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Not Your Grandpappy’s Flannelgraph ‘Noah’

I saw the new Noah film with my wife yesterday. It ain’t your grandpappy’s flannelgraph Noah. Sure, there’s an ark; there’s just no “arky, arky” here. This is no cutesy kid-friendly Sunday school lesson (complete with crafts).

Before I continue, please go grab your Bible, and read the story of Noah as it appears there.

Done already? That was fast.

The savvy among you will know where I’m going with this: the account of Noah as it appears in canon can be read in 5-10 minutes. While the specifics are indeed there, it’s as notable for what it leaves our as for what it includes. What did people eat on the ark? We don’t know. Did they get tired of one another?  Bored? What provisions did Noah and his family bring for the animals? What did they do with all the dung? (I’m not the latest movie answers these questions, per se).

The point is: Scripture doesn’t tell us. So the filmmakers turned to extrabiblical sources to fill in those gaps. The film’s director, and co-writer, Darren Aronofsky, calls the movie a midrash. Midrash is a time-honored rabbinical tradition of filling in the gaps in a text. It’s a very Jewish thing. And it’s both surprising, and sad, that my fellow Christians don’t understand this. That we–collectively–don’t grok the Jewish roots of our faith. It’s like we’re ashamed of the imaginations God gave us…

So the movie is midrash, and incorporates material from such sources as the Book of Enoch. A deuterocanonical book, it is nevertheless quoted in the New Testament (the Book of Jude ring any bells?)–demonstrating that the very men God used to compose canon were familiar enough with this work to quote from it. Put another way, they considered at least portions of it to be authoritative enough to include in their epistles.

Again, because of our lack of familiarity with Judaism, and other works, there’s a hue and cry about what the filmmakers have done to Noah. While the fact is they’ve done nothing to him. He just the same as he’s ever been. If don’t care for this particular cinematic interpretation, which includes much wrestling with:

Sin

Justice,  and

Mercy

I’d recommend they go dust off that leather-bound tome on their bookshelves, exercise their rights as Bereans, and discover for themselves that nothing has changed in those pages.

There’s nothing to get upset over, folks. It’s a tempest in a teapot:

Scripture has not, and cannot be, changed.

If you don’t like it, don’t see it. As for myself, I thought it was a worthy effort. Still, it ain’t your grandpappy’s flannelgraph Noah. If you can deal with that, good; if not, read the book (don’t wait for the movie).

Thanks for reading!

Have something to say? The contents 5 are open below.

Win a Prize Pack from the Son of God

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Roma Downey and Mark Burnett (producer of The Voice, The Apprentice, Shark Tank, and others), the couple who brought us the Bible Miniseries last year, now have a feature film about the life of Jesus called Son of God. The film opens this Friday, February 28th, 2014.

As a person of faith I’m certainly interested in cinematic depictions of Our Lord, and indeed how He is in fact depicted. To be perfectly honest, I did not see all of The Bible when it was on; what I did see left me scratching my head. For instance, in Scripture Jesus didn’t enter the tomb of Lazarus. But in The Bible, He does-kissing the dead man on the forehead. For my money, commanding a corpse to rise is dramatic enough all in itself (without any need for embellishment).

I’m certain there were other changes as well. And I understand that neither T.V., nor movies, are the same kind of medium as the written word. That changes may sometimes have to be made for time, for flow, etc. But they should at least make sense.

Anyway. I’m likely going to see Son of God because it appears to be the kind of movie that I can take my family to (unlike The Passion of the Christ, which would be too violent for my little girl). Which is my roundabout way of saying that we who are believers should at least try to support fellow believers who are trying to make wholesome art.

That’s my $.02.

Are you going to see Son of God?

Comment below for a chance to win a prize pack consisting of:

An official tie-in novelization
A soundtrack CD
A 1000 piece puzzle.

Thanks for reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Polar Express–A Guest Post by Jason Clark

The Polar Express

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Jason Clark

I was sitting in the theatre beside a 3-year-old boy named Ethan Wilde.  Ethan’s my son.  We were about to watch “The Polar Express.”  I was a little distracted because we just moved to North Carolina.  We were pretty sure God had asked us to.  Pretty sure.  We had spent our savings and were now digging into our “good credit.”  We were beyond strapped and spending eight bucks for the afternoon matinee caused that voice in my head to say: Are you crazy?

A 30-year-old man with a wife and two kids isn’t usually 100% certain of much, but I was about 97% sure I was to spend all my time and resources birthing a ministry, which I would later find out was a lifestyle. God had told me to believe, to stay the course.  But as the money flew out of our bank account, I was more than worried.  I was scared.
Dave Ramsey’s evaluation would have been: Uh, financial suicide.  Now I know Dave Ramsey has saved many people from financial ruin. But this was between me and another Savior; it had nothing to do with financial responsibility.  This was about irresponsible, unsound, downright foolish obedience.  I’ll come back to this a little later…
               
Back to The Polar Express.  If you haven’t seen it, try to; it’s wonderful. It’s about a young boy who, while growing up, loses his ability to believe in God…I mean Santa Claus. Fortunately, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God…I mean three variations of Tom Hanks, band together to guide the boy back into believing. I realize that sounds confusing, but stick with me.

It’s Christmas Eve and instead of dreaming of the best day of the year, the boy is in his bedroom agonizing over the universal question: Does God… sorry, I mean Santa Claus…really exist?  He used to believe, but now in the mind of this blossoming adult, a fat bearded jolly man delivering presents to the entire world’s population in one night seems impossible.  Add in flying reindeer, elves, a North Pole toy factory—it all seems completely foolish. The boy was in danger of becoming a realist.

And then a deep rumbling. It grew louder until it filled his room and even jumped out into our theatre seats.  Like an earthquake, it shook and rattled his shelf of sports trophies. The boy crawls over to his window, peers out and what to his wondering eyes should appear?  An enormous train decked in his front yard.

Dressed in his pajamas and rubber rain boots, he cautiously walks out to the train and meets Jesus… I’m sorry, I mean a train conductor played by Tom Hanks.  The conductor says, “Well…are you coming?”  That’s a question worth remembering.

This amazes the boy.  He really wants to get on the train, but at the same time, the idea terrifies him. Finally, as the train begins to inch forward, his heart wins out and he takes the outstretched hand of the conductor.

And so the journey begins, a grand adventure filled with mountaintops and frozen lakes and howling wolves and dancing waiters balancing hot chocolate. It’s exciting and dangerous all at the same time. Along the way the boy meets the Holy Spirit… I’m sorry, I mean a ghost who oddly resembles Tom Hanks…I mean, no, that’s right – Tom Hanks.

After several breathtaking moments, the train reaches its destination – the North Pole. There are elves everywhere and music, dancing and singing. It is truly a magical place.  I’d like to go there some day.
Everyone is awaiting Santa’s arrival, which signals the official start of Christmas. The Elves are singing Christmas songs. Some are whispering “Is He here?” and some are yelling, “Do you see Him?”  The anticipation is almost unbearable.

The reindeer harnessed to Santa’s sleigh are going wild! Their master is coming! They can sense it! The sleigh bells are ringing and all who believe in Santa can hear them, their pristine crystal tones adding to the beautiful chaotic anticipation. The children that made the journey are there too. The air is electric.

And then there is the boy.  He had all but decided that Santa was not real and yet wants – with his whole heart – to be wrong. Surrounded by a sea of believers, the boy dares to hope; in fact, hope is everywhere, and it’s contagious.
A slow hush falls on the crowd, and all eyes became focused on a building at the end of the square. The doors burst open. There is a bright light and within the doorframe a silhouette. Suddenly the whole square erupts.  “There He is!” shouts an elf. “I see Him!” says one of the girls, but the boy, pressed by the crowd, can’t see and still can’t hear the sleigh bells.  Why can’t he hear? Desperate, he jumps and presses his way through the sea of elves to the front. And then, there He is, God… I’m sorry, I mean Santa Claus, who is also played by Tom Hanks…

Suddenly the boy hears everything: the bells, the worshipping elves, the celebrating kids, the dancing reindeer. And I’m sitting beside my son, and I’m trying desperately to hide my face from the little girl next to me.  Why?  Cause I’m balling my eyes out and whispering I believe, I believe, I believe… I love you Lord, and I believe…

I’ve been given a promise from God.  But sometimes holding on to it can be rather difficult. Life moves along, things happen; the world is a very busy and noisy place. It’s easy to wake up one day and find you’re just not sure anymore. Believing has become a lost art and the promise has become a mountain that seems un-scale-able. In fact, it has often seemed the harder I try to summit the farther the peak is from me. But I’m convinced that the “God lived life” is one of learning how to believe. It’s learning how to cling to God and keep His promises alive in your heart.

In the movie it took the conductor, the ghost, and Santa working together to woo the child. One man played all three characters, a trinity working in unison, until ultimately the boy made the decision to believe. The boy’s heart had wanted to believe from the very start. And that desire was enough to push him into the perilous journey…

The little boy in The Polar Express, the one who stopped believing? I identify with him. Yeah, that was me, my story.

I chased the promise for so long, I lost sight of the Promise Giver. Somewhere along the way I had stopped believing. I became exhausted, unmotivated and unsure where once I had been positive. Life became random and dull. In one sense I still did what I thought God had created me to do but it no longer held meaning. I started filtering every experience through an attitude of hopelessness until every bump in the road was expected, while every triumph was fleeting. The fact was, I had begun living a life where the glass was neither half full nor half empty. It was just… half.

But years ago I made a decision that I am going to be a believer, whether it looks good or not, whether it feels good or not. I have made a decision to say yes. Now I’m putting all my money on the promise giver and following Him where He leads me, like moving my family to North Carolina and financially disappointing Dave Ramsey. Believing that God is good, that He is faithful, that He can be trusted, it’s really the only way to continue moving forward in my own story. It’s also the only way to experience fullness of life, immense joy and fulfillment.

Is it possible that God is asking you the same question the conductor asked the boy: Well…are you coming?

About Jason
Jason Clark is a singer/songwriter, author, speaker, and pastor. Jason’s passion is to know the love of God more each day. He lives to see a generation step into their identity as sons and daughters of the King and establish His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children. Jason’s new book Prone To Love is available now: Jason Clark Is

Past Imperfect: Let It Go

We all have pasts of one sort, or another. Living well does not mean denying those things, nor does it mean being crippled by shame.

There comes a time to “let it go.”

In recovery, I learned that we are only as sick as our secrets. This is undeniably true. Secrets held onto have a way of festering, of eating us up inside. Maybe it was something we had done. Maybe it was something done to us. Something said about us.

The reasons we keep secrets are many, but there is freedom to be found by letting go…

At the top of the list is shame. By confessing, we cut the Accuser off at the knees. He doesn’t have ammo to shoot us with. He can’t shame us for that which is no longer hidden.

Remember, “it was for freedom that Christ set us free, therefore no longer be entangled in a yoke of slavery.”

One the many means of contiuing entanglement is simply believing the same voices we have always listened to. Whether that’s a parent, grandparent, friend, mentor, peer, what have you.

We do ourselves no favors when we continue to elevate the same old voices over what God says about us. A good place to start is Romans:

“Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Make no mistake, friends: the mind is the battleground, where each day is either won, or lost. My advice you is: “Choose you this day, whom you will serve.”

Will it be voices that tell you to hide, that you’re no good? The voices which seek to shame you into silence?

Or the voice which says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock?”

The choice is yours.

Let it go.

Christmas–With the Cranks?

No, not the movie starring Tim Allen. No this one stars you. That is to say it’s not a movie at, but rather your life. And it’s unfolding around you in living Technicolor©, blasting your ears with Quadrophonic sound.

You’re at church.

You’re a tither, a regular attender. It’s normally a safe haven–a refuge from the cares and worries of life. But it’s Christmas. And all bets are off. Because the place is packed. Don’t get me wrong–you’re glad all those folks are there. God knows they need to hear the good news.

But you wish they were just a little more attentive.

And that little Johnny (not his real name) behind you would stop kicking your chair. Where are his parents anyway? Then there’s the kid right in front you, whose parents have given him an iPhone to pacify him. You keep hearing the squawking of Angry Birds©!

But, you keep reminding yourself, this is church.

Time was, people knew how to comport themselves, how to keep their children well-behaved… But not, it seems, anymore. You’re just about ready to slay someone in the spirit, but then the rousing rendition of “Joy to World” is followed by the minister, who has come to speak about the “Colors of Christmas.” How what can such a dark time in people’s lives can be made light in Christ. You’re enjoying it, trying to listen, when the mom, who was talking to a friend ask throughout the song service, begins reading a story book to her squirming, squalling child.

Boy, it sure seems like all the bored, distracted, tired people all around you just don’t love Jesus like you love Jesus…

Then you catch yourself wishing that none of them were there… That you could just have a minute to engage with what the pastor’s saying. That people, who likely only go to church twice a year, would act more like you…

Then you swallow, draw in a deep breath, as it dawns on you that maybe, just maybe, the Christmas cranks aren’t the unruly masses all around you.

It’s you.

Bowing your head in silent prayer, you ask for forgiveness.

And you thank God for Christmas.

For Jesus coming to redeem such a one as you.

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