANGLES: Compassion; Good Samaritan; Immigration

Smelling Flatulence Could Be Making You … Healthier?
Researchers at Exeter University in Great Britain have published early research that suggests that those … toots? Farts? Fings? … whatever you call them, may actually be making you healthier. Hydrogen sulfide—a key ingredient in human gas and rotten eggs—seems to fight cancer, stroke, heart disease, and dementia. (Breath deeply here.) I can't imagine a more fitting illustration for St. Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 2:16: "To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume" (NLT). Sometimes, the smell of death can actually help bring life. Even if we think we're dying from it at the time.

PREACHING ANGLES: Body of Christ; Church, mission of; Evangelism; Witnessing

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