Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Batman saves the Jews!

For the most part, I like the fact that there are movies attempting to bring forward biblical stories and themes the last few years.  With the success of movies like the Passion and the History Channel's tv mini-series "The Bible," Hollywood is waking up.  However, there are some challenges to this new direction....

So there's a new "Exodus" movie coming out next month starring Christian Bale. The title is "Exodus: gods and kings" the description is "One man against an empire." In other words, "Batman saves the Jewish people." 

However, the only hero in the biblical story of the Exodus is God. Moses was a broken old man who was a "has been." He was someone who grew up with privilege and even though he had empathy for his people, he still lived in the palace. He was 40 when he killed a man mistreating the Jews and then he ran. He lived in the wilderness as a shepherd for another 40 yrs as God stripped away all vestiges of his former life. He was humbled and undone. At the age of 80, a new beginning at a burning bush that he was reluctant to embrace. He was too old and too broken to rely on his own plans and his own strength anymore; perfectly positioned to be used by God. The next and final 40 yrs of his life were spent putting to use his training as a shepherd (though I'm sure he didn't perceive it as training at the time). He dealt with a bunch of whiny temperamental sheep...I mean people, leading them through the same wilderness.
All this is not to say that Moses wasn't a great man, but I'm just betting the emphasis in the movie is upon the man rather than the God who made, called and empowered the man.

Looks like it will be an entertaining flick though and I'll probably go see it.  The only danger is that with this movie and movies like Noah with Russell Crowe is that the stories are becoming so twisted around so that they are completely missing the point.  I think we all expect a certain amount of creative license when movie scripts are made, but we live in a biblically illiterate culture and therefore truth is lost in the adaptation.  Those that watched the movie Noah are likely to walk away with the message that God destroyed humanity because we were bad caretakers of nature.  What it does is undermine the credibility of these events recorded in the Bible and turns them into myths and fairytales.  I wonder what message will be delivered with this latest movie. 

Maybeeee this one?


Monday, October 27, 2014

Permission to Judge

**WARNING!!**  This posting is not Politically Correct.  Not even close.  :)

Did you know that it is not only ok, but biblical to judge?  (see Mt. 7:15-20; John 7:24; 1 Cor 5:11-13...just to name a few) )  Today you are absolutely condemned if you stand up and say that something is "Wrong."  Groupthink says that things are never wrong, just different. (unless of course you disagree with this post-modern philosophy; then you are...wrong)

But Christians DO have the biblical mandate (that is so often misapplied and thrown in our faces) to "Judge not, lest ye be judged." (Matthew 7:1).  So are we to never stand up and say what's going on around us is wrong?  Let's bring this home by looking at the two most prevalent examples in our world right now:

Are we unloving to say that homosexuality is sin?  Are we wrong to declare that homosexual "marriage" is destructive not only to the immediate people involved, but also our country?

What about Islam? Are we being prideful, ignorant and narrow minded in saying that it is a false religion that is deceiving millions of people around the world?  That it is the most common factor behind the horrible acts of terrorism happening around the globe today? Are we wrong to take a stand against Sharia Law both here and abroad?  Isn't that culturally insensitive? Intolerant? Bigoted?

Well, we have been told so. And many Christians I know are confused and stay silent because have adopted the "live and let live" philosophy of this world.  But a Christian who understands a biblical worldview knows that adopting this philosophy is more like "we'll live, but we'll let you die."

So how do we walk this biblical line?  Is it possible to love, serve and respect someone who you totally disagree with?  Is it possible to stand against an agenda that someone you know and love wholeheartedly supports without shattering the relationship or at the very least continue loving them?  Does love mean (as we are being told today) that we never rebuke? Does it mean that we have to approve and embrace everything someone does?

Paul gives us the key when he says in Ephesians 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."  
How does this help?  Because Paul shows us the distinction that the PERSON is different from the spirit/idea/philosophy/culture/etc. influencing them.  

It is not only ok, but it is right to continue to preach God's Truth in a world that is rejecting it.  There is still only ONE way, ONE truth and ONE life and that is through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  (Jn. 14:6) It is absolutely right to stand up and judge something wrong or evil if that is what God's Word says that it is, even if it offends or hurts someone's 'feelers.'  The warning Jesus gave about "Don't judge or you too will be judged" was followed by the words "with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you."  I'm ok with this!  I use God's Word, not self-righteousness or a sense of superiority.  In fact it is the "Measure" that every human in existence WILL be measured by. I'm a wreck in need of a Savior!  I fall upon His grace all the time! And by that grace I am slowly becoming more free and more like Him.  

We have permission to judge according to God's Word, because it is not the standard of our own selves or our own performance that we are using.  There is certainly the accompanying mandate to "Speak the truth in love..." (Eph. 4:15) We don't have to be insensitive jerks when taking a stand or disagreeing, but my whole point in this post is that it is not unloving to judge evil as evil. We are saying "This is what God says..." and then we love as we have been loved.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

Marriage Sacred?

There's been a lot of attention on marriage the last few years. What it is, what it isn't and who has the rights to define such things.  So these are some of the random thoughts I have had lately on marriage from a biblical perspective (a little deeper than normal):  

From God came man.  From man came a woman by God's hand, and out of woman comes all men and women by the creative breath of God upon the union of seed from man and egg from woman. God is the originator and creator.  He is the one who continues to create and He is the One who holds it all together.  

When man and woman come together in marriage they are uniting two parts of a whole and God is the Witness and the bond that brings those things together and in Him they are made complete. Man and woman in themselves are not whole for they did not have their beginning in themselves, but God.  Two people coming together in their own power, design and bond are but shadows of what God has intended and walk in disobedience.  God cannot bless disobedience

The marriage ceremony in church honors what God has created.  It recognizes the sacredness of the creation of this institution and both submits to His authority as well as invites His blessing upon the union.  It invites witnesses who also honor God to share in the joy, to bless the new union and to hold this new couple accountable to their vows to one another and to God.  For their union is not about themselves only.  

Marriage reveals God's Triune nature.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Three are One.  Husband, Wife and God united make a whole.  From this unity comes creation and new life.  From this new life God's plan is revealed, fulfilled and carried on to future generations.  

This is God's plan.  We also live in a broken world of our own design and have made a mess of His creation.  Certainly there is grace to cover and re-cover because of the cross of Christ. However, grace is not license to redesign. Grace does not put us on the throne.  Marriage is not ours to do with as we please.  We are to orbit  around God's designs for He is the center of all things, not demand that He orbit around our designs as if we were.  The blood of Christ and the accompanying grace allow us to break free from the destruction of serving self and instead start building our lives upon God's plan that brings new life and blessing.  

So the problem we face as a society is who gets to define what marriage is?  Is it about us? Our feelings? Our attractions? Our design?  Or is it about the One who made us and the design of man and woman coming together in empowered unity with God Himself.

Marriage is the fundamental building blocks of a society...the family unit. It is the main intersection of the sacred and the secular within a society.  It is the wellspring from which all things will be determined.  Sacred? Yes.  Important? Absolutely.

Friday, September 27, 2013

How to Attract Young People to Church

Sadly most churches think that the above image is the answer to the question of how to attract young people.  Not literally of course, but when they try to modernize a bit or go "contemporary" by putting out some muffins and coffee and maybe sing some newer songs, it is essentially the same thing as trying to put some hip clothes on grandpa and calling it change.  The answer is much more involved and harder.  Yes, many churches would benefit from some updated methodology, but before that happens you need to consider some things and ask some questions.  Read this article to gain some initial insight into what is needed.  (HINT: not just method change, but a whole new DNA of church culture)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Need Ears To Hear

Every time I have sought the Lord over the last several years concerning some difficult circumstances or needed direction I have heard Him say clearly only one thing.  I confess that every time He says it to me it frustrates me!  He doesn't tell me what I want to hear!!!  I am at times utterly perplexed and despairing (see 2 Cor 1:8).  I rant at Him "Just tell me what to do and I will do it!"  Ever been there?  

So what is it He keeps telling me?  "I am with you."  That's it!  I know, right?!?!  But maybe in my rantings and frustrations I am missing something. Maybe...just maybe, He is whispering to me the greatest thing that He could possibly say.  To know that I am not alone.  To know that I have not taken some wrong turn at some point.  To know that my Jesus Whom I love more than anything or anyone is with me...and He keeps having grace upon me to remind me of that.  After all the ways I have blown it.  All the times I have betrayed Him, disappointed Him...He is with me.  And if He is with me, then He loves me and is leading me whether I feel it or not.  He is holding me in His nail-scarred hands.  Shouldn't that be enough? After all, when I answered His call to "Preach the Gospel" my answer to Him was "Yes, as long as you're with me"  (Actually it was "HAHAHAHA, You're crazy or I am!  But if this is really You, then yes as long as you're with me")  Maybe He is simply reminding me of that moment of beginning over and over again.  How about that...while writing this I just thought of that. Heh. Cool.  He is with me.  It is enough.


Monday, August 12, 2013

My Last Conversation With My Grandma

(This was posted a month before my Mimi went home to be with Jesus. I didn't know it would be my last conversation with her)

So I just spent some time talking to my Grandma, Lois Wilson or as we call her, Mimi (Great-Mimi for my kids).  She is 89 yrs old.  She has always been a strong independent woman and follower of Jesus.  About 9 months ago she got sick and almost died.  It led to a chain of events where she now has to live in an assisted care facility after almost 30 years of living on her own. (My Grandpa died back in the 80's)  Anyway, she is thanking God for her new circumstances.  Why?  Because she has clear eyes and a full heart.  Instead of complaining about her loss of independence and all that is associated with that, she is filled with joy over this new leg of her "journey with the Lord," her new missions field.  Through loving relational evangelism she is sharing Jesus with everyone around her.  From those that work at the facility to those that are also living there.  She is also celebrating her increase of personal intimate times with the Lord through meditation, prayer and worship.  

And so it makes me wonder if in the sunset of my days I will still be excited about my journey...If I will still have clear eyes to see the opportunities that the Lord puts in front of me to tell others of Him.  I've had to do some repenting lately.  My eyes weren't so clear.  My heart not so full.  I lost sight of things in this current chapter of my journey.  Thank God for His grace and that my life can be lived "to the praise of His glorious grace."

Clear eyes, Full heart, Can't lose.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Making an Impact One Life at a Time

Today I went and visited a beautiful baby boy named Noe and his very tired momma, Gladia.  Noe was born around 2 am this morning and is an 8 lb. boy with a full head of hair and 2 teeth already!  Gladia called me around 11:30 a.m. to share the happy news with me.  

So why am I blogging about this?  Well, I barely know this family.  You see I am kind of a Chipotle addict.  I am even a member of the invitation-only Farm Team (google it!)  Anyway, wherever I go I talk to people.  If I am a regular somewhere I remember people's stories and ask them about events from their lives. As a result people can sense that I see them as more than an employee in a service industry.  They can sense when value is being added to them in a genuine way.  So at Chipotle I have gotten to know a few of the employees as well as the General Manager.  There are two sweet ladies there that always shout out an "hola!" to me.  Now my Spanish is pretty much limited to ordering my favorite foods and what not to put on it (lettuce, tomato, sour cream...yuk!)  But I try to use this limited Spanish when they are there knowing they appreciate hearing their own language. (Always thought they were Mexicans, but just learn one is from Honduras and the other from El Salvador)  

A few months ago when Gladia told me she was pregnant I asked in the process of a conversation if she knew the sex and name of the baby yet.  She told me about her boy named Noe (No-ee), and I told her I was going to start praying for her and for Noe.  She gave me a hug and told me she loved me.  ...I was caught totally off guard and uttered an awkward, "love you too" while wondering what my wife would think of this story.  A few weeks later while strapping on the Chipotle feed bag and reading my book, Gladia walked up and handing an invitation to her upcoming baby shower. Now, I hate those things.  They are usually way girly and I the very few that I have been to, I have wanted to be anywhere but there. But I knew I would be going.  I got to meet her husband and family as well as a lot of friends and family as well as other Chipotle employees outside of the restaurant setting.

So what is the "why" behind all this?  Very simple. As a Christian we are called to be salt and light...everywhere.  In the workplace, in the marketplace and even in Chipotle.  We are to be not only pointing people to Jesus, but also bringing the Kingdom of God with us and establishing it wherever we are.  We are to be agents of the Kingdom of God.  It is the way that the Church has spread across the globe for 2000 years.  

So today I got to pray with Claudia and pray the Lord's blessing on Noe's young life.   How did this opportunity come about?  By loving people, by being available.  It's not as hard as people make it out to be and you just might get to eat some yummy food along the way.