Category Archives: Movies on monthly theme

I Can Only Imagine

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I just finished watching the movie, I Can Only Imagine.  I don’t think it’s an accident that the next adult Sunday School lesson I’ll be teaching is from the book of Romans and titled “The Transformed Life.” God does that to me all the time! Bart Miller’s story is one of transformation, redemption, forgiveness, hope and most of all music.  His father was abusive and angry, his mother left, and for young Bart, music anchored him, lifted him up, and gave him a dream.  I won’t say more, because you should see this film for yourself.  You’ve probably heard the song, but it’s worth another listen:

 

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Who Are We Really?

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I’ve found myself thinking about this blog post and feeling that I would like to avoid writing it.  ( I’m preparing a Sunday School lesson on Jonah, the prophet who tried to run away from God, and boy, can I identify).  However, the Holy Spirit keeps nudging me to put it out there, so here goes.

The Hunger Games

Have you read the book, or watched the movie,  The Hunger Games?  I bet almost everyone has.  It’s the story of a young girl, Katniss Everdeen, who through her abilities and virtue, triumphs over an evil government, and becomes a symbol of freedom that motivates others. It’s a story we all want to identify with, especially here in America.  That’s how we see ourselves, right? The land of the brave and the free?  Individualists who broke away from the control of England to establish a country where liberty is  guaranteed and everyone has an opportunity to work hard and succeed.  Hunger Games fits well with the story we tell ourselves about who we are and how we came to exist as a nation.  I suppose that’s okay as far as it goes.

Unfortunately what struck me, particularly when I saw the movie, was the thought that we’re not Katniss, we’re the people in the capital;  the people who are living an extravagant, gluttonous lifestyle, while outside our borders people starve.  Look up the statistics.  Did you know that 16% of the worlds’ population (this is pretty much the U.S., Europe and Japan) consume 80% of the natural resources?  Americans comprise 4% of the world population, but operate 1/3 of its’ cars and use 1/4 of its’ energy.

You may tell yourself that at least we’re not drafting people to compete in a murderous game for our entertainment.  Think again.  We haven’t quite gotten to that level, but we’re more than willing to view many “reality” shows that encourage conflict, lust and greed for our enjoyment.

Here’s the naked truth.  We live in the capital and we are those evil people.  We have no hope of isolating ourselves from sin, our own and that of society.  We don’t need a Katniss;  we need a savior.  Come Lord Jesus.

 

 

What Turns You On?

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Eric Liddell,  the famous Olympic runner portrayed in the movie “Chariots of Fire” once said, “God made me fast and when I run, I feel His pleasure.”  If, like Kate, you are wondering how to spend your time, look toward your God-given talents and gifts, and look for your passion.  When do you get the feeling, “this is what I was meant to do?”

A couple of my blogging sisters call me “the blogoholic”.  They say I am obsessed with our blog.  I don’t think that’s really true, but right now it is my passion.  It doesn’t feel like work to write a post practically every day.  I get a charge out of every comment and like.  I get an even bigger charge when I find a new writer to join us,  learn something new about technology, or when someone else shares a post.  Writing is a talent, and encouragement is one of my spiritual gifts–being the chief blogger combines both and I love it.

My dear friend, Nancy is a teacher.  She once told me that teaching is not just a job for her–if she couldn’t get paid for it, she would teach anyway.   She would teach Sunday School, or Bible Study, or join the Literacy Council and teach reading.  Teaching is her passion.

Beth Ann, one of the lady bloggers, is a musician.  The best times of her life have been spent making music.  She sings in the choir, she plays guitar for Via de Cristo weekends and serves on the Via de Cristo Board as the head musician.  Music touches her in a special way.  It’s her passion.

Michele, another Lutheran Lady, loves people and loves to witness.  She proclaims her Christian faith “loud and proud.”  It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’ve done, Michele wants to be your friend and introduce you to her best friend, Jesus.  It’s her passion.

So think about your life.  What are the things that make you feel fulfilled?  When do you get that “click” that means, I was created for this?  If you became independently wealthy and didn’t need to work, how would you spend your time and money?  What energizes you?  What turns you on?  I want to hear from our readers and bloggers!

“Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.”  Romans 12:11

 

 

One Man’s Change

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My husband and I recently took the teens from our church to see the movie, “The Case for Christ.”  It is the story of Lee Strobel, a journalist and atheist.  When his wife becomes a Christian, he is distressed and decides to use his investigative skills to disprove Christianity by attacking the resurrection.  Even St. Paul agrees it is the linchpin of our faith.

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”  1 Corinthians 15:14

After consulting with many experts in individual fields, here’s what he found:

  • The Bible is a reliable source because there are many more existing copies, and earlier copies of it than any other ancient document
  • Over 500 people could not have had the same delusion of seeing Jesus alive after the crucifixion–this would be more miraculous than the miracle itself!
  • Medical experts agree that Jesus could not have been alive when He was taken down from the cross
  • Eye witness accounts all contained the same core of the resurrection story.  There were variances in secondary details –this is exactly what would be expected.  Identical reports are suspect.
  • Jews of that time would never have chosen women as the first witnesses;  women were not allowed to be witnesses.  This could only mean they were reporting the truth.  If they were lying, they would have chosen men as the witnesses.
  • The disciples led changed lives, and were willing to die for their faith.  Who would chose to die for a lie?  What would be the motive?

I would recommend this film, especially to young or newer Christians.  It falls in the category of “apologetics.” (defending the faith).  Lee Strobel went on to become a Pastor, writer and professor.  He is the author of a number of books including “The Case For Christ” which tells his conversion story and on which the movie is based.

I’d be interested in hearing other comments on the film or book.

Now Thank We All Our God

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iThis hymn was written by a Lutheran pastor, Martin Rinkart (1586-1649) in the village of Eilenberg, Saxony.  When he began his pastorate, the Thirty Years War was in progress.  Refugees fled into  Eilenberg while the Swedish army laid siege to the walled city.  The times were desperate.  People were dying from famine and plague.  Pastors were under terrible strain as they attempted to preach the gospel while caring for the sick and dying and burying the dead.  One after another, the pastors also became ill and died until only Martin Rinkart was left.  On some days he conducted as many as fifty funerals.  Finally the Swedes demanded a ransom.  It was Pastor Rinkart who left the safety of the city to negotiate with the enemy and bring a conclusion to the hostility and suffering.  He composed this hymn in thanksgiving for the survivors of Eilenberg.  What a wonderful example of giving thanks in all circumstances.   In Germany it is used in the same way Americans sing the doxology.

Now thank we all our God, With heart and hand and voices,

Who wondrous things hath done, In whom this world rejoices,

Who from our mothers’ arms, Hath blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,

With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us,

And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed,

And free us from all ills, in this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,

The Son and Him who reigns with them in highest heaven,

The one eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore,

For thus it was, is now, and shall be ever more.

Forgiving in Unforgiving Circumstances

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While traveling to and from the AFLC conference in Wisconsin, I had a lot of time to read in the car.  One of the books I finished was For The Glory: Erick Liddell’s Journey From Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr by Duncan Hamilton.

Because of the movie, Chariots of Fire, many people, like me, know that Eric Liddell was an Olympic champion who refused to run on Sunday because of his faith.  Maybe they even remember that after the Olympics he became a missionary to China.  However, there is a “rest of the story” that is equally inspiring:  Eric died in a prisoner of war camp because he was not evacuated from China before the Japanese overran the area where he was serving (the rest of his family had been sent back to Canada).

Here is an excerpt from book’s prologue:

In the beginning, the camp was filthy and unsanitary, the pathways strewn with debris and the living quarters squalid.  ..There were verbal squabbles, sometimes flaring into physical fights, over the meager portions at mealtimes and also the question of who was in front of whom in the line to receive them.  There were disagreements, also frequently violent, over privacy and personal habits and hygiene as well as perceived idleness, selfishness and pilfering.

Liddell stood out as being different.

… his forbearance was remarkable.  No one could recall a single act of envy, pettiness, hubris or self-aggrandizement from him.  He bad mouthed nobody.  He didn’t bicker. …Every night, after studying the Bible, he prayed…He did not discriminate.  He prayed for everyone, even for his Japanese guards.

The verdict of the author:  “His heroism was to be utterly forgiving in the most unforgiving of circumstances.”  I would encourage everyone to read this book about a modern hero of the faith, and learn how forgiveness can change an unforgiving environment.

The Real Love Story

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Maybe if you’re my age you remember a film called Love Story.  It popularized the phrase, love means you never have to say you’re sorry.  It sounds good, I guess.  Romantic somehow.  I think it’s meant to convey the idea that if we love someone enough, if we understand them completely, we won’t need an apology to feel their remorse.  Unfortunately it’s not true.  Most of us know from personal experience that failure to apologize for hurting someone leads to further hurt and maybe even a relationship that is completely broken.

The greatest love story of all time is the story of God’s love for His people as recorded in the Bible.  All human love is a reflection of that first love.  Listen to what God says to us about saying you’re sorry:

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9

Some may take this legalistically, turning it into a rule that says we must search and search our life, notice and remember every sin we’ve ever committed and list them out and confess them, in order to appease God’s wrath.  But this isn’t true. He knows we can’t confess every wrong doing because there are so many we commit without even realizing it. Sin is our default setting. God doesn’t tell us to confess to punish us, or make us feel bad.  He wants us to realize we are sinners and confess, so that we can experience His forgiveness and feel better.  Listen to what David says in Psalm 51 after his confession of adultery with Bathsheba:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

Not confessing our sins leads to separation from God and others.  Confessing heals and restores.  It’s good for the soul.

 

 

 

 

A Praying Mother

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…Older women, likewise, are to be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers or addicted to much wine, but teachers of good. In this way they can train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, managers of their households, kind, and subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be discredited.…Titus 2:3-5

Mother’s Day was Sunday so I just want to say, if you had a praying mother, give thanks.  She was one of God’s gifts to you.  And if you didn’t, give thanks to the Christian woman who taught you to pray, because I bet there was one.

One of the things I learned on my Via de Cristo weekend is, we are all leaders because we all influence others. I am a shy, private person so even as an active Christian, I never thought of myself as a leader.  The Bible tells us otherwise.  In the quote above we learn that we are constantly teaching others through our life and our behavior.  Did you know that when people are asked who has had the greatest influence on their spiritual life, the most common answer given is “my mother”?  I bet grandmothers and other older women are in that mix as well.  Did you know that the Bible says many husbands are ” won over without words by the behavior of their wives”?(1 Peter 2:1)

If you are not a mother or wife, you can still teach someone about prayer.  I challenge you to watch War Room (mentioned in one of Beth Ann’s posts) to see “passing it on” in action.  Each of us can and should be a mentor to someone else.

In the meantime, think about who taught you to pray.  Was it your mother, your grandmother, your Sunday School teacher, your friend?  Please comment, I am waiting to hear your answer.

God loves you and so do I!