The Soloist and Going Solo

May 19, 2009

I caught another great movie last weekend and it moved me to write yet another blog from the ideas that were spun deep within myself.  I took a group of youth to see “The Soloist” staring Jamie Fox.  The movie centers around a homeless man who plays the Cello.  The youth that went with me all play a string instrument and I thought they might enjoy it.  I played the cello in school and majored in music education, so this movie was right up my alley as well.

The movie was not exactly what  I was expecting it to be, but, it was still a great movie.  I recommend that you go see it.    I had seen a movie called August Rush last year and really enjoyed it.  When I saw the preview for The Soloist  I thought it might be along the same lines as that movie, but it wasn’t.  The Soloist will “wow” you with great music and instruments, but the bigger part of the story is not the music, it is the relationship that forms between the 2 main characters.  Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr) a well known Newspaper Columnist chooses to write a story about Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx)  a homeless man who plays a 2 string violin quite well.  After watching the movie the following thoughts came to mind.

Relationships, a part of life.   Just as much as Food, Water, Air, and Shelter are a basic needs in life, I think that there should be a 5th category added; relationships.   Relationships can be simple  or complex thing.  Take a look at your friendships and you will see the different levels of friendships you have with your friends.  Some require little to no work, while others need a lot of TLC.   There is a under-lying rule with relationships, the more you put into them the more you will get out of them.   This is true with any relationship, husband and wife, parent and children, friend to friend.  This is even true with our relationship with God, more on this later.

Being a friend as well as having a friend.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can get rather selffish with my relationships.  The two-way street of friendships becomes a one-way street of  what have you done for me?  I think that this feeling a natural one because of our introspective view of life.  We have to make that effort to break out of that mentality and still “give” as much as we want to “get.” 

What do we give in relationships, here are a few things that you can start with.  I remember going to a student ministry conference years ago and a session leader shared something so simply, yet profound for student ministry.  The big questions teens wants to known in life were; First,  Will I be accepted by others? and second, Will I be loved by others.  Both of these questions center around relationships with others.  I’m also willing to bet that as those teens get older the same 2 questions follow us into adulthood as well.  On a side note, acceptance does not mean you have to agree with someone to accept them as a person.  You can have friendships with different opinions about many things.  The degree at which you agree on things in life will help you become closer, but are not totally necessary for friendships. 

I think back to the story of David and Jonathan in the Bible.  These two were great friends even though they came from different families and life styles.  They gave each other things as a sign of their friendships.  They didn’t let a disgruntled family come in the way of their friendship either.  Later in life after David was King he looked after the son on Jonathan and always welcomed him into the kings palace and at his dinner table.   You can read more on the story of Jonathan and David in 1 Samuel chapters 18-20. 

Well the last relationship I’ll mention before I end this Blog, soon to be novel, is a relationship with Jesus.   My faith is about a relationship with Christ, it’s not a religion.   I hope that anyone reading this blog would know God desires to have a relationship with you too.   If you could sum up the Bible in a paragraph, it would be that God created us to have a relationship with Him, sin entered the world and messed that relationship up.  God sent His Son to the earth to live and give His life as a atoning sacrifice for payment of our sins.  If we choose to accept  that gift from God as payment for our sins and we repent, place our trust in Jesus, and surrender our life to Him ,we too, can have a relationship with God that will make all other relationships in life pale in comparison.   If you want to know more about starting a relationship with Jesus please contact me and let’s talk.  This is only a a short blog and I cannot go into enough details right now.

Knowing and Not Knowing (part 2)

April 27, 2009

Here is the second part to my thoughts that came from the seeing the KNOWING movie with Nicolas Cage. If you missed the first blog it’s around here somewhere.

One of my favorite areas to study with the Bible is Apologetics.  In short it is WHY you believe WHAT you believe.  The word comes from the Greek word, “Apologia”  found in 1 Peter 3:15.  It is the equivalent for the word “answer.” 

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, — 1 Peter 3:15 (emphasis added)

I fully believe today’s younger generation is ready to believe in something, they just want to know if it is the real thing before they fully commit with their whole heart to it.  Apologetics always helps them see the evidence behind the Bible and the life of Christ.  I enjoy a good discussion about the Bible and I love to hear from teens and adults who have genuine questions about the Bible or Jesus Christ.  I’ll be quick to tell you I don’t have all the answers so please don’t peg me as some know-it-all, Bible thumping, religious fanatic.  Ok, enough of the explanations, just wanted to give you a basic introduction to the subject mater.

  3. The Bible and Prophecies.   Knowing is based around this note written by a 5th grade student 50 years prior.  The note is discovered to have all these predictions which come true as the movie unfolds.  It made me think back to the Bible and one of the reasons it is unique compared to other religious books in the world.  The Bible contains over 1200 prophecies within the 1189 chapters that make it up.   There are over 300 prophecies about Jesus.   What would be the odds of everyone of those propheciescoming true?  Josh McDowell a former atheist, turned believer, who set out to discredit the Christian faith years ago has calculated some of those odds. 

Taking just 8 prophecies made the odds 1 x 10(17 power) Or taking 48 prophecies made the odds 1 x 10 (170 power)  The numbers are extremely large and the odds are very high.  I’m trying not to get to technical with the numbers, they are a bog killer for sure, but if you want the specifics on those prophecies and number you can check them out in McDowell’s book called The New Evidence that demands a Verdict. 

We are just a few weeks removed from March Madness where the 65 teams go into the brackets and everyone tries to guess who the final winner will be.  We all know it’s the administrative assistant at your work that fills out the bracket and wins ever time.  The NCAA brackets are just about impossible enough to get right, but the prophecies in the Bible make the brackets look like flipping a coin.  No other religious book in the world has the amount of fulfilled prophecies that the Bible does.  It is just one of the areas in which the Bible stands out.

4. It still takes faith.  Well numbers and statistics aside, you can spend years looking for answers and still not come up with a absolute conclusion to the questions that plaugue the universe, even with  all the evidence and history to look at as a reference.  I have heard objection questions before like, “Why does God just give us some continous miracle showing us that He exists?”   I believe that God has given us every bit of proof that he wants us to have.  If He choose to give us a continuous miracle then there would be no doubt that God exists and people would choose Him not because they loved him, but  because it would be the obvious choice to have eternal life. 

The Bible even says in Deuteronomy29:29  “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”  We all have to realize that there are somethings we will never be albe to understand or know with 100% certainty. That’s where faith comes to play in the matter.  The Bible tells us many things about the role of faith in our lives.

Hebrews11:6 says without faith it is impossible to please God and those that earnestly seek God will be rewarded.   It is our faith that saves us through the grace given by Jesus death on the cross. (Ephesians 2:8-9)  the Bible has many verses that point to a active faith, one of works and actions, not to have a faith that is dead.  (James 2:17-26)  Having faith is not just “an easy way out” of not having all the answers, but it is more of listening to the Holy Spirit tell you the that what you have heard and read is the truth and something you can place your trust in.  I think there is a difference between having a “blind faith” and a “intelligent faith.”  A “blind faith” has no evidence  or support for making a decision, but an “intelligent faith” looks at the evidence and then makes a decision based on the unknown factors that can’t be seen or proved.

Where is your faith?  What kind of faith do you have?  Have you ever considered the evidence that supports the Bible and it’s claims?  Consider these questions; Do you truly believe that God exists, Do you believe that the Bible is a book written from God?  Was Jesus God, as He said He was?  Let me encourage you to examine the evidence and proofs that God has given us in creation, the written word, and in the person of Jesus Christ.

Knowing, and Not Knowning (part 1)

April 23, 2009

I went to see the new movie staring Nicolas Cage last weekend called KNOWING with one of the youth.  We had a good time and the movie sparked some great convo between us on the way home.  Without spoiling the movie’s ending I will try to share a few thoughts we had. 

A quick summary of the movie is this; 50 years in the past a 5th grade girl puts a sheet of paper in a school time capsule and it is sealed up.  Flash forward 50 years to present day where the paper lands in the hands of  John Koestler (Nicolas Cage) an astrophysicist who teaches classes at M.I.T. in Boston.  He discovers the pattern of numbers predicts the happening of tragic world events in which deaths occur.  As he struggles with the idea that everything in life is not random but planned with a purpose he becomes consumed with trying to help others avoid the inevitable.   I will not share anymore with you so I don’t ruin the movie ending.  Here are a few thoughts I had after the movie was over.

1. Randomness vs. Determinism.  Before the movie gets moving pretty quickly there is a scene where the college class is having a discussion on the two opposites of Randomness vs. Determinism.  One of the students asks John Koestler (Cage) “What do you believe, professor?”  He responses with a rather sarcastic tone.  “I believe that everything is Random and just pointless crap”   The idea of Randomness and Determinism is both addressed in the Bible.   First, God gave us free will, a sort of randomness, that we can choose to do and say what we want.  We can decide for ourselves what we should accomplish with our life.  We have the ability to choose to do right or wrong, just as Adam and Eve first did in the Garden of Eden.  God made us this way so that we would not be mindless robots, but have the choice to love God for who He is.   The Bible also speaks of a bit of Determinism.  The Bible says that God determined the exact time of our birth and the place where we would be born (Acts 17:26) and that His thoughts of us go back to before the creation of the world.  (Ephesians 1:11-12)  God set His determined plan into motion, but allows us to choose how our story is finished.

2. Why do bad things happen.  We just recently finished a Bible study with the youth about “Why do bad things happen?”  Many questions can arise from this topic some of which are; What is the source of all evil in the world?  Is there a difference between evil act and a moral evil?  Is there a supernatural being that is the source of evil?  If God created everything, then did God create evil?  I will not try answer these question here in this blog, perhaps another time, another blog.  The Bible says that evil entered the world through one man, Adam (Romans 5:12) and that through that one man, sin has been passed down from generation to generation.  The serpant (Satan) tempted Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:15-17 , Genesis 3:1-11,14-19)  into breaking the one rule that God set before them ,do not eat from the tree of Good and Evil.  I’m sure if I was there, I would have done the same thing.  While pain and evil are not fun, they do have a purpose according to the Bible.  The Bible says for those who are children of God, that God makes all things good out of the bad things in life (Romans 8:28).  Sometimes we may not be able to see that right away, or perhaps even never see it, but we know that God has a plan for it.   A few chapters before, (Romans 5:1-5) God promises that out of our suffering will triumph many good things like endurance, character, and hope. 

I don’t know where you are in life, but perhaps you are in a painful situation in life.  You can’t help but be depressed if you listen to more than 5 minutes of a news cast today.  Many people have lost jobs, homes, and much more.  I don’t have an answer for the question “Why?”  but I know that God does.  Hang in there and trust Him with all your heart.

I will save my other two thoughts for a second blog sometime later this week.  If you would like to talk about anything written above please feel free to contact me or if you just want someone to pray for you, I’d be honored to do so.

Serving Jesus with Joy,