Friday, July 29, 2011

Cowboys And Aliens (Movie Review)

In a small Arizona cattle town in 1873, an outlaw awakens with no memory of his past and a strange alien device strapped to his wrist. As he struggles to regain his past the town has troubles of its own. The various points of conflict in the ensemble cast would be enough for their own story, but they only make up one half of this flick. When menacing alien forces arrive and begin abducting people, the remnant must overcome their differences to save the ones they love.

So often, genre films forget that characters are the best special effect. But Jon Favreau, who also directed "Iron Man", learned that lesson long ago. The ensemble cast is made up of wonderful actors turning in great performances, resulting in interesting characters and some welcome emotional depth.

Even so, this is a movie about (you guessed it) cowboys and aliens, and it delivers on that promise with gusto. The wild west is dirty and dusty. The sounds of horses, harnesses, gun-belts and leather provide an earthy feel that makes the sci-fi explosions and spaceships all the more wild and unusual. The blend of genres works well because Favreau treats them both seriously. The western aspects are all grit and stubble. And the aliens are slimy and genuinely scary. Despite the title, this movie is anything but a B-movie or spoof.

I would have loved to see just a little more money thrown at this flick to provide some truly unforgettable visuals, and some more creativity in the way it was shot would have taken the quality over the top. But these are such minor complaints about a truly great movie.

There are some interesting spiritual beats in the first third of the film that those sensitive to spiritual themes will pick out easily. The aliens are thought to be biblical demons of some kind and a sympathetic "town preacher" played by Clancy Brown offers up some memorable "spiritual slogans" worth noting.

The first is that "whether you go to heaven or hell isn't God's plan. It's YOUR plan." The second is "you have to earn God's presence, then recognize it and act on it." The third is "God doesn't care about who you were. He cares about who you are." What strikes me about each of these "slogans" is that they can be interpreted in a way that reflects biblical truth, and yet they are so carelessly worded that they could also be interpreted in ways very counter to biblical truth.

The first slogan is true in that is a choice left to us, but false in suggesting that these choices are not still part of God's plan. The second slogan is true in the sense that God will "draw near" to us if we draw near to him(James 4:8) but false in potentially suggesting that the permanent presence of God (through the Holy Spirit) in us is something we must "earn". The third slogan is true in the sense that God puts the sins of those who trust in him behind them(Romans 8:1), but false in suggesting that God doesn't care about our past. If God literally did not care about anyone's past, the sacrifice of Christ would be pointless.

This is a fantastic flick worth almost anyone's attention for the unique blending of two genre's and wonderful characters. It has a few points worth talking about, but that are also easily forgotten after the first third of the movie.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference.

Quality: 9.0/10

Relevance: 7.0/10

Listen to this review this weekend at!

Website Upkeep

As many of you know, I'm not very tech-savvy. Very ironic given how I spend my days sometimes.

This week I've been taking some time out to adjust point sizes on our website in response to a comment I received that the words were too small to read. I checked and it did, in fact, look like the point size was too small. An unintended side effect of me being the guy who monkeys with and updates the site, instead of somebody who knows what they're doing..

So I've been trying to go for a larger size that isn't too big. During that process I discovered that Lo And Behold there is a "zoom" function in my browser that lets me zoom an entire page or just the text. (I'm not being sarcastic. I really didn't know about this function.) And other people can use this function, too!

When I put the topic up on the forums, someone pointed this out. But I'm guessing there will be plenty of folks who don't know about that browser function. (Not to downplay my computer illiteracy.)

So I'm kinda "feeling my way" to a point size that will be a happy medium. If you'd like to help you can visit our website and let me know what you think of the point size, or any other issues related to functionality. (As far as visual design preferences, you're welcome to include those comments as well, but it won't be in my budget to do anything in that regard for quite awhile.)

Hopefully if you've been running into difficulties or glitches we can get them fixed soon! Thanks!

-Paeter Frandsen

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Vincent" In A TV Commercial!

If you're not connected to our Facebook Page, you're missing out on a great way to stay connected and interact with me and other fans over the latest happenings at Spirit Blade Productions!

And this week, if you visit our wall, you'll see a video of Randy Hesson, the voice of Spirit Blade's "Vincent Craft", in a commercial he filmed for ABC Nissan!

Randy recently won an audition/contest to become the local spokesperson for ABC Nissan and will be filming a series of commercials this year as part of his new role. You'll find the first one on our Wall!

Monday, July 25, 2011

In Search Of Truth, Romans 12:14-17

Paul continues God’s vision for communities of believers, through a series of often unrelated commands and instructions.

“Bless” is a somewhat nebulous term these days, but the Greek word Paul uses in verse 14 specifically means “to speak well of”, and the word used for “curse” means “to wish someone evil or ruin”.

Even when someone, such as a family member, classmate or co-worker, mistreats us, when the opportunity presents itself for us to say something about them, we should choose to dwell on their positive points. There’s nothing wrong with asking God to bring about change in someone’s character. But it’s not our job to talk about the shortcomings of anyone else, even if they’re hostile toward us. It’s also not right for us to wish pain or suffering on anyone else. (v.14) (An alternative mindset is presented near the end of this chapter.)

If the idea of sharing both joy and weeping with others seems odd to us, we probably aren’t experiencing the kind of relationships with believers that God wants us to have. When we are deeply invested in someone’s life, when we have grown to care for them as deeply as God wants us to, we will experience the excitement of their successes and good news as well as the pain and grief of their sadness and suffering. This verse indirectly calls us to build deep and meaningful relationships with other believers. (v.15)

The Greek word for “mind” in verse 16 also contains the idea of affections. Believers should be unified in their thoughts and affections toward each other. Our concern shouldn’t be for our social status among other Christians, or how we are perceived, but for connecting with the left out or those who seem to be avoided by others.

It’s also important, especially I think for those who enjoy studying scripture, that we guard against thinking we’re the “wise” members of the community. Whatever wisdom we have we should humbly share without mentally assigning a “status” to ourselves. (v.16)

The old motto of “two wrongs don’t make a right” is biblically sound and almost mirrored here. Being wronged or neglected by a person (whether family, friend or acquaintance) doesn’t give us license to neglect doing good or quietly get payback somehow.

Although we are ultimately accountable only to God, God requires us to represent him well by doing what is right and honorable all the time, recognizing that the world is watching us. (v.17)

Next- Dealing With Being Wronged

Coffee House Question- What have been some of your barriers to developing deeper relationships with other Christians? How could you try to compensate for those barriers?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Captain America (Movie Review)

I can say that, at least in a limited sense, I'm a Captain America fan. I only have a few issues of the comic from the mainstream Marvel Comics universe, but I've bought about everything I can of his appearances in the Ultimate Marvel Universe. His character is Marvel's analog to DC's Superman (or what Superman USED to be like). Honest, morally conservative, brave and self-sacrificing. In a post-modern world of gritty or insecure "heroes", Captain America is one of the few in comics who actually comes across like a hero in every sense of the word and stands as an example we can aspire to be like.

The movie captures all of these elements wonderfully(as the last Superman movie should have), and for that alone stands out as unique and worthy of attention. But it also has most of the other stuff you enjoy seeing superhero movies for.

Steve Rogers is a scrawny young man who wants badly to enlist in the army, but never passes the physical exam. An opportunity presents itself for him to be part of an experimental "super soldier" program, which ultimately heightens every natural capability he has in dramatic ways, enabling him to fight for the good of others. And to do so better than anybody else!

A major theme of the movie is helping the downtrodden and standing up to "bullies". And as the action plays out there are several moments where it is gratifying to see the weak being defended and rescued. These elements, along with the character of Steve Rogers, provide some emotional weight to key moments in the movie.

The performances are great across the board. Chris Evans moved me with his sincere desire to do good, Hugo Weaving was captivating and menacing as The Red Skull, and some great bits from Tommy Lee Jones as a military supervisor were gold nuggets.

The action is great and explosive. The blending of sci-fi technology with World War 2 is a lot of fun and makes for some of the best visuals and action beats in the movie. Unfortunately, I think that the specific abilities granted to Rogers by the super soldier experiment are not very well defined or given focus. His abilities receive almost no more attention than all the other sci-fi elements in the film, which seems to miss the mark somehow in a superhero flick. In the end, although the action and visuals are great, they lack that "wow factor" that makes for a truly unforgettable experience.

As I said before, the themes of defending the defenseless, heroism and self-sacrifice are very present, and executed well enough that they might lead to worthwhile conversation or comments after the movie. Captain America is not someone who is heroic because he feels obligated by his abilities(Spider-man), because he wants to redeem himself and have purpose(Iron Man) or to deal with his insecurity (X-men). He is heroic because in the most pure and selfless way he sees the state of the world and as a result wants to help others and make the wrong things right. An old stereotype during the Golden Age of comics, but a bold, unique and welcome vision in the world of today.

Although the movie didn't quite reach its full potential, it's a great movie in a long line of great Marvel Comics movies, and also offers inspiration that you can carry out of the theater with you. (But don't leave before the end of the credits!)

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action.

Quality: 9.0/10

Relevance: 7.5/10

Or listen to this review this weekend at-

New Video Featuring "Isaiah"!

Michael E. Bryce, Spirit Blade's "Isaiah", is featured in the new behind the scenes video on our Youtube Channel!

Backwards musicals, vocal fatigue, and my answer to the most commonly asked question during recording sessions!

Check out the video below!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Spirit Blade 3 Script 1/4th Complete?

If I'm going just off of my outline, I'd estimate that I'm about 1/4th of the way through the first draft of Spirit Blade 3. That's a rough estimate because some scenes take more time to write then others and some scenes also end up longer or shorter on the page than I thought they would be.

At this point I've set up the problems that the Liberation has to face, and the issues each character is struggling with, which means that going forward from here, crap will start hitting the fan and the action will really start ramping up!

Although I'm still concerned the script may end up too long, I'm just writing unrestrained at this point and I'll figure out later what I need to whittle down. But I'll be saving the longest version of the script to make available later so you guys can see all that might have been.

At this rate I feel like I'm "on track" to be finished with the first draft in September or October(hopefully sooner!), at which point I'll turn my attention to working on the songs as well as writing the second draft of "Pilgrim's Progress, Episode 2".

That's all I can think to update you on for now. I better get back to it!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, July 18, 2011

In Search Of Truth, Romans 12:9-13

Paul started this chapter urging his readers to offer themselves as living and holy sacrifices to God and to be “transformed” by the “renewing” of their minds. (v.1-2)

He went on to promote unity within the diversity that exists in every local church community. (v.3-8)

Starting in verse 9, he continues to paint a picture of what a community of believers will do when they are living as sacrifices for God and being transformed by the renewing of their minds. We see this in the form of commands and instruction he gives in verses 9-21.

Our love should be more than nice sounding words and phrases. We should love others genuinely and take action appropriate to the love we’re expressing verbally.

The Greek words for “evil” and “good” in verse 9 relate especially to evil and good that effect others, being harmful or helpful.

Have we gotten used to news reports about suffering caused by evil? Is there no frustration or grief inside us when we hear about divided families or tense relationships in our community? If the harm evil does to us and others doesn’t internally disturb us, we need to refresh our perspective and sensitivity toward it.

By contrast, we should connect ourselves to efforts that help others (believers in particular) grow or be encouraged. Utilizing the “gifting” God has equipped us with (such as those described in verses 6-8) is one way to “cling to what is good”. (v.9)

We should be committed to believers in our local community, not allowing ourselves to passively blend into the crowd, but forging supportive relationships with each other. And although its our instinct to look out for ourselves, we should look for every opportunity to give others preferential treatment over ourselves. This can have a multitude of applications, including the people we share a Sunday morning class with and the family members we live with. (v.10)

We should strive to live this way persistently and passionately, avoiding the temptation to meet a “good deed quota” and then relax for a bit. We should have an awareness that this kind of living is not primarily for other people or measured by their perception. This sacrificial living is for Yahweh, the God of the universe, and he is constantly aware of and honored by each invisible sacrifice. (v.11)

Our hope for the future God has promised us should make us excited and cause us to anxiously look forward to eternity with God. The Greek word used for “hope” here isn’t “wishful thinking”. It’s the desire of some good with the expectation of obtaining it. This kind of hope confidently looks forward to what God has promised. It’s not a feeling that we have to psyche ourselves into. It’s the natural outgrowth of “renewing our minds” in pursuit of the truth. It’s this kind of hope that the Holy Spirit uses to bring us through difficult, painful moments or seasons of life.

We should also be devoted to prayer. It’s been said that there is no quicker way to humble a believer than to ask them about their prayer life. Although prayer is a means of expressing our needs and desires to God, it is even more a means of getting on the same page with God.

A read-through of the Psalms reveals that prayer is about expressing our feelings, whatever they are, to God, and about meditating on who God is and what he desires from us. It’s so easy for me to pray when life is going south and neglect prayer when everything is “as it should be”. But prayer is one half of our conversation with God. (The other half being scripture or scripture-consistent experiences of the Holy Spirit.) Like any relationship, we will gain from it the more we invest in it. And prayer is our means of investing. (v.12)

We should readily share or give what we have to help the needs of Christians in our community. Many churches have ministries designed to stay aware of and care for needs in their congregations. This would be one way in which your financial giving to your church makes a real, tangible impact on others, as most church budgets designate a percentage of their income from weekly giving to helping those in the church. You might also consider contacting your church’s “ministry” of this kind and seeing how you can donate or help. (Or you might talk to your pastor and start a ministry like this if your church doesn’t have one already!)

Whether you are the “anti-social” kind of geek, or the type that loves being the life of the party, we should also grow in our ability and willingness to be hospitable to others. At the time Paul wrote Romans, “hospitality” meant providing a room and food for the night for travelers with a letter from the church that was sending them. Obviously times have changed, but we can still readily invite believers to our homes for dinner and hanging out. We might also consider a modern application of this verse to be supporting Christian missionaries in some way. (v.13)

Next- More on what a “transforming” community looks like.

Coffee House Question- Which of these areas do you find most challenging to live out, and which have you seen some encouraging growth in recently?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Characters And Emotion: The Real "Special Effects"

This week has been one of my most productive in terms of writing lately. And once again I can only guess at how long the final product will be.

At the moment, it risks being longer than "Dark Ritual", because I'm trying to spend some more time on character relationships than I have previously. This week, most of my focus has been on the friendship shared by Merikk and Raan. Some of the best storytelling is only made possible when you believe that characters really care for each other. But developing that in a script takes time and a finesse that I'm not sure I've developed yet as a writer.

Now don't get me wrong, the action will be more epic than ever in Spirit Blade 3. But special effects are only as dramatic as the writing and performances that motivate them and that they have an effect on. To end this trilogy well, I feel like I need to tap into some emotional kinds of storytelling that I didn't have in Spirit Blade and only began to introduce to Dark Ritual.

While Dark Ritual represented a jump forward in technical production for me, I'm hoping that Spirit Blade 3 will be a jump forward in writing. There's a sense in which I feel confident now about the technical production side of things. But I know I have a lot to learn as a writer. I'm hoping to learn some of those things right now so I can give this story the strongest ending possible.

-Paeter Frandsen

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (Movie Review)

After eight movies, the Harry Potter epic storyline is finally over. As someone who read and enjoyed the books once when they came out (but isn't a "fan" in particular) I wondered how the last movie in this franchise would wrap things up.

I can definitely say it went out with a bang. Action and effects were numerous and the best I remember in the series. Character mortality rates were higher than ever. (In fact keeping track of deaths almost requires pen and paper!) The stakes were higher than ever and the epic battles do not disappoint.

The supporting adult cast does the heavy lifting and engaged me emotionally in ways this series never has before. Alan Rickman (and Severus Snape's story) is certainly the standout dramatic element and nearly brought me to tears.

The visual design is appropriately dark, sinister and even depressing, while still captivating and fantastical. A far cry from the bright colors of the earlier films in the series. Every character looks ragged and worn.

The music also contributes a lot to the mood, sounding almost like a creepy horror flick at times (though without the cheap "jump scares").

All this work put into mood still only helps to offset, rather than contribute to, the performances of the three heroic leads. It's great that the studio ended up with passable adult actors considering they were cast as kids. But I would still place the caliber of their performances alongside or below most TV guest performers, rather than movie actors or even TV regulars. And whether because of their performances, the script, or both, I didn't find myself the least bit invested in their well-being. A very big problem, given that they are the center of the story.

Speaking of story, this movie, like the last one or two, is unforgiving toward those who do not watch previous movies in the series (or know them very well) right before seeing this one. Few or no reminders are given about who people are, what things are significant and what all the objectives for victory are. Although I've read all the books once and seen all the previous movies, I felt lost in a number of ways. My guess is that this movie (and others in the series) will be more greatly appreciated for its story on home video, rather than in the spaced out theatrical release schedule.

I personally doubt that much worthwhile conversation will come out of seeing this movie. But a few topics that you could squeeze out of it (if you have strong hands) would include: The afterlife, sacrificial love, the death and resurrection of Christ (as subtly modeled in this movie in a way I won't spoil further) and doing right while being villainized by others. Those points are all present, but would have come out much more strongly had the performances been more emotionally engaging.

This flick is a good end to the franchise that would be stronger in the immediate context of the previous films. Although key performances are lacking, supporting actors and good direction make up enough ground to provide an enjoyable experience.

Rated PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images.

Quality: 8.0/10

Relevance: 5.5/10

Listen to this review, visit this weekend!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Archive Disc Price Drop!

Our big summer sale might be over, but you can still save money on the Spirit Blade Productions Archive Discs!

I've just dropped the regular price for each of them to $4.99! This isn't a sale, but a permanent price drop!

The Archive Discs are loaded with hours and hours of audio content, along with tons of documents and behind the scenes goodies!

For more info you can check out the Archives Page!

-Paeter Frandsen

Colbert Report: Science Is The Only Source Of Truth?

During my lunch break I sometimes watch The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. I liked them both better when they weren't as politically charged (The Daily Show for years and Colbert for just a few weeks). But I tune in these days to keep my hand on the pulse of pop-philosophy, the current trends of which I think both shows represent well.

The Colbert Report in particular seems to enjoy mocking an over simplified version of Christianity or at least Catholicism.

The show I watched yesterday had an interview with a "skeptic" named Michael Shermer.

Here's the video link:

In the interview, he claims that the only way to be sure that what we believe is true is through science. I'd like to give him the chance to correct or clarify his position, because that assumption not only doesn't stand up to logical evaluation, it defeats itself.

In the interview, Colbert responded to Shermer's claim by pointing out that the claim he is making is itself just another belief. (Colbert did this in a comedic sort of way that makes me wonder if he realizes how strong his counter-argument really is when stated more cleanly.)

Let's take the truth claim "Science is the only way by which we can know if something is true or not" and call that "A".

"A" cannot be tested by the scientific method. There is no experiment that could be designed to conclusively prove that "A" is true. It is a philosophical assumption, not a scientific conclusion.

Shermer admitted that science is "just another belief" but claimed the difference is that science has built into it "self-correcting machinery that says if you don't look for evidence to debunk your belief, someone else will".

The problem is that science is not the only system that does this. Science deals specifically with the realm of observable phenomena. But logical deduction also has the same systems in place. We can deduce a lot of things without the aid of the scientific method. So Shermer is limiting his ability to discern truth WAY more than he should, by the sound of it.

Who knows? Maybe when he says "science", he means "critical analysis and logical deduction". I guess I could read his book to find out, but something tells me there are better minds out there writing books from the skeptic/atheist position and that Shermer is not doing them any favors.

Monday, July 11, 2011

In Search Of Truth, Romans 12:3-8

Paul is urging his readers, in light of the amazing gift of salvation and the eternal future ahead of them, to give themselves completely to God and his agenda. The first step in that process is having a “renewed mind”, which enables us to discern God’s will for us.

Usually, when Paul says “by the grace given me”, it is related to his role as an Apostle and servant of Christ. (Romans 15:15, Galatians 2:9, Ephesians 3:7) So in verse three, he is gently appealing to the role of authority God has given him, making his next statement all the more strong. He commands us not to see ourselves as better than we are, but with eyes calibrated to God’s word by the degree of mature faith God has given us. (v.3)

Paul returns to his metaphor of the human body, which he used, in 1 Corinthians 12, to describe how a diverse group of believers should work together. He makes the same point here. The church should not look like an assembly line of cookie cutter Christians, all acting and serving God in the same way. Instead, the church should be a collection of people with diverse personalities and gifts that are committed to each other toward the same goals. (v.4-5) Either too much similarity OR disunity will result in a community of believers becoming ineffective, or less effective than they could be.

This teaching can be challenging when it comes to the place of us geeks in the church. Our lifestyles can alienate us from others. Sometimes this is because other Christians hold to legalistic ideas of what it means to be a believer in Christ. Other times, we alienate ourselves, throwing an ongoing pity party over how misunderstood we feel.

Paul’s command here is not just for those Christians who think us geeks are weird. It’s for us too. It may be that we need to take the first step in engaging with “normal” believers around us, rather than waiting for them to read this passage, apply it correctly, and come seek us out.

When both sides of that equation reach out in unity to each other, that’s when some amazing things can happen. Our diverse strengths overshadow our diverse weaknesses. This is God’s design for the church. We should each serve God, not according to how he has equipped and gifted those around us, but according to how he has equipped and gifted us.

Paul goes on to list some examples. Those enabled to represent God’s will or word for the moment (prophecy) should do so in agreement with the teaching of God (“the faith”). (This verse is often poorly translated “in proportion to his faith”, leaving the impression that prophecy is exercised in proportion to the subjectively perceived faith of the individual. Instead, this verse teaches that prophecy should be exercised in agreement with the revealed truth of scripture.) (v.6)

Those with a unique heart and ability to be compassionate and serve others should make it a priority in life. Those gifted to help others understand truth and scripture should dedicate themselves to teaching. (v.7)

We don’t use the word “exhort” very often. It means : to incite by argument or advice, urge strongly, to give warnings or advice, make urgent appeals. The Greek word here is not quite as abrasive and contains the meaning of “calling to one’s side”. It can also refer to encouragement. Someone gifted to "exhort" others is persuasive through either urgent appeal or encouragement. Believers with influence should engage themselves in influencing others on behalf of Christ.

Those God has allowed to accumulate resources and enabled them to willingly give a larger percentage than most to God’s work, should continue to look for ways to give even more generously.

Those equipped to lead others should do so without letting their passion fade.

Those equipped to help those in pain or need should do so with a positive attitude, undefeated by the discouraging realities they inevitably interact with. (v.8)

Notice that Paul is not teaching us to develop ONLY our areas of primary strength, but they are useful in determining what God wants us to invest our time, energy and resources in.

Next- What “renewed minds” and transforming lives look like.

Coffee House Question- Which of these above “gifts” do you think describe best how God has equipped you?

Friday, July 8, 2011

In Search Of Truth, Romans 12:1-2

In the chapters leading up to this one, Paul discussed the default state of human beings, foreshadowed the new state and incredible destiny of those who trust in Christ, and gave perspective on how Jews and non-Jews (of which the church in Rome was composed) should view each other, enabling unity among them. Paul has spent a lot of time describing how we should think of God, ourselves and each other. Now he begins to discuss how we should live in response to those realities.

Instead of the punishment we all deserve for our selfish lives and rejection of God's will, God has had mercy on us in numerous ways, as Paul has described in previous chapters. Now, in response to these mercies, Paul urges his readers to present all of their mental and physical capabilities (the meaning of "bodies") as sacrifices to God. But unlike the previous animal sacrifices offered to God, which were offered once and died in the process, we are to be living sacrifices, allowing our service to be continual. Our entire being should be "holy" (meaning that it is "set apart and designated for the purposes of God") and "acceptable to God" (meaning in the Greek that it is in line with God's will and recognized by him as good). This kind of living is an ongoing act of worship. (v.1)

Many translations use the word "spiritual" for the Greek word "logikos", which describes the nature of this ongoing life of worship in verse 1. A better translation (as found in the King James version) might be "reasonable", as "logikos" pertains to reason and thoughtful consideration. In other words, a "logikos" lifestyle lived out for God is not thoughtless, empty ritual or dependent on fleeting emotional experiences to keep it energized. It's a life of commitment to God that is engaged with the entire heart and mind, emotions and intellect.

Paul continues this line of thinking, warning his readers not to conform their lifestyles to the natural patterns of living that most of the world follows. Lots of us nerds and geeks take pride in our differences from others in the hobbies we like or the way we dress. But before even those differences, we should embrace a way of thinking that doesn't conform to the natural defaults of popular culture, especially as it pertains to God and how we should live our lives in service to him.

Instead, we should be transformed. This transformation takes place as our minds are renewed. The Greek for "mind" here refers to our intellectual capacity and reasoning ability. And the Greek word for "renewing" here conveys the idea of renovation and a qualitative change. So our ability to reason and our knowledge of truth should be propelling forward in leaps making it easy for us to look back and see how we have changed. Lastly, the Greek word for "transformed" in verse 2 is in the present imperative tense, meaning repeated future action. We should be "transformed" like this repeatedly and regularly! The purpose of this renewal, Paul says, is so that "by testing you may discern what is the will of God".

Knowing God's will for our lives, both in the big picture and in any given moment, is like the elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We pray and pray and wait for "signs". And though God is certainly known to work through prayer alone and might also mercifully give us the "signs" we want from time to time, this is not his primary design for us to learn his will.

I've had a number of people present James 1:5-8 to me as a proof text to support the idea that God grants wisdom or confirms truth for us through signs and internal feelings.

Here it is in the King James version:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

You'll notice that, although these verses in James promise that God will give wisdom to the one who sincerely asks, there is no mention of when or how that wisdom will be given. There is no mention of an internal feeling, a sudden thought, or an unusual occurrence.

On the other hand, Paul tells us that we can discern truth from falsehood by engaging and renewing our intellect, and our ability to reason. Throwing ourselves into this kind of prayerful, scripture-based pursuit of God will result in finding the answers we need most. In this way we'll learn the truth of what is really good in life, what is acceptable to God and what "perfect" really means. (v.2)

Next- Unity AND Diversity among Christians

Coffee House Question- What ideas or resources come to mind as you brainstorm how we can "renew our minds"?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Catching Up

As is always the case after I take some time off, I've come back to a mountain of "to dos" that must be done before I get back into my normal routine.

First off, I want to thank all of you who took advantage of the massive 50% off sale we ran for the last several weeks. I was really happy with how it went and was honored and excited by the number of people who bought audio dramas from us for the first time ever! Thanks for taking that leap of faith and trying us out! I hope you like what you hear and enjoy exploring the hours of behind the scenes content on our Media Page, as well as the forums and other stuff going on at

If you want to hear about more opportunities for HUGE savings, be sure to sign up for our monthly Newsletter, which not only keeps you posted on our normal sales, but also offers exclusive opportunities for discounts not advertised anywhere else!

Speaking of which, it won't be much longer before I launch the next "Demented Dollar Download"! This sale involves me temporarily (a few days or a few hours) dropping the price of one of our downloadable products to $1. But the only way to know when and which product is by reading about it in the Newsletter. So don't miss out! Sign up now!

Apologies to anyone who still got my auto-respond message yesterday. I WAS in my office, but got my day off to a very late start and neglected to turn off my auto-respond message until last night. (Oops!)

"In Search Of Truth" will still be posted this week, but not until Friday so I have the chance to catch up on e-mails first.

Thanks again for all of your support! I couldn't be doing this without you!

-Paeter Frandsen