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Showing posts with label Entertainment. Show all posts

Monday, August 16, 2021

Black Box – Remembering to Forget, Discovering the New Life - Purity 498


 
Black Box – Remembering to Forget, Discovering the New Life

Purity 498 08/16/2021  Purity 498 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a spectacular sunset over the darkened landscape of Mount Osmond in South Australia comes to us from our friends at Dave Baun Photography as they took a hike there near the end of July. As our friends were heading to their car to “beat the darkness” the setting sun appeared before them, and Dave knew that he just had to capture the moment. They lingered there to enjoy it for a while and luckily escaped unharmed on their return trip down the steep hill without the sun. Dave’s final remarks stated how he loved the fact that there are so many beautiful places to explore where he lives that are pretty much in his “own back yard”. 

As the sun sets on another weekend and we begin a new work week, I share my friend’s enthusiasm for the beauty that surrounds us, regardless of where we live, and actually enjoyed an evening of discovering the simple beauty of a gathering of friends around a bonfire in a friend’s back yard.  The gathering really was quite special because most of didn’t even know one another just a few months ago but since then our fellowship has grown as we had shared with one another our experiences of the past and our hopes for the future as each one of us looks to walk further into the light of our new lives beyond the shadows of heartache and pain.  

Yesterday, I watched the Amazon original film “Black Box”, which features a man’s search for truth as he seeks to recover his memories and a sense of his identity after suffering a traumatic accident that resulted in amnesia.   As the film progresses, the main character begins to recall memories that are disturbing that he fears reveal that he isn’t the wholesome person he thinks he is. Can these shadowy memories that feature people with their faces blurred out indicate that he is not the man he thought he was or that he was living a double life that his friends and family were unaware of?   

Well, if you want to know you will have to go to Amazon to check it out. I’m not into being a spoiler and went into the film with little or no expectations, which is usually for the best.  Those with Prime Video might be at a loss for something to watch and I would recommend it because it was entertaining and somewhat thought provoking as it could cause us to examine the concepts of identity and what makes us the people we are.

For those of us that are seeking answers in life and finding them through our relationship with God after placing our faith in Jesus Christ, our “black boxes” of the memories of our pasts can be a frightening thing that we wish to keep closed and buried because the memories of the harm we have suffered or inflicted on others could tell us that we are not the wholesome people that we are now and that the changing circumstances of the world will one day cause us to go back into the darkness with which our “black boxes” are filled.      

I have recently been forced to recall things from the distant past that are on my “permanent record” which don’t reflect who I am anymore but all the same must be reported so others can make an informed decision when they decided to come into a relationship with me.   The things in my past may cause people to decide to “go with someone else” and quite frankly I couldn’t blame them.  We are responsible for the things we do in life and the negative consequences for our past actions may be far reaching.    

So, should we hide everything in our little “black boxes” and hope no one finds out?  Should we only reveal what we absolutely need to and explain things on a “need to know” basis?

While there is great wisdom in choosing to be discerning in what personal information we reveal to others in life, as a Christian, I have endeavored to tell the truth and choose to be as transparent as I can be with people. Quite frankly, it’s a lot easier to just tell the truth because when you open up your “black box” that’s when the Lord can bring His light into your life.   Light dispels darkness and when we decide to testify about what we have suffered, our pain and darkness loses its power over us, and our transformed lives give glory to God.   

But here is a key to living out your transformed life: remember to forget.  I am not saying that we deny what we have done. I am also not telling you to dwell on the things of the past.  Instead we should acknowledge the mistakes of the past, forgive those who have hurt us, and make amends for the harm we have done.   When we do these things, repenting of our former ways and making things right to the best of our abilities with God and men, then we can “choose to forget” about what we have done and walk forward into our freedom and victory.   

Did I do all those foolish things in the past? Yup, I am not proud of it, but I did. Am I still that person? Yes, and possibly No. 

I am the person who did those things, and I will be responsible for what I have done until the day I die.  No matter what I do going forward, my present and future actions will not erase the things of the past.  So yeah, I am the person responsible for those things in the past, that’s me. 

However, coming to faith in Jesus Christ makes one a new creation, according to God’s word.   Beyond “re-inventing ourselves” by putting on new clothes, mannerisms, or habits, faith in Jesus Christ makes us new by “killing us”.  

The word of God describes a Christian’s life as being crucified and resurrected with Christ. It tells us the old has passed away and all things have become new. The word tells us we have new life in Christ.   

So, if you have truly put your faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, you are no longer that “old man”.  You are a new creation. 

But if we expect to experience our new lives in Christ, we must decide to live the rest of our lives as new creations.   If we live like our “old selves” with a Christian hat that says, “I’m forgiven”, we won’t experience the new life and others will feel they are correct when they say that “people don’t change” or that “faith is a joke.”  If we live like our old selves, we just sit in place and start to fill our little “black boxes” all over again and never feel free.     

No, in order to claim that we “are not that person anymore”, we are going to have to put our faith in the spiritual reality of what the Lord has done for us when we placed our faith in Jesus and continually and progressively turn from the “man we used to be” through our thoughts, words, and actions.  Our transformation into the new life that Christ has for us doesn’t end with a sinner’s prayer. That’s just the beginning.  

Instead of “sitting” in the patterns of our past, we have to rise up and start walking towards the light of what the Lord is calling us to.   When we do that, people may fail to recognize who we are.   While some will never forgive us and never see what the Lord has done for us,  others will recognize that we aren’t who we used to be, and they will forgive us and rejoice with us over our new lives.  It’s a lot easier to forgive a “dead guy” than it is to forgive someone whose “fouls spirits” of the past continually haunt those around them.    

So, keep walking and talking with God. It’s a new day and a new work week.  The bad news is that the job of living a new life and leaving our pasts behind can be hard work with long hours, but the good news is that the as we gain experience in our new profession the workloads get lighter, and we become more skilled at handling adversity.   Plus no matter what we run into “on the job”, we have a close relationship with the One in charge, know that benefits of our new life are amazing, and that our futures are assured.    


This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Thessalonians 4:12 (NLT2)
12  Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.

Today’s verse speaks of the benefits of living a quiet life with an honest work ethic.

Some saint once said to always preach the gospel and to sometimes use words pointing to the fact that our conduct will reveal our Christian faith possibly better than the words that we speak.      

The previous verse in Thessalonians four advises Christians to lead a quiet life, mind our own business, and to work with our hands.  Today’s verse tells us that when we do that, non-believers will take notice and our efforts at honest work will provide for our needs and not make us dependent on others.  

The word of God indicates that we are going to have to work to meet our needs, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t also work in a manner that can represent the interests of the kingdom of God.  

A quiet life of character and work can be our best apologetic as we do not burden others for our needs and establish a reputation as someone who can be trusted.  If we are “straight shooters” in caring for our needs and interacting with others, we could establish relationships and dialogs with people outside of God’s grace and use our position to draw people to the truth.    

So if you are not the most skilled evangelist, just mind your business and do your job in such a way that your work will give glory to God. Not only will our hard work result in the means to meet our needs, but it could also possibly be used for the Lord’s purposes. 

    

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, concluding Chapter 11.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:

A Second Touch

One of the greatest personal crises I have faced in the ministry revolved around the problem of forgiveness and a board member I will call Calvin. I struggled relating to this man, so I asked if he would meet with me weekly. I had only one goal: trying to establish a meaningful relationship with him.

About four months after Calvin and I started meeting, I asked the board if I could lead a tour group from the church to Israel. Calvin's hand shot up. "I'm against it because, as the tour leader, the pastor will go free, and that's like giving him a bonus." After assuring Calvin and the board I would pay my own way and use my vacation time for the trip, they agreed.

Despite the burden I carried in my heart about my conflict with Calvin, the trip to Israel was a tremendous spiritual experience for me. On one of my free days in Jerusalem, I spent several hours alone in the Church of All Nations pouring out my heart to God about Calvin. I sat there staring at the rock where Christ reportedly had sweat great drops of blood as He anticipated taking upon Himself the sins of the world. I concluded by telling God that if Jesus could take all the world's sins upon Himself, I could surely endure the sins of one difficult person. I left that historical monument thinking I had let it go.

Two weeks after I returned, Calvin shifted his attack to our youth pastor. That did it. I could handle Calvin's resistance to me, but when he started blasting my youth pastor, I reached the end of my patience. I confronted the board and demanded they do something about Calvin. If they didn't, I would resign. Although they agreed with me in private, they wouldn't stand with me in public, so I decided to resign.

The week before I was going to read my resignation to the congregation, I got sick. I was flat on my back with a 103.5 temperature and I totally lost my voice. I had never been so sick before; nor have I since. It doesn't take a genius to recognize that God was not pleased with my decision. When you are flat on your back, you have nowhere to look but up. So I began reading the Gospels and came to Mark 8:22-26 where some people led a blind man to Jesus. After Jesus touched him, the blind man said, "I see men . . . like trees" (Mark 8:24). I got the message. I was seeing Calvin like a tree, an obstacle in my path. He was blocking my goal! Oh no he wasn't. I was. I am the only person on planet Earth who can keep me from being the person God created me to be. God used that man more than any other man to make me the pastor God wanted me to be.

Then Jesus touched the blind man again and he began to see people as people, not trees. "Lord, I don't love that man, but I know you do and I want to. I need a second touch from You." God did touch me, and I chose at that moment to forgive Calvin completely.

The next Sunday I went to church, not to resign, but to preach. My voice was still so husky that I almost couldn't speak. I croaked out a message from Mark 8:22-26 about our tendency to be independent in the face of our great need for God and for each other. I confessed to the congregation my own independence and my desire for the Lord to touch me, to help me see people as people and not as obstacles in my path. I explained that there are three kinds of people. Some are blind and need to be led to Jesus. Others see people like trees. They scratch one another or compare their leaves with one another. But we are not trees. We are children of God who are created in His image. Finally, there are those who have been touched by God and consequently see others for who they really are.

At the end of the sermon, I invited anyone who needed a touch from the Lord to join me at the altar. We sang a hymn and people streamed forward. Soon the altar area and the aisles in the front were packed with people. They were going across the aisles to ask forgiveness and to be forgiven. We opened the side doors and people spilled out onto the lawn. Eventually, all but a few people had come forward. It was a revival!

Would you care to guess who was one of the few who did not go forward? To my knowledge Calvin never changed, but I did. I continued to take a stand against what I believed was wrong because I was not about to tolerate sin. I no longer responded in bitterness though. I also learned a hard lesson in life. God is fully capable of cleaning His own fish. My responsibility is to catch them and love them the way Christ loves me. I thank God to this day that God put me flat on my back to make me the pastor He wanted me to be.

 


Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

 

God bless you all!

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Monday, July 12, 2021

The Mandela Effect? – The Truth of Work, Meaning, and Purpose - Purity 468


 The Mandela Effect? – The Truth of Work, Meaning, and Purpose

Purity 468 07/12/2021   Purity 468 Podcast

Good morning  

Today’s photo of this Ship Builder’s Memorial under a heavenly blue sky on the shores of the Long Island Sound comes to us from a friend’s recent visit to Port Jefferson NY on Independence Day.  I love the contrast of the statue against that blue sky. It gives the impression that these ship builders are seeking to make a vessel that will allow them to take a celestial voyage to heaven.      

It's Monday so I also share it to point to the paradox of having to live and work on the earth and hoping for life beyond this mortal coil. In our Christian walk of discipleship we teach the need for balance that comes from being in harmony with the Lord our God and by being at peace with ourselves and others here on earth. 

While man’s penchant is to choose one thing over another in most things, the word of God encourages us not only to love God but to also love our neighbors as ourselves. The Bible also indicates that there are various functions to be performed by the members of the body of Christ, with the example of the Apostles having the task of studying and teaching God’s word, while other saints’ purpose was to essentially work in the kitchen to provide for the early church’s physical needs.  But the Apostle Paul also showed that while He was all about expanding the kingdom of God with His missionary and church building efforts, he provided for himself through working as a tent maker.  He famously said:

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 (NKJV)
10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.
11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.
12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.
 

So we just can’t focus on our spiritual lives to the exclusion of our physical lives, nor can we just focus on our physical lives with no consideration of our spiritual lives.   In this world we must provide for the physical needs of ourselves and for our families, so for most of us that means we must work.  

When we become overly focused on the physical world, we can use our intelligence and ability to work to strive for all the best things this world has to offer. We can amass wealth and live in the lap of luxury.  However, no matter what empire we may build up around us, if we don’t have a relationship with God through Christ, our efforts to enter God’s kingdom are as hopeless as the ship builders in today’s photo’s chances of taking a voyage to the sky.  

If we overly focus on our spiritual lives in a selfish manner where we only seek to commune to God by ourselves, we may neglect our physical needs but more importantly we would actually become disobedient to God’s will for our lives to go out into all the world and to make disciples and to love our neighbors as ourselves.   

The state of the world demands that we provide for our physical needs, but ultimate reality demands that we acknowledge that our time on earth is limited and that we must seek to be reconciled with the One who created us, who defines meaning and truth, and who determines the course of existence and our entrance into eternity.  

Yesterday I watched a film, The Mandela Effect, that pondered the concepts of false memories, multiverse theories, the possibility that reality is some sort of simulation, and that things in our universe blink in and out of existence with or without the presence of an observer.  



In the film, a man has suffered a tragic loss and seeks the advice of a “Christian” liturgical minister who holds deist views apparently and doesn’t contradict the man’s belief that God made the universe but then just left mankind to do what they please without His interaction or presence.  The minister merely offers that God gave us some guidelines to live by in the Bible but states that we can never know the meaning of life, but he sought to encourage the man that he could know the purpose of his individual life. 

That was it. That was all the minister had to offer.  He basically stated that the meaning of life was an unknowable mystery, but we individually could know our purpose.

I guess knowing our purpose would entail what job you have, what personal relationships you have, and what hobbies you enjoy, which could describe the complete content of our lives on earth.     

But in this script, the “Christian” minister fails to address the spiritual realities that are revealed in the person of Jesus Christ or the big question of what happens when you die!  The man came to get answers or at least some comfort for his loss and the minister fails to provide either. 

So the man, a video game designer, seeks to build a program to upload to a supercomputer, to “crash the system” of existence in order “to reboot” it and reclaim his lost loved one because computers fix everything! The film was entertaining and interesting but the premises of all these super intellectual ponderings made the same mistake that the minster made.   

They either don’t know, don’t care, or forgot about God and His plan for humanity that is fulfilled through Jesus Christ.  

God is the ever-present observer over all things in time and space, so nothing is blinking out of existence when no one is there to observer it.  

If there are multiverses, God is present in al of them and the trinity demands that Christ would be Savior in all of them.  

The Mandela Effect which is the phenomenon of confusion over remembering things that didn’t actually take place or are not true is a combination of the product of a fallen world that is changing and falling apart moment to moment, influence from the evil forces of darkness that deal in confusion and deception, and the pride and infallibility of man.  Just because you and many others are wrong or misremember something doesn’t mean that there is a conspiracy or that life isn’t real!

The idea that our reality is a simulation is a nihilistic lie from pit of hell because who else would try to convince you that out life isn’t real leading to the conclusion that the consequences of our actions don’t matter or that life is meaningless. Satan would.

These ponderings are the flip side of being too spiritual. These ponderings of philosophy and science are man’s desperate attempts to explain life without God.    

So if you are overly materialistic or have an intellectual view that dismisses God, you are out of balance.  

The truth is that life does have a meaning. The question of existence for anyone living in the last two thousand years is answered in the person of Jesus Christ.   All that we do or think about during our lives on earth will come to nothing if we fail to be reconciled with the God through faith in Jesus Christ. 

So as we walk in this world we must find Christ and make Him our Lord and Savior. 

After that we can enjoy the assurance of a life of meaning and purpose as we receive the Truth, the Way, and The Life that God wants us to experience.

So stand in your faith in Christ and enjoy the freedom that comes from knowing that you are in harmony with God and that your faith gives you the capacity to know peace as you face the challenges of another day.             


This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Thessalonians 1:10 (NKJV)
10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Today’s verse speaks about our future hope and the protection that we have in Christ.

Verses like 1 Thessalonians 1:10 are a great comfort to us because they assure us of our safety from the wrath of God and that the universe will not just run down like an old watch and fade to black.  

Our faith in Christ gives us forgiveness of our sins and exempts us from our rightful reception of God’s wrath.  God shows us mercy and grace because of our faith in His beloved Son.   

As this verse tells us, Christ not only died for us, but He was also raised to life.  The Jesus story isn’t over.  Christ is alive in the heavenly realms and will one day return for those who have faith in Him and then pour out the wrath of God on the unbelieving world.  

While the idea of God’s wrath and judgement could scare us, we should be motivated to speak the truth of the gospel to help others be reconciled with God through faith in Christ.    

For the Christian, our destiny of eternal life is sealed the moment we put our faith in Christ, and we need never fear death or God’s wrath.  Our salvation and the future hope of the return of Christ should carry us through our lives with peace, joy, and purpose.  

 

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

 

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing Chapter 7, with the section on our emotions being God’s red flags of warning.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:

Anxiety Signals an Uncertain Goal

When you feel anxious in a task or a relationship, your anxiety may be signaling that achieving your goal may be uncertain. You are hoping something will happen, but you have no guarantee it will. You can control some of the factors but not all of them.

For example, a teenager may believe her happiness at school depends on her parents' allowing her to attend a school dance. Not knowing how they will respond, she is anxious. If they say no, she will be angry because her goal was blocked. If she knows all along that there was no possible chance of their saying yes, she will be depressed because her goal will not be achieved.

Depression Signals an Impossible Goal

When you base your future success on something that can never happen, you have an impossible, hopeless goal. Your depression is a signal that your goal, no matter how spiritual or noble, may never be reached. We can be depressed for biochemical reasons, but if there is no physical cause, then depression is often rooted in a sense of hopelessness or helplessness.

I was speaking at a church conference on depression when a woman who was attending invited my wife and me to her home for dinner with her family. The woman had been a Christian for 20 years, but her husband was not a Christian. After I arrived, I quickly realized that the real reason this woman had invited me to dinner was to win her husband to Christ.

I discovered later that the woman had been severely depressed for many years. Her psychiatrist insisted that her depression was endogenous and she staunchly agreed. I believe, however, her depression stemmed from an impossible goal. For 20 years she had based her success as a Christian on winning her husband and children to Christ. She had prayed for them, witnessed to them and invited guest preachers home for dinner. She had said everything she could say and done everything she could do, but to no avail. As the futility of her efforts loomed larger, her faith faltered, her hope dimmed and her depression grew.

We had a nice dinner and I had an enjoyable conversation with her husband. He was a decent man who adequately provided for the physical needs of his family. He simply didn't see any need for God in his life. I shared my testimony and tried to be a positive example of a Christian. The last time I saw the woman, she was holding on to slim threads of hope. Her depression affected her positive attitude in the home, and her witness to her husband only weakened, further obliterating her goal.

You should, of course, desire that your loved ones come to Christ, and pray and work to that end. When you base your sense of worth as a Christian friend, parent or child on the salvation of your loved ones, however, realize that this goal may be beyond your ability or right to control. Witnessing is sharing our faith in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God. We can't save anyone. Depression often signals that you are desperately clinging to a goal you have little or no chance of achieving, which is not a healthy goal.

Sometimes depression reveals a faulty concept of God. David wrote: "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?...How long will my enemy triumph over me?" (Psalm 13:1, 2, NIV). Had God really forgotten David? Was He actually hiding from David? Of course not. David had a wrong concept of God, feeling that He had abandoned him to the enemy. David's wrong concept led him to an impossible goal: victory over his enemies without God's help. No wonder he felt depressed!

The remarkable thing about David is that he didn't stay in the dumps. He evaluated his situation and realized, "Hey, I'm a child of God. I'm going to focus on what I know about Him, not on my negative feelings." From the pit of his depression he wrote: "I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation" (Psalm 13:5). Then he decided to make a positive expression of his will: "I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me" (Psalm 13:6). He willfully moved away from his wrong concept and its accompanying depression and returned to the source of his hope.

With God all things are possible. He is the God of all hope. Turn to God when you are feeling down, as David did. "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance, and my God" (Psalm 43:5).


Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

 

God bless you all!

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Monday, April 10, 2017

13 Reasons Why

I had seen a few posts on Facebook about the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why”  and it was in the back of my head that I should tell my kids about it when my daughter, Haley,16, mentioned it to me.  So this weekend my son Brennan (15), Haley, and I all sat down to watch it. 

I love my kids and most of the television I watch is with them in my presence.  We have similar tastes and often go to the movies together.  I work, don’t get home until 5:30pm most nights, and am active with my church and my recovery ministry a couple nights a week. So the time I have at home is spent with them in our living room, watching T.V., or just hanging out.  I try to be there for my kids as someone to confide in. I often inquire about their lives but I also try to give them their space.  I am probably too transparent with my past because, since going into recovery two years ago, I am trying to educate them about life by sharing stories of my past and the pitfalls and traps that this world has to offer.  I often engage them in discussions about the different aspects of life and try to show them the contrasts in what the world tells them will make them happy and what really matters.  I advise them that the greatest wisdom is to follow Jesus and His advice by doing what is righteous.  It’s not an easy sell but since finding the peace that comes from being in relationship with Him and because I love them and want what is best for them, it’s hard not to proclaim it.  

I often proclaim it on Facebook too.  If this annoys you, good.  If it annoys you, it means you may need to make peace with God, because if you had peace with God, it wouldn’t annoy you.  Or if it did annoy you and you had peace with God, you would forgive me.    I only proclaim the Christian faith because I know, from experience, that it is true and I know if you embrace it you will find hope, peace, and a new life.  Don’t trust me?  Well, Jesus said:

John 5:24 (NLT)
24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.  Sorry, not sorry. Forgive me. 

Anyway, my kids and I watched “13 Reasons Why”, this weekend.   The show revolves around the events of a teenage suicide and her reasons for ending her life.  The show is told in flashbacks and it is thoroughly engaging and keeps you in suspense. 

My children and I watch the CW show, "Riverdale", which is a teenage suspense drama using the Archie comics as a character basis, and "13 Reasons Why" had a similar feel to that show (in it being a high school drama with elements of suspense and mystery), at first. 

“13 Reasons Why’ is a show all about the high school experience and its sometime darker aspects.  High school is the time where you make the transition from children to adults and that transition is filled with angst and confusion as everyone is coming to grips with who they are, where they’re going, and how life works.  So, 13 Reasons covers the familiar ground of high school cliques, alcohol and drug use, dating relationships, and sex.   

      
What sets “13 Reasons Why” apart from others shows is the way it progressively unfolds and reveals the how the events of one girl’s life lead to her ending it. The show is masterful in the way it slowly reveals the cast of characters and the part they each played in this girl ending her life.  The questions of truth, consequences, and accountability all come to the forefront as the viewer learns about each character’s actions and tries to determine just “how responsible” each person was in the perfect storm that ended a young girl’s life. So as the story unfolds we judge each character, including the victim, to try to make sense of it all.  Through the process the viewer will take sides, assigning blame and offering absolution. You may be surprised that your attitudes toward some characters are colored by your own history. You may be even more surprised that your attitudes toward some characters have the potential to make us another “reason”.   

 I am purposely giving no details of the specifics of the show but I would urge every school administrator, teacher, and parent to watch it with their teenage kids.  There are graphic situations with sex, violence, and drugs, so beware.    

All of these “reasons” that add up to tragedy, could be avoided through friendship.  As Christians, we are told to love our enemies. Sometimes the evil and dysfunction that repels us the most is fueled by ignorance, hurt, and loneliness.  If someone is “messed up”, “weird” or “stupid” there is probably a reason.  The challenge for us is to offer love and friendship to those who may seem the most unworthy of it, in hopes that we can give them hope and a way to change, a reason to live.     




Sunday, November 27, 2016

Netflix offers The Nightmare. Sleep disorders or spiritual forces?

What to do with a long holiday weekend?  

Black Friday shopping perhaps? I've been there and I've done that and I think never again  most aptly describes my attitude towards that experience.  

Decorate for Christmas..... Soon but not yet. 

Work on a paper for Bible college or the book I'm writing?  I'm proud to say I did do some work on both but maybe I was suffering the effects of tryptophan from the turkey consumed because i didn't write much.

Be it tryptophan or the fact that I was  paying off a sleep debt but this weekend was spent in my chair in front of the television in varying states of consciousness.  

Seated in my chair I decided to be productive and started to eliminate items from my Netflix watch list.  One of the movies I  decided to try was a documentary called "The Nightmare".  



I know what is a Christian doing watching something with a macabre title like that?  Shouldn't I be watching Highway to Heaven or Vegitales?  

Well, honestly I do enjoy a good scare and I like to remind myself that even though I live in the relative safety of Middle class America there are dark forces to be aware of either in the evil that men do or in the spiritual realm.  

With that said although I was a huge horror fan before becoming born again I am noticing that I don't have the stomach for the macabre as Much as I did before, especially when  a film is violent or gory just for the sake of violence and goriness with little or no story.  I recently said good bye for ever to AMC's the Walking Dead as a case in point.  

Anyway so I sat down to watch the Nightmare.  To be honest I didn't know it was a documentary before I started watching it but was somewhat relieved because watching a documentary is educational right? 

The  Nightmare is about people who suffer from a sleep disorder called sleep paralysis.  It was really quite interesting and honestly a little creepy and unnerving.  I won't give any spoilers here really but a common thread through the victim's of sleep paralysis is the presence of malevolent "shadow men".  


The film does a good job of taking a wide view of the experiences of the sufferers of sleep paralysis and theories of what is happening.   The explanations range from the scientific to the spiritual and even the extra-terrestrial.  It is definitely worth the watch and could actually help a Christian's worldview, that we are in an "open system" where God, and good and malevolent spiritual forces can and do interact in our lives.  One of the suffers came to faith in Christ as a result of her experience and another admitted that they were no longer an atheist because of what they had experienced.  

I have had a spiritual experience, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real and cares about us.  To quote the x-files, there's something out there but I think that the something is not extra-terrestrial in the sense of aliens but are most likely beings in the spirit realm.

I often quote Matthew 6:33,

33  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. , 

Because in my experience I have sought Him and the truth has been revealed, and continues to be revealed to me.   

So enjoy the film and considered the questions of life,death, and the unseen realm of the spirit.   

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you the only way through to God and an afterlife of peace and joy is through Jesus Christ.  John 14:6 says 
6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 









Monday, July 18, 2016

The Shallows gets deep. More than a fishing story.

This weekend I had the pleasure of seeing the feature film "The Shallows" starring Blake Lively.  

The film is given the following description via an Internet search so don't blame me for any spoilers.

Still reeling from the loss of her mother, medical student Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) travels to a secluded beach for some much-needed solace. Despite the danger of surfing alone, Nancy decides to soak up the sun and hit the waves. Suddenly, a great white shark attacks, forcing her to swim to a giant rock for safety. Left injured and stranded 200 yards from shore, the frightened young woman must fight for her life as the deadly predator circles her in its feeding ground.



The film is a great summer movie with plenty of thrills and I highly recommend it. The reason that I enjoyed this film so much was not for the Shark but for the story.  I can't recall a summer thriller really allow an audience to contemplate, suffering, life and death with any degree of sensitivity in the midst of the action. The character, Nancy Adams, is trying to find herself and grieving her mother's loss when she is suddenly forced to face her own weaknesses and mortality.  She doesn't know if she will survive. With this heightened sense of the value of life, she demonstrates compassion and even forgiveness to someone who doesn't deserve it.  With time running out, she knows the importance of her family and confirms her identity with the dogged determination to fight to survive.  

I was really moved by her struggles because it reminded me  that we are all stranded on a rock being stalked by death.  In our lives we come to times where we may question who we are and may spend too much time on things that don't ultimately matter.  Contemplating her death, Nancy Adam's thoughts are on her family and being true to them. 

Now don't get me wrong, family is very important.  I just wish that she had considered the other side of eternity on that rock.  I got pretty choked up at a certain point in the film and I'm telling you if Nancy Adam's had prayed to God for help or forgiveness I would have completely lost it and would have been a crying mess.   Why?

You see,  I've had an experience through my relationship with Christ that I know that the good news of the gospel is absolutely true.  Like Adams, I suffered a major loss and I questioned everything I knew.  It sent me on the journey of searching for truth.  I discovered that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are real and alive.  When I sought them, they revealed themselves to me, saved me from my sins, changed me, and gave me new life that will never end. 

So if Adam's had made a plea to God, I know that it would have been heard.  I know that if she asked Jesus to save her, He would have. 


If she had done this, I would have cried but the tears wouldn't have been tears of fear or sadness.  They would have been tears of hope and joy.   Regardless of whether the shark got a meal or not, Nancy Adams would live.  

I encourage everyone to read this to search for the living Christ or deepen your relationship with Him.  
John 14:6 says "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."   Jesus is the only way.  Seek Him.  In the end, it will be the only thing that matters.