Thursday, July 18, 2013


Hi everyone,

I've taken quite a break from writing and have been developing a better and more interactive website.  I hope to be putting one new post up every week.  From now on, don't come to this site.  Instead use the new one:

If you've got the site saved somewhere in your bookmarks or favorites, go ahead and make the change now.  Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the new site!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Man of Steel Review

Superman is important to Christians.  The hero has a longstanding tradition, whether intentional or not, of being a Christ figure.  His father sends him from the heavens down to lowly earth in order to lead and save humanity.  He is (nearly) all powerful, a God among men.  The only thing fiercer than his strength is his goodness.  

Man of Steel has been catching a lot of negative feedback, but I just don’t see it.  I thought this was the best Superman movie yet.  Here's why:


The Good

  • No sex!  Finally, a blockbuster movie that doesn't flaunt what the good Lord gave it.  There's no skin tight leather Black Widow here and nobody decides to get dressed in front of the camera at entirely inappropriate times like certain members of Starfleet (I'm looking at you Into Darkness).  Let's face it, with the history of Lois Lane and Clark's X-Ray vision, it would have been easy to throw sexual garbage in there.  Instead, they took the high road and made a movie that believes there are more things that sell than just sex, like…
  • Action!  Holy canoli!  Here's a Superman movie that actually shows the kind of scale and devastation that would be involved if someone as indestructible, fast, and powerful as Superman actually got into a fight.  Some have complained that there is too much destruction, but when Superman and his equals face off, it's silly to think that there would be little or no collateral damage.  This movie shows just how devastating a superpunch can be when thrown in Kansas, Metropolis, spaceships, satellites, and everywhere else you can imagine.
  • Jumps right in.  We all know the classic story of Superman.  So much so that it's honestly starting to get stale. Planet goes boom, Superbaby lands in a field.  Kents raise him and then “Holy super pubescent powers Batman!”  Clark meets Lois.  Will they?  Won’t they?  How many more scenes will those glasses fool her?  Until we all want Clark to just tell her his secret already!  Instead of dragging all of that out for us again in time honored fashion, this movie handles it in a fresh and different way.  The Lois arc moves quickly and some well-timed, emotional flashbacks give us what we need while allowing the film to jump right into its own story arc.
  • Realism.  Superman movies have always been hokey and filled with more cheese than a calzone.  This one was more serious and I like that.  None of that "Up, Up, and Away" business.  This movie tried to seriously deal with what Clark would go through growing up on earth.  How would the nation and world react knowing such an unstoppable individual existed?  Could he ever really be one of us?  
  • Old villain, new experience.  Zod and the gang from the Phantom Zone are old characters who have been recycled over and over.  But this movie does a great job of making them new and fleshing them out.  Deeper backgrounds, creepy dialogue, and a new armored look made these villains better than ever.  (Props to my friend Don for pointing this out to me)
  • Great acting and casting.  Henry Cavill nailed Clark/Kal/Superman which is no easy task.  I think what I liked the most was that, aside from the Kryptonians, everyone in this movie looked like real down to earth people.  Movies filled with gorgeous people often add to the phoniness of the film.  These actors looked real and made the movie all the more immersive.

The Bad
  • Rapid clean up.  The end of the movie doesn't really address or display the aftermath you would expect from the colossal showdown.  Jump to the Daily Planet where everything seems A-OK.  Apparently, the devastated city regrew overnight.  And let's just pretend the entire planet is fine and earth's atmosphere and gravity have better healing powers than Wolverine.
  • Confusing science.  How does the atmosphere and sunlight give the Kryptonians all of that power with just an instant of exposure?  Why is it that the Kryptonians with all of their technology can't just relocate to one of their outpost planets?  For that matter, why can't they make their AI floating computer things sound better than an echoing cassette player in my bathroom shower?   How is Lois standing calmly in the open bay of a flying aircraft without falling to her death?  And what is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?!
  • As always, Superman's disguise is lousy.  But for tradition's sake, you've just got to give the guy a pass on that one.  In other news, the costume looked great!
  • Long action.  These fights tend to drag on and on.  That’s enjoyable for most people but can leave you overwhelmed.  It makes sense that when you have indestructible Kryptonians punching each other in the face, you're going to be there a while.  In the midst of the high speed and long fights, it's easy to get a little lost wondering who is throwing what punch and which guy is getting his face rammed through an exploding vehicle.  Overall, I suspect the majority of teens and guys won't raise this objection.  It's an adrenaline ride many will enjoy.
  • MAJOR SPOILER HERE Superman breaks his golden rule and they don't give it enough consideration.  The Man of Steel never kills.  It would shatter the ability for earth's people to trust him and would take him one step closer to being a tyrant accountable to no one.  When he breaks this huge rule, he cries for a second and sheds a single tear.  It left me feeling like the movie makers didn't realize what a big deal that moment was for Superman history.
The Godly

Man of Steel doesn't disappoint the Christian looking for Christ imagery.  The dialogue is ripe with stuff that believers can unpack.  Superman strikes a pose that reminds us of the cross and Clark even visits with a priest for counsel.  There's so much of this, that some non-Christians might gag on it as it's shoved in their faces.  Sorry guys, I didn't make the movie.  

While undoubtedly violent, I believe that Man of Steel will open family and friends to great conversations about faith, sacrifice, and even the purpose of your own life.  Just check out these words from Jonathan Kent, "You are my son. But somewhere out there you have another father, and he sent you here for a reason. And even if it takes you the rest of your life, you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is."  Powerful words for Clark and just as powerful for you and me.  

With Man of Steel, you get a very entertaining movie that continues the tradition of Superman by pointing to the real Savior.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Woman to be Praised

This last Sunday was Mother's Day and I got to preach at church!  I spoke on Proverbs 31 to encourage the women in our church to strive for godly character, show the men what kind of girl they should be looking for, and help us all see the importance of praising the godly women in our lives.

I hope you are blessed by it!

CLICK HERE for the sermon.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 was a blast.  It was humorous, action packed, full of cool new gadgets and upgrades, and had a solid and unexpected twist.  It was inappropriate at times with language and sexuality, which is pretty much par for the course with Tony Stark.  I was mildly annoyed twice when Tony is saved by gadgets he happened to have on him the whole time.  This installment of Iron Man was quite different from the last two in the way it was directed, narrated, and even the plot structure and camera angles.  It was a lot of fun, but there is something about it that left me unsure how I'd rate it.  For now I'm thinking it was better than the sequel but not as good as part one.  Vague Spoilers Follow...

What is Tony Stark without his suits?
One of the major themes of this movie is Tony Stark's struggle to feel safe and secure.  The events in the Avengers movie have left him distraught, nervous, fearful, and suffering from anxiety attacks.  He doesn't feel safe without the Iron Man armor and has become obsessed with improving it and building new versions of it.  Despite his strongly felt need for the suit, he gets separated from it time and time again in the movie.

The whole issue of him feeling helpless without the armor is highlighted when a kid doesn't even recognize Tony Stark but points to the empty suit on the couch and says, "That's Iron Man!"  That's how Tony feels.  He is nothing without the suit.  Yet Tony continues to save the day with or without his fancy suits over the course of the two hour and ten minute film.  As Tony and not the suit rise to be the hero, he goes through a healing process.  By the end of the movie, he ends up with a restored confidence when the realization comes that he doesn't need the suits.  The suits don't make him great.  He made the suits!  The armor is not the hero.  Tony, not the suits, is Iron Man.

Just chillin' with my bro.
Ultimately this movie sends Tony on a quest to find himself and discover something about his own identity.  He was basing his identity on the suits so much that they became his only hope for safety and peace and led to anxiety and fear when they weren't around.  We all do that don't we?  Maybe we don't base our lives around our billion dollar robotic armor, but we all turn to the people and possessions around us to find our worth, safety, and peace.

We trust in our jobs and bank accounts to get us through life and when either of those is in jeapordy, we panic!  We look to our friends and family to be our rock and give us peace but when we feud with them our whole lives fall apart.  As parents, we base our whole life and identity on our kids and when they aren't home by curfew and haven't called, we go to Def-con 1 (or is it 5?) and absolutely lose our minds.

Just like our friend Tony, none of us will be at peace until we stop putting our sense of worth and security in the people and stuff around us.  You are more than your job, career, friends, money, clothes, significant other, children, and high-tech armor.

But in the end, I think Tony still ends up finding his answer in the wrong place.  In Iron Man 3, he finds his ultimate confidence and security in himself.  He is the great Tony Stark and there is nothing he can't face.

But you and I aren't billionaire geniuses who can MacGyver our way out of anything life throws at us.  The Bible says there is something greater than anything in this world and even greater than us that we need to base our identity, worth, and security on: our relationship with God.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  -  Romans 8:14-17

Who are you?  You're more than your career and possessions and friends.  If you've trusted in Christ as your Savior, you are a child of God!  That's where you need to find your identity first and foremost.  That's where you need to find your security.  As a child of God you know you are loved fully by God.  You are cared for.  You are watched over.  You have nothing to fear because Almighty God is your Abba, your Daddy!

Learn this well.  Let it sink into your soul.  And the next time the people around you let you down or your possessions are lost you will be calm as a Hindu cow because you know that your Father is still on the throne watching over you and He cares for you deeply.  You aren't Iron Man, you're something much, much more.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Near Far

Good old Sesame Street.
Ah yes, the difficult concepts of near and far. Michaela and I have been working on those for a few months now. We stand by the mirror and jump back and forth saying near and far. She laughs and smiles and when we're done she says, "Mah," which means "more" in Michaelanese.

But some day she'll grow up and have those concepts nailed down. She'll know that things that are near are things she can touch and see and interact with. She'll learn that things that are far are often out of reach. They are the things she can't see, can't touch, can't change, can't do anything about. She'll learn just like we all do what near and far mean.

But Jesus must not have watched Sesame Street, because He doesn't seem to have learned this lesson.

Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. - John 4:46
So Jesus is back in Cana. There is a man from the next town over whose son is dying back home. He comes looking for Jesus and begs Him to heal his son. It must have been serious and he must have tried a lot of other things to get his son well. Usually the last thing people do is run around the country looking for holy men to heal their kids.

The royal official said, "Sir, come down before my child dies." - John 4:49

He begs Jesus to come back to Capernaum to help him.  Near and far. This man understands the concept. I can picture what this father might have been thinking and saying as he begged the Lord.   Jesus, we are in Cana and my son is dying in Capernaum. That's far away, twenty miles to be exact. We can't do anything to help him from here. Please Jesus, come down to Capernaum with me. If we leave now, we might get there in time for you to save him.

"Go," Jesus replied, "your son will live." The man took Jesus at his word and departed. - John 4:50

What an under appreciated little verse. We're so used to Jesus healing people in the New Testament that it's easy for this to just seem like any other person He healed. But there's something special about what He does here. Jesus heals a boy that is 20 miles away with just a few words! Your son will live. The man later finds out that his son got better at the very moment that Jesus was speaking with him. It didn't take any time for Jesus' words to act with power even from so far away.

With Jesus, far is near. We may not be able to see or touch or interact with or change things that are far away. But Jesus can. Wherever you are, no matter how far you may feel from God, Jesus is near. He sees you and your need. You're not outside of His reach. He can change your life in an instant. You don't need to be in the right room, building, or even city to be touched by God.

What's also incredible about this story is that the royal official believes Jesus. He takes Jesus at His word. Oh how much more simple life would be if we did that! I think of the times God has seemed far and life has seemed so difficult and I read a verse that tells me God is with me and will work all things out for good. I think of all the times I've read those verses and not taken God at His word. So I stress and I fret and I worry and God ends up keeping His promise. Instead, I could have walked away with joy trusting God would do as He said.

Today, be reminded. You and I may struggle with near and far. But God isn't limited by a few miles. Even when He feels far away, remember that far is near to God. You can turn to Him anytime, any place. And remember to take Him at His word.  His Word is final and He is faithful to keep His promises.

Here's a little reminder that near and far are child's play to the Creator of the Universe.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Why Easter is the Super Bowl Sunday of Christianity

Would football Jesus be the coach, the quarterback, or the wide receiver?
Did you know that Easter is bigger than Christmas?  I know it may not seem like it.  For Christmas, we spend months decorating, planning, and shopping.  We dish out a thousand or more dollars to buy gifts and host huge parties.  We go on vacations and return home to visit family.  We tell elaborate stories about Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty and we might even set up a Nativity scene and go to midnight mass or service.

On Easter, we paint eggs, eat candy, have dinner, and call it a day.  But I'm telling you, Easter is bigger than Christmas.  Easter is the biggest day of the year for Christians.  It's our Super Bowl Sunday.  Why?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Wanna see a Miracle?

Burning bush.  Parting of the Red Sea.  Angelic appearances.  The walls of Jericho.  The resurrection.  All were crazy awesome miracles.  And you and I didn't get to see a single one of them.  Just once, wouldn't it be awesome to see a miracle?  Why did Moses, the prophets, and the apostles get to have all of the fun?  It would be amazing to actually see God doing something real in my life.  It would be a huge anchor for tough times when doubt creeps in.  But it seems that spotting a miracles is harder than finding Waldo in those old picture books.

Which is harder: Spotting a miracle or finding Jesus in this biblical Where's Waldo pic?