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Posts Tagged ‘fear’


“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  With nothing to lose but a morning in which I had no plans, I decided to give it the ol’ college try.  This time we went to the right theater and saw yesterday’s intended film- The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.

Before I get to the movie, I have a few considerations.  This theater did not have stadium seating.  This made it a bit difficult for CavGirl to see over the seat in front of her.  I later noticed some people had booster seats.  I suppose that also would have helped the seat to stay down.  When you are only 30 lbs, and all of that is at the back of the seat … you will have issues.  This go around, there were far more younger children and babies.  This meant it was noisier, and there were more distractions as well since CavGirl loves to watch babies.  I had to answer the same 2 questions about pacifiers about a dozen times.

From CavGirl’s perspective, this movie was too scary.  She really didn’t like the villain, seen here.  That did prompt a few moments of “Dad-time” as she sat in my lap and hid her face in my chest, blanket covering her face.

It was not a fun as most Veggie Tale shows, and even Jonah.  She asked if we could leave about 3-4 times.  We didn’t.

The story was like the biblical story of Esther in that God was not explicitly mentioned, but worked behind the scenes to accomplish the deliverance of the prince and princess (unless the father, the good King with the evil usurper-wanna-be brother, is the metaphor for God).  I explained to her that life has moments when we are very afraid, but that is when we need to be brave until God saves us.  God will always save us, but sometimes life gets scary.  In the movie they also talked about tests, which reveal what is most important to us.

So, this wasn’t Big Idea’s best effort.  It was, as usual, mostly moralistic.  It was mildly enjoyable for me, and too scary for her.  At least there were no farting & pooping chipmunks, or barely clad dancers.  So, it had that going for it.  In terms of influences:

  1. There was a tip o’ the hat to O, Brother, Where Art Thou? with the blind prophet speaking to 3 friends about to embark on a voyage in which one of them will regain his family’s respect.  This, of course, is one of my favorite movies.
  2. The song and dance at the pirate tavern was quite reminiscent of the Camelot scene in Holy Grail.  Yes, another of my favorite movies, and an old standby for Veggie Tales.
  3. The evil pirate was a pea who had a mechanical body, reminding me of Darth Vader.
  4. The scene when the King gives them medals was a tip to Star Wars: A New Hope.  They just lacked a howling Wookie.  Yes, another one of my favorite movies.
  5. The B-52s, whose cult-fav Rock Lobster was redone as Rock Monster.
  6. Steve Taylor who appeared with the Newsboys for a song (I think that was the song).  I recognized his lyrical style and thought the voice sounded familiar.  He’s listed as a composer and performer on the soundtrack CD, but I’m not 100% certain of the song.

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The final section of Dan Allender’s The Healing Path calls us out of our individual journey to embrace the redemptive community.  Though God works in us as individuals, he also brings us into relationship with one another so we can growth through mutual ministry, and engage in mission.  We are not on the healing path for purely selfish reasons, but to love God and love our neighbor as Jesus has loved us.  This last section calls us out of our narcissism.  This is a message far too many of us need to hear.

“A radical life begins with the premise that I exist for God and for his purposes, not my own.  … A radical life has eyes and ears for the deepest purposes of God.  Yet to live for his purposes it not to forsake the passions and burden of our daily life; rather, we are to give them to him for his glory.”

The first is Christianity, as well expressed in the first answer of the Westminster Shorter Catchism; Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.  The second is the kingdom of me, where God exists to fulfill my agenda.  And when we are suffering, it easily becomes all about our agenda.

I often talked about this in my ministry at Good Shepherd/Cornerstone.  God is not asking us to add more to our list of things to do so much as seeing those things as part of his purposes to redeem people.  We purposefully & creatively engage the people with whom we interact that we might enter into their stories.

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It has been over a decade since I’ve read The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.  I’ve been wanting to read it again, and I started today. 

Today I read through Book I, chapters 1-2.  Chapter 2 ends with this idea:

“Here indeed is pure and real religion: faith so joined with an earnest fear of God that this fear also embraces willing reverence and carries with it such legitimate worship as is prescribed in the law.” (I, 2, 2)

Faith is joined in fear.  We believe what God says and we hold Him in such reverence that we worship Him as He deems right.  True faith does not lead us to take God lightly; rather we take Him and His Word seriously.  How does Calvin get there?

True wisdom is comprised of knowledge of God and knowledge of ourselves.  Calvin argues that we cannot know ourselves accurately apart from knowing God.  We learn about God as we learn about ourselves.  He doesn’t go there just yet, but this is based on the fact that we are made in the image of God (imago dei).  You can’t possess true wisdom without knowing God.  You can’t possess true wisdom without knowing yourself.  This is essentially the path of the Proverbs.

“For we always seem to ourselves righteous and upright and wise and holy- this pride is innate in all of us- unless by clear proofs we stand convinced of our own unrighteousness, foulness, folly, and impurity.  Moreover, we are not thus convinced if we look merely to ourselves and not also to the Lord, who is the sole standarnd by which this judgment must be measured.”  (I, 1, 2)

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I’m not talking about the movie.  I’m talking about the ruins left behind by ‘progressive’ ideas.  Two blog posts by Al Mohler illustrate.

One of Ronald Reagan’s greatest regrets, so I’ve heard, is signing the “No Fault Divorce” law as Governor of California.  A man who grew up a few blocks from the “Brady” house in California decided to check in with his friends from high school to see how the rapid increase in divorce among their parents affected them.  His Newsweek article shares some of the shocking stories.  The author is only 2 years older than me.  Although divorce was not quite as common in southern New Hampshire, I know I felt some of those fears as a child.

Despite his experiences, Mr. Jefferson states that he’d marry his partner if allowed to by law.  This leads us to the next topic Dr. Mohler addresses.  Many ‘progressives’ have a “not my kid” mentality about homosexuality.  These are people who willing and warmly embrace homosexuals (actually, many Christians do too), so they are not “homophobes”.  But they are conflicted when it comes to their own children.  And apparently their kids have caught on.  Homosexuals in Christian families report having an easier time telling their parents.  These of course are probably families that understand the gospel and practice unconditional love.  Why do I say this?  A family that “gets” the gospel understands that all of us are corrupt and prone toward evil.  Some of us just pursue “respectable” evils like gluttony, gossip and greed to name but a few.  You don’t have to approve or like your kids’ choices, but you are to love them like you love yourself. 

The ruins of ‘progressive’ thought (which exalts personal freedom over mutual obligation and personal responsibility) are broken families and uncertain kids.  Not only are kids uncertain if their parents will stay together, but if their parents will continue to love them if they knew the truth about them.  Afterall, isn’t that why some/many of their parents are divorcing- they couldn’t handle the truth about one another.  Obviously, sometimes it is one spouse’s unwillingness to change destructive behavior.  But this still undermines a child’s relational foundation.

My hope is not in “conservative values”.  I’m not into moralism though I have conservative values.  My hope is in the gospel, the power of God to save everyone who believes.  We can be saved not only penalty of sin, but the power of sin.  Communities that “get” the gospel will provide the relational stability necessary for children to grow up able to love others.

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I was watching part of In the Heat of the Night today.  No, not the TV show with Carroll O’Conner.  The classic movie with Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger.  I love it when Virgil responds to Gillespie’s denigrating question about his name through nearly clutched teeth, “They call me Mr. Tibbs!”

There is one important scene where Tibbs confronts Mr. Endicott.  He is the rich guy who pretty much runs the town, and was trying to stop the new factory from coming into town.  He viewed himself as a caretaker for the helpless black man.  He realizes they have come to question him about the murder of the Chicago businessman and slaps Virgil in the face.  He promptly strikes him back.

Endicott is shocked that Chief Gillespie does nothing.  Tibbs and Gillespie head to the car.  Gillespie realizes that Tibbs really ought to leave town now.  Tibbs asks for 2 more days to take that fat cat out of his house on the hill.

The light goes on for Gillespie.  “You’re just like we are, ain’t you?”  The light when on for me too, for I hadn’t noticed that exchange before.

Tibbs looked down on white people just as much as white people looked down on him.  This seems to be the big obstacle in the whole discussion of race in America.  We seem reluctant to admit that many blacks look down on whites as much as many whites look down on blacks.  This is what shocked so many people about Rev. Wright’s sermons.  This was not Chris Rock, who we expect to be outrageous.  But here was a pastor, a respected pastor in his community and denomination, speaking to a (mostly) black audience and saying many of the things white people are afraid to hear- many blacks really don’t like or trust us.  And Obama just minimized it.

The obstacles are on BOTH sides of the fence.  And we’ll never make any real progress unless we address this on both sides.  In some ways Rev. Wright’s numerous comments (reality check, it is not an isolated slip of the tongue) deflate my hopes for racial reconciliation.  On the other hands, it reminds me how necessary it us for us to proclaim, believe and live out the gospel.  Sadly Rev. Wright felt content to play the victim rather than address the sins of the people under his care (which seems more the role of a sermon than the sins of those ‘out there’.

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It was a bit more than 30 days, but I finished Running Scared: fear, worry, and the God of rest by Edward Welch this morning.  Though the book was a tad uneven, overall it was a very good book providing meaningful help for all who struggle with fear and worry (which would be all of us).

Welch covers fear & worry in general, and then moves into some specific fears and worries.  He covers money and possessions, people and their judgments and death, pain & punishment.  Along the way, Ed Welch keeps connecting them back to the gospel.  Our fears are about more than our thoughts or chemical inbalances (though medications may relieve extreme symptoms enough for you to begin dealing with the root issues).

“Your fears are more about God than you realize.  Along the way that light also helps you see yourself more clearly.  What you see is that the world is organized into two kingdoms, and the boundary between those two kingdoms, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn observed, cuts right through each of our hearts.  Our preference is to straddle that line, but our patient God keeps persuading us to be wholeheartedly devoted to his kingdom.  There is no other way to distance ourselves from fear and anxiety.”

That is a great summary of this entire book, found in his last words.  The chapters I found most meaningful were: Your Fear, Fear Speaks, Anxiety and Worry Chime In, The Manna Principle, When the Kingdom isn’t Enough, Grace for Tomorrow, Where is My Treasure? Whose Kingdom?, and Pray.

Ed Welch isn’t holding out a simplistic version of “believe in Jesus”.  This is about the tough work of faith and repentance which is continually opposed by the flesh (Galatians 5, Romans 7, Ephesians 5 among other places.  He paints the picture of an on-going war, not a decisive experiential battle.   The decisive battle that won the war was fought, and won, by Jesus.  What He did, He did as our representative.  Among other things He resisted the temptations to fear anyone other than God, and anxiety.  He also paid the price for our sinful fear, worry and anxiety which are signs that we are really struggling with our allegience to God and His kingdom.  This is why it is important that Welch keeps bringing us back to the Gospel and its implications which alone can truly transform us rather than put a bandaid on the problems that distort our hearts.

Well worth reading for any pastor, counselor and person who just plain wants to understand what is really going on with their own fears & worry, as well as what Jesus has done on our behalf regarding them.

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