Theological Thoughts

Christ at the Movies

Christ at the Movies

Jason Lisle offers a basic Christian paradigm for movie-watching. Here are his closing paragraphs:

Since our God-given ability to create and enjoy stories stems from our nature as God’s image bearers, the kinds of stories we enjoy often parallel the Gospel – God’s true story of redemption. We can summarize the basic elements of the history of redemption as follows.

We start with perfection. Human beings enjoy life in a perfect world made by God. Then a problem occurs; a man commits evil, and life becomes difficult as a result. The evil spreads and many people suffer. A hero is born – the Christ. He is innocent, yet because of His great love, He willingly suffers pain for the sake of others. He sacrifices Himself in order to save His bride – the church. When all seems lost, the hero overcomes death itself and victoriously conquers His enemies. Paradise is restored and the people rejoice.

Just think of the many movies that follow this basic formula. Not all do, but most borrow at least significant elements. Most start in a good situation (either directly, or implied by backstory), but the “bad guy” acts wickedly and the innocent suffer as a result. A hero is raised up from among the people and confronts the evil. The hero often suffers through no fault of His own. There is a low point in which all seems lost; the hero is essentially dead. But the hero recovers and defeats the bad guy. The people are saved and rejoice. These kinds of stories are immensely satisfying because they are true to reality. They capture the basic theme of the Bible, and this honors the Lord.

The next time you watch a movie, don’t let it be simply mindless entertainment. Look for Christian themes. See if you can identify the Christ-figure. It is truly amazing how many movies parallel biblical history. This is further confirmation that we all know in our heart-of-hearts the biblical God.


We need more sheltering of our children

At one time we talked about protecting our children from the dangers of the world. We saw “sheltering” as a word to be treasured in its proper context; a synonym for protection. I understand certain exposure is inevitable, but have we sped up the process? Some parents overreacted to the concept and opened the gates to their children and at the earliest stages, they were exposed to big ideas and innuendos on sexuality. Such parents while fleeing the excessive protection of their own parents–perhaps–took it even a step further and allowed technology to rule the daily routine of children (think under 12). The nine-year-old girl with an iPod and Instagram account is just a common feature of modern evangelical parenting. Well, these children have grown and as teenagers, they now have knowledge of things too deep for them to handle, too nuanced for them to parse and too intimate for them to carefully apply. The warning here is to be cautious not to overreact. Let children be children. God shelters us and gives us what we can handle (Milk, then Meat). Just as biblical history grows into wisdom, let’s raise our children into wisdom first before we expose them to the world in the name of “advancement,” “coolness” or “worldview training.”

Keep Wasting Your Time

Keep Wasting Your Time

There is a marvelous phrase used by the inimitable Marva Dawn. She says that worship is a “royal waste of time.” Of course, she is not referring to worship being purposeless, she is speaking of worship as something we do as a way of losing our lives (Mat. 10:39). Worship is royal because it invites us to the throne room of God. But worship is a waste of time because in the eyes of the world a) it is a worthless pursuit, but it b) causes us to keep heavenly time and forget earthly concerns.

A royal waste of time is what we need to do more not less. We need to keep wasting our sense of worthiness and gain more from the heavenly clock which calls us promptly to see God in the splendor of holiness.

Repent of your Preferences

Worship is not a matter of personal taste, convenience and comfort. This is one reason parishioners stay in a church on average of 3.3 years. When we gather on Sunday, we need a God who challenges our taste and comfort. We need God to shake us out of this societal sloth and sleep walking and summon us to behold His splendor and respond with adoration and service and sacrifice. We need to seek the greater good of our local bodies by repenting of our preferences. We need Church to be the very tool that confronts our sinful desires and replaces them with holy submission.

5 Questions to Ask our Children

I believe the heart of our children is conquered by continual exploration of their thinking. For this reason, I think it’s crucial to ask them an eclectic set of questions. Here are five that I have used when I take my children out for a walk or ice cream:
a) What do you most enjoy about our family/church?
b) Is there something daddy/mommy can do to be a better parent to you (this is always very revealing and humbling)?
c) What things make you happy/sad?
d) What are you learning that makes you excited?
e) What kinds of things do you talk about with your friends?

Male Headship for Dummies

I believe in male headship. I believe that the Church’s historical position and the abundant biblical record make clear that the clergy is a calling for male leadership alone. I believe women ought to submit to their husbands. I believe feminism pre-1960 and post-2017 are absurdly wrong-headed. But I also believe a man should listen to his wife often and continually. I believe he should cherish her through every part of the day. I believe a wife’s opinion is to be treasured more than mom’s or grandma’s or sister Suzy’s (no offense, whoever you are). I believe women are to be respected at home, made to feel like queens, encouraged to think well, empowered to communicate authority to her children and disagree with their husbands.

Brothers, headship means humility. Humility means sacrifice. Sacrifice means presenting your wife to Jesus as a radiant bride.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” -Paul

Little Replicas of Parish Life

Little Replicas of Parish Life

Our children tend to become little replicas of our parish life. When we speak poorly of fellow Christians in the Church, they tend to do the same as they get older. When we attend church irregularly, they will follow suit. When we act with inconsistent hearts towards the Gospel, they rarely get a taste of grace. When we live out a Gospel that is privatized, they will happily hide it under a bushel in their own homes one day. When we look at the world through the eyes of the worldly, they too will crave the world one day.
Parents: set examples for your offspring in the Church. Worship boldly. Reconsider your parish life. Participate fiercely. Honor your fellow parishioner. Serve your children by being examples of faithfulness in your local church.

20 rules for facebook usage

My 20 rules for Facebook usage:
1) If you keep throwing mud at people, don’t be surprised if you get dirty in the process.
2) Social media interaction needs to answer the following question: “Will my post allow the people (person) I am addressing to say, ‘I’d like to hear more about this'”?
3) There are things worth fighting about, but they are generally a lot fewer than you realize.
4) Emotions cannot be conveyed adequately through a post. Don’t panic. Seek clarifications. And let love cover a multitude of misunderstandings.
5) Probably less than 1% of people have changed their minds over substantial issues via facebook exchanges.
6) Edit and re-edit posts before publishing.
7) Humanize yourself, will ya?
8) Treat your neighbor as if he were sitting next to you.
9) Be a good generalist. If you don’t want to scare people away, don’t suffocate people with your pet issues.
10) Be generous with the “unfollow” button.
11) Write to conquer people with your ideas.
12) Don’t allow commenters to throw you off track from your main point.
13) As a matter of fact, persistent contrarian commenters need to be introduced to the “unfriend” button.
14) Treasure funny people. We need more of them.
15) Stop tagging me in every post about Jesus. My close friends know I love Him.
16) Don’t give me private access to your journal.
17) Many conversations are better via private messaging.
18) If you write poorly about your pastor or church publicly because of some trivial disagreement, you’re an idiot.
19) God has a wonderful plan for your life and it may include: “Stop posting.”
20) Social media is a wonderful platform. Treat it like fine wine…sip slowly and drink responsibly with good friends.

Why does David use stones to kill Goliath?

Why does David use stones to kill Goliath?

Peter Leithart writes:

Stoning is explicitly prescribed for only a handful of crimes in the Torah – giving seed to Molech (Leviticus 20:2), practicing spiritism or consulting the dead (20:27), certain forms of Sabbath breaking (Numbers 15:35-36). The man who blasphemes the name in the camp is stoned (Leviticus 24:14-23), and so is Aachan for stealing God’s plunder (Joshua 7:25). Stoning is a communal form of execution (sometimes a mob action, cf. Ezekiel 16:40; 23:47). When a criminal is stoned, it leaves a permanent memorial, a cautionary deterrent to others. The land rebels against the criminal and he is buried under the land, leaving a mark on the landscape. David “stones” Goliath because Goliath has blasphemed. Representing Israel, David is an agent of the land who rises against the Philistine hero who has committed a sacrilege against the holy name.

Five Lenten Questions

Five Lenten Questions

a) Is my Christian walk today different than a year ago? If so, in what ways? If not, why?
b) Do I treat any of my sins as just an innocent feature of my personality?
c) If a godly friend were to describe your Christian faith, would they say you are 1) faithful, 2) complacent, or 3) private?
d) Have I learned from my mistakes? Or do I have a tendency to teach others to learn from them and not myself?
e) What kinds of changes do I wish to see by Easter Sunday?