Friday, March 28, 2014

A Flood of Opinions About Noah

The movie Noah by Darren Aronofsky debuts today. There are a wide range of opinions among evangelicals. Eric Hovind of Creation Today offers up 7 reasons NOT to go see Noah. If you follow the logic of the first 6 reasons he gives then you will probably stop seeing movies all together. Living Waters which is a ministry I really like and support most of the time has a real dilemma. They have released their own Noah documentary. They clearly want to capitalize on the movie. So they have a conflict of interest because they want you to watch their movie (Which I would encourage you to take the time to watch). But they have taken a strong stance against Aronofsky's Noah as well. In their most recent post about it they cite Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck is a Mormon. That does not mean that he cannot speak truth but there are good solid Christians who hold a radically different view of this movie then Glenn Beck does.

Answers in Genesis has taken a don't go see it position but they have moderated that with information about how to talk to people who have gone to see it. I think that if you are not going to see it that this is a good position to hold. Perhaps go to their site and learn what you can about the movie so you are equipped to engage people in the culture. Another place to go if you want info to share with friends who have watched the movie is they have a Bible study posted for Noah. Perhaps you could get some friends to go through it with you. If you really want to boycott the movie I think Movie Guides suggestion of Othercotting is a good idea. After all the reason Hollywood makes movies is to make money. What you spend your money on is what you are voting for. If the thought of Noah offends you go see God's Not Dead or Son of God. You actually have options this time around unless you are boycotting those as well.

Now all of that being said perhaps the other side of this issue should be considered. Grace Hill Media is a Christian Marketing company that has worked really hard to get Hollywood to open its eyes to the Christian Marketplace. Here is a link to an e-mail they sent me today. It is particularly interesting how many Christians have viewed the movie and endorse it as a worthwhile effort. There is an endorsement video link at the bottom of the e-mail. It is worth watching because you will actually hear from people involved in making the movie. They claimed that the Noah story arc is about judgment and grace.

Movie Guide which I almost always consult when it comes to movie content has 9 articles related to this movie. They point out in one of the articles that Paramount has listened to Christian criticism of the movie. They have added a disclaimer stating that some “artistic license” has been taken with regard to the story, but that the movie is “true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide.” The disclaimer also adds, “The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.” Here is a pagan company pointing people to the Bible. Of course Hollywood invest in projects like this in order to make money. Their goal is not to offend everyone. If movies based on the Bible do not make money they simply will not make them.

I am personally not sure that I will see this movie. So why write this article? It seems to me that often there is an unrealistic demand placed on the unsaved world to do Bible things or Christian things in a Christian way. Yet how many of you went to see either of the Thor movies or the Avengers which had Thor in it? Christians will go see Thor, which is a pagan god, but they won't go see Noah? It seems odd that we hold such double standards.

Aronofsky is a Jewish atheist. For some that is enough to not see Noah. But in 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 we see God moving in Cyrus the king of Persia. He was a pagan idol worshipping king. God used Cyrus to send the people of Israel back to the land to rebuild the temple. You could say that Cyrus ignited a new conversation with God and about God. I think that there are many people we come into contact with every day who would be interested in having a conversation about God. Noah could be an opportunity to have that conversation. If we turn our backs on a movie like this and only have negative things to say that conversation is never going to happen. Maybe Aronofsky is a type of Cyrus. He could be a man that God is using to open up opportunities for real and important conversations about Jesus our ark of salvation. Perhaps it would be better if we focused less on man and more on our God who moves men - even atheist men - to bring glory to His name in spite of their own plans.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The New Athiest have it Wrong...God's Not Dead

Every now and then you run across something that you just wish everyone could see. I ran across one of those items just the other day. Ravi Zacharias ministries posted a video that is around five and a half minutes long and worth every second. Why? Because in the video we get to hear from a teacher at Oxford in the philosophy department. He talks about how God is moving more then ever around the world and in our towers of higher learning. It is a great video.

But why is this important? Simply because of this. We always need to be encouraged to keep our eyes on our King. He is sovereign and He is active all the time in all areas of everything that is going on everywhere around the world and throughout the universe. Our God is all powerful and He is doing exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think. So be encouraged to live with your eyes firmly fixed on our God and King no matter what may happen to you. Because the relationship that is found in Jesus is eternal and magnificent.

Friday, January 24, 2014

How can a sinful cultures fascination with zombies point us to God?

At church we are currently in a series on Romans. In Romans 11:33-36 Paul talks about how all things are from Jesus and through Jesus and to Jesus. Which makes me ask "all things?" Now I am not a fan of horror movies or books or anything of that genre. As a Christian I think I can justify that by pointing to God's call for us to dwell on things that are beautiful in Philippians 4:8. But I can't help but think that even in the culture's fascination with zombies there is a great reminder for us. I don't know much about zombies but I do know they are the living dead. How can that point us to God. We live among a people that the Bible tells us is spiritually dead (Rom. 8:10, Eph. 2:1). Even though they are spiritually dead they continue to live physically in this world. If nothing else I believe the world embraces the idea of zombies because they are in a spiritual sense like them. And like zombies moving together, they serve their father the devil without even being conscious of it. Rather than simply being repelled by the things in our world perhaps we should ask if the base things we see are perhaps a reflection of what is already in the heart of men. This should make us grateful that we have been made alive in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:11). Perhaps even this could be an entry into a conversation that could help someone come to new life in Christ. This is one more backhanded way our sinful culture can remind us to live a life focused on God. What are some other ways our culture's fascinations point out their fallen state and remind us to look to God?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Super Sins and their Power to Separate us from God?!?

New Year's day and we are setting around discussing how things seem to come between us and God. The problem is not that things come between us and God. Paul asks in Romans 8:35-36 if anything can separate us from the love of Christ. Then he goes through a short list of physical trials and dangers including death. In the next three verses (Romans 8:37-39) Paul declares that nothing can come between us and God. If there is really nothing that can separate us from God then why do we seem to struggle with that feeling of separation?

The reality is that we are really quite prideful. We think of ourselves as somehow needing to do some kind of penance in order to make ourselves right with God. The only problem with that is it makes our standing with God dependent on our ongoing work and not on Jesus finished work. We are living as if our sins are somehow super sins that require more than Jesus' atoning work!

King David in the Bible is called a man after God's own heart. Here is a guy who had big public sins and rebellion within his household. He was so bad he probably would not be accepted at a lot of our churches. Saul his predecessor might not have been a man after God's heart but his house was orderly and his children were loyal to him. Contrary to David, Saul would probably be accepted at a lot of our churches.

What seems to define David being a man after God's own heart is his continual dependence on God. Nothing seemed to be able to separate David from God. When Nathan confronted him with his sin we see repentance and Psalm 51 as a result. When Absalom drove him from Jerusalem he was mocked and cursed by Shimei one of Saul's descendants. In 2 Samuel 16:9-12 his response is one of acceptance of this cursing as if it were from God. In the next breath he sees in the cursing hope that God will repay him good for the cursing he received. Instead of getting defensive at being kicked when he was down, David hopes in God's blessing. Earlier in David's life Saul was hunting him down to kill him. Twice David could have killed Saul (1 Samuel 24:9-12, 26:8-11). In both cases David shows dependence on God to be the one who would avenge him. David's heart seems to always turn to God and cling to Him even if he has sinned. David is dependent on God. In contrast Saul continually did things in his own strength and did rarely showed repentance or dependence on God.

Perhaps the problem when things seem to separate us from God is that we pridefully refuse to depend upon the grace found in the finished work of Jesus. Our actions declare that we really don't believe that Jesus' work was powerful enough for us. Brothers and sisters you are not that great of a sinner, no one is. David really demonstrates what it means to live a God focused life. It might be broken but it is utterly dependent on God. Better to be a broken vessel in my Savior's hands than to be standing on my own in insufficient penance. Let your sin drive you to repentance and your Savior's embrace.