The time has come for me to write my most controversial post to date. This has been on my heart for a long time and I’m only now able to find the guts to write it. Here goes...my top ten (Mainstream) burger joints, and what I’d order at each…
Now before you freak out, remember that McDonald’s is the number one fast food chain in the world. You don’t grow that big if you’re not doing something right. In fact, it’s probably because you can find one around every corner that it goes unappreciated. It really is hard to top McDonald’s fries.
My Order: Cheeseburger and Fries
Another chain that’s largely underappreciated. Wendy’s has great variety, quality ingredients, and chili!
My Order: Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger and Fries
Unique burgers and fries, good sauces and a cool vibe.
My Order: Classic Smash with Rosemary Fries
No trip to Texas is complete without a trip to Whataburger. They’re big, juicy and flavorful.
My Order: Whataburger Classic with Fries
I love this place because of the taste, yes, but the fact that you can get chili smothered on everything is what helps it make the list!
My Order: Double Chili Cheeseburger with Chili Cheese Fries
5. Steak ‘n Shake
I’ve only had it once, but boy was it memorable.
My Order: Double ‘n Cheese with Thin ‘n Crispy Fries
4. Shake Shack
The last time I had Shake Shack was in Connecticut, while shooting a video on healthy eating.
My Order: Shackburger and Fries
3. Five Guys
I know I’m entering the sacred realm here. Some will cry foul that Five Guys isn’t number one. But this is my list and it’s number 3 here, pal. The overall vibe of Five Guys is pretty lamesauce...bags of peanuts everywhere? For real? But their burgers and fries are great. In fact, their cajun fries are my favorite on the planet.
My Order: Small Cheeseburger with Cajun Fries
2. Red Robin
Everything, and I mean everything at Red Robin tastes good. They even make spinach wraps appealing. I always make sure to put their Signature Seasoning on everything. Takes it to the next level. I love the eclectic decor, the bottomless fries and the variety of burgers.
My Order: Whiskey River Cheeseburger with Fries
Was there any doubt what burger I’d have in first place? I was born in Southern California so it’s also in my DNA to be a fan. The entire In-N-Out experience is perfect, from beginning to end. The dancing palm trees among red and white tiles, the nifty hats, the amazing efficiency of the crew, the confident simplicity of the menu, the secret menu, the deep red trays, the obligatory “Will you be eating this in the car” question, John 3:16...Oh, and did I mention the food? Yeah, it’s awesome.
My Order: Double Double Cheeseburger with Fries
My heart is heavy this morning. I know that every year Halloween is always a polarizing subject, but this year seems to be particularly bad. I can hardly scroll down my news feed on Facebook without seeing Halloween articles on both sides of the issue. Now, I’m ok with having civil discussions on a myriad of issues, but I’ve seen this topic reach a new low in 2013. Here’s a few random thoughts on the subject:
Apparently some Christians think they don’t need to have any grace with this subject.
I mean, for real, I've read some nasty comments. Look, some Christians are passionately against the celebration of Halloween...and that’s ok. And some Christians are completely fine with it...and that’s ok. Really. If someone asks your opinion on the subject, answer truthfully and with grace. But for goodness sake, don’t go lambasting one of your friends when they post a picture of their little girl in a princess costume tonight.
Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Col 4:6
Pastors bashing pastors for their stand on the issue.
It’s pathetic. Please stop.
If you’re gonna be so vehemently against Halloween that you can’t even contain yourself when someone has a different view, I sure hope you’re consistent in all other areas. Halloween has pagan roots...though if you research the topic you’ll realize it’s still a little hazy where some of these traditions really began...but Christmas, Easter...even the names of the days in the week have pagan roots. You may say, “Well, Christmas and Easter traditions are primarily about good things, while Halloween is primarily about evil”... But you wouldn’t use that same rationale on other issues. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I like what one guy recently wrote: “It’s inconsistent to call Halloween “Satan’s Birthday,” & then 4 weeks later front hug a Christmas tree like there was one in the manger.” Halloween is what people make of it. To the Satanist, it’s a day they believe the veil to the spirit world is most thinly veiled. To others, it’s a time to dress slutty, get drunk, lose inhibitions and party...and to some it’s about dressing innocent kids in cute costumes so they can get some free candy and be a part of a fun community event. Christmas is also what people make of it. To the atheist it’s definitely not a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, to most it’s about the commercialization and Santa Claus…To Christians, hopefully Jesus isn’t lost in all the fanfare.
If you’re of the “I want nothing to do with this pagan holiday” persuasion, chances are you attempt to redeem the night by passing out tracts with your candy. I’m happy you do that. But, you do realize you’re still participating in the holiday, right? Passing out candy is the other half of the equation! You’re trying to take something you view as evil and use it for something good...ever stop to consider that the family taking their kids trick or treating may be doing the exact same thing? Maybe they want to take a holiday that can be used for evil and use it as an opportunity to create memories with their kids. I trick or treated til I was 9 years old. I absolutely loved the holiday. It was never about evil to my family.
Halloween may not be for you. That’s fine. Just don’t act like it’s your duty to beat people over the head for disagreeing with you. And if Halloween is something you and your family participate in, have fun...and don’t think everyone who is against it is a “Pharisee” or a “Legalist”... we have liberty in Christ, and that liberty often leads us to different standards from each other.
It’s just ok.
They’re big, they’re small, they’re obvious, they’re subtle, they’re moving, they’re cheesy, they’re tasteful, they’re trashy…they’re movies. The thing about movies is, they’re a staple of our culture. Whether you like them or not, they are here to stay. Combining all the major arts into one package, movies are the premiere art form of our time. I love them. In fact, I love them so much I spend most of my time making them. Movies have something to say, and when they say it subtly and effectively it’s incredibly powerful. This is why I dislike most faith-based films – they’re not subtle at all… they’re mind-numbingly obvious. Christian filmmakers need to take a lesson from Hollywood. When Hollywood sets out to promote a certain agenda, let’s say the environmental movement for example, they create an intriguing cast of characters, an immersive world, and they go to work on our psyches. They draw us into their creations and before we know it we’re sympathizing. And do they entitle these films “Earth’s Revenge” or “Tree Huggers in Space”?… no, they name them WALL-E and Avatar…but I digress.
So what does all this have to do with watching movies with your kids? Nothing really, so let’s get to that now.
Movies can be dangerous, especially for kids. I doubt many would dispute that. Just look at the attitudes and dress of kids today – it’s a mirror reflection of the things you see in popular kids programming. I can’t even handle three minutes of the Disney Channel. It’s a bad idea to let the TV become your kids’ babysitter…but at the same time, it’s a bad idea to shelter your kids from media altogether. I’ve observed parents who didn’t allow their kids to watch any
movies or TV growing up, and after 18 years of listening to their friends rave about the latest and greatest movie, they get out from under their parents’ roof and devour entertainment like there’s no tomorrow!
I’m not advocating exposing your kids to objectionable material because they “Need to be exposed”…what I am saying is your kids need to learn how
to watch movies. If you do all the thinking for your kids now, when they leave home Hollywood is going to pick up where you left off.
When I was a 13 years old I went to see the movie “Antz” with my friend and his family. Though I remember not particularly enjoying the movie I couldn’t verbalize just why. After the movie my friend’s dad gave his input. He said “Aside from the fact that the characters weren’t very likeable and there were some curse words, the whole message of the movie was ‘Live for self’…” and for the first time I realized movies are saying something.
Movies are not merely entertainment. The worst mistake an audience can make when the movie begins is to turn off their brains. We need to watch movies proactively. We need to be aware of what the movies are saying to us, who they’re manipulating us to root for, what underlying attitudes are being portrayed, what the subtext of the dialogue is, and what the overarching theme of the movie is. Because whether we are aware of it or not, movies are programming how we think.
As in daily life, when your children are exposed to things you don’t want them to be influenced by, you use it as a teaching moment. Do the same with movies. Even family-friendly films often promote attitudes you wouldn’t want your kids to replicate. Take time when a movie is over (Or if you need to, pause the film) to discuss themes, actions, attitudes etc. that you your kids need to observe. Show them how the soundtrack of the movie can influence them to feel a certain way towards a character or situation. You’d be amazed at how even young children can learn to decipher these things on their own.
Recently my brother Nate and I produced a short film entitled The Lighthouse. We based the story loosely on The Prodigal Son. We took our time in carefully constructing the narrative. We had a lot we wanted to say with the movie, even though it contains no dialogue. Since we released the film a week ago, some audiences have observed and interpreted much of the details in the short 17 minute running length. Others have failed to realize the movie was trying to say anything at all. To aide in helping the audience to process the information presented we created a study guide. We’ve found that by taking a little time at the conclusion of the film to reflect on what was seen, the movie transcends mere entertainment.
Movies should be viewed in moderation, of course, but they are an important part of our culture. I encourage parents to consider the value of teaching their kids how to watch movies rather than sheltering them from them completely.
If you’re interested in watching our latest short film, you can check it out here: THE LIGHTHOUSE
Why do you do it? All of it. Your beliefs, standards and convictions. Do you know?
Lately I've been doing some soul searching. I can no longer accept key beliefs and practices in my life simply because someone else told me they were the right things to do. I'm not throwing them out the window, I'm just re-evaluating my real motivation for doing them. I've realized that some of what I do as a Christian is mere religiosity and not truly flowing from a heart of worship. I want to share some of the things that have been on my mind for the past year or so. My prayer is that this post would challenge you to think.
While Jesus was on this earth, there was no group he was harder on than the Pharisees.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Matthew 23:25
The Pharisees had everything together on the exterior, but they were completely screwed up on the inside. They were religious, but only on the outside.
Here's the problem with religion: It makes you lazy. We just want the preacher to give us the list of do's and dont's so we can turn our brains off. I heard an example given where a parishioner told the preacher he didn't have any convictions. The preacher replied "Borrow mine till you get some of your own." The trouble is, a lot of people borrow the preacher's convictions for their entire lives, never stopping to grasp just why they're doing what they're doing. This is dangerous.
Every one of us will give an account to God for what we do in this life. "Because my preacher said so" isn't going to cut it.
I'm not encouraging you to become a rebel and "question authority"...but rather to follow the standard of Scripture:
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. John 5:39
...they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11
The Biblical principle is that you evaluate what the preacher is saying, compare it with scripture, and come to your beliefs on an individual level.
A few areas I want to challenge you in...
I've travelled all over the world visiting churches and creating promotional videos for them. I've observed thousands of "worship" services -- from traditional, to contemporary and everything in between. My job dictates that I observe carefully, picking out good subjects from the crowd -- the ones who are singing with passion. I'm convinced that most of the people I look at through the viewfinder aren't worshipping. I see lots of sidebar conversations, unhappy expressions and mumbling mouths. I see ritual.
Both the contemporary and the traditional worship services have their pitfalls. The traditionalist who sings the same 30 hymns week in and week out is in danger of treating the worship time as a ritual. The contemporary worship service may be more exciting but it's easy to get swept up in the music and not consider deeply what you're singing -- relying on the worship leader to let you know when "God is in this place." I'm not condemning either. I'm trying to encourage you to stop being religious. Sing your hymns or worship choruses unto the Lord! How many times have we sung "I Surrender All" when we totally didn't mean it?
Why are you a part of the movement you're in? Is it because that movement converted you and consequently you've never looked any place else? I've heard the statement made "Don't forsake your heritage"...as if your duties to the forefathers of your movement supersedes your responsibility to find the truth for yourself. By the way, the people who encourage you not to forsake your heritage would never tell that to someone who was converting from another movement into their own. It's a terrible reason to stay in a movement. If you search the scriptures and find that those who went before you were wrong on some issues, forget tradition, pursue the truth!
Daily Bible Reading
Are you just checking a box on your spirituality worksheet? Or are you searching desperately for God?
Do you have any idea why you do or don't do certain things? And I mean Biblically. Don't be so quick to condemn other people for standards-related issues. Things like celebration of holidays, music, dress etc. mostly fall into grey areas. I get weary of people being so dogmatic on things the Bible doesn't emphasize. I've met some pretty awful people wearing denim skirts or shirts and ties.
Evaluate everything you do. Don't just do things because they're what you've always done. Don't just do things because a man (Even a very good man) told you to.
Quit being lazy.
Quit being religious.
Today, a monumental decision was made in the Supreme Court to overturn California's Proposition 8. I want to share a few brief, even disjointed thoughts on this hot topic.
God defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. (Matt. 19:5-7)
God defines homosexuality as sinful (Rom. 1:26-32) It's important to note here that homosexuality is thrown in the mix with things like disobedience, fornication, pride and murder. Lets not start picking out sins that we don't do and labelling them as worse than our own.
I don't believe we should be "Homophobic"
Seriously, those idiots at Westboro Baptist, they don't speak for me. They're hateful and unchristian in every sense of the word. I don't call homosexuals "queers" and "fags". I'm not going to lob insults at their particular sin just because I don't understand it. I interact with gays often and I don't act weird toward them. Does this mean I am condoning their lifestyle? No, of course not. But I'm not their judge. They're accountable to God for their actions. If one of them asked me my opinion on their lifestyle I'd show them what the Bible teaches on the subject. But I want them to understand Christ's love.
Disagreeing with someone's lifestyle does not equal hate. If I hate someone for being gay, then I guess I hate liars, disobedient kids, fornicators, drunks, prostitutes, drug abusers, egomaniacs, and...myself. We're all sinners, of course (Rom 3:23). The conservative Christian beef with marriage being redefined is not about hating the LGBT community, it's about loving God, His Word, and the Christian heritage of this nation.
It's incredibly misguided to define our own morality. There must be a standard by which we define our morals. That standard is God's unchanging word. If the Left is so concerned with marriage equality, where's the love for the polygamists (I think it's because they're Mormons) or the members of NAMBLA? In their world, they're totally within bounds. Who are we deny someone the right to marry more than one person, or someone who's "underage"...who defines "underage" anyway? You see where I'm going with this? Now I know that many people do not consider the Bible to be anything more than a book of fairytales, but to them I say, where do you draw your morals from? They have to come from somewhere. If it's the general consensus that's a bad plan. That's how slavery became so widely accepted not too long ago in our country. Whether you like it or not, this country was founded by Christians seeking religious freedom. Its laws were shaped by Biblical principles. We're now defining our own terms and chaos is ensuing.
If you want to see some real hatred look at how the media and some gay marriage advocates spew venom at any Christian who voices his belief in the Biblical definition of marriage. Seriously. I was scrolling through some Twitter hashtag feeds this morning and was pretty surprised at the hatred that was directed to people who share my Christian viewpoint. Gays are one of the most empowered groups in our culture today. Christians are treated like they have the plague. The belief that marriage is between a man and a woman is now seen as ignorant and illogical.
Any kind of promiscuous lifestyle leads to disease and early death. I'm not just directing that at gays. That's hetero-promiscuity too. Is that not a red flag? A couple that does things Gods way - One man, one woman, for their entire lives isn't going to get an STD. That's a fact, Jack.
If there are any gays reading this, I love you and I respect you as a person. I may not agree with your lifestyle but I don't look at you any differently than I do a straight person who has sex before marriage. I apologize on behalf of people who have mistreated and bullied you. But please understand this: When you try to redefine marriage, you're out of your jurisdiction. God already defined it. If you want to be homosexual that's totally your call and you do not answer to me for that. But don't cross the line and try to twist a fundamental teaching of God's word into what you think it should be. You're discriminating against me. That's so hypocritical of you.
You, me, and everyone else needs Jesus Christ. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom. 6:23.
Just throwing this out there...
For most independent Baptist missionaries it's a long road to get to the field they've been called to. While I totally believe there's value in having to work, to overcome obstacles and to get outside of the comfort zone to accomplish something, some of these missionaries are spending 3+ years on deputation.
Is there a better way?
Maybe what I'm about to suggest is already being done someplace I'm not aware of but here's some food for thought...
There was some annual or biannual gathering of pastors and missionaries where for a solid week, large numbers of missionaries could present their burdens to large numbers of pastors. The sole purpose of the meeting would be to help missionaries gain support quickly. The pastors could have the chance of meeting and questioning quite a few missionaries over the course of the week. Hopefully these missionaries could raise a large chunk of their support in just a week's time.
Pastors, missionaries, what do you think?
For the past several years I've made it a point to commemorate all of life's special moments with a video. Here is the timeline so far...
From the Early Dating Days:
Our Save the Date in 2010:
Our Documentary Shoot in 2011:
Baby Announcement 2012:
Short Film Trailer Made with my Brother in 2013:
Jonathan's Birth in 2013:
I don't know about you but I'm stoked for the upcoming film "Man of Steel"... Each trailer makes me more excited. Of course, besides the red 'S', the bulging muscles and the cape, Superman is defined by his musical theme. John Williams captured the essence of Superman with his heroic original score. Now it's time for a new era. How do you feel Hans Zimmer's new score compares to the original?
John Williams' Original Theme
Hans Zimmer's New Theme