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Posts Tagged ‘God’

I don’t think I know you

You have this droopy face
They say full of pain and love
How can pain and love co-mingle?
How can pain and love be equally yoked?
The mystery and the scandal
That pain was the result of love
But I think they are wrong
For you see that pain and love don’t
Combine into this one droopy face
With a crown that represent all
Humanity’s accomplishments
We built pyramids from sand
We raised dirt into mountains
We took trees and created gods
We scarred the earth in search 
Of that precious mineral which one day
Would bring majestic heights to us
Yet all of our abilities as the human race
Come together in one rip
One  twist
One tryst between thorn and pate
I don’t know you 
I think they don’t either 
You, who held the quarks and their kin
From imploding and scattering
Quasars and galaxies spin endlessly
On your words
The stars sing your praise
The trees bend and weave your song
The birds and beasts know no other King
Your throne is the mountains
Your footstool the plains 
The ocean is your cup
They do not know you
Open their eyes so that they may know
The man who bore man’s crown
-ing achievement upon his brow
So that when you next come
They may recognize the crown
Made not by man
But by love

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Noah was directed by the enigmatic Darren Aronofsky who had directed other films such as Pi, The Tree of Life, and Requiem for a Dream.  Oh and that controversial one, The Black Swan.  He is no stranger to edgy.  After seeing the first two movies, I was dwelling on the ideas and themes for days afterwards.  Even now, at the mention of them, I still have questions and insights.

So when I heard he was doing Noah, I was excited.  What was he going to do?  How would he portray a character that had been so misconstrued by culture already?

Misconstrued?

Yes.  Misconstrued.  Who here has never had Noah and the animals on the ark as a wallpaper or a nursery picture?  It’s cute right?  Noah on a boat with some giraffes sticking their heads up and a bird or two circling around.  If you were lucky, there would also be some really happy looking waves with fish and such.

That same weekend, another “Christian” movie was playing.  God’s not Dead played next door to the Noah movie.  The choice was there but the decision was easy to make.  Watch a movie where stereotypes and caricatures had it out with a Duck Dynasty member thrown into the mix or see a movie with a Hollywood budget and rock monsters (more on that in a moment)?

Leading up to this post, I have read countless reviews from both multiple viewpoints.

The movie was offensive.

The movie really destroyed the actual story.

Rock Monsters?

It was a good witnessing tool.

The movie pushed people to read the Bible.

Rock Monsters?

I will not critique the different movie points.  Many good reviews do that already.  I even loved the article arguing the movie was a gnostic retelling of the story.

Why was Noah a good movie?

Did you hear the cries of the people as God punished creation?  Did you see the desperation in Noah’s eyes as he heard their screams?  Did you get how Noah saw himself as wicked as well?  Did you see how Noah tried to grapple with what he felt God was telling him?

In Noah I saw more reality than I had in other “Christian” movies.  I felt the art pull me into the story, into Noah’s desperation. I cringed as the whole world was reduced to seven, then nine, then eight people.  I felt the anguish of the mother as Noah held the knife over the heads of the babies.  And then I felt the relief as Noah relinquished and let them live.

There were real problems and they weren’t all nice and solved at the end of the movie.  We were left to deal with the consequences of Noah’s actions.  Do you know why he was drunk at the end?  Because he had failed his version of God.

“His version of God?  God told him to kill the babies.”

Did God really tell Noah to kill the babies?  Think back to Noah’s logic.  Remember when he went into Tubal Cain’s camp to find his sons women?  Remember that bedraggled man he saw that ate the flesh of animals or humans or whatever?  He was seeing himself as God saw man.  Evil.  Wicked.  Rebellious.

This was either Aronofsky’s big flaw or his brilliance at play.  As he is reportedly an atheist, I would say flaw but I could be wrong.

What does scripture say about how God saw Noah?  God saw Noah as righteous (Genesis 6:9).  Here is an excellent article on why this is.  If Aronofsky knew this to be true, then this is brilliance.  Noah is really a commentary on some Christian’s today.  We forget that God sees Jesus instead of our sin when He looks at us.  In the movie, Noah had some bad theology.  When he arrives back to the ark and locks everyone in, he reveals his plan.  As sin wasn’t the result of people’s actions but something inherent in them from the beginning, Noah figures God wanted them to die out and extinguish the human race.

Did God say this?  I found myself asking “If God wanted to kill off all of humanity, why save Noah and his family then?  Wouldn’t the fate of being the last man on earth be worse than a death by the catastrophic flood?

Noah is misreading God.  This is Aronofsky’s second brilliant point, one which I think he probably meant to flesh out.  Christians, me included, have the tendency to take the Word of God and twist it to fit their message, their ideologies, and their “convictions”.  Now, this doesn’t excuse Aronofsky for making God a mute deity who speaks through visions and signs but isn’t that how many in the American Church see God today?  But I digress.

I see the proof of Noah misreading God fleshed out in the end when Noah gets back with his family and passes on the birthright to his oldest son, essentially telling him to carry on filling the earth.  It is then that we see rainbows filling the sky.  Noah goes from ending all of life and doing as God had intended- encouraging life to flourish.  This is when we see full closure, a real ending to the narrative.

 

Yes, there is a lot in the movie that really trounces the Biblical text.  But it did get me to think about the nature and character of God way more than any other “Christian” movie ever has.

 

Appendix A

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(ROCK MONSTERS!!!!)

Ok.  Let’s talk Rock Monsters.

Due to the alliterate state of the American Church, I doubt most Christians have heard or dealt with the Books of Enoch.

“No, I totally have.  He’s that guy that walked with God and then he was not because God took him.”

The books of Enoch introduced us to some of the more interesting Angel lore.  This is the book Jude might have been talking about when he wrote about Michael and Satan arguing over Moses’ body.  The Watchers also show up in the book of Daniel.

So, in angel lore, the Watchers, or Grigori, are “Servants of the most high” who form the inner council of God and relay His messages to Earth.  Some also think that they are involved with human governments, helping man pass decrees and laws and such.  Also, as the root for their name indicates, it is thought that these beings never sleep and thus are always “watchful.”

There is also within angle lore the idea that these angelic hosts were the ones who fell from the heavens and, after lusting after women, produced nephilim.  Interestingly enough, the books of Enoch implied it was this transgression that brought about the flood.

If nothing else, scholars believe this gave the exiled Israelites hope.  They had been taken from their promised land and the temple was in ruins.  The presence of God was no longer with them.  Despite this, there was a hope for exiled Israel as “it is possible these angels may be mere reflectors of Yahweh Himself.  He is the keeper of Israel who never slumbers nor sleeps (Ps. 121:4), and the One whose eyes range throughout the whole earth (Zec 1:10; 3:9; 4:10).”

I would figure, therefore, that Aronofsky combined the two major characterizations, the fall of the Watchers and their tendency to help mankind, and formed a whole new “monster.”  So calm down, these are not really inconceivable and are more biblical than you probably knew (with some poetic licensing added).


For the details regarding the Watchers, I referred to the Wikipedia page and my International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol 4 Q-Z.  The pictures are not mine.

 

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Love

Love
By William L Peace Jr

Love
Her flowered breath in my chapped ear
Love
His protective hands leading her forward
Love
The Eucharist of a morality tale for man
Love
A living sacred symbol of a Savior’s ransomed people
Love
A feeling
Love
A selfless action
Love
Denying his fleshly appeal for him
Love
Her valiant “no” to feelings for her
Love
Laying down one’s life for a friend
Love
That God is mindful of us
Love

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

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I have always wondered at the mystery of the phrase “God led me to…”.  I always wondered how God leads us.  Was it an audible voice?  If so then why could I never hear Him?  Was I not saved?

A couple years ago, when I was searching for direction in my life, this became a huge question.  How would I know where God was leading me if there was no “Voice from Heaven?”  Then, for my birthday, my Mom gave me a book by J. I. Packer titled Guard us, Guide us.  I was so excited.  Finally, a book that could teach me how to listen for God’s guiding call.

If you have ever read a J. I. Packer text, you will know that he is not a light read.  This is not something you can just pick up and set down with ease.  You have to invest some time with it.

So, I didn’t really get through the first chapter for about a couple years (sorry mom).

But, strangely enough, I began to see that, despite not reading this book (which I still plan to do), God has been leading me and I have been seeing it very clearly in my life.  Not that I’m perfect but I feel as if this book is now more of a supplement than a primary text.  Which is exciting in and of itself.  As I have been growing in my walk with God, I have been learning to follow Him and see His guiding hand.

So, now you may ask, how does one see God’s guidance in their life?

So far, through God’s word and Prayer.

What?  It’s that simple?

Yes.  Even more so.

We read what God has commanded of us in scripture.  This is the basic way of following God in a general sense.  You come to a decision point.  I am hungry for a snickers bar.  Do I steal one or do I pay for it?  What does God’s word say?  Stealing is a sin.  Answer: Pay for it. (Or be healthy and buy a carrot instead).

In a more situational sense, prayer would come into play in more than a mere “Lead us from temptation” sense.  You have to confront a friend, a brother or sister in Christ.  How do we go about it?  In love, yes.  One on one, yes.  These are the basic guidelines laid out by scripture.  But specifically how?  How will it play out?  Do you even confront them?  Is it your place?  These are all specific issues that are not necessarily covered in scripture.  “Do I date this Christian girl or that Christian girl?”  “Do I even date?”  “Can I watch rated R movies?”

If your reading this and this is something that you learned a long time ago, congrats and I wish I had.  But I hope this somewhat helps those who are still learning of God’s Guidance.  And seriously, you will want to pick up J. I. Packer’s book.  It’s a good read so far (I’m up to chapter 4).

Peace,

Bill

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In my 22 years of being a Born Again Christ Follower, I have struggled with the fact that there have not been a whole lot of people that I have led to Christ.  This was something I worked out years ago thankfully but then I lost sight of what I had learned.  In reading David Platt’s book “Radical” with a couple guys from my church, the book has helped me to see that again in clarity and I wanted to share with you some of the insights I have gleaned in this area of life.  I will use Romans 1:16,17 as a template of sorts.

I am not Ashamed

There is a war going on within our reality between spiritual forces.  Satan knows his time is coming to a close so he is doing everything in his power to a) keep those who are dead in sin from seeing the light of the gospel, and b) turn those who are children of God away from the light of the gospel.  As such, to those who are in the former category, the gospel is offensive and debilitating.  It is painful and it is blinding.  It is one of the big three that one is not to discuss in polite conversation (the three being politics, religion, and money).  But this can not be the case.  The gospel is meant to be spoken aloud, to those dead in sin, and those walking away from God.  Christ is said to be offensive and a stumbling block.  Therefore, we who live in such a world that demands comfort and instant gratification must understand that we cannot be ashamed of the gospel.  Yes, it will cause trouble.  But this is the norm, not the exception.  Do not be ashamed.

The Gospel

What is the gospel?  This is a tricky issue in today’s American culture.  There are different variations that different people say you must present differently. This is grounds for another blog post to look at in more depth the gospel.  But in short, the gospel is that I, as a human being, am born in sin, dead to sin, and destined for hell apart from God.  I am so dead in my sin that I am not even able to come to God on my own and I reject God to the detriment of my life, physical and spiritual.  But behold! Christ has come to earth to live, die, and be resurrected so that there is a hope that we may be made alive in Him.  We who once were dead in sin now have a way to come to God and be made new, to be born again and to escape the wrath of God.  This is, in short, the Gospel.

The Power of God

This gospel is not an initiative of man.  This is done through the power of God.  This is who we rely on in the gospel.  The salvation God offers us is a free gift, not just something earned.  This is something me must keep at the forefront of our lives, in witnessing and living.  The gospel needs the power of God.

For Salvation to the Jew and Greek

The gospel is not a respecter of nationality, blood, heritage, or culture.  It transcends all of this and is applicable for all.

Revelation

Without the revealed gospel, we would have no way to understand who God is beyond His eternal power and divine nature.  This understanding cannot save.  This can only point us in the right direction.  Unfortunately, we suppress this in our sin dead ways.  We take what God has created and in turn worshiped that.  One of my favorite verses is in Isaiah 44:18-20 where God describes a man who takes a piece of wood, used part of it to make fire, used more of it to make bread, and used the rest to make an idol.  We cannot know God apart from what God has revealed to us.

This is important in my struggle because I used to take the responsibility for persuasion completely on my shoulders in witnessing.  I used to study evolution, Catholicism, carbon 14 dating, biology, history, literary theory, textual criticism, hermeneutics, theology, apologetics, philosophy, and anything else that I thought would help persuade people that God is calling for us to cry out to Him.  And when a finely crafted argument (or so I thought) would fail to bring those to whom I witnessed to Christ, I would become so discouraged that I finally stopped telling people about Christ for a good amount of time.

It is not my job to bring people to Christ.  Christ brings people to Christ.  It is my job to tell the people about the gospel.  Paul did not persuade Agrippa.  But Paul preached to him.  That was his job, not to persuade, but to preach.  And honestly, this is such a blessing, to have Paul’s testimony, for if he couldn’t persuade someone, with all of his learning and skills and authority, then I am comforted.

Take heart.  Keep on preaching the gospel in love and humility, praising God when He allows you to see someone call on the name of His Son Jesus, but not growing discouraged if something visible does not occur.  I Corinthians 3:7 “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

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How Big is God?

Today (Sunday), in church, my pastor talked about turning away from God and turning to God.  This won’t be a long post but I want to tell you what my take away was.

If you would ask me, I would say I was in the valley section of the ups and downs of life.  Have been for a while and probably will be for a bit more.  Not sure why.  All I can think about at times is the old comic strip “Calvin and Hobbs” where Calvin asks his Dad why he must shovel the drive way of snow.  His dad’s response is “Because kid, it builds character.”

I sat through the sermon today, listening to Pastor talking about Israel and following God and not following God.  And one thing he said that really stuck was a quote from A.W. Tozer.  I forget the exact wording but it was something to the effect of when our god is small, the temporal things of this world will overwhelm us.  But when we have the right perspective of God, His Power, Wisdom, etc, then the things of this world will suddenly lose their weight.  It was so needed for me to hear this as I had found myself in the middle of seemingly immense problems and situations.  I had forgotten who my God really was and made Him to be this small postage stamp sized being in my mind.

Then, in reviewing the sermon, two friends pointed out two verses.  One was Romans 5:3-5  “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;  and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. [NASB]” and the other was James 1:2-4 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. [NASB]”

So, not only was my anxiety with my problems taken care of, so was my anxiety with going through the valley I’m in right now.  The downside is, I’m finding more and more how much of a sinner I really am so I might be here for a while.  Good times.

 

Peace,

Bill

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Today is the third day I have been on my medicine.  I am typing this on a computer so it might be longer than my last post (via iPhone).  So far so good.  No indication of the side effects mentioned (including some crazy rash deal that didn’t sound too attractive).  All my life I have always been the guy who hears a symptom and immediately thinks that I have that.  The day a diabetic did a presentation in health class I was convinced I was diabetic for about a month, maybe more.  But nothing yet.

I have been feeling…different though.  Lighter, fuller, pleasant.  I am less lethargic, feeling more productive, sleeping sounder.  Before, I felt as if I was walking through a wilderness and a darkness was overtaking me and smothering me.  I felt as if I had reached the end of my existence, that my universe was empty past a couple feet in front of me.  But now that’s changed.  I’m wondering how much is a placebo effect.  I mean, only three days have gone by and its only been 25 mg at night.  But I was talking with my mom last night and she stopped and said it was nice to see me smile again.

So why do I tell you this?  Why bear my mind to you?  I have had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ for about 21 of my 25 years.  But most of my life, and probably for the rest of it, I struggled with letting Jesus be my Lord in everything.  I would always hold back an aspect of my life.  Growing up I wasn’t athletic, I wasn’t coordinated, and I wasn’t charismatic.  I wasn’t brilliant but I always felt I was smarter than average.  And after years of being told so, I believed it.  While others had their sports skills or friend skills, I had my mind.  It was the most precious aspect of my being I possessed.   I always thought that if I lost my limbs, if I were kept in solitude, or if I were incapacitated, I would be ok because I would have my mind, my thoughts.

Then I encountered God in His Holiness.  In the space of three years, my whole world started to fall apart and the life I had built up started to fall apart.  I fell into depression that I thought would go away but it just got worse.  The thing I loved most was broken.  My mind.

There is the story of Jacob in Genesis where he has deceived everyone in his life and has no one to turn to.  He is going back to his home land and he hears his brother, whom he tricked out of his birthright, is coming to him with an army.  Jacob sends presents and gifts and waits.  While he’s waiting, he is all alone and he meets a man.  And then they wrestle.  The man sees he is not winning and he touches Jacob’s hip, laming him.  Theologians say that this was a Theophany, an incarnation of God, or a Christophany, an early incarnation of Christ.  Jacob falls to the ground but he holds on to the man for dear life and asks for a blessing.  And the man blesses him.  I always wondered what this was about.  Then I was reading “Knowing God” by J I Packer and he described the wrestling match as God taking everything from Jacob so that Jacob only had God to rely on, not his deceptiveness or his intelligence.

Then it hit me.  I was always so worried about losing my mind, I had made it first in my life that it had become an Idol.  It had taken the throne of my heart that God was supposed to be sitting on.  And maybe the only way I would be fully God’s was if my mind were taken out of the picture, broken down, made less than I wanted, so I could not rely on it any more but had to turn to God fully and whole-heartedly.

That being said, I have not arrived.  I am the same sinner I was three years ago.  But I feel God is changing my heart for Him.  I feel as if He is transforming my heart by renewing my mind.  I have been dropping all the pretenses.  I am nothing without God.  If he were to let me go, I would surly fall into Sheol.  I know I have a long ways to go.  I have a whole life to become like Christ.  I will probably sin in two seconds, two minuets, two days and feel like I have undone everything that has taken place.  But I am under God’s grace and nothing I can do can change that position.  Amen.

Peace

Bill

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