Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wrath Vs Grace

So for all my commentary on Heather Zempel's fantastic sermon from last weekend, I actually haven't unpacked wrath yet and put some thoughts to it. Obviously it's awesome and you should check it out.

I've been reading Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christianity and really enjoying it. And while I haven't agreed with everything I've read there's a lot of good insight and reframing that's really nice. McLaren's chapters on the concept of God being violent are actually where he and I disagree most... Not because he's wrong or off his rocker, but I've just had an issue wrapping my head around his points. They're not bad points or far fetched, I'm just still working through what he had to say.

But that is all beside the point. And you'd think if I was going to use something from his book in my talking about God's wrath you'd think it would be from his chapter about God as violent. But it's not. Because McLaren, when talking about reframing the narrative of the bible, used the same text Heather used when talking about God's wrath. So let's go to Genesis 3.

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life."

This story, as most of us have been thought, is about when man rebelled against God and sin entered the world. But both McLaren and Zempel reframe this story a little differently. Eve and Adam disobey God by eating of the tree of knowledge. In Genesis 2:17 God says "But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die."

Eve confirms this is Genesis 3 when she responds to the Serpent. And I don't think I'd ever really thought about it until reading McLaren's book that Adam and Eve don't die when they eat the fruit. Genesis 3 isn't just the story of sin entering the world. It's more importantly the story of God's grace entering the world! God doesn't kill Adam and Eve for their mistake. Instead, he offers grace and shows his love. He not only doesn't kill Adam and Eve but he also makes them clothes to cover their nakedness. As Heather pointed out, there is a sacrifice made in Adam and Eve's place. An animal did have to die to make those clothes for the two of them. But God, in this moment of mans first downfall, extends grace and shows his love.

And then I start thinking about all the times in the Old Testament when God extends his grace and doesn't pour out his wrath.

"At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. So the LORD let him alone." ~ Exodus 4:24-26

On top of that, how many times does God, in his frustration say he's going to kill the Israelites but Moses intervenes on their behalf and prays that God won't destroy the people but will remember his promise that they would be his people? How many times did Abraham pray for Sodom and Gomorrah before God, who can't even find 10 righteous people, destroys it? And before he destroys it, shows grace to Lot and his family by making sure they escape the city before he destroys it.

Now there are consequences for sinning against God and that's where we see his wrath. Lot's wife disobeys God and turns to look upon the city as they're fleeing and turns into a pillar of salt. Israel wanders the dessert for 40 years so that an entire generation dies before they can enter the promise land. Adam must now work the earth. Eve has to endure the pain of childbearing. But where God's wrath is, his love and grace are intertwined.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fighting Losing Battles

I try to stay away from political debates and Christianity because it’s pointless. Because people will almost always disagree with me and because I'm just a guy in search of answers and trying to do what's right, I don't ever really know what I'm talking about (which I'm pretty honest about).

The only time I stick my nose into Christian political battles is when it comes to homosexuality. Why? Because I get upset when people talk about gays getting married being the destruction of America. Like that's the straw that's breaking the awesome moral fiber of this godly country.

So gay and lesbian couples can now get married in the state of New York and people are upset.

I don't want to talk about homosexuality as a sin or if it's right or wrong for gays and lesbians to get married. But I do want to discuss the battles Christians pick and choose.

Because I think we should all be able to agree that there are bigger problems in America then gays being allowed to marry. If that is what we perceive as our biggest morality issue in America then we have big problems.

Innocence is Dead. That statement is true whether you believe it or not. Disney has declared they're not doing princess movies anymore because young girls are just not interested anymore in being princesses. They're more interested in boys and fashion and whatever else. It's a problem.

I've been on a kick about speaking potential and love into the lives of those around us, especially our young girls and women. What about reclaiming innocence as well? Is it even possible? Can we undo the damage done?

ABC "Family" is one of the most offensive channels to me. Their branding of what family is disturbs me. I'll just start with Secret Life of the American Teenager, aka Little Whores of America. Is it really appropriate to have a show based around teenage girls having sex and having babies? High school dropouts with children dealing with immature teenage boys who are fickle and leave and comeback and leave again? Is this the type of family image we want our children watching? I know I don't like my sisters watching this show.

MTV has 16 and pregnant. I believe there's a show about teenage moms. And I don't know if I buy into the claims that shows like these discourage teenage pregnancy. I don't think shows like this are preventing teenage sex and in doing so, no matter how careful anyone is, it doesn't prevent teenage pregnancy.

Can we reclaim innocence when trash like this is on tv all the time? Is it possible?

I look at my cousin, who at the age of 11 or 12 says she's had dozens of "boyfriends". Really? I'll say this again, we have been careless. Is there an element of bad parenting in the loss of innocence, absolutely. But I don't know if it's possible, even with all the best parenting skills in the world, to shelter children from everything that's out there now.

And I can't help but think what if we were less concerned with rallying against gay marriage and spent more time trying to reclaim innocence within our young children? What would that look like? Wouldn't it involve speaking better things into our children's lives?

Am I being naive? Is this even possible? Even if it’s not, isn’t it worth trying?

Monday, June 27, 2011

When Adam Named Eve Pt 2

I didn't really intend to make this a series blog but the idea has stuck so deeply in my brain and infected my soul that I have to continue to talk about the idea of naming our women and the words we use.

A year ago Christine Caine spoke at NCC and like Heather Zempel this past weekend, she made a statement that really stuck with me. She made the statement that people had been careless with her life. That the lost aren't always lost because they're bad people. That other people have been careless with their lives and now they're lost.

And in relation to naming peoples potential and speaking worth into people's lives, we've been careless. And men have been careless about the words they speak into women's lives. And I know I'm guilty of this.

Whether its fathers or brothers, boyfriends, or friends, we have got to do a better job at speaking love and beauty into girls. Because I know too many young girls with already messy relational pasts and bad ideas of what a man, a father, and sadly, even what a godly man is. It's not good. And it needs to stop. Because it's happening to girls at younger and younger ages. 14 year old girls should not be sexual active and having babies... We have been careless.

It's heartbreaking. And I talk to people with twisted ideas of what love is and what is "normal" guy behavior and it's upsetting. I just think to myself, God has so much more for these girls and women and if they just had someone in their life to speak real truth and love into their lives and to set a solid of example of what a godly man is.

I don't have an answer or anything grand to say really. But I am disturbed in my soul at what I see. Heather Zempel said we have the power to speak potential into our women's live and that's all I'm saying. I just want to encourage men to speak better things to the women and girls in their life. To stop being careless with others lives. Because things are not headed in a positive direction.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Walking Spinning Backing Free

About a year ago, someone who would become a close friend of mine confided that they were struggling with God and weren't sure if they could believe in God. The last year has been spent in dialogue and conversation, answering questions and being honest with each other. Over the last year, countless bible verse of encouragement, challenging words and articles sent, in an attempt to get my friend to a level where God was something real, moving, beautiful, meaningful, anything...

It all came full circle in a note I got this week that was probably the most meaningful and touching thing anyone has ever said to me.

I'm not special. I don't have all the answers (anyone reading this blog knows this). But I didn't need to be. I just needed to be available and honest, and try.

Isn't that all loving people really takes? Being available to be open and honest and there with someone? I know I'm making this way to simple but sometimes people just need a hug and real conversation. If God can use me to influence someone and help them see and hear God, he can use anyone. Put yourself out there and be available... It's that simple sometimes.

Cars 2 - A Review of Sorts

So... I saw Cars 2 on Friday and I loved it! I think Pixar delivered another fun movie. A movie I will be buying when it's released on DVD and honestly, a movie I might go see in theaters again. And as I watched the film, I kept thinking, why do critics hate this movie so much? I don't get it.

I guess at the end of the day, people expect more from Pixar. The heart that every Pixar film has isn't really in Cars 2 and at times is a little forced and gimmicky. Like they had to have something deeper. And so there's tension with Mater and Lightning McQueen. The message is still a good one. Be yourself, no matter what others think and true friends will always stand by you no matter what. Good, positive message. But it's not the same as say Up, or Toy Story 3. There's an element to that part of the story in Cars 2 that just seems secondary. And if you're expecting something deep and heartfelt, then there's a level of disappointment.

But on a pure movie level, on an entertainment level, Cars 2 is fantastic! It's James Bond in Cars form. Yeah, it's a little mindless but it's still entertaining. The first thing one notices is how, once again, Pixar's animation has taken a step forward. This might be their greatest film on a purely visual level. The opening of the film at sea, the water looks incredible. The scenery in France, Italy, and London is gorgeous and in particular when they're racing through the streets of London at the end of the film, I was struck with just how amazing all the background looked.

The racing scenes are more compelling. A road course with twists and turns has to be better then your Nascar circle right? There are gunfights, chase scenes, and tons of action. On top of that, the movie is pretty funny. A couple of jokes for the adults in the room, which I always appreciate. As a movie fan, I was entertained. As a Pixar fan, not disappointed. Was it their best film, no. Was it better then the first Cars, I enjoyed it more.

If you're on the fence, I say go see it. I loved it. I would also say, the price of admission is worth it just to watch the Toy Story, Hawaiian Vacation short at the beginning of the film. That was well worth the price of the two tickets I bought Friday.

When Adam Named Eve

So church this morning produced a bunch of different thoughts and questions in my mind. And it's awesome. That's how church should work and a sermon on wrath better have me asking lots of questions and thinking about a lot of various things.

But this post isn't really about wrath. It's about a side note in today's message.

Genesis 3:20 - Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

A little verse that probably doesn't get a lot of attention paid to it. It happens. Heather Zempel took a moment to say a quick word about Adam choosing Eve's name. I don't think it had ever occurred to me before that Eve didn't have a name until after they had gotten kicked out of the garden.

Her point was in the name chosen. Eve, the mother of all the living. After all that had happened, eating of the tree of knowledge, being kicked out of the garden, Adam chose to name her for what she would become. He saw and named her potential. Heather commented that men need to be thinking about how they name their women. And I couldn't agree more.

Women are to be cherished and loved. And we should be speaking to their potential.

But more then that, we need to be careful what we say to each other. Sticks and stones isn't really a true statement. Words hurt and you never know who's dwelling on what you say. Statements like you're a coward, you're a loser, you dummy, have a deeper and more lasting impact that we think. And we need to really be careful what we say. I'm guilty of saying some pretty hurtful things and I have no idea what kind of impact those words have had. I know I've said some things said to me that have had a negative lasting. I've also had some things said that have had a positive lasting impact.

Words that cure are always better then words that hurt.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Bible On the Coffee Table

6 or 7 years ago I wrote a song called The Bible of the Coffee Table (Has Never Been Opened). It is probably the best song lyrically I ever wrote and the demo recorded was also probably the best vocal performance I've ever given. I would love to be able to post the song but I do not have the demo to that song anymore. I'm sure my old roommate and an ex-girlfriend both have copies but I do not.

Anyway, I was thinking about this song last night. Because I don't have a copy of the song the lyrics are foggy to me (The music on the other hand I can play perfectly. Go figure) I know the first line of the chorus went, And what if I threw everything away, would still care. The song is about deciding whether or not God is still an important person in ones life. The verses talked about staring at the bible and trying to decide if the fair tale like stories from childhood had any place in our adult life and if the protagonist in song was going to jump in and believe or throw out all that they had believed as a child and youth.

The song was written about what I saw happening to friends of mine. I saw too many people after high school, go to college and if not walk away from their faith, lessen its priority in their life. And it saddened me. To be fair, my life and faith were taking their own struggled walk together and from the point where I wrote this song to about the time I turned 23 or so I fought with the faith and Christianity I grew up in and the kind of life I was discovering through studying the bible and having in conversations with fellow believers.

So what’s the point of this post? I have no idea really. I just start typing and things happen. I guess the statement from the chorus of this song, What if I threw everything away, has been a question I’ve asked myself many times and in a way I feel like it’s a statement come true… In many ways I feel like I’ve thrown everything. For better or for worse the Christianity that I grew up knowing isn’t the Christianity I live in now. And to be honest it was a hard fought battle with myself between trying to live in a way that I had grown up knowing I was supposed to live and living my life how I was living it. It was a struggle and I really hated myself for not being the type of outward Christian that I thought was more… Acceptable? Can one be a Christian and look so different from the churches I had grown up in? Could I have so many different ideas and beliefs? It was a fight I was constantly having with myself.

What changed? God came and healed me in a major way. So major that even as I type I’m tearing up. There are two moments in my life where God has physically touched me. And this is the second. I had the condo to myself and was having an all out fight with God via prayer. I was struggling with my life and things weren’t good and I remember asking God to just help me overcome this constant battle between what I thought being a Christian should look like and how I knew I should be living. And I remember in this moment feeling a physical weight literally being lifted from my shoulders. I felt the burden lifted and God said I didn’t have to worry about trying to look or act out the faith or Christianity I had grown up in. And I fell to the floor laughing and crying… So happy and relieved. In that moment I threw everything away and knew that life could go forward and that my faith in God wasn’t defined by any of these outward things that I had felt for a long time didn’t really matter. It was a beautiful moment.

And that’s why this song is still real to me. That’s why I wish I had a copy. I don’t understand how life goes in so many different directions for so many people and I hate seeing friends who walk away from God or just aren’t as moved by the Gospel as I am. How can people not feel or be moved by something that daily challenges me and moves me in emotional and new ways. How can they throw everything away?

Well this post took an unexpected and super personal turn… If you’re reading this, God Loves You! More then any of us could ever comprehend.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wood Heart

It was about 2 weeks ago that I first heard Listener's Wooden Heart (the song, not the album) and it was about 2 weeks ago that I became a Listener fan. I listened to Wooden Heart a good couple dozen times, each time, my heart aching just a little bit.

The song is about being broken people, something I think everyone can relate to. The lyrics are moving and deep and Dan Smith delivers each line with a sense of passion and heart wrenching emotion that its hard for me not to tear up and connect with him on this track.

Enjoy the song and read along.

We’re all born to broken people on their most honest day of living
and since that first breath... We’ll need grace that we’ve never given
I've been haunted by standard red devils and white ghosts
and it's not only when these eyes are closed
these lies are ropes that I tie down in my stomach,
but they hold this ship together tossed like leaves in this weather
and my dreams are sails that I point towards my true north,
stretched thin over my rib bones, and pray that it gets better
but it won’t won’t, at least I don’t believe it will...
so I've built a wooden heart inside this iron ship,
to sail these blood red seas and find your coasts.
don’t let these waves wash away your hopes
this war-ship is sinking, and I still believe in anchors
pulling fist fulls of rotten wood from my heart, I still believe in saviours
but I know that we are all made out of shipwrecks, every single board
washed and bound like crooked teeth on these rocky shores
so come on and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

I am the barely living son of a woman and man who barely made it
but we’re making it taped together on borrowed crutches and new starts
we all have the same holes in our hearts...
everything falls apart at the exact same time
that it all comes together perfectly for the next step
but my fear is this prison... that I keep locked below the main deck
I keep a key under my pillow, it’s quiet and it’s hidden
and my hopes are weapons that I’m still learning how to use right
but they’re heavy and I’m awkward...always running out of fight
so I’ve carved a wooden heart, put it in this sinking ship
hoping it would help me float for just a few more weeks
because I am made out of shipwrecks, every twisted beam
lost and found like you and me scattered out on the sea
so come on let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, just some tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

My throat it still tastes like house fire and salt water
I wear this tide like loose skin, rock me to sea
if we hold on tight we’ll hold each other together
and not just be some fools rushing to die in our sleep
all these machines will rust I promise, but we'll still be electric
shocking each other back to life
Your hand in mine, my fingers in your veins connected
our bones grown together inside
our hands entwined, your fingers in my veins braided
our spines grown stronger in time
because are church is made out of shipwrecks
from every hull these rocks have claimed
but we pick ourselves up, and try and grow better through the change
so come on y'all and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, were just tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Casey Weston... I barely loved you.

So I've been watching the Voice. And I love it. Last night, 18 year old Casey Weston sang I Will Always Love You and I feel in love with her. Well tonight she was voted off... And it's sad.

If you didn't see her performance, you can watch it below.

Dear Future Wife. Cookies. I Love Them!

I will be honest right from the start. Part of my reasoning for writing this blog is to get free cookies. I'll admit that I'm not above throwing out that I love cookies on the internet in hopes that girls who might be pining for my affection will in fact bring me cookies. Sorry world, I am willing to sink that low. It's terrible. You would not be wrong in judging me.

But the title of this blog could have just been a tweet and it would have accomplished my goals. So because I'm writing a blog, there must be more to say on the subject that is less shallow then just wanting cookies from pretty girls (which I will still accept).

Don Miller posted a blog this week about making a list of things you want in your future spouse. This is the same advice I gave a friend of mine a couple weeks ago and its advice that I myself have undertaken.

One of the things I put in my list is likes to bake. No spiritual or emotional significance to this, I just want a girl that likes to bake.

I grew up in a house where baking happened all the time. My mom bakes constantly. She bakes because she wants to most of the time. And I, as someone who enjoys eating baked goods, like this. And we all know that guys want to marry girls like their mom so... Obviously, my future wife should also enjoy baking.

Two years ago for Christmas my mom filled my stocking with all sorts of assorted breads and muffins. It was awesome. Christmas time is like cookie heaven at the Patton household. I don't think my brother-in-law desired cookies at Christmas the way he does now until he started dating my sister. Seriously guys, there are all sorts of cookies. Oatmeal Scotchies, Gingerbread Men, Snicker Doodles, Ginger Snaps, Peanut Butter. Not to mention eggnog bread, coffee cakes, and all sorts of other yummy treats.

Favorite Christmas Cookie Pastime: Breaking and eating JUST the heads off the Gingerbread Men.

Too be fair my love of baked goods doesn't just come from my mom baking all the time. My grandfather bakes too. His cinnamon rolls... I would kill a man for his cinnamon rolls. The knowledge that my grandfather will be around always makes me happy because it generally means there will be cinnamon rolls or homemade doughnuts. Both are excellent.

So I love cookies. And pies, cupcakes, breads, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and other sweet and delicious baked goods.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hope and Despair Go Hand in Hand

If I were to be honest, I'd say I don't always believe God is in control. Like I said last week, life is hard. And even though God is always good, I don't always believe he's in control. And life makes me question and examine and pray prayers that are tough. It's not something I view as a crisis of faith or doubt in God's ability to take care of me. But tough times call for tough questions. Because if I don't re-examine or re-question, then I start to have doubts. Both in God and myself.

The question asked at the beginning of the message last night at church was "Does God hold the whole world in his hands?" It's a heavy question and in that instance, I knew it was going to be a tough sermon for me. And then Lamentations 3 was read.

I feel a kinship with the writers of the bible, especially David and Jeremiah. Between the Psalms and Lamentations, there's a lot of pain and there's a lot of tough prayers. And I appreciate more each day that they're in the bible. Because it serves as a reminder that life isn't always easy and in our anguish and pain we can call out to God and ask why. It makes me feel better about my own prayers, knowing that the Psalms are full of David's cries.

Did I mention last night's sermon was about God's faithfulness?

Lamentations 3 isn't really the model scripture for God's Faithfulness if you ask me.

1 [a]I am the man who has seen affliction
by the rod of the LORD’s wrath.
2 He has driven me away and made me walk
in darkness rather than light;
3 indeed, he has turned his hand against me
again and again, all day long.

10 Like a bear lying in wait,
like a lion in hiding,
11 he dragged me from the path and mangled me
and left me without help.
12 He drew his bow
and made me the target for his arrows.

13 He pierced my heart
with arrows from his quiver.
14 I became the laughingstock of all my people;
they mock me in song all day long.

17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the LORD.”

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.

These are tough words that brought tears to my eyes last night. Because I can understand the pain. I think everyone can. No matter how long you've followed God at one point or another we feel like God has turned his back on us and our hope is gone. I know many times over the last year and a half in my frustration and desperation I've said "God why?" It's hard to see God answering the prayers of those around you while yours seem to only hit the ceiling. And that's when I begin to question my faith in God and if my faithfulness is preventing God from working in my life. And I don't have an answer. Because I don't know. I don't know why persons A, B, and C find jobs while myself and persons D, E, and F all struggle to find work. It doesn't seem fair. It doesn't make sense and at some point I begin to question if God works in that way.

But Lamentations 3 doesn't end with this pit of despair.

21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.

Despite whatever isn't happening in my life and despite whatever is going wrong or falling down around me, God is faithful. No full-time job in a year and a half but the money has always been there for me to pay my bills. The answer I'm looking for isn't always how God is going to answer a prayer. Because he's faithful even when I'm not.

It's why I'm able to sing "You are the Faithful ONE" with a smile on my face and mean every word. Because God is always faithful.

It's Pixar Week

We have reached what is normally my favorite week of the summer; The week leading up to the release of Pixar's newest film. This year it's Cars 2.

I have a no so secret obsession with Pixar. All you have to do is walk into my room to see that I love Pixar. From posters to toys, from books to piggy banks, it's obvious I love Pixar. I own all the films plus the DVD collection of all their shorts.

I loved Toy Story when it came out in 1995. 11 year old me loved the movie and 26 year old me still loves it. I could quote the movie at age 11 and I still can today. I must have watched Toy Story a dozen times in anticipation for Toy Story 3. When Toy Story 1 and 2 were re-released to theaters in 3D, I saw them. I love Toy Story.

But I must confess, although I've always loved Toy Story, I've not always been a huge Pixar fan. A Bug's Life went more or less unnoticed. Toy Story was good, but not the original. I don't remember seeing Monster's Inc till later into my Pixar love and Finding Nemo wasn't a film I loved when I first saw it either.

But The Incredibles would change things forever. It's a super hero movie so instantly the little boy inside of me was in love. I LOVE THE INCREDIBLES!!! Seriously, LOVE IT! 2 hours of awesome. If you don't like The Incredibles I would suggest that something might be wrong with you. The Incredibles is probably the reason why my brother-in-law Jake and I are such good friends. We both have an unhealthy common love for this film.

I'm not kidding. I have an Incredibles t-shirt, a Mr. Incredible action figure, an Incredibles piggy bank. I also have 3 posters. One of Mr. Incredible and 2 official movie posters. And even if you watched the Incredibles and thought, "That movie was ok", there's NO WAY you could have not loved the short Jack Jack Attack!

After The Incredibles, I knew that Pixar and I were going to have a long, loving relationship. I went back and watch Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo, falling in love with those films.

I liked Cars. It was an enjoyable film and when I watched it now, I feel like it's an unfairly judged film. Ratatouille was a great film and Wall-E has so much charm that one can't hate it.
And then Pixar decided that making great films was no longer an option. They were going to make the best films.

Up was amazing! It should have won Best Picture. Up was so much more then a great animated film or an excellent kid’s movie. Up was an amazing movie for everyone. I didn't think anyone didn't like Up until I talked to my friend Jay. Up has a lot of heart. I've seen up like 50+ times and it will still bring tears to my eyes. Up set the bar super high.

And Toy Story 3 jumped that bar. Again, should have won Best Picture. As such a big fan of the first film Toy Story 3 did a great job at capturing everything I love about the original but giving the film more heart and soul. If we're honest, Toy Story 3 was a movie made for people like me. The film brought tears to my eyes, and at one moment had me ready to jump out of my movie seat and scream at John Lasseter, who was going to let Lee Unkrich kill off Buzz Lightyear. Thankfully Buzz and the gang lived. But that's how compelling the film was (Or maybe it's how big of a loser I am, I'm not sure).

So Cars 2 is about to be dropped on the world and too be honest, my expectations are super high. I mean, both Up and Toy Story 3 were my favorite films the years they were released and both of those movies are absolutely amazing! The trailers for Cars 2 have been great. They showcase a lot of action, an interesting story line, and the latest trailer shows that there's going to be a lot of heart in this film, and that's exactly what makes Pixar Films the best. Not only are the stories amazing, fun, and full of action. But at their core there's something deep and move that connects with the viewers.

So I’m excited for Cars 2. Enjoy Pixar week. Watch the first Cars. Heck, watch all the Pixar Films! You won’t regret it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Curse of Perfect Days

Can we be honest? Life sucks. Am I right? From the crushing and life changing (death, divorce/break-ups, loss of jobs) to the minor (stuck in traffic, too hot, no apple pies at McDonalds) life is hard. And most of the time our (my) response is not very positive. I get mad at McDonalds for not having apple pies. I curse at the car in front of me not moving faster. I question and get angry with God for the death of a loved one....

Our response is natural. We want answers to the why questions. Why did my grandfather die? Why did my parents get divorced? Why didn't my girlfriend want to be with me anymore? Why doesn't McDonalds have apple pies when it's on the menu? (Clearly I'm upset at McDonalds for never having apple pies).

And we see this response of frustration in the bible. Moses throws down and breaks the 10 commandments when he comes down the mountain and sees the people dancing around the golden calf (Exodus 32:19). Jesus gets frustrated at the people in the temple and over turns the tables and drives the people out making money in God's house. And next time you read the gospels and Jesus tells a parable and then the disciples come up and ask what he meant, just insert a sigh before Jesus' response.

But about 8 years ago I read a verse that changed the way I view the difficult days.

"So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

He replied, “You are talking like a foolish[b] woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

In all this, Job did not sin in what he said."

Job 2:7-10

Job is having a rough day or two. First he loses all his livestock, workers, and children. But that isn't good enough for Satan who decides he needs to up the stakes and inflicts Job with sores. I think in another translation it says boils. Yikes. Job at this point is probably not stoked. But Job doesn't say anything. Just goes into a mourning period.

Mrs. Job on the other hand is none to please. She just lost all she had too! And her husband is now covered with sores and probably not looking to hot. So she's pissed. Who can blame her? She just wants her husband to get angry and go ape! Curse God and Die. Her words. That's harsh.

But Job's response was so deeply impacting that it has yet to leave me.

"Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

Say what? The New Living Translation words it "Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” It seriously smacked me in the face. And today that thought returned while I was in prayer.

Yeah, sometimes life is unfair. Things happen that are rough but I think its good to always remember that God is still God and God is good, all the time. He can turn any situation and use for his glory and with him we can overcome all the sucks. Rough days and heartaches and death are all a part of life. But that doesn't make them God's fault. And it's not our place to blame God for them.

It is our responsibility to praise and worship God for how awesome he is in spite of whatever is happening in our life. Because God is always good no matter how bad life gets.

Friday, June 10, 2011

If Love Wins, Why Aren't Christians Happy About It?

As always I will preface this post by stating that I actually know nothing and have no real theological or biblical knowledge and so everything I say is just my opinion and purely an attempt at talking through my own thoughts and issues and questioning.

So I read Love Wins by Rob Bell. I liked the book. I don't think it deserved any of the controversy that surrounded it. I enjoyed the book. Rob Bell did a good job at just presenting differing ideas and thoughts on heaven and hell. Some were good; some were a little out there. It didn't change my life and it didn't change my views on heaven and hell. But it got me thinking.

Which I think is the point of books like Love Wins. There should've been a dialogue started. Questions asked, answers given and challenged and people should've been talking about a difficult topic. But instead it seemed like damage control was being done before the book was released or read. It was as if people were bashing the book so their congregation or followers would not even bother picking the book up and thus, no conversation could be started. If no one reads Love Wins and is challenged, then no one can ask questions.

And I will state, I understand a viewpoint where pastors or religious leaders would not want some people to read Love Wins. I'm not unreasonable and I understand that there are people, new and young in their faith and Love Wins would challenge them to a point that could be really hurtful to their belief in God. But I still don't believe that's a solid enough reason for all the hate thrown Rob Bells way.

So why aren't Christians happy about Love Wins? I have an idea I want to throw out there. Just go with me on this one.

There are people Christians don't want to go to Heaven.

Boom. If you don't believe me do a twitter search on Osama Bin Laden and just look at all the words from Christians about how happy they are that he's in hell. Look at all the tweets from non-christians about how happy they are that he's in hell. How blown would people be if they got to heaven and saw Osama Bin Laden there?

We aren't excited about the idea of rapists, murderers, terrorists, and people who have committed all sorts of evil being in heaven with us. I've heard people complain about death row inmates or people on their death bed being able to come to Christ right before they die. "How come they can live a life of evil and accept Christ right before they die and get into heaven? It's not fair!"

We will rejoice when parents, siblings, friends, and other people we love accept Christ, even on their death bed, but when it comes to people who we have deemed evil or unworthy, we aren't comfortable with the idea of them being in heaven.

But Jesus does address this in the bible and he address people being unhappy about it.

Matthew 20:1-16

1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Is that the beauty of God? That he loves everyone so much and desires so badly to have relationship with everyone and spend eternity with everyone that it doesn't matter if you come to Christ at the age of 5 and spend your entire life serving and following him, or you come to him on your death bed, he accepts you and welcomes you with open arms. The reward at the end of the day is the same and that's the beauty of God's grace. It's all welcoming an all encompassing.

Shouldn’t the body, the bride of Christ, be excited that more people will be with us in Heaven? Shouldn’t God’s grace and redemption for everyone, no matter how, where, or when it comes, be something exciting and hopeful? Shouldn’t we be praying that somehow, someway God would change people’s heart and deliver people like Osama Bin Laden, so that they CAN spend eternity in Heaven with the Father? Should that be the goal? Shouldn’t that be our desire?

I don’t know who will be in heaven or what heaven will be like. The God that loves so much, that is love at his essence, that he would send people to hell to be tormented forever is hard to reconcile. Eternity is a mystery that no one living has figured out. But it’s good to engage in conversation, ask questions and talk about it.

Does love win? Can love win? Hasn’t love already won?

“For God so LOVED the WORLD that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Too Long for Twitter (Why Am I So Dumb?)


I wrote a great poem. Went to copy it from one browser to another. My keyboard is broken and didn't copy the poem. I had already closed the other browser. The poem is lost and I'm struggling to figure out what I had written.