Diogo Morgado is not actually Jesus, but you already knew that.

son-of-god-album-cover

I came across this blog on Facebook explaining why the ‘Son of God’ movie and movies like it are idolatrous and shouldn’t be seen: http://godinthewasteland.com/2014/02/18/the-movie-son-of-god-and-the-second-commandment/

Here are my thoughts:

1) I know the Bible is different than the big screen. The difference being that the Bible is God’s self-revelation and the big screen is not. This, however, seems to be common sense.  Its no surprise to me that I’ve not heard anyone suggest that we worship the actor on the screen as God. It’s pretty obvious that he’s not intended to be seen as Jesus himself. If he is, then yes, watching the movie would be idol worship at its worst.  As it stands, the movie seems to be doing something quite different: pointing us to scripture to encounter the true God for salvation, through Christ! Idolatry simply does not do that!

2) The likely misrepresentations of scripture in the movie make it all the more important for Christians to see. Otherwise, how can we have any hope of defending the Jesus of Scripture over and against the Jesus of Hollywood. We’d be hopelessly out of touch with culture and wouldn’t even know where to start the conversation if we don’t see it.

3) So, i’m not suggesting that the movie be taken as Scripture but I do suggest that we watch the movie before judging it’s heresies. This was, after all, how the canon of scripture was pieced together–through observed/spirit led discernment. Sure, we could read reviews but first hand experience can’t be replaced.

Again, I’m not sure the film makers–or anyone for that matter–are suggesting that we accept the screen version of Jesus as God. What they seem to be suggesting, instead, is that we accept the Bible’s version of Jesus as God. What likely bugs people is that they’re using media to urge us in that direction but that doesn’t make the movie idolatrous. After all, I’ve never heard of an idol pointing us toward God. No idol ever has.

So, no, Diogo Morgado is not actually Jesus, but you already knew that and no one is suggesting that he is.

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People

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Its funny how often I’ll hear myself or someone else complain about ‘people.’ What a strange thing to complain about since we all fall into that category.

Sure, the degree of stupidity varies from person to person but we all fall along the continuum of stupid at one point or another.  Jesus once said, “before you remove the speck from your brothers eye, first remove the plank from your own.” Jesus said this to people who were excessively hypocritical and ungracious. They would critique others over the smallest infraction while, at the same time, they were harboring murderous hatred toward others. I think we can learn from this.

Anytime we complain about ‘people’ we are doing the same exact thing that Jesus was discouraging. We’re looking down on others while elevating ourselves and ignoring the wrongs that we’ve committed. Lets be honest: you, me and that sweet old lady next door have, at some point or another, ‘put our foot in it.’ So, before we complain about ‘people’ lets first take a long hard look at ourselves. We may be guilty of equal or even greater things than the person or people we’re criticizing.

Its not to say that we can’t point out when someone does something excessively stupid. No, we most definitely should, but be humble! Remember that we’re all people and we’ve all  done our fair share of stupid stff, and, when we did, we craved a measure of mercy. So, lets take Jesus’ words to heart and give our own issues the attention they deserve before we start talking about how ‘stupid’ other people are. Doing this will help us address the sins of others with far more humility, graciousness and love.

A Three Year Old’s Grasp on Repentance

grace-repentance Being the father of a toddler and a new born comes with its challenges but it is an amazing blessing. A few mornings ago the Lord filled my heart with gratefulness and conviction as I interacted with our three year old. It’s incredible how much the Lord speaks to me through his young life. Here’s what happened:

After coming home from work a few days ago it was obvious that our newborn had kept my wife up all night long. So, I decided to get my three year old son out of bed and go through the morning routine with him. Just for the record, when I walk through the front door after third shift I feel more like a zombie than a living human being; but, my son needed to eat breakfast, and my wife needed sleep, so I bit the bullet and just stayed up. After scarfing down some toast and watching an episode of Dragon Tales my son decided that it was time to play with his Star Wars toys. Naturally, he sees dad laying on the couch and wants me to join in the fun.

Now, for those of you who think I’m a super hero for staying up allow me to reveal my humanity: I refused to play with him for about 45 minutes all the while apologizing for my lack of interest. My son, being the trooper that he is, endured my refusal but would continue to gauge my interest by repeatedly asking me if I’d play. Still, much to my son’s chagrin, I opted for the couch. Eventually, my wife got up. While she was getting ready to take over I realized that my attitude was less than desirable. So, I got up and apologized to my son for not playing with him and for being a bit grouchy. To this my son replied: “It’s okay daddy, you can still play with me a little bit now.”  After chuckling I thought: “wow, my son understands repentance better than I do. If I’m really sorry then I’ll pick up one of his Star Wars guys and start playing.”

You see, despite my sorry feelings I didn’t actually demonstrate any true desire to reverse the negative behavior until I decided to act. Like me, most people will say they’re “sorry” for sinful behavior while not making much movement toward genuine repentance. In 2 Corinthians 7:10 we’re reminded that the path to true repentance isn’t merely feeling sorry, dwelling on our bad behavior, and looking for people to excuse our sin. Rather, true repentance is realized when we demonstrate dependence upon God for forgiveness and  take steps aimed at changing sinful behavior. Of course, true change can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit but we certainly have a part to play. As I’m finding, a fundamentally unrepentant attitude can seriously under mind any chance of having a vibrant relationship with God whereby others are blessed to be around us.

So, all that to say, I went to bed that morning feeling both proud of my son for his insight while also feeling rather convicted. As I fell asleep I couldn’t quit asking myself: “Could repentance be more than what I’ve convinced myself it is? What if true repentance has nothing to do with my feelings and words but everything to do with my actions?” Let’s all remember, that our relationships with God and others will, most definitely, be shaped by how repentant we truly are.

“I will set out and go to my father….”

The path of repentance begins in a moment of gracious enlightenment. Jesus’ parable of the Lost Son reveals utter blindness giving way to understanding the fruits of sin. The lost son did not easily realize that he was lost at first. Even though he was destitute it took pig slop to open his eyes.

By God’s mercy I hope that the Heavenly Father sticks my nose in the pig trough every time I wander. This is what we all need because only there, face-to-face with the pig slop, will we understand the stupidity of our sin. I pray we don’t stop there though–we must return to our Father. He longs to restore us to himself and renew our status as his children.

“Search me, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

The Dark Night of the Soul

At the foundation of my soul–and every person’s I’d guess–is the question: Do I want God?

I’m cornered on this question and have been for some time. Do I really want God? St. John of the Cross experienced his own Dark Night. He found God incredibly silent and removed from his own inner turmoil. Like the Psalmist (Psalm 77) St John begged God to break His silence.

St. John and I have that in common. In those deep recesses of turmoil I find myself not only questioning God’s seclusion but also whether I even want him to be near, period. Would I do what he asked of me if he broke his silence? Do I really trust him enough to follow his lead? So, I sit still. Not moving toward God yet not moving further away because….

In the midst of these haunting questions I find one inevitable truth. Turning from Him is not the answer. Life, in all its complexities, is better off with God. Wandering leads to sin and sin leads to death (Rom. 3:23). So here, as I reach the foundation of my heart where bitterness, anger and questions of God’s goodness reside I will tether myself to Christ–in whom I have “redemption, the forgiveness of sins,” (Col. 1:13-14; Eph. 1:7).

If you read this and are a brother or sister in the faith–pray for me but pray also for your own soul. These questions are in us all and how we answer them will determine the trajectory of our lives.

Another Augustine Prayer

O God, the Light of the heart that sees You,

The Life of the soul that loves You,

The Strength of the mind that seeks You:

May I ever continue to be steadfast in Your love.

Be the joy of my heart;

Take all of me to Yourself, and abide therein.

The house of my soul is, I confess, too narrow for You.

Enlarge it that You may enter.

It is ruinous, but do repair it.

It has within it what must offend Your eyes;

I confess and know it,

But whose help shall I seek in cleansing it but Yours alone?

To You, O God, I cry urgently.

Cleanse me from secret faults.

Keep me from false pride and sensuality

That they not get dominion over me.

Prayer on Finding God after a Long Search

Not to long ago someone suggested that i practice “prayer plagiarism.” in my search for prayers I stumbled upon this prayer of st. augustine, from his confessions, which truly speaks to my journey of faith–and likely to those of many others.

“Too late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient, O Beauty so new. Too late have I loved you!  You were within me but I was outside myself, and there I sought you! In my weakness I ran after the beauty of the things you have made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The things you have made kept me from you – the things which would have no being unless they existed in you! You have called, you have cried, and you have pierced my deafness. You have radiated forth, you have shined out brightly, and you have dispelled my blindness. You have sent forth your fragrance, and I have breathed it in, and I long for you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you. You have touched me, and I ardently desire your peace.”

 

Confessions, X, 27, 38

How do we choose rightly?

“And remember, when someone wants to do wrong it is never God who is tempting him, for God never wants to do wrong and never tempts anyone else to do it. Temptation is the pull of man’s own evil thoughts and wishes.”

James is writing to believers and, knowing myself, it is not a shock that believers of his day would be tempted to sin. Reading this I ask the question: How do we not sin when the temptation is overwhelming?” Let’s be honest, it is hard! We know our identity is in Christ (Eph. 1:3-14). God places the fullness of himself in our hearts through his Spirit, by belief in Christ. Our identity is new. In a very real sense we are brought into the Godhead through Christ……..but we sin! God gives us his very being…..and we sin. Christ dies and suffers the full wrath of his Father….yet we sin! Again and again God shows his goodness to us…..and we sin!

James is touching on a point in all of our hearts that needs to be examined. Not just the things we do–but the attitudes of our hearts. What things in our lives bend us toward sin and away from God? How can we bend our gaze heavenward, see the glory of our king and worship him as he deserves? This should be the driving question of our day as believers. We owe him our hearts, thoughts and our lives!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us, in him, before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will.”  Eph. 1:3-5

We are children of God by the mercy of the Father shown to us in Christ. Our obedience. therefore, should be jubilant. We don’t obey to earn God’s favor but because his favor already rests on us through faith in Jesus Christ.

Take My Life

Take My Life: Third Day

How many times have I turned away
The number is the same as the sand on the shore
But every time You’ve taken me back
And now I pray You do it once more.

Chorus:
Please take from me my life
When I don’t have the strength
to give it away to You Jesus

How many times have I turned away
The number is the same as the stars in the sky
But every time You’ve taken me back
And now I pray You do it tonight.

Suffering and Forgiveness

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'” Luke 23:34 (ESV)

What is the meaning of Jesus saying: “they know not what they do” ? Do we forgive people outright for the wrongs they do to us? Should they be held accountable first? How would our suffering savior’s words impact the way we treat those who cause us pain, anxiety or even minor irritations?