Archives For finding God

The following post comes courtesy of Grace Hill Media in sunny Southern California. As the genre, and responsible parenting/consumption of media are near to my heart, it was a no-brainer to feature their byline here.

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Lessons For Christians From Horror Movies

The popularity of horror films continue to grow, especially among teens and young adults, who flock to movie theaters on opening weekend.  This Friday, August 11, for example, the movie “Annabelle: Creation,” about a possessed doll hits theaters nationwide.  It seems difficult to believe that any movie created to frighten and give us nightmares might have a meaningful spiritual lesson for Christians.  And yet, anyone who has been brave enough to watch “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” written by Scott Derrickson, a Christian filmmaker, knows full well that horror movies can serve us with cautionary messages and, might just inspire the audience to head to their nearest church pew.
To be clear, not all horror films are the same. The genre has different versions.  
There’s no takeaway from “slasher” or disturbing “torture” movies meant to provide nothing but shock.  However, there are horror movies that depict spiritual warfare (which we know to be real) and the battle between good and evil. These supernatural films, oftentimes written and produced by Christians and based on real-life events, are filled with lessons about something we as people of faith have stopped discussing in an increasingly distracted secular world – that evil is real.

Here are a few other lessons from supernatural horror films:
1) Exorcisms are also real.  Although incredibly rare, people can get possessed by evil.  “The Exorcist” is based on a real-life possession of a young boy, and “Annabelle: Creation” is about a possessed girl.  

2) God will always defeat evil. No matter how powerful the enemy may be, God will always come out on top.  In the Bible, one of the most powerful miracles that Jesus performed was The Miracle of the Gadarene Swine in which Jesus cast unclean spirits out of a man.  In real-life and in all supernatural films that have a faith message including “The Conjuring” and “The Rite,” evil will always be vanquished.

3) Ouija Boards are a big no.  Perhaps one of the strongest and most valuable lessons to come from supernatural horror movies (which just as true in real life) is that those who become plagued or possessed by evil may have inadvertently invited those spirits or demon to come into their lives.  This is done through certain “gateways” that many priests and Christian leaders warn us about.  Christians, especially Christian parents must teach kids and teens to stay away from Ouija boards, tarot cards, fortune telling, or any sort divination.  These are all means in which evil can take hold of our lives.  In the second “Conjuring” movie the character becomes possessed after playing with a Ouija board.  This was based on a true person and event.
 
4) Prayer is the most powerful thing in the world.  Prayers protect and deliver us from evil.  In horror movies, those who are plagued by evil must often turn to a person of great faith or priest to help them.  That Christian leader is always portrayed as someone who believes prayer to be of utmost importance and is shown onscreen praying to God throughout the film.

5) Faith is the most important thing in the world.  Believing in God and being baptized in the Christian community protects and strengthens us.  It is a natural defense again evil.  In times of weakness, we must lean on our faith and turn to God.  The upcoming movie, “Annabelle: Creation,” is a cautionary tale that depicts what happens when one turns away from God and succumbs to temptation during a period of grief and weakness as opposed to leaning on God for grace and healing.  

All movies, including horror movies tell stories.  In the last century, before we had television and films, parents told stories and tales that were meant to alarm and even frighten children and youth from a certain place or course of action.

Now these stories, meant to be lessons, are brought to life onscreen, complete with sound effects and make-up.  They are terrifying and they should be – evil is something to stay away from.  But for Christians, there is a stronger message, one that should always comfort and strengthen us – that we have a savior and that he will always come to protect and fight for those of us in need.
 

Just Come

randomlychad  —  October 6, 2015 — Leave a comment

My wife and I participate in a small group study. Lately, we’ve been looking at how to share the Gospel. As a part of that process, I’ve been tasked with answering a couple of common objections:

The exclusivity of the message of Jesus, and the plethora of world religions. I may have bitten off more than I can chew here, but intend to give it the old college try.

The world as we see and experience certainly establishes a prima facie case against the existence of God. There is much suffering, atrocities, and evil. Why would a good God allow such things to transpire? On the other hand, there is much about this world which is beautiful, lovely, and sublime in way which surpasses our poor power to express it. There is an order to the universe, and a precision in the way in which it operates that certainly at the least implies design. Atheists will say that’s all it is, implied design. But according to Occam’s Razor, the simplest solution is often the correct one, e.g., the universe appears designed because it is designed. In other words, and in the words of C.S. Lewis, “if the universe were without meaning we should never have discovered that it was without meaning.”

Is it possible that both are true? That all we see around is designed, yet all is not as it should be? Pain, suffering, disease, and death certainly provide a strong argument for this. If this is so, is God to blame? Is He a cosmic sadist delighting in our struggles? Why would He go to such great lengths to create all of this only to seemingly remain hidden from His creation? Why does He allow us to flounder in the mire? Surely a loving Father would [fill in the blank]?

And there’s the rub: we’ve just gone over the line into idolatry, making a god in our image, instead of falling at the feet of the One Who is. Because the One Who is, while promising an ultimate end to evil, in the meantime chooses the much harder path of walking with His suffering creation in love. Rather than delivering us from every trial, He suffers along with us. Instead of answering our questions, our every objection, He gives Himself. This is not an answer that many are willing to hear.

So yes, the world is broken. We are broken, and our brokenness try to fill that void with whatever we think will sooth our savage breast: science, atheism, sex, drugs, alcohol, relationships, education, what have you. We move from one thing to the next, never really assuaging the emptiness. And into this mess comes the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It seems an offer too good to be true; for how can it be free? This answer to our broken selves, this broken world? Because our experience is here, in the material plane, we know that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, that we get what we pay for… Thus it is that the word squeezes us into its mold. Because there’s always strings, right? And we don’t want to be anyone’s puppet. That is ultimately what it boils down to, really; every objection to the existence of God, while purporting to be philosophical, scientific, logical, is really about this: we don’t want to give up control. All else–the prima facie case the world presents–is but a smokescreen to an underlying condition of the heart the Bible terms “sin.”

Because God made us free, we are free to either accept, or reject, this fact. In essence, in shaking our fists at the sky we are saying, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, God, my mind is already made up.” And then we will come up with our reasons, our justifications, of why this is so. Why we are right, and Christians are wrong. Why we’re okay. This is nothing but confirmation bias. We’re right because we’re right. I’m okay, you’re okay. Now go away.

Meanwhile Jesus is saying, “Come to me all you who are weary, and I will give you rest.”

And that is what the Gospel is all about: rest from our striving, our brokenness, our sin.

Come to Me, He says.

Come and lay your objections down, and take up the life you were made for. For His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Just come.

You Did It!

randomlychad  —  June 23, 2012 — 7 Comments

Thank-you to all who gave, prayed, tweeted, facebooked, and encouraged me! You did it! Because of your kindness, I’m going to the Wild at Heart bootcamp this August! I want to sincerely thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for helping me rewrite my life’s story.

And look what a story we told together this week!

All week long, those doubts assailed me: “Who are you to ask for help this way? These people have families to feed, bills to pay.”

But we all know who’s voice that is, don’t we? He who masquerades as an angel of light, who roams around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. We Christians know him as the enemy.

And he’s a liar!

This week, you bathed me in kindness, you covered me in prayer, you showed me just how much you care.

You showed me the meaning of community, and like Robert Frost said “that has made all the difference.”

Thank-you again from the bottom of my heart!

Chad

Note: This is a guest post by Jim Woods. He is a writer, musician and dreamer in Nashville, TN. His passion lies in helping others fulfill their dreams. You can read more of his posts on his personal blog, or follow him on Twitter @unknownjim.

Transparency: The Only Cure-All for Holier Than Thou-itis

I recently read Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. As a result of the book, I began questioning my experience with corporate Christianity. I didn’t really know why, but I had feelings of pain inside.

It wasn’t until I visited my home church again that I discovered why I been feeling this way. In his sermon the pastor said,” Sin is unbecoming of a child of God. Whoever sins practices lawlessness and therefore he who sins tramples on Jesus.” The pastor repeated this statement several times, and at no point mentioned how this applied to himself.

This statement, combined with the tone in which it was delivered, came across as both arrogant and condescending. I firmly believe we are ALL sinners in desperate need of God’s grace, pastors included.

At some point, I started to think only pastors were capable of having a close connection with God. I had screwed up, and missed my chance for a close, authentic relationship with Him. In my mind, pastors have extensive knowledge of the Bible, pray for hours every day, and go to seminary. So of course they have a stronger bond with God.

I know this logic is flawed, but when you’ve been inundated with a tone of condescension, it becomes accepted. Even in a Bible-preaching Baptist church.

The truth is the person giving the sermon is in no way more “holy” or “worthy” than the rest of us. The pastor does not have a VIP Pass granting immediate access while everyone else waits for their number to be called. We all have our own VIP Pass, no one is a second class citizen!

God loves me despite what I’ve done. He doesn’t grade me based on how many hours I’ve prayed or how much I have read my Bible. There is NOT a spiritual contest. God’s love is equal for ALL OF US.

How can we promote healing in relationships within the church?

Speak up. If someone offends you, let them know. But do so in a loving, patient, kind manner. This is probably not the best thing to email about. Make it a phone call or even meet face-to-face.

Talk about real life. Not a conceptual, theological discussions filled with hard to understand terminology and ancient jargon.

Break down barriers. Do what Jesus did. Follow His example.

Tone is important. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself with humility. The more humble and honest the we are, the better.

Take individual responsibility. Do not shift the blame solely to someone else. Take responsibility for your own actions.

Thank-you, Jim, for sharing with us today!

How about you? How have you confronted difficult areas like this in your life?

'The Equal Rights Amendment' photo (c) 2008, dbking - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

In Western society, we are altogether too familiar with the words of Ephesians 5:22-24 (ESV), and how this passage has been abused, which says:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

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