Nov 29, 2014

Red, Chartreuse, Gold Christmas Tree

This year's Christmas Tree has a warm theme.  My trees are normally cool colors but this year we went primarily with red.  The ribbons are wired and secured with floral wire.  Enjoy!


Nov 26, 2014

Heaven is for Real Movie Review

Abigail and Dolley readers last evening I settled down to watch "Heaven is for Real".  I came away with mixed emotions about the film.  Like much Christian entertainment these days it is Laodicean in it's theology, neither hot nor cold and thus unpalatable. There were times during the latter half of the film that I wondered if these folks on the screen were even Christians!  The total lack of Biblical understanding filled me with consternation and in the end serves no one.

We are so "seeker friendly" that we don't tell seekers the truth!  Afraid to offend and drive off anyone, we soft sell their eternal destiny so we don't hurt their feelings or make them uncomfortable.  This is dangerous theology friends.  "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

There are some positive elements to the film.  I enjoyed the depiction of a believable Christian family.  The husband and wife have a real marriage, with tenderness, struggles, compassion, and physical affection.  The family sings bible songs in the car and then rocks out to Queen in the next breath.  Financial pressures are real and so is compassion for people going through difficult times.  People of faith suffer in this life, the pastor broke his leg and then subsequently suffered terribly with kidney stones.  The depiction of this suffering rang true.  The fellowship of the church body at the beginning of the film is heart warming, it shows a true caring Christian family.  The call to prayer when Colton was sick and in the hospital brought me to tears.  To see the Body of Christ respond as intercessors before the Lord was powerful.  The first half of the film was fantastic.

The second half?  Not so much.  Filled with real questions about belief, the Pastor and his congregation go through a seeking journey that is more suited to those who have never believed in Christ.  This journey is fine and necessary for those who have not professed Christ as their Savior but is troubling in this context because what in the world do these people believe?  They seem to struggle with basic doctrine, what is salvation and how do we achieve it?  Is the Word of God true and correct?  Do we actually believe in Christ or is this just a social club?

The scene at the graveyard is particularly troublesome.  The pastor tells the grieving mother that he has nothing for her.  He admits that he did not say or do anything to comfort her at the death of her 19 year old son.  What?  It isn't difficult, this is Christianity 101 and these folks are treating it like it is a deep mystery.

I surmise they had a Believer direct the first part of the film and a Seeker the second.  A moving film in the beginning had my brow furled in the end.  Instead of clearly presenting the truth of the Gospel which is in order to go to Heaven you must confess your sins, accept the death, resurrection, and atonement of the death of Christ for your sins.  You must accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and ask Him into your heart and your life.  There is no other way to the Father except through the Son.  That is straight up truth and it isn't complicated.  Instead, the film says to the seeker that God loves us and that is enough to get us into Heaven.  If that were true then why did Jesus have to die?

I must conclude, that indeed "Heaven is for Real" but this movie and it's theology are not.

Nov 18, 2014

Bias Check

Recently, I have begun a mental exercise that has proven quite enlightening.  The exercise is about finding my own bias.  We all have a worldview and critical thinking demands that we understand this in ourselves and others.  We are passionate about things we care about - plain and simple.  If there is an injustice against someone or something we value then we are more apt to give that situation weight.  If we inherently do not like the person or the cause, even if the same injustice occurs, we will not feel the same.  A well balanced person, must recognize this in themselves.

Brit Hume, the Washington Journalist, was the first person I ever heard speak about media bias in a way that made it seem less insidious.  Check out this video, it gives you the gist of his take on this issue:

So here's the exercise:  If I read a headline or the major issue of the day, I reverse the characters in the story.  If I still care about it then I recognize that the outrage is justified, if I become more apathetic then I realize it is my own bias kicking in.

I invite you to do the same, I think if all of us begin to think critically, without our inherent bias about right and wrong we may begin to make progress.  Here are some examples:

Lena Dunham is someone I find quite repellent under normal circumstances, she recently wrote a book and conservatives were in an uproar about some of the stories she told about her sister.  I was completely grossed out.  I used my bias trick and substituted Bristol Palin, who is someone I view in a positive light.  When I did that, I was still creeped out but did not view it with the vehemence I did when it was someone that I disagreed with.

I inherently do not care for President Obama.  When I hear a story about him that makes me crazy, I substitute Ronald Reagan in the story to see if I still care.  Most of the time, I can catch my party bias this way.  

At the end of the day, we are all biased.  We all approach circumstances or stories with our own preconceived notions of what is right and what is wrong.  We care about things that are important to us, this is perfectly all right but we must be honest with ourselves, we must critically think, we must look at ourselves with true glasses.  If we do this, we obtain a self awareness sorely lacking in Reality TV America.
  

Nov 2, 2014

Magic

Abigail and Dolley readers I have always loved magical stories.  As a child, I ate up Patricia Coombs, Dorrie the Little Witch books.  I was an avid fan of Betwitched and I Dream of Jeannie, stories of fantasy sparked my imagination and I knew that if I just thought happy thoughts that I was going to fly like Wendy in Peter Pan.  I went through the wardrobe with CS Lewis and fought trolls with the Hobbit.  As an adult, I fell in love with Harry Potter.  In the last few years, my favorite stories are from the Outlander series which has element of mystery and magic.  If I am honest, my vision of Heaven gives me some cool powers like flying or touching a plant and making it grow.  I see magic in the world, I see magic in my God but we are forbidden from witchcraft, sorcery, and divination, so I have always struggled with this part of me that just loves magic.

God doesn't deal in falsehoods so His prohibition against such things by the very nature of the prohibition tells me that this stuff is real.  In the end, my fantasy magic is just that, fantasy.  Real magic, real witches, real divination - well that's something all together different.  Those practices, whether the practitioner will admit or not, are grounded in evil.  So, if we stay away from the real thing I am not going to sweat it too much that I like the tales.

I have to admit though, certain times during magical tales I think, "Man, they need to pray."  Because in the end there doesn't seem to be room for God in these tales.  There is a scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix where Mr. Weasley is critically injured.  In the book, they are fretting and pacing and worrying but they are not praying - that struck me.  I've read some fantasy romances where they are fighting evil but they are not fighting with the only weapon we are given, the Word.  NBC has a new show, Contantine, and there is such a twisted theology abounding in the story it's hard to watch.  How do you fight the devil without the Lord?
Several authors have written great books that capture the magic from the Christian worldview.  This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti changed my life, by changing the way that I viewed everything.  Ted Dekker has written some great thrillers, Blink being one of my favorite to demonstrate the power of prayer.  There is magic all around us, there is power in our prayers and we DO serve a supernatural God.  We need not exchange the counterfeit for the real, I just wish there was more real well done stuff in the market.