Posts made in June, 2014

Being Convicted…by the Lego Movie

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in RandoMusings, Reviews & Recommendations

Given that The LEGO Movie  was released on DVD yesterday, I thought it was about time I shared the following. I had a spiritual experience with The Lego Movie. This is not the first film to which I have had said reaction; I just didn’t expect it. But when I left the theater Friday, February 7, 2014, the main thing on my mind was not new Lego sets or my next viewing. I was thinking about Theology.

And I was convicted.

 

[Warning, I need to spoil the third act of the movie to elaborate.]

 

The final act of The Lego Movie reveals that the film’s narrative has been crafted by a young boy named Finn (played by Jadon Sand) who is enjoying his father’s elaborate Lego display—a collection divided into well-organized themed areas, with signs that say “do not touch”. When the father (played by Will Ferrell) discovers his son, they discuss how the Lego elements should be treated. The exchange is both humorous and engaging, resulting in Ferrell’s dismissing his son’s ideas only to later become enamored with them.

The interaction brings immediate questions to mind. Should adults invest their resources in a toy recommended for children ages 7-14 (though that’s “just a suggested age range”, Ferrell reminds us)? Is the child’s disobedience overshadowed by the fact that the toys are intended for his age (a question I often asked myself as a child, considering my father’s model railroad hobby)? Of course, these are surface ideas that emerge during the film itself. After the credits rolled, I thought more abstractly about what I had seen.

I realized I am Will Ferrell (or, at least, his character). Given that I am a Lego enthusiast myself and well outside the suggested age range, I spend time building with Lego elements alongside my nephews and nieces, but I am not unlike the film’s antagonist. I want things in their place, even at the expense of stifling creativity. I like order, consistency, and knowing where Gandalf and Lando Calrissian are on my display at any given time (yes, I have them both). This is clearly an issue.

More importantly, however, I saw in the film a wonderful picture of my Theology. I know that sounds like I’m reaching, but bear with me. I’m not saying my conclusions were intended by the filmmakers, and I admit all analogies eventually break down (this is no exception), but nonetheless, I could not help but think, “Man, that is exactly how I am about God.”

If Lego in the scenario is Theology, then I and other adult Christians tend to be Will Ferrell. We love our theology. We invest time in it, have large displays of it, and take pleasure in it. Of course, we are also set in our ways. We think we know so much about an infinite God but ironically can be the most narrow about him. We assert that he is beautiful and use words like “eternal” and “glorious”, but then we apply those words in limited ways. He is “glorious like is but not like that”, we say.

Conversely, however, Finn is the young Christian. To him, Theology is simple but full endless possibilities. The pieces do not always have to make one thing. What we know of God can always change. It may require breaking down one model to develop a new one—but doing so is possible. Children have these sorts of revelations all the time, and they seem to never lose sight of the wonder in that. Their Theology is constantly changing, growing, evolving. They don’t draw lines in the sand and say, “God is only this.” They say “God can be whatever he wants.”

Christ exhorts the disciples, “let the children to come unto me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14), and I find this to be one of the most beautiful encouragements in the Bible. Children see things with a certain beauty and mystery that we adults tend to diminish or quantify. We want concrete answers, but children trust without them.

The Lego Movie includes a moment when Will Ferrell sees his son’s additions to his organized display. Trucks are now spaceships. Workers are now warriors. Minutea is made new. The power of the moment captures something deeply real for the collector—he has forgotten the essence of Lego as vibrant in its function. This reminds him of the possibilities inherent to the toy (or “interlocking block system” as he calls it). The experience moves him as well as the audience.

When I place this moment in the context of Theology, I find myself equally moved. As an adult, I can so quickly limit God to my box. My doctrinal lines are not unlike Will Ferrell’s Micro-kingdoms. I put God here, Christ over there, and the Holy Spirit somewhere else entirely. I compartmentalize and, in so doing, minimize each of them. But Theology must move beyond hardline doctrines to ongoing relational interaction in which endless possibilities can be revealed again and again.
Theology is the study of God. And modern Christianity claims to be a relationship as opposed to religion. What happens when we assume to understand everything about another in a relationship? What happens when we do not open ourselves to new insight and changed perception? The love grows stale. The excitement wears thin. “The Thrill is Gone” as B.B. King would say.

What did Will Ferrell see when he saw his son’s display? The joy of discovery and a fresh perspective on what was possible. May our Theology reflect the same.

The pursuit of knowing God more deeply is noble one, and Lego has nothing to do it. Then again, the Holy Spirit was able to convict me and reveal himself through a movie about the children’s toy, all the while increasing my appreciation for both the toy itself and my Creator.

And the fact that he can do that is my whole point.

 
 
 

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Protect and Love : My Latest at x3Watch

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in Site Business

Ha! I did not even realize this went live! If you have a home, own media, have children, have friends who have children, or let other people into your house, you may find this article I wrote for the x3watch Blog worthwhile:
 

The Loving Act of Protection

 

Here’s an excerpt:

“Think of your residence as a castle, and pornography as a latent attacker against your family. You know that he could pass through the walls at any moment, and he could lay claim to one of your loved ones without your knowledge. The truth is clear: evil moves, and it wants to take up residency in our homes.”

 

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In God’s Image : Recovery Ministry : The Solid Rock Road: Jerry Pineda

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 in In God's Image Interview Series, Interviews

Wednesday, I posted an interview with Jamee Pineda, co-founder of The Solid Rock Road, a ministry that she began with her husband, Jerry. While I have corresponded with both Jerry and Jamie, it was him with whom I first made contact. I will always appreciate Jerry’s willingness to connect with a small burgeoning author like me, and I look forward to our continued interaction in the future.

Today, we’ll spend some time getting to know Jerry Pineda and hear his heart for ministry.

 

1. Define yourself in one word (Disciple, Christian, American, Man, etc.)

Transformed

 

2. Why do you choose that term?

I have gone from being an addict to the director of a recovery ministry, to acting as a senior pastor, and becoming a church planter.

 

3. In two sentences, tell us about The Solid Rock Road—what it is and for whom it is intended.

It is a 100% Bible-based Christian recovery ministry intended for Christians in addiction. The Solid Rock Road leads people to the path of God and gives them all the resources necessary to stay on it.

 

4. What led to the creation of The Solid Rock Road? Was it a specific event or was it a more general decision?

Having come out of addictions, it was a natural progression. However, my sister-in-law was given the 10 Principles of The Solid Rock Road by the inspiration of God. From there, we created the group process.

 

5. How has your work in ministry required you to sacrifice?

We have been doing groups for the past 12 years. These are closed groups and last about 3 months. We believe that we are responsible for the souls of each group member and so aside from the weekly group, we are doing individual counseling as needed, and interceding. This has always been done in addition to my work as an elder in our home church, and now as senior pastor in our church plant in La Paz, Mexico.  I don’t really see it as a sacrifice, but as a service to God.

 

6. What is your primary goal for The Solid Rock Road?

To bring Christian recovery back to the cross of Jesus, where true freedom is found. Many Christians are being taught to cope with their addictions rather than overcome them. We promote the New Creation reality, which comes against the philosophy of “Once an addict always an addict.” We believe that addiction is a spiritual issue that manifests in the physical and mental. The Bible is clear that we can resist temptation, that we get a new start, and that we move forward in confidence with God at the center.

 

7. What is your largest hope for those to whom you minister?

Transformation!

 

8. What are two key ways in which your work benefits others TODAY?

As issues with addiction continue to escalate, it is obvious that the power of God is necessary to transform lives. Our work is all about presenting God’s authority and power in a real and Bible-based way.

 

9. How have you seen God’s goodness and faithfulness in your work with The Solid Rock Road?

From the day the 10 Principles were given by inspiration, we committed ourselves to the message. Our work started quietly. We were just doing the work, and then God made us ready for the book and manual. We have seen the results of God’s goodness in the Solid Rock Road ministries that have been started in other churches.

 

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In God’s Image : Recovery Ministry : The Solid Rock Road : Jamee Pineda

Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 in In God's Image Interview Series, Interviews

Below are interview questions I sent to Jerry and Jamee Pineda, co-founders and writers of The Solid Rock Road, a ministry dedicated to helping people overcome addictions.

I met Jerry and Jamee through Twitter, and we exchanged our respective books (you can read my review of theirs here; their review of mine is on the Stronghold Amazon Page). The Pinedas and I have been in contact a bit since that time; and as I have continued my own ministry work with X3church, I have grown in appreciation for the importance of both good content and strong leadership at the heart of recovery programs. Jamee and Jerry offer both, so I felt they would be great subjects for the “In God’s Image” series.

Each of them were willing to answer the questions independently, so we’ll get to know Jamee a bit better today, then spend some time with Jerry on Friday.

 

1. Define yourself in one word (Disciple, Christian, American, Man, etc.)

Passionate

 

2. Why do you choose that term?

I have taken up the cause of Christ and given myself completely to it.

 

3. In two sentences, tell us about The Solid Rock Road—what it is and for whom it is intended.

The Solid Rock Road is for Christians in addiction, but it is a template for Christian living and suitable for getting set free from any stronghold or past hurts. It was also created to give churches a Bible-based method of recovery from addictions that promotes assimilation into the Body of Christ.

 

4. What led to the creation of The Solid Rock Road? Was it a specific event or was it a more general decision?

When my sister Sherry (Co-author of the book and manual) received the 10 Principles, we knew that it was something that God wanted us to live out and then to share. But we started slowly, working out the principles in the groups first. About 8 years after we started doing groups, the book was written, which really launched the ministry.

 

5. How has your work in ministry required you to sacrifice?

For me, much of the sacrifice has been in the time it has taken to write the book, the manual, and blogs for recovery, as well as to maintain our web site and other social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter. Currently, I’m working with a translator to complete the book and manual in Spanish since we have planted a church in La Paz, Mexcio. Many times in the past 12 years, we have done multiple groups at a time, which doubles our time for prayer and individual counseling.  Finally, we have extended our ministry to include the families of the addicted, which includes counseling and support as necessary. We have learned that often times the family members are in more need of counseling than the addicts. This has become a passion of mine!

 

6. What is your primary goal for The Solid Rock Road?

To wake up the Christian community in regard to the growing problem of addiction in the church and to provide a method of recovery that is fully aligned with Scripture. The ultimate goal for every graduate to assimilate into the Body of Christ and to find their destiny in God.

 

7. What is your largest hope for those to whom you minister?

Freedom forever!

 

8. What are two key ways in which your work benefits others TODAY?

We are a free resource for Christian recovery. And we provide Christian churches with materials for starting recovery groups that strengthen their people rather than set them apart in the “group of addicts.”

 

9. How have you seen God’s goodness and faithfulness in your work with The Solid Rock Road?

I believe that our faithfulness to do the work without fanfare for many years has resulted in God’s extension of the ministry through the book, manual and website. We have never forced the continuation of The Solid Rock Road, but rather followed the guidance of God who has given us the system and the steps.  We give God the glory. We are fully aware that we are serving Him in this work.

 
 
 
 

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Gratitude Amidst Great Heartache

Posted by on Jun 9, 2014 in RandoMusings

Several weeks ago, an actor I had met once while in California shot and murdered his wife, a woman whose family my wife and I know.

I learned of the events via text from a trusted friend who knew that I had been a fan of the actor. Details began to leak from various news sources, some reputable, others not. I learned that the victim was currently an employee at my alma mader (the aforementioned Biola), and that the school had made a public statement. The campus grieved and I, with them, though 3,000 miles away.

That day became a day of prayer. Despite my sincere efforts to focus and work, the tasks before me could barely keep my attention for more than a few moments. I had imaginings of the actor (at least how I remembered him) in the moments after the event. In my mind’s eye, I could see the victim’s mother sobbing at the news. I saw people I know to be on campus wiping tears from their eyes. I grieved for all of them. And I prayed.

I prayed the common prayers in moments such as these, “Father, why? Why did you allow this to happen?” “Why them, God? Why them?” I asked the Lord to lead the hearts of those at the university, that they would rally around the family at this horrific time. I looked for solace. I listened to sermons by John Piper, who extolled the wisdom, power, and glory of Christ. I e-mailed with a fellow fan of the actor as we both processed the news. Much to my own foolishness, I read comments sections beneath articles (if ever you needed proof of human depravity, they will provide it).

After half a day of this, during the devastation, in the asking God “why”, a small whisper calmed my soul. While the pain lingered, the thought gave me pause. It stopped short in my latest round of questions.

Rather than ask God why this could happen or how it came to this, I was led to thank God that he was there to accept my questions at all. This neither diminished nor healed the pain. The heartache was ever as real as it had been all morning—even more so, given that longer musings lead to greater concern.

But in the midst of it, I cannot help but cling to the comfort. In the midst of tragedy, in the pangs of reflection, at least I have the solace of being before God, at least I can come before his mighty throne. And while I cannot make sense of this, he already has. Because of who he is and how he has oversight, I can seize a modicum of peace, if even for a few moments at a time. Despite this terrible event, God is still God, and God is still good—even and especially when the world is not.

I don’t know what will come of this tragedy. I do not know what led to it, either. But I know that God is faithful; God heals. I know that the victim’s mother has a relationship with this Holy God forged through the fire of trial and tribulation. Even as I type and revise, I mourn for her; I lament the tragic event. I beg God to give comfort to her family.

And while the wound will remain raw for them long after the courts are settled and the judgments pass, I have ultimate hope that they all will be reunited in the bosom of their eternal Father, where pain will be a bygone, fading memory of a prior age.

How I long for that day, not just for them but for all of us.

Thank you all for reading,

 
 
 
 

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