December 20, 2014

I am not sure about these movies based on events of the bible.  In the last few years I have not been able to bring myself to watch any movie that depicts events written in the bible.  I have tried and have not been able to accept the poetic license used to fill in the story.  I did  not know why until I read a recent book by A. W. Tozer.  In it was the answer to my question: Why I don’t agree with the making of a movie that portrays any event in the bible, and it’s because of the lack of sincerity and the irreverence towards God and His Word.

Let me provide an oxymoron: a sincere actor.  An actor cannot be sincere because the very nature of his profession is to pretend to be someone else.  He puts aside his own persona in order to portray another person’s persona.  The bible is all about being true and real about who and what we are, sinners in desperate need of a savior.  The sincerity of the preacher proclaiming sharp truth of the gospel is meant to be heard, drawn out in word pictures in an inspired sermon.  As Paul states, truth comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of God.

But the second issue is the license the writers take when the fill the narrative of the bible, or change it entirely.  I once saw a movie about Paul produced by a national Christian broadcasting network.  The one scene I watched before I couldn’t watch anymore was the stoning of Stephen.  In the movie, Paul is portrayed a being a reluctant participant, trying to convince the leader of the stoning that it was wrong to stone Stephen, and that he was deeply saddened by the event.  My bible tells me that Saul nodded with approval when Stephen was stoned.  He was very supportive of the situation.

To me, when we allow writers, actors and directors latitude with poetic license to “bolster” the bible narrative to improve their script, the bible narrative loses its integrity.  There is enough in the text to provide the whole story.  I am not against using a perspective of someone who may have been present to retell a biblical event in a written format as long as it remains true to the story.  Reading is another way of hearing because the words echo in our heads.

I am not discouraging anyone from watching a religious movie or one based on biblical events, just consider the producer of the movie and then consult the true source of the narrative.

Consistency, Please

Dear Jesus,

I have made some steps in mending the relationship I have with my wife.  We have done some things that I was having difficulty with in the recent past.  I have overcome some obstacles but my worry now is can I be consistent.  Knowing my past, it is a considerable thing to worry about.

But I do know that I cannot do it on my own power.  I do know that it can be done only with you working through me.  I know that You want to save and preserve this marriage, and any other marriage that may be going through the same difficulties.  I know that marriage is something very special to You and it angers You that so many are destroyed.  Please have Your Spirit move within me and enable me to desire my wife only, and save my marriage.

Thank You,

Mike

December 19, 2014

Imagine what it must’ve been like 2,000 years ago in the temple.  You are one of the crowd, in the local synagogue that you are a member of, worshipping on the Sabbath as you always do, and this upstart Rabbi is in attendance.  You don’t know what to make of him, supposing he is just like any other of the many Rabbis you have listened to in you life.  Now you are older, past the prime of your life and you are pretty sure you have witnessed it all.  As you walk by you give him a cursory glance, sizing him up.  He doesn’t look special, average in all appearances, so you dismiss him.

Everyone has made it to their place in gathering room.  You are in your customary spot, near the front and to the right of the lectern.  The meeting begins in the usual way and you participate in the rituals.  On this occasion, since there is a visiting Rabbi, the Synagogue leader carries the scroll to him so that he can do the reading.  As the Synagogue leader approaches the visiting Rabbi stands up to receive the scroll.  And he reads:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

What just happened?  I have never that read in that way before.  You sit there like everyone else, mouth agape, head straining to see him because he sat back down after returning the scroll to the Synagogue leader.  The leader is just standing there, frozen.  The whole congregation seems to holding their breath but they do no why.  Suddenly, he says in a clear voice, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

You are like, “What?  What just happened?”  But you know what happened,  You have been a witness to something extraordinary, something that can only be divine, from the God you worship.  And so it is, you have to make a choice about this Rabbi because there was something in way he read from Isaiah that prodded your brain and lit a spark in your soul.  Without provocation, a thought enters into you head: the Messiah has come.

What a day!

December 18, 2014

I heard someone say that I need to lay my burdens at the foot of the cross, lay them down before Jesus.  So I did.  I approached the cross and hesitated for what seemed like minutes but was really a few seconds.  I finally, reluctantly, laid my problems at the foot of the cross.  And I turned and walked away.  After ten steps I turned around and went to get my problems, mumbling apologetically that I accidentally dropped them there, and scurried away.

Is this what you do, too?

December 17, 2014

It is so difficult to restrain oneself when in pain.  Pain is so real.  Pain is so upfront.  Pain is almost seems palpable.  Pain becomes a shroud.  Pain becomes a kaleidoscope where everything is distorted through the lens of the pain.  All that we see when we look at the person who is the cause of the pain is negative.  When in pain, you don’t care about what explanation the cause of your pain provides.  All you care about is that that person is the cause of my pain and I want to hurt that person like they are hurting me.

Patience goes by the wayside.  What has been decided by the person in pain about the course of events is what is real to that person.  It does not matter how many times the other person explains to them the sequence of events, the only thing that matters is that the person hurt knows “this is how it happened and when it happened, and my mind cannot be changed.  You need to figure out how to stop the pain and repair the damage and restore the relationship.”  Nothing can be done except to be patient.

What happens is that selfishness and a pride that has been hurt overcomes everything else.  Rational thought becomes illusive and spiteful words are common.  Comments made during the course of a conversation have a double meaning, the second meaning applied to the issue between you.  It makes it difficult for the one who caused the pain to not retaliate and use hurtful language.  But it must not happen, as much as you want to do it and as much as the other wants to be able lash out with full fury, words spoken are words that cannot be unspoken.  They are out there, fiery darts aimed at the kinks in the armor, meant to destroy.

This is when the Paul’s urging needs to be remembered.  Husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church, and wives are to be submissive to their husbands.  In a society that teaches that we must avenge any hurt and lash out at those who hurt us it is difficult.  Our society teaches to act out in anger, among other emotions.  But restraining the tongue and allowing wounds to heal is a much more Godly way to handle the situation.  It is difficult because we want results and we want them sooner than later, but a more thorough healing occurs through patience, persistence and prayer.

A Plea

Dear Jesus,

Today is my anniversary.  Two years.  My past issues with a wandering mind and wandering lust has crept into my life, once again, nearly destroying my marriage.  I have done considerable damage and I do not know if it can be reversed.  I am asking that you intervene and repair what I have damaged.  It is a huge mess.

I am sure I am not the only one who is having this type of problem.  I am so weak and pathetic, and I cannot determine if it is me or a spiritual attack or probably a little of both.  I believe it is a little of both.  The enemy knows my weakness and has exploited it.  I admit to having a vivid imagination and a weakness for looking, and it has been used to drive a wedge between my wife and me.

Please intercede on my behalf and empower me to overcome my shortcomings and love and desire my wife only.

Sincerely,

Mike

Needs repair and maintenance

My car is making a noise.  When I brought it to my mechanic for an oil change he had told me about it.  I told him to just change the oil and I would bring it back when I had the time to fix it.  A week of so later another noise joined the first one.  I asked my mechanic about it and, after listening to it in the parking lot, told me he would need to take it in for a day to find the problem and fix it.  I told him that I couldn’t leave him my car for the day because I needed it, and I left.  Two weeks later I found myself in the breakdown lane, smoke coming from the hood of my car and engine fluids dripping onto the ground.  When I pulled into the garage lot of my mechanic with my car hooked to a tow truck, he shrugged as if to say “You should’ve left it with me.”

Most of us are smart enough to listen to the mechanic the second time.  We are willing to trust the mechanic to fix the problem with the car.  Most of us are not willing to do the same with our personal problems and inner conflicts.  We are not willing to hand over control to God.  We are willing to tell Him what is going on, and ask Him to fix other people’s problems that are causing our problems.  We seem to want to keep ownership of whatever is hurting us the deepest.  We do not want to let go.

I wouldn’t go to an auto parts store, buy a book, find the symptoms in the book that match the symptoms of my car, buy the parts and go to work in my driveway or garage.  I can’t.  I can fumble around, remove some things and then put them back wrong, and my car will be worse off than it was when I started, when I put my unskilled hands into my engine.  The problems with my car are far beyond my talents to fix it.  And ignoring the whining noise from car will not make it go away.

That’s how I approach my inner struggle.  I try to ignore my problems first.  When they continue to persist, I go to my nearest Christian book store, find a book that addresses my problem the closest and perform some self therapy: “If I change my thinking this way or avoid going here or do this differently then I will have solved my problem.”  It never works, no matter how many times I try, it never works.

I need to go the only Mechanic who can fix my problem.  No, he won’t fix me.  He will do much more than that.  I need to relinquish ownership of whatever is causing me to fail and trust it to my Heavenly Father and the healing work of the Holy Spirit.  I need to stop fumbling around in His area of expertise, which is the healing of my sin and the power to overcome my weaknesses, and the victory over the problem that is ailing me.  Trust in Jesus.  It is so cliché but it also so true.  Trust in Jesus.