Thursday, July 3, 2014

Christian Zombies

Warning! - there may be Christian zombies in your midst! Even worse, you may be one yourself! What is a Christian zombie? Well, first of all, what is a zombie? It can be defined as "the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose". In other words.....the walking dead!

So how does this apply to Christians? Well, as Christians, we are supposed to die to our 'old self', our 'sinful nature', our selfishness, our worldly ways. Christianity is all about new life - a new life of forgiveness and grace through Christ. So a Christian zombie is a Christian whose old self, the pre-Christian person you once were, the self-centered sinful-natured person you don’t want to be, keeps trying to come back. And as a Christian, we are supposed to bury our old self, not bring it back! There's no better picture of this than Christian baptism, especially baptism by immersion.

"Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives." (Romans 6:3-4 NLT)

At our baptism, our old self dies and is buried, and we rise to walk in a new life, joined with Christ, united with Him. Over the years, I’ve seen dozens and dozens of people, hearing and understanding this concept for the first time, become so convicted that they are compelled to be baptized - many for the first time, and many re-baptized for the right reasons.

“For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12 NLT)

This new life is only possible because of the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins, and our belief and obedience to Him. New life = New start. 

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

To illustrate further, when we decide to become a Christ follower, not only are we to undergo a spiritual death, burial, and resurrection, but we also go through a spiritual crucifixion! That’s right, we crucify our old life style, our old self. You see, it's one thing to believe in the crucifixion of Jesus as simply a historical event, it’s another thing to personally identify with it! 

''We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin." (Romans 6:6 NLT)

So what does being crucified with Christ look like? It’s a process of transformation from living for self into living righteously for God. It’s becoming not just a “Christian”, but a Christ follower - not just believing, but learning from Him and walking with Him, for life.

“Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.” (Galatians 6:14b NLT)

So....if we crucified our old self, why would we want to resurrect it? Well, we don’t!! - at least intentionally. It’s when we slip up, yield to temptation, and fall back into our old ways, that our old self tries to return. That’s why we need to be on guard. When we have a tendency to resurrect our old self, it makes you wonder if Satan has his hand in it. Remember the definition of a zombie?...."the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose". I would bet that supernatural force is Satan tempting us, trying to convince us to resurrect that old self. But don't do it!

Some horror movies depict a grave yard scene where during a dark, rainy night, in the solitude of a lonely graveyard, a hand pops up from a grave, usually with some freakish music! Yikes! If you find this happening, spiritually, to you, stomp that hand back into the ground!

There are some ways to avoid becoming a Christian zombie. Below are five:

1. Stay Connected with the Word (the Scriptures)
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2a) 

2. Stay Obedient to God's Commands
"If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love." (John 15:10)

3. Stay focused on Jesus
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:1-2)

4. Stay in tune with the Spirit
"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives." (Galatians 5:24-25)

5. Stay in fellowship with other Believers.
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)

Keep doing those 5 things, and you will never need to worry about becoming a Christian zombie!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Man Who Astonished Jesus!

I'm sure Jesus experienced all kinds of people while He was on earth. People who surprised Him. People who disappointed Him. People who even made Him angry. But there's a particular man who astonished Him -  in a good way! 

You see, Jesus, while He was on earth, was specifically looking for something. He was searching intensely. He was always on the lookout it. Everywhere He went, and every moment He was awake, He was searching and searching, trying to pick it up on His radar screen. And unfortunately, most of the time, it wasn't there. Time after time, He was disappointed. Yet, He kept on anxiously looking. 

Before I tell you what it is that Jesus was so earnestly desiring to find, let me introduce to you the man who had it. Jesus was well into His ministry when He met a Gentile man, an unlikely one to have what Jesus was looking for. That's because you would think that Jesus would find it among the Jews, His people, the chosen people. But no, it was a Gentile man, a non-Jew.

This Gentile man was a military commander in the Roman army. This, however, was not what impressed Jesus. And it wasn't that he was a man of authority. That didn't impress Him either. What astonished Jesus was what this Gentile man possessed....great faith! That's right, Jesus was astonished by the degree of faith he had. That's because Jesus had not found anyone in Israel, not anyone among what was supposedly God's people, who had such great faith as this man! This Gentile commander, called a centurion, absolutely believed that Jesus had the power of God, and that Jesus was able to do all things. Here's how the story goes:

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. (Matthew 8:5-10)

There are at least 4 things that must have certainly impressed Jesus about the centurion.

1. He was a Gentile but still believed in Jesus, regardless.
Of all people, it was a Gentile who turned out to have great faith! Impressive. Jesus was a Jew, and came into the world as the long awaited Jewish Messiah, but as a whole, was rejected by His own people. So for a Gentile to have such great faith was amazing. He may not have understood that Jesus was God in the flesh, but he knew that Jesus was an authentic man of God, regardless if he was a Jew or a Gentile.
2. He was humble. 
The centurion could have been one prideful person considering the position he held. Yet, he displayed humility. He obviously regarded the authority and sovereignty of Jesus as much greater than his. He told Jesus that he did not deserve to have Him come to his house. This statement reveals that he was underserving of the miracle he was asking for. He was totally relying on the Lord's grace, and was at the mercy of Jesus.
3. He was a compassionate man
The centurion was so sincerely concerned about his servant, that he didn't just send a messenger to Jesus, but he personally went to plead with Jesus himself. It shows his love and compassion for those around him, including his servant. And he was relying on the love and compassion of Jesus for healing.
4. He was absolutely confident that Jesus could do it.
The centurion knew all about authority, and all about giving commands. He believed Jesus, without a doubt, had the power to heal. Not only that, the centurion was so sure Jesus had the power to heal, he believed all Jesus had to do was say the word, from a distance, and his servant would be healed immediately without even Jesus being at the house where the servant was. And that's exactly what happened! "Then Jesus said to the centurion, 'Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.' And his servant was healed at that moment." (Matthew 8:13)

The centurion, in the eyes of Jesus, had great faith. Jesus, while on earth, was always looking for great faith. Unfortunately, He was disappointed time and again. Remember when Jesus calmed the sea, and the disciples were scared that they were going to die? "He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm." (Matthew 8:26) Or the time Jesus walked on water, and Peter began to go to Him but took his eyes off Jesus? "Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?'" (Matthew 14:31)

There are many more examples of doubt and lack of faith, however, that doesn't mean there were not any examples of people who did have faith. There were many. As a matter of fact, Jesus even performed several healing miracles as a response to a person's faith. There's one other example of 'great faith' besides the centurion, and it's by a Canaanite woman in Matthew 15, a Gentile! (The 2 examples of 'great faith' were by Gentiles, not Jews!)

Jesus was always looking for faith when He was on earth. But it doesn't stop there. Jesus asked a question that should rock you:  "....when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (The words of Jesus in Luke 18:8b) Jesus is still looking, even today, and until He comes back, for people who have faith.

I suppose the real question is whether or not He sees faith in you and I. Even if we start with faith a small as a mustard seed, it can grow if we water it. He is always searching, looking for those who have faith, hoping to find it. Will He?

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

5 Ways God Still Shows Up

Have you taken time lately to reflect back on how God has worked in your life? Maybe you should, because when you look back, you can see more clearly His intervention. And as you reflect on it, maybe you should take a moment to praise and worship Him for it.

God is alive and well. He is an interactive God - a real-time God. His involvement in our lives can be explained under the umbrella term: “Providence”. Providence can be defined as divine intervention, made possible by the authority and sovereignty of God. In other words, God is in control.

I know for me, many things have happened, and continue to happen, that go far beyond coincidence. And I always give God the benefit of the doubt when it comes to who is responsible for the things that fall in my favor.

Hopefully, you also recognize and experience the hand of God moving in your life. When God decides to intervene, here are five ways that He does it. 

1. Timing
Through His providence, God can arrange certain things to happen at just the right time. This might be done in microseconds, or it might be done in years. And sometimes God’s timing is nowhere near how we would have arranged things to happen. In other words, our timing is not always the same as God’s timing. One thing is for sure, God is a God of timing, and His timing is perfect. We need to trust in that. Consider this verse:  "But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law." (Galatians 4:4)

2. People
Sometimes God's use of timing involves people. Through providence, He can line up people with people, and line up people with opportunities.  For example, sometimes He lines you up with another person, perhaps for the purpose of encouraging or witnessing or serving. The problem is that sometimes we miss the opportunity, don’t recognize it, and therefore don’t take advantage of it. I’m sure it’s not hard for you to look back at situations in your life when you ran into someone just at the right moment. Or sadly, in retrospect, when you've seemed to have missed an opportunity that God may have lined up. In that case, I can just imagine God saying, "I'm trying to help you out, can't you see? Oh well, maybe next time. I'll try again soon."

3. Angels
Ever have any close calls? It could be that an angel was involved in helping you out! Angels certainly can be one of the means by which God intervenes in our lives. Yes, angels are for real, it’s just that we can’t see them. Or can we? I love this interesting verse: "Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!" (Hebrews 13:2). Not sure if this still happens today, like it did in Bible times, but it does make you wonder. One thing is for sure, God has used angels ever since man was created, and continues to use them even today. "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14)

4. Physical Nature
I believe that if God is creator, and if He calmed the raging sea, and did all sorts of miracles (altering the laws of physics, science, and nature), then He can still do miraculous things in this world today. Sometimes during a storm, I pray that God will change the course of the wind, or calm it. I believe He is able to do that, as well as being able to alter the physical realm in any way He chooses. He is able to do all things if He desires. Think of this example...if a car had loose wheel lug nuts, do you think that God can hold the loose tire on the car, not letting it fall off, but allowing it to be noticed before it's too late? I say yes. Can He heal physical sickness and disease if He wants to? I say yes. He is able.

5. The Holy Spirit 
I believe in the Holy Spirit, and if you do too, then you must believe the Holy Spirit is active in our lives. It’s another way how God is with us, and how His intervention works. I like to think that the Holy Spirit affects our conscience, as well as our intuition. The Holy Spirit can guide us. And if we try to be perceptive to it, the Holy Spirit can give us nudges to do something, or say something. Or perhaps, not to do something or not to say something. 

To summarize, God still moves in our lives. He does it in many ways -  through timing, through people, through angels, through altering the physical laws of nature, and through influence by the Holy Spirit.  

Sometimes He intervenes as a response to our prayer. Sometimes He initiates the intervention Himself simply to work things in our favor. Sometimes He intervenes for purposes that we can't understand or see - things that are in accordance with His will or plan. Regardless, all I can say is thank You Lord for your providence, and that You are in control!! I live by it, and I rely on it!  And I hope you do too!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

3 Popular Sayings Not Found In The Bible

I'm sure you've heard some famous sayings now and then, and you've probably said to yourself, "I wonder where that came from?" Well, below are three statements that sound convincing. However, look out! Even though they may sound like they came from the Bible, they did not! And furthermore, even though there is a bit of logic in these statements, maybe some half-truths, in reality, just the opposites of what they say are true! Below are three such sayings:

1. "God helps those who help themselves."
Ever hear this one? It sounds good, but is this really a principle that's true? Not really. Many times I've heard people use it as if it's some sort of profound Bible verse, as if they are quoting the Bible. However, it's not found anywhere in the Bible. It's not found in the book of Proverbs. It's not part of the Sermon on the Mount. It's not a verse that's found anywhere in scripture.

Yes, I know, we're not supposed to be lazy. And we are to be obedient. But that's not what this statement is trying to profess. If God helps those who help themselves, then it would mean that God's help is conditional. It implies that if we help ourselves first, then God will, in turn, help us. It's saying that we can earn God's blessings and grace by our own diligence. This is a "works" philosophy" verses a "grace" philosophy. That's opposite of the simple definition of grace...unmerited favor.

Does God really reward those who help themselves regardless of their motives, their heart, and the condition of their relationship with Him? I don't think so! The reality is, sometimes people are helpless. Does God turn His back on such people? No. Just the opposite. God is a God who helps those who can't help themselves!

"When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners." (Romans 5:6)

2. Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.
When I was in junior high school, I heard this from parents and teachers alike. It was their way to teach us not to be intimidated by bullies. I distinctly remember our school bus driver reciting this sentence often, probably with good intentions. It was good advice, telling us to stay out of physical fights. Regardless of how much it may sound like a Bible proverb, it's not found in scripture. Is it true that names will never hurt me? No, it's not true. Names hurt! Words hurt! And the hurt lasts a long, long time - longer than most physical injuries.

The Bible teaches that we should watch our tongue. Sticks and stones can injure, but saying something hurtful to someone causes a much more serious and lasting hurt. So watch your tongue!

"The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (Proverbs 12:18)

3. Everything happens for a reason
Many things definitely happen for a reason, possibly a reason we may not be aware of or understand. I strongly believe that. God works in our lives for sure. But does absolutely "everything" happen for a reason, as the above statement implies? Does it really? Think about it. If everything, I mean everything happened for a reason, that would mean that everything, every event in our lives, is arranged by God for some reason. That would also mean that every bad and evil event is caused by God. (I don't think so!) If that's true, what happened to free will? I believe God either allows things to happen or He intervenes. Sometimes, however, things happen by coincidence or chance. For example, natural disasters happen. And sometimes things happen as a consequence of our own decisions or actions. Whatever the case, God either lets it play out, or acts on it. I suppose that's where the mystery lies - when or why God chooses to act. God can certainly cause things to happen, but that doesn't mean that everything which happens is a result of His will.

I guess the question is "all things" happen for a reason - implying that everything, good and bad, is intentionally done by God? (I say not necessarily), or just some things (I say yes)? Can some things happen by coincidence or chance? (I say yes) or as a result of our own decisions, stupidity, etc? (I say yes). More importantly, I'm coming from the angle, does "God" cause all things, including all bad things, to happen? ( I say not all bad things, maybe some for various reasons). And in the big picture... alright, if you really want to stretch it and get really technical..... I guess all things "do" happen for 4 reasons!.......God causes it, Satan causes it, we cause it, or nobody causes it.

No matter what happens in our lives, God is with us, and we do not go through it alone. And if we are in Christ, He works things, even bad things, eventually for our good.

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20b)

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Fortune Teller's Demise

A long, long time ago, I went to a fortune teller. It was probably back in the early seventies. I would never go now. My trust and confidence is now in God alone. Back then, my spiritual maturity was pretty much zilch. I went for fun, sort of on a dare, with a skeptical attitude. 

The fortune teller was an elderly lady who lived in an old house on a city street. There was a small sign out front, "Fortune Teller". I don't remember in what city the house was located, but I think maybe Elmira, NY. My wife, Francie, was with me. After being greeted at the door, she agreed to talk with us, brought us into the living room, and charged us a few dollars. Then, one at a time, we met with her, upstairs in a small, plain, empty room with 2 wooden, creaky chairs. There was nothing fancy about the room. It was like a scene out of a haunted house movie. 

Francie was first, while I waited downstairs. Then after about 15 minutes, Francie came down the stairs, looking like she'd seen a ghost (just kidding). It was then my turn to talk to the fortune teller, so I made my way up the staircase. I don't remember much of our conversation. She said some general statement about my grandfather that apparently didn't mean much to me since I can't recall it now. However, I distinctly  remember one thing she said - that I would come into good fortune and be successful in music, but not until late in life.

Well, here I am in my sixties, and yes, I am incredibly blessed at this stage. Not with much money or wealth, but with a loving family, great friends, and an intimate relationship with God, which gives me contentment, peace, joy, and hope. I've been in a full-time music ministry for the past 11 years that gives me purpose and fulfillment, living my passion, and playing music. I didn't have all this early on. I didn't even care about God until I was in my late thirties. So, yes, as I reflect back, the fortune teller's prediction seems to have come true. 

But, there is a warning in all this. Although it may be true that there are some fortune tellers who can actually predict the future, where is their ability coming from? Is it from God, or is it from the dark side? In whom or in what are you putting your trust, your hope, and your confidence? That's the issue. God wants your trust, hope, and confidence in no one or nothing else but Him alone. That's the problem with going to a fortune teller.

God despises divination (the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means). That's because in God's eyes, it's placing another god before Him. It's turning to some other 'divine' supernatural nature other than Himself. Remember the first of the 10 Commandments....."I am the Lord your shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:2-3)

God does not like the idea of His people, His children, turning to other sources. "Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead." (Deuteronomy 18:10-11) And it's not that the other sources are all fake! There is a spiritual reality which includes the devil. That's what's scary.

An interesting event involving a fortune teller is recorded by Luke, the writer of the Book of Acts. Luke was traveling with the Apostle Paul as they encountered a female slave who had an evil spirit. She was possessed, yet was actually proclaiming truth.

Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. (Acts 16:16-18)

It seems that this incident of a demon possessed person speaking truth about Paul and his fellow workers was something that really annoyed Paul. It just didn't seem right. There seemed to be deception involved. She was speaking what seemed like good news alright, following them around for days, but perhaps her motives were wrong. One thing is for sure - she was gaining credibility for herself, which she could use for evil purposes later.

This section of scripture really got me almost laughing out loud. I could just see Paul getting more and more fed up with her until finally enough was enough. Alright already!! At first she may have seemed harmless, but after a while, she became obnoxious. Maybe I think it's funny because sometimes I can relate to what Paul was feeling when I deal with certain people. And I think you can too. Paul became so aggravated that he turned around and performed a miracle, casting out the evil spirit from the possessed woman. Thus ending her career, to her demise. And her owners weren't too happy with Paul either, as you can see in the rest of chapter 16. But, hey!! Think about was this slave girl's demise as a fortune teller, but it was her release into freedom from being in bondage by an evil spirit! I like to think that she took heed of Paul's message after that incident, and became a believer and follower of Christ.

So I guess the lesson is this.....there are such people as fortune tellers even in today's world. Some are fake, but some may be real. Regardless, stay away from them. If they are real, what source are they tapping into? Certainly not God since He teaches against trusting and confiding in such people. Instead, put all your hope, all your faith, all your confidence in Almighty God, and in Him alone.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Monday, April 21, 2014

5 Ways The Resurrection Affects You

Christians all over the world are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the most significant and powerful event in the history of mankind. But how does His resurrection affect you? Here are five ways. 

1. It Demands Your Attention
You can't disregard it. The resurrection of Jesus is not only well documented in the ancient manuscripts that make up the Bible, it has been talked about and believed in for the past 2000 years! That's how powerful it is. Something of such significance demands your attention. You need to either believe or not believe that it happened. If you don't believe it, then stop here. If you do believe it happened, but only from a historical perspective, also stop here. However, if you believe it from a personal, spiritual perspective, in other words, you believe in Jesus, His sacrifice for you, then go on to the next point. 

2. It Changes Your Life
If you believe Jesus died and resurrected from the dead, then you must believe He is who He claimed to be......the Son of God who died for your sins, for your sake. There's a difference between simply believing from a factual, worldly standpoint, and believing from a inner-spiritual, personal standpoint. That's because believing that He died for you personally, draws you in to a personal relationship with the Him. You begin seeking Jesus (through the Bible), finding out more about who He is and what He teaches. Then you progress to following Him, His teachings, and His ways. This changes the way you think and act. Once you take belief to the heart, it begins to change your life. 

3. It Removes The Fear Of Death
Without the resurrection of Jesus, our faith would be futile, and we would be doomed to die, still in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17). In other words, without the resurrection, the crucifixion would be void and meaningless. But, He did resurrect! Therefore, we resurrect too. Not only after we die, but we also go through a death, burial, and resurrection in this life, spiritually. At least, that's how it's supposed to work (Colossians 2:12). Once we as believers with a repentant attitude are baptized, we bury our old self, and connected with Jesus, forgiven of our sins, and we rise to walk in a new life with Him. At least, that's how it's supposed to happen. Once we are Christ Followers, we have no fear of death because we know that since He defeated death, we do too.

4. It Gives Hope 
His resurrection gives us hope in this life and in the life to come. I think of hope, spiritually speaking, as an expectation that something in the future will turn out positive with God's hand involved. God is in control. Knowing that God had the power to resurrect Christ from the dead gives us hope that He has the power to do anything. Once we are in a loving Father/Child relationship with God, then His grace is upon us, and He listens to our requests through prayer, ultimately works things in our favor, and even in bad times, He will help us through, be there for us, and somehow, something positive will come out of it (Romans 8:28). Our faith in God, in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, is the basis of our hope.

5. It Provides Promise
The resurrection provides promise. Jesus promised that He would rise from the dead in 3 days, and His promise came true. He demonstrated His faithfulness. Now, in faith, hope, and trust, we know that His promises are trustworthy, and that His words are true. Not only can we count on the promises He gives for this life, but we can count on the promise that there is life after death. As believers, as Christ Followers, we can hold on to these promises - that there is hope, and peace, and joy to be found in this life. And that there is a Heaven, eternal life in paradise with Him, where we will be united with our loved ones who also have believed. Then, He will wipe away our tears, no more sorrow, no more pain, only joy and peace and love forever. (Revelation 21:3-5)

All this because Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and resurrected from the grave victorious. Hallelujah!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Movie Noah - The 'Watchers' Steal The Show

I saw the movie Noah today. It's got drama. It's got thrills. It's got action. It's got a few moments that bring a tear to your eye. It's actually a well-made production, with excellent acting and amazing photography and effects. 

A warning though - if you are going to see Noah expecting true-to-the-Bible accuracy, forget it. Don't even go. You need to realize that it's not entitled "Noah - The True Story". If that was the title everybody would be up in arms including me. If you go looking to tear it apart for inaccuracies you won't need to watch very long, and you would need a big piece of paper. I guess I would describe it as a spin-off fantasy that's based on a Bible story. But that's just what the film makers wanted it to be. 

What bothers me are the movies or shows that actually claim to be a accurate representations of the Bible, but are filled with false doctrine. See my previous posts on such productions, for example the History Channel's Bible series. What is especially offensive to me, and I believe to all Christians, are those movies that portray Jesus Christ inaccurately. After all, now you're talking about our Savior and Lord, and if you are making a movie about Him, you better step very carefully. 

The movie Noah doesn't claim to be that type of a movie at all. Paramount Pictures actually issued this press release on 02/27/14 to help audiences better understand that the feature film is a dramatization of the major scriptural themes and not a line-by-line retelling of the Bible story. Here's what they are adding to all future promotions, as well as the movie's website: "The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis."

Unfortunately, this press release was issued too late, after they received negative publicity. It's unfortunate that this statement was not incorporated at the very beginning of the movie. If it was, it would have removed a lot of criticism about it's accuracy, right up front. I wish it was there, because this statement by Paramount really helped me get a good perspective on the movie. And talk about artistic license, that's putting it mildly. 

Obviously, what's good about this movie is that it prompts people to read the Bible rendition of Noah found in Genesis, and get into discussions about it, although I wonder if any non-believers would do that. I certainly have spent a lot of time in Genesis because of it. What's bad is that it is filled with so much distortion of truth, that those who don't bother to learn the true story from the Bible, will come away wondering what was true and what wasn't. 

What I didn't like about it was that it took, what I thought, excessive liberty in trying to convince us that Noah was human in his weaknesses. They really played on his hypothetical faults, one of his children's supposed disobedience, and all kinds of twisted un-truths. But, it's just a movie, right? That's what I needed to keep reminding myself. 

There are some things I liked. For example, how they were creative in coming up with a process of putting the animals in the ark into a hibernation state. Or how they showed how the rains and flood started. 

Probably, looking back on it, the most memorable characters were what they called the Watchers. They were supposedly fallen angels originally, who were turned into huge rock-like, transformer creatures by God. These were sort of good-guys in the end. If there were any heroes in the movie, the Watchers were it, and if you ask me, they stole the show.

So, yes, I recommend you go see Noah. Just realize what kind of movie this is before you see it. It's well done as a stand alone adventure. And remember it's got a little truth with a whole lot of artistic license. Most importantly, let this whole Noah thing prompt you to read Genesis chapters 5 through 9.