Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Power Of Cinema

I realize I may be one of the last remaining humans who had not seen the movie, Gran Torino and maybe worse - this movie was the recipient of my first and only "Fandango" screw-up where I bought the tickets to go see it, and changed me mind one hour before it was to begin. How completely stupid was that?

Anyway, this past Sunday, the first Father's Day - 11 weeks following my father's death - I sat down with my middle son and watched this powerful story unfold on my living room TV.

I know that we all watch movies for so many different reasons. Most of all, we want to be entertained and escape the crap of life.....probably most of the time, we want to laugh, we want to enjoy a great adventure, watch things blow up, and see people fall in love, and appreciate our favorite actors being the heroes that movies tell us they are.

I had only seen a few previews for this movie, but from the opening scene, I was hooked. Maybe it was the emotions of my first Father's Day where I did not send anything to my Dad or talk to him on the phone. Maybe it was the amazing story, maybe it was Clint Eastwood's performance. I was so moved by this film, I practically made Karla sit down with me the next night and watch it again.

I will watch it several more times because (at least for me) there is so much in this film that causes me to stop and think about my life, my relationships, and my faith.

One of the blogs I like to read - listed on the side panel of my blog - is Brett McCracken. I have never met Brett, but I wandered onto his blog one day, and have been a regular ever since. He is a film critic, and I love his world-view, and his take on films. He is one of the film critics for Christianity Today. He and his fellow critics rated Gran Torino as #3 of the 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2008.

I couldn't agree more.

If you want to read Brett's review of this film, go HERE


Friday, June 12, 2009

Painful Life Lessons

Yesterday (less than 24 hours after appearing in Juvenile Traffic Court for two moving violations within 24 hours of each other) Ben lost control of our red Jeep and rammed a telephone pole 5 minutes from our home.

Bless this boy's heart.....not a good 11 weeks with the freedom and responsibility a driver's license brings a 16-year old.

I am grateful he was unhurt and if I have to wake up to a phone call early in the morning, I would rather it be from one of my sons telling me they were in a wreck than an officer of the law explaining to me my son was in a wreck.

Later in the day yesterday, I received yet another apologetic text from him. My response was simple and to the point. Life's lessons are often very, very painful. and yes, cars can be repaired or replaced - he can't!

So, I will take him to his 8-hour Defensive Driving Class tomorrow, and then he won't be driving for awhile. Time away from being behind the steering wheel of a moving vehicle will do him so good right now.......

Friday, June 05, 2009

Rehearse Truth

This Sunday in our worship services, we will spend some time in Psalm 22.

The final 10 verses of the 31 total verses in Psalm 22 are powerful.

They are powerful probably because of the first 21 verses.

At the conclusion of choir rehearsal this past Wednesday evening, we took the time to look at and respond individually/personally to the (4) prayer journaling "prompts" prepared by Ramon Presson.

In his fourth and final prompt, Ramon makes note that the psalmist, David makes a shift from gut-wrenching lament and desperate plea to proclamation. He goes on to say that given that it's not merely a sudden mood swing, what then do verses 22-31 tell us about the value of rehearsing the truth of who God is?

Rehearsing anything is usually in preparation for something important - presentation or performance. The Dictionary says rehearsal is "a session of exercise, drill, or practice, usually private, in preparation for a public performance, ceremony, etc"

The importance of rehearsing truth has become very important to me these past several weeks of my life. You probably relate. It really seems sometimes as if the psalmist wrote the EXACT words that I would write. I have been pretty brutally honest with God lately. I've been angry, frustrated, and yes, even felt somewhat abandoned.

I know better. The only reason I know better is because of my faith in the truth. Jesus said it - "I am the way, the truth, and the life." - John 14:6

My friend Jeremy is going to sing an old song at the beginning of our services on Sunday to help us "rehearse truth". The song, "In His Sanctuary" was written in 1983 by Michael Hudson and Michael W. Smith.

As I was looking for a recording of this song to play for Jeremy, I had searched everywhere I could and finally e-mailed Michael W. to see if he might know where to find a recording. Amusingly, he did not remember writing the song. (He also never recorded it, which might explain in part why he does not remember writing it!) Considering the hundreds of songs he has written and considering I don't remember very many details of my life from 1983, this is pretty understandable, but still funny!

Here are the words to this song - the second verse has become my personal theme for the week.....

by Michael Hudson and Michael W. Smith
©1985 O’Ryan Music, Inc. / ASCAP

(verse 1)
Life can bend and break me
But the Father has a way of keeping me together
through the burdens of the day
He tells me “Come away, it’s time we had some time alone”
And ev’ry time I come away it feels like going home

In His Sanctuary there is glory, there is strength.
In the Presence of the Father there is wisdom, there is peace.
I will come and worship.
I will listen, I will speak
Most amazing conversation, most amazing transformation,
As the God of all creation talks to me.

(verse 2)
Nothing I won’t show Him,
Nothing I can hide.
I’ve never known a burden that was better kept inside.
How many times I’ve known the joy and found that sweet release,
And worry turns to worship,
And burdens turn to peace.

(repeat chorus)