Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How Much to Bear

It seems at times that life comes at you so hard that you wished you could just step out of its way. Already in a state of mourning over the certain passing of a loved church member I went to visit my grandmother last night at her assisted living home. As I entered the room she was sitting in her chair by her bed with a look of shear panic in her eyes. She began to babble about there being two men outside her room with guns who were shooting at each other and how they needed her help. This, of course was a hallucination and what I hope can be chalked up as a result of her Alzheimer's disease. As I sat there and talked to her and tried to calm her down she began to discuss how frustrating it is to tell people something is going on and people tell her it is only real to her. This incident is only one in a long list of similar ones. As we talked more grandma began to open up about her awareness that the things weren't real and the fact that she believes it is Satan trying to cause her to stumble. This, I could not disagree with and she verbalized real fear over her ability to overcome this. She wonders why God is allowing this to happen and is confused over why she cannot simply move on to her reward.

I reminded grandma of 1 Peter 1 and the fact that through these trials we are reminded of our love for Christ and why we do travel this pilgrim land. I reminded grandma that she has been preparing her whole life for this and that if she relies on her study and faith in Christ that she can overcome these terrible afflictions. We then prayed together and I feel confident that God heard my prayer and will answer it in His way and time. I left confident, not knowing that my faith in these words would be tested shortly.

I got home about 7:45 and ate a quick dinner and then began to play with the boys. I was rejoicing over the fact that a brother in Christ was on his way to meet the King. It was awesome and we were having a blast and then about five minutes until 9:00 my phone rang. I received a phone call that one of my very good friends, Mike Real, was involved in a motorcycle accident and that his wife wanted me to come to their house. I hugged the kids, told Joy not to wait up, and left immediately. While driving I was making phone calls to rally Christian soldiers when I received a call from Mike's daughter Lanice. She told me Mike was gone..... He's dead..... I told Lanice I was on my way and tried to remain as confident and strong as I could. When she called, I had Jason on the other line and I know I said to Jason (I love you man) that this on top of John's movement out of this life was more than I could bear. I made a few other phone calls and then it was just me, the night, the road, and my thoughts and emotions. My mind immediately turned to the conversation that I had with grandma earlier in the evening. Now my faith is being tested. My strength is up for display. My parachute of scripture is in need of deployment.

After arriving at Linda's house I stopped for a second before getting out of my car and I prayed that Christ would shine through me and that His love, compassion, and joy in the fact that not only one Christian brother was on their way to meet Him, but that one has been sent ahead of him. While there are no words to make the hurt stop, there are hugs, held hands, shared tears, and most of all prayers that can numb the hurt for just a moment. The rally of Christian soldiers last night, today, and I know in the upcoming days has been amazing to watch.

I debated over even posting about this night but I think Mike would be disappointed in me had I not. Mike always pushed me to let go of myself and to follow my heart.

If you know me, then you know Mike and probably his family. If you want to leave comments, prayers or condolences for his family, do so by clicking "comments" below this post and I will print them out and make sure the family gets them.

Mike, I love you.

Linda, Lanice, Renee, I love you and your families.

Will and Barry, stay strong.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Prayer of a Loving Son

This is a comment that was left in the comment section of my blog. Though I am not 100% sure I believe this is from the son of the elderly gentleman I have written so much about recently. These words are powerful and honor God for the great power that He is. I ask all of you who read this to please go to God in prayer and ask that he continue to comfort this family and the faithful Christian who was hurt in that horrible car accident. I can think of no greater thing you or I could do for these people. Read carefully:
A prayer borrowed and plagiarized from an unknown brother, but provided by The Spirit: Dear Heavenly Father, Who breathed life into existence:I come before You today stripped bare of all pretenses. I come before You a humble yet determined son who believes Your Words and bends to Your Will. And I also come to You in pain, caused by my dad's condition. Oh gracious, merciful Lord I continue to praise Your Name and ask for the courage to pass the hours without fear and doubt. Wonderful Father, submerge my dad in Your glory and drench him with Your Healing Power. Fill the hearts that read this Lord with the courage to change their lives. Lord, I ask that Your Grace insulate the hearts and minds of my mom and family from the searing pain of doubt and fear. I ask this in Your Holy Name. AMEN*from a loving son
Amen. Thank you Tim.
Tim, I am guessing this is you and I hope that you read this reply to your post. Thank you so much. Your mother and father have been like grandparents to me and parents to my parents. Your dad has served as a spiritual guide to my father and his influence in my life has hence been placed. I praise God for using your father and his accident to remind our congregation of the power of prayer. Although, we do not understand God's ways I know that angels are rejoicing over the renewal in faith your father's accident and the answering of prayer has caused in Mike, Lanice, Will, Jason, Joy, Reba, dad, mom, Jim, Pat, and myself to name only a few. You guys hang in there and God Bless you all.
I ask all who read this to acknowledge the fact that this family is reading the posts here. This is a wonderful avenue for you to leave your kind words, thoughts, and prayers through the comment section.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Reverse Hypocrite Golfer

I was fortunate to get to go on a golf outing yesterday with my family and two great friends and their family. We were set to tee off at 5:00 and Joy dropped me off at the golf course about 3:30 then she and the boys went shopping with plans to return later and then we would all go out to eat. I hit range balls for half an hour and teed off by myself at 4:00 just to play a few and get warmed up. When I met up with our friends Jason, Amber, and Maddy at 5:00 I told Amber that she was in trouble (she is the only one of my friends I can really compete with, make fun if you want) today. I believed it too. I got in six holes between 4:00 and 5:00 and shot 2 over par. That is remarkable for me these days.

So, to cut a long story short, I ended up shooting a 53 on the front nine (I still beat Amber though, YES). I couldn't hit my driver and I left every putt I hit way short of the hole. I walked off the course wondering WHAT HAPPENED? How did I go from playing so good by myself to playing like trash when my friends and family were around?
This really bothered me to the point that I found myself thinking about it today while I cut the grass. As I thought though, I realized that this is exactly how I need to be leading my life and how opposite to how I used to live. Growing up as the child of a preacher I lived a life of being on my best behavior and acting like a Christian when everyone was looking, but allowing myself to give into sin and live life in a horrible fashion when no one else (so I thought) was around. I fear that there are many people who live this lifestyle. People who proclaim to be one thing but in secret they are totally different. I can remember vividly the day that I decided to stop living this way and looking back I can't believe I ever fooled myself into thinking I was happy. There is a name for people like that, it's called a hypocrite.
My golf game is the exact opposite. As a matter of fact, my golf game is a mirror of how I think Christ wants us to be. Be good by yourself; play well, live well, serve well. This is no fun though because no one can see us doing these great things and who is there to brag about us or to brag to. If you his a hole-in-one while golfing and no one sees it, did you really hit a hole-in-one? If you make someone happy by simply being nice to them and no one sees it did you really make someone happy? If you help an elderly widow keep her grass cut and no one sees it did you really help her? The answer to all those questions is of course YES!!! How many of us know people who do Christian deeds and then say, "look at me, I'm so great?" I'm pretty sure Christ talked quite a bit against this kind of attitude. We must try to live our lives when no one is looking in a clean and Christian fashion to avoid being a hypocrite.
Further, Christ set up a plan so that when we are with other Christians we have the right to show our flaws and ask for their help. Jason told me yesterday he was going to help me in my chipping and I responded "PLEASE do." I haven't ever asked him for help because of pride (that's another story) but I know he will help me if I ask. If you are struggling with secret sin, it is your responsibility to ask for help and not be afraid to admit that you are a human and that you make mistakes. Besides, on the day of judgment, all of your secrets will come to light. There are no secrets on a golf course when others are watching. You either do it good or not and for most of us, it's a matter of not always. It is impossible to be a hypocrite on the golf course when others are watching.
So, I challenge all of you to begin living your lives like I golf. I can't believe I just wrote that but I mean it. When no one is looking, be your best and try your hardest. Focus on what is important to you and give glory to God alone when you do well. Focus on what you are trying to accomplish don't be afraid to take a mulligan and try again. Don't brag when you do good and don't expect others to notice. Always be yourself when you are around others and don't be afraid to let others see your flaws. Be transparent (thanks Jason). There are very few who do great alone and with others so understand that and be happy that you can look up to those people. This is the very opposite of being a hypocrite so live your Christian lives as a reverse hypocrite golfer. FORE!!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I Stand Amazed

If you read my post from Father's Day then you will know the background to this post. To summarize, our church went to God in a true sense this past Sunday asking for His will to be done. This post is a follow-up and I hope you will find inspiration from it.

I received a phone call last night about 7:00 from my friend Lanice. Lanice has been a long time friend and is the great-niece of the gentleman our church prayed for on Sunday. Lanice wanted to share with me a story. She said that her father, the nephew referred to in the Father's Day post, went to Memphis to visit the man involved in the car accident. As this nephew was conversing with the family he received a shocking revelation. Sunday, the gentleman became stable enough that the doctors could perform a surgery that was crucial to his chances of recovery. The amazing part is the timing that this took place. This man's condition changed between 11:15 and 12:00 Sunday morning. This is the same time that our church was bowed in fervent prayer and supplication for this man. I got chills as Lanice was relaying this story to me and I thank God for this. My wife prays often that God will reveal Himself to her and that she can get to know Him better. I believe this has happened. God has revealed to us what happens when we pray faithfully.

1 John 5:14-15 14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
While we do not know what will come of this situation I know that God's will is going to be done. Perhaps God's will is for our church, or just me, to see what happens when we pray with faith that God will answer. I know in my heart that every man who prayed that morning did so with the knowledge that God is going to answer this prayer in one way or another. We must always pray, not just to pray, but to receive answers so that we can see the power of our God and praise Him even more. If you are reading this I hope that you will stop now and give God thanks and praise for answering prayers, not just this one in this post, but all of the prayers you have offered in your life.
As I write this I am reminded of a series of lessons I heard Dale Jenkins deliver on the book of James. In his discussion of James 1 he points out the importance of expecting an answer when we pray. We must pray knowing that God cares and is listening to us and if not, we have no right to expect an answer. Let us all remember to pray with wisdom and with the remembrance that God is listening.
James 1: 6-8 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pilgrim's Map of the Day

* I had to share this picture I found over at Kingdom Living

* Tomorrow night is the "solstice moon." Make sure you go out to see it. This would be something fun to do with church friends tomorrow night after church. If you want to look like you know what you're talking about, click here to read the story about it from NASA.

* Time just released their list of the the 50 best websites in 2008. I have been to only a few of them before but I plan to at least glance at all of them.

* The first pictures of a human egg being laid was snapped recently during a hysterectomy. Click here for the full story, look below for the picture.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Blunder Dad

Luke lost his second tooth Friday night as he was trying to open a McDonald's toy with his teeth (NO, NO). As he said his prayers that night he asked God to take care of the Tooth Fairy and not let her get lost on the way to his house.

SPOILER ALERT: The tooth fairy is not real. Sorry to all of you who may still believe that but I have to say that before I go on.

The last thing Joy said to me that night was, "don't forget to put money under Luke's pillow." Well, the next thing I knew both of my sons were leering over me in my sleep scared to death because of the torrential down pour of rain outside. That's right, I fell asleep before I put money under his pillow and removed the tooth. I did not think about it when they woke me in the night but it was my first thought that morning and Joy made sure to make me feel even worse about it(thanks Joy) reminding me of Luke's sweet prayer. What was I to do?

I then remembered the fact that at some point during the night a huge rain came through. HA HA. I explained to Luke that maybe the tooth fairy could not make it because of the rain. To those of you who have seen Bee Movie, you will remember how hard it is for bees to fly in rain, I bet it's the same for the tooth fairy. He was very understanding and agreed with my assessment of the situation.

Do I feel guilty about this, NO, not at all. If you want to make me feel guilty you must first answer me one thing. Is it worse to stretch reality about there being this magical fairy who collects teeth (GROSS by the way) or to stretch reality about why this enamel loving nymph can not always make it on time?

Needless to say, the tooth fairy came Saturday night and paid up, with interest. I have already had thoughts about how glad I will be when all this tooth pulling business is over but ironically I was randomly reminded of how much longer we have to go. As we ate dinner last night with friends from church and some of our youth group this one girl who is 13 just out of the blue said she only had four more baby teeth to lose. 13!!!!!! and four to go.

Pilgrim's Map of the Day

It's been a while since I posted a map of the day. Hopefully you will all find enjoyment from today's stroll around the web.

* First off, this is the latest in a long line of funny wedding dance videos. This one is kinda like a greatest hits

Evolution Of The Wedding Dance - Watch more free videos

* In really strange news, check out this story about how scientists have genetically altered some bacteria to poop crude oil. Pretty cool!

* Matt Dabbs may be one of my favorite bloggers online. Here is a great post from his blog about problems facing the church today. Read these and think about how you can make a difference.

That's all for today.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Day for the Father

As you all know, today was Father's day here in the U.S. This day was the culmination of an emotional and very prayerful weekend for many in the congregation where I attend church. It began Friday morning when my friend Kerri messaged me through Facebook that one of the elderly members of our church had been involved in a single car accident and that his condition was very critical. What has played out over the past 60 hours has made me realized just how entrenched I am in Christ's kingdom here on earth.

Without going into very much detail I will simply say that when you see a group of people rally around an individual and his family the way that this congregation rallied this weekend to make sure that every need is met, it leaves you speechless. Add on top of that the fact that all who did so kept in mind that God's will is going to be done regardless and the experience leaves you breathless. There were prayers sent to God for comfort, understanding, safety, rest, and even literal parting of the clouds so that this man could be transferred by helicoptor to better care. All of this culminated in an event this morning at church that could only take place in the presence of righteous men.

I have to clarify here that the individual involved in this accident and his wife are like parents to all of us who know them. They are everything a Christian should be. You will never meet two more charitable people in your life. That being said, everyone's hearts were heavy as we gathered to worhsip God as a family this morning. A buzz of the latest updates on his health was prevelant before the worship time began and remarks of his courage and strength were prevelant.

No prayer was said during this time that did not beg the Lord for something that none of us even know how to ask for. Then, the sermon. My father spoke this morning and I can say that there are only a handful of times that I have ever been prouder of him (I love you Dad even though you don't have the internet or a computer and you probably will never read that). My father suggested that our congregation take the time to stop and pray for this beloved man who is like a father to all of us. He suggested that any man want to pray aloud with this congregation and in God's presence that they take this time and do so. As the first two men prayed, a nephew of the gentleman made his way to the front to pray as he kneeled behind the first pew. Well, dad jumped the gun during this man's walk to the front and closed the prayer time. He then proceeded with his lesson about Jonah and fathers (I know, those two don't seem to go together but it was actually very good).

Following the lesson, another of our elders who I know this day is especially hard for as he has had a son die, made way for this nephew to be able to offer his prayer. By the time he was finished, there were only a few dry eyes in the building and there was nothing else left to ask for. I write all this to say this: I can think of no greater honor for our Heavenly Father than to say to God "I have no control over this, I need you to step in, please Father, take this burden and do as you wish." As a father of two small sons, I am so happy that they were able to be a part of this powerful event and I thank God that they could see the helplessness of so many Christians and what it is we do when we don't understand. I was fortunate enough to get to make the final remarks at church tonight prior to leading the closing song. I asked our congregation to not allow ourselves to only rely on God during the bad times but to take the closeness that all of us felt to God on this day and never let it go.

To call this Father's Day a happy one would not be right, but to call it a day for the true Father would be accurate.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Wife is a Great Mommy

Joy never ceases to amaze me. Joy has managed to remove our sons focus from television and video games and onto things that are actually good for them. Let me tell you what she did.

Joy and I have talked about how problematic it is that our kids (especially the oldest) thinks video games and t.v. from the time he wakes up. We have talked about how to change this and the only thing I could think of is "make" them go outside and play more. The only problem with that is that because one of our sons is a maniac (Luke) one of us has to be outside in the 90+ degree heat with them at all times. So, how can we make the boys think "read and build" when they are inside. Answer: MONEY, but not reward money but rather bartering money. YOU ARE BRILLIANT JOY!!! (Note: if this is someone else's idea and she read it or stole it, I don't want to know, let me bask in the joy of Joy's greatness darn it).

At the start of each day Joy gives Ethan and Luke 50 cents each with the understanding that they can "buy" a television program for 25 cents. That means they both can buy two shows per day and of course they get to watch sports or a movie with Daddy at night. Joy started this program this week and the immediacy of the change in their habits is astounding. Ethan has worked on his reading (he read an entire Magic Tree House book on Tuesday) and Luke is more eager than ever to work on his reading and hand writing for kindergarten this fall. Not only this, but they both are way more selective about what they watch (how many times can you watch the same Sponge Bob episode?). I actually think they are saving money.

I just wanted to brag on my wife. I love you Joy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Christian Pronouns

Last Wednesday night a member of the Kingsville youth group had a test coming up and she was really worried about it. Of course, whenever people are worried about something they have coming up that is going to test them, the standard to flip to is Phillipians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Here's the funny part, her test was on pronouns which to me was so cool since this verse starts and finishes with a pronoun; "I" being Paul and "me" also Paul.
It turns out that there could be no greater verse in the Bible to do a quick study of pronouns and this study inspired me to write about all of us becomining Christian pronouns.

I can do all things through Christ who stengthens ME
If you are reading this blog post I want you to know that there is nothing that you can not do through Christ. The beauty of the verse in Phillipians 4 is that prior to this great verse, Paul is discussing how he hasn't always had things turn out the way he thought. His point was that he still knows that if it is Christ's will, there is nothing he can not do and no amount of strength needed that Christ will not provide for him. Tell yourself daily that you can most certinaly do anything you want if you do it through Christ.
YOU can do all things through Christ who strengthens YOU
I have faith that you, the person reading this, can do whatever plan Christ has planned for you. Christ will allow us to be tested in this life (1 Thes. 2:4) but never beyond what we can withstand. If you will allow Christ to take over your heart and will search for your resolve and strength in Him, He will provide it. If you meet someone today, remind them of this fact and tell them of the strength that comes from Christ.
WE can do all things through Christ who strengthens US
If you are like me, as you travel this pilgrim land you shake your head daily at the state of the world and its obsecene Godlessness. I have faith that if we, the true Christian soldiers on the Earth, can come together and decide that today is enough and that we are going to show this world the love of Christ, that we can do it. Read my post from yesterday to see one area in which I truly believe Christ is soon to begin doing great work. The New Testament speaks often about the great things that a group of Christians can do so long as they keep obedience to Christ at the center of their efforts. Tell your Christian friends, your congregation, and your family today that WE are going to begin looking to Christ for what he wants US to do as start doing it. Why you ask....?
THEY can do all things through Christ who strengthens THEM
There is a world full of individuals who need to know this message. WE must teach it to THEM. This past year I have been privileged enough to see a great number of people make the decision that they are going to start leaning on Christ and die to their self. The turn arounds in their lives is remarkable and is a testament to the fact that there is nothing anyone can not do once they begin to lean on Jesus (by the way, what a great song "Leaning on Jesus" is). I believe that if YOU will join ME and the rest of US that WE can teach THEM and allow THEM to see that THEY need Jesus as much as the rest of US.
Take note please that there was one noun in that verse that never changed and that never changes. That noun is Christ. If you remove Christ from this verse then you are left with an unintelligible mess. This is already taking place all around us and people are beginning to place other proper names or things in the place of Christ and disguising it as Christianity. We live in a society where people say, "I can do all things through E-Trade who strengthens me," or "through the NFL", "Budweiser", or any number of other things. We must return Christ to this verse. I hope that you will join me and become a Christian pronoun.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Listening for the Whisper

I want to begin this post by giving a great deal of praise to my mighty and wonderful God. He is so powerful and so wonderful and I never fail to be amazed at His ways.

A few months ago a fellow brother in Christ by the name of Jason Jarrett (hey Jason) approached me and wanted to discuss starting a men's ministry in this area. I gave him the usual "oh yeah, great idea, let me know when you do all the work and I will be glad to help" at that time. However, over the next few months I thought about it and thought about as did Jason and we enlisted the help of three other brothers in Christ to help us get this off the ground. Our first meeting with one another to officially begin this men's ministry was last night and it was powerful, spiritually driven, and Christ-centered. I know that God was pleased with our effort. I say all that, to say this. This ministry that we think began on Monday night actually began Sunday night.

Sunday afternoon, Jason, Michael (one of the other "founders") and myself went together and played 18 holes of golf. Yes, you read correctly, three Church of Christ members were playing golf on a Sunday afternoon but I promise you we did not miss our church services. Jason and Michael allow me to come along because I make them look so good but that's another story.

Anyway, as we traveled home that evening (we had about a 40 minute drive) we began to discuss the voice of God and how he talks to us. So often in many denominations we hear "God told me this or that" and many of us look at this with skepticism. We had a great conversation about this and I know that all of us in that car left with a desire to learn more about how God is talking to us. As part of our men's ministry (name yet to be decided, any suggestions?) we were all to prepare a five to ten minute discussion of something that we were struggling with or that we thought would be helpful to the group. I thought I knew what I was gonna speak on until I got out of that car Sunday night and I decided to look further into this whole voice of God idea.

To make a long story short, my studies led me to 1 Kings 19 and the story of Elijah. Here we have Elijah feeling pity for himself because he feels like no one wants to do good and serve God but him and when God finds him he sends Elijah to a mountain and it is here that God shows us all how to know when to hear Him.

1 Kings 19: 11-12
11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
As Elijah stands on this mountain waiting for God to show Himself, God allows a fire, strong winds, and an earthquake to affect where Elijah is standing. However, as the text says, God was not in any of these things. What was God's voice, it was a whisper; a whisper that if you finish reading this passage tells Elijah what God wants from him. As we know, from the time that Elijah listened to this whisper, God worked great wonders through Elijah.
How guilty are we of not allowing ourselves to hear God's whisper in our ear? Without getting into a discussion of how the Holy Spirit works, shouldn't we all be satisfied to know that God is whispering in all of our ears. So often we only want to see God in the big things such as fires, earthquakes, and tornadoes. I think about Hurricane Katrina and how some tele-evangelists wanted to say that this was God cleansing this city. Are you kidding me? Did God allow it to happen? Yes. Was God in it? No!
Let's all make sure that we are listening to the whispers of God before they become whimpers or even worse disappear all together. Let's stop dismissing these whispers as random thoughts and never following through. I hear so much complaining about complacency in the church these days. Imagine a church where every member listened to the whispers and acted upon them accordingly. We would have visitors constantly, activities for Christian fellowship every night, and we would always be saying something that one of our brothers or sisters needed to hear (this one especially gets me because a kind word does so much for people).
We are given an example in Hebrews 3 of the Israelites who refused to listen to the whispers and we know about their 40 year plight. The author of Hebrews warns us that to not listen to this voice and OBEY it is sinful and will keep us from reaping our Heavenly reward someday. I talked to the guys in our men's ministry about the fact that this entire year something has been telling me to read and thoroughly study the book of Isaiah. I have put this off and put this off but after that whisper in my ear on Sunday night, I will put it off no more. I am going to be more faithful to listen to the voice of God and I know that there is something in the book of Isaiah that God wants me to read again.
In conclusion, you may be asking how to discern between the Holy Spirit and random thoughts. This is how I see it: Anytime something occurs to you that someone needs something from you and that by sharing this it will not be pleasing to your own flesh (meaning it will take sacrifice on your part, great or small, i.e. stopping what you are doing and making a phone call or praying) that, to me, is the Holy Spirit / God whispering in your ear. We need to start listening and obeying today.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Strangers

First off, let me say this. If you want to have the poo scared out of you for almost an hour and a half, go see the movie The Strangers. After leaving the theater on Friday night I was literally shaken to the core and I was still looking over my shoulder for boogers Saturday afternoon (that's right, in broad daylight) as I took the trash out. If you don't know, this movie is about a young couple who are terrorized by a group of strangers in their home. The psychological torture that the couple goes through must have made their eventual (SPOILER ALERT) death a welcomed relief.
I have thought about writing something about this movie since I saw it because it had such a profound effect on me. I started out thinking that I would write about how scary it is that people who really take lives in such a way are real and how frightening that is. As I looked deeper into the "true events" that this movie was based on it turns out that there is really a big amount of artistic freedom taken and it is more fiction than fact. Several other ideas crossed my mind but the more I thought about it, the more I have decided that I, and we as Christians, have a great deal in common with the poor couple who was terrorized in this film.
As each day of my life goes by the simpler my list of wants becomes. As of today, all I really want is to serve God, have a Christian family and friends who works to serve the Lord, be part of an active and New Testament church, and to see the youth I am so honored to work with at church grow to adults without being snared by the world. That's it.
There is a stranger at my door though. It is one that I have known in the past and one that I know wants me back because I was darn good at doing what pleased him. Just like the characters in the movie, this stranger wears many masks and although I know the forms I have seen him in I am not naive enough to think that he does not have more masks. This stranger is satan and he is very real. I know what he wants, he wants to take my life. Not my physical life though, my spiritual life as he knows that I have died to my self. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that Satan is walking around like a lion, waiting for us to slip, doubt, or just give in so that he can devour us. While he uses many ploys and lusts to draw people from Christ, there is one mask that he wears that is most frightening of all; the mask of the Lion.
As our studies show us, we know that Christ was descended from the tribe of Judah. The symbol of the tribe of Judah was that of a lion. Many today like to look at and teach a Christ as the sacrificial lamb that replaced the passover lamb. Christ is this, and this is a fantastic representation of His love. But, what has happened to teaching the Christ who described himself in Matthew 10 as One who is carrying a sword and who will cut off those who do not obey Him and deny themselves? I fear that many have allowed satan to take that mask and not use it, but hide it.
When I talk to many young Christians today they speak of a Christianity that I do not recognize. Sadly, these are the ones who seem to represent the Strangers in my life. Christ demands that we obey Him and we do not have liberty to deviate from the outright obedience in the name of unity, diversity, or even love. Yet, when I am around people who I think are New Testament Christians today I often find myself having my walls shaken, by door knocked on, and being told that although the scripture teaches certain issues, Christ is full of love and he will understand if you mess that little part up. I fully believe this is the work of satan. Satan wants us to feel comfortable in doing what is not fully obedient. Yet, there are those who are under constant attack by satan as he knows what we aim to accomplish in the name of the Lord.
In the movie we are discussing, I know that all the victims of the crime wanted was daybreak and I think the director knew this too as he made it a point to show the viewer when the sun was up. Through the movie you think that if they can just make it to daybreak they will be fine. They did make it through the torture to see the sun one last time but just because the sun had risen that did not make the killers stop their plan. It is the same with us. We serve a risen Son but just because this Son has risen it does not mean that satan has stopped. That to me is the scariest part about this life; that our enemy is one who already knows he has lost the battle but he wants to bring as many of us with him as he can to Hell. I fear that many are being led that way by false teaching or by such a desire for relief from the torture they are already in that they will reach for anything they can get. What am I going to do about it? What are you going to do about it? We must stop letting Christ and his teaching be the stranger and make satan the stranger that he is already damned to be.