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Posts Tagged ‘the gospel’

And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers… (Malachi 4:6 ESV)

This is a rare fight movie in which we don’t want to see either fighter lose. That brings such complexity to the final showdown that hardly anything could top it — but something does, and "Warrior" earns it. – Roger Ebert

“Warrior” is now my new favorite movie of the year. I’ve never seen a movie like “Tree of Life” but as a man with a only one brother and a father who passed away 9 years ago from the effects of alcoholism, this film moved me. The previews appeal to mainly the mixed martial arts (MMA) side of this movie but the MMA is merely a tool to go deeper into this troubled, broken family. It’s being billed as a flop at the box office with only $10M in 2 weeks but this one is not to be missed. Nick Nolte as Paddy is perfect as a reforming alcoholic who aches over his wretched past, wanting to make things right but knowing that there’s no way he can make up for it all. Tom Hardy as Tommy is completely believable as a man beat up and burned by the world with nowhere to go and channeling everything into his anger. Joel Edgerton as Brendan is a wounded family man trying to lead his home and simply provide.

The Reality of Wounds and Pain

    For he wounds, but he binds up;
        he shatters, but his hands heal.
        (Job 5:18 ESV)

The pain these brothers feel is real, especially Tommy. Abused and exasperated by his drunken father, feeling deserted by his brother, having to watch his mother die a painful death, and his best friend killed right next to him in war, the world has kicked him in the teeth on many an occasion. He hates his father, he hates God, and he hates Brendan. Deeper than that, in all of his wounds, he also hates himself. He knows his wounds but he knows his flaws as well as you’ll see. All of this comes out in his anger and rage. He has no means to cope and nobody to trust. Even when Brendan reaches out, Tommy can’t even call him his brother.

Forgiveness & Redemption

bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:13 ESV)

Seeking forgiveness means not hiding anymore, confessing sin, and striving for brokenness over the pain you caused and the tarnishing of God’s name. But redemption depends on the other person, on the offended and suffering party. This is what Paddy runs into as he attempts to turn his life to God and stop being a drunk. Brendan forgives him but doesn’t trust him, doesn’t want a relationship with him and certainly doesn’t want him around his kids. Tommy doesn’t even see Paddy as his father anymore and keeps it all business except for the moments of stabbing Paddy with his word, reminding him of his sin. This won’t simply be a clean restoration. Tommy is so wounded and Brendan he’s seen too much for a mere 3 years of sobriety and walking with Jesus to wipe the slate clean. Only one person can fully wipe the slate clean and he had to go to cross to do it

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, (1 Peter 3:18 ESV)

What Does it Mean to be a Man?

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8 ESV)

Being a man means laying down your life for your family. Can I suffer for their best? Can I lay down my rights? Can I do all this in providing for them? This is the example of Brendan. He’s not perfect but fights for his family. He takes a beating that they might flourish. He splurges on them not himself. I love the beginning when his wife speaks aside to him at their daughter’s birthday, scolding him a little for going over budget in the gift he bought. He simply proclaims that it was her birthday. It was not about the money, he couldn’t help himself, he just wanted to lavish good on their daughter. Not the complete picture of manliness but very convicting.

Entering the Pantheon

“Warrior” now enters the pantheon of manly movies for me. It’s not a movie that my wife would likely enjoy but I was stirred and softened. The ending of this movie was better than I could have hoped for. I did not feel let down at all but I simply wept. So few people have seen it but that’s likely because it’s appeal to women is minimal.

I’m thankful that the door to forgiveness through the gospel of Jesus Christ is wide open. Only in him can we cleanly forgive. Only through Him can true redemption happen. I’m also thankful for my only brother. My love runs deeper for him than most anyone else on this planet outside of my wife and my kids.

A friend loves at all times,
        and a brother is born for adversity.
(Proverbs 17:17 ESV)

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This week: Ground zero and Christ, homeschool blind spots, Pat Robertson’s lack of understanding of the gospel, and a good one on fathers and sons.

Ground Zero & the American Dream (by Makoto Fujimura, Curator)

“Ground Zero,” in Christ, can also mean a cancellation point, a new beginning where we can stand on the ashes of the Wasteland we see and still seek renewal and “genesis moments.”

girl covering eyes ffound-1.jpeg

Homeschool Blindspots (by Reb Bradley via Joshua Harris’ Blog)

When I picked him up the second night of work, he got in the car with a big smile on his face and said "They like me!" As I dwelt on that comment, it suddenly came clear to me – my son had finally met someone who liked him for who he was. Few others in his entire life had shown him much acceptance, especially not his mother and I. It is no exaggeration – in our efforts to shape and improve him, all we did was find fault with everything he did.

Christ, the Church, and Pat Robertson (by Russell Moore)

A woman or a man with Alzheimer’s can’t do anything for you. There’s no romance, no sex, no partnership, not even companionship. That’s just the point. Because marriage is a Christ/church icon, a man loves his wife as his own flesh. He cannot sever her off from him simply because she isn’t “useful” anymore.

Fathers, Sons, and Fair Market Value (by David Browder, Mockingbird)

These two outlooks are on totally different planes. Who has the most rest? Who can actually play a game and enjoy it for what it is rather than having to increase their fair market value? Most of all, which one gives birth to a love that will be there long after the last pass is thrown?

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“The Debt” is a solid film that not only was insanely intense but it moved me and got to me a bit. The acting was fantastic – the doctor made me loathe him, Sam Worthington (David) made me empathize with him, Jessica Chastain (Rachel) seemed very tortured internally, and I believed Stephan’s hardness both in the past and the present. The twists were superb. I appreciated seeing the ending first and then being drawn into how the pieces come together. The key theme: every sin has consequences but sometimes the lie about the sin is worse.

Beware: lots of spoilers ahead! I cannot get to the heart of this film without digging into all of it.

The Lie

As is likely with most folks who saw this film, I did not anticipate that the doctor would escape. I thought they would torture and kill him and then lie about that. I thought Stephan would carry out some form of justice and then they would lie about the circumstance. I never had a thought in my head that the doctor would get away and they would be left empty-handed. Once he got away, the choice was obvious: face and accept failure and admit their mistakes, or cling to their reputations and tell a lie. Tell a lie and become heroes, keep their careers and live a sham. They choose what many of us would: to perpetuate the lie. They choose to live a façade and seek the praise of men.

For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. (Romans 10:3 ESV)

This hit home with me because I’ve been convicted lately of how much of an idol my own reputation is. After reading “Jesus + Nothiing = Everything” by Tullian Tchividjian, I had to ask myself the question: What do I cling to that I would rather die than have God take away? God likes to answer that question and through an interaction with my wife, I realized that I cling to my reputation. How I am perceived in the eyes of others is vastly important to me. My own name is much more valuable to me than God’s name. This is wrong and will not lead me to freedom and does not lead to joy in Him. But, wow, is it difficult to kill. This is the choice they made and the shame eventually crushes David, breaks Rachel, and Stephan has to sear his conscience for the rest of his life. David knows the path to freedom: speak the truth. But he will come forward without the consent of Rachel and takes another path in killing himself.

The lie is what is at the center of the film but the lie and the escape of the doctor is triggered and set in motion by one seemingly inconsequential act of sin.

One Night Sets it All in Motion

You know what exactly what night that is if you’ve seen it. David and Rachel obviously have affections for each other but David exercises restraint. In one moment, he chooses not to yield to emotion. However, Rachel, initially rejected by David, seeking relief from the pain and intensity of pursuing the war criminal doctor in communist East Berlin, yields to the lust driven seduction of Stephan. That night changes absolutely everything. For one fleeting and regretful night of pleasure, Rachel gets pregnant and truly cuts off the potential for something better with David. This then leads right into the doctor’s hands and gives him an avenue to break David and Rachel with his words, with David eventually giving way to anger and brutalizing the doctor.

David’s anger wasn’t just about the doctor’s killing but, of course, over Rachel. Sometimes, Satan doesn’t need to speak lies to us to bring hurt and further temptation, he merely needs to tell us the truth. We know what happens next. The shards of the plate on the floor. David needing to be calmed by Stephan leaving Rachel vulnerable. The escape. The lie then leads to more shame, more pain, and living a life outside of grace and freedom.

Choose the Cross over Sin, Choose the Cross Again over Shame

We are not very different than David, Rachel, and Stephan. We are faced with the same temptations and daily choices: confess sin or hide it? Run to the cross for relief or trust in the fleeting damaging pleasure of sin?

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:18-21 ESV)

Jesus died and suffered on the cross to bring you to him, to crush the power and temptation of sin, and to bring about your justification. In Christ, we are free! There is now no condemnation! We have nothing to hide! We need not cling to our own façade and reputation – Jesus is our reputation. He is our righteousness. We will fail. We will sin. We will err. He died for it all. Many times, we lie or choose sin simply because of a mistake we made that is not even sin itself! Jesus came to free you from that to walk in the light, to be yourself, to know Him and be satisfied in him. Freedom is not found in the dark but in the light, in Christ.

But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:21-23 ESV)

I’m thankful for the film, “The Debt,” in how it so powerfully illustrates the consequence of sin and the shame and torture that lies lead to. Thank God for sending his son to bring us freedom. May he work in us to give us a deeper understanding of our justification and his deep, deep love for us, that we would not hide but come to him more and more.

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We habitually look to something or someone smaller than Jesus for the things we crave and need. And none of it is ever enough to fill the void. – Tullian Tchividjian, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything”

Jesus + Nothing = Everything

I love Mr. Tchividjian’s blog, I’ve probably read it all over the past year. It’s been a great encouragement to me and God has used it to stir me in the Gospel. He has such a strong grasp of the heart of grace and why understanding grace is crucial to running this race hard for Jesus. His talk from last year’s DG conference still sticks with me. In the message, he essentially expressed the foundation of “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.”

The Blog Revealed the Book

Saying all that, I struggled with the book. Don’t get me wrong, it is a fire hose of the Gospel. He bleeds grace and does everything he can to communicate it. The problem is that I felt like I had already read the book through his blog. Chapter 12 is a profound close to the book, easily my favorite chapter. But I had already read most of it through Mr. Tchividjian’s blog! I even wrote a blog highlighting the key illustration about the daughter who is given an A by the professor.

We All Need the Fire Hose

All idolatry heads us down this path to no-nameness. And Jesus’s story reminds us that far from being some vague, painless, amorphous existence, that ultimate condition of nothingness is acutely painful in every way. Inwardly and outwardly, it brings us anguish and torment. That’s the tragic destiny Jesus wants us to connect with idolatry in our understanding of it.

Because I’ve read his blog religiously, don’t mistake my thoughts for saying this book is not worth reading. We need this fire hose. We need to swim in everything he expresses. Though I was dying for a few more illustrations, he hammered me with the Word. It would be hard to read Colossians and not see what he sees after reading “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.”

The gospel liberates us to be okay with not being okay. We know we’re not – though we try very hard to convince other people we are. But the gospel tells us, “Relax, it is finished.”

My greatest need and yours is to look at Christ more than we look at ourselves. The gospel empowers us to escape our predicament of being curved in on ourselves. In the gospel, God comes after us because we need him, not because he needs us.

His key point is this: Our problem is not that we take advantage of grace but that we don’t understand the grace of God in the Gospel well enough. In fact, most of us just don’t get it. We express a mild form of grace while clinging to our own efforts and façade. Mr. Tchividjian simply destroys the Pharisee and the sulker. There are many idols, but self-righteousness is what he guns for and continually moves to crush.

Summary

"Jesus + Nothing = Everything” is a continual tour of the equation in the name and I promise that it will be worth your time. I struggled only because I had seen much of the material in his blog so it was not as fresh as I wanted it to be. But that reveals our problem – we want something complex and new but what we need is the gospel. What I need is grace. Over and over and over again until it stirs me to look more at Christ and less of myself.

Real slavery is self-reliance, self-dependence. Real slavery is a life spent trying to become someone. But the gospel comes in and says we already have in Christ all that we crave, so we’re free to live a life of sacrifice, courageously and boldly.

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This week: The gospel and enjoyment of life, an interesting breakfast account, and doubting yourself is good.

The Gospel and It-ness (by Jared Wilson, Between 2 Worlds)

If coffee or chocolate or anything else other than God is the highlight of my day or the ultimate joy of my heart, my joy is temporary, hollow, thin.

But if I believe in the gospel, I can finally enjoy the chocolate-ness of chocolate and the coffee-ness of coffee. Only the gospel frees me to enjoy things as they truly are and as they someday will be.

Breakfast and Honesty (by Brant Hansen, Air1)

I asked him if he would do the same thing.  I told him I knew – it ? would be much, much harder for him.  But IF he were completely convinced that this was not what God wanted for his sexuality, that it was actually hindering him from being who God wants him to be, if he were somehow convinced…

Would he change?  Would he submit that aspect of his life to God?

He paused and said…no.

Do You Doubt Yourself? Good (by Tullian Tchividjian, The Resurgence)

The more I look into my own heart for peace, the less I find. On the other hand, the more I look to Christ and his promises for peace, the more I find.

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This week: eroding continents, design in trees, grace in the gospel, and more on the twin reduction issue.

Continents Should Have Eroded Long Ago (by Brian Thomas, ICR)

A new study indicates that the earth’s overall erosion rate, although slow, would have leveled the continents at least 70 times over if they are as old as the evolutionary claim maintains!

13-Year-Old Makes Solar Breakthrough Based on the Fibonacci Sequence (by Molly Cotter)

“The tree design takes up less room than flat-panel arrays and works in spots that don’t have a full southern view. It collects more sunlight in winter. Shade and bad weather like snow don’t hurt it because the panels are not flat. It even looks nicer because it looks like a tree. A design like this may work better in urban areas where space and direct sunlight can be hard to find.”

Tim Keller Striking the Note of Grace, Grace, Grace (by David Zahl)

Non-Christians will always automatically hear gospel presentations as appeals to become moral and religious, unless in your preaching you use the good news of grace to deconstruct legalism. Only if you show them there’s a difference–that what they really rejected wasn’t real Christianity at all–will they even begin to consider Christianity.

Half-Aborted: Why do "reductions" of twin pregnancies trouble pro-choicers? (By William Saletan, Slate)

Reduction destroys this distinction. It combines, in a single pregnancy, a wanted and an unwanted fetus. In the case of identical twins, even their genomes are indistinguishable. You can’t pretend that one is precious and the other is just tissue. You’re killing the same creature to which you’re dedicating your life.

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Spoiler Alert! The end of the Harry Potter series is so beautiful and such an awesome picture of what Jesus walked through for us. This is what Jerram Barrs will talk about very eloquently in the video below.

 

The final walk of Harry once he leaves the dock was very moving for me in the film. It was almost exactly as I pictured it. The choice he makes to give his life. The ache. The seeming victory for evil. It’s tremendous. But it’s all set up by the revelation about Snape.

Being Willing to Be Hated for the Sake of Something Greater

Snape is the mystery character throughout almost the entire series. You get glimpses of good in him but he seems tortured and absolutely appears to hate Harry. You wonder why Dumbledore trusts him so implicitly and then when Snape kills him at the end of “The Half-Blood Prince” you think Dumbledore was wrong and that he failed.

In “The Deathly Hallows,” we find out the truth about Snape and realize that he has just as much been the key to defeating Voldemort as Dumbledore was. Snape more than lays down his life, he lets himself be hated for the sake of Harry and defeating Voldemort. He lets his reputation and his name be nothing for the sake of the cause. He lets himself look like a fool and counts himself nothing. His death and the memories he passes on to Harry are so stirring in the book and the final film. His courage. His laying down of his life. His discipline to carry it all the way to the end. I want that kind of courage and that kind of disregard for my own life. It’s not common.

Video HT: Vitamin Z

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