Category Archives: Movie Messages

Built to Last

I love to read and study about ancient history, especially buildings and artifacts. Some of the greatest achievements of the modern age pale in comparison to structures like the Egyptian Pyramids.

Not to long ago I watched a documentary about life on this planet without people.  It was quite an eye opener. And I was not surprised that all of our skyscrapers and achievements wouldn’t last that long without people around to maintain them. All I have to do is look at my house and see how easy things fall apart if you ignore them.

I believe there is a spiritual lesson here. Our relationships, the things we do, even who we are can start to decay if we fail to maintain them. Even things that are built to last will decay and fail if we ignore them.

Take a look at this interesting documentary on the planet without people.

Life After People – http://www.history.com/minisites/life_after_people

Doug Powell – Engaging the Music Culture

Doug Powell, a Christian apologist, came and spoke at my church this past weekend. He talked a lot about engaging culture instead of running from it. He pointed to the Apostle Paul who engaged the thinkers of his day at Mars Hill.

Sometimes we think the best thing we can do is create a hedge around our families to protect them from the evil influences of the world. But this seems to suggest that we believe the influence of the world is stronger than the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Is it better to insulate from within than guard from without?

While Christians should certainly be careful what they digest in terms of media. We also should be aware enough of popular culture to engage those around us. Powell said that we can use pop culture to talk about big life issues with friends and neighbors because music, movies and TV are filled with concepts that touch on the Christian Gospel.

One of the things he did was play the music video of John Lennon’s Imagine. Then he showed the lyrics of the song and merely asked questions about what kind of world Lennon imagined. What kind of world has no thought of an after life, no governing authorities, no countries, no posessions, no concept of god? This is a world where this life is all there is. This is a world where there is no ultimate authority to maintain order. This is a world with no cultural identity. If there are no posessions, then we own nothing. This is a world with no faith. This is a world where we are at the mercy of the brotherhood of mankind. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-b7qaSxuZUg 

 

That’s not much of a world if you ask me. You can see video of Doug’s messages at his Web site below.

http://www.selflessdefense.com/

Hulk 2 – Are you really serious?

I recently saw Iron Man on the big screen and was surprised by the previews. It looks like Hollywood is ready to take the super hero bandwagon to new heights of shame. As if the first Hulk movie wasn’t bad enough, they are coming out with a second one. And they recruited Edward Norton, one of my favorite actors, to actually star in the film.

Then, I came across this news parody written “by the Hulk” for the Onion. I laughed so hard that I almost dropped my laptop. Check it out. http://www.theonion.com/content/node/33980

Modern Prophets

“Documentary filmmakers are becoming the modern-day prophets. They’re the people who are looking at the world and seeing that things are not right and asking the provocative and challenging questions we need to hear to deal with issues of modern-day slavery, sex trafficking, poverty, hunger and justice. Moves can help us understand the place in the world where God really grieves the injustice and the evil we see.” – Will Stoller-Lee of the Windrider Forum

I couldn’t agree more. That is why I have become a documentary junkie. Some people get addicted to video games. I love documentary films. I like them from a wide variety of viewpoints too. I even love to see short films and youtube videos. Some of my favorite film projects are short Internet videos. I especially like projects that take on current issues or social ills using humor and unique film techniques.

Here are two example of funny Internet shorts that hit current issues. These bits are somewhat edgy. But I think Jib Jab did a good job with them.

http://www.jibjab.com/originals/big_box_mart

http://www.jibjab.com/originals/drugs_i_need

So if you had one topic that you could make a movie on, what would it be? What social or life issue would you highlight? What would your message be?

More on this to come…

A Life Felt Throughout Time

“I have never doubted that there was a historical Jesus, that he walked the earth 2,000 years ago. But the simple fact is that there has never been a shred of physical, archeological evidence to support that fact until right now.” 

“There will be those who will say that in some ways we are attempting to undermine Christianity. That’s really very far from the case. I think that what this find does and this film does is it celebrates the real life existence of these people and this man who 2,000 years ago had a vision and communicated it in a viral way. It spread around the world over the subsequent centuries and it resounds down to us now in the present day in a way that no other human being has ever has the same kind of impact. My feeling is that his method of compassion and humility, love and forgiveness is every bit as much needed now today in our divisive, materialistic and war-torn world.”

– James Cameron, Hollywood movie producer and executive producer of The Lost Tomb of Jesus

The above statements were made by James Cameron during a news conference held a few months ago. Cameron, an Oscar-winning director was promoting a documentary about the discovery of the alleged tomb of Jesus Christ that he produced. The film, The Last Tomb of Christ, caused a lot of controversy by both religious leaders and scientists. Regardless of what you thought about the film, Cameron’s above comments hit on a key of Jesus’ life. He has impacted history in a way that no one else has. His message caught on, and the world has never been the same.

 

Not that I need Hollywood to validate Jesus. But it sure is nice to see that the world recognizes what many Christians have forgotten – Jesus’ life makes all the difference.

Lost Boys

“A crime with this many witnesses, should have never gone so far.” – movie site, Alpha Dog 

Alpha Dog, which is a movie based on the real life story of Jesse James Hollywood, recently came out on video. The story follows the young drug dealer and his involvement in the kidnapping and murder of a 15-year-old boy. In the movie, Hollywood is known as Johnny Truelove. 

Truelove and his friends grew up in the sprawling, privileged neighborhoods around LA. These teens were bored with too much free time and money. The movie site explained their world this way. They strung “one hazy day into another, looking for the next thrill doing suburban imitations of the thug life they idolize from rap music, video games and movies. When you’re living without any consequences, anything can happen.”

Johnny and his guys kidnap the younger brother (Zack) of a guy who owes them money. The kid began to like the party culture of the gang. Developing a bond with some of the guys, Zack felt part of it. They treat him kind of like one of the guys. The only exception is that he was not free to leave. As a 15-year old boy, he begins to idolize one of his captors wanting to be like him. It’s a strange story. But it rings true in light of today’s pop culture, broken families and warped sense of values.

Confused about what to do as authorities search for Zack, Johnny decides the boy has to die. Some of the gang are torn because they are worried if the boy talks. Yet, they genuinely like the kid. The unthinkable happens as one of the gang members carries out the order to execute Zack.

The movie is not for the faint of heart. It has horrible language and other inappropriate material, which unfortunately goes with the territory. When you make an honest movie about dark times, it is hard to sugar coat the sad reality. The language, pervasive drug use and sensuality reflect a generation that has lost its way. While there are many great kids, there are also many lost boys too.

The following is from a handout that I wrote on rite of passage ceremonies and the importance of recapturing Biblical manhood. All of this melds together because lost boys need markers to find their way. And you may just be one of those guides who can help save a life.

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Unfortunately, boys are so eager to find acceptance and brotherhood that they will even look for it in negative places if they can’t get it from good, honorable sources. This explains why so many young men turn to street gangs. Once they pass through initiation rites that can include violence and illegal activities, they are welcomed into the gang as brothers. Sometimes gang membership is more about survival than replacing familyconnections, but it is always about belonging.

The longing to belong is fundamental to human nature—a good longing that corresponds to being made for relationship. The desire to be competent and capable and to test one’s skills against another is also good. In a broken, sinful world, good desires sometimes turn to destructive ends.

Some young men run into a different type of problem. In today’s culture, youth is idolized. Growing old and taking on responsibility is not viewed with the same level of honor as it once was in Western society. Many boys, like Peter Pan, would love to stay young forever and live in a modern Neverland.

All you have to do is look at the 20-somethings who shirk away from responsibility andtry to enjoy the fruits of life without paying the price for them. Young men want sex, but they don’t want the responsibility that comes with it. They want a car without paying for it. They want respect without earning it.

Many aspects of pop culture today idolize people who demonstrate very little integrity.The less responsible someone seems, the more famous they can become. The heroes of a culture determine the destiny of a society because the things we esteem as valuable shape how we live out our daily lives. And our problem today is that many Biblical virtues do not play out well on MTV.

Teens are influenced to enjoy their youth to the max because many in society view growing older as moving backwards. The rewards of life don’t seem worth growing up for these days. But youth will eventually realize that time marches forward even if they want to turn back the clock. This reality forces them to a crisis of destiny. How they respond to this reality makes all the difference.

The above cultural realities only indicate how important it is for Christian men to help the emerging generations understand the value, dignity and worth of the call to Biblical manhood. Developing a series of celebrations and teachings that foster this reality will help future generations embrace the transitions of life. It will lead to a higher quality of life because none of us can stop time.

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Read the entire handout at http://www.organicfaith.com/RitesofPassageCeremonies.pdf

Only in Hollywood

Viral marketing is the “latest” thing for companies and media types. A friend from church was in this spoof that makes fun of Hollywood and viral marketing. This is some cleaver stuff.

See what I mean by watching the short called Hollywood Goes Viral at http://romeo.libsyn.com/

Jesus Camp

Jesus said many controversial things during his earthly ministry. One day Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Matthew 10:34-35 KJV).

As outrageous as this statement may seem today, these words would have seemed unthinkable for first century Palestine. The family was a central part of Jewish society as was the concept of honoring authority. While the Jews certainly had their moments of rebellion, many of the religous leaders tried to keep the peace as much as possible. And while fighting the Romans was one thing, taking up arms against your own family is quite another.

The religious establishment would have viewed such talk as rebellion. Everyone would have seen Jesus as a controversial figure who rocked the boat. Why would Jesus use such hard  words to describe His mission? Some today think of Jesus as a pacifist. True, Jesus did say that those who live by the sword will die by the sword. But He also promised to come again to the earth in a visible manner.  And the next time Jesus comes will be with a sword as a conquering King. He will destroy those who oppose God and righteousness.

Many Christians today get very squeamish when other Christians begin to talk about God in militaristic terms or mention spiritual warfare.  However, the New Testament uses these concepts. The Apostle Paul wrote about being a good soldier of Jesus Christ and fighting against the devil. The book of Revelation describes Jesus as a warrior King.

It can be difficult to know how to communicate the truth of Christ ‘s complete message in a modern context. This recently became abundantly clear as audience and critics have reacted to Jesus Camp, a documentary film about modern day evangelicals and their efforts to teach children about Jesus and spiritual warfare.

The movie tries to present itself as independent even though selective editing and the use of ominous music in some places make it clear that the producers have a bent. It seems they believe that the evangelical  message taught by the leaders featured in the film is dangerous or at least short sighted. This comes up from the earliest moments in the film. A liberal Christian activist denounced what these pastors do as spiritual and political brainwashing.

Nominated for an Academy award this year, Jesus Camp follows a group of Pentecostal evangelical students as they seek to experience God through their normal lives and a revival camp meeting. The images can seem overly intense for those who are not familiar with Pentecostal experiences. I am reminded of how odd the life of Jesus seemed to so many people during His earthly ministry. Many people walked away because they just couldn’t accept the radical nature of His lifestyle and message. 

In a modern context, it can be difficult to understand the rap culture for those born in the suburbs.  Likewise, children crying for aborted babies, speaking in tongues, kids receiving visions or speaking in warlike terms about combating evil can appear too edgy.  But that’s their reality, and it can be supported by Scripture.  Some of the children may get carried away in some instances by a tide of emotion. But that’s not odd for human beings.

As a Pentecostal myself, I know what I have experienced. And I know that some of the things that I have seen have appeared a little weird at times. Some of it even made me a bit uncomfortable. But that’s OK because the Bible is full of weird miracles and things that I cannot explain. How in the world can I expect given my limited brain to understand everything about the physical and spiritual realms? How can I hope to figure out God and His ways?

Now I am not saying that I agree with everything that takes place in the movie by any of the parties involved. The movie chronicles people. And people are going to make mistakes, even Christians. Those who follow Jesus are not always going to agree on everything. I respect all the view presented in the movie and happen to agree with pieces of what the different people said.

Parents have the right to raise their kids as they see fit as long as their instruction does not cause damage to other people. Even though some evangelical Christians may think of life in warlike terms, our enemy is never people. The Bible makes it clear that we struggle not against flesh and blood. Christians war against evil principalities and dark, spiritual forces. Lying spirits and demons bind people, keeping them stuck in sin and despair. Jesus came to set people free. Through prayer and teaching the truth, we are called to continue what Jesus started.

Some critics correctly identify that the spiritual warfare concept can get out of hand. It can cause some to look at non-believers as targets to be won instead of relationships to be made. Christians must never look at another person as a notch to put on our salvation belt. Instead, we must see everyone the way that God sees them.

A combat mindset can cause division making Christians feel superior or create unnecessary division. While we should seek to be separate from wordly lusts and evil influences, we cannot think of everything in the world as corrupt or bad. God originally made the world to be very good. Everyone was created in God’s image. This includes those who deny the existence of God.

Some distinction is important because we are called to mirror Jesus not others. However, Christians must be careful not to become prideful, which damages our witness and ability to relate with non-believers. We are all in the same boat. None of us are righteous enough on our own to stand before God.

Others would point out that we are at war. Satan is very serious about his plan to separate people from God’s life and love. He is not playing around. In that sense, we are at war and should give everything we have to stop him. Some even carry this too far by putting too much focus on Satan and demons. We don’t need to try to communicate with the enemy except to declare our position and victory in Christ. The enemy loves for us to put our attention onto him. Our focus should be on Jesus and God’s kingdom. He has already secured the victory. All we have to do is believe it. Notice how even the Archangel Michael in disputing with the Devil was careful about speaking too brashly against him. Michael declared that God would rebuke the Devil (Jude 1:9-10).

At times, the leaders running the camp did seem too political for my taste. Even though I tend to vote Republican, I don’t think of George Bush as a messiah figure. He’s done both some good and bad things as president. God is not a member of either major political party. God isn’t even an American. God is King.

Sure, God calls us to pray for our leaders and submit to their rule. This is true no matter who is in power. I don’t put much faith in earthly politicians because all sides appear to have mixed motives. This was one criticism that came through in the film and appeared to be a legitimate concern. The Church should never become a tool for either party. The Church belongs to Jesus.

Some of the families in the film seem to have overly sheltered their children. While I can’t blame them given the bad influences in society today, a more effective way to train the next generation appears to be insulting them from within not building a wall around them. Christian kids need to be released to impact their schools and communities. Parents don’t have to fear that the world is stronger than Jesus’ life in their kids. It isn’t for those who truly believe.

Finally, speaking in tongues and falling down under the power of the Holy Spirit are heavily debated topics within Christianity today. The film does not really offer anything new to the discussion. It does highlight the emotional nature of the experience. I have seen both fake and legitimate moves of God in the past. I guess a little wildfire is better than no fire at all.

Some may think it odd for a child to talk about hearing from God. A number of the children commented about seeing visions. They talked about God impressing words or burdens on their heart. But this isn’t odd if you read the Bible. Jesus said that you can’t enter the Kingdom of God unless you become like a little child. In the Scriptures, God frequently moved through and spoke to the young because more mature adults were too set in their ways. If God is indeed real and He does not prefer one person over another, why would He neglect children?

Jesus called the little children to come to Him. Jesus proclaimed a curse on anyone that did anything that caused them to fall away from God’s love. May we never make this mistake by either the things we do or fail to do in our ministry to the emerging generation. One thing is certain, children are important because they are the future.

Jesus Camp Web Site: http://www.jesuscampthemovie.com/

Video Explaining the Importance of Reaching the Young for Jesus
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGpKH7MU4Sk

Blind Faith

“Behind every question of faith or practice is a presupposition – a premise. If you start with an incorrect premise, you may end up with a logically sound argument, but you will have a conclusion that simply isn’t true.” – Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission

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Making decisions based on a certain set of presumptions is common even in science. Some people think that all science is exact. But science revolves around theories. These assumptions are either proven to be true or false. And there are many instances where we can’t really prove theories either way due to human limitations in time and space. And in those cases, we have to make the best scientific guess possible. Much of established science today is still at the theory stage. This includes sacred cows, such as evolution and global warming.

I am thinking about global warming due to former vice president Al Gore’s movie called An Inconvenient Truth. This movie and most journalists present global warming as a proven ecological crisis. And while many respected scientists point to global warming as a pending ecological nightmare. There are others that doubt if the situation is as bad as many “experts” make it out to be.

I am not sure what to really think about global warming. I am all for being responsible with the planet. But I don’t want to sign on with the preservationist agenda because I have seen them be wrong many times in the past. The way that many journalists act as if there is not a legitimate scientific debate on the real danger linked to the issue seems dishonest and wreckless.

Consider what Dr. Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace and respected ecologist, said when I asked him about global warming.

What is your view on the science behind global warming? Is it really as big of a problem as many experts make it out to be?

Moore: The people who are saying there is no longer any need for debate are the ones who would stifle debate. They think they’re right. The fact is that there is huge discussion about global warming. There are a lot of climatologists who do not accept that humans are the definite cause of the climate change. Most of them admit that humans could be part of it or maybe some or most of it, but we don’t know that. Then there are the people who say there is a consensus among scientists that we know for sure that humans are causing this climate change and we know for sure that it will be bad.

    Those are the two different questions of course; whether or not we are causing it on the one hand and on the other hand whether or not it will be all bad. I personally believe that we don’t know if we are causing it all. But even if we assume that we are causing it, some positive impacts will result. As usual, when there’s change there are going to be winners and losers. If you focus on the losers, like a lot of people seem to be doing, then certain island states will have the water level rise, and there may be drought in other places. But there may also be deserts blooming somewhere. There may be increased fishery productivity and a whole bunch of positive things, such as, longer growing seasons, shorter winters, reduced energy requirements, and forests growing in areas that are now just tundra.

    There are all kinds of possibly positive impacts from climate change. The activist groups and a lot of political people seem to think there’s an advantage for them to be accentuating the negatives, the climate catastrophes and the climate apocalypses. They talk about global warming plunging Europe into the dark ages when, in fact, we’re in a cold period right now compared to most of the earth’s history. During much of the earth’s history there was no ice at either pole. Then there was a time hundreds of millions of years ago when it froze nearly to the equator due to a real cold period. And for the last two million years we’ve been in the Pleistocene period, otherwise known as the “Ice Age.”

What if?…

Have you ever stopped to consider what life would be like if some major turning points in world history had ended differently. What if the Germans were the first to have the atomic bomb? What if the Russians had been the first to develop personal computers and software? What if Pompey had defeated Caesar? What if the Crusades ended with Muslims controlling most of
Europe? What if Moses never received the Ten Commandments from God?
What if the South had won the Civil War? That last question was explored by a mockumentary produced by Spike Lee. Called The Confederate States of America, the movie looks at what could have been if the rebels had won. Here is the timeline for what might have been – http://www.csathemovie.com/timeline/index.html

Some aspects of the movie are great. And it certainly makes you think, and that is probably the producer’s whole point. Other aspects I think are a bit exaggerated. The movie appeals to many stereotypes that I as a southerner find offensive. While condemning racism, the movie itself is racist. I have thick skin so this doesn’t bother me much.

In some ways, I am not sure what to think of the film because it paints Christianity as pro slavery. Although it is true that people have used Scripture to support slavery through the years, I believe these people have missed the point.

God desires freedom for all people that is why Jesus came and died for the whole world. Of utmost importance is spiritual freedom from sin and death. I believe God intends both spiritual and physical freedom for all people. Comments made by the apostle Paul or stories about Israelites owning slaves must be interpreted in context.

Paul encouraged humanity among masters and slaves. The book of Philemon shows how Paul tried to temper the brutality of slavery without outright opposing it. Slavery was so common during those days that a pure abolitionist message would not have been received. And even though it was important, ending slavery in the physical world was of secondary importance compared to calling people from spiritual slavery to sin and death.

You must always remember that Paul’s goal was first spiritual not physical. Throughout history God has not taken people from pagan practices and complete depravity to holy justice in one big leap. We as human beings can’t deal with such dramatic change. No, God meets us where we are. Then he calls us to change one step at a time. In the Bible, we see a loving, patient God trying to get His children to the best life possible. Taking any one Scripture out of context can help you develop some pretty weird theology.

This Spike Lee joint certainly made me think. It also made me a little upset to see how our past sins keep giving Jesus a black eye.