The Leader in Me

Posted: April 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

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Last week I spent some time in our local upper elementary school, Cooper Elementary. I had been invited to participate in their Leadership Day. They initiated a student leadership program a few years ago based on Stephen Covey’s book. The Leader in Me. And, for the last three years, they invite leaders from the community to come and see what is happening within the walls of their school. I was impressed!

We have been trying to make a connection with this school so that we could encourage the teachers & students. Yet, I was the one who was encouraged. The teachers and administration have taken Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and applied them to their school curriculum. Every aspect of teaching includes these leadership principles. They have, in effect, empowered the students to be responsible for themselves and to hold one another accountable.

I watched as these 5th and 6th graders showed more leadership skills than many adults. They were involved in the school leadership at every level. They had a fully developed student council. They had established accountability partners. And they were tracking and setting goals for themselves in each major life area. I had to keep reminding myself they were only eleven and twelve years old!

In the last portion of the day, we had an opportunity to sit down one-on-one with a few of the students. Each student would explain their Leadership Binders to us. Each binder told a story of what was happening in their lives and how they were taking responsibility for their choices. These students confidently engaged me as an adult. They took ownership of their lives and their choices. I began to ask them questions that were “off topic”. I asked them questions like “what are you reading right now” and “what is your strongest/most challenging subject”. I was impressed with how they were able to go with the flow of the conversation. They gave thoughtful answers rather than canned responses. They had learned to think and reason and make good choices.

Now, to be fair, these children were still children. They gave developmentally appropriate responses. They still get in trouble. They are still immature pre-teens. But I saw that our children have more potential than we think they do. They want to be empowered to make good choices. And they want to believe they have some control over their future. I think we owe it to this generation to empower & believe in them.

I am encouraged today that our world still has a future. God is not finished with us yet. And He desires to give all of us a hope and a future. Let’s win in 2014 by encouraging this next generation to be the leaders God has destined them to be.

 

 

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I don’t actually watch this show, but I have seen it a few times. I also promised a friend to reblog it for her. And she has analyzed this well. I almost want to watch the series now. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Jennifer Noricks:

himym teds wedding Less than a week ago, “How I Met Your Mother” bid its followers farewell in a finale that has been widely criticized. Fans were disappointed. It made no sense , they argued. How did the characters end up there , when they spent nine seasons going in the opposite direction? The one-hour series finale, “Last Forever, Parts 1 and 2,” didn’t deliver the ending that many were hoping for. I admit now, I absolutely loved it. So, my friends, I present a defense of the finale.

(Let me hit “pause” here and warn you, SPOILERS are coming. [Shout out to Marshall and Lily])

Remember the discussion that Ted and Barney once had about buying a bar? (“Three Days of Snow”, season 4, episode 13)

Barney: We should buy a bar.

Ted: We should totally buy a bar!

Barney: And the name of our bar: Puzzles. People will be…

View original 728 more words

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*Spoiler Alerts*

Last week, I took my daughter to see God’s Not Dead on opening day. I am not a movie buff and I usually wait until movies come out on DVD. Call me cheap! I paid $12 for popcorn! I had no intention what so ever in seeing this film. Actually, it was Kevin Sorbo (Professor Raddison) who drew my attention. I figured if he could pull off Hercules…And he did make the film a worthwhile trip.

My review comes from the perspective of a Christian pastor. But also from the perspective of a former atheist. I was 22 years old before I heard the Gospel or opened the Bible. I walked into my first church completely unfamiliar with the culture of evangelicalism. And it is still foreign to me on most days. So I went to see this movie through the eyes of my former atheist self. And I have to be honest, it stunk!

I want to give it some credit. It had better acting than most Christian films. Kevin Sorbo did a great job as the professor (and he is pretty good looking…can I admit that as a pastor?). I mean, he was Hercules! They also had some well-acted supporting roles. In a particular scene, a woman discovers she has cancer. The actress really does a fantastic job conveying the pain, confusion, and loneliness she is feeling.

On the other hand, it is very predictable and cheesy in some places. They even met their dead-bed conversion quota for the film. I wanted to see something radical and out of the ordinary. The closest they come is having Josh’s girlfriend leave him over his “radical” faith.

But I had two major reactions to this film.

1. My daughter was inspired to live for Christ at a deeper level.

My daughter is 14 years old. Any movie that can inspire her toward faith or her future is worth the money. The best thing I took from this film was a chance to listen to her heart as she talked about her faith in Christ. I would go see it again for that reason alone. If you are looking for a conversation starter with a nominal Christian, this is it. It is not a movie designed to convince atheists they are wrong. It is a movie designed to help the undecided make a decision.

2. My daughter and I were equally appalled by our fellow Christians viewing the film with us.

There is a scene where Josh (the college student) asks his professor why he is so angry at God. He pushes Sorbo’s character into a corner (so to speak) and the professor finally confesses that “yes, I hate God! He took everything that I ever cared about from me”.

Josh responds with saying, “How can you hate Someone who doesn’t exist”?

The student’s words reverberated through the theater followed by a burst of applause and “Amen”s. I was disgusted, embarrassed, and broken as I sat their feeling the pain of my former atheist self. The professor had just confessed to pain and anger and unbelievable hurt. Yet, here, the Christians sat applauding their “win” rather than feeling his pain.

In that scene, the movie became exactly what I thought it would be: an opportunity for Christians to strut around with their spiritual arrogance completely void of an ability to “mourn with those who mourn”. We are more interested in rubbing our prowess in someone’s face than we are in being “wounded healers”.

My heart ached for the professor because he is a real person somewhere. He is someone who has been wounded. He is someone who is lonely and confused and in pain. He is me twenty some years ago!

If you are a Christian, I hope you will take the time to see the movie. If you are not a Christian, I hope you will take the time to see the movie also…just wait until it comes out on DVD.

Keep winning in 2014!

 

What’s Wrong With Christian Filmmaking?.

 

Here is a great article articulating the weak points of Christian film making. I couldn’t have said it better myself. So I will let the original author speak. Check it out!

Lent: Day 2

Posted: March 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

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For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned,nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted,nor threaten revenge when he suffered.He left his case in the hands of God,who always judges fairly. ~ 1 Peter 2:21-23

Today this passage in Peter’s letter to the church came alive. I know that Christ suffered willingly at our expense. I know He was lead to “the slaughter like a lamb”. Yet, Peter emphasizes that Jesus did not even threaten revenge.

We Americans have such a difficult time understanding the message of peace and reconciliation. We are constantly fighting for our “rights”. We retaliate and lash out whenever we feel threatened in our faith. We are willing, and sometimes eager, to tear down the non-Christian and even our own brothers and sisters in Christ when someone disagrees with our beliefs.

During this Lenten season, let us take a moment to reflect on our understanding of Christ’s message of peace. We would do well to examine ourselves to see if we are quick to fight, argue, or debate our differences. There is a difference between standing firm in what we believe, and trying to force others to see it our way.

Some of you are already beginning to disagree with me. And some of you are even getting angry at my post. You are thinking “what about Jesus calling the Pharisees ‘hypocrites’”? Jesus argued with those who didn’t agree with Him.

However, most of what I see rarely comes close to the context of Jesus debating the Pharisees. Most of what I see falls into a category of manipulation. If we cannot convince people “we are right”, if we cannot prove with logic that “we know best”, then we begin to force our beliefs upon others in a manipulative and vengeful way.

Let us think about our spiritual conversations with others this Lent. Do we dismiss others who disagree as stupid, heretical, ignorant, or evil? Do we find ourselves devaluing others? Do we have a spirit of revenge even though Christ has called us to forgive?

In the words of Peter, He is our example, and we must follow Him.

Keep winning in Lent!

40 Days of Testing

Posted: March 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

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So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. ~ 1 Peter 1:6-7

Tests & trials. The Israelites endured 400 years of trials while they were slaves in Egypt. And they endured 40 years of testing while wandering in the desert. Jesus endured 40 days of testing while he fasted 40 days in the wilderness. And the next 40 days of Lent will be our time of testing. Many of us will fast and make sacrifices in an attempt to related to God. Every time we deny ourselves food or material pleasures, we empathize with Christ, who gave up everything for us.

During Lent, may your faith be tested! I pray you will find yourself trusting God for many things. I pray that as you deny yourselves certain luxuries, you will be reminded of treasures in heaven. But mostly, I pray that you will discover your faith is more precious than silver or gold.

Here’s to 40 days of winning in 2014!

Son of God Movie Review

Posted: March 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

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Last night was a new experience for me. I went to see a movie, in an actual movie theater, on opening night. Those who know me have probably fallen out of their chairs. I don’t particularly care for theaters. It’s nothing spiritual; I just don’t like hanging out in dark places with strangers where there are more germs than the bottom of my shoe. And, as far as I can remember, I have never gone to a movie on opening night. The last movie I saw in a theater was Passion of the Christ and I left half way through. So my first observation of my experience was…I didn’t die from anxiety.

Son of God, the movie, is told from the perspective of John’s Gospel. And if you are not familiar with the Bible, you may want to read (or at least skim) the Gospel according to John before you see this movie. I sat through it trying to remember what it was like being a new Christians with no Bible knowledge. I think I may have been confused if I didn’t have the knowledge I have now. But I should also clarify I did not see the Bible miniseries that was out last year. If you saw it, you may be able to follow along better.

My favorite version of the life of Christ has always been “Jesus of Nazareth” (1975). It was based on Matthew’s Gospel. However, the screen writers for “Son of God” did a great job bringing this movie up to date, so to speak. They wrote the lines in a more contemporary fashion so today’s audience would understand what was happening. I think it’s why the miniseries proved to be so popular among unchurched people and new Christians. Yet, the authors kept the words on the Cross in a traditional format. You can really see their effort to portray the crucifixion untarnished and unblemished.

“Jesus of Nazareth” may still be my favorite movie, but here is what I think “Son of God” contributes. First, they do a remarkable job portraying the political unrest between the Romans and the Jews. We often miss this context when we read the Bible. Second, they focus on Christ’s teachings as opposed to His miracles, which is consistent with John’s Gospel. John tells us about very few of His miracles in contrast to the other Gospel writers. Third, they highlight how Jesus includes the marginalized and disenfranchised probably better than any life of Christ movie I have ever seen.

If you are considering seeing this movie, the third highlight will be worth your money alone. My favorite scene in this entire movie; Jesus calling Matthew to come, follow Him. I am not going to spoil it for you.But if that scene doesn’t tug at your heart then you may want to check to see if it is still beating. I think the scene with Matthew, the tax collector, summarizes our culture’s heart cry. They desperately want to believe that Jesus still loves the sinners, the down-and-outers, the marginalized, the hurting, the hungry, the abandoned, and you.

“Son of God” stole my heart for this reason alone. I hope you hear the message of the Son of God; He loves you, He is calling you, He even has authority to forgive you.

Win in 2014!