Monday, April 30, 2007

Tax Freedom Day

(HT:  FMF)

Here's an article courtesy of Marotta Asset Management that gives some interesting thoughts on taxes:

Tax Freedom Day arrives
on Monday, April 30th this year. That's when we stop working for the
government and start working for ourselves. For the average worker, all
of the earnings of the first 119 days go to pay taxes to the federal,
state, and local governments. Starting May 1st, we are free -- at last
-- to take care of our own family's needs.

The 2007 report,
published this month by the non-partisan Tax Foundation based in
Washington, D.C., measures the tax burden on Americans. According to
the report, the 2007 federal tax freedom day comes more 12 days later
than it did in 2003, though it is still five days under its all-time
high in the year 2000.

However, the overall
Tax Freedom Day falls two days later than it did last year, even with
the absence of tax increases. Gross Domestic Product has been strong,
growing by at least 6.3% per year for the last three years. More wealth
for Americans means an increase in Uncle Sam's share.

Due to our progressive
tax system, Uncle Sam actually collects more taxes as inflation rises
due to 'bracket creep.' If your pay is adjusted each year to keep up
with inflation, the dollar figure you make increases but your net
purchasing power remains unchanged. However, inflation may actually
drive you into a higher tax bracket despite the fact that your buying
power has not increased!

On average, taxes still
take nearly 33% of a worker's gross income – 22% for federal taxes and
11% for state and local taxes. Only since 1992 have Americans paid more
for government programs than they spend on food, clothing, and medical
care combined. For the amount of money we pay in taxes, government
should already be able to provide universal health coverage and feed
and clothe us as well.

For every eight hour
day we work, 2 hours and 35 minutes of our work goes to paying taxes.
Without taxes, you could leave work at 2:25pm.

At the state level, tax
freedom day varies from state to state. California has the 7th highest
taxes with its Tax Freedom Day delayed until May 7th. Virginia places
17th in the race for the highest tax state rate even though its Tax
Freedom Day arrives on April 30th, exactly the national average.

The Virginia tax rate
continues to climb higher each year despite claims of no new personal
taxes because of both bracket creep and the significant increase in
state business taxes. This has been a national trend. Business tax
receipts have risen more than 20% over the past year.

Most non-economists
vastly underestimate the negative impact of tax rates on the U.S.
economy. Taxes encourage every American to do things themselves,
outside of the taxable economy, even if specializing and working
together would have produced higher productivity. If you add the costs
of complying with the complex web of regulations, the government costs
Americans over 50% of our wealth.

Imagine three builders
who, by themselves, could each build a house in a year. Three builders
could build three houses working separately. Now image that because of
their specializations they could build six houses by working together.
It may seem incredible that these builders would not take the
opportunity to double their productivity, but with any tax rate higher
than 50% they have no incentive to choose the more productive
partnership. Just imagine the economic boom if the other half of
worker's labor were set free!

Imagine a highly paid
and highly skilled doctor whose marginal tax rate is over 50%.
Everything that she pays someone else to do costs her twice as much
because she pays for that service with after-tax dollars. It may be
very inefficient to society for her to waste her time mowing her own
lawn, changing her own oil or painting her own house, but specifically
because she is in a high tax bracket, she can save more money than the
average American by doing those chores herself. Another way to look at
it is that without taxes, she could afford to pay those who provided
her services twice as much.

Economist Arthur Laffer
recognized that the law of diminishing returns applies to tax rates as
well. According to Laffer, there comes a point beyond which increased
taxation actually yields fewer tax dollars being collected. For
example, a 100% tax rate would drive commerce into the ground,
resulting in zero taxes being collected.

Many economists believe
we are already well beyond that point for the most Americans. In other
words, tax cuts would actually result in increased economic growth and
more taxes being collected.

Presidents Kennedy and
Reagan understood the Laffer Curve well. In 1964, Kennedy reduced the
top tax rate from 91% to 70% and, to the surprise of many, tax revenues
increased! Seventeen years later, the Reagan tax cuts reduced the top
marginal rate from 70% to 50%. Revenues soared again. Between 1980 and
1997 the share of federal income taxes paid by the top 1% rose from 19%
to 33%. The share of taxes paid by the top 25% increased from 73% to

Economists understand
that the optimum rate of taxation is zero. The second most optimum rate
of taxation is as low as possible. In contrast, many Americans seem to
have the attitude that tax rates should be increasingly punitive.

The top 1% pays 35% of
the taxes in the United States. The top half pays almost 97% of income
taxes. These two statistics have increased despite all the complaints
that tax cuts have favored the rich.

Low taxes should not be
a political issue that divides us. Every American should agree with the
goal of keeping taxes as low as possible. In 2011, all of the federal
tax cuts enacted since 2001 are scheduled to expire. In the words of
John F. Kennedy, "An economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will
never produce enough revenues to balance our budget - just as it will
never produce enough jobs or profits."

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

No, this isn't becoming the Mark Driscoll fan blog...

Mark Driscoll has been taking some heat and some hits the last couple of days over a session he filmed for the Exponential Conference which is the 2007 National New Church Conference - a conference for start ups, church plants, and people trying to make churches improve and grow.

The video of Driscoll's session is now available on YouTube. The video is 9 minutes long, and worth your time to listen to.

I appreciate Mark for the way he speaks the truth, and how passionate he is about it. Amen Brother, AMEN! And the video is really cool too.

Mark Driscoll posted on his blog just a bit ago about the video. It appears that every person in attendance at the conference was supposed to get a DVD of this video, and after Bill Hybels sold Driscoll out, the leadership of the conference decided to not pass out the videos. I've lost some respect I had for Hybels over this.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mark Driscoll in a Suit!

I just got around to watching Mars Hill Church of Seattle's Easter service video. Powerful stuff. I'd call it The Case for Christ on Red Bull. Pastor Mark brings it for 35 minutes, rarely letting the viewer come up for air. An outstanding presentation of the Gospel.

Mars Hill did 8 services on Easter Sunday. How Mark was still standing by the 8th one I'm exactly sure.

In the video, Mark Driscoll is wearing a suit. He calls it "going Baptist" - he shaved, got a hair cut, and is wearing a suit! I'll bet he's still wearing his "Jesus is my homeboy" shirt underneath. He looks good in a suit, though it's certainly strange seeing him in one, especially with the backdrop of all the guitars and such!

So if you missed out on Easter Sunday for some reason, I suggest giving this one a view or listen. Even if you didn't miss out, it is still worth your time. Generally Mark Driscoll preaches for an hour to an hour and a half, but he keeps it to under 35 minutes for this one (32:30 for those who really want to know).

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Home Depot is giving away lightbulbs 4/22!!

From Get Rich Slowly:

April 22nd is Earth Day in the United States. In celebration The Home Depot is giving away one million compact fluorescent lightbulbs
to people who visit their stores this Sunday. Rumor has it that the
free bulbs will be N:Vision soft whites, which were the best in a
recent Popular Mechanics lab test.

photo by David Hobby of Strobist

Electric lighting consumes nearly a quarter of the average home
energy budget. Because compact fluorescent bulbs are energy efficient,
they cost less to use. In his excellent guide to saving electricity, Michael Bluejay writes:

The easiest way to save electricity is to replace
your light bulbs with screw-in compact fluorescent bulbs. They put out
light similar to standard bulbs but use 75% less electricity.

Compact fluorescent bulbs also last longer than incandescents. It’s
true that they’re more expensive initially (up to $10/bulb), but the typical CF bulb will save you nearly $10/year.
How many lightbulbs do you have in your house? How many could you
replace with compact fluorescents? How much money would that save you?

Even if The Home Depot only gives you one free bulb, you can
purchase several more while you’re there. It’ll save you money in the
long run!

To learn more about compact fluorescent bulbs, visit One Billion Bulbs. The Home Depot Eco Options
page includes a calculator that demonstrates how much you can save with
CFLs — click the red “energy efficient” box at the bottom of the page.
See also the incandescent vs. CFL vs. LED light bulb challenge at Product Dose. Finally, Nickel documented his changeover to CFLs — he replaced 107 bulbs!

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Expectations - are you exceeding them?

A post called More than I expected by Craig Groeschel on the LifeChurch blog Swerve got me thinking this morning. Craig writes about how a restaurant he and his wife visited completely exceeded their expectations. From the appetizers to the dessert, they were wowed by this restaurant.

The church we are attending took a similar approach to this past Easter. Following the service, my wife remarked to me it was the best worship service she has attended at that church, and we've been going there for a year. The church rented out the local high school so there would be enough room for all the guests who were likely to come to church that day (our church facility is maxed out on normal weekends). They sent mailings out to every home in the neighboring communities, inviting everyone to join us in worship. They rented a stage, projectors, screens, lights and sound systems, chairs to seat people and other things I'm probably forgetting. It was a serious investment in time, talent, money and energy.

When people not from our church arrived, I have to believe their expectations were not only met, but exceeded. That excites me. But it isn't the end of the story.

Now with that as the expectation from our guests, we have to figure out how to follow up with it, to keep at that level, to push ourselves to continue to exceed people's expectations.

Are we putting our best out there personally and corporately week to week? We should be, but I know I fail at this. Are we being intentional about improving? In the coming days and weeks I will be thinking about expectations, and both examining my own, as well as looking for ways I can exceed other people's. I challenge you to do the same.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Free Ben & Jerry's ice cream!

Whatcha doin’ today? Wanna get some free ice cream? Head on down
to your local Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop for their annual “free cone
day”. According to the wikipedia:

& Jerry’s Free Cone Day is an annual event, held in late April or
early May, in which Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops give out free ice
cream cones all day. Over one million free cones are given away each
year. Charitable organizations are often present at the stores each
year and enjoy a significant amount of fundraising success. The first
Free Cone Day was held on May 5, 1979. It was done by Ben and Jerry as
a customer and staff appreciation event for the one year anniversary of
their ice cream store’s opening, and has continued ever since.

According to the Ben & Jerry’s web site, the free ice cream will
be available from noon until 8pm. The site also has a handy tool to
help you find a shop near you.

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Tim Challies on the Sweet Drudgery of Faith

I'm stealing the following from Tim Challies, unedited.  Great Stuff Tim!


One of the most destructive forces that has faced the church in
recent years is the teaching that God gives Christians faith so they
can exercise it to their own benefit. This gospel of health and wealth
teaches that our faith allows us to demand from God whatever we desire
and that He is beholden to give it to us. If only our faith is strong
enough, we can have whatever we want or need. God will give us money,
power, or good health if only we ask in faith. This teaching is
destructive on many levels. It focuses the attention of those who claim
to be Christians on themselves rather than on Christ and teaches that
God exists for our benefit and enrichment. It leaves men and women
broken by their supposed lack of faith when they summon the heavens for
riches or healing and are met with only silence. It also brings forward
into this life benefits that God has reserved for life eternal. Nowhere
in the Bible does God promise us that we will live lives of complete
fulfillment on this side of eternity. Rather, the Bible tells us that
only in heaven will we have our every desire satisfied and only then
will we escape the sin, pain and suffering of this life. God, in His
grace, will bless us with desires that far exceed what we desire now,
and will be gracious in meeting those desires.

The fact is that this Word Faith gospel seems to promise what it
just does not deliver (but, apparently, for a select few). We cannot
escape pain in this life. We cannot escape suffering and cannot escape
poverty, drudgery and discomfort. This life is difficult and sometimes
seems to just drag on and on, day after endless day. So much of life
and faith comes down to routine, to the day-to-day tasks that repeat
themselves endlessly. Depending on a person's vocation this may be
doing dishes or changing diapers, repairing brakes or changing oil,
choosing songs or preparing sermons. There may be a sameness to life
that just seems to never end. So much of life is consumed with
drudgery--hard, monotonous, routine work.

I was talking to my mother the other day, and we were discussing
various and sundry aspects of the Christian life. Mom spends a lot of
time thinking about issues related to biblical womanhood and has a gift
for being able to lovingly exhort and encourage other women, and young
women in particular, to serve the Lord. As we spoke, she was talking
about a book she had read recently and I'm quite sure she said it was The Pastor's Wife
by Sabina Wurmbrand, the wife of Richard Wurmbrand who founded Voice of
the Martyrs. She told how Sabina wrote about women who had been
arrested for their faith and how, as they languished in prison, they so
regretted ever begrudging the routine, the drudgery of daily life. As
they sat in prison they would have given nearly anything to be able to
scrub dishes or wash their husbands' socks. Only in retrospect did they
find a new appreciation for the routine, for those small but unheralded
parts of life that they had so often complained about. One of mom's
challenges to young women is to embrace even the drudgery of life now
and to see it as a time for joyful service. After all, a time may soon
come when there is nothing you desire more and it would be terrible to
have to live with regret for wasted days and bitter evenings.

What is true of life can be true of faith. It often seems like
drudgery to wake up early in the morning to spend a few minutes or an
hour reading the Bible and coming to the Lord in prayer. Going to
church and worshiping with the Lord's people or spending time reading
an edifying book can seem hard and monotonous. This Christian life can
become routine and we can begin to despise the monotony of it. And this
is precisely where the gospel of health and wealth appeals to people.
It promises a glorious life, a carefree, fulfilling, abundant life in
the here and now. But this is a mere counterfeit of Christian doctrine.
It bypasses hard work and offers short-term, selfish fulfillment and
calls it godly, abundant fulfillment. It is a fraud.

I've found that I need to seek to embrace the drudgery of life,
thanking God for the comfort of routine and the security of sameness.
And I've found that I need to embrace even the hard work of becoming a
godly man, even when it can seem like monotonous drudgery. I
know that the perceived monotony is only a product of my own sin and
selfishness. I know that even the day-to-day task of reading the Bible
and praying to the Lord should be glorious and wonderful. This is how
it should and can be. Sometimes it is. Often it is not. But even in the
routine of pulling my tired body out of bed to spend time with the
Lord, I know that God uses these opportunities to open my eyes to His
glories and to see past grumbling and fatigue to the glories of Jesus
Christ. By the time I have read the Bible and poured out my heart to
Him, I find that I have to repent of ever having grumbled about the
beautiful routine of spending time with Him.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Preaching and Teaching Jesus from Scripture with Mark Driscoll

Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Acts 29 Regional [NW]
Taught by Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church

Preach the Word . . .
2 Timothy 4:2

Part 5 - Ten Cautions & Encouragements for Preachers

  1. Read the biographies of great preachers. There are some good books on preaching such as Bryan Chapell's Christ-Centered Preaching, but in my mind the best tutor is the biographies of great preachers. In reading these we can learn about their family life, devotional life, study habits, etc. One book that is a good introduction to the Puritans, who elevated the pulpit to a thunderous art, is Light and Heat: A Puritan View of the Pulpit, written by Bruce Bickel. I am also a rabid fan of the reformed Baptist Charles Haddon Spurgeon and read any biography I can find on his life and ministry.

  2. Beware of the radio preachers. As a new Christian I listened to many hours of Chuck Swindoll, Greg Laurie, Tony Evans, Billy Graham, John MacArthur and others and was blessed. However, when men preach for the radio they are preaching to the masses. Subsequently, they are not as likely to speak personally of themselves, their struggles, their families, and the specific issues in their church because they are preaching to America. Most pastors don't preach to the nation or world, but just to their flock who need to know their pastor, see what the Holy Spirit has been doing with the Bible in their life, and how the Bible is integrated into their daily life and relationships instead of vague and general illustrations and principles that are true but not specific to their community. Also, younger preachers can often listen to so many hours of a radio preacher that they end up parroting him rather than finding their own voice and style. For example, if I had a buck for every twenty-year-old Calvinist who sounds like he's channeling John Piper or every Calvary guy who sounds like Chuck Smith I could have a building as large as Joel Osteen's. The key is not to mimic a man, but to learn from him and honor him simply by preaching the same gospel.

  3. Beware of the sermons for sale. Tragically, there is a growing trend for preachers to buy their sermons. The tragedy with this is that such sermons are often goofy. Furthermore, they do not require the preacher to get his time in Scripture and do not encourage any sort of theological instruction as they are general mass market sermons to fit everyone, everywhere and are therefore not missional or theological or, arguably, biblical. While it is not wrong to listen to other preachers and how they taught on a text or topic, it is unwise to simply preach someone else's work whether that is through plagiarism or the purchase of a sermon.

  4. Study the stand-up comics. Stand-up comedy and preaching are the only two mediums I can think of in which someone walks onto a stage to talk for a long time to a large crowd. Dave Chappelle, Carlos Mencia, and Chris Rock are genius at capturing an audience using irony and sarcasm.

  5. Junk your notes and go with the Ghost . . . sometimes. Some years ago I gave up trying to manuscript or outline my sermons. Now, I focus on knowing the Scriptures I am preaching, spending many hours in prayer, meditation, and repentance through the Scriptures, and being filled with the power of God the Ghost. Then, I just get up and, with a few scribbled notes in my margins, I preach as God leads and trust that God will direct my words and He always does. Sometimes I may use a brief outline, but I am not tied to any one way of being ready to preach and just do whatever seems like it will do the job best.

  6. Plug everything into your pulpit. We have our children's ministry and small group ministry follow the teaching from the pulpit so that the whole church is studying and learning together to ensure focus and unity.

  7. Preach Jesus. Jesus' name should be spoken repeatedly throughout a sermon so that it is clear which God you are speaking of. Jesus should be the hero of every sermon, the answer to every question, and the hope for every person. Jesus promised that if He is lifted up He would draw people and the key to church growth is the exaltation of Jesus.

  8. Learn from the feedback of your people without being defensive. Certainly there are always neatniks and critics, but listening to the questions and disagreements of people always helps you improve.

  9. Give your sermons away. Some years ago we started putting the sermons online as free MP3 downloads. Today, with podcasting and vodcasting, we are seeing millions of people download the sermons. Our vodcast has been as high as #1 on iTunes for Religion and Spirituality. The web is the new front door and many people will visit your church through your website long before they attend a church event. Also, many people like to catch up on past teachings, forward pertinent sermons to their friends, and listen to teaching while they drive to work, cook their meals, and weed their garden. By giving the sermon away for free, a preacher's ministry can continue for years into the future to a much broader audience than they have on a Sunday.

  10. After you've preached, let it go and sleep like a Calvinist. Don't listen to your sermons over and over beating yourself up. Once you've preached a sermon, let it be a finished work and move on. Passion, courage, and boldness are keys to preaching that simply cannot exist in someone who is too analytical or critical of themselves, so lighten up, have fun, and let it fly in Jesus' name.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

One word - ROCKED!

Easter at CrossRoads Church in Cottage Grove, MN absolute ROCKED!

A note from Pastor Phil Print and then some more from me:

Thanks, everyone, for making Easter '07 a smashing success. We had a well-mobilized army of volunteers who made things happen. Many of you invited and brought friends. The numbers are still being tallied, but the response was overwhelming. We had over 1,000 guests join us at Park High School. Many took a step of faith and made a commitment to follow the Risen Christ.
Easter services were held at Park High School, which is just a mile or so West of CR Church. Both the 9:00 and the 11:00 services were packed out! The stage took up about 1/3 or so of the gym floor, and the rest was covered in chairs. The bleachers were all packed, and there were very few places people could have squeezed much closer without boundary issues and discomfort.

I volunteered to direct traffic during the first service. The front lot quickly filled, and we had to send everyone over to the larger secondary lot. It was sunny, but quite cold, but it was great helping out in a small way. My wife helped out with the infants during the first service, allowing parents to fully worship without being concerned about their children. I made my way into the first service just as the worship team was leaving the stage. While directing traffic I didn't really have a good feel for how many people had come. I was shocked to find how packed the place was since it was the early service. God is really moving in this community through CrossRoads Church!

Second service we got seats right up front. The band was great! My wife mentioned that she thought it was the best they have ever sounded in the time we've attended this church. And that with a mobile sound system, in a gym with poor acoustics! They even made it through a killer bloody nose to guitarist/worship intern Jordan (who earlier had nailed a killer rendition of "This is your life" by Switchfoot to set up the sermon). Great job by the team who set that all up and the people running the lights and sound (and video!). Pastor Brad Kindall was featured in a short video that I only hope finds it's way onto You Tube. Let's just say it had Brad in butterfly wings dancing, prancing, and skateboarding his way around downtown St. Paul.

Phil's message was powerful, helping to understand how we substitute so many things for Jesus. While we may think we have lived the good life, without Jesus we haven't even scratched the surface of what it is to live. Without Christ, all our pursuits are empty and pointless. With Christ we are new creations!

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Easter 2007 - CrossRoads Church in Cottage Grove, MN

If you are looking for a place to worship Easter (this Sunday!) in the Twin Cities, I invite you to check out CrossRoads Church with me. I'll be volunteering there this weekend (as well as attending) and would love to see you there. Bring your friends, bring your family. It is going to ROCK! The staff of CrossRoads has been working very hard to make this a big impact event. Do you or someone you know need to know Christ? Sunday Morning 9:00 and 11:00 at Park High School in Cottage Grove. If you come at 9:00 honk at me, I'll be directing traffic. If you come at 11:00 come shake my hand, I'll be greeting people. But whatever you do, just come!

Easter is an invitation to encounter a God who is alive. A God who came out of a tomb to give us more than a holiday. And much more than a religion. This Easter, come and re-imagine a different kind of life… a new life… a resurrected life. Join us this year for EASTER at Park High School in Cottage Grove, MN.

Below are the core beliefs of CrossRoads Church:

Climate of Acceptance

We want CrossRoads to be a warm and inviting place. We want everyone to feel welcomed. That's why we often say, "No perfect people allowed here." We're just a bunch of real people living in the world trying to connect with a very real God.

Relevant Biblical Teaching

Relevant is a key word. Our goal in our teaching is to build a bridge from "then" (the teachings of the Bible) to "now" (life in the 21st century). The Bible never needs to be updated. It is from God and full of timeless principles.

Outward Focused

We're not a club for "insiders" only. We exist for those who never walk in our doors. Our mission is to change the world, one life at a time, by pointing people to Christ. As long as one person is far from God, we will continue to reach out to our community.

Seeker Sensitive

Our desire is to present Christ in an understandable, culturally-relevant way to all people. That means we want the church-inexperienced to come to our services and understand what's going on. We want to attract seekers AND edify believers in our services.

Small Groups

As CrossRoads grows larger, we realize we have to grow smaller at the same time. We do this through small groups, which are groups of 6-12 people, gathering together for Bible study, prayer, service, and building friendships.

Reliance on the Holy Spirit

God is the Head of the Church and His guidance and empowerment matter greatly. That's why prayer will permeate everything we do at CrossRoads.

Organized by Purpose

Our desire is to be driven not by tradition or personalities or programs or finances, but by the purposes of God, outlined in the Bible. The Bible tells us what our "business" is and what's none of our business.

All Things Done With Excellence

Excellence honors God and inspires others. We're committed to doing all things at CrossRoads with excellence… to the very best of our ability.

Do Church as a Team

CrossRoads believes in teams, not superstars. We believe every believer is gifted by God and called to do ministry. The job of the pastor(s) is to "equip God's people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ." [Ephesians 4:12]

Spiritual Growth the Norm - not the exception

Spiritual growth is expected of everyone at CrossRoads. As we do our part — participate in personal devotions, small groups, Life Development Classes, the Grand Slam Seminars, and Sunday teaching — we believe God will bring spiritual maturity to our lives.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Movie Review: Hidden Secrets

Today I previewed a movie called "Hidden Secrets" through my being part of the Active Christian Media reviewers. I was sent a pre-release DVD, but am not paid for my reviews in any way.

I was feeling the need for a break from reality, and thought today would be a good time to check this film out. I was rewarded with a very enjoyable film. I don't want to give any parts of the movie away, but have included a general review below. I might post a more specific review down the road after the film releases to the public and has been in circulation for a while.

I found Hidden Secrets to be very uplifting in spite of some very heavy themes. The film revolves around the love a group of people share for a friend (and brother in one case) who had recently died. From this group of people, we can see the impact that one person can have on other people's lives. Through this, we see many different levels of faith played out in the relationships, from unbeliever to convicted fundamentalist. It is an interesting study on the interplay of life and faith. The movie is written from a Christian standpoint, and that comes through clearly throughout the movie. There were periods in the film where I felt some disconnect as the writer tried to cover a large spectrum of levels of faiths. I would have happily endured another 20 minutes to see a bit more character development to flesh out some of the relationships and background story that would've filled the gaps later on as the movie progressed. In spite of these small points where I wanted more, the film was well done, well acted and very well filmed. I appreciate this kind of film, and hope film makers like this are encouraged in the marketplace to continue to produce and to improve the film industry. I fully recommend it, and will likely be watching it again soon with my wife. I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars!

As a side bonus, the music in the movie was outstanding. Rachel Lampa and Building 429 provide a good chunk of music in the film, and it is excellent.

From the Hidden Secrets web site:

What if your deepest secret were suddenly exposed? Nine friends discover just how explosive it can be when their past becomes their present.

Reunited at the funeral of hometown hero Chris Hayden, the friends find tensions escalating rapidly as their darkest secrets are revealed. Jeremy (David A.R. White-“Mercy Streets"), struggling with his calling as a former youth pastor, is caught in an awkward love triangle between his new fiancée and his old flame Sherry (Tracey Melchoir-“Bold and Beautiful"). As the embers of the past relationship reignite, Jeremy’s fiancée Rachel (Stacey Keanan-“Step by Step"), who is determined to solidify their relationship, demands he affirm his commitment to her.

Meanwhile, Gary (John Schneider-“Dukes of Hazzard", “Smallville") questions everyone’s beliefs as this close-knit group of friends disputes world views, lifestyles, and personal passions. Pastor Wexler (Reginald Vel Johnson-“Die Hard", “Family Matters") encourages them not to give up but to follow the truth that Chris Hayden lived.

Hidden Secrets is a story of love, friendship, redemption and ultimately faith. Humorous, touching and always entertaining.

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This video is one of the reasons I love Mosaic Church!

Dote Rap About TV Evangelists, Dog

Fantastic rap about Television Evangelists and the TBN network and how they can manipulate people. From the Mosaic church podcast and Erwin McManus...

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Hidden Secrets the Movie

I am a reviewer for Active Christian Media (Blog for Books) and received a movie to review instead of a book. The DVD arrived Saturday, and I'll be watching it sometime in the next week or two. This movie hasn't yet been in theaters, we're the first promotional wave apparently. It's a Christian movie, and it sounds quite interesting from reading a few blurbs about it. You can visit the movie's web site HERE where you will find trailers and other related things.

From the press release:
“Hidden Secrets” is a colorful and compelling account of love, friendship, sorrow, regret, conviction, conversion – and ultimately, faith. With a star-studded cast that includes John Schneider (television’s “Smallville” and “Dukes of Hazzard”), Tracy Melchior (from daytime TV’s “The Bold and the Beautiful”), David A.R. White (“Mercy Streets” and “Melrose Place”), and Christian recording artist Rachel Lampa, “Hidden Secrets” tells the story of a young man whose surprise encounter with a painful past opens the door to healing and renewed faith for himself and those he loves.

Joining a group of childhood friends for the hometown funeral of his best friend, Jeremy (White) finds himself caught between his new fiancé and an old flame that still burns deep within his heart. Forced to face his humiliating fall from youth pastor to college party man, Jeremy discovers that he isn’t the only one hiding a dark secret – or in need of mercy and forgiveness. Does anyone ever travel too far down the road of life to be truly forgiven? “Hidden Secrets” offers a dramatic and compelling answer to this burning question, and in the process deals with pressing issues like abortion, homosexuality, premarital sex – and the true meaning of faith. The film also features new hit music by Christian artists Rachael Lampa and Building 429.