Before His Time

A popular God-is-dead book in the United States argues that homosexuality will become normal in a humanistic society where there is no restriction of morals which come from religion. St. Paul declared homosexuality and atheism were related to one another as effect to cause.

–Fulton John Sheen

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Soul Surfer

I went with a friend to see ‘Soul Surfer’ about a month ago. I went to the movie really wanting to like it, but I had a nagging suspicion that it wasn’t going to be a movie I could like. And my suspicion proved to be true. My friend came out loving the movie; one of her top 3 favorites, she says. I came out feeling disappointed and strongly disliking it. I only shared my feelings for the movie with my older sister; someone I knew would understand my dislike. I didn’t share my feelings with anyone else because, frankly, I thought my opinion would be dismissed as heretical. You can’t diss a Christian movie and be a good Christian.

I honestly contemplated the thought that maybe I wasn’t as devoted a Christian as I had thought I was. Maybe I was harboring heretical cynicism and hanging on to worldly desires. I perused several movie reviews to see if anyone else shared my views. To my condemnation, all the Christian reviews that I found praised the movie and the only movie reviews that I found that held the movie in a negative light were in the secular press.

One of the other reasons I didn’t speak to anyone about my dislike of the movie (save my sister), was the fact that I couldn’t clearly explain my dislike. It was at first just an intuitive feeling. When I started to examine the reasons behind the feelings of dislike, I realized that my reasons, although maybe not shared by other Christians, are valid. Recently I found this article (Bad Christian Art) that speaks of many of the misgivings I have about the movie, albeit in general terms. Go and read it; it is well worth the time. In the end, Soul Surfer seems to have more Christian overtones than undertones, and speaks more of easy grace than actual grace.

This, finally, is what especially worries me, that bad Christian art is a problem of demand rather than supply. What if a reinvigorated Church were to embed genuine faith in the artist’s psyche and soul, such that he need no longer wear it on his sleeve, such that he bear to see and tell the world in its brokenness and beauty?

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A Broken Vessel

Faith is so discouraging some days. Sometimes the feeling of being too broken to be fixed is overwhelming. Sometimes it feels as if my brokenness–my sinfulness–and my weaknesses cannot be overcome. I know this is false, but these feelings plague my mind and my heart and I find myself unable to shake them.

On days like this I have learned I MUST stop, pause, and just think. Of course God wants me to be whole. And if God wants me to be whole, He’ll give me the grace to be whole. It is sometimes just that simple.

Satan likes to sow seeds of discord in our hearts. To plant thoughts and feelings that make our situation seem more complicated and too difficult. To make us feel as if we are too broken to be fixed. But the truth is simple. God works best with broken vessels. The more broken the better. Because the more broken we are, the more dependent we are on His grace, the more truthful we are about our condition, and the more we can allow Him to fix us. We must first allow God to fix us before He can begin to do so. But how can God ever fix a vessel that fails to see its brokenness? He can’t.

God desires us to be whole, most ardently. Then why is there so much brokenness in the world? Because He cannot fix us unless we are willing to be fixed. And we are not going to submit to being fixed if we do not know we are broken–if we will not accept we are broken and in need of fixing. I think God spends most of our lives just trying to prove to us how broken we are. The world sees this–the pain, suffering, tragedies–as proof there is no God. I see it as proof there is a God; a God working to heal us. But before we can be healed, we must be broken.

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The Vice of Perpetual Motion

“The trouble is that there is a mesmeric fascination in keeping moving–there is nowhere so urgent as an airport. A fasination in moving, and growing fear of having to stop. It takes courage to stay with it: not to move on when I do not like it any more, but instead to stay with it and let what is no longer novel disclose its unsuspected depth.”

–Iain Matthew ‘The Impact of God’

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The Stuff You Use

Seems like songs are the way God had been speaking to me this week. Here is another, ‘This is the Stuff’ by Francesca Battistelli. At first I thought this song was just a light, funny song, but the other day some lyrics stuck out and I realized that the song goes much deeper. In fact, the point of the song happens to be God speaking profoundly through little (often times annoying or inconvenient) things.

But I gotta trust You know exactly what You’re doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

Lately things (mostly relationships) seem to be falling apart in my life, in spite of my prayers that they be mended.

I prayed for more peace at work. Result: my assistant’s position at work was eliminated.

I prayed for a family member who is going down a bad path. Result: life blew-up in his face, and he is farther down a much darker path then I realized.

I prayed for a good friend that God direct her and help her in her discernment. Result: All her plans were up-ended and her roommate was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

It made me want to stop praying and just shout heavenward “Seriously?!” Then a humbling thought came to me (God instilled I’m sure): ‘Prayer is not a drive-thru. God is not your Genie in a lamp.’  How true, and how terrible of me to treat God as if He is so much less than what He is. Humbling.

But I gotta trust You know exactly what You’re doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

So then I tried harder to accept things the way they are. Still praying for things to be made right, but trusting that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

And then I had such a new perspective on the situations, it was as if the situations had changed, even though they hadn’t. I could see how God was working to bring about His Will in these situations. He was working slowly, carefully. First demolishing the unsuitable structure before rebuilding on top of it.

So break me of impatience
Conquer my frustrations
I’ve got a new appreciation
It’s not the end of the world

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Capturing Bleakness

Sometimes secular music seems to capture the bleakness of the human situation more profoundly then any Christian song does. I think this is the natural order of a fallen world. And as much as secular music may capture the world’s bleakness, it cannot comprehend it like more religious music does. Each has its place. This song by OneRepublic (Say) speaks to where I was at spiritually not too long ago. Some of the lyrics capture my bleakness so perfectly:

Do you know where your heart is?
Do you think you can find it?
Or did you trade it for something
Somewhere better just to have it?

Well, bless my soul
You’re a lonely soul
Cause you won’t let go
Of anything you hold

Do you know what your fate is?
And are you trying to shake it?
You’re doing your best and your best look
You’re praying that you make it

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Crazy Weekend

I feel in need of a weekend to recover from my weekend, so the fact that today is only Monday is depressing me slightly. My cousin was married this weekend and although I didn’t stand-up with her in the wedding, I was a lector, so I ended up feeling as if I was in the wedding party, save the fact that I didn’t have to fork out lots of $ for a dress I’ll never wear again.

I was hardly nervous about being a lector…until I it was time to read. I honestly didn’t feel internally nervous, but my hands and legs shook uncontrollably. I tried to focus on being poised and keeping my voice from quivering. Thank goodness I was standing in front of a wide and sturdy ambo, my shaking went unnoticed. Someone even said I was a natural speaker. If they only knew. First and last time I do that.

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