Wisdom and Technology Seminar


Seminar Speaker Line-up (November 2-3rd)

How does technology fit into our lives as Christ followers? In what ways can it bring us closer to God and into deeper community with others? And in what ways does it merit careful consideration and boundaried use? In our day to day lives, technology is all around us and so readily available; it is easy to engage it without much thought. We invite you to join us for an opportunity to pause and reflect on the intersection of faith and technology in your life with the helpful input of several leading thinkers in this field. We will explore these topics from a variety of perspectives over two days – Friday, November 2 and Saturday, November 3.

On Friday, November 2 from 7:00-9:00 pm, we will have a screening of the documentary Screenagers followed by a panel discussion and Q & A. All are welcome to attend the screening, whether you are a caretaker of teenagers or not! Middle and high school students are encouraged to attend as well!

Saturday morning, we will gather at Restoration from 8 am – 12 pm to listen to speaker and technology expert, John Dyer of Dallas Theological Seminary and then we will have an opportunity for participants to attend two breakout sessions on topics of their choosing. More information on John Dyer, the leaders of our breakout sessions, as well as the breakout session topics can be found on the registration form.

Please feel free to join for one, or both days! It’s sure to be a wonderful time to stop, reflect, and then re-engage in a more thoughtful and informed way!


John Dyer  (Main Speaker)

  • John Dyer is the Dean of Enrollment Services and Educational Technology and Adjunct Professor of Media Arts and Worship at Dallas Theological Seminary. John has been a technology creator for more than 20 years, building tools used by Facebook, Google, Apple, Anheuser-Busch, the Department of Defense, and the Digital Bible Society. His open source code is now used on more than 30% of websites. He has written on technology and faith for a number of publications including Gizmodo, Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, and in the book From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology. John and his wife, Amber, have two children, Benjamin and Rebecca.

Justin Whitmel Earley

  • Justin Whitmel Earley is the founder of The Common Rule and author of The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction. He will be sharing his wisdom surrounding the power of purposeful habits in helping us to stay engaged and present with those we love. He and his wife, Lauren, have three boys and live in Richmond, Virginia.


  • J.R. has spent the past twenty years working with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in a variety of forms: the video game industry, transportation systems, academia, startups, and Silicon Valley industrial research labs.  He will be exploring how the human brain works and why we make the choices we do online. He will also offer some thoughts on how we can be better “Digital Citizens of Heaven.”

“Screenagers” Movie

  • “Screenagers” is an award-winning film that probes into the vulnerable corners of family life and depicts messy struggles over social media, video games and academics.  The film offers solutions on how we can help our teenagers navigate the digital world.APEX will also be hosting a panel discussion with technology specialist and Dallas Theological Seminary professor John Dyer, immediately following the screening.

Click the link below to REGISTER.



Grace and Cocoa Puffs

Over the weekend I went to see “Win Win,” a film by Thomas McCarthy. It stars Paul Giamatti as Mike Flaherty, a small-town attorney who, for less than noble reasons, becomes the legal guardian of an elderly client of his.  Eventually, Mike and his wife Jackie (played by a wonderful Amy Ryan) find themselves taking in the client’s grandson, a high school kid named Kyle who’s got a troubled past but happens to be a pretty amazing wrestler. Since Mike’s the coach of a less-than-amazing high school wrestling team,  it seems like a pretty good gig… until Mike’s less-than-noble reasons and Kyle’s troubled past catch up with them both.

It’s a great film, with great performances and an ending that’s redemptive without being schmaltzy. But two scenes have really stuck with me, I think because they depict quietly and powerfully what a community of love and grace can look like.

  • In the first, Kyle asks Jackie if he can go with her to the grocery store. She’s surprised (what teenager wants to go to the grocery store with his mom-like-figure?) but happily agrees. Turns out Kyle just wants to buy Cocoa Puffs for his grandpa, since they’re his favorite cereal. As they’re walking down the aisle, Jackie asks Kyle a question about his past. He hesitates. She responds, “That’s ok; you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to” — and then asks Kyle to reach the top shelf and get a box of spaghetti for her.
  • In the second, Kyle’s just come home after having bolted when he discovered some of Mike’s bad behavior. He’s mad. Jackie and Mike try to get him to talk about it, but he wants none of it.  So they turn to walk away–but Jackie stops, looks Kyle in the eye, and says, “We just want you to know that we love you.”  Then she walks up the stairs. Pretty soon, Kyle’s come out of the basement to eat pancakes with Mike. He doesn’t speak — it’s not happily-ever-after — but it is a very real depiction of the slow steps toward the restoration of a relationship.

I think what I love about both of these scenes is the way Jackie creates a safe family space for Kyle and intentionally invites him in — but never pushes and never requires him to be different than he is at that moment. Not ready to talk about your past? Fine — but by asking you to reach the spaghetti for me, I show you that I value you and am better off having you with me.  Not ready to move past your anger to address the problems we’re facing? OK — but there’s food waiting for you upstairs, and I’m going to be absolutely clear that when you’re ready, we’ll work out those problems in the context of a loving relationship.

In other words, what I love about these scenes, and about Jackie, is that she makes it ok for Kyle to be broken. She offers the hope of having some of his brokenness healed. And she offers him a place in their family, in a different story than the painful one he’d grown up in.

At Restoration, we often talk about being broken people who are restored by grace and living God’s story. It’s a lot like what Jackie offered Kyle. I hope we can be that kind of community, that kind of family.

I think we can.

I think we are.


Movie Night!

Tomorrow night is movie night at Restoration!

We’ll be showing “The Perfect Game,” a great (and family-friendly!) movie about the 1957 Little League World Series and the underdog team from Monterrey, Mexico, that overcame great obstacles to get there.  The movie is not yet available on DVD, so this is a one-of-a-kind opportunity!

We’ll be showing the movie twice: at 5:00 pm and again at 7:30 pm.

Admission is free, but we’ll be gratefully accepting donations to support the Restoration/Falls Church mission team that will be serving in Philippi, WV, this summer.  A concession stand (with baked goods!) will be available too.

So round up your friends, your kids, your neighbors, and come see a great movie for a great cause!

Marriage Movies

Talking about Marriage at Restoration on 11/15, 29

I watched 2 movies this week as part of my preparation for the next sermons on marriage.

As a pastor, I watch movies like a coach watches film of the opposing team.  What are the strengths of the argument?  Where does it fail to answer the most pressing questions of humanity?  How does the film articulate truth that is God’s truth?  How does the film lie to me and deceive me?

These 2 movies were pretty good–  He’s just not that in to you and Couples Retreat.  CR was pretty silly, but a good illustration of how distracted people can get from their marriage priority.

HJNTITY was by far the better.  Ben Affleck’s character gives a passionate speech on why he is opposed to marriage that really captures a common sentiment–  why do I need a piece of paper to tell you I love you…  The depiction of the affair is heart-wrenching and the friendship that develops into something more captures some of God’s plan for what should be at the core of marriage–  best friends, committed to the other’s good.

Both of these were released this year.  What are some of your favorite marriage movies? Which ones give hints of God’s best and which ones have bought into a lie?

We are going to spend Nov 15 and Nov 29 digging into the back end of Eph 5.  Tomorrow I’ll have some more introductory thoughts for you.

The Gospel according to Clint

552Movie Spoiler alert–  don’t read this if you want to see the movie.  I’m going to talk about the end.

Just finished Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino.  It has gotten a lot of acclaim because it is so well done.  I totally agree.  The language is rough and there are topics/ images that are violent (rated R for a reason).

What struck me is the end. Walt Kowalski wants to set Thao and Sue free from the life they are destined/trapped to lead.  In order to set them free, Kowalski gives up his own life so that the bad guys who keep Thao and Sue trapped will be put into prison.  He publicly arranges to have himself murdered in order to free his friends from the life that enslaves them.  As Kowalski is gunned down, he falls to the ground in a cruciform shape.

Why does the Gospel haunt our culture?  At our core, there is a story that speaks to something deep within us.  There is a hero who will rescue us from our slavery by giving up his own life.  Do we dare hope that there is one who loves us enough and is powerful enough to defeat the bad guys and rescue us?

There is a Kowalski who came for each of us.  He set us free from the things that hold us captive by giving his innocent life.  The story is not just wishful thinking.  It resonates so deeply within us because it is so profoundly true.

By the way…  hated the priest in the story.  He’s a pretty accurate portrayal of some dude in his late 20s who is trying to pastor a tough situation.  But why does he have to be such a sally…

‘my weapons’

I just saw ironman again last week.  RDjr’s character is really winsome.  He makes the movie.  This time, a particular line completely grabbed me.  After his ‘conversion’ in the cave, RDjr commits himself to finding ‘my weapons’ and destroying them.  Several times he uses the phrase ‘my weapons’.  Normally we use ‘my weapons’ to describe weapons that we own, that we will use.  What struck me is his sense of culpability and ownership of ‘my weapons’ that were never discharged by him.  Whereas before, ‘my weapons’ were a means to a lifestyle that centered on and glorified himself, after his conversion, ‘my weapons’ are a reminder of how he has used the pain of others for his own advancement.

I want to have that much ownership of my shortcomings.  RDjr wasn’t using ‘my weapons’ to destroy people, he was just selling them.  Yet he began to feel the result of each weapon like he had pulled the trigger himself.  Consequently, he needed to track down ‘my weapons’ and stop them.  He was not directly responsible for the damage they did, but because he made them and benefited from them, he was carrying the guilt of their use.

Could we all have such a corporate, humble, teachable view of our wrong-doing?  For example, as I think about the work of IJM, we might not ever directly own a slave, but if we benefit from products made by modern slaves or an economy propped up by slave labor, could we say ‘my slaves’?  We might not ever traffic a person for sex, but if one gives their money to pornographic web sites or to an industry that promotes the objectification of women, might that person say ‘my sex trafficking’?  We might not directly discriminate against another person in the workplace, but if there are structures and practices that prevent the advancement of some and the promotion of others based on race or gender, might we say ‘my discrimination’?

For those who follow Christ, the one who never directly sinned, yet went to the cross saying ‘my sins’, what is our corporate and personal culpability for ‘my weapons’?

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