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Mel Gibson receives standing ovation for new film

FEREX via APPeople are talking today about the new Apple iPhone, congressional debates over legislation to battle Zika, and Gretchen Carlson's $20 million settlement with Fox. But the news that most caught my eye this morning has to do with a movie that won't be in theaters for two more months.

Hacksaw Ridge is Mel Gibson's new film. It tells the true story of Desmond Doss, a World War II army medic who refused to bear arms but received the Medal of Honor after he saved dozens of his fellow soldiers. The movie was shown at the Venice International Film Festival last Saturday. According to USA Today, the audience gave Gibson a ten-minute standing ovation when the film ended.

It was my privilege to see Hacksaw Ridge at a private showing a few days ago, then participate in a discussion with Gibson. I don't remember ever being as moved by a movie as I was by his film. Looking back, I can identify three reasons for my response.

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Twins take wedding photos with father, who has Alzheimer's

"We knew our father may not be alive for our future wedding, so we decided to capture the poignant moment before it was lost forever." This is how Becca Duncan explains the decision she and her twin sister Sarah made to have wedding photos made with their father, even though neither is engaged. Their dad is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, so they staged their wedding pictures with him while they can.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that basketball great Charles Barkley traveled to Craig Sager's bedside as the broadcaster recovers from a third bone marrow transplant. Sager is battling aggressive leukemia, and Barkley wanted to show his support. This despite Barkley's recent hip surgery and his doctor's warning that he should not yet travel. Sager's wife had a cold and couldn't be with him in the hospital, so Barkley flew to Phoenix to take her place.

I often encourage Christians to use our influence for the greatest public good. As our culture becomes increasingly hostile to biblical truth and faith, our courageous public witness becomes increasingly vital. We can learn from the Duncan twins and Charles Barkley—their public actions called attention to dread diseases and gave us compassionate examples to follow.

But there's another side to the story: those who serve far from the limelight are as important as those who make the news. Heroes who are unsung on earth are applauded in heaven.

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Why is 'Labor Day' an oxymoron?

Credit: Craighton Miller via FlickrIt's been a busy holiday weekend. Here are some of the headlines: the Catholic Church declared Mother Teresa a saint. Hermine is ruining holiday plans on the East Coast. College football has seen a weekend of upsets: Wisconsin beat LSU, Houston won over Oklahoma, and Texas defeated Notre Dame in overtime. Serena Williams won her 307th match in a Grand Slam tournament, the most in the history of women's tennis. And North Korea fired three ballistic missiles this morning.

Now we've come to the most oxymoronically named day of the year. According to the United States Department of Labor, Labor Day "is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."

So workers are honored by a day in which we do not work. That's like a music awards show in which there is no music. The fact that we reward laborers by giving them a day without labor says something important about the way our culture views work.

Many people see work as a means to a better end, a necessity that pays the bills for the things we'd rather be doing. We bifurcate work and the rest of life. Is this how God sees work?

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A vital lesson Christians can learn from atheists

Credit: Alejandro Rdguez via FlickrAccording to Vox, the average restaurant meal is four times larger than in the 1950s. Apple will reportedly allow customers to order their new iPhone 7 in the color black. Ikea says that future homes will have vegetable planters lining their kitchen walls, furniture will double as exercise gear, and sensors throughout the house will respond instantly to our actions.

These stories illustrate the first rule of marketing: give the people what they want. Successful businesspeople know that they must connect their products to our interests, needs, and hopes before we will buy what they are selling.

Atheists are learning the same lesson.

Sean McDowell teaches apologetics at Biola University and is the author of over eighteen books. His latest blog post is titled "The New Face of Atheism." According to Dr. McDowell, this "face" isn't a person but a movement.

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Welcoming our grandson into the world

"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world" (John Milton).

Yesterday was a "transcendent moment of awe" for our family as we welcomed Wesley Noah Denison into the world. Our lives are changed forever by this baby boy. He will never remember the day of his birth, but we will never forget it.

Wesley's parents are our younger son, Craig, and his wife, Rachel. Craig directs brand strategy for our ministry and writes First15, our daily devotional. Rachel writes for their website, Craig + Rachel Denison, and for www.christianparenting.org. Both are remarkable musicians and worship leaders. And both love Jesus as passionately and intimately as anyone I have ever known.

Today they can say with Hannah, "For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him" (1 Samuel 2:27). From the moment we knew of Wesley's conception, our family has prayed diligently for him. Today we are rejoicing in the miracle of his birth with hearts overflowing with gratitude to God.

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