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Posts Tagged ‘sovereignty of God’

    But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God… Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy… (Jude 1:20-21,24 ESV)

The Adjustment Bureau wants to be a profound, thought-provoking and encouraging epic. It tries so hard to get there but didn’t quite do it. It’s not merely that the end is a little absurd, it’s that what it’s trying to achieve is nearly impossible. When any movie attempts to deal with the question of free will versus determinism, it always has to pick one. Movies like Minority Report may come close to demonstrating that both are true but ultimately, free will usually wins (unless the movie is 12 Monkeys). Am I saying this movie was terrible? No. Is it worth watching? Maybe. Damon and Blunt have awesome chemistry and are super believable in their almost instant depth of love for each other. I enjoyed their interactions and banter. Each of their characters is very winsome and easy to root for and want the best for. But I think part of the flaws of this film start with concept of an “adjustment bureau.”

You’re Either Sovereign or Not, There’s No In-between!

Is the adjustment bureau sovereign or not? They act like they control everything and that you cannot go against the plan – unless they make a mistake, that is. Ultimately, they come off as rather weak. One man working against them, with the help of one “agent,” manages to throw everything off and change things. All he needs is to be committed and determined. That’s it? I kept thinking: “Really? That’s the best they can throw at Damon?” I also kept thinking: “What’s with the hats? Why do these guys need to stand out like sore thumbs?” I so badly wanted this movie to work but the adjustment bureau entity was so much talk and very little results. These guys are in control and have a chairman who is essentially God? They sure look and act like a human government. Power is not sovereignty. It’s just power.

Suffering & Satisfaction versus Ease & Loneliness

Even with all the flaws, I was into this film and hoping for an excellent ending right up until one key decision. I won’t reveal it and it is a bit subtle, but it changed the remaining part of the movie for me. The choice is painted as success versus pain but it really is about suffering and satisfaction versus ease and loneliness. This is exactly what we trend towards, especially as Americans. Think about it. We bail on marriage when it gets hard. We choose our careers so quickly. Stay at home moms are looked down on. Education is an idol. Suffering is pushed away – we have to fix or numb that. We cannot compute with a path that suffering is associated with peace and joy, only that suffering is death.

Do we really believe that life is simply about surface level success? If I’m president, it’s better than having a healthy family. If I’m a successful engineer, that’s better than spending time with my kids. Is it any surprise that, as Americans, we can be so lonely? Watch the decision made in this film and think about it. We want our cake and to eat it too but “success” tends to win that battle.

The Never-ending Question: Free Will or Predestination?

What is the point of this film that it roughly crashes into at the end? Seize your free will. Change your future. But what if seizing your free will only means burning it all down? This movie presumes our goodness. Damon cracks the code in a sense but he has good and noble intentions. What if those intentions were bad? What about the people that get kicked around in this movie as a result Damon’s choices and changing of his future? Are they less deserving? The movie wants to dig into the question of whether we have free will or not. The adjustment bureau claims free will is a joke. The age old question. Are we determined, either chemically or by a sovereign God? Are we free, just within certain parameters? Do we dictate our own destiny? No film can answer this question, try as they may. Honestly, even the Bible doesn’t answer it! We absolutely have to believe in both. We have a sovereign good God. He is not surprised by anything. He wills the suffering of Job. He plans the death of his only son on the cross. We are chosen in Christ. We are totally depraved and would not turn to Jesus apart from his intervention. The grace he gives is completely unmerited and a gift. However, God tells us that our choices matter. Our prayers affect things. Evangelism matters. My actions have impacts. Every morning I know this it true – I know my choices and who is responsible for my sin. Believe both.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)

I appreciate the intentions of Adjustment Bureau. It wanted to be more. I rooted for Damon and Blunt. I love how unyielding Damon is and how he doesn’t give up. You’ll probably enjoy this movie. There is a some foul language and a PG-13 sex scene so be wary. If you see it, think about how God is both good as well as sovereign. Hard stuff happens but God knows what is best for us. We can balk at that or trust him, let him give you the peace that transcends all understanding, and walk in relationship with him and others.

Affliction may deprive us of our estates, but sin deprives us of our God…

Better [to] be in a prison and have God’s presence, than on a throne and lack it. – Thomas Watson

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Below are 13 messages and sermons or series that have especially impacted me or stuck with me in some way. All of these are obviously worth listening to. I have honestly listened to many of these dozens of times just trying to let the truths and paradigm shifts in them just wash over me.

Let Your Passion Be Single from John Piper

God used this classic message back in 2003 to almost single-handedly redirect my life. Until I heard this message, I think I would have really struggled to communicate my Biblical worldview in a coherent manner and I’d always struggled with the place of joy versus duty. When I heard this, it was like a light bulb going on in my heart and I have been forever transformed by the key truth that Piper discusses: God is glorified most when I enjoy him above all and that joy is inherently tied to the glory of God.

The Meaning of Fatherhood and the Difference Dads Make (4 Messages) from Mark Darling

I heard Mark deliver these messages live at a fall retreat back in 2000. His communication of who God the Father truly is simply breaks me. Mark just spills out his heart in these messages and is incredibly vulnerable, you can’t help but be moved and stirred by God’s heart towards you in the Gospel.

Men of Whom the World was not Worthy (Biography Series) from John Piper

This whole series is worth listening to and a great introduction to many of these heroes of the faith. My favorites are the biographies of Simeon, Paton, and Judson.

The Freedom and Justice of God in Unconditional Election from John Piper

This is an incredible exposition of Romans 9 which was very helpful for me. He talks about why this is important to understand, why it’s a good thing, and how this truth should encourage us.

Grace Makes Wimps from Mitch Majeski

I think about this message often in how Mitch contrasts the grace of the Gospel up against the discipline and forcefulness of the Muslim faith of his friend. I cannot track this message down online though. If anyone can find it, comment below. He uses clips from “Les Miserables” but if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand.

Ruth: Sweet and Bitter Providence (4 Messages) from John Piper

This is just an excellent series about hope in the sovereignty of God. It’s especially helpful in seeing more than just the surface level of the book of Ruth.

Doing Missions When Dying is Gain from John Piper

This is another classic message from John Piper given at Wheaton College on the topic of missions. Be careful, you might be ready to just pack your bags after listening to Piper get fired up about us wasting our lives and what it may take to reach the nations.

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (2005 DG National Conference messages) from various speakers

Listen to every message from this conference, Steve Saint’s message is probably my favorite as he talks about his father, Nate Saint, and the impact of suffering on his life. Piper’s kick off message is very sobering and powerful.

The Gospel in You from Tim Keller

We understand that we’ve been forgiven, but do we understand that we’ve been justified? This is what Keller digs into in this message. What does it mean and imply that we have been given the righteousness of God? I was able to be at this sermon in person last summer (2009) at the Campus Crusade conference in Fort Collins.

Spiritual Art of Listening part 1 from Larry Crabb

This is another message from the Campus Crusade for Christ conference last summer. Don’t be deceived by the title, this message is all about the Gospel and grace, a very honest message from Crabb.

Predestination from Mark Driscoll

This message is much less technical than Piper’s message above. Listen to Piper’s message first and then this one to help clarify. Driscoll basically defends the doctrine of predestination and election and why it’s a good thing.

Humor from Mark Driscoll

This is probably becoming a classic from Driscoll. It will definitely make you laugh.

Preaching the Gospel to the De-Churched from Matt Chandler

This message is really Chandler walking through the life of the church of Ephesus and the lessons for us. Why did that church die? What is our life really about? Chandler pours out his passion in this one.

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