Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Free


A train is never so free as when it's on its tracks.
I've been thinking about that statement today.
What do you think?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Expectation of Illumination


The scriptures. The bible. What's the difference? The former sounds more mysterious, according to Erwin McManus, Pastor at Mosaic church in Los Angeles. "I never call the bible - the bible. I call it the scriptures," he says. I've written about Erwin in past blogs. He definitely ranks among my top choice for preachers of the Word.

I was listening to a Mosaic podcast on the way home from the beach on Saturday. Erwin confessed how, from time to time, he gets bored with the scriptures. Funny thing is, this unspoken boredom is common among believers of all ages, however, it's quite the faux paux to make public mention. After all, it's God's word, and God's not supposed to be boring. Only church is supposed to be boring. He's quick to mention, however, that he doesn't find God boring, he just doesn't always tune in to the right frequency when he's reading the scriptures.
I do that sometimes too.

It reminds me of my first day of class in Old Testament when I was a sophomore in college. The professor told us that since this was a liberal arts college (albeit a Christian liberal arts college - go figure) that we would not study the OT as a spiritual text but, rather, as a work of literature. I wondered how this spiritual text, based in faith, was to make any sense when not studied from a spiritual context. Spiritual things, much of the time, make no physical sense. We were about to crack open this goldmine of text, but our leader was on the wrong frequency - we were doomed to miss the point of it all.

But if you're a follower of Jesus Christ, then the bible should be a powerful text, right? Yeah, I know, I know, because I do it too. It's tough sometimes. It's tough more than sometimes.

I want to challenge you to approach the scriptures offensively, not reactively - with an expectation of illumination and enlightenment. Not that you would merely learn about God and His Kingdom, but that you would have an experience WITH the King that rocks you to the core - forever changed.

And if you're not a follower of Jesus Christ, then the bible is the best place to investigate Jesus' claims. Check Him out.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Facing the Critics


I love Blockbuster.com. We switched from Netflix when we realized the advantage of the ability to return a movie to Blockbuster at anytime in exchange for another. As you would assume, yes, we pay it all back in late fees - one of the original reasons for going to a dot com service. Doesn't matter, though. We get our movies when we want them and we like it. It needn't (yes, needn't) make fiscal sense.

But sometimes Blockbuster.com plays a cruel joke on me. (Enter the movie, "Facing the Giants")

I'm sorry. I'm back now. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. Not a lot, but, you know, enough to need some water.

Are you familiar with this title? A group of indie Christians filmmakers in Georgia put this movie together and had some amazing support and success distributing to the mainstream industry. It's a poignant story of a local high school football coach's trials, relationships, etc., and how faith shaped not only their football team but also their community.

My wife and I put this movie in the DVD player to watch last night. It was the last unseen movie of the three we had received in the mail. After approximately five minutes...we turned it off. Yes, it was that awful.

Acting? I saw more realistic acting in a local children's musical last month. Really. I'm not kidding. You know that feeling you get when you're embarrassed for someone else - even when they're on TV and you have no relationship with them? Had it.

I was home today combing through the DVD's. I gave up and put the previously mentioned film back in the player. I know, I was out of my mind, apparently. I almost went with "Dave Matthews Band: Live in Central Park;" it would have been the wiser choice, but we all have our moments.

As a follower of Jesus Christ I wanted this movie to blow me away. I wanted solid acting and an intriguing storyline. I wanted a non-cheesy presentation of how other followers of Christ live life. I wanted a movie that stands on its own as a solid piece of filmmaking; a movie that doesn't need "church hype" to push ticket sales to acceptable levels, but, rather, generates its own solid sales through good reviews and word of mouth. I wanted a real movie.

It stunk.

I wrote a blog sometime back about the old adage: "It's good enough for gospel." A buzz-phrase used years back to address the considerable lack of quality seen and heard in gospel music. It didn't have to be great because if it was good enough for gospel, then it was good enough. I bet I have seen 50 articles over the past six months about this film in various faith-based publications. All of them encouraging the church to support, promote, talk about, and invite others to the movie. I can already see visions of church vans and buses that must have filled the parking lots on opening night screenings around the country. None of these articles mentioned the shotty acting or the poor script writing. None mentioned the off-the-charts cheese ball gospel presentation woven throughout the film.

I appreciate these guys giving it a shot - making a faith-based film. But when the sum of the parts still wreaks of below average filmmaking - I suppose I'd rather them save money to afford better actors and better script development. Take the time to make a movie that matters to people other than those sitting in a church on Sunday morning.

Don't rent this film. However, I challenge you to pray for an entertainment revolution. A revolution that brings the love of Christ to the hearts of talented actors, directors, producers, and visionaries.

I'll save you a seat at THAT movie.

-Mike