Church Attendance is a Discipline


The Coronavirus has wounded the American Church in a way that many cannot see yet. As social distancing measures lift and other post-pandemic precautions ease, some Christians are hesitant to return to the Church. Presented with the convenience of watching a worship service on Facebook or YouTube, many believers are making the intentional choice to stay at home. Telling themselves, “The virus is still out there, we still need to protect ourselves for another month or two.” Happy in their newfound sermon consumption that doesn’t require one to ever leave the home. Or better yet, require them to sit with their kids in the worship service due to the church’s children’s program not being up and running.

Photo by Ajeet Mestry on Unsplash

Meanwhile, In Social Media Land…

  • I can see that you recently volunteered on a project.
  • I can see that you went and visited the zoo.
  • I can see that you are hanging out with friends and family.
  • I can see you doing all of these things, and yet, I haven’t seen your happy face at church.

Gathering with fellow believers, attending church, this is a Christian discipline. What I have hated seeing, in these pandemic times, is how quickly that discipline has been let go; convenience and inconvenience pushing against one another.

I am not advocating for fellow believers to come back to church in order to check a box. I am advocating for fellow believers to come, grow, and encourage other believers with your presence.

I keep asking myself, “Is Jesus enough of a commonality to hold believers together in these times?” My answer is of course, Jesus is enough. But, I think these pandemic times are revealing who church attendance is important to.

  • Our Time
  • Our Talents
  • Our Treasures

All of these things communicate to both the world and our fellow believers where our priorities lie.

I want to encourage my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to push past their preferences and convenience. The withdrawal of your presence is hurting others, silently wounding the Church in the process. Please do not let being in the habit of attending church slip away and become your new normal. Your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ miss you.

I miss you too.

From Across the Net – “Sex and the Married Missionary”

Photo by Nate Johnston on Unsplash

While I realize this post is geared towards couples on the mission field, I think that there are universal truths here for all Christian couples. Most of all, I appreciate the honesty.

We don’t talk about sex very much. Sure, we might joke about it (the first working title for this article was The Missionary Position), but we don’t actually talk about it very much. Truth is, most folks are scared to death to have an honest, non-joking, realistic talk about sex. Maybe with a good friend, but with their spouse? Gasp. But the truth is, it matters. It’s not the biggest deal, but it’s a real deal.

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “Understanding Why Religious Conservatives Would Vote for Trump”

Photo by History in HD on Unsplash

Andrew T. Walker, writing for the National Review, wrote an excellent piece titled “Understanding Why Religious Conservatives Would Vote for Trump”. Many of my own thoughts, that I’ve wanted to share for awhile, are in this piece. This article is a bit of a long read but worth reading.

Some religious conservatives may see the world in moral terms — right and wrong; black and white. But there’s a long moral tradition, as far back as Augustine, that sees our world in shades of gray. The City of God lives as earthly inhabitants of the City of Man; thus, our world is imperfect. We are to be “in the world, but not of it.” History does not progress only toward human perfection. In this calculus, religious conservatives might see moral contrasts in black and white, but see voting for a morally compromised figure whose administration pushes back against progressivism as an uncomfortable shade of gray. They understand that, in a fallen world, they will not always be able to vote for candidates of good character and policy. Sometimes, all the candidates are deeply flawed, and a judgment is required of how to steward faithfully one’s democratic privileges.

You can read more here

E3 2019 – Halo Infinite


The mere mention of Halo immediately brings me back to the first time I discovered Christians gaming together. I will never forget spending an evening with Fuller Theological Seminary students, playing Halo over a network. There is nothing quite like playing games together.

From Across the Net – “Praying for a President Is Not that Radical: Platt, Prayer, and Polarization”


Had meant to share this article by Ed Stetzer the other day. Man, this has been a long week already.

Furthermore, we can and must recognize that many hold different views and see things in different ways. Where some see praying for a president, others see a celebration of values they do not hold. We can acknowledge that people can and will experience such moments differently in the body of Christ.

Yet, the degree of ire directed towards Platt reveals that at times we can allow the same polarization and fear to grip our hearts in failing to extend grace to those with differening views. Likewise, the attempts to use Platt to endorse Trump fail to grasp the nuances of his prayer and inject meaning he was careful to avoid.

You can read more here

Revisited – Christ, the Coliseum, and Violence


This is one of the first pieces I ever wrote for another site (back in 2013). Still love this scenario. The Assassin’s Creed series is often the Adventures in Odyssey equivalent of the Imagination Station

I left Christ in the Roman Coliseum; I left him to die.

Carefully scaling the Coliseum walls, I slowly made my way towards my first targets: three would-be snipers. Quietly, in succession, I stealthily stabbed each in the back. Not one of the snipers knew of my existence. I am the wind, the shadows, the reaper of death. I am justice incarnate.

My second target: saving the actor playing Jesus Christ in a play. The irony of a Passion Play in the Roman Coliseum does not escape me. Who knows how many Christians fought for their very lives within these walls? Some believers even torn to shreds by lions for the amusement of Nero and the people. I shudder in disgust and then slip on the disguise of a Roman soldier. Christ awaits my saving grace.

Events quickly unfold in a way I could not foretell. The actor playing Christ has been drugged! I effortlessly scoop him up as Borgia men flood in from all sides of the Coliseum. My mission: get Christ to a doctor. Holding him, I can clearly see his crown of thorns and the fake blood smeared on him. I know his only hope is a cure beyond the battle ensuing around me. Suddenly, the world grinds to a stop.

– Reality Confronted –

If you haven’t guessed, my PS3 locked up as I was escorting the drugged actor to a doctor. I was frustrated. A day has since gone by and I have yet to try again. My wife reminds me that it took Christ three days to resurrect, so why not give the game a rest? My conscience is restless. Nine hours of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood has left me with questions. I find myself questioning the digital bodies I have left de-rezzed; I find myself questioning what I am learning about life, beyond the fact that assassinations from the air look awesome. Perspective is everything.

I know that at the end of the day I will return and continue my “historical” Roman adventure. But I want to keep in mind that violence is reality based. Violence is also something that is worshiped within American cinema and culture. I believe that the reason on-screen violence resonates with people so much is due to the fact that it is usually carried out in the pursuit of justice. The Bible says this though:

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. – Romans 12:19 (NIV)

and this:

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him! – Isaiah 30:18 (NLT)

I realize that Ezio’s actions in Brotherhood are simply a part of a fantasy world. I also realize that God is an avenger and a dealer of justice. Though I know that the worlds of fantasy and reality can sometimes blend, I want to be mindful of who and what I am allowing to shape my soul. So God help me.

Basic.Fellowship – Francis Chan


As part of his Basic.series of films, Francis Chan tackles the topic of fellowship in his Basic.Fellowship short. After watching the quick fifteen minute video, I was left with the following question:

  • Beyond potlucks, going to out to eat in large groups, and having large get-togethers that leave homes in shambles, what does fellowship look like for the modern Christian?

To answer my question, I immediately thought of where Acts 2 talks about what fellowship looked like for Biblical Christians:

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. – Acts 2: 42-47 (NIV)

Notice that they simply got together and took care of one another as one body of believers.  Those that needed help were helped; those that gave did so with sincerity. So again, what does fellowship look like for us?

Fellowship looks like:

  • Calling a brother in Christ during the week, randomly, and seeing how they are doing
  • Meeting up for lunch, sharing life together
  • Playing a game of softball with some of the guys from church
  • Serving at the local rescue mission
  • Passing on clothes that are no longer needed (like kids clothing)
  • Making the most of every opportunity to grow closer together in Christ (our glue)

Common Class Movies: Top 9 of 2009


Top 9 of 2009

(reposted from Jacob’s

Tis the season to make top X lists of the year and I would be remiss to not add my list of the best movies of 2009.

#9: The Box
The latest offering from Richard Kelly, the director of Donnie Darko, did not disappoint for all the people looking for the spiritual son of Donnie Darko. Kelly does an amazing job of creating the other worldly feel that he is most famous for and delivers a serious mind raping by asking the question “Would you let someone die for $1,000,000?”. The acting in The Box is incredibly well done and takes the audience for a very, very weird trip.

Most reviews have panned this movie, and has a RottenTomatoes score of 45%, but as for the people here at the Common Class we highly recommend seeing it.

Screen Rant
Rolling Stone

#8: (500) Days of Summer
(500) Days of summer is possibly the most unique movie that is on our list, because it is a non-linear movie (see definition) and the movie pulls it off wonderfully. As the viewer we get to see snapshots of the relationship of Tom and Summer as it is being remembered by the narrator. What this movie does well is it follows the thought process of the heart broken Tom as he tries to figure out what went wrong with his love, by jumping around in the story, one scene will be day 42 and the next will be day 208 and so on. Anyone who has every gone through a heart crushing breakup will immediately recognize the pattern that they see on the screen. (500) days of summer, does an incredible job of showing just how much a relationship can go from high to low and back and just how brutal a relationship can be.

Rolling Stones
New York Times

#7: Taken
Number 7 takes us way back to January, and the dusty streets of Europe. There’s a lot that could be said about this movie, but as for my 2 cents, all you really need to know is Liam Neeson is awesome. Taken offers, good action, great pacing and a decent enough story to keep you entertained. Do yourself, go rent this one, pop some popcorn and enjoy

New York Times

#6: The Hangover
The Hangover might also take the prize for “Biggest Surprise Movie” for 2009. I walked into this movie expecting stupid humor that would have funny moments but would be altogether boring and forgettable. I was dead wrong, The Hangover is one the funniest movies of 2009 with so much packed into that you barely have time to catch you breath. The biggest surprise for me is that the movie was pretty intelligent and did not involve too many cheap tricks to get laugh; I did not feel dumber for going to see The Hangover. I generally do not get excited to see a movie a 2nd time, but The Hangover is worth multiple viewings

Roger Ebert
Hollywood Reporter

#5: The Blind Side
The latest offering from Sandra Bullock may be one of her bests, The Blind Side should be near the top of everyone’s feel good movie list. This movie is very well acted, and actually portrays a Christian family, who you know are actually Christians. The Blind Side has generated a lot of buzz, both good and bad. The bad mainly focuses on the race issues and basically states that this is just a way for white people to feel good about themselves. All I can say to that is the only way you see a race thing in this movie is if you are looking for it, the family in this movie genuinely wants to help the character not because he’s black but because it’s the right thing to do. The race bating critics need to get off of themselves and let us move past race and focus on a truly good story of human helping human. This movie is hated by the critics and loved by audiences and by Common Class Movies.

MovieBob (disclaimer, does contain profanity. I also generally love MovieBob’s reviews but he was incredibly wrong here)
Huffington Post

#3/4: ZombieLand
The number 3 and 4 movies where so hard for me to pick that I decided not too. Zombieland is a movie that plays into every cliche’, every gimmick and every must have in a zombie/survival horror movie and it does them all perfectly. Zombieland is pure gold from the opening sequence, to the most amazing surprise I’ve seen in a movie, to the final credits. We enjoyed this movie immensly, and if you haven’t seen it, fix that, tonight.


#3/4: Inglorious Basterds
To continue me being to lazy to pick an actual a real number 3 and 4 we have the newest picture from Quienten Taritino. Generally, that would be more than enough said about any movie, but with Inglorious there’s much, much more to say. This could be Taritino’s best film since Pulp Fiction, if not better than Pulp Fiction (I can handle the hate mail, bring it on). This movie has everything you come to expect from a Tartino flick; long, amazing dialogue sections, lots and lots of blood, several wonderfully done over the top actors and a big scene where almost everyone dies. The almost 2 and half hour movie seems to fly by because of the amazing pacing and entertainment packed into Inglorious and if you don’t love Brad Pitt’s character you simply have no soul


#2: Up
Possibly the best Pixar movie ever made. I have grown up with Pixar and have loved all of them and Up is possibly the best that has ever come out of the studio. Up delivers on every level; the deep dark sadness of love, the overwhelming joy of triumph and everything in between. I have never in my life seen an animated, or many other movies in general pull such a wide range of emotions out of me before, if you have a soft heart you will cry your eye’s out in parts and stand up and rejoice in others, if you are heartless creep, you’ll come very close to crying and at least give a fist pump in excitement. This is not just one of the best movies of 2009 it’s easily one of the best of the last 5 years.

Roger Ebert
New York Times

And Finally

#1: Watchmen
Watchmen is a masterpiece, plain and simple. I could go on and on about how amazing this movie is, and how big the ideas are and just how grand and epic it is, but I won’t. I’ll just say this, it’s the best and if you didn’t see it, you missed out. The only problem with the movie is huge amount of massive smurf wang there is in it, if you don’t know what I’m talking about go see the movie and you’ll understand.

Roger Ebert

Thanks for reading


The views expressed in the above article are not necessarily shared by JBG. (This mostly includes the use of “massive smurf wang”.)