Sunday, December 15, 2013

Must See Holiday Films

 Christmas is almost upon us. I love Christmas. The music, the decorations, and the giving give me a sense of hope for the upcoming year. Mostly, I love the cinema. The Hallmark channel is bursting with Christmas romances, but I have compiled a list of absolute must-see classic Christmas films. I urge you to take the time to watch them with your family and friends.



CLASSICAL:

Miracle on 34th Street
A Christmas Story
White Christmas
It’s a Wonderful Life
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
A Christmas Carol

FAMILY

Home Alone
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Elf

ACTION:

Die Hard
Lethal Weapon
The Long Kiss Goodnight
P2

ROMANCE:

You’ve got Mail
Sleepless in Seattle
While You Were Sleeping
Holiday In Handcuffs

Monday, December 9, 2013

Frozen - What is True Love?

Frozen blew me away. All of the Disney princess films blow me away as of late (Brave, Tangled, etc). Their stories empower women instead of sitting her down to wait for her man. Frozen takes you on a roller coaster ride of thrill and emotion. Just when you think you have the villain figured out, it surprises you.

The truth is there is no real villain other than the weather itself. It represents the darkness eating away at Princesses Elsa and Anna. Prince Hans is a man of political ambition. Duke is nosy, closed-minded, and intolerant. Elsa is a young woman filled with fear and inexperience. In the midst of it all Princess Anna is a girl who loves her sister; she truly loves her sister. Enough to venture into a storm to find her. Enough to risk her life to confront her. Enough to throw herself in front of a sword to save her.

The Gospel of John says, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (NLT)

NO GREATER LOVE.

The kind of love Elsa and Anna share is true love. It is the kind of love that defies all others. Anna learns this when she looks her own death in the face, and only an act of true love would save her. Hans turns out not to be her salvation. Neither is Kristoff. Instead, Anna takes matters into her own hands and sacrifices herself to save her sister. In doing so, she saves herself.

Frozen has officially become my favorite Disney princess movie. It breaks the princess free from dependence on men and places power into her own hands. It holds her responsible for her own happiness. It is the first animated movie to be written and directed by women.

This is the dawning of a new age.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ender's Game

My younger brother insisted that I read the amazing book. He said it was brilliant. He said it was descriptive. He said it was one of the best books he had read. He was correct. You can imagine both my joy and suspicion when I first saw the trailer for the film. The story bore the potential for a great work of art. Just in time for today’s technological ability for startling CGI. However, Hollywood has an annoying habit of failing to live up to the hype it creates.

I am very pleased to announce my wariness of this film was completely unnecessary. The film was action-packed, thought provoking, and dramatic. Ender Wiggin is a brilliant child under the control of everyone around him. His gift of battle strategy puts him in an inescapable predicament. He becomes extremely frustrated, because nobody listens to his feelings. All they want are his strategies without his opinions.

Throughout the course of the film, Ender is manipulated, deceived, taken advantage of, beaten, exhausted, and overworked. Not only do his superiors take away his free will, but they take away his innocence. They take his childhood all because of their human obsession over revenge. Instead of appreciating fifty years of peace, they spend their time training innocents to do their job until the entire alien planet is destroyed.

I have personally seen what angry obsession does to a human mind. It acts like a virus corrupting the mind and spreading until it affects every part of one’s life. It makes one incapable of happiness and success. Most importantly, it creates collateral damage. Ender becomes that collateral damage. His superiors make him do unspeakable things, things he would not do on his own. They rob him of his innocence.

For the Bible tells us in Ephesians, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Forgiveness is no one way street. We cannot expect others to forgive us if we are unwilling to forgive others. That requires a sense of accountability. Ender is the only one who takes responsibility for the genocide that he caused. That is when he comes to realize that the aliens had been peaceful for fifty years, and there was never a guarantee that they would attack Earth again.

Despite everything his superiors did to convince him that aliens are evil and destructive, Ender stands strong in his compassion. I will not spoil the ending for those who have not seen the movie or read the book. What I can say is Ender finds the freedom he craves, and he uses that freedom to immediately redeem himself.

Sources:

Friday, November 15, 2013

National Novel Writing Month

I know I haven't been around much in the past two weeks. Allow me to explain that I have been writing; it is writing of a different kind. November is National Novel Writing Month, or most would recognize it as NaNoWriMo. I consider it to be a brilliant means for accountability. The challenge: to write 50,000 words in thirty days. Granted, it doesn't allow much free time. However, it gets the novel finished.

Today's day and age is filled with distractions: Television, YouTube, Facebook, etc. It is more difficult than ever to sit down at one's computer with out rabbit trailing into ten different website and accomplishing no writing in the process.

How can we ensure pure focus short of purchasing a typewriter? One piece of advice I have for you. Set the NaNoWriMo website as your browser's home page. That way when you log on to waste time on the internet, you will face an immediate reminder. You should be writing!

In the past fifteen days I have encountered a lot of ignorant questions about the challenge. So, allow me to clear up the confusion with the following facts:
  1. NaNoWriMo is 100% free.
  2. NaNoWriMo is NOT a contest or competition.
  3. NaNoWriMo is NOT a editing or critiquing service.
  4. NaNoWriMo is NOT a publisher.
  5. NaNoWriMo only sends motivational messages to your email.
  6. NaNoWriMo provides motivation to write. That is all.

All you need to do is create an account with your name, email, and the title of your novel. Starting November 1st, you begin to write. As an aspiring novelist of many years, I know how hard it is to buckle pdown and focus. My last participation in NaNoWriMo motivated me to write more in one month than I had in a year. I hope that this month I will work hard enough to finish my novel for good. 

I might not be where I am without NaNoWriMo. It is a blessing to all writers. If you know a writer, then spread the word. To my fellow writer, join me next year. And good luck!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Purge - "You must not murder."

Imagine a world where America is the most prosperous in its entire history. Employment and housing is at an all time high. Crime is essentially nonexistent. All is well with the world. What is the cause of this miraculous recovery? At what cost has America achieved this so-called success?

The Purge: One night a year all crime becomes legal. In other words for twelve straight hours people could do whatever they wanted to do without facing any consequences. “The new founding fathers” claim this experience to be soul cleansing when the Bible clearly states otherwise. Granted, people may choose not to participate.

Enter the Sandins: James, a hard working father, Mary, a dedicated house wife, Zoey, a snooty teenage daughter, and Charlie, a preteen son with a heart of gold. They plan to spend their Purge nights locked in their house together as they do every night. However, something goes very wrong. By giving an defenseless veteran sanctuary in their home, they unintentionally invite a terrifying threat to their door.

Thus, James faces a difficult choice. Save his family from danger at the expense of another life, or protect the helpless veteran and risk the safety of those dearest to him. Needless to say he struggles with this choice. In the end he decides to keep his conscience clear. He keeps the veteran and faces danger.

Just because something is legal doesn't make it right. This new America makes all crime legal for twelve straight hours all in the name of “cleansing” and creating a “better society.” However, the Bible clearing contradicts this way of thinking. When God tells you not to do something, he means NEVER.

For Exodus 20:13 clearly states, “You must not murder.”

The Sandins understood that from the beginning by not participating in criminal activity and then by choosing to value life. That defenseless veteran is just as much a human as anyone else. That defenseless veteran is a good man. That defenseless veteran walks away the night’s events alive and grateful for his life. He walks away with three new friends. I can imagine it would be beneficial for them to have a veteran on their side for the upcoming purge.

When you provide generosity to others, the Lord takes care of you. When Charlie provides sanctuary to the veteran, he eventually provides protection for the Sandins. Against all odds, three of the four survive the night. In the end, the only people who succeed in making the world a better place and cleansing their souls were the ones who refuse to take part in illegal activity. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

After Earth


Kitai Raige, a young cadet crash lands with his father out of space onto the most dangerous planet in the Universe. He is a man plagued by fear and guilt through tragic events in his past. However, he must put the past aside in order to make a hike through the dangerous terrain in order to save both of them.

It is the most trying four days of his life. Kitai remains on guard every moment of those four days in order to evade deadly forces all around him. Animals, plants, weather, and air are few of many elements that have evolved to kill him. Death lingers around every corner. Kitai’s final challenge is fear itself taking the form of a monster. Defeating the monster means conquering his own fear enabling him to succeed.

God says in Isaiah, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (NLT)

Fear is a choice. It’s not real. Yet, it clouds our vision and our judgment. It affects the choices we make. It keeps us from safety. Fear can get you killed. We need not be plagued by fear as long as we have someone upon whom we can rely. As long as we remain devoted to Christ, we will always be able to rely on Him. 

After Earth is a literary romance, a hero’s journey. Kati began his journey a doubtful Cadet and succeeded as a respected Ranger. It was his ability to control his fear that helped him through his trial and save both his father and him.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Epic - We are not alone.

Epic is a very pleasing story of life vs. death. It explores an unknown world of tiny woodland people in charge of keep the forest alive. However, they face an evil army of beings led by Mandrake devoted to rot and decay who want to destroy the forest. The responsibility falls to Queen Tara to preserve the future of the forest by choosing an heiress to carry on her work.

The entire future of the forest depends upon a new heir. In comes Mary Katherine, a human teenager. She suffers the loss of her mother and the neglect of her work-obsessed father. She feels completely alone. In an unexpected turn of events, she is pulled into the hidden world to help in this battle of good and evil.

She begins her journey by not believing in this hidden world only to become a crucial part in their cause. Queen Tara chooses her to guard the heiress. During her journey she meets new friends, develops new respect for her father’s work, and saves the life of the forest. Most of all, she learns that she has no need to feel alone. She discovers that no one is ever alone.

For Proverbs teaches, “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” (NLT)

Every one plays a crucial part in the bigger picture, just as MK and her father play a crucial part in saving the forest. We all play a part in the big picture. God created us all for a reason. Let’s not waste any time finding our purpose. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chris Cox takes matters into his own hands.

If something needs doing, do it yourself.

We have officially reached Day 10 of the government shutdown, and the American people continue to suffer without their jobs. Each day that passes without a solution from the from the government makes me angry and doubtful. It makes me reminiscent of the old belief that government jobs were secure. No longer. Everyday, the news reports explode with stories about citizens whose lives have been damaged by the shutdown. Business has slowed. Layoffs have occurred. The security of this nation is at risk. Things just are not getting done.

Except for the Lincoln Memorial yesterday where landscaper Chris Cox decided he would take matters into his own hands. With no expectation of payment or appreciation he took his lawnmower and chainsaw to the Lincoln Memorial lawn and began working. He is my new hero and a perfect example of true work ethic. We citizens have an opportunity to pick up the slack. The government may not acknowledge your efforts, but the Lord will. 

Paul says in Acts 20:35, "And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

If my life experience has taught me anything, it is that kindness is contagious. 
Chris Cox began what could be a powerful movement. Let's all pitch in. This shutdown is no excuse for us not to do our part to keep this nation clean and secure. 

There a long list of Proverbs alone that describe the benefits of hard work and the consequences of laziness: Proverbs 12:11Proverbs 21:25Proverbs 13:4Proverbs 22:29Proverbs 20:4Proverbs 3:5-6Proverbs 20:13Proverbs 27:18Proverbs 28:19Proverbs 6:10.



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What is the true value in knowledge?

Proverbs 1:7 says, "Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." (New Living Translation)

Don't blame the student.

With the economy continuing to slip and the rising percentage of people seeking a higher education, there has been a lot of talk about higher education losing its value. It used to be that less than 20% of the U.S. population obtained collage degrees and even less obtain master's degrees. Now that so many people are getting laid off, people are going back to school to ensure employment. In my experience, education isn't what employers are looking for anymore. It's all about experience and who you know. These days, you can't afford to be picky. When you get a job, no matter how menial, you hold onto it for dear life.


The statistics speak for themselves, but I do not believe that the value of education and knowledge should be weighed only on what kind of job it can bring. To God knowledge is priceless. God hates foolishness, and knowledge separates the wise from the fools. The problem here isn't the people who want more education. 

The problem is the quality (or lack of) of the education available to us and the price tag that comes with it. Another problem is the low standards of high schools. It boggles my mind the kind of low academics they allowed to graduate, especially in English. Many of the essays I peer-reviewed were mediocre, certainly not graduation worthy. It was actually what inspired me to seek an editing career. Schools need to be more selective about who they graduate as well as improve the quality of their curriculum. Also, institutions need to work on better ways to ensure higher education that won't oppress their students' finances and job security, whether that means taking a pay cut, being more selective in admissions, or offering more financial aid.

I can't credit my grammar skills to my high school, which leads me to my next point. Parents should be involved in their children's education. It was my mother who refined my reading and writing. She assigned creative writing and critical thinking paragraphs, read books aloud at dinner, and gave us a word of the day. She also taught geography off our Worldbook Atlas. She invested herself in our education, and that gave me the tools to move on to college.

My advice is not to give up in your pursuit for knowledge. It is no more the solution than it is the problem. Find an institution that is right for you and your budget. Don't allow anyone to assume the value of your degree. Only you and God truly understand its value in your quality of life. What I do know is that things aren't working the way they are. Colleges need to rethink their priorities. We need to step up before the U.S. truly becomes the stupidest country in the world, which is where we're rapidly heading.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Government Shutdown

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do no depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." (NLT)

Today was the first day of the Government Shutdown. I have to admit I'm disappointed that this happened. I prayed every second until midnight that it wouldn't. Now that it has, I pray that a logical decision is made as quickly as possible, and that the decision is made with the American people's interests in mind. My prayers also go out to the workers who will not receive an income during this shutdown.

I am fortunate. I work for a private company with a military contract. Even though my job is secure, I notice a severe decline in business today. Many of my customers walked in this morning wanting their orders early, because they wouldn't even be able to return to base until after furlough ends. This has been the second furlough on base in the past three months. Every time a furlough occurs, businesses suffer as well as people's livelihoods.

I cannot offer much comfort or promises in these increasingly difficult times. I will not attempt to predict the future welfare of our country. I refuse to blame any man or political house for our current state. All I feel compelled to do at this moment is to remind you to turn your troubles to the Lord. There is no task too large or too small for Him. Give Him complete control.

For, it says in Philippians 4, "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." (NLT)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Real Face of Jesus

I caught the show on the history channel one Sunday, and it was a remarkable broadcast. I’d never hear of the Shroud of Turin before watching “The Real Face of Jesus.” The show was incredibly detailed and unbiased. They laid down a lot of facts and history, but it allowed the viewer to make the decision. On the other hand it leaves many unanswered questions.

Does the shroud contain the true image of Christ? I do not believe that it does.

Here are my reasons:

  1. PERFECT ACCURACY: Usually, if something sounds too good to be true, it is. The image and blood stains are too perfect. Anyone who has studied the Bible would know exactly where to put the blood stains in a forgery.
  2. CARBON DATING: Carbon dating placed the shroud in 1260 – 1390. This was the same
    time the shroud enters historical record. This tells us that it was forged and publicized in medieval
    Italy. There are those who believe the sample was contaminated. So, why not take another sample and test it again?
  3. MATCHING FORGERIES: True. No paint was found on the shroud. That’s because no
    paint was needed. The method of forging the shroud involves wrapping a body, applying solution, and painting it with human blood. All of these materials would have been available in medieval
    Italy. An Italian artist even confessed to creating it.
  4. FIRST CENTURY LOOKS: The Shroud of Turin bares the image of a man who is over six feet tall. If Christ were six feet tall, he would have towered over everyone around him in First Century Israel. The man in the shroud also had long hair. Israelis kept their hair short. It is a common misconception, but there you have it. The Son of God would have looked like a common Israelite.
I may not believe that the shroud is genuine, but I do believe it can be used for good as long as it was meant to enhance worship to the Lord. It can also be used as a teaching tool. It illustrates the method of which Christ was wrapped and buried, so we can clearly see what it would have looked like. However, if people worship the cloth itself, then it is nothing more than an idol. As an idol, it is as dangerous as the bronze serpent mentioned in Exodus.

For Exodus states, "He did what was pleasing in the LORD’s  sight, just as his ancestor David had done… He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it.”

We must remember that the Shroud of Turin is just a piece of cloth regardless of its authenticity. It does not increase or decrease my own faith in the Lord, nor should it affect the faith of others. I find nothing more than an intriguing piece of history. Relics hold doubt. Keep your focus on the truth of Scripture. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

R.I.P.D. - Moving on isn't easy.

Police Officer Nick is basically a good man with a heart to serve his city and a dedication to his marriage. However, like everyone else in the world, he is flawed. He allows his partner to involve him in theft. For that, he’s branded a dirty cop and faces severe judgment when his partner murders him.

It’s because of this that Nick has difficultly letting go of the injustice done to him, even as he’s given a second chance before his judgment. It doesn't take long for his thirst for revenge to overcome the rules. He becomes more absorbed in investigating the cause of his death than doing his job, which gets him into trouble. Nick is not the only one who struggles with moving on. His new partner, Roy, also carries the pain of his unjust death disabling him to trust any new partner.

Not only must Nick accept the events of his death and free his wife to carry on, but Roy must also learn to trust Nick well enough to work effectively with him. They finally manage to work together when the fate of the world is threatened by a hostile take over. Their teamwork is what enables them to stop evil and save the world.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

The Lord made us a communal species. We need human connection; we require assistance every now and then. We must remember to keep in mind to charitable and trustworthy to one another. How else are we supposed to send an effective message of Christ’s love if others cannot trust us?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 - My Account

Nahum 1:7-8 says, "The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him. But he will sweep away his enemies in an overwhelming flood. He will pursue his foes into the darkness of night." (NLT)

It was a warm Tuesday morning in Turlock, California when I received news of the World Trade Center bombing. As I was tying my shoes in my final task of getting ready for school, the last thing I expected to happen was my youngest brother bursting through my bedroom door screaming that the twin towers had been bombed. But it did. Forgetting my shoe laces I followed my brother into the kitchen where I found the rest of my family huddling around the radio in pure, silent shock. We stayed there listening to the news for as long as we could uncertain of what would happen next.

I was filled with uncertainties for the next half hour. What would happen to the buildings, when would they be able to extinguish the fires, how many people were hurt, who was responsible? My questions were answers in first period when my teacher got the call. It was her husband informing her that the towers had collapsed. She announced the news to the class immediately, and before anyone had the chance to react she proceeded to deliver a speech I will never forget.

It wasn't hate speech against the people responsible. It wasn't conspiracy chatter against the Bush administration. It wasn't even anger at God for allowing this to happen. What she gave us a life lesson that lives with me to this day.

It is important to keep your cool in time of crisis. You can't solve problems in the middle of a break down. It may be difficult to control your emotions, especially during a terrorist attack, but it will be worth it in the long run as long as you keep your head. Rationality over emotions. Otherwise, you get an earful of conspiracy cries and Revelation quotes. Control your emotions; don't let them control you.

For Jeremiah tells us, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?  But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (NLT)

My heart goes out to the victims and their loved ones. What happened on 9/11 was outrageous and horrifying. I pray they may finally find closure now that justice has been served. Don't forget to keep them in your own prayers. A person can never fully recover from a loss. They need as much prayer and support they can get.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Miley Cyrus - Sex sells.

I'm not exactly sad to say I missed the MTV Video Music Awards in August, but I certainly heard about it the next day. Both the internet and news broadcasts can't seem to get enough of Miley Cyrus these days. To be honest, I can't wait for this to blow over.

"Miley Cyrus on drugs" is one of the top searches on Google.

Her music video of "Wrecking Ball" is a top video on YouTube.

And don't even get me started on the news stations. Every single day since August 25th.
Miley Cyrus - this. Miley Cyrus - that. May I see some real news, please?

It is true that Miley Cyrus' behavior has become nothing short of erratic. Let's face it: she's not sweet, little Hanna Montana anymore; she's a grown woman who's trying desperately to hold onto her career in a sex-obsessed world. Hanna Montana isn't going to keep her image alive. Sex will.

So, here's my ultimate question: Why is everyone so surprised?

I have a theory: it would have been one thing to act sexy on the stage at the VMA's. Miley went a step further. She acted nutty. I don't know what men think of her performance. For me, there was nothing sexy about it. Maybe she failed because of her inability to dance. Maybe it was that hideous haircut. Maybe she intentionally failed. Whatever the intention, the fact remains that she was successful in getting fifteen more minutes in the spotlight. In fact, she was more than successful.

Everyone is talking about Miley Cyrus. We've given her exactly what she wanted. Here's my concern. The more we react to her behavior, the more she will behave this way. Fortunately, the media does not stay on a story for too long. In another week or two some other celebrity is going to do something stupid, and everyone's going to occupy themselves with that for a few weeks. And so on.

I'm sure many believers out there are slandering the poor girl for her sudden change. Personally, I feel sorry for her. She's grasping at straws in order to keep her name relevant. It's the story of every child star to either fade into obscurity or go out of their minds. My hope always lies on obscurity. I can't even begin to understand what it feels like to live under the eyes of the masses. The pressure must be crushing.

Let us take this moment to pray for these celebrities to find peace through means other than drugs. Let us pray that they realize their potential away from the cameras. Let us pray that they break free from Hollywood's impossible expectations. Let us pray they find salvation! Amen. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Two steps forward, one step back.

My heart goes out to the Senior Pastoral staff of Freedom House Church tonight. After the backlash of a racist email sent to their volunteers from Pastor Makeda Pennycooke, they are sure to lose members. What is also likely to suffer is their strong reputation of its acceptance of all races.

In Pennycooke's attempt to protect the bottom line, she damaged it catastrophically. She allowed her insecurity and self image to get in the way of doing her job, which is to spread the word of God through love and acceptance. Instead, she spread the message of deceit, racial profiling, and the love of money (which is the root of all evil).

In Matthew 7:12, Christ teaches us, "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets."

This verse is commonly known as the Golden Rule. It wraps up all the commandments in a neat little bow. It sums up God's expectations for his followers. Put simply: treat other people the same way you want to be treated. I wonder if Pennycooke had this within a hundred miles of her thoughts when she wrote that email to the members of her congregation. Would she have liked her superiors telling her to hide in a corner because of her skin color? I highly doubt it.

Not only has she damaged the reputation of Freedom House, but also damaged the reputation of churches everywhere. I wish that churches wouldn't have a heavy business approach. All I've seen come from it is a small congregation and damaged lives. What horrifies me is the amount of attention the press has paid to this incident. Then again, the press only seem to care about stories where the church screws up. This email is one of many negative stamps on the Christian church. With every church caused incident in this country my job get more difficult.

I wish I could say this behavior in the church surprises me, but sadly I've seen it before. Church politics sicken me.

HOWEVER, let us not forget the virtue of forgiveness. Freedom House Church's pastoral staff have issued several apologies. Mistakes were made in a moment of weakness. It happens. What are we if not human? Can any of us say we've never said something regrettable in a moment of weakness? I know I can't. None of us are perfect.

Sources:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew%207:12&version=NLT
http://newsone.com/2710339/makeda-pennycooke-whites-only-pastor/
http://www.wbtv.com/story/23318847/pastor-e-mail-only-white-people-at-front-door-of-church

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Lost Medallion

“A true, great king will find the courage to serve others,” says our story’s king of legend.

The Lost Medallion is unlike any children’s film I’ve ever reviewed. It is jammed with action, island exploration, treasure hunting, mystery, and magic. When I was a child, I played adventure games with my friends and siblings very similar to this plot.

This film spoke to my inner child. It speaks to the inner child in everyone. The child who yearns to be taken seriously by adults. The orphan who yearns for family. The bookworm who wants to be valued for her knowledge. The adventurer who wants to discover something valuable. The shy girl too self-conscious to confess her love for her friend. Most of all, it teaches our children what it means to be a true leader.

Christ says in Matthew 20, "Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (NLT)

It is very important for our children to understand effective leadership. A good leader is a servant to both the Lord and his/her people. Without the people’s best interests in mind society is doomed. The Lost Medallion can teach children not only to become good leaders, but also how to recognize one. That way, come their first election, they can know a good candidate from a bad. Or they’ll know if taking a job is worth the misery of dealing with a mean boss. All these things and more are essential to the education of our children.

I loved this film. Period. So many back stories. So many lessons. So much adventure. I hope more follow. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Labor Day

Labor Day is a national holiday to honor American workers for their contribution to society. Every first Monday of September is given back to the people for rest. At least, government employees get today. For those private employees who do not get a day of rest, let us take a moment to appreciate them. Go to the store or a restaurant today, take a minute to tell the service worker that you appreciate him/her.

I would also encourage you to think of the unemployed. There are many people who wish they could work, who want desperately to make a contribution, but they can't. I not only think of them, but I also pray for them. For three years after graduating college I was one of them. 


Colossians 3:23 says, "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." (NLT)


I love this verse. It reminded me for those three years that I should still work hard despite the absence of a paycheck. If these hard times have taught me anything it is this: Take any and every opportunity the Lord puts before you, because you never know where opportunity will lead you. 


Proverbs reminds us of this: "Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty!" (NLT)

This may not always mean the profit of money, but those rewards are much more meaningful. The Lord blesses hard workers. Let us not confuse the status of worker with the status of employed. Unemployment is no excuse not to do your share. We should all pitch in to make this world a better place. 


Sources:
http://www.dol.gov/laborday/history.htm
http://www.biblegateway.com/

Friday, August 30, 2013

IN THE MEANTIME - A life on hold.

We've all had terrible birthdays. We've all felt a stall in our lives. We've all faced unemployment, especially in this economy. This is how we find ourselves stuck in life. We become so focused on making end meet that we lose sight of our purpose. We lose sight of God.

Workaholic Jazz learns this the hard way when both her boss and her boyfriend let her go on her birthday. As a last resort her sister hooks her up with a part-time job teaching English at a community center where most of her students are older than her and refuse to cooperate. What really upsets her is that she’s partnered with a smug real estate attorney.

Achieving an English degree had certainly set her on the right path. Somehow, she lost sight of her purpose during her battle to keep a job. All she needed for her sister to give her a little push. After fighting God most of the way, she finally realizes her true potential for teaching. She also discovers how rewarding teaching is both for her students and for herself.

By removing her self-centered fiance and her degrading job, the Lord took away the things that distracted her from her full potential, from her path, and from happiness itself. Then, He placed her with a job that helped her to find her purpose and a man loved her more than himself.

I could not agree more with the message of this film. In fact, I've been living it. I let myself get so caught up in my job that I lost sight of this website. That’s a true shame, because this website is my pride and joy. Writing is the gift God gave me, and I don’t feel accomplished as a missionary until I've finished a blog or review.

1 Peter 4:10 says, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” (NLT)

What’s your gift? What’s your passion? How can you use it to glorify God?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

God comes before family.

In today's lesson, I would like to draw from my experience in college. It was four of the best years of my life. I learned a great deal about Scripture, grew closer to the Lord, and made lifelong friends. It is where I met my wonderful husband. However, the one thing that made me uncomfortable was the amount of pressure I felt about finding Mr. Right within my Freshman year. 

I still wonder about some of my fellow students. They made me feel flawed for devoting my time to my studies instead of finding a husband. My studies barely left me time for socializing, let alone dating. The last thing on my mind was marriage. I had a degree to achieve and a ministry to begin. 

From where, may I ask, did this Christian obsession with family come? It didn't come from Scripture. It didn't come from Christ who remained single. It didn't come from Saint Paul who remained single. I don't condemn marriage, having children, or my brothers and sisters in Christ who've been married. I am merely questioning how far we go to encourage it.

Yet, Paul says in 1 Corinthians, "But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. Yet, each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another. So I say to those who aren't married and to widows - it's better to stay unmarried, just as I am."

Though there is not much in Scripture that requires us to marry and have children, the Bible has plenty of strict instructions how to behave once the family has begun. Let us not confuse family protocol with family requirement. 

The most important point with which I wish to leave you is to follow your calling. If the good Lord leads you to stay single and move to the jungles of South America, then great! Go and be fruitful in ministry. If the good Lord leads you to raise a family closer to home, then that's just as wonderful. The miracle of new life is God's greatest gift to women. We should strive to be the greatest role models we can be for our younger generations.

What you should not do, what you should NEVER do, is allow your peers to distract you from your intended path. Only you have the power and the insight to determine your purpose. Just as long as you are fruitful in ministry. 

In John 15 Christ teaches us, "I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more."

Go and be fruitful! 

In whatever way best suits your talents.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The One Year Bible Challenge

It is astonishing how many Christians today do not read their scripture everyday. If an unbeliever asked you a question about a verse, could you answer it? Would you understand the context? I remember a time when a friend of mine challenged my decision not to have children. He thought all Christians were required by the Bible to have many children.

"Be fruitful and multiply," he quoted smugly.

Fortunately, I knew to which verse he was referring. Genesis 1:28. God was speaking to Noah directly after the Ark landed on dry land. God had charged him to repopulate the planet after wiping out the world's population. From the looks of things, I say Noah has done a great job already. I wish I could say that argument was a victory for me. However, there will be no victory until I convince him that God is real and Scripture is true. In order for that to happen I must stay knowledgeable about scripture.

In today's technically savvy world Google makes it easier than ever to study the Word of God. Any verse you want is at your fingertips. One of my favorite websites is BibleGateway.com. It provides the entire Bible in 35 English translations. There is no excuse for us not to read our Bibles every day. It's easy if you put your mind to it. As easy as taking a few minutes from Facebook browsing and opening a new tab to BibleGateway or any of the vast online resources.

BibleGateway has a page devoted to helping you read the entire Bible in one year. All you have to do is read this page daily: http://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/today/. Of course, you don't have to read the Bible online. You can always take your Bible off the shelf and read in the comfort of your living room next to a roaring fire. It only takes the average reading 15-20 minutes to read three to four chapters or eighty verses.

I understand it is difficult to break into a new habit. It takes dedication and discipline. However, the rewards are great. It will provide you with the knowledge you need to answer difficult questions and live your life according to the Gospels.

Today is as good as any to start.

Sources:
http://www.biblegateway.com/
http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html
http://www.mixed-up.com/faith/plan.html?facts

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Welcome to Christ In Culture

With a fresh approach comes a fresh webpage.

Welcome to the new bogger page for Christ In Culture. Over time I will make new changes to the website and to the blog page in order to make it more relevant and educational than before. As part of our reconstruction I will devote myself to write blogs almost daily. If you enjoyed my blogs before, then I hope you find my improvements to be even better. Thank you for your patience. Please, check in later for updates. 

For reference to the older blogs you may find them at this link: 
http://cara-cic.blogspot.com/