13 Biblical Lessons Superman Can Teach You





1. You may be in this world, but you certainly aren’t of it. (John 17:16, Philippians 3:20)

Superman flying

2. Without a knowledge of your true heritage, you will inevitably live a bleak life of confusion. (Colossians 1:9-14)

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3. However, upon discovering who you really are, you can become the hero you were born to become. (Mark 16:15-20)


4. Your heavenly Dad saved you from the eminent destruction of your former world. (Ephesians 2:1-4)giphy (5) 5. As a child of God, you have a seemingly unending arsenal of superhuman powers and abilities. (Mark 16:16, Philippians 4:13)


6. Your true destiny lies in using those God-given abilities to rescue others from evil. (Matthew 10:8, Mark 16:15)

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7. While enemies may rise up against you, they will never be able to stop you.  Punch you, stab you, shoot you, run you over, blow you up… you are indestructible. (Isaiah 54:17, Luke 10:19)

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8. To be quite honest, though, living a righteous life for God can sometimes get lonely.  You might feel the pressure to change who you are to blend in. (Romans 12:1-2)


9. But don’t let your merely human alter ego get in the way of your true heritage.  Your identity as the son of El (albeit, El Shaddai, not Jor El) is what makes you great. (1 Corinthians 3:3, Galatians 4:7)

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10. That’s not to say you can’t hold a steady nine-to-five and still have time to save the world. (Acts 20:35, Proverbs 12:11, Colossians 3:17)


11. Just don’t let your emotions get in the way.  Being led by your emotions is truly your greatest weakness. (1 Peter 5:8, Titus 2:6)

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12. All in all, continue spending time in solitude with your Father, and you will do unimaginable things.  (Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12)


13. And remember, it may not always seem like it, but the world is in desperate need of salvation.  And you’re the one to bring it to them. (Romans 10:14-15)

giphy (4)So go, Man of God. Go and change the world.



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Ten Reasons Why Captain America is the Most Christian Film of the Year

cpt americaIn some ways, this is going to be a big year for Christians.  At least in Hollywood.  More Christian films will come out in 2014 than have been released in the last ten years, and church leaders are hoping this will start a new trend in the film industry.

Son of God and God’s Not Dead came out several weeks ago, the loosely adapted Noah was released last week, and other Christian films set to be released this year include Exodus, Mary Mother of God and Heaven is for Real.  But the film most Christians are anticipating: Captain America: Winter Soldier.

What was that?  You don’t think Captain America is a bible-based film?  Here are ten reasons why you’re completely wrong.

1. Black Widow is Rahab

I’m going to describe someone to you.  She is an attractive woman who works for the bad guys in a sexually promiscuous career.  However, she is befriended by the protagonists, turns from her wicked ways, ends up working for the good guys as a double agent/spy, and eventually becomes an important force of goodness.

Who did I describe?  Exactly.

(I can’t make any promises, but from the trailer, Scarlett Johansson appears to be more modestly dressed than ever. And if skimpy outfits were going to make an appearance, it’d be in the trailer.)cap-posters1

2. This is one of the few movies where Samuel L. Jackson doesn’t swear

As a youth pastor, I often am faced with a difficult challenge: “I want to play Samuel L. Jackson movies at lock-ins, but they are so inappropriate.”  For the youth leaders out there, you have undoubtedly faced this same problem.

Well thankfully, Winter Soldier solves this problem for us.  I can almost guarantee that Nick Fury will not enter into a fit of fury and yell, “I’m tired of all these Mother Mary double agents on my Mother Mary helicarrier!”

3. “Let the weak say I am strong”

He once was weak, but now he’s strong.  That’s sort of Captain America’s mantra.  Ours too.

4. The Captain teams up with an angel

the_falcon_captain_america_the_winter_soldier-wideTechnically his name is “Falcon,” but he’s a dude that can fly, battles the powers of darkness, and does whatever Captain America says.  Sounds like an angel to me.  (Anthony Mackie, who plays Falcon, also played an angel in Adjustment Bureau.  Coincidence? I think not.)

5. Who’s making the cameo this time?

The Avengers films always feature an unexpected cameo.  Who’s it going to be this time?  Thor? Hulk? Tony Stark? Or Moses and Elijah.  Let’s not forget that they invented the cameo.

6. The Winter Soldier is Judas

Sort of.  But I don’t want to spoiler alert any of you, so I’ll leave it at that.

7. The movie might actually be somewhat faithful to the source material

Son of God was guilty of several changes and omissions.  Noah was guilty of a lot more. And though I did support Son of God, we were all left saying, “The book was better.”

But it seems like Winter Soldier is for the most part consistent with the comics.  Unless you ask someone who has actually read the comics.

8. S.H.I.E.L.D. is staffed by Pharisees

Captain-America-2-The-Winter-Soldier-Official-Still-Elevator-SceneJesus was surrounded by people who were supposed to be on His team, but ended up betraying Him for what they falsely considered was “the greater good.”  Sounds a lot like the first Winter Soldier trailer, if you ask me.

9. God is the original Avenger

“Vengeance is Mine,” saith the Lord. Circa 1,200 BC.

‘Nuff said.

And finally,

10. What’s more godly than a movie with “America” in the title?

americaSo there you have it.  Ten reasons why Captain America is bound to be the most Christian film of the year.  I was originally going to include a point about Steve Rogers epitomizing what is arguably the best comic book example of the hypostatic union, but decided it might offend people who actually knew what that was.

So see the film.  Support the film.  Then go to church on Sunday morning and talk to your friends about how the movie inspired you to read your bible more.

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Me Admitting I was Wrong: A Review of Noah

Grand PabbieMethuselah was easily the best character in the film. The 969 year old patriarch was played by Anthony Hopkins, who was actually believable as a 969 year old man (Cheyne said he bore a striking resemblance to Gollum). He also apparently is an early ancestor of Benny Hinn, because he had the innate ability to slay people in the spirit. And he had an affinity for berries.

In every scene he appears in, he talks about his desire to enjoy berries one last time. He chides his great-grandson for not giving him berries. He asks his daughter-in-law why she didn’t bring him berries. And before the floods descend, he frantically scrambles through random foliage in his pursuit of those sweet, sweet berries. As the waves come crashing toward him, he smiles as he finally finds a small, purple berry. He lifts it to his mouth, hoping to enjoy the tasty treat one last time before he dies.

And as this happened, I totally thought the wave was going to destroy him before he actually got to eat it.


Because that’s how “the Creator” is portrayed in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah.

* * *

My recommendation: Don’t see it. Not because I’m afraid of what it will do to your faith or your walk with God. But because it was a terrible film. It won’t entertain you. It won’t benefit you. And you will definitely consider it a waste of $12.50 (or $19, if you wanted to see it at a fancy movie theater like I did).

I had high hopes for the flick, but I knew trouble was afoot when the infamous disclaimer didn’t appear at the beginning of the movie. After seeing the first two minutes, I could tell this was going to be a stupid movie. At around the eight-minute mark, I decided this wasn’t a movie I’d want my kids to see.

And then the Rock-People showed up.

I have a feeling that many Christians will not like the film. And I can predict why they won’t like the film. And honestly, there are some good reasons to avoid the movie and some bad ones. I want to present those to you now.


  1.       The Rock-People

I’ll admit it. The Rock-People were kind of dumb. And they were poorly animated. And they were a bunch of wussies. But having said all that, they weren’t entirely unsanctioned. Genesis 6 does make passing references to “the nephilim,” a word that is usually translated “giants” or “dead ones.” The director interpreted them as “Rock-People.” And that’s his prerogative. Is that what nephilim were? Probably not. Did the nephilim really build the ark for Noah? Probably not. Should the existence of Rock-People in the film be the subject of our criticism? Probably not.

  1.       Emma Watson

Noah didn’t have a daughter. But he did have several daughters-in-law. Is it possible that one of his son’s wives lived with them before they tied the knot? Sure. So let it go.

  1.       Too many animals

One scathing review of the movie I came across complained that the movie depicted Noah rescuing all “species” of animals rather than all “kinds” of animals. The reviewer claimed that this was a subtle affront on creationism. Buddy, there were plenty of blatant affronts on creationism. Why complain about the one that probably wasn’t even a thing?


  1.       Noah is far too dark

I understand that we weren’t on the ark, and don’t actually know every single detail of Noah’s journey. I also get that the film was created by Aronofsky, who majors in making movies about demented weirdoes. And I get that the point of the film was to explore the psyche of the titular character in an attempt to understand just how difficult his task was. But Noah goes too far. In its quest to present a gritty, relatable, human Noah, it abandons the only attributes the bible actually ascribes to him:

“This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” (Genesis 6:9)

We hardly see any of these traits in Aronofsky’s Noah. The film does stress the wickedness of man, but the film’s Noah overstresses his own wickedness and the wickedness of his children and grandchildren, claiming that “none of us are blameless.”

The film’s Noah also doesn’t appear very righteous. He is outraged by the miraculous pregnancy of his barren daughter-in-law, going so far as to attempt to kill her children to protect the earth. When asked why he was selected to build the ark, he rejects the notion that it was because of his righteousness and claims it was because God knew “he would get the job done.”

And far from “walking faithfully with God,” the film’s Noah hardly knew God. He joins an agnostic choir that includes the film’s main antagonist and the Rock-People when he screams at the heavens, asking why God won’t answer him and why God is forcing him to murder his children.

  1.       God’s ambiguity

Was the Creator really asking Noah to murder his kids? We don’t actually know, because God never shows up in the film. God only “speaks” to one character, and even though Noah “trusts that God will speak in a way he can understand,” God doesn’t. He speaks through cryptic dreams and esoteric visions, leading Noah to almost stab his grandchildren to death to fulfill what he believes to be God’s will.

The film presents us with two options as to God’s intentions for mankind. One, God left the decision of man’s fate in Noah’s hands, allowing him to decide whether humanity deserves to survive. Or two, God made a mistake by selecting Noah, because ultimately Noah was unable to do what needed to be done; namely, to make sure no humans survived the flood.  Either way, it was Noah’s love for his children rather than God’s love for His children that explains why we are still around today.

  1.       The movie is a waste of a Regal gift card

Ultimately, you aren’t going to like the movie. All blasphemy and misrepresentation aside, it just wasn’t that good. I went into that theatre with an open mind and honestly was hoping it’d be good, but before the opening credits were over, I could tell it was going to be a waste of an evening.

Like I said before, I’m not deterring you from seeing the flick because I’m afraid it might upset your faith; I’m afraid it might upset your credit card. Save your money for Captain America: Winter Soldier. That’s a film that won’t disappoint (mainly because it wasn’t written by Aronofsky).

I’ll leave you with this. The film claims that the Creator desired to save the animal kingdom, and Noah was lucky enough to be their chaperone. But the bible paints a different picture:

So the Lord said, “I will destroy both man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

But then Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6:7-8)

The reason God saved the animals is because He loved us, not the other way around. By grace we are saved. We are the apple of His eye. We are the object of His love and affection. We are His children.

And He loves us with such a great love.

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(Read the biblical account of Noah.)

The Biblical Story of Noah: Genesis 6-9


Then the people began to multiply on the earth, and daughters were born to them. The sons of God saw the beautiful women and took any they wanted as their wives. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years.”

In those days, and for some time after, giant Nephilites lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes and famous warriors of ancient times.

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” But Noah found favor with the Lord.

This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. 10 Noah was the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

11 Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. 12 God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt. 13 So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth!

14 “Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. 15 Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. 16 Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper.

17 “Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die. 18 But I will confirm my covenant with you. So enter the boat—you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 19 Bring a pair of every kind of animal—a male and a female—into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood. 20 Pairs of every kind of bird, and every kind of animal, and every kind of small animal that scurries along the ground, will come to you to be kept alive. 21 And be sure to take on board enough food for your family and for all the animals.”

22 So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.

Chapter 7 

When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous. Take with you seven pairs—male and female—of each animal I have approved for eating and for sacrifice, and take one pair of each of the others. Also take seven pairs of every kind of bird. There must be a male and a female in each pair to ensure that all life will survive on the earth after the flood. Seven days from now I will make the rains pour down on the earth. And it will rain for forty days and forty nights, until I have wiped from the earth all the living things I have created.”

So Noah did everything as the Lord commanded him.

Noah was 600 years old when the flood covered the earth. He went on board the boat to escape the flood—he and his wife and his sons and their wives. With them were all the various kinds of animals—those approved for eating and for sacrifice and those that were not—along with all the birds and the small animals that scurry along the ground.They entered the boat in pairs, male and female, just as God had commanded Noah. 10 After seven days, the waters of the flood came and covered the earth.

11 When Noah was 600 years old, on the seventeenth day of the second month, all the underground waters erupted from the earth, and the rain fell in mighty torrents from the sky. 12 The rain continued to fall for forty days and forty nights.

13 That very day Noah had gone into the boat with his wife and his sons—Shem, Ham, and Japheth—and their wives.14 With them in the boat were pairs of every kind of animal—domestic and wild, large and small—along with birds of every kind. 15 Two by two they came into the boat, representing every living thing that breathes. 16 A male and female of each kind entered, just as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord closed the door behind them.

17 For forty days the floodwaters grew deeper, covering the ground and lifting the boat high above the earth. 18 As the waters rose higher and higher above the ground, the boat floated safely on the surface. 19 Finally, the water covered even the highest mountains on the earth, 20 rising more than twenty-two feet above the highest peaks. 21 All the living things on earth died—birds, domestic animals, wild animals, small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people. 22 Everything that breathed and lived on dry land died. 23 God wiped out every living thing on the earth—people, livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and the birds of the sky. All were destroyed. The only people who survived were Noah and those with him in the boat. 24 And the floodwaters covered the earth for 150 days.

Chapter 8 

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede. The underground waters stopped flowing, and the torrential rains from the sky were stopped. So the floodwaters gradually receded from the earth. After 150 days, exactly five months from the time the flood began, the boat came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Two and a half months later, as the waters continued to go down, other mountain peaks became visible.

After another forty days, Noah opened the window he had made in the boat and released a raven. The bird flew back and forth until the floodwaters on the earth had dried up. He also released a dove to see if the water had receded and it could find dry ground. But the dove could find no place to land because the water still covered the ground. So it returned to the boat, and Noah held out his hand and drew the dove back inside. 10 After waiting another seven days, Noah released the dove again. 11 This time the dove returned to him in the evening with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. Then Noah knew that the floodwaters were almost gone. 12 He waited another seven days and then released the dove again. This time it did not come back.

13 Noah was now 601 years old. On the first day of the new year, ten and a half months after the flood began, the floodwaters had almost dried up from the earth. Noah lifted back the covering of the boat and saw that the surface of the ground was drying. 14 Two more months went by, and at last the earth was dry!

15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Leave the boat, all of you—you and your wife, and your sons and their wives. 17 Release all the animals—the birds, the livestock, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—so they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth.”

18 So Noah, his wife, and his sons and their wives left the boat. 19 And all of the large and small animals and birds came out of the boat, pair by pair.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. 21 And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. 22 As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

Chapter 9 

Then God blessed Noah and his sons and told them, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth. All the animals of the earth, all the birds of the sky, all the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the fish in the sea will look on you with fear and terror. I have placed them in your power. I have given them to you for food, just as I have given you grain and vegetables. But you must never eat any meat that still has the lifeblood in it.

“And I will require the blood of anyone who takes another person’s life. If a wild animal kills a person, it must die. And anyone who murders a fellow human must die. If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in his own image. Now be fruitful and multiply, and repopulate the earth.”

Then God told Noah and his sons, “I hereby confirm my covenant with you and your descendants, 10 and with all the animals that were on the boat with you—the birds, the livestock, and all the wild animals—every living creature on earth. 11 Yes, I am confirming my covenant with you. Never again will floodwaters kill all living creatures; never again will a flood destroy the earth.”

12 Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. 13 I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. 14 When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, 15 and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. 16 When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” 17 Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.”

18 The sons of Noah who came out of the boat with their father were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham is the father of Canaan.) 19 From these three sons of Noah came all the people who now populate the earth.

20 After the flood, Noah began to cultivate the ground, and he planted a vineyard. 21 One day he drank some wine he had made, and he became drunk and lay naked inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and went outside and told his brothers. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a robe, held it over their shoulders, and backed into the tent to cover their father. As they did this, they looked the other way so they would not see him naked.

24 When Noah woke up from his stupor, he learned what Ham, his youngest son, had done. 25 Then he cursed Canaan, the son of Ham:

“May Canaan be cursed!
May he be the lowest of servants to his relatives.”

26 Then Noah said,

“May the Lord, the God of Shem, be blessed,
and may Canaan be his servant!
27 May God expand the territory of Japheth!
May Japheth share the prosperity of Shem,
and may Canaan be his servant.”

28 Noah lived another 350 years after the great flood. 29 He lived 950 years, and then he died.

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Three Reasons Why You Should All Go See “God’s Not Dead”

gods not deadLast Friday, Cheyne and I saw the new Christian-themed film, “God’s Not Dead.”  We liked it so much that we decided to take our youth group to see it on Sunday afternoon.

There are a lot of reasons I could give you to go see it, but instead I decided to stir things up a bit and give you three reasons why you shouldn’t see it.

  1.       It’s not perfect

While I overwhelmingly enjoyed the film, there were a couple of lines that I took issue with doctrinally.  This led me to a startling discovery:


But you want to know what?  Christians aren’t perfect either.  And expecting a Christian film to be flawless reveals the inherent flaws in our own expectations.

Christians make mistakes occasionally.  In fact, I’ve said something incorrect once or twice in my life (like my infamous speech to a roomful of promiscuous teenagers at the 2005 JSA Convention).

And while it’d be great for a film to teach the gospel with 100% accuracy in every single detail, a film that teaches that “you can believe in God without committing intellectual suicide” and that Jesus is the only means of salvation is a film worth promoting.

  1.       There are too many bible movies this year

2014 has been dubbed by many as “the Year of the Bible Movie.”  There are a plethora of biblically based films coming out this year… Son of God, Heaven is For Real, Noah, Exodus, and Captain America: Winter Soldier.

But what if this wasn’t an anomaly?  What if it wasn’t uncommon for a dozen movies to feature bible stories and Christian themes every calendar year?  We have tremendous power in our hands.  We can send a message to Hollywood that if they will finance bible movies, we will watch them.  We will promote them.  We will tell our friends about them.  And bible-based movies will do well.

Based on how well these films are received will dictate whether we see Jesus on the big screens next year, or Will Ferrell with no pants on.  In an age where Hollywood films are getting more decadent and more X-rated, we can turn the tide and usher in “the Decade of the Bible Movie.”

Or we can stay home and complain that Moses was too Calvinist/Pentecostal/Environmental/hippy/etc.  Ultimately, your decision will dictate what types of films come out next year.

  1.       No stars, no budget, no academy awards

herculesHercules and Superman walk into a bar… and make a Christian movie.

You probably didn’t get that joke.  For one, it wasn’t funny.  Also, “God’s Not Dead” didn’t have any celebrities from the 21st Century in it.  (But mainly, because it wasn’t funny.)

“God’s Not Dead” didn’t have any famous people in it.  It didn’t have a gigantic budget.  It won’t be nominated for an Academy Award.  And it won’t break any records for “Most Money Ever Made from a Movie Ever.”

And that’s okay.

When you watch movies solely because some famous guy is in it or because it’s been hyped up, you end up with movies like “The Hangover Part 3.”  And nobody wants to see that.  We shouldn’t see movies just because they are Oscar worthy.  In fact, if you look at the list of films that have won “Best Picture,” most of them suck.

“God’s Not Dead” will strengthen your faith.  It will cause you to see militant atheists not as your mortal enemies but as victims besieged by the lies of the devil.  It will embolden you to stand up for what you believe in.  It will cause you to take risks for the sake of the gospel.

And who knows?  If we all make an effort to support movies like “God’s Not Dead,” maybe the film industry will slowly start to change.  Maybe big stars will put their talents and their fortunes toward Christian-themed films.  Maybe we’ll see more celebrities thanking Jesus Christ at the 2015 Academy Awards.  Maybe in a decade or so, Christians will actually like Hollywood because Hollywood likes Christianity.

Or maybe not.  It depends on us.

The Oscar Speech I’ll Someday Give

Academy-Awards-photo-1-ArkoffThe Academy Awards have come and gone, and Oscar buzz has generally died down, except for John Travolta’s brilliant contribution to YouTube, which has spawned a multitude of parodies.

I’ve been thinking about what it takes to win one of those golden figurines, and coupled with some of my own creative ideas and aspirations, I decided to jot down a few notes on what I would say if I was one day standing on that stage.

Take a look.

* * *

My goodness! Thank you so much! I’m so surprised to be standing up here right now.  I mean, there were so many great films this year… There was Will Ferrell in Anchorman 4: The X-Rated Re-Release. I didn’t see it, but I heard it was disgusting.  And Sean Penn, I’m surprised your movie about how Republicans are the devil even though God doesn’t exist didn’t win.  It seemed like a shoe-in.  After all, this is the Academy Awards.

Thank you everyone so much.  First and foremost, I’d like to thank God for getting me here.  Everything I have in life is a direct result of the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Everything I do is to bring glory to the name of Jesus, so this is His award, not mine.  He comes up with the ideas, He tells me what to do; I’m just the errand boy.

And for all of you watching at home, know that anything is possible.  You do not have to compromise your beliefs to do great things.  If you stick with God, you will do mighty things.  It is a guarantee.

I’d also like to thank my beautiful wife.  Cheyne, thank you for always believing in me!  I remember walking through Central Park with you in 2011, and on that fateful morning you convinced me that it was okay for me to follow my dreams.  If it weren’t for your overwhelming confidence in me over the last fifteen years, I’d probably be stuck in a cubicle somewhere, doing something I didn’t care about, and wasting all of the amazing talents God has placed in me.  Thank you for bringing me here.

I’d also like to thank my beautiful boys.  Jack, Paul, George, Ringo, William, Benjamin, and DANNY!  And my girls: Susie, Amanda, Beverly, Kimberly, Juanita, Apple Blossom, and Moon Unit Jr.  Believe in yourselves, but more importantly, believe in your God.  Together, you are destined to change the world.  Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done.

Finally, I’d like to thank every single person in this room.  Many of you have tried to use your success, fame, and fortune to make the world a better place.  You’ve taken up humanitarian causes, invested in clean water, education, and medicine for those less fortunate than you (which let’s face it, is basically everyone not in this room).  You’ve taught English to children, built houses, and given your time, wealth, and energy to leaving the world better than how you found it.

And yet, why have you done all of these amazing things?  Surely it’s not out of the goodness of your hearts.  If mankind were inherently good, those sorts of things wouldn’t be necessary or uncommon.  No, we do these good works because we recognize that man is not good.  Look at the terrible things man has done throughout history.  Look at the world we live in today.  In fact, every person in this room will admit that half of our country is working toward evil.  Whether it’s promoting abortion or its counterpart, the so-called “war on women,” we all think that we’re all completely evil.

So we do these good things in an attempt to assuage the darkness we know is within.  And let me tell you.  No amount of good things, no amount of noble deeds, no amount of orphanages or hospitals or houses or schools we build will ever change the fact that we are all inherently sinful.  The only thing that can change that is direct intervention by God alone. 

So stop trying to get to heaven on your own terms.  Stop trying to earn your own salvation.  Stop resisting what you already know to be true.  Ask God to invade your life.  Receive the free gift of salvation.  And let Jesus Christ completely transform you.

Thank you again, and if any of you want to call me a bigot after the show, I’ll be in the lobby.  Thank you!

* * *

Do you think I’ll get that all in before the music starts playing?  Best Animated Short probably doesn’t get that much time to speak.  I supposed I’ll have to aim higher, like for Best Film or somethin’.

A Biblical Lesson from Disney’s Frozen

Disney's FrozenToward the beginning of the Disney movie Frozen, an unconscious Anna is rushed to Grand Pabbie the Troll King after being accidentally struck in the head by her sister Elsa’s cryokinetic powers.  After his initial inspection, the Troll King says to the King and Queen,

You are lucky it wasn’t her heart.  The heart is not so easily changed, but the head can be persuaded.

As soon as he said that, I immediately thought to myself, “Someone’s gonna get zapped in the heart.”  Sure enough, fifty-seven minutes later someone got it right to the heart.

Now as much as I’d like to attribute this keen foresight to my uber-prophetic abilities concerning all things cinematic, that is not the case.  I simply utilized a dramatic principle called “Chekhov’s Gun.”

This principle basically states that every part of a story must be absolutely necessary and irreplaceable.  Everything that can be eliminated from a story should be.  As Anton Chekhov said, “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story.  If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.  If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”

I knew someone was getting zapped in the heart because if that weren’t the case, they wouldn’t have wasted precious time writing that line into the story, recording the audio, and animating that scene into the movie.

Chekhov’s Gun is an important tool that is used by authors around the world to more effectively communicate their stories.  A storyteller wouldn’t include something (or someone) in his narrative if it weren’t absolutely necessary to the plot.

And God is the greatest Storyteller of ‘em all.  He is the Originator of Life, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, the Creator of the Universe and Existence itself, and the story He is telling is that of our salvation.  And in this divine narrative that He has been declaring for thousands upon thousands of years, He included you.  He wrote you in, with all of your passions and talents and qualities and quirks.  He considered your role irreplaceable, and determined that no other person on the entire planet could play your part better than you.

It’s no mistake that you’re here.  How on earth could it be?  Of all the different time periods in human history, God destined you to live now.  He created you to be who you are.  And He planned for you to do things that only you can do.

Now’s your time to shine.  A heavenly crowd is waiting on the edge of their seats.  The curtains are about to open.  So get with the Director, learn the part you were born to play, take the stage, and do what you were created to do.  Change the world.

[ Your turn: There are plenty of other examples of Chekhov’s Gun.  Name a few of your favorites… oh, and NO SPOILER ALERTS.” ]

Spoiler Alert: Jesus Lives (A Review of “Son of God”)

Son of God movie posterAs you’re well aware, a major blockbuster of biblical proportions is coming to theaters nationwide today.  It is a movie that will be seen by millions, and is sure to have lots of people talking.

But rather than talk about Liam Neeson’s action film “Nonstop,” I’d like to spend the next 500 or so words discussing the movie “Son of God.”  There is plenty to say about the film, and plenty that has been said about the film, from tales of entire theaters filling up with mega-church parishioners to accusations of New Age themes and transcendentalism.

I had the opportunity to see an advance screening of the film yesterday, and there were definitely some positive things and some negative things about it.

On a negative note, within the first five minutes of the movie Jesus passed up an opportunity to walk on water.  I get that He didn’t always walk on water, but when He stepped out and His sandaled foot penetrated the water, I was taken aback.

On a positive note, however, Jesus didn’t look awkward when He smiled.  That puts this movie head and shoulders above most theatrical renditions.

Also, about fifteen minutes into the movie, my wife leaned over and whispered, “Jesus looks like Ashton Kutcher.”  I guess that’s a positive…?

Other things I liked about the movie:

  • Jesus was really good at guessing people’s first names.
  • Everyone spoke English, just like King James intended.
  • To compete with Michael Bay’s upcoming summer blockbusters, the director included tons of solar flares.
  • It looked like the temple guards stole their hats from the cast of the movie “Epic.”
  • Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by who I can only guess was the lead singer of Counting Crows.adam duritz aka John the Baptist
  • Vin Diesel also had a cameo as Barabbas.
  • In one of the many extra-biblical lines from the film, the High Priest said of Jesus, “This is a dangerous man,” to which I audibly responded, “You’ve got that right!”
  • When Judas betrayed Jesus, the woman next to me went, “mmm hmm!” (not technically a part of the film, but I liked it nonetheless).
  • The High Priest also had flawless hair.
  • And finally, when Jesus saved the woman caught in adultery, He actually remembered to say, “Go and sin no more”; that part always gets left out of the story, so I appreciated it being included.

However, there were also some parts that I didn’t care for:

  • For one, the last supper looked nothing like the Da Vinci painting.
  • Also, Jesus looked genuinely surprised every single time one of His miracles actually worked.
  • Thomas also did a lot of doubting throughout the movie, not just at the end.  It was to the point that I thought maybe he would end up betraying Jesus rather than Judas.
  • On the topic of disciples, Bartholomew didn’t get nearly enough face time. I get that he didn’t get much attention in the source material either, but the movie did add quite a few things to the story, and in my opinion, Bartholomew should have been one of them.

And the final thing, the thing that will probably have many Christians up in arms: Not once in the film did Jesus ever make an exclusive claim to salvation.

He alluded to it a couple of times.  He even got really close toward the end.  At the last supper, he said to His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  But then He abruptly stopped without finishing it: “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

Christianity’s exclusive claim to salvation is paramount to the gospel message.  If every road really does lead to heaven, as Oprah and Yoda would have you believe, then Jesus’ sacrifice was for nothing, and our faith and preaching is in vain.  It is precisely because no roads could bring us to God that Jesus had to come to the earth, live as a man, die for my sins and your sins and the sins of all the world, and then rise from the grave, triumphant over death.

And yet, even though this fundamental truth was clearly and intentionally omitted from the film, I still recommend that all of you support the movie.  You see, it isn’t Hollywood’s job to preach the gospel.  It is their job to tell stories.  And they told the story of Jesus, the compassionate, friendly, divisive, miracle-working, gospel-preaching, lost-reaching Son of God.

It’s easy to talk about all of the places where they missed it.  And there are definitely a few.  But they also got a lot of things right.  Jesus was portrayed as the Son of God, the Messiah sent to redeem mankind from sin and spiritual death.  And we are told repeatedly that it is through faith in this Jesus that we can be saved.

The movie will function as a great platform for you and me to spread the gospel message.  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every living creature,” as the film reminds us in the final scene.

So see the film.  Encourage your friends to see it as well.  And after you have watched it, you should all sit down together, break some bread, and discuss, discuss, discuss.  Because it’s not Hollywood’s job to get them saved.  It’s your job to introduce them to the Son of God.  

[ your turn: What did you think of the flick? Is it worth seeing, or should we all see “The Lego Movie”… again? ]