Time Off

I’m taking time off work this week to spend some time with my family before the school year gets into full swing. There wasn’t a plan–we didn’t map out the week’s activities.

Not to say we haven’t done anything; we have. It’s just that, tied to schedules as we are: church, small group, who’s got ballet, who’s sleeping over, getting to work, etc… It feels good to pause. Like a break in the action of a particularly intense thriller, or the quiet after a dramatic scene in a book (like Gandalf falling into the chasm at Kazad Düm), we needed a break.

Time to catch our collective breaths, time to pause, take stock.

A time free from rote routine.

I think that’s a good thing. We, all of us, can only push so hard at life before it pushes back, and the stresses of demands, obligations, schedules threaten to overwhelm us.

It’s nice to take time, and simply do nothing. Face life without a map, or even a compass, and just enjoy it. I, of course, write this from a place of calm and comfort. My holiday will end, back to work I’ll go, and the kids will be back in school.

I hope to take just enough of the calm with me to carry me through. Because I think the point of mountaintops isn’t to live there (having summited Everest, none may abide in that place), but rather to take enough of mountain back into the valleys with us. <-- That is the art and skill of life well-lived, friends.

Now: how do we make it reality?

Changes

I’m not one to do things by half measures. I’m, like most men, sort of binary like that. I either don’t workout at all, or (like now) I’ve joined a gym, and am working out days per week.

It’s all about changes, really. I see my body changing, my energy flagging, and my waistline expanding. Time was, I didn’t have to do anything about it. I could eat what I wanted.

But the carefree days of youth are gone–replaced by sobering reality:

Things cannot continue as they have been. It’s time that childish ways were put behind me (while simultaneously keeping my childlike sense of wonder intact). I think about the future, about being there for my family…

It’s about far more than just exercise–as important as that is. It’s about setting an example, about leaving a legacy. To that end, while I’m exercising the self-discipline to condition my body, I’m also involved in counseling. Because I want to discipline my soul. I want to free myself from the wrong ways I’ve handled things.

I want to set an example for my family that continues long after I’m gone.

I want to finish strong.

So I work, and strive, now to build not just a better body, but a better soul. For it was for freedom that Christ set us free. I don’t want to continue to be entangled in the negative influences, and patterns, that have shaped me until now. It’s time to let that go.

I’ve learned something along the way I’d like to pass onto you:

It’s not enough to just let something (bad, negative, hurtful, sinful) go; no, else we risk leaving a void.

We have to replace those former things with something good, uplifting, holy.

You see, I’m making a lot of changes lately. I’m tearing down one house in order to build it upon a better foundation.

Changes.

Are there any you need to make?

Noah Has Sailed Into Stores

noah giveaway_1

As you may, or may not, know, the Noah movie has been released on Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital. This movie generated quite a bit of dialogue both before, and during, it’s theatrical release. While we as Christians may not agree with the artistic license Darren Aronofsky employed in making the film, I think we can all agree that he had that right. Before we get into a debate about the movie’s artistic merits, or lack thereof, we would do well do remember that written works (such as the Bible is) and films are very different artistic mediums. What works well on the page doesn’t always translate to the screen. And the account of Noah as recorded in Scripture is very short. It is also completely without conflict. What I’m saying is that Mr. Aronofsky had scripted, and filmed, his movie with slavish adherence to the text it wouldn’t be a movie worth seeing: it would be woefully short, and without conflict.

Conflict is what drives stories. At their most basic, stories are about a character who wants something, and undergoes conflict to get it. In an industry dominated by the almighty dollar, name me a studio that would finance a wide theatrical release films which clocks in about twenty minutes. Who would pay to see that? (I wouldn’t. Movies are frightfully expensive these days. I’m not plunking down my hard-earned scratch on something unless it tells a compelling story. It has to be worth my time). There isn’t one. Added to that is that fact that Hollywood, by and large, isn’t in the business of catering to Christians. Why should we expect them to do so? Is that reasonable? In Celebrate Recovery, they have a maxim that goes: “Accepting this sinful world, as Jesus did, as it is, and not as I would have it to be.” Which is to say that, as people of faith, we would do well to moderate our expectations of the entertainment product coming of the movie industry. They, being very being very much interested in the bottom line, have to make a product which appeals to the broadest audience possible. That said, I have no compunction about avoiding most of the films, T.V. shows, what have which originate there. I know very well what the Scripture says about the love of money being a root of all kinds of evil.

That’s a given.

In this particular case, that of Noah, yes, Aronofsky used both the Bible, and extra-biblical sources (midrash, etc). We may not agree with that. We may not like all of his choices, or the way Noah is depicted on screen. However, let’s not forget the one, singular truth here: a director has been given the greenlight to make a big budget film about Noah, the ark, sin, justice, forgiveness, redemption. Again, we may not agree with everything that takes place on screen. Nevertheless, the fact that this film was made gives us a giant opportunity to talk about: Noah, the ark, sin, justice, forgiveness, and redemption. Let’s not miss the forest for the trees here. The good news is that the Bible has been brought back into the multiplex in a big way (this December, director Ridley Scott’s Exodus Gods and Kings will bow).

My opinion? When God hands us an opportunity this large we best use it. People that aren’t normally open to discussing the Bible will be open, will have questions.

And we need to be there… with the Good News.

And there’s more good news for anyone reading this post: in conjunction with Grace Hill Media, I’m giving away a special edition box set of Noah. Just follow the instructions below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Word About Men

Men are people. People have feelings. As such, we have feelings, too. We are not out to get you. Just having a penis doesn’t make one:

Bad

The enemy

An abuser

A potential rapist

It’s not our fault that your childhood was tough, or that male figures in your past abused their positions of authority, or violated your trust.

It’s not fair to view us all through the crap-stained lens of your past.

Just as you do, we have our own struggles, our baggage, our own stories to contend with. If you prick us, we will bleed. If you try to shoehorn us into a role to accommodate your worldview, we’re not going to take it very well.

We, having feelings–minds, hearts, opinions–of our own probably won’t take it very well. We might get loud.

This is not abuse, or bullying: this is usually the cry of a hurting heart. Yes, we may be bigger than you, stronger than you, louder than you… this still doesn’t make us the big, scary, nasty man out to get you. It’s a sign of hurt, of pain, of confusion.

If you accuse us unfairly, we will get defensive. It’s human nature.

Being men doesn’t make us demons.

So stop demonizing us for for our gender, for your past abusive relationships.

And let us love you.

That’s what our strength is for.

The Simple Gospel

I’ve spilled a lot of (digital) ink here on this blog over the years about life, struggles, pain, joys, needs, etc.

But I find I may not have shared the single most important thing I believe. Oh, I’ve talked about it–about Him–to be sure. But I don’t think I’ve shared the simple Gospel.

I saw this image on Facebook, and it so beautifully encapsulates the Gospel, what Jesus did, I had to share it:

image

He took my sin, your sin, everyone’s sin, so that we could become the righteousness of God in Him.

Now what is sin? The term, as used in the Bible, means “missing the mark.” What is the mark?

Perfection.

God is perfect (“Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,” said Jesus), and we are most decidedly not. Not by a long shot.

Which is why He sent Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice. Now you may say to yourself, “Self, I’m not so bad. I haven’t killed, committed adultery… I’m no Jeffrey Dahmer.”

But have you ever lied? Even a little white lie? If so, you’ve broken God’s law: “You shall not lie.” And we know from the Bible that to transgress in one part of the law is to transgress all. In fact, Jesus upped the ante when He said that:

Lust = adultery

Hated = murder

Have you ever hated? Looked at someone with lust?

Chances are, you have. So have I–so have we all. Or maybe you haven’t, but you have taken something (no matter how small) that wasn’t yours.

That’s stealing.

So if a holy God, whose standard is perfection, were to ask you upon what basis He should let you into heaven? What would you say? Would you appeal to your assertion that you’re not such a bad person (even though we’re all lying, thieving adulterers at heart), or would you–like Hebrew National–appeal to a higher authority?

Like Jesus? He who knew no sin became sin for:

You

Me

Everybody

Everyone who would believe.

DO YOU BELIEVE?

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