Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Unfriended is a simple story shot from the point of view of Blaire Lily's laptop as she struggles to investigate the person behind a serious and distasteful hacking. Someone had hacked the Skype account of her deceased friend, Laura Barns, who had committed suicide exactly one year previous. Even more distasteful was the reason she ended her life.

A humiliating video of her had gone viral. However, the more she investigates, the more she realizes that the user could indeed be Laura. The real mystery is what the mysterious user demands to know. Who posted the humiliating video? Who is responsible for the heinous crime of cyber bullying? Who is responsible for ending Laura's life?

If ever there was a movie that fit in today's culture, no other can hold a candle to Unfriended. Everything we do is done online. Skype, Facebook, YouTube, Google, chat, email, downloads, and music. All accessible on our laptops. All achieved simultaneously in one sitting (thanks to high speed internet). Horrifying haunting aside, I found myself watching exactly how a young person today would spend their time on their laptop, including myself sadly enough. We can never focus on one thing for more than five minutes, which is what I found so impressive about this film. It was extremely well paced. Every few minutes, Blaire pulls up a new window to do something new.

On a more serious note, the film also addresses a very serious, very real crime. Cyber-bullying. These days, one can take video very easily. Most cell phones come with built in cameras. I'm sure their intended purpose is meant to make wonderful memories with friends and family, which is why I carry a small camcorder with me at all times. However, the convenience of these cameras can also cause people to record and post online awful, humiliating things against the subject's knowledge or consent. Such a thing is an extreme invasion of privacy, violation of trust, and a crime. Such actions come with horrifying consequences. In the case of Laura Barns, she feels so betrayed and humiliated that she takes her own life.

On the anniversary of her death, Laura Barns came back from the dead and haunts her assailants through the very medium used to assault her. Today’s most popular sites: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype. She knows every one of her victims has secrets. One by one, she publicly exposes their secrets and drives them to suicide until she finally gets her answer. Who posted the video? Also, who recorded the video?

There is one way to end this curse and spare their lives. They must confess their sins. It seems to be a simple solution to this violent haunting. All Laura wants is a confession. Blaire even confirms this from a Google search. One would think the cyber-bully would come forward in to save the lives of his/her friends. Why not? Fear of embarrassment, perhaps. Doubt would be a reasonable reaction. The reason is unclear.

However, it leaves the viewer with a heavy amount of frustration when the credits start to roll. Why not confess? Due to the bully's refusal to confess, the truth was publicly posted for everyone to see. In the end, no good comes from keeping secrets. In the end, confession would have not only spared them embarrassment, but more importantly, it would have saved six lives. Also, a seventh life could be spared if the cyber-bullying never happens.

Like this film there is only one way to obtain forgiveness for all of your sins, and it begins with confession.

1 John 1:8-10 says, "If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts."

Confession could have saved the lives of six teens in Unfriended, but it also could have saved their souls.

Let this movie be a lesson. Cyber-bullying is a cowardly, never-ending, life-ruining CRIME, and the consequences can be devastating. Never in any circumstances for any reason can a person justify such a thing. The internet can be a very dangerous place. Once something is posted, it is posted forever. One of few irreversible mistakes that one can make in life. No amount of regret (or memorial Facebook pages) can undo it. Only confession.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

In Memoriam for Mother's Day

In this morning's service, my choir sang an old hymn, And Can It Be:

Amazing Love
How Can It Be
That Thou My God
Should Die For Me

It spoke to me in two ways. Not only did Jesus die, but my mother also died for me. How perfect a song for Mother's Day?

Mother's Day holds several different meanings for me. With each year that passes, a new mother appears. Most recently, my sister had a son. I also have ten nieces mothered by four women in my family. Several of my old friends have children. Sadly, I have no children of my own, but I have three mother figures who have played crucial roles in my life: my step-mother, my adoptive mother, and the focus of today's post, my biological mother.

Her name is Donna Jane Bruce, and she is the primary source of the strength of my faith in the Lord.

She gave birth to me on February 14th, 1986 while she was in the midst of battling with breast cancer. From the moment her doctor informed her of my conception to the moment I was born, she refused treatment. She understood the risk she imposed upon her life, but that did not matter to her. It was her desire as a mother to bring me into the world. Her love for me was so great that she chose my life above her own. Despite her treatment efforts after my birth, the disease claimed her life after only eleven months.

I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of agonizing pain she endured. All to keep me alive. Not to mention how hard she tried to see my first birthday, or the emotional turmoil she suffered due to the abandonment of her husband, the one man who vowed to stand by her in sickness and in health. Despite it all; the agony, the stress, the exhaustion, and the heart break; she did it willingly. Her love for me, a helpless unborn child, was so great that it surpassed everything else. She didn't hesitate to refuse treatment. She most certainly objected the possibility of an abortion. Such is the extent of a mother's love.

The Bible says in John 15, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends."

This is my testimony. She would give her own life for her child, just as God died for all His children. My mother died to give me life. Christ died to give my me salvation, so that I might continue to live.

Today, I celebrate many mothers: adoptive mother, grandmothers, mother-in-law, step-mother, sisters, and cousins. Above all, I celebrate the one who the ultimate price for me. For there is no greater love a mother can give to her children.

I urge you to remember the mothers who are no longer with us as well as the mothers you can take to lunch and give a card. Let us celebrate ALL the mothers in our lives.