Countering FEAR with Fact

“And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” – Mark 10:32-34
 
Screen Shot 2020-10-15 at 11.40.35 AMOne of my favorite movies is a two-part French film series; Jean de Florette, & Manon des Sources – that translates as “John of the Flowers” & “Manon of the Springs”… they tell a powerful story of personal responsibility & how our actions impact not only ourselves, but the results move away from us in waves, impacting generations to come.
 
The story goes as such: Cesar Souberyran, years before – away to war – returns to find his love, Florette,  married and with child.  Heartbroken & cynical, he pours his energy into helping his only remaining relative – his Nephew, Ugolin – have the physical comforts he did not.  Through scheming, & even physical violence, his actions lead to an accident that ends of the life of Jean, Florette’s now grown son, and so Cesar & Ugolin take his land. This land has a naturally occurring Spring & they grow very wealthy growing Tulips for market. 
 
BASICALLY, a man loses the woman he loves, so as revenge he takes what he wants in return – her son’s property.  A few years later, however Ugolin is wealthy & wants to start a family, but falls in love with Jean’s only daughter, Manon, who – seeing the havok Ugolin & his uncle caused for her father, rejected his advances, resulting in Ugolin’s eventual heartbreak & suicide.  Towards the end of the second movie Cesar goes to a local convent to speak to an old friend from his youth.  Sitting together, discussing the “old days”, Cesar asks the nun about the now-deceased Florette, she realizes something tragic; “You never received her letter?  Oh no, this is tragic indeed.”  And Cesar learns for the first time that Jean, the man he murdered out of both jealousy & greed, to provide for his nephew – the results of which led to his nephew’s eventual suicide – Jean was HIS OWN SON.  In trying to take what was “his”, he destroyed everything in his wake – even his own son.
 
Let me tell you, the moment that fact is revealed it’s like the whole weight of everything Cesar has done comes crushing down on your shoulders – I literally wailed when this part of the story unfolded.  That one little truth changed EVERYTHING.  Not having the whole truth about his situation led him down a troubling, ultimately self-destructive path. 
 
It really helps having the BIG PICTURE.
 

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GOD’S SONGBOOK: Shout for Joy!

Screen Shot 2020-08-31 at 1.38.27 PMOver the past few months at CrossPointe Church we’ve been working through Wednesday night Bible study series on the Psalms, & I chose Psalm 66 because, as a Worship Pastor, this is ONE OF MY FAVORITES!

Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
Sing the glory of His name;
Give to Him glorious praise!
Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds!’” (Psalm 66:1-3a)

Don’t read it – SHOUT IT! Think on this: the book of Psalms is an ancient liturgical book – a collection of hymns & poetry for the purpose of aiding God’s people in worshiping Him as He ought be worshipped.

Do we do such a text any justice to read it dully, without emotion… “shout for joy to god all the earth” (said in monotone)? When your favorite sports team scores the winning goal, or your favorite band closes the show with that awesome sing-along, is your response, “oh…yay”?

Check this list of Scriptures out, & you should grasp what I’m meaning…

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Philippians 4: what is Reel? Christians & the media

It seems to me that, given the restrictions caused by Covid19, this topic has never been more relevant than it is now. Feeling trapped in our homes, we’re devouring any & all available entertainment at our fingertips: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu, cable TV, & all sorts of ‘entertainment’ available on the web. I pray this message is a healthy reminder for us, because I’m likely going to step on everyone’s toes, my own included… [Read more…]

Asking Jesus how to Pray

With the National Day of Prayer just this past week I wonder how often & how freely we pray?

I’ve found that when one struggles to pray it’s often because they struggle with their view of God, or have a faulty understanding of prayer itself. Both of these issues are addressed when Jesus gave us His simple blueprint for prayer.

Prayer isn’t hard – no need for complex words, or heady concepts. There is no “performance” in prayer. Jesus gave this example of the sorts of things one might say to God:

 Therefore, you should pray like this…

Note: Jesus didn’t say “You should PRAY THIS…” – it’s not something that is only useful if quoted word for word. This is simply a roadmap of how we might converse with God. Pray like this…

Our Father in heaven,
your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.

Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.

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The Man born Blind

The book of Job says, “For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble sprout from the ground, but man is born to trouble as (sure as) the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:6-7) Evil, pain, and suffering are nothing new to any of us. 

Sometimes we’re tempted to look at it as a philosophical issue but a few years back I was struck by the truth of the matter: the problem of pain is an issue of the heart. Take C.S. Lewis as an example. Lewis wrote one of the greatest philosophical treatise on pain ever penned; The Problem of Pain. However, the content of his book brought little comfort in the midst of losing his wife, Joy, as any one having read A Grief Observed will attest. It is so harsh that it was originally published under a pseudonym so as to not ruin Lewis’ public persona. Those troubling pages document Lewis’s deep doubt, anger, fear, and bitterness – emotions most anyone in the same position would feel. Why? Didn’t he understand the issue? Was what he wrote in The Problem of Pain all wrong?  [Read more…]