God’s Not Dead, but Maybe “Christianity” Should Be


Are we shouting “crucify him?”

Finally, after decades of complaints, prayers, token support and watching “B” Christian movies barely funded and with the best intentions, but not always much in the way of acting, movie goers have been inundated with a plethora of positive cinema. All in this month before Easter. You’d think the Christian community would be thrilled and celebrating.

Of the famous four, “Son of God”, “Noah”, “God’s Not Dead” and “Heaven is For Real,” I’ve only had the privilege of viewing the first, so far. Plans to see the others are in the works. Kids are begging for them, especially after viewing all the trailers a couple of days ago. My opinions, therefore, are limited.

But the point of this post isn’t to give a review.

I saw “Son of God” with a girlfriend the second day it came out. I felt it was well done, and while it may not have depicted the intensity shown in “The Passion of the Christ,” it evoked deep emotion. I appreciated the scenery which created an experience for me of walking with Jesus, and the way he was portrayed in such a personable manner, as I imagine Jesus would have been. Woman followed him in the Bible, so I appreciated the inclusion of the female gender, not only the men who were his disciples.

While some of the scripture was re-ordered, omitted or changed (probably for cinematic affect), the message remained unscathed and potent. Jesus came to save us, sinners, through love and compassion and ultimately his death on the cross and resurrection. We weren’t blown away by the film, but liked it a lot in spite of its “creative license.”

The shocker to me?

The criticism these movies have garnered from the Christian community. I don’t expect reviewers who don’t believe to rave in a positive way about any of these movies. After all, they talk about God and the Bible, Jesus and Heaven—topics that often raise objections among the majority of folks. What I didn’t expect is the flak from Christians who have complained on a number of points.

Really people?

The arguments seem to stem primarily from the pious protecting the Bible, or worse, their personal theological views. But the end result is cutting the throats of fellow believers who are living out their faith in a way they hope will make a difference by infusing the public with a taste of the Lord.

It may be presumptuous, but I choose to believe that each of the participants, who created, acted in, produced and directed, sought wisdom from God in what they did. Did they miss the mark? Probably in some ways. Are they human? Yes, which makes them potentially fallible. But did God use them to touch lives by showing people a bit more of him through these films? I’m betting, yes.

What’s the real point?

God created us, loves us and wants to be with us. Jesus died on the cross and rose again in order to make that a reality in spite of our free will leading to sin. We can have all kinds of theological debates(which we’re admonished not to do – see 2Tim.2:23 & Titus 3:9) over the “right way” to portray the truth, or simply be grateful that someone has the guts enough to do it. In some manner, these movies have the potential to bless believers and sow seeds for those who may not have thought about God before. Maybe some curious chap will choose to view and actually come away choosing Christ. It’s possible, regardless of what many are saying.

Bottom line?

Today we celebrate what Jesus did for all of us, and look forward to symbolizing his resurrection in a couple of days. People do that in many ways all over the world. It means something different to each person, each year depending on their personal relationship with Jesus. In the same way, the message of a movie, book, blog, or work of art can inspire whatever God wants despite the human factor of the messenger.

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.                 Philippians 1:18

When will we lay down our agendas and uphold our brothers, the church, and join in unity to bless and not curse?

Oh gaze of love so melt my pride that I may in your house but kneel, and in my brokenness to cry, spring worship unto Thee.”  Hymn by Jars of Clay

What do you think? Seen the movies? Read reviews?
 
Disclaimer: I did not create this YouTube.

Can You Hear Me Now?


God is speaking.197

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to hear God as if, say, he were a friend across the table having coffee?

When you’re up against a big decision or even feeling a bit lost in life, wouldn’t it be great to have the creator of the universe, the one who knows everything about everything whisper a little direction or positive encouragement?

I think sometimes we expect God should boom at us in a commanding voice. Or maybe we feel as if his caring about us in any personal way is absurd—after all, if he is there, why would he want to speak to me? Perhaps we don’t really believe there is a God at all. The Big Bang Theory seems to handle the question for us, even if we’re not clear how the matter got there in the first place.

But what if God exists, does care and wants to say something?

To you. And me.

Remember the 1977 movie with John Denver and George Burns  titled “Oh, God!”? Theology aside, the film’s premise is that God wants us to know he is there.

He speaks to us.

Not only in a handful of movies, like Evan Almighty, but in real life. Yours and mine. He loves us. He wants good for us. And he tells us about it every day in a variety of ways.

It may sound a little crazy, but I hear from him every day.  No, I’m not some super saint with special powers and an “in” with God. But I take it seriously when he claims that we can ask him things, and he will answer.

For example, he tells us that if we lack wisdom, we have only to ask, and he will give it to us. The Bible reminds us that he thinks differently than we do, but if we choose to believe in him and acknowledge him as the one who saves us, we will be given “the mind of Christ” by his Spirit.

Sounds good to me!

If he spoke to Adam, Eve, Moses, Abraham, Noah, Mary and numerous others, why wouldn’t he speak to you and me? He longs for a personal relationship with us and that means communication, right?

Well then, how does he speak?

These are the ways I’ve heard him:                                                                      DSC_0006

  1. Through creation—it never fails that while I quietly marvel at the ocean, a bird, trees or flowers, a new born baby or even my son’s ball python, some amazing revelation or connection to my life gets whispered into my thoughts.
  2. Circumstances—so many times situations work out or don’t in a specific way that I couldn’t have orchestrated. Generally, this occurs when I’ve asked God for direction or to work out something that seems impossible. Like a window opening in a dark room, light floods in and a path is clear where nothing could be seen previously.
  3. Other people—I make it a point to ask trusted people for advice. God can speak through anyone he chooses, not only those who believe in his existence. It amazes me how God uses another person’s words to answer a question or give me direction or encouragement. A deep sense of “rightness” settles in my heart. Often, God is the only one who could have known what I needed to hear.
  4. The Bible—you knew that was coming, didn’t you? God says his word is alive and does things when we read it, share it and live it. I’ve experienced being in places of turmoil, confusion, lethargy and discouragement and felt prompted to read a particular section from the Bible. God transforms me as I let the words penetrate my heart.
  5. God’s voice—yep, you read that right. I often hear him whisper to me. I want to hear him so I sit very quietly and meditate on how wonderful he is. I tell him how I feel about things. I ask him to help me, to speak to me, to guide me. I wait and listen. And he does. Not a booming voice, but a tiny whisper in my heart. Not an accusing, condemning one, but a peaceful, settling whisper.IMG_4078

He wants to be there for us. He has good things to say. I believe he wants to speak to everyone.  Why don’t you ask him?

When have you heard God? I’d love to hear from you about it.

Some verses for reference: James 1:5-6; I Corinthians 2:9-16; Matthew 7:7-11; Hebrews 4:12; Isaiah 55:8-11; 2Kings 19:11-12; Psalm 103