Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Why You Will Enjoy Miracles From Heaven

I just returned from viewing Miracles From Heaven, starring Jennifer Garner.  You probably saw the TV commercial for it – a little girl gets an incurable illness, then falls from a tree and miraculously gets well.  Before watching the movie, I thought the producers made a big mistake by telling the “whole story” in the commercial trailer.  Frankly, I was expecting the typical “religious” film: maudlin, trite, and corny, with actors who barely had their lines memorized. Boy, was I wrong!
Before I go any further, I want to be the first to say that Jennifer Garner deserves an Academy Award for acting.  She showed us exactly what a mother in crisis looks like and feels.  When she was pleading with a reluctant doctor to examine her daughter there wasn’t a dry eye in the theater. 
My wife remarked that one could tell that Garner is a mother in real life; she couldn’t be so convincing if she wasn’t.  She used every ounce of her motherhood experience to demonstrate that she is also a terrific actress, and the rest of the cast supported her admirably.  This truly is a very enjoyable, satisfying, and entertaining film.
Personally I would have preferred more of a direct emphasis on “the four spiritual laws” and the plan of salvation, but that would have made the film everything I don’t like –predictable and preachy.  And that probably have limited its audience to “preaching to the choir.”
Miracles had enough God, Jesus, faith, heaven, and potluck dinners to leave no doubt as to its Christian perspective. But this film also made one think.  How do believers handle the struggles, the doubt, and the anger of real life?  This was a family just like us – messy Christians trying to make it through a dreadful situation. 
I could actually see myself attending their church.  The attendees were regular people, not the Hollywood versions of Christians.  The pastor was a normal, thoughtful, rather effective leader of his flock, preaching, visiting the sick, making announcements at the potluck dinner, and having fun with the children.  It’s the first “Hollywood movie church” that I would attend – particularly since Mac Powell from Third Day was the worship leader.  You are going to love the worship songs. 
Obviously, the thrust of the film focuses on the events between the daughter getting sick and then falling out of the tree.  How could a loving God allow people to suffer?  Why doesn’t God answer our prayers?  Does God really care about our pain?  This family managed to grasp a vital spiritual truth:  their daughter’s healing was only a single event in their spiritual walk, for God was displaying the miracles of His love for them (and us) every day.    
Bottom line, if you enjoy a quality story without sex, violence, and profanity, you will thoroughly enjoy Miracles From Heaven.   And don’t forget to bring your Kleenex.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Are You Frustrated With Our Political Choices?

I have read emails from my readers who are frustrated with our political choices for president. My question to everyone is this: Why are you surprised? 

Please read Romans 13:1 to 4.
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good.

Read that passage again.  Paul is speaking to Christians living under ROMAN rule!  And he called the leader of the land “God’s minister for good.”  Why?  Because God will direct us through the leader He has put over us.  No matter how bad we believe our choices are, they are a heck of a lot better than Nero. 

I definitely have my favorite candidate who I’m voting for.  I’m looking for a person with good character who believes strongly in biblical principles.  But, frankly, I don’t think “my guy” will win. But if you’re wondering whom YOU should vote for, try to think of this coming election like a job interview. 

How can we “hire” someone to do evil on our behalf?  That will eliminate at least half of the candidates.  Would you hire a proven liar? How about a bully who doesn't play well with others? Would you hire a candidate who supports killing pre-born innocents? Our choices aren't easy are they?

This is something that I've struggled with for months and then God reminded me that I’m “just passin’ through." While I will be a good citizen for America, we as Christians know our true citizenship is in Heaven.  This election just reinforces my understanding that I’m just a temporary resident representing my Savior and true Home.  I’ll vote for the candidate who will allow me to the most freedom as Christ’s ambassador, but my top priority is to carry out my assignment to the best of my ability (2 Cor 5:20).  WWJD is more than just a catchy saying on a wristband.  As Christ’s ambassador, I have to continually ask myself, what would Jesus do?

We have to remember “the church” expands during times of trial.  I’m not a masochist.  I don’t want to suffer, but we have to remember that the Christian church in China flourished during the past 65 years under repressive communistic rule. Today, there are more Christians in China than there are Christians in America! Think about that!

I want a simple easy life and “suffer for Jesus at the beach,” but I know difficult times are coming for us and are already here for most of the world. Time is short and I must focus on the eternal rather than the temporal.  A new president isn’t going to change much of anything.  I’m trying to see this from God’s perspective.  What are a few years compared to eternity? 

This is why I believe The Christian Music Challenge is so important for the Christian community. It will help believers keep their minds and hearts focused on Christ and biblical values which will lead to a life of peace (Isaiah 26:3).