first words

Issue #3 December 2011-February 2012 PUBLISHER Connection Communications DIRECTOR Brian Nixon EDITORIAL Bekah Hanson | Editorial Director rebekah.hanson@calvaryabq.org Joan Polito | Associate Editor Nancy Reimann | Associate Editor Jerry Rood | Associate Editor Yo Snyder | Associate Editor CONTRIBUTORS Ray Del Toro |Matt Gentry | Will Hall Leigha Harvey | Nate Heitzig | Skip Heitzig Jesse Lusko| Dominic Sedillo AJ Villegas DESIGN Khanh Dang | Design Director Brandon Lopez | Jr. Designer ADVERTISING Darren Arnold | Sales Director darren.arnold@calvaryabq.org Reoyne Cook | Account Executive reoyne.cook@calvaryabq.org Nate Stokes | Account Executive nate.stokes@calvaryabq.org DISTRIBUTION If you are a retailer and would like to carry

YO:
Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…Static Paper? How many times have I told you guys you need to use rocks to weigh those things down on windy days (which we have in abundance here in New Mexico). In any event, we’re pretty happy about this edition of Static. You might even say that it’s heroic.

Bekah:
We don’t have an abundance of windy days. Haven’t you ever been to my hometown? Chicago is the Windy City. Windy with pizza and hot dogs. We don’t put ketchup on our hot dogs—we use celery salt, instead. Can you believe this is our third Static Paper? Yeah, I know. It’s a tremendous success because of the brilliant writing. No, really…you’re welcome.

YO:
Well, give credit where credit is due, I always say. So a nice round of applause for Beckah. And after you’ve warmed your hands a bit, let’s talk about Santa Claus and his connection to the Justice League. What’s that, you say? Santa isn’t a member of the Justice League? Well, perhaps, but why is that? Have you ever wondered about that, or is that just me?

Bekah:
Umm, Yo? You spelled my name wrong. It’s Bekah…short for Rebekah. Like in the Bible? I don’t see you walking around spelling Jakob and Esaw. About Santa, it’s just you. But I’m looking forward to seeing how you plan on tying him into an article about superheroes. I suppose if anyone can pull it off, it would be you. Aren’t we also talking to Hawk Nelson? “‘They say that we’re insane/We say that we’ve been changed/By the power of/Crazy Love!’’ Sorry…got a little carried away there. It is my phone’s ring tone.

YO:
Spelling’s never been my strong suite(sp?), so don’t take it personally. And yeah, we talked with Jason from Hawk Nelson about a lot of things: their future, Christmas, and hockey— so much about hockey. Just a warning for all you NFL fans, apparently football’s not a real sport. Personally, I think I’m most excited about talking with the producer of The Lion King—how cool is that?

Static Paper, please contact:
Joan Polito joan.polito@calvaryabq.org 505.344.0880

Bekah:
That was pretty cool. And I got to talk to an amazing lady nicknamed Oma, who told us a whole lot about our soldiers overseas and how they’re feeling during the Christmas season. Seriously people, come on. You can sing country songs and post a picture on Facebook, but our soldiers think we’ve forgotten about them. We need to do more. Anyways, I’m excited for Christmas. We should have a reader contest and see the most creative origami made from a recycled Static Paper sometime. I’d also like to speak ‘‘Dinosaur’’ one day. I’m going to try to find a book on Amazon about speaking ‘‘Dinosaur.” I’ll be back later…

YO:
4001 Osuna Road NE Albuquerque, NM 87109 1.800.922.1888 …Umm, yeah, ok. Well, there are some amazing things in this issue, including a major revelation from me (about why I like Batman). So you have confessions, interviews, music reviews, Christmas, superheroes, Santa Claus…you pretty much have everything you could ever want…except for a hot cocoa dispenser. I wonder how we could incorporate that into the paper? I would read a paper that also dispensed hot cocoa…I’m going to look into that while you look inside Static Paper for all the goodies we have in store for you.

the craft

DIY: DECOUPAGE COASTERS
hKhanh Dang

This is a super-duper fun way to add a little zing to otherwise boring household items. These cute coasters make perfect housewarming gifts—but you can give them for any occasion! The best part about this project is it’s so inexpensive to do.

DIRECTIONS: 1. Place the tile face down. With the X-Acto knife, cut
your paper around the outside of the tile. After you’re done, it should be the perfect size to fit on top of the tile. (If not, use scissors to correct it.) Now, if you want a border, you can cut the square smaller; it’s up to you. I like to make some with borders and some without, depending on the tiles I have. 2. On top of the tile, put a layer of Mod Podge and put the paper on top. Let that dry for about ten minutes or so; if you get impatient, you could end up with bubbles underneath your paper. Make sure you wait before going to the next step. 3. Next, put a layer of Mod Podge over the paper. You’ll need to repeat this step ten times. Remember to let the glue dry before putting a new layer on. 4. You can also use a water-repellent spray so you don’t have to put on as many layers of Mod Podge. If you do that, you only need to put a couple layers of the Mod Podge and then spray the water repellent. 5. After the top is dry, it’s time to put the felt on the bottom. Put the tile on top of the felt and, with the XActo knife, cut around the tile. My felt already had adhesive on the bottom, but if yours doesn’t, you can use tacky glue or a glue gun to put the felt on the bottom of the tile. 6. Enjoy and admire—you’re all done! For zillions more craft and DIY ideas, visit pinterest.com.

WHAT YOU NEED:
- 6 ceramic tiles (I got the cheapest ones from Lowe’s. I think they were 20 cents each, or you can find scraps at thrift stores) - Felt - Paper (anything from scrapbook paper to wrapping paper to the Static Paper, but the thicker the better!) - Mod Podge (it’s a glue that dries clear) - Sponge Brush - X-Acto (utility) knife - Water Sealant (optional)

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sprinkles

the edge

Is Santa Claus a superhero? Our first reaction to that question is, ’’No, of course not.” I mean, he doesn’t wear a cape, and he certainly doesn’t wear spandex (thankfully). That’s true. But what about some of the other classic tropes of superheroes? He has his own secret lair up there at the North Pole (probably next door to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude). He apparently has some sort of telepathic power like Charles Xavier of the X-Men; you know, with all that knowing who’s been bad or good and seeing you when you’re sleeping and awake stuff. He can apparently teleport like Nightcrawler (how else would the big guy fit down some of those chimneys, to say nothing of homes, without one). Some say he has a nifty array of gadgets like Batman. And he certainly has his own version of the Batmobile, or Batsleigh. And I’m thinking he’d have to be pretty strong, like Superman, to carry that huge bag of toys around with him all night. I could go on and on, but I think you get my point: Santa certainly has a lot of similarities with other superheroes—so why don’t we think of him as one? And why are superheroes such a big deal anyway? Superheroes have been around for a long time. You can trace their origins all the way back to Greek mythology. However, I think the kind of superheroes most of us are familiar with really got started back in 1938, when Action Comics introduced the world to Superman. Things got rolling pretty quickly after that: Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Iron Man, and others were introduced in the following decades. However, the characters didn’t really become ingrained into our pop culture consciousness until (and again, this is up for debate) 1978, when the debut of Superman: The Movie made people believe a man could fly. In 1989, Tim Burton’s Batman turned superhero films into certifiable summer blockbusters, and Bryan Singer’s X-Men in 2000 showed these films could be serious and complex. 2008’s The Dark Knight proved that superheroes could be in extraordinary movies—true gems of the film industry—and things have only accelerated from there. This past year alone we’ve had four superhero-based films, grossing over $600 million altogether. So from the page to the screen, superheroes have been popular for a long time. The movie versions pushed them to the forefront of awareness more than once and, as the box office shows, people love them. But why? (And how does Santa fit into all of this?) There are plenty of writings on the psychology of superheroes and why they resonate with us; I’m not going to get into any of that. Instead, let me just share a story by way of example. On the wall of my cubicle is a picture of Batman. It was drawn by my incredibly talented brother and it depicts Batman slouched on a stone chair deep within the bat-cave. He is obviously worn out, tired, and discouraged. The never-ending battle he wages against darkness and evil has taken its toll. He wonders if it’s worth it, if it makes a difference, why he even bothers to put everything on the line without ever seeing any definitive results. It’s Batman at his lowest, darkest point—and I find it inspiring. Why? Because I’ve had days like that. I have had days when I’ve wondered whether this whole Christian thing is worth it, when I’ve wondered why I bother living so differently when it seems to make so little difference. Why bother trying to follow Christ when it seems so many others gain far more by going their own way? Why put up with the resistance, the persecution, the belittlement, hostility, or even indifference to all I represent as a Christian? Those are the moments when I’m there, slouched in that chair, deep in a cave, wondering if it’s all worth it and why I even bother. Then a verse comes to me. John 6:66-68: ‘‘From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve [and in those dark times, me]. Simon Peter

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answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God’” (NIV). That’s when a shaft of light, like the one that beams down on Batman in the picture on my wall, shoots through the darkness. I do this “‘Christian thing” because there is no other ‘‘thing.” I’ve looked; there are no other sources for the answers I need. There is nowhere else where I can find truth. Batman carries on because there is no one else who can do the things he does—and for the memory of his parents. I carry on because there is no one else I can turn to for the keys of eternal life other than Jesus Christ—and for the love of my heavenly Father who sacrificed all to save me. You see, heroes like Batman inspire us. They can even serve as a sort of pop-culture parable as, whether we realize it or not, they point to and illustrate biblical truths. And that’s one reason we’re drawn to superheroes. Another reason we’re drawn to superheroes is because we live in a world that knows it needs them. Our world is full of trouble. A look at the headlines reveals financial crises, wars and skirmishes, and some incredibly dark things done by people for all kinds of crazy reasons. It’s chaotic. It’s scary. It’s the type of situation where someone might shout out, ‘‘This looks like a job for…”—but people aren’t quite sure how to fill in that last part. Is it a job for politicians? No matter how we vote, things don’t seem to improve. Is it a job for sports role models or music moguls? More often than not they end up taking a turn for the worse, or turn out disappointing us as they disgrace themselves. It’s hard to find real-world heroes, so people turn to fantasy. Hence the continuous growth in the popularity of superhero films, video games, comic books, action figures, etc. Deep down we like heroes. We like to be inspired by them. We like knowing someone is there to watch over and protect us— and that’s where it all ties together. Those desires we have are for something very real and available to us all, just not in the tights/cape form. While superheroes have thrived on the movie screen, they’ve been slowly dying on the printed page. Comics aren’t nearly as big as they once were; even the big summer blockbusters have struggled to draw in new readers. This sparked a debate on how to make the heroes more relatable. DC Comics went so far as to revamp their entire lineup. In an unprecedented move, they rebooted the entire DC Comics Universe. Every issue started fresh with a new #1, which, for Action Comics and Detective Comics, was the first time that happened. Many characters were given

new looks. Some received slightly altered origin stories. Most all of them were drawn as younger, hipper, and more inexperienced, to help create more interesting storylines and drama. Some longstanding relationships were dissolved (no more Lois and Clark because marriage is too unrelatable—not relevant in today’s culture), and more casual relationships were introduced: Just about every character has hooked-up at least once by this point; it’s like James Bond is writing the stories. It was a bold move on DC’s part, and thus far it has done what it was designed to do: generate sales. But I don’t think it will last. Despite what some say, we don’t enjoy superheroes because they’re so similar to us. We enjoy them for the very fact that they’re different. True, it’s interesting when they encounter similar problems to our real-world ones, but those are interesting because of the fact that they’re different; they can handle problems in ways we could never dream of. People are drawn to superheroes because they see in them the traits they can’t find elsewhere. The qualities of nobility, dignity, integrity, and courage are lacking in our everyday world. We see the superheroes fearlessly face the things that we’re afraid of. They overcome the things we think we never could. They give us a sense of security and comfort: maybe—just maybe—somebody cares enough to look out for us and put our interests above their own. When we make superheroes more like us—conflicted, unsure, fearful, flawed—we remove the very qualities that draw us to them and inspire us. DC’s grand experiment has grabbed a lot of attention; but as superheroes are made more relatable (i.e., more like you and me), I think they’ll generate less interest. What resonates about superheroes is their sense of otherness. Because quite frankly, we feel that’s something missing in reality. The fact is our world wants a superhero. We see movies about them because they’re fun, and for a few brief hours we can pretend there’s someone powerful out there ready to swoop in and save the day. Well, that’s more accurate than we realize. There is truth in those stories and adventures; perhaps it’s that kernel of truth that draws us to them in the first place. Believe it or not, all those superheroes are actually based on a true story. Jesus Christ is the archetype, model, preeminent hero upon which all others (consciously or not) are based. While some may not recognize Him as a superhero, they’ve all been following in His footsteps. Jesus was an alien among humans, God among the people, the extraordinary amongst the ordinary.

rtainly has a lot Santa ce er ilarities with oth of sim we es—so why don’t superhero ? ink of him as one th

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He came not just to share nice words and moral teachings on how to have a better life—but to engage death and evil in the epic battle. The skirmishes began with the healings and the casting out of demons. The battles were waged among the beliefs of the people. Was Jesus just a man, or could He possibly be what He claimed—God in the flesh? (See John 10:33.) For a moment it seemed as though He lost; He sacrificed all—even His very life—upon the cross. Yet ultimately victory was His, as death could not contain Him and evil could not hold Him as He rose from the grave triumphant. Ascending into heaven, He then empowered others to go and do similar works, to help those in need, to proclaim grace and forgiveness—in short, to help save the world. It’s a story that’s been repeated in various forms by just about every superhero since Superman. The very fact we’re drawn to such stories demonstrates our desire for the seed of truth planted within them. People love superheroes because they need a hero of their own. Jesus Christ is that hero; He always has been. But wait a minute! You’re thinking. What does any of this have to do with Santa? I’ve been reading this whole stupid article to figure out what Santa has to do with superheroes! Yeah… well…see…that…um…well, that was just a ploy to get you to keep reading. Heh, worked pretty well, didn’t it? But in all seriousness, how could anyone ever truly relate Santa to the superhero phenomena? I mean the guy is just too jolly, and he’s not exactly tough looking—that belly jiggling like a bowl full of jelly thing: Could you ever imagine that being said of Superman or Wolverine? He pretty much just flies around giving people presents, which isn’t a bad thing because I really like presents. And in its own way, that’s kind of inspiring as well. How many of us would be willing to make a career out of giving to others? That’s it; that’s all we’d do. Every waking minute devoted to finding out what would make others happy and help them and deliver on those desires. Could you do that? And even if Santa isn’t real (sorry kids, I forgot the spoiler alert), neither are any of the other heroes discussed in this article. But their influence on people is

certainly real enough. They inspire, bring us joy, encourage, and entertain. Santa’s kind, generous nature is also real enough, embodied in all who are willing to give as much as we can to bless others—not just during Christmas, but throughout the entire year. So there you go, there’s the little tie-in to good ol’ Saint Nick and how he relates to superheroes. They may not be real, but their effect on us certainly is. Then again, Santa is also a reminder that not every hero is cut from the same cloth (pun intended). Sure, we typically think of someone in flashy tights and a cape with incredible powers to do bombastic things, but that’s not the only type of hero around. Santa Claus looks different from the traditional superhero, but he also has a recognizable outfit and does a lot of good, bringing good cheer and joy, blessings, and generosity. I’m certain that 2000 years ago, the last place anyone would have looked for a hero was in a manger. In the Roman legions, maybe. Or in a palace somewhere. Maybe even in the gladiatorial arena. But a lowly manger? Come on. How is that heroic? And yet the little baby in the manger became the embodiment of heroism. He is the template for all the colorful heroes in capes that came later, and the really crazy and amazing part is: He is real. All the amazing things He did? Real. Casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, forgiving sins, making the lame walk and the blind see? All real. Dying on a cross to pay the price for our sins? Very real. Rising from His own grave, forever conquering death? I’m so glad that’s real. And even though these acts are all well-documented, Jesus is sometimes treated as just another superhero; a fictional character to inspire real-world heroics. I wonder why we’re so content with the fiction instead of the reality. Our hearts and souls resonate when we hear superhero stories, and there Jesus stands waiting to have us invite Him into our lives as our own, very real, very powerful Hero. But some of us would rather just go to the movies. We’d rather hear stories about Santa Claus this time of year. We’d rather have the fake superheroes than the real Savior—and that’s pathetic.

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Those a there, s re the moment s when louched I’m in that a cave, chair, d wonder eep in ing if it ’s all w and wh orth it y I even bother.

the jocks

GROWING UP ON THE STREETS
hMatt Gentry

For me, growing up on the streets of Tucson was not an easy life, especially in a skateboard gang. Everyone knows that gang-life is not what it’s cracked up to be. We were the only gang of its kind in the country. Most likely, you won’t believe me when I tell you that these were tumultuous times. I mean, before I could even go outside and terrorize our neighborhood there were things (chores) that I had to do. 1) Practice classical piano for two hours. And if my grandma was home, I would usually end up practicing for three hours. 2) Make sure my clothes were ready for the next school day. This included ironing my 501s and my Izod button-up polo, and making sure I had no leaks in my pocket protector. 3) Organize my stamp collection. This was a continuous struggle for me, due to the fact that I love the taste of stamp glue. These were just a few of the things I was responsible for before I could go outside and play…I mean, run with the sidewalk gang. I remember people pointing and laughing with fear as we rode by in our streetwear—complete with cowboy hats, boots, and bell-bottom jeans—terrorizing infants and the elderly. I knew they were afraid of my skateboard gang. They had no idea what to think of us. But I knew. I knew exactly what to think…unfortunately, I can’t remember what it was. Seriously though, we all have responsibilities in life—and a ton of distractions. My encouragement to you is to evaluate your responsibilities, prioritize them, and see how God blesses you.

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the dream

MY MASQUERADE MASK
hLeigha Harvey

did you know? HOT CHOCOLATE

OK, SO EVERYONE KNOWS WHO THOUSAND FOOT KRUTCH IS, RIGHT?
You know. The awesome Christian rock band from Canada? My favorite band? Yes, that’s right, I said it: Thousand Foot Krutch is my favorite band! I’m what you would call a hardcore fan, and there is not much that happens in TFK world that I don’t know about. So you can imagine my surprise and absolute delight when I discovered, scrolling through their Facebook page, that I was in the album artwork for the new Welcome to the Masquerade Fan Edition. How did this happen? A while back the band had a promotion for fans to send in pictures of them wearing the Welcome to the Masquerade mask. And if your picture was chosen, it would be used in the album artwork and they would send you an email to let you know. I sent in a picture of me wearing the mask that I got from them the last time they came through Albuquerque. (It’s actually the mask I used for the Masquerade Prom, but I added a few embellishments to it: some feathers and jewels and stuff.) So I sent it in and never heard back; I assumed it didn’t get picked for the project. Ergo, my extreme surprise when I glanced over a picture of the album artwork posted on their page and see—me! This has only served to permanently lock TFK into place as my favorite band. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet them, watch shows from onstage and backstage, and even to announce them—but this one takes the cake. It just goes to show, you never know what’s going to happen in life. (Now if I could just find a copy of Oddball’s album Shutterbug, my life would be complete.)

The first chocolate beverage is believed to have been created by the Mayans around 2000 years ago, and a cocoa beverage was an essential part of Aztec culture by 1400 AD. The beverage became popular in Europe after being introduced from Mexico in the New World, and has undergone multiple changes since then. Until the 19th century, hot chocolate was even used medicinally to treat ailments such as stomach diseases. In the United States, the drink is popular in instant form, made with hot water or milk from a packet containing mostly cocoa powder, sugar, and dry milk. This is the thinner of the two main variations. It is very sweet and may be topped with marshmallows, whipped cream, or a piece of solid chocolate. Hot chocolate was first brought to North America as early as the 17th century by the Dutch, but the first time colonists began selling hot chocolate was around 1755. Traditionally, hot chocolate has been associated with cold weather, winter, and dessert in the United States, and is now rarely drunk with meals. Research has shown that the consumption of hot chocolate can be positive to one’s health. A study conducted by Cornell University has shown that hot chocolate contains more antioxidants than wine and tea, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. One serving of hot chocolate contains 192 calories, 6 grams of fat, 9 grams of protein, and 24 grams of sugar.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_chocolate http://www.chacha.com/question/what-is-the-healthstatistics-for-hot-chocolate

Get Awesome Hot Chocolate Recipes from The Food Network

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testify

FROM OUR READERS
1984-I was born less than two pounds with cerebral palsy, and had a shunt put in my head at birth. I was in the Denver Children’s Hospital for three months in intensive care. I had breathing tubes and couldn’t breathe. The doctors had me monitored and noticed that I started breathing on my own without the tubes after a few months. I thank my heavenly Father for giving me this life. —Himhaer My name is Carissa, and the Lord has set me free from the sinful practice of masturbation. This is the testimony of God’s grace in my life. I am currently a senior at Western New Mexico University and have been a Christian for many years. I first felt God drawing me to Himself in middle school. After I accepted Him as my Savior, He gradually started the process of purifying me. The first sin He revealed to me was my practice of masturbation. This is such an ugly word and practice that I am so ashamed of. I was in bondage, in chains to this sinful practice, yet slowly He brought me away from that and I am so grateful. I literally was a slave to this sin and lived constantly in a state of guilt. I never realized what a terrible practice it was in my life until I was set free by Christ. Christ is continually working within me and cleansing me of impurities. Although He freed me from my bondage, I refused to expose my sinful nature and proclaim His glory in healing me, and as a result have lived in the bondage of shame ever since. The Lord is now opening my eyes to this shame and fear that has been present far too long in my life. He is showing me I need to put down my pride, shame, and fear and tell of the wonderful things He has done in my life. He has freed me, and there is no shame in being freed. I am trying to live out 2 Corinthians 5:15, which says, ‘‘And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again” (NIV). It takes me long periods of time to see my sin and He so patiently points it out to me. I am sharing my story that His name may be glorified, and also that others may know they are not alone in struggling with masturbation. This is a sinful world, but God has a glorious plan and can heal any wound or hurt and turn bad situations into something beautiful. I am a very slow work in progress, but I believe that He will finish the good work He has started within me. All glory and praise be to Him. —Carissa

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flashback

TAKING IT BACK TO 1978
hBekah Hanson
Besides the fact that this is the year my younger sister was born (she went home to Jesus in 2009), 1978 was a pretty epic year. Why? Did you just ask why? The Cowboys won the Super Bowl. They beat the Broncos. And the Yankees won the World Series. Yep—that’s enough for me.

Serial killer Ted Bundy was captured in Pensacola, Florida. Al Unser won his third Indy 500 race. On June 19, the Garfield comic strip made its debut. Who was born in ’78? Ashton Kutcher, Brian Urlacher, Kobe Bryant, and Katie Holmes. Who died? Joe Dougherty (he did the original voice of Porky Pig), Keith Moon (drummer for The Who), and Norman Rockwell. A gallon of gas cost 63¢ and a dozen eggs cost 48¢. Oh, sad year! After nearly 30 years, Volkswagen stops production of the Beetle after having manufactured 20 million cars. No: The new ones don’t compare. I don’t care if they have a pretty little flower vase glued to their dashboards. Space Invaders launched a craze for video games. Movies! Grease. Saturday Night Fever. Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And on television, people were watching Three’s Company, The Love Boat, CHiPs, and The Muppet Show. Two of the biggest hit singles were ”Stayin’ Alive” and ”Y.M.C.A.” In 1978, there was a brief craze for transparent plastic trousers worn with leotards underneath. (This maniacal craze is something I had a deep conversation with my oh-soyoung-friend Michelle Bransford about. She seemed dying to see a picture, while I felt a sudden need to be sick.) Celebrities of the 1970s also appeared regularly wearing leotards, including Joni Mitchell, Cher, and even Rod Stewart. Now put down your iPod for a second and listen up: In 1978, Sony introduced the Walkman—the first portable stereo. Do any of you have one lying around the house? Let’s bring the

Walkman back. C’mon, let’s have a Walkman Resurgence, a Bring Back the Walkman fan page on Facebook. We can do this. 100,000 likes by January. Oh, yeah. We’ve totally got this. Anyway, what’s the point of the Flashback section in Static Paper? Doesn’t it feel close to yesterday that you couldn’t wait to turn 16 and drive a car? That’s the point. You’ve heard it so many times that we don’t even think about it anymore: Time flies. Like, fast. We don’t know when our time is up. We don’t know when our friends or family members times are up. Are they saved? Are we? ‘‘Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 ESV).

If you have not already received Jesus Christ as your Lord and personal Savior—do it now. Please don’t wait. With a sincere and repentant heart, pray: ”Father, I know I am a sinner. I repent of my sin, and turn away from it. I turn to Jesus. I believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again, saving all who believe in Him. Fill me with Your Spirit and come into my life. Transform me. Make me into a new creation. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.” If you prayed this prayer, please contact Calvary of Albuquerque: 505.344.0880 There are people waiting to hear from you!

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the heart

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WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT MISSIONARY DATING? IS IT OK TO DATE SOMEONE IF YOU THINK IT WILL EVENTUALLY HELP THEM BECOME A CHRISTIAN?
It’s 6 am as my iPhone alarm goes off. I hit the snooze button in hopes it will temporarily stop time but, inevitably, nine minutes later it sounds again. This time I hit the OK button—and so begins my morning ritual. When it comes to my mornings, there are two apps for it. First, the Bible app for some daily devotion time and then the Twitter app to see what’s been happening in the 6-7 hours that we were separated. I sort through the mass of tweets, from news to inspirational. As I come across one, I laugh loud enough for my wife to ask, ”What‘s so funny?” It’s a tweet from Jon Acuff, author of the hilarious book Stuff Christians Like. The tweet reads: ‘‘Missionary Dating: when God calls you to convert sexy singles in your area.” As funny as that is, the idea of missionary dating is something that has come up a lot lately. As a pastor, I have heard it from students as young as 6th grade, all the way up to some of my twenty-something friends. If you haven’t ever heard the words missionary and dating used together before—well, get used to it. You’re sure to hear it from a friend, your child, or maybe you’ve even contemplated doing it yourself. Simply put, missionary dating is dating an unbeliever, hoping that eventually you’ll win them over to Christ. The idea seems harmless at first. Date an unbeliever, spend most of your time talking to them about Jesus, and hey—if it doesn’t work, cut off the relationship. If only it was that easy. There are two problems. First and foremost, it is disobedient to the Word of God. Second Corinthians 6 says, ‘‘Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14 NLT). A Christian should always date with marriage in mind; therefore, unbelievers shouldn’t even make the cut. Second, it’s never easy to just break it off if the person doesn’t come to faith. Unfortunately, the first thing that caught your attention to the unbeliever wasn’t their soul being in danger of judgment. Usually, it boils down to physical attraction or a common interest in music, fashion, or some other thing you find of equal importance with an unbeliever—like how you both want to save the whales. Breaking it off doesn’t come easy because you’ve become emotionally involved, and you’re likely to stay with this person even if they don’t come to faith. You’re likely to think that a deeper commitment will help them come to the conclusion that Jesus is Lord. Why do you think there are so many unequally yoked marriages and ministries that exist today? Yes, some unbelieving couples marry and one of them gets saved and they should stay married. But most are because a believer compromised both their values and the Word of God on some superficial attraction—and attraction isn’t enough to sustain a relationship. Then they think, Well maybe marriage will bring a deeper connection. When that doesn’t work, perhaps a baby will solve it; and so the cycle continues. Maybe you’re thinking, But what if I know this is the one for me? Check four things: 1) Could anything that is against God’s Word be right for you? 2) If you are honestly concerned about this person’s eternal destiny, then ask a friend of the same sex as that person to witness to them. That way you keep yourself from temptation and still give them the truth. 3) Pray for the person. A believer should be more concerned about making disciples than matchmaking. Pray that they would come to faith. Then, and only then, could a relationship be a possibility. 4) If the person doesn’t come to faith, continue to pray for them—but don’t be discouraged. Obedience to God’s will is always greater than our desires and brings about great blessings. Know that this means God has a better person out there for you: a person who you can build a true relationship with that will stand the test of time.

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the sound

HAWK NELSON

So Hawk Nelson has a new Christmas EP, and they called it—are you ready for this?—Christmas EP. Now you may be wondering why a band as talented and creative as Hawk Nelson produced a title that’s fairly obvious, and really isn’t all that creative. Well, when we talked to Jason Dunn, lead singer for the group, he said there was a very good reason for it. ‘‘I submitted five or six ideas, but none of them got picked. So basically, it was just out of sheer frustration: Fine, let’s just call it Christmas. And that is the honest to God truth. I was just frustrated, so I said I’ll show you; Christmas, how’s that? My first option was On the First Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me a Hawk Nelson Christmas EP. It was too big; there was too much font to fit on the cover. But I figured, everything’s digital now anyway, so come on.” Well, aside from the struggle to come up with a proper name for it, the fact is Hawk Nelson has already done a Christmas EP. It was back in 2006, it was called Gloria, and it contained all of four songs. So why do another Christmas EP only

five years later? As Jason pointed out, it wasn’t quite as random as you might think. ‘‘We wrapped up our five record deal with Tooth & Nail, and so we got through all five records and we were like, whoa, now what do we do? Well, let’s just start small and do a Christmas EP and see what happens. Christmas is…well, it’s definitely my favorite time of year. I’m assuming it’s pretty much everyone’s favorite time of year because it’s just glorious. Let’s be honest here, I love gifts. So we thought we’d give a gift and record a record for everybody.” The band we all know as Hawk Nelson first came on the scene in 2003 with Saturday Rock Action. They didn’t really start gaining notoriety until the following year with the release of Letters to the President. As a group, they’ve been together for just about ten years, and with their time with Tooth & Nail coming to an end, and the future still yet to be determined, the band has a chance to reflect on how things have changed over the past decade or so. ‘‘I guess from my point view,” Jason mused, ‘‘There’s obviously a lot of change in the industry which I

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think scares a lot of artists. But I’m actually excited. I consider it growing pains. You and I both grew up in a world where a band comes out with a CD and you buy the CD. And now you can just go and download it with a click of a button—for free or not free. I opt to pay for every record I’ve ever bought. At least for every record I’ve ever owned, I’ve paid full price for it, because I feel that’s what everyone should do—but, to each their own. A lot of guys get frustrated by it because the majority of us, ourselves included, make the majority of our money by touring because record sales were down the last few years. And, the majority of our record sales were being absorbed by the label itself. I’m not complaining because that’s the deal we signed up for when we were kids. But, I think there’s constantly new ways for bands to reinvent themselves, and that can be scary. I find this to be an exciting time, because you get to find new ways. Social media is so big right now, so without touring you can get thousands of new fans just by communicating with them online. It just takes a little extra work. I think, like I said, that scares artists, but I get excited because if you can 10,000 fans without having to tour… right on, you know what I mean?” Now as much as the guys from Hawk Nelson love their fans and love making new music—and love Christmas, for that matter—there’s one thing that they probably love even more: hockey. If you can talk hockey with these guys, you’re friends for life. We can’t talk hockey, but we tried—we wanted to know what their thoughts were on hockey compared to NFL football. Boy, we didn’t quite know what we were getting into when we brought that up. ‘‘People need to realize what a real sport is. So, my rule of thumb is, if you can’t produce snow, you can’t produce a hockey team.” (Which obviously rules out Albuquerque, ‘cause we don’t get a whole lot of snow.) ‘‘Atlanta has proven that time and time again; I’m very thankful for when the Pegs got a team again, and I’m glad the Jets are back [he’s referring of course to Winnipeg and the return of their team] and…for a lot of people right now, this is probably going over their heads. Hockey is the greatest sport in the world and I love it and I’m very thankful that I’ve grown up in a culture [in Canada] where hockey took precedence. A couple of guys in the band love football, and I’ve tried to get into it, honestly I’ve tried to get into it, but it’s just…

MY FIRST OPTION WAS ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME A HAWK NELSON CHRISTMAS EP.
there are too many whistles for me. You shouldn’t be able to take time-outs in the middle of a game. At least not three or whatever it is they get…six, there are six time-outs, three in a half. Ridiculous.” As for what’s yet to come for Hawk Nelson, despite being in label-limbo at the moment, it looks like 2012 is shaping up to be another busy year for the band. ‘‘I know for a fact that we’re going out with Mercy Me again in the spring on their Rock and Worship Road Show Spring Edition, so we’re pretty excited about that. And we’re also going on the Revolve Tour again—the teen girls meet-up thing. That’s always exciting for us because it makes us look like we’re massive for a weekend, so that’s always a lot of fun.” When it comes to what fans can keep in prayer for the band, Jason said that’s pretty simple: ‘‘We have a lot of decision-making coming up in the next few months. Just make sure you keep us in your prayers because these are some pretty big decisions, unlike what we’ve made in a long, long time. So just for wisdom, I guess, and guidance for the decision-making process.” While some part of their future remains uncertain, we think there’s one thing we can always count one: No matter where they end up or what they do (and this includes Christmas EPs), Hawk Nelson will remain true to who they are—and they’re going to have a whole lot of fun doing it. Psst: For more info on Hawk Nelson’s Christmas EP, check out Leigha’s review in Soundcheck (p.22).
Visit Hawk Nelson’s Myspace page for videos to listen to their CD.

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underground

BLOOD & WATER
hWill Hall
It’s not every day that a great indie band falls in your lap, but that’s exactly what happened with a group called Blood & Water (aka B & W). They brought themselves to our attention through an unexpected visit to Static Radio in early 2011. ”Hey we heard about your radio station and thought we’d drop off our CD while passing through town,” said Brad, the lead guitar player. Blood & Water spent a good part of this year touring and promoting their newest album In Character. Their music has a solid punk/pop feel with a unique ska flare underneath. The first thing I remember thinking about the album was that none of the songs sound the same, which is a common problem for bands today. Blood & Water took shape in late 2006 when the band released their first EP. After a few years of local shows, the band released their first full-length album independently. New release in hand, Blood & Water started touring regionally, opening up for acts such as The Classic Crime, No Use for a Name, Hawk Nelson, The Wedding, and many more. Blood & Water is one of the most active, go-getting bands that have crossed our path in a while. They partner with a small, self-started label called Eden Records, along with a couple other mid-level independent groups. Based out of the Bay Area in California, B & W has taken on a few member changes over the summer, but the artistic force of what is B & W’s music remains constant through the steadfastness of brother singer/songwriters Brad and Matt Hagmann. The newest lineup of Blood & Water is: Brad Hagmann (vocals/guitar), Matt Hagmann (vocals/guitar), Chris Isaacs (guitar/back-up vocals), Jon McMaster (bass), Will Hall—yes, that’s me—(drums). Together the five-member band plans to record a new EP this winter, which will be available in spring 2012. A new song is available now to check out on Indie Vision Music’s new compilation, Punk Never Dies.

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soundcheck

KUTLESS THIS IS CHRISTMAS
hLeigha Harvey

HEARING A GUY SINGING A SONG FROM THE VIEWPOINT OF MARY JUST DOESN’T WORK. IN FACT, IT’S JUST PLAIN WEIRD.
It seems like everyone is releasing a Christmas album this season, and Kutless is adding to the sounds of the season with their first Christmas EP: This Is Christmas. This record definitely heads more toward the traditional side of Christmas, which is fine: Who doesn’t love a classic? But the first problem is we’ve already heard half of these songs from Kutless. ‘‘It Came upon the Midnight Clear” was the first Christmas song that the band ever released—and that was five years ago. Since then, they released two more Christmas singles: ‘‘Mary Did You Know?” and ‘‘This Is Christmas.” The newer half of the album includes an original song titled ‘‘Beautiful,” a new version of Amy Grant’s ‘‘Breath of Heaven,” and the timeless classic ‘‘O Holy Night.” Two of the three songs Kutless recycled for the project are good, solid, fairly traditional takes on the familiar songs. ‘‘Mary Did You Know?” and ‘‘It Came upon the Midnight Clear” are easily among the more memorable songs on the album. Unfortunately, the reason many of us remember them so well is because we’ve heard them over and over again. They have acquired the recognition that is given to Christmas ornaments you’ve had for so many years. When you dig them out of the box, you have the ‘‘Oh, I remember these” moment—then you walk over to the tree and hang them toward the back to make room for the newer, shinier ones. The third song of the group, ‘‘This Is Christmas” (aka the title track), was a good choice for the job. The song holds the best points of the album. It’s the most contemporary of the six songs and is the only one that is uniquely Kutless. Not only because it’s an original, but also because, if you were to take everything Kutless and cross it with Christmas, this song would be the result. Just like ‘‘White Christmas” is Bing Crosby’s song, ‘‘This Is Christmas’’ is the only Christmas song that stands out as distinctly Kutless—although it probably won’t ever make it to ‘‘White Christmas” status. Sadly, the second group of three doesn’t contribute much in the way of improvement. Their version of the beloved carol ‘‘O Holy Night” is a good, slightly more upbeat rendition that feels a little middle-of-the-road. It’s not bad, but it’s not really anything to write home about. To be fair, songs like ‘‘O Holy Night” are challenging to do because people know them so well, and classics are classics for a reason. It’s nearly impossible to top the original versions, especially if they are steeped in tradition and have stood the test of time. So if you’re looking for a nice version of the song with a little more guitar and drums than normal, this is the one for you. The second major problem with the album is one regrettable song choice: ‘‘Breath of Heaven.” First, it was originally done by Amy Grant, who not only wrote it, but sings it beautifully. Second, part of why Grant sings it so well is because she’s…well…a girl—and ‘‘Breath of Heaven” is Mary’s song. Mary. A Girl. Singing. See the problem? Hearing a guy singing a song from the viewpoint of Mary just doesn’t work. In fact, it’s just plain weird. As Christmas albums go, this one won’t be making many waves, but it’s a decent effort.
Visit Kutless’s Myspace page for videos to listen to their CD.

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soundcheck

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The boys in Hawk Nelson are up to no good this holiday season; They’ve given us new songs just for fun as their reason. OK…Don’t worry—that’s as far as I’m going with my rhyme, but you get the point. It’s Christmas time and Hawk Nelson is back with a new Christmas album called Christmas EP. The overall theme is fun: fun songs, fun sound, fun season, fun name, fun guys—fun! First off, Hawk Nelson plus Christmas equals pretty much what you would expect: a lively EP full of Christmas cheer. This is what you’d find the elves listening to as they get ready for the big night. Personally, it’s what I’m going to have playing while I clean and decorate my house for Christmas. The songs are so peppy that I may find myself doing a jig around the tree. Be warned: The songs on this record carry a potent infectious dose of the Christmas spirit, so powerful that even the Grinch would crack a grin. Recently, I got to sit in on an interview with lead singer Jason Dunn about the record. Most of the songs they chose aren’t the usual suspects, and the reason for that came up in the interview. According to Jason, ‘‘One of my pet peeves is when bands do Christmas EPs or Christmas records, they always ruin the songs. If you’re going to make a Christmas record, keep it traditional. We didn’t want to ruin any of them, so we did a lot of the simple ones that are public domain, but aren’t too popular. Like the ‘Wassail’ song or ‘Up on the Housetop’…You can still make it upbeat and fun without ruining them.” The decision to do songs that are not as well-known paid off for the guys. Some of the songs they reacquaint us with are “‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” ‘‘I Saw Three Ships,” ‘‘The Wassail Song,” and ‘‘Up on the Housetop.” Their version of ‘‘Joy to the World” is one of the more attention-grabbing songs on the album. It features Jason talking to himself while singing—oddly funny. The band also does a lovely rendition of the classic ‘‘Silent Night,” that wraps up the album perfectly. In my book though, the real gem is the song ‘‘The Holly and the Ivy” that brings to mind happy Christmas memories. It sounds like a roaring fire, crisp clean snow, and stately evergreens. The EP does have a few weak spots; the overall sound is very similar to the record Relient K put out a few years back, and some of the songs are very short in length. Start to finish, the run time is only about 14 minutes, which left me feeling a little sad because it ended so quickly. But those things aside, this is a well-done bit of Christmas cheer that will definitely make you smile.

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the movement

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‘‘And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:6-7 ESV).
9-11. Never forget, right? Well, it seems our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq are feeling forgotten—especially during the holidays. We might wear a metal band with a soldier’s name on it. Or tie a yellow ribbon around a tree. Maybe we thank them if we see them out in public. But what else can we do to make sure our soldiers know we haven’t forgotten them? According to their website, Blue Star Mothers is an organization ‘‘open to mothers who have sons or daughters serving in the military whether deployed or not, and to dads, other family members, and friends…a support and service group joining together to share our concerns, worries, our pride, and our devotion for our loved ones serving in all branches of the Armed Forces of the United States.” 1 Hiltrud Ridenour, affectionately known as Oma, the German word for grandmother, is the president of the Rio Grande Valley chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America. ‘‘We have a lot of mothers that have children deployed and so we comfort each other, because we all know where we’re coming from—our fears and our anxieties, our hope that they all return home safe. We support our Wounded Warriors throughout the world—especially in the hospitals—and we send packages to Iraq and Afghanistan to the field hospitals with quilts and comfort items. We support the families when they get notified that their child was hurt. We help the families financially and with information. We support our local VA [Veteran’s Administration] hospitals with donations. Every dollar that we get goes 100% to our troops. We ship between 200-600 boxes to our soldiers. We’re a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, so everything works through donations and fundraisers.” What’s in the boxes that go to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan? “‘Protein items: jerky, Slim Jims, all kinds of nuts. The guys like Ramen noodles and Vienna sausages. In the winter, we send chocolates and candies. And—of course—Girl Scout cookies. We do five box-packings a year: Valentine’s Day, Easter, the Fourth of July, Halloween, and Christmas. Our troops in Afghanistan are so isolated. Sometimes it takes six weeks before they get a box because everything has to be flown in by helicopter. Really, they’re so grateful for anything they get from anybody back home—just so they’re not forgotten. Of course, we send green chile. That’s always a staple: red and green chile and salsa. We have some longtime supporters of our organization: 505 Chile, Monroe’s, Jr’s Jerky. We send little powders of hot chocolate, cider, and tea. Sometimes Starbucks does a fundraiser for us—the guys really like their coffee. We collect letters and cards from children from schools, and our troops really love that. We let our troops know we pray for them. We remind them to keep God close to them.”

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the movement

e

We let our troops know we pray for them. We remind them to keep God close to them.
weeks ago and Robby has to go to Afghanistan. He has his orders: He disarms the roadside bombs. He’s in a very specialized unit and this is his third deployment. He’s been in the Army for eight years now. The boy I lost was in Iraq two months and was killed by a sniper. His name is Joel—he was due to come home for the birth of his little boy. Five days before he was born, my Joel got killed. And Timmy is in the Air Guard. He’s studying to be a doctor and then he’ll go into the Air Force.” AGES 18-21 -- 28.2% OF THE DEATHS AGES 22-24 -- 23.7% OF THE DEATHS3 A high percentage of returning soldiers have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Tell us a little bit about it. ‘‘Ninety-two percent of our troops that come home from the wars have PTSD. My Robby has it; he deals with it by going into more and more dangerous situations in the military. He does not believe in PTSD, but he has nightmares and he cannot stand to be around certain smells. Oddly enough, burning leaves can really set him off. He doesn’t have psychotic episodes; he just has to leave. When he goes into a restaurant, he always makes sure he sits with his back to the wall. He protects himself—and it’s all done unconsciously. We also have some very severe PTSD veterans. They have to be hospitalized and on medication. Then they get a little bit better and they leave the programs and they start medicating themselves. Then they get in trouble. They become homeless. They have a hard time finding jobs because of PTSD. Our troops today go on multiple deployments. They cannot adjust from the war stress, then go back home to their families. If they’re lucky, they’re home a year—then they get deployed again.” Since September 2011, 32,200 soldiers have been wounded.4 What can we do to help? How can we let the soldiers know that we remember them back home? ‘‘Tell your children our soldiers are heroes.
1 2

As of October 2011, 6167 brave Americans have died in Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom.2 What are some of the hardest things our troops face being deployed so far away from their families? ‘‘Our troops are really worried about not being remembered back home. This is very important—that they know they are remembered and they know we are here for them. We’ll go to the airport to welcome our troops home and that’s a very special thing. We had five really special welcomes this past year: our Medal of Honor recipient and four severely wounded warriors. Those families are truly grateful—it’s amazing. New Mexico has a very high ratio of soldiers deployed and in the service. So this is a good way for us to also let the moms know we’re an organization—we’re here for them.” How did you first become aware of Blue Star Mothers? ‘‘I’m actually a Blue Star grandmother, because I’m the legal guardian of my boys. My youngest grandson was deployed in Iraq and I was sitting in front of the television literally day and night, gleaning news. I was very afraid; I decided I need to do something. I couldn’t just sit in front of the TV—I would have a nervous breakdown. There was a commercial talking about Blue Star Mothers and a phone number. I called and checked into it— that was almost eight years ago and the rest is history. I have never stopped doing for our troops.” Our troops—our soldiers—are real people, not a billboard with a few faces on the interstate. ‘‘I had three [boys]. I lost a boy in Iraq in 2007. So I am a Blue and a Gold Star grandmother. This will be my youngest’s third deployment. He’s going to Afghanistan with the Army for 12 months. That’s a long time to be gone from your family. He’s married and they just had their second child. His little Corbin is only 14 months old. Chloe was just born two

Have them draw pictures and send cards to us. We will get them where they need to go. Our budget for shipping is $35,000 a year. So we definitely take money. Our troops always need socks. We collect white T-shirts and white boxer shorts. Plan to show up at our Welcome Home events. If you call our phone number or email us, I will put you on our mailing list. ‘‘We’ve been in Afghanistan ten years and in Iraq for nine. That’s too long. We have lost 78 New Mexicans. The average age of our soldiers in combat is in the 20s. My Robby was 17; he went into the Army and became a combat soldier. Joel was 18 and Timmy was 19. So these are teenagers that go to war. For some of them, like my boys, 9/11 was their pivotal point. They came home from school and told me they were angry because they were too young to be in the service. And for a lot of them, that incident in New York changed so many of our young men and women’s lives because they wanted to…’’ She stopped and started over: ‘‘I’m not saying what they said they wanted to do. That was their turning point—they definitely wanted to be soldiers.” What is the real cost of war? On just one day in September 2001, 2792 people lost their lives when the twin towers fell in New York…. The price of war is measured in the loss of human lives.5 ‘‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8 ESV).

For more information or to make a donation, contact Blue Star Mothers of America Rio Grande Valley Chapter 2 at 2912 2nd Street NW, PO Box 9176, Albuquerque, NM, 871199176, call 505.345.6724, or email rgvnmbsm.org.

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rgvnmbsm.org defense.gov/news/casualty.pdf 3 usmilitary.about.com/od/terrorism/a/iraqdeath1000.htm 4 icasualties.org/Iraq/USCasualtiesByState.aspx 5 usmilitary.about.com/od/terrorism/a/iraqdeath1000.htm

the thought

LANDMINES AND LITURGY
hJesse Lusko

THE THINGS YOU HATE MOST ABOUT THE SO-CALLED “CHRISTIAN” CHURCH ARE THINGS THAT JESUS HATES AS WELL.
Since 1975, it’s estimated that there have been over one million unintentional deaths caused by landmines. Hidden along roads and in fields to wage war against an enemy, these explosives instead often wreak havoc on innocent bystanders—blowing off the legs of a child playing, a man headed to work, or allies in a different platoon. Thomas Manton said, ‘‘Division in the church breeds atheism in the world,” and the same can be true of any disobedience. When we war against God in sin and selfishness, divide from one another over trivial issues, or wrong unbelievers while professing Christ, we are maiming and butchering the reputation of the truth. As we grow religious and rebellious, we not only compromise our relationship with God but also our relationship with others. When we’re tempted to look at porn, slack off at our job, or act judgmentally and harshly, it’s not just our walk with God that’s on the line: We may be blowing the legs off someone else’s. It’s not just about that momentary pleasure or petty argument; it’s the jeopardy of our whole profession. How pointed were the words of Nathan when he said to David at the revelation of his secret sins, ‘‘You have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:14 NKJV). We want to further God’s glory in the world—not detract from it. It’s time for us to raise the standard and stop warring against the Lord. See that the stakes are high and rise to the occasion. When you do fail, repent quickly and make restitution, and rely on the Spirit so that you walk uprightly. Maybe you are done with the church altogether. You hear about the Crusades, the Salem witch trials, the priests molesting children, the televangelists robbing people blind, and all the divisions and sects. It can seem as if the message of God was responsible for more harm than good. Perhaps you yourself have been injured by alleged ‘‘Christians.” If so, on behalf of Christ I extend my deepest sorrow and apologies. But the things you hate most about the so-called ‘‘Christian” church are things that Jesus hates as well. He suffered, gave His life, was raised, and will soon return to destroy these very things. In the meantime, Scripture predicted that infiltration and defamation would be a key part of Satan’s strategy. Second Peter says, ‘‘Many will follow their destructive ways, and because of these false teachers the way of truth will be slandered” (2 Peter 2:2 NET). This hypocrisy is inexcusable. Someone disobeying Jesus and wounding you should give you even greater cause to obey Him. Don’t let somebody following Him poorly stop you from following Him well. To reject Christ on account of rebellious Christians is to side with them. Put an end to your own war with Jesus. Trust that He will judge the false and faltering Christians for the shrapnel they scatter, and be restored by authentic faith.

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pause

LIFEBOATS
hRay Del Toro
A decade ago on the morning of September 11, few were prepared for the events that the day would bring. Most of us watched the World Trade Center towers fall; but some were close enough to not only see, but also feel and experience the tragedy firsthand. The island of Manhattan became a truly isolated island— bridges, tunnels, and trains (all ways of escape) were shut down or closed off. Hundreds of thousands of people: trapped. The US Coast Guard began efforts to evacuate by sea, but with limited resources and manpower, they called out over the radio to all available boats, requesting assistance. Boats from every direction converged on the harbor. Yachts, ferryboats, fishing boats, tug boats, and work barges were instantly reassigned as lifeboats. Efforts from the everyday fisherman to the captain of the private multimillion-dollar yacht yielded unimaginable results: half a million hurt, confused, lost, and debris-covered people were transported to safety in less than nine hours. It was the largest and most successful water evacuation recorded in history. Two thousand years ago, 11 men stood atop a mountain: fishermen, an activist, a few tradesmen, and a tax collector were all reassigned. Like the boats that responded to the call, they all had different backgrounds, families, duties, and pay grades. They were reassigned by their master, Savior, and friend—Jesus Christ. He said to them: ‘‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV). They were reassigned not as saviors (not as a means of life), but as transporters, as lifeboats. Their mission: Bring people to Jesus. There are lost, hurting, wounded people who need transport to the cross of Jesus. They are the people we encounter every day. They are the people that make our coffee, serve us dinner, drive our buses, and file our taxes. They are the people next door, in the adjacent cubicle, and on the other end of the phone line. Some wear uniforms, some wear suits, some don’t have homes—but every last one of them is in need of Jesus. They are in need of transport, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to the feet of the God who made them, who loves them, and who offers them life. The evacuees on September 11 ran to the boats; some even swam to the boats. Those boats were welcoming large crowds of people, offering them help and a ride to safety. I often wonder if people see us that way. We have all been reassigned, commissioned by Christ to bring others to the saving knowledge of the gospel. Does the world see us as inviting? Do the people we encounter daily know that we are lifeboats? Are we offering transport to the cross? No one had to convince the evacuees of Manhattan that the boats wanted them—they were climbing and scrambling to get on board. It’s easy to the let our work, school, and life agendas get in the way of our reassignment. Christians need to welcome with open arms the people who are looking for true safety in Jesus. Bring people to sure ground, bring people to Jesus: only He can save. Lifeboats aren’t safety—they can only transport people to safety. Make the people you encounter aware of the truth of Jesus. Show them the cross and the simple truth of the gospel: the only power to truly save.

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the beat
MANY STUDENTS ARE TRYING TO RECONCILE GOD’S GOODNESS WITH THEIR PAIN.
Sooner or later we’ll all face something— a tragedy, a crisis, the unthinkable—that will challenge everything we believe. It will put our reality to the test and stretch all that we proclaim to rely on. It’s never easy; and for the younger generation, it’s especially challenging. After all, they haven’t had as much time for their beliefs to set in, to weather other storms, to put down deep roots. Add in that feeling of invulnerability, that life will go on as it always has (because that’s just the way it feels when you’re young), and the challenge of an unexpected tragedy is an even greater test than for someone with a few more years under their belt and a little more experience. The sad thing is, in our culture, the younger generation is facing this on a more regular basis. As they engage in riskier behavior as a norm, they face tougher questions on a regular basis—and often it falls to youth pastors to provide answers. ‘‘It’s not so much a logical problem, but an emotional one,” say Greg Schneeberger, youth pastor at Desert Springs Church, who was gracious enough to sit down with Static Paper. ‘‘Many students are trying to reconcile God’s goodness with their pain.” That’s not easy for anyone, but it can be especially hard at a younger age when emotions are felt far more acutely. The question is how to respond when the inevitable ‘‘why” questions emerge: Why did God allow this? Why wasn’t He there to stop this? Why didn’t He help? ‘‘First, we try and take these questions seriously; listening, loving, and responding with mercy. We want students to know that their God is big enough to handle their questions, doubts, and struggles. Second, we must point students to the reality of the cross, where Christ suffered the greatest evil/unfairness for our sake. It helps for kids to have an overarching worldview of creation-fall-redemption-consummation. They need to see that there is a biblical narrative in which sin enters the world because man wants to be God. It is this same nature of sin, our desire for autonomy (to be our own law), that perpetuates the ill effects of evil. In God’s Word, students can see who they are. They can see that all men deserve death. It is the just price of our willful sin. However, God has come to rescue man in Jesus, and to deal with evil. If there is no God, evil is just a word we use for bags of atoms banging around. If there is a God, and He is revealed in Christ, then all evil/sin/hurt/pain/brokenness are ultimately dealt with in the justice and love of the cross.” portant in practice because God has told us that we will suffer. In 2 Timothy, Paul tells his young protégé that ‘all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.’ Young Christians, especially the comfortable middle-class types, need to know that suffering is coming. The biblical worldview provides a beautiful and merciful answer to this problem. The answer is that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God is a righteous judge. He cannot be mocked by our repeated sin; yet in His amazing grace, He overcame evil, sin, and death. In this way, as Romans says, He is both ‘the just and the justifier.’ Any reasonable notion of justice presupposes that a judge will make things right. In Christ we see how God not only deals with evil justly, but graciously adopts those who do not deserve His love. For our students, the emphasis—the alpha and the omega of our counsel and preaching—must always be the person/ work of Jesus the Messiah. He has come to declare with finality that God is faithful. Even when we struggle and doubt as a wayward bride, God is faithful to His promise to us in Jesus. He is making all things new, judging the wicked, and providing hope in hard times through Christ. That is good news for young people throughout their lives.” Yes, troubles will come; and especially at a younger age, tragedy and crisis can, at times, seem almost insurmountable. However, we can help. First, by being there in their time of need, and second, by not assuming they aren’t interested in learning about a biblical worldview and how it applies to the deep and even painful issues of life. We need to understand that they want to know, they need to know— if only someone will take the time to care enough to engage with them and talk about it.

YOUNG CHRISTIANS, ESPECIALLY THE COMFORTABLE MIDDLE-CLASS TYPES, NEED TO KNOW THAT SUFFERING IS COMING.
It might seem like such issues are too much for today’s youth. After all, they live in a fast-paced, shallow culture. Will they really care to investigate the deeper truths of the world they live in? Some may be surprised just how hungry today’s youth are for real, honest, in-depth answers on tough questions like the problem of evil. How important is it to help them grapple with such thoughts? Well, as Greg points out, ‘‘It is very important, both in theory and practice. In theory, the philosophical problem of evil will confront them at many turns. It is a favorite of atheist apologists. This is because it really is a problem that so many people face so much suffering. It is im-

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book report

A NOT-SO-SILENT NIGHT
hBekah Hanson
When I walked into Parchments bookstore, I was looking for a book about Christmas—but written from a unique perspective. Not the everyday, happy-golucky, singing angels, jingle bells story. My friend Melissa found one that seemed to have the ideal title: A Not-So-Silent Night: The Unheard Story of Christmas and Why It Matters. Written by Verlyn D. Verbrugge, the short, 98-page book examines the dark side of Christmas. While it isn’t a new release, it’s definitely a fresh focus on December 25. Although most of us look to Christmas as a time of peace, Verbrugge examines Christmas differently. The first Christmas was, he says, the beginning of war. Many of us are familiar with this Scripture: ‘‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 ESV). So in the celestial realm, Christmas was the beginning of war. Quoting 1 John 3:8, ‘‘The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil,’’ Verbrugge points out that ‘‘the moment Jesus was born, the devil set in motion an orchestrated plan to destroy Jesus.” Besides inspiring King Herod to murder all male infants two years of age and under, he lists six more attempts on Jesus’ life during His ministry on earth. While I question some of the listed six—in particular, that Satan was at work during the storm on the Sea of Galilee, attempting to drown Jesus—his is a fairly plausible account. Verbrugge first reveals that although babies are born to live, ‘‘Jesus Christ, the babe of Bethlehem, was born in order to die!” We can’t argue with this. Christ’s purpose for His entrance into the world was to die on the cross in order to save us from our sins: ‘‘The Christmas child was born to die—born to give His life for the world.” A running theme throughout the book is the shadow of the cross against the crèche. Verbrugge also critiques the idea behind the traditional Christmas song ‘‘O Little Town of Bethlehem” (which happens to be one of my favorites). He cites the historical facts about Bethlehem during the time of Jesus’ birth: its immorality, violence, idolatry, and opportunism—none of which make for a very merry sing-a-long. By far, my favorite part of the book was the close look at the humiliation, rejection, and sorrow of Mary, as the unwed, pregnant mother of Jesus Christ. Living with Joseph before she was married was unheard of in that time. But where else could she have gone? Verbrugge concludes that Mary was kicked out of her home for disgracing her family: ‘‘During her pregnancy, only two people believed her story: Elizabeth and Joseph.” How lonely! Finally, he touches on something probably quite familiar to us: the humiliation of Jesus’ birth. ‘‘He was born in one of the most dark and dismal settings humanly imaginable….God reveals his Son’s birth to shepherds, members of a despised and lowly profession…He [went] from being clothed with light and majesty to being surrounded by darkness, dirt, and defecation, ‘wrapped in cloths.’” For a short, little book, A Not-So-Silent Night packs a powerful punch—in the face of our holly, jolly Christmas notions. And Verbrugge sums it up with some practical applications for both pastors and congregations: ‘‘A ‘good Christmas’ is not defined by whether sales this year have surpassed last year, but by how well we have entered into the spirit of how the Bible describes those events that happened in the Holy Land more than 2,000 years ago.” My verdict? Read the book. You’ll be given a fresh perspective this Christmas. Gloria in excelsis Deo. GRADE: B+ Verlyn D. Verbrugge, A Not-So-Silent Night: The Unheard Story of Christmas and Why It Matters (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2009).

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the source

SERVING WITHOUT SEEING
hSkip Heitzig

THE UNBELIEVER SEES NO GRAND DESIGN FOR HIMSELF OR THE UNIVERSE; HE SEES PAIN AS ABSOLUTELY PURPOSELESS, USELESS, AND TO BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS.
As a teenager, author Elie Wiesel survived being in a Nazi concentration camp. Among the horrors he witnessed was the hanging of a child who had ’’the face of a sad angel.” As he watched the execution, he heard someone behind him moan, ‘‘Where is God?” That’s a question many people ask today as they see the terrible things happening in the world…the wars, the famine, the moral decay, the political and economic upheaval across the globe. All of us on this earth eventually come to some point of spiritual crisis. For some, it’s an intellectual roadblock like, How can a God of love exist while evil exists? Other people wrestle with a point of doctrine or different belief systems. And still others struggle with feeling that God is unfair, or silent, or absent. Job chapter 23 is a special passage for me. It contains truths that have forged a confident joy within me—even in the midst of suffering. Job learned some important things about God. First, God is not always apparent. Job complained, ‘‘Oh, that I knew where I might find Him…I go forward, but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; when He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; when He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him” (Job 23:3, 8-9 NKJV). We all have difficulties in having a personal relationship with a God we never see. God’s chosen people, the children of Israel, left Him to worship the idols of the unbelieving nations around them because (in part) they wanted something they could touch, see, and display. Moses, though he had heard God’s voice and seen God’s work, said, ‘‘Please, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18 NKJV). The prophet Isaiah said, ‘‘Truly, you are a God, who hide Yourself” (Isaiah 45:15 NKJV). We want to see. But the Bible calls us to serve Him without seeing Him. Second, God is always aware. In Job 23:10, Job concludes, ‘‘But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” That’s the most important thing: not that we know where He is, but that He knows where we are. ‘‘For the LORD knows the way of the righteous” (Psalm 1:6 NKJV), and, ‘‘The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD” (Psalm 37:23 NKJV). Job’s statement is a metaphor of being in a goldsmith’s furnace. It’s a mature view of God. What is hidden from us is certainly not hidden from God. And if you allow it, this truth can revolutionize your times of suffering and pain—and calm your

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the source

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TOP 5 MustRead Books This Winter

THE FOLLOWER OF CHRIST BELIEVES IN THE GRAND DESIGN OF GOD.

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

The Book Thief
nerves. Third, God is always at work. ‘‘When he has tested me I shall come forth as gold.” God works around you, and in you. He uses every experience to accomplish something in us. This is the great dividing line between the believer and the unbeliever. The follower of Christ believes in the grand design of God. The unbeliever sees no grand design for himself or the universe; he sees pain as absolutely purposeless, useless, and to be avoided at all costs. But Job knew he was in the furnace of the divine goldsmith, not to pay off some sin, or to adjust some karma, but to test him and purify him. A goldsmith heats up gold to liquefy it so he can skim off the dross and purify it. The master goldsmith works in His people until they come out pure, because faith is far more precious to God than mere gold (see 1 Peter 1:6-7 NKJV). God’s eye is on you—and His hand is on the thermostat. You’re always under His careful supervision! So your attitude in suffering is all important; it will make or break you. You should pursue God’s will. Job 23:11 says, ‘‘I have kept His way and have not turned aside” (NKJV). Job persevered, saying in effect, ‘‘No matter what, I’m going to follow His will for my life. God’s will is all-important.” And you should have a passion for God’s Word. Verse 12 continues, ‘‘I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food”. Some people go into the fire and get singed; they resist God’s will and they come out bitter. But others go through the fire and come out better, more mature. The difference is the attitude toward the will of God and the Word of God. If you’re nourished by the Word of God and submitted to the will of God, when you go through the furnace, it’s going to hurt—but you’ll come out better. Remember: Invisible doesn’t mean unavailable. God knows. He is using your situation, and it’s temporary. You will hear from Him. He will manifest Himself at some point. Hold on, follow Him, be nourished by His Word, and watch what great things will result!
by Markus Zusak

Water for Elephants
by Sara Gruen

The Giver
by Lois Lowry

My Sister’s Keeper
by Jodi Picoult

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the talk

LION KING IN 3D
IT’S NOT PARTICULARLY EASY, DISNEY HAS NO ADVANTAGE WHEN IT COMES TO CREATIVE IDEAS; IT’S ALL HARD-FOUGHT TERRITORY.
Who would’ve thought 17 years after its initial release, a handdrawn, animated movie about some lions, converted to 3D and re-released in theaters, would once again reign as the box office champion? No one. And yet, The Lion King did incredibly well under those circumstances—better than anyone imagined. We had a chance to talk with Don Hahn, one of the producers of the film, to see what he thought about it and what the new Blu-Ray edition has in store for fans. Robert Newman who helped us with the process, and part of it was bringing together the original filmmakers. We brought in Robert Minkoff and Roger Allers, and some of the colorists and art directors that worked on the film, so we could put our heads together and come up with the best, most comfortable solution for the audience. Part of that solution was taking flat drawings done with a pencil and paper and actually creating a geometry out of them so you can sense that those characters have a dimension to them and are living and breathing on the screen. We also worked on the soundtrack to make it feel like you’re sitting in the middle of the orchestra, and really give that ultimate, immersive experience of watching a 3D film.

STATIC PAPER: In your wildest dreams, did you ever think this 17-year-old movie would gross over 61 million dollars in ten days on its re-release?
DON: No. You gotta be kidding. Who in Hollywood gets a chance to even re-release their movie, much less have it be appreciated and welcomed as much as the audience has with The Lion King? It’s unbelievable.

STATIC PAPER: How much work went into the Blu-Ray special features, and how fun was it to go back and listen to those old recordings and then say, ‘‘Hey, let’s do some drawings for those”?
DON: It was a crazy amount of work, but so much fun. Somebody came up with the idea, I think it was David Justin—one of the producers in our home entertainment area—and it was nuts at first, but I thought, You know, we’ve never done it before. Our editor went through two years worth of

STATIC PAPER: What was the process like to convert it to 3D? Was it challenging?
DON: It hadn’t been done before, and I think part of it is trying to find the right people. We had an amazing stereographer in

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STATIC PAPER: Now that Lion King, being converted to 3D and re-released, did really, really well, are there any thoughts about doing some other films like that, for instance Beauty and the Beast?
DON: I think this release surprised us all. It caught Hollywood off-guard because of its success. We’ve already converted Beauty and the Beast, we did it last year; we actually did it before Lion King. It’s exquisite and available for theatrical rerelease, and it’s coming out very shortly on Blu-Ray as well. These movies, particularly more recent ones that were created digitally, have a wonderful opportunity to transform into 3D experiences that the audiences can enjoy again. There are no specific plans for theatrical re-releases, but this Lion King re-release has turned a lot of heads. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ll be seeing other films like this in the future.

recording sessions with some of the funniest people on earth, like Rowan Atkinson and Nathan Lane. And even Jeremy Irons and James Earl Jones had some really silly, stupid outtakes. And we pulled those together and I called up all the original animators and said, ‘‘Would you come in and animate Mufasa again?” And, ‘‘Would come in and animate Scar again?” So it was like the ultimate family reunion and everybody said yes. So, the bloopers on the Blu-Ray are just hilarious and look exactly like they came out of the movie, and hopefully people really appreciate that.

THIS IS NO LONGER A CARTOON ABOUT A LION CUB THAT GETS FRAMED FOR MURDER; THIS ACTUALLY CAN HAVE SOME EPIC QUALITY TO IT.
STATIC PAPER: What other little surprises have you included for the fans on the Blu-Ray special features?
DON: We tried to put in the behind-the-scenes making of the film, so there’s a terrific feature about the backstory of it, how the movie turned into a great stage play with Julie Taymor, and the history of the project. And then I did something unusual: I did a memoir film. I had so much behind-the-scenes footage of when we were making of the film that I just shot for myself. I ended up cutting together this 20-minute little scrapbook documentary to be able to show people what it felt like in the trenches while we were making the film. I think it’s a great insight into the creative process of making an animated film: It’s not particularly easy, Disney has no advantage when it comes to creative ideas; it’s all hard-fought territory. I think that documentary is a little gem on the Blu-Ray disc.

STATIC PAPER: What was your favorite memory of the time you spent making this film?
DON: One was late at night over at Hans Zimmer’s studio when heard ‘‘Circle of Life” for the first time. We had Elton’s demo—and Elton is such a genius when it comes to melody— but we knew we had to turn it into something that felt like it came out Africa. Hans invited over his friend Lebo M, who was the guy that does that ‘‘rrrrhhhaaa nnnnghennnaaa,” the cry at the beginning of the movie. Lebo was actually parking cars at the time in Los Angeles; he was a valet parking service. So he comes in and Hans plays us this song, Lebo does that amazing cry and these kinds of African chants underneath it and we’re sitting there eating Chinese food and we go, ‘‘Wow, this is a bigger movie than we thought it was. This is no longer a cartoon about a lion cub that gets framed for murder; this actually can have some epic quality to it.” We had a lot of work left to go, but it was one of those nights where you start to see the crack in the door and see where this movie could go.

Watch the trailer for the Lion King 3D

CHECK OUT THESE AWESOME 3D MOVIES
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Captain America in 3D captainamerica.marvel.com

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides disney.go.com/pirates

Tron in 3D disney.go.com/tron

Avatar avatarmovie.com

the good news

WORLD’S GREATEST DETECTIVE
hYo Snyder

HE’S REVEALED EVERYTHING WE NEED TO FIND THE SOLUTION TO FORGIVENESS AND ETERNAL LIFE.
‘‘The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV). In the new game Batman: Arkham City, one of the many diversions you can indulge in during the course of the game is solving ‘‘Riddler Challenges.” There are little trophies hidden all over the city, and it’s up to you to solve the various puzzles to figure out how to get to them. However, sometimes you won’t have all the equipment you need to do that, so you’ll have to come back later. Other times, the solution may not be all that obvious, and it will take some work and brain power to figure it out. You know, there are times where God can feel like an enigma; like a puzzle that needs solving. Unfortunately, some people get so upset with the fact that they can’t understand everything about God that they give up trying to understand anything about Him. Truth is, there are some things we aren’t ready to understand yet, but given time and a chance to grow, mature, and better equip ourselves as Christians, we can come back ready to learn them. There are also things we’ll never understand; but that doesn’t mean we should just give up altogether. God has revealed plenty to us already; in fact, He’s revealed everything we need to find the solution to forgiveness and eternal life. God may ultimately be an unsolvable puzzle, but the good news is there’s plenty about Him we can learn and understand to help us through a life filled with challenges—and you don’t even have to be the World’s Greatest Detective to discover those things God has revealed.

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the static strip
hDominic Sedillo

renovate

AWAY IN A MANGER?
hNate Heitzig
Who is the real Jesus? Without question, He is hands-down the most fascinating person in the history of humanity. What is it about the man Jesus that so fascinates and mystifies people? He is undeniably the most extraordinary, influential individual to ever stride the stage of human history. More books have been written about Jesus than any other figure. More music has been composed, more pictures painted, more drama written about Him than any other person who has ever lived. As a matter of fact, we even divide human time and mark our history in years either before or after the birth of Jesus Christ. But who is the real Jesus? Is He some distant figure in stained glass that cannot be touched or known? Is He a radical revolutionary who came to change the world? Is He one of many gurus or ‘‘sons of God” to come and leave us an example to follow? Some of us would like to have Him conform to our own comfort zone. Usually around Easter and Christmastime we see articles in the news magazines asking questions about Jesus. Many people are comfortable only with the little baby Jesus in the manger. Just like the famous Christmas carol states: ‘‘Away in the manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head….” We like Him as ‘‘the little Lord Jesus” who’s ‘‘away in a manger.” He just lies there: He makes no demands, nor does He speak any words. He cries like any other baby— and that’s the way we like it. In the movie Talladega Nights there’s a scene when Ricky says, ‘‘I like the Christmas Jesus best and I’m saying grace. When you say grace you can say it to grownup Jesus, or teenage Jesus, or bearded Jesus, or whoever you want. But I like the baby version best: Do you hear me?” For many, that’s just about right. One man got carried away with this concept when the plastic Jesus from his front yard nativity scene was stolen. He made a public plea: ‘‘Do you know where my Jesus is? Please return Him to me.” This man was looking for Jesus. Except his ‘‘Jesus” was plastic, with a little ten-watt bulb inside that lit up when he plugged it in. Sadly, this man was looking for the wrong Jesus. But many are looking for the real one. We would all like to see Jesus. In fact, the world is looking for Him. If you type ‘‘Jesus’’ into Google, you’ll get 228 million results ranging from how to know Jesus, a game where you can dress and undress Jesus, and even a website where you can date and take a bath with a self-proclaimed Jesus. In reality, the Jesus that we claim to serve no longer lives in a manger: He is not helpless, He does not need us, and He is certainly not safe. What I mean by that is we cannot expect or desire to come into the presence of Jesus and not be changed. As a matter of fact, His desire is that we would all be changed, and that we would honor Him as holy. Today, there are many so called ‘‘seeker-sensitive” churches where the Bible will not be preached from the pulpit or brought into the pews. The message may allude to Scripture in passing, but there is more emphasis placed on music and entertainment designed to appeal to the ‘‘seeker”—to make them feel good. It’s more like self-help. There is no trace of Scripture; it’s all about having a better tomorrow. I call this the ‘‘Joel Syndrome,” and a lot of people who suffer from the ‘‘Joel Syndrome” underestimate the raw power of the gospel. No making you a better you, no better tomorrow. The gospel is all about having a better day today by giving your life to Jesus Christ and letting Him cover your sins. That is the power of the gospel. Romans 10:13 says, ‘‘Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That’s the reason He came. Not to make you ‘‘feel good.’’ Not to ‘‘make a better you.” Not to ‘‘give you a better tomorrow.” The true Jesus Christ is not the marketed, apathetic, somewhat benign Jesus the media and many churches try to force on us. And the way to God is not through entertainment or some program in the church. God has already chosen the way in which to bring salvation, and it’s not entertainment, movies, songs, or dramas. It’s the gospel of Jesus Christ. He’s the Savior of the world. And He can be yours, too!

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the guide

WHY BATMAN IS MY HERO
hYo Snyder
Typically, video games based on superheroes aren’t very good. It seems like they’d be a natural fit for a video game, but apparently it’s very difficult to create one that captures the essence of what makes a superhero so popular, while at the same time making a game that’s engaging, challenging, and fun (see Superman 64 for an example of what not to do). Rocksteady’s amazing game Batman: Arkham Asylum showed that it was possible to make a video game starring a superhero make you feel like you were that hero, and it was also a lot of fun. They improved on that even more with the recently released Batman: Arkham City, which is not only a great superhero game, but a great video game period (read our full review of it at the guide: gameandmovieguide.com). I couldn’t be happier about that because Batman is my hero. Whenever I was asked, ’’Who’s your favorite hero?” in Sunday School, I said, ‘‘Batman”—despite the fact that (gasp) he’s not in the Bible. I think we all need a hero. We need someone to inspire us, to give us something to live up to. Now, when I say that Batman is the hero who does that for me, I don’t mean that he inspires me to deal out vigilante justice with my fists, or to wear a cool looking cape and cowl (although, admittedly, I do like to wear a cape from time to time). No, it’s the other aspects of his character that I find inspiring, especially as a Christian. First, his life was transformed by death; a fact that Bruce has never forgotten. He carries the pain of his parent’s death—the way they were tragically taken in a random mugging—with him every time he puts on the cape and cowl. It’s what motivates him and drives him. Likewise, my life was transformed by death; and it’s something I should never forget. When Jesus died on the cross, it changed my life forever. Yet I admit that I’m prone to forgetting that, or taking it too lightly, or taking it for granted. I would do well, like

JUST IMAGINE WHAT WE COULD ACCOMPLISH AS CHRISTIANS IF WE WERE AS DEDICATED, PASSIONATE, AND SINGLE-MINDEDLY DETERMINED AS THE DARK KNIGHT.
Batman does, to always remember the weight of Christ’s death and how it changed my life. It should be the driving force behind everything I do. The other aspect of Batman’s character that I’ve always found inspiring is his single-minded determination. The night of his parent’s death, Bruce swore to make sure that such a crime would never happen again. A foolhardy oath, perhaps, but one he’s never faltered from. Everything Bruce has done his entire life—all the work, all the training, all the studying, all the technology—it’s all been focused on that one pursuit; to fulfill that one purpose. I need that same dedication in my life. As a Christian, I’m prone to getting distracted, getting off-track, and at times just going with the flow. I need the same fire, passion, and dedication as Batman. Just imagine what we could accomplish as Christians if we were as dedicated, passionate, and single-mindedly determined as the Dark Knight. It would be said again of Christ’s followers that they’re turning the world upside down (see Acts 17:5-7 NKJV). Batman: Arkham City is the greatest superhero game of all time because it lets me feel what it’s like to be Batman. Batman is my hero, the one who inspires me most because he reminds me that to be a successful Christian, one who’s changing the world, I need to be determined, dedicated, disciplined, welltrained, passionate, and never apathetic. When I keep my eyes fixed on the cross and on my Savior Jesus Christ, I can do just that—and I don’t have to wear a cape...unless I want to.

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FIRST WORDS THE CRAFT:
DIY DECOUPAGE COASTERS

SPRINKLES THE EDGE:
SANTA HERO

THE JOCKS:

GROWING UP ON THE STREETS

THE DREAM:
MY MASQUERADE MASK

TESTIFY:
FROM OUR READERS

FLASHBACK:
TAKING IT BACK TO 1978

THE HEART:
MISSIONARY DATING

THE SOUND:
HAWK NELSON

UNDERGROUND:
BLOOD & WATER

SOUNDCHECK:
KUTLESS & HAWK NELSON

THE MOVEMENT:
BLUE STAR MOMS

THE THOUGHT:
LANDMINES AND LITURGY

PAUSE:
LIFE BOATS

THE BEAT:
WHERE’S GOD?

BOOK REPORT:
A NOT-SO-SILENT NIGHT

THE SOURCE:
SERVING WITHOUT SEEING

THE TALK:

LION KING 3D MOVIE

THE GOOD NEWS:
WORLD’S GREATEST DETECTIVE

THE STATIC STRIP RENOVATE:
AWAY IN A MANGER

THE GUIDE:
WHY BATMAN IS MY HERO

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46 || STATIC PAPER