As I said on Twitter, this guy is right!

58d93-6a00d83451607369e201347ffa45fd970c-piNY Post review of La La Land

I watch La la land the other day with a good buddy and my dear wife Vicky.  Yes, there were some enjoyable places in the film.  I enjoyed the music…dancing was so-so and characters were interesting.  The problem for me is that it garnered SO many Academy Award nominations.  I wouldn’t even put it in the top films of the year.  Now, I’m not a big movie reviewer…but what I am is a cultural student.  Hollywood loves to obsess on itself.  When there are movies with REAL meaning, with deep moral and spiritual messages, and life-changing and, actually, history making events, this movie is shallow at best in comparison.  And 14 Nominations?  That is a travesty.  BUT it is an indicator of narcissism that is what Hollywood has primarily loved to embrace.  SEE ANY of the other movies…all of the remaining best pic nominees have so much more to offer you.  Yeah, rent La La Land.  In fact, the title alone demonstrates its triviality.  Ok, so I’m a bit harsh…

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The End of Language as we know it? Interesting and Provocative article

1Here’s an interesting article for you to read – LINK

Or the old fashioned way – https://paulwilkinson.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/the-erosion-of-language-as-we-knew-it/

Paul’s thesis is very interesting…his observations may not necessarily shock you but this one thing is true – language is changing and “standards” of communication seem to exist no more.  I remember when I was marked down on papers I wrote for using “too much slang.”  Now, I have to be careful (as a college professor) not to offend someone when they utilize “street” language because that language may be “racialized.”  Not only that but NO ONE can debate the impact of the demise of cursive writing, e-books, keyboarding skills and cell phone usage and it’s impact on communication (especially as Paul discusses, the impending demise of bookstores).  Anyway, I think you will like the article.  Comment if you want…I’d love to see what you think!

GREAT = defusing the antagonism between progressive and conservative Jesus followers – thank you Patheos

1This morning I read a great article that I am posting below.  It is VERY HELPFUL in confronting what has become a disturbing trend in USA Christianity…political rants.  I’m not going to say any more about this with the exception that this article is the prophetic call to faithfulness that we need at this time.  Here’s the link if you want to read it yourself from Dr. Scot McKnight’s blog.  Otherwise, thank you John Frye for you wisdom and insight.

The Gospel in 3D (John Frye)
Jan 13, 2017 

I imagine most Jesus Creed readers have attended a major motion picture filmed in 3D. With those amazing 3D glasses you sense that you are not merely seeing a film, you are living in it. I remember my first 3D film when I was eight years old (1955). With technology nowhere near as sophisticated as today, when the jungle natives threw their spears (a Tarzan movie) toward the camera, my mother said I yelled and ducked behind the seats. The spears were flying through the theater right at me. Back then you had paper 3D glasses with a red lens and blue lens.

Did you ever take the current high tech 3D glasses off while the film was showing? With some buddies I was watching an IMAX 3D film about NASCAR races. The sights, the sounds, the action consumed you. I took the glasses off and almost fell over from dizziness. The giant screen seem weirdly distorted. The glasses serve an important part in the 3D experience.

The gospel of the New Testament was filmed in 3D if I may continue the analogy. “The Word became flesh and lived among us.” It was not two dimensional “good news.” The same Apostle John wrote that he touched Jesus, heard him, saw him. When Jesus broke bread he handed some to John 3D.

Today, the evangelical Left sees Jesus though the blue lens. The evangelical Right sees Jesus through the red lens. Not seeing Jesus in 3D has created one the most dizzying, even appalling election campaigns in USAmerican history. To this day I am stunned by the uncivil discourse between the two “Christian” sides; talk often laced with profanity.
If ever the evangelical church has sold its birthright (the Gospel) for a mess of political porridge, it is now. The Left Jesus-group (elitist) wants to hold the Right Jesus-group (populist) accountable. The Right does the same to the Left. Stringent demands for political repentance are yelled across the red-blue divide with seemingly no sense whatsoever of the blatant sins created inherent in the divide itself. And the popular cop-out used by both sides— “Well, I’m just doing my civic duty as a U. S. citizen”—is pishposh (to use a McKnightism, who got it from Mencken). The Gospel doesn’t have a Democratic clause or Republican clause that excuses the ugliest of human behaviors for Christians. The more deplorable the candidates are (and I believe both are deeply flawed) is no excuse for Christians to act like jerks.

It is pathetic and beneath the Gospel of the Kingdom of God for Jesus to be recruited by either side. As if that were even possible! Last time I checked my New Testament, I saw Jesus in still King with all authority in heaven and earth. He is not Left (blue) and he is not Right (red). He is the color of pristine, searing justice, and if there was ever a time that the deplorable, unjust state of the evangelical church has become the target of the judgement of Jesus Christ, it is now.

The lost truth is this: Jesus Christ will judge his church. The Left and the Right thinks, “Well, it certainly won’t be us.” When the church acts just like the world, we are in jeopardy. This political season has pulled the hypocritical mask off both sides revealing mean-spirited, foul-language driven, power-seeking factions who think fleeting politics are some sort of safe foundation. Idolatry to the core.

“When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor 11:32 emphasis added).

My hope is that the church in the USA will rediscover the Gospel of Jesus Christ in IMAX 3D. To reimagine the realm we live in under the phenomenal King. Let his Way temper our spirits, frame our speech, and direct our actions. Only the 3D Gospel of the New Testament will unite the church and then energize the church to show this broken world “the new way of being human.”

Have a teachable spirit!

 

1“Once when Jesus had been out praying, one of his disciples came to him as he finished and said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray…”  Luke 11:1

I’ve always been amazed at those who have a teachable spirit.  When my kids were small there would always be times to teach them something new.  Whether it would be learning to ride a bike or build a model airplane.  I loved those times!  As a teacher, it is awe-inspiring to have students in a class that actually want to learn.  There is nothing that gets a teacher more motivated than students who have a hunger for new information and personal transformation.  All I have to do is take a moment, look into the eyes of those in class and I can discern in a heartbeat their level of connectedness in the learning endeavor.  Frankly, learning does not occur when the learner hasn’t invested in the process.  Learning in some respects is one of the most life-threatening experiences in human existence.  To learn means that we are required to change, even sacrifice, for the sake of what we know.  I think most of us intuitively know that…which may explain why we choose to connect or disconnect with the learning process during times in our lives.  Thomas Merton once wrote, “The purpose of any education is to show a person how to define himself/herself authentically and spontaneously in relation to his/her world.”  Once you understand what Merton is trying to say, maybe that accounts for your own personal adherence or disdain for learning and growing.  Truthfully, only you know what is in the depth of your own heart and spirit in terms of growth in knowledge and spiritual authenticity.

Now, you would think that a passion for learning would be something that would be commonplace in the Body of Christ.  You would think that every Christ-follower would be fervent about learning and growing.  But that’s not often the case.  Over my years in local churches, I’ve looked upon the lives of those who think they have “learned it all” when it comes to their walk with God.  Messages at worship gatherings are often met with a flat emotional disengagement…learning opportunities are often evaded or put off because of the business of life.  We’ll follow the box scores of our favorite teams…watch countless hours of the Food Network and learn the latest gourmet recipes…we’ll memorize the schedule of our favorite TV shows or spend hours discovering how to beat the latest video game that we buy…but learn the truth that can set us free?  “Mmm, let me see if I have time for that?”

I wonder what would have happened to the disciples of Jesus if they didn’t have a passion to learn and grow?  The disciples often get a bad rap because it appears to many that often they just didn’t get it!  Even so, isn’t that the beginning of learning?  Isn’t that the outward appearance of a life that is open to further growth and development?  Go back in biblical history and as you do, you’ll see that discipleship implied that the individual who sought to be a faithful follower had as a key distinction in their life an all-consuming desire to be and know everything that their “rabbi” (or teacher) knew.  Children by the age of 12 often knew the entire Old Testament by memory.  Young boys by the age of 15 were making commitments to follow rabbis for fifteen years…being “covered in the dust of their rabbi” was the pressing goal and desire.  They wanted to know all that the rabbi knew so that the knowledge and the new action and lifestyle that proceeded from that new learning would transform their lives and set them free.  Knowledge was meant to lead to change.  They knew that…that’s why they pursued it!

I wonder…God wonders, where is your teachable spirit?  Do you have a hunger and thirst for the ways of God?  Do you NOT get it?  I don’t!  I need to learn!  I need to know more of God!  I need to know another kernel of truth that can take root in my life and grow.  How about you?

Today’s meditation has to do with seeking God for a teachable spirit in your life.  Won’t you take this time seriously and pursue God in that manner?

The following meditation comes from the book, Prayer Portions, by Sylvia Gunter:

  1. The first element of an open and teachable heart is God at work, seeking us and wooing us close to Himself. As the lover of our souls, He initiates our drawing near to Him.  Read Isaiah 55:1-2, Psalm 65:4, Jeremiah 31:3, Hosea 11:4
  2. The next element of an open heart and teachable spirit is to desire Jesus. How do you desire Jesus?  We simply ask God to fill our hearts with a desire for Him above all else.  Read Jeremiah 30:21, Ezekiel 36:26-27, Psalm 27:4,8.
  3. We cannot fake desire. God sees just as we are.  He knows our innermost thoughts and desires.  Read Psalm 44:21b, Jeremiah 12:3.  How does God respond?  Jeremiah 24:7.
  4. Another element of a teachable heart is complete abandon. God desires that we give Him our whole hearts, that we give ourselves to Him completely, withholding nothing.  Read Deuteronomy 4:29, 6:5, 1 Samuel 12:24, Psalm 84:10, Psalm 86:11.
  5. Another element of a teachable heart is repentance and humility. What is God’s command to Him people?  Read Ezekiel 18:30-31.
  6. Another element is to yearn to be more and more like Jesus. What did Moses ask?  Read Exodus 33:13.  What did David ask?  Read Psalm 119:33-35.  What was Paul’s passion?  Read Philippians 3:8, 10.
  7. The more we love Him, the more intimacy we enjoy with Him. How does Paul appeal to us?  Read 2 Corinthians 6:11-13.  What was Paul’s model for this action and appeal?  Read Romans 8:32.
  8. God our Father first opened His heart to you, withholding nothing, not even His own precious Son. You have all of Him.  Likewise, come before Him, offering Him your open, undivided heart and complete affection.  Does He have all of you?  Below, write Jesus a letter of commitment and openness to Him.

Now, it is your turn…”Dear Jesus…”