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)