Books, Resources, Uncategorized

Hollywood Worldviews

From foreign films to Academy Award winning features, movies are part of the American culture.  An escape from the work-a-day world, they provide us fantasy, adventure, romance, and a bit of comedy.  Sadly, many Christians approach the movie industry with an attitude of indifference – consuming whatever they find without first engaging their brains.  That’s why, this week, we’re featuring Brian Godawa’s “Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment”.

A great read on its own or as a Bible study, “Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment” introduces readers to the elements of critical thinking… then teaches them to utilize those elements as they sit in front of the big screen.  Godawa explores the mythology of the movies as expressed in themes of faith and redemption, takes a look at predominant worldviews like existentialism and postmodernism, and helps other believers pick apart the messages of the films they watch without forfeiting their enjoyment of the medium.

The book is peppered with insights or “Director’s Cuts” in which Brian links readers to his website where readers can find deeper information on the topics discussed, checklists to help them carefully consider the morals and meaning of the movies they view, and links to his movie blog where they can see the book’s principles in action.  Each chapter ends with a list of “viewing” assignments and questions to help movie lovers learn to apply the Biblical principles being taught.

Brian recognizes that not all Christians enjoy the same genre or have the same tolerance for the immoral behavior often portrayed in movies, so he concludes this volume with a candid look at how the Christian faith (and our concern for our brothers and sisters) ought to influence our viewing choices.

A great book for groups of any size, “Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment” truly delivers – offering readers an insightful course in the application of Biblical theology and critical thinking even when the world surrounding us is one of fantasy!

Published by Intervarsity Press, “Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment” is available in paperback and for Kindle.

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Physical Preparation for Evangelism, Rest, Rest and the Workplace

Evangelism and Physical Fitness: Respecting Others’ Right to Rest

Over the last few weeks, we’ve taken the time to look at a few techniques to help us get the rest we need to serve God at our best.  This week, we’re flipping the coin as we examine the importance of allowing others to get the rest that they need.

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  While Jesus wasn’t the originator of this phrase, it does summarize a great deal of His teaching.  (That is, of course, presuming that you generally like others to approach you with grace, mercy, generosity, etc.)  It’s an important phrase to remember when we discuss the value of rest.  After all, everyone needs some time to relax… and helping others get away, even just for a moment, can be a powerful presentation of our Christian faith!

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”  Notice He doesn’t qualify His “all”.  He doesn’t say, “Come to Me, you Jews who are weary” or “Come to Me you slaves who are weary” or even “Come to Me you temple-goers who are weary”, but “Come to Me, all who are weary.” He doesn’t seem concerned with the sex or social status of those who approach Him for rest and shows no interest in their career choice or political affiliation – His only concern is that people need rest.  Perhaps the appeal of this phrase is that in seeking to have a physical need met, a spiritual one is met as well.  And if having the one met by Christ leads to the other being met in a more important, eternal sense, then we who are “imitators”(Ephesians 5:1) of Christ ought to do all we can to help those around us experience rest.

So what does this look like in application?  To begin with, we need to be alert to the needs of others.  Stop talking and start listening.  It’s likely that you’ll begin to recognize the signs of exhaustion in the words of your siblings, the tone of your boss, or the actions of your professor.  When you do, this alertness ought to lead us to action.  Here are a few examples of the form that action might take:

  1. Respect for break times and off-work hours.  We’ve all been there:  We’re lounging in the break room enjoying our lunch when someone comes in and asks our opinion on a problem they’re facing out on the sales floor.  It isn’t that we mind weighing in, but we’d prefer to do it on the clock.  Though it may seem surprising, we aren’t alone in this sentiment.  If you see your math professor headed into the baseball stadium or your employer relaxing with a magazine, now isn’t the time to approach them for comment!  Let them enjoy their time off and wait to approach them until they’re back on the clock.
  2. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because your boss is salaried, they don’t have a right to enjoy lunch undisturbed.  Unless it’s a real emergency (like the store is burning down), leave them alone and address the issue once they’ve packed away their munchies.  Many employees won’t afford them this kind of basic human decency, so you can bet they’ll notice if you do!
  3. Don’t assume that you know what everyone else’s life is like.  It’s easy to rationalize pressuring a high performance out of someone who we feel isn’t justified in their weariness.  Unfortunately we don’t always know the full story behind why our co-worker always shows up yawning or a particular church member never seems to have the time to serve.  That exhaustion could be from a party that went on until the wee hours of the morning… or it could be from an unavoidable late-night study session.  Give the benefit of a doubt and cut others some slack when it comes to adding to their burden.  Respect their boundaries when they say they just can’t work the overtime or tend the nursery.
  4. Head off the tension at the pass.  Romans 12:18 tells us, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” I probably don’t need to say it, but conflict isn’t conducive to rest, so do your best to avoid it.  Even when you’re justified in your frustration, approaching your pastor employer, parents, or coworkers with a tone of sympathy and an expectation that they’re man or woman enough to resolve the problem can go a long way towards creating a restful environment and actually fixing the situation.
  5. Do the unexpected.  Go out of your way to teach an extra class and give another Sunday School teacher a break or sneak your boss a candy bar and keep watch for a few minutes while they consume it.  You may be surprised at how much impact an unexpected, rest-inducing act can have!

While these ideas just scratch the surface, you’re likely starting to get the picture.  We live in a stressful world and, when we take the time to relieve the stress of others and afford them an opportunity to rest, our actions get noticed.  If we take these actions in the right way, they point observers straight to the One who can give them rest not just now, but for all eternity!

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Uncategorized

Embracing the Adventure

To those who are familiar with my writing, this blog may seem a little weird. Face it. It is.

Along with my passion for Christ, I’ve developed a keen interest in the world He created… an interest which has led me to some unusual (and not so unusual) hobbies and past times. From fishkeeping to the cultivation of native pollinators, bicycling to fencing, and cooking to kite flying, I approach nearly everything I do with unbridled passion. (Something which my mother kindly tolerated as I filled her house with aquariums, boxes of fungi, tanks of pond creatures, and containers of cultured juice drinks!) I want to understand how things work and why. I want to immerse myself in the world around me. I want to experiment, explore, and embrace the adventure!

And that’s what “Embracing the Adventure” is about. Through my new blog, I’ll be documenting my own experiments and discoveries and (hopefully) encouraging my readers to engage in some exploration of their own. From my early adventures in manufacturing my own dairy products, to training for my first Century (a hundred mile bicycle ride), to cultivating culinary mushrooms, I’ll share what worked and what didn’t… and what I wished I’d done differently. It’ll be an odd mix, but life often is.

Because most adventures are better when shared with friends, I’ll look forward to your involvement as well. Take the time to try some of the hobbies and experiments you find on this page, then come back and tell me (and the rest of the community) how they worked. What did you discover? Is there a better way to approach the task? Or if you’ve already tried it, do you have some advice to share? Your input will make a difference.

So what are we waiting for? It’s time to get up, get moving, and embrace the adventure!

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Devotions, Politics and Government, Workforce

The Future Governor

Read: Luke 12:4-7

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.”

Hebrews 4:16 NLT

 

It had been a long morning on the State Affairs committee and, wrapping up my work somewhat later than anticipated, I decided to head out for some food.  As I exited the House chambers, I noticed that instead of grabbing lunch, the majority of the other pages had hung back and were now leaning over the railing of the rotunda, mouths agape.  Curious, about what had attracted such a crowd of admirers (and, more importantly, distracted them from their meal) I too, leaned over the rail.

There, beneath us was the Governor.  I had been collecting the signatures of each elected official in a special volume I’d obtained prior to the session and, seeing the opportunity to add another to the collection, took off at top speed.  Rushing down the curved, marble stairs, I made a b-line across the slick floor and came to a stop just in front of where he stood.  “You don’t know me, Sir,” I began, “but I’m the future governor of Idaho.  May I have your autograph?”

The approach worked better than I expected.  A week later, all of the pages were formally introduced to the Governor.  As I entered the office, he pointed and, shaking his finger announced, “I remember you!”

While most of the pages were horrified by my initial boldness, the result was that I was able to acquire the thing which I was after: the Governor’s signature.  And Scripture promises similar results when we exhibit boldness in approaching God.  Bought with the blood of His Son, we too now have the right to approach Him with both confidence and candor – anytime, anywhere, and for any reason.  What a blessing to know that we always have His ear!

Challenge:  Do you talk with God about everything or do you save your prayers for the “big” issues?  Scripture tells us that God is intimately concerned with the details of our lives… even those details that seem unimportant to anyone other than us.  This week, make a concerted effort to share all that takes place in your life with the One who loved you enough to send His son!

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