Movie Review: To Save a Life

November 30, 2010 at 9:38 am | Posted in Books and Movies | Leave a comment

We took some extra time off at Thanksgiving, and I haven’t written here for quite a while.  I did write a lengthy response to a comment on an earlier theological post.  If you are interested in eschatology and in the relationship of the church to Israel, you can read the comment and response here. There are two things I’ve wanted to post in the past week, so this and the article below are both new.

My daughter brought home a movie from the library over the weekend.  She’d seen some scenes from it at youth group and wanted to view the whole film.  What a great story.  The basic plot is a high school star athlete who unintentionally ignores his boyhood best friend as he becomes a hero and gets caught up with the popular crowd.  The former friend is unpopular, ignored by all, and eventually commits suicide.  The suicide causes the main character to reevaluate his own life.  The Gospel is not presented in the film, but the power of the gospel to change lives and give meaning is clear.  And the way Christians sometimes ignore or condemn the needy among them is a poignant and convicting theme.

“To Save a Life” is not a film that blindly ignores youth problems of our day, or conveniently brushes them under the carpet.  It’s rated PG-13 because of the blunt show of cussing, alcohol, cutting, and sex.  Nor does this film make a sappy display of everything being wonderful when the hero turns to God.  In fact, things get uglier for him, and he questions God through it.  However, it does show that sometimes we must decide to do hard things, even at a cost to our dreams and pursuits.  Great film; my family has talked about it for two days since.  Get a copy and watch it.

Immigration and Mission

November 30, 2010 at 9:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We had in our church last week the man who oversees intercultural ministries in the US for our denomination.  He works with churches in the US that are designed to minister to people of other languages and cultures.  This once Swedish denomination has churches in this country that are Hispanic, Brazilian, Vietnamese, Haitian, Japanese, even Arabic(!), and some others I can’t remember.  He told some fascinating stories about many people who have come to our country, heard the Gospel in such a church, trusted Christ, and are now returning to their home countries as missionaries who don’t need to learn a new language or strange culture.  It is amazing what God is doing in this field – especially opening doors to Muslims.

One comment he made causes me to rethink everything I’ve ever thought about immigration to the USA.  I tend toward a very conservative politic, and believe in most areas, there are good historical and biblical reasons for taking that position.  It’s no accident evangelical Christians are overwhelmingly political conservatives.  However, without making any political statements at all, this man offered an incredible apologetic for not tightening immigration laws.  People are flooding into our country, where they can freely hear the gospel; some of them are coming to Christ here; and some of those are returning home as Christian missionaries.  Why should we, as Christian believers, want to close the doors to that means of getting the Gospel to the world?

This post is likely to get blasted by conservatives who disagree.  That’s OK; you’re welcome to fire away.  If you make comments, I only ask, first, that you realize I’m just asking the question as a seeker who hasn’t made a definite change in position, but who has had my own thinking on this matter shaken; and second, that any arguments you make be biblical or theological in nature and not just political.


Delight in God’s Word

November 17, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, English Bible Translations, Worship | Leave a comment

Psalm 119.  I have always loved this long, long chapter, by far the longest in the Bible, because it’s all about God’s Word.  These past two days, while reading through it in my devotions, I was struck by how much we should delight in God’s Word.  I marked everything the author says we do, or should do, with God’s Word.  Not surprisingly, the author says we should “keep,” “obey” or “observe” it 38 times.  Two examples include the famous verse 9, “How can young man keep his way pure?  By keeping it according to Your word,” and verse 166, “I hope for Your salvation, O Lord, and do Your commandments.”   The author says he “knows,” “meditates” or “learns” the Word of God, or wants to, 15 times.  One example is verse 27, “Make me understand the way of Your precepts, so I will meditate on Your wonders.”  My surprise was that he claims to “believe,” “trust” or “hope in” the Word only four times!  But, what spoke to me this week is how often he “delights in,” “loves,” “longs for” or “treasures” the Word of God; 24 times!  Add to that the 11 times he asks God to “revive” or “strengthen” him by the Word, and that’s a lot of delight and revival!  Here is a small sampling of those:  “Your Word I have treasured in my heart.” (11)  “Your testimonies are my delight.” (24)  “I shall delight in Your commandments, which I Love.” (48)  “O how I love Your law!  It is my meditation all the day.” (97)  This guy even “anticipates” the lonely night watches so that he can meditate on the word! (148)

          O that I might delight in God’s Word like this author did!  As a preaching pastor, I am able to spend much time studying and meditating on God’s Word, but sometimes that becomes routine and I’m just making sermons.  I am thankful and honored to have the job I have, and I love my job.  I am praying that I don’t just preach the Word but that I also always delight in the Word.  May I love Your word and may it be my meditation all the day!

          I saw a great video related to this today — sent to me on the day I’m thinking about such things in my devotions — an accident of God’s timing!  It is the celebration of a tribal people when they get their first copies of the New Testament in their native language.  O that we would appreciate it so much!  Often for us, the availability of God’s Word in English, like some of my sermon preparation, is routine.  Let’s love and delight in God’s wonderful word, available in our native language.  Here is a link to the video:

First Snow

November 11, 2010 at 9:36 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, Worship | Leave a comment

We woke up this morning to a beautiful dusting of snow.  The fall has been very nice, and this is late for a first snow in Denver, but surely as God is faithful, the seasons will change.  I find the snow very beautiful; it’s still coming down lightly outside my office window.  What a great morning to read Psalm 147; certainly that timing was no accident!  This psalm begins, “Praise the LORD!  For it is good to sing praises to our God, for it is pleasant and praise is becoming.” That great introduction is followed by numerous things God does or has done that deserve our praise.  Among them is verse 16, “He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes.” Praise God for his great faithfulness which is demonstrated by the changing seasons, and praise God for his incomparable beauty of which we get to see small glimpses in this world.

Thanks to all the veterans who have given and preserved for US such a great freedom and such a wonderful prosperity.  God bless you.

Daniel and Elections

November 4, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, It's All About God | Leave a comment

I have been reading Daniel in my devotions this week.  This book is not so much about the end times or eras of history as it is about the sovereignty of God.  The often repeated theme, said in numerous ways, is “God’s kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and his dominion is from generation to generation.”   He is the One who gives wisdom to interpret dreams and visions (1:17; 2:20-23, 28-29, 47).  He is the One who establishes and destroys earthly kingdoms and dominions (1:2, 9; 2:37-38; 4:17, 25, 32; 5:18, 21).  He is the One who delivers his people (1:17; 2:17-18; 3:17-18, 28-29; 6:16, 20-22).  Finally, His kingdom will remain forever (2:44; 4:3, 34; 6:26).  I find it interesting that the book establishes this principle before it ever gets into Daniel’s visions of the future.

The US elections this week show that many people are upset over the government’s recent actions, and that a change in leadership is necessary.  Conservative Christians, and I’m one of those, see the election as somewhat of a victory.  However, in my experience, many politically active Christians seem to think, or at least talk as though they think, God is no longer in control at the governmental level, so we must take over.  Certainly we must do our part, but the truth that God establishes governmental authorities still stands.  He is in control and His kingdom will never end, regardless of what happens to our earthly kingdom.

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