Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Found God In Smallville...

In a rural town of Smallville, Kansas, a baby boy is brought to Earth, seemingly from the Heavens, in a meteor shower. His adoptive parents accept him, love him, guide him - but know that he possesses abilities that are far above "normal." As he grows up, the boy and his family come to understand that his birth Father sent him to earth to serve, protect, and ultimately save mankind from injustice and evil.

Sound familiar?

In this case, it is Clark Kent who carries the burden and responsibility of his abilities and his purpose. He knows, without a doubt, WHO sent him here and WHY he was sent.

Can you imagine that? Waking up every day knowing, without a doubt, the reason for your existence?

Jesus knew.

From the very beginning, Jesus knew his purpose. His earthly parents knew it too.

It's one thing to have hopes and dreams for your child... you might wonder "will my kid be a doctor? a lawyer? a teacher?" It's quite another for The LORD to tell you exactly your child's place in this world:

Luke 1:30-33 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

WOW... talk about potential!

Jesus also knew his role in the world. While the early years of his life aren't documented minute by minute, there is a story in Luke from when he was 12 years old and was separated from his parents for about 4 days. Upon finding him, finally, his parents were understandably upset:

When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you."
"Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luke 1:48-51)

Jesus knew His purpose even at the age of 12 - accepted it... acted upon it. And He also understood his obligations and responsibilities to his earthly family. The verse includes the part where he "went home with them and was obedient to them." He didn't pull out the "I'm the Son of God" card - He honored his earthly parents as well as His Father. He was obedient to them both. Furthermore, throughout his life, He served His purpose; He did not run from it.

Similarly, Clark Kent strives to be obedient to his earthly family and his Kryptonian father, Cal-El. He knows he is different - He knows he possesses unearthly skills - He knows his duty.

I love the hidden (and sometimes not-so-hidden) parallels of Christ to pop culture icons. I remember in high school, when we would study poetry, we might read a poem about a DUCK and the teacher would extrapolate all of these inner meanings: man's struggle vs. man... man vs. nature... man vs. addictions... etc. I often figured that the authors were looking down on us and just laughing... because their poem really was just some verses about a duck swimming in a pond. :)

However, I believe that God has created us with the urge to share His stories - and we do it in all sorts of ways and through all sorts of venues. Movies, TV, comic books, novels... these are all places that contain amazing stories in which you can find many links to God... even if that wasn't the original "purpose" of the author.

I don't know the history to the Superman saga - whether or not the authors specifically and deliberately made these Christ-like references. The important part is that the references are there all the same. There is a neat website called Hollywood Jesus - an archive packed with tons of pop culture stories and movies and how they incorporate the stories of God and Jesus.... Superman included.

Clark Kent and Jesus Christ knew, without a doubt, their purposes in life. They knew "the last page" of their respective stories... the duty that called them to action. We don't have the luxury of flipping foward to the last page of our lives to see what should have been accomplished. Our lives aren't scripted that way. With God's blessing of FREE WILL, we get to write our own stories... line by line, chapter by chapter. We get to find and execute our own purposes.

Have you found yours?

Have you deliberately incorporated your faith, your service, your time, your sacrifice into a purpose worthy of your Creator? And if not, isn't it about time you started thinking about it?

Happy Living,
:) Mags

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Monday, March 30, 2009

I Found God in Transformers...

No Sacrifice... No Victory...

That is one of the mottos of Optimus Prime and his Autobots.

For those of you who missed the 80's and all it's Transformer glory, the short story is this (courtesy of this website):

The Earth has become a battleground. Centuries ago, on a distant planet, the robotic alien races known as the Autobots and the Decepticons waged terrible war over a powerful cube called the All Spark. The cube was lost and both races vowed to find it. Now the cube has come to rest on Earth, hidden away by the US government for years, and the final stand of the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime against the Decepticons, led by Megatron will take place on our planet. But the Autobots have an ally: humans.

Fiery battles ensue and eventually, Optimus Prime is willing to sacrifice himself to save humankind... planning to stick the All Spark cube in his chest to destroy it and save Earth. Whether or not Optimus Prime is forced to this end will be yours to discover if you see the movie. What I love is that you can find so many Christian undertones weaved throughout the storyline...

God asks us in Romans 12:1-2 to sacrifice the commonplace behaviors and corruptions of earth to live in a way that is acceptable to Him...

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

The Bible is packed with characters who made sacrifices to claim God's victory...

Noah... who sacrificed his reputation to build a giant boat that would guard his family against the end-of-the-world flood.

Moses... who gave up his independence to follow God's instructions and return to Egypt to save the Israelites.

Mary and Joseph... Joseph knew that baby wasn't "his" yet sacrificed his pride to be an earthly father to God's son while Mary gave up her own expectations and dreams to serve as the mother to Jesus.

Jonah... who had to face his fears to follow God's instructions.

Saul/Paul... who sacrificed his power in the Roman Empire to serve the Lord.

And Jesus... who truly gave the ULTIMATE sacrifice... Himself. His sacrifice yielded VICTORY for all of mankind.

Without sacrifice, there can be no victory. The important things are worth fighting for... they are worth the sacrifice.

Incidently... the other main motto of the movie is this:

One shall stand - One shall fall.

Good vs. Evil

God vs. Satan

Everlasting Life vs. Death

Who knew that you could find so much Godliness in some transforming robots? :)

--> Note: The Transformers movie is PG-13, and in it's original form, this is NOT for young kids. However, you can visit GoodMoviesOnline.com and purchase the edited-to-PG version that removes sexual references, anything with human blood, and all foul language. While the special effects are fabulous, the items that earned it's PG-13 rating are obnoxious and unnecessary. Do consider watching an edited version if you have kids!

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Friday, March 20, 2009

I Found God in GoodMoviesOnline.com

If you saw Transformers - The Motion Picture in theaters, you know that while the toys are played with by the 5-to-10 yr. old set, the movie was rated PG-13 for a completely UNnecessary scene concerning a teenage boy and masterbation. Thank God for GoodMoviesOnline.com - a FANTASTIC website that edits movies down to PG and PG-13. To stay copyright-compliant, when you buy a movie from this website, you pay for the original version and get the edited version for free. As long as you keep the two versions together, no "additional" movies are actually made (which doesn't violate copyright). I have used this service; I am SO THRILLED with the results!!! :)

I remember sitting with my 7-yr. son Jack in the movie theater one day when a preview for Transformers came across the screen. Both of us were mezmorized by the short clip, and we saw the shiny grill and heard the robotic sounds... both of us whispered at the same time: Optimus Prime... as the Autobot leader flashed before us.

Imagine my dismay when the movie was released and was rated PG-13. WHAT? The toys are marketed for little kids - why include material that prevented little kids from seeing it? Transforming robots saving the world from evil with loud explosions, fast cars, and military men? What more could a little boy want?!?!

I watched Transformers movie after it came out on DVD... without my kids. Good thing! - While it was, indeed, amazing - packed with all of the robots my kids would adore, it was also infused with a handful of suggestive dialogue plus the obnoxious masturbation scene.


But in November, I stumbled across the GoodMoviesOnline website. And Transformers was one of the movies they offered. They could edit out the questionable scene and maintain the PG-13 rating or they could "dumb-it-down" to PG and eliminate all sexual references as well. I bought the PG version; we saved it for Jack's birthday in February, and finally, tonight, the boys and I had time to watch it.




My kids loved it - I loved it - and the questionable scene was edited out flawlessly - I couldn't even see where it had been! Plus, no bad language! No human blood! Of course, we're talking about Transformers: it IS full of explosions, battles, duels, etc.; you can't edit that out or you're left with nothing but the closing credits! :) But I knew what I was getting into... I just wanted it without the sex and language!

This is an amazing service - just think of all of the fun movies out there that we CAN'T show our kids b/c of the adult situations, language, or extreme violence contained within. Even when they are "13" - some of the messages are still not ones we want reinforced. GoodMoviesOnline.com has a huge assortment of new and classic movies to choose from.

I am so thankful to find a place that takes the "junk" out of movies to make them kid-friendly. I hope you'll check out their store too - because this is one place that I hope stays in business for a long, long time!! :)

PS... I actually found God IN Transformers too... for that, you'll have to wait for the next post! :)
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Of God and Sin and Men and Basketball........

My husband and I spent last week in New York City with our good friends, Stephanie and Nathan. We had purchased two tickets to the Big East Basketball tournament (15 games in 5 days, baby!) - and while the husbands attended most of them (the gals shopped), there was an evening when Nathan scored two extra tickets, and we all went together.

Steph and I "people-watched" far more than we watched any actual basketball... and I must say, it was much more interesting... Midway through the game, a young couple came down and claimed the seats two rows in front of us. Immediately there was a ripple amongst most of the men around us (Our -husbands excluded... and we're so proud of them!). The girl was very skinny in ultra-tight "skinny" jeans, with long dark hair, and an average-looking face. But what set her apart was her surgically-enhanced bustline that was bursting (thanks to a push-up bra) out of her shirt that had the top 5 buttons undone.

Now, I say the girl was "surgically-enhanced" for this reason - if God had given a girl that robust of a busom that defied gravity so absolutely, most girls would cover themselves out of sheer embarrassment. But when a gal PAYS for something, she will likely do everything she can to show off the assets and make sure people know she got her money's worth. This girl was deliberately showing off her womanly parts to the world and often stood up, leaned over, at one point, even started patting her own rearend (no kidding!), or adjusted herself to make sure that she drew stares. And stares, she did receive...

Men in a 10 yard radius were reduced to their most primitive selves - slobbering, leering, and turning their necks so far that we thought many of them would require a lengthy chiropractic session to straighten out their spines. Forget the dribbling on the court...! We had dribbling and drooling men all around us!! Here are some of the characters we noticed...

  • "4 Sleazy Dudes" - Group of 4 guys right behind us - late 20's/early 30's, post-college guys but who became nearly incoherent except for oggling eyes and phrases like "like to get me some of that" and "did you check out her rack?!" When she started patting her own backend, one nearly dumped his beer on me, he was leaning forward so far!

  • "Mid-Life-Crisis Man" who sat across the aisle and a row below her with his two buddies. His neck is definitely out of alignment for all of the craining he did. Plus, tons of obviously lewd gestures and tongue-waggling in her direction as he envisioned all the porno-type thoughts he could come up with and share with his cronies.

  • "Clearly A Grandpa And A Pervert" - Guy well over 65 years old with his buddy sat in our row. He was up on his toes to look down her shirt more than once.

  • "My Girlfriend Doesn't Have As Big A Set" Dude who sat with his girlfriend directly in front of "Boobalicious." He spent most of the game turned completely around pretending to talk to his date but eying the magnificent display the whole time. There were many "pretend" reaches to the floor behind him for his water bottle so he could get a closer..... look.

What's wrong with this picture....? Several things!

  1. The Girl has self-esteem issues, big time. She is thinking that her self-worth is derived by how men react to her, but isn't realizing that these men are only reacting on the most basic of levels... No one is thinking of her "as the girl I'd introduce to my parents" - she is reduced to the "skanky girl who might get me laid." Here is what God says: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV) Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. Or The Message version which is a bit more specific: There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, "The two become one." Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never "become one." There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for "becoming one" with another. Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

  2. This girl's behavior has now become a stumbling block to the men around her. It is quite possible that some of the leering guys struggle with addictions to pornography (my money's on "Mid-Life Crisis Guy"), and her lack-of-outfit just throws more images into their permanent "Mental Rolladex." God says in Romans 14:13 - Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. Obviously she is not responsible for everyone else's problems, but there are SO many poor messages being sent out with this attire... there doesn't seem to be anything positive about it!

  3. This doesn't mean "Girls: don't be cute." Beth Moore put it best when she said, "Ladies, you can be cute! You go out and buy the cutest outfit you can find... but COVER yourself!" You can be pretty, or beautiful, or flashy, or cute WITHOUT being skanky, or lewd, or tacky... or be nicknamed "Boobalicious!" Our friends with a teenage daughter have the "4 B's Rule" in their house. For their daughter, it's NO boobs, NO butts, NO belly, NO bra strap showing or she can't leave the house. This would seem like a NO-BRAINER... but a lot of today's fashions leave a tons of personal skin exposed and on display!

In man's defense, not ALL of the guys around were a drooling mess. The two men right in front of us (who could have had an excellent view) seemed to be quite UNcomfortable with the whole thing and were looking anywhere BUT at her... Our dear husbands actually seemed oblivious to it all as they were totally into the game (until we told them about it and they started watching the surrounding crowd). But the majority of the men around us did not represent their gender well! And I felt sorry for them.. and for their wives... or their daughters... or their girlfriends... or their mothers... all of the women in their lives who had just been disrespected by their behavior.

When I was a kid, my Mom used to tell me to "pretend she was sitting on our shoulders" when we were out and about... that whatever we did or said - to ask ourselves if Mom was watching... would we still be doing that particular thing... (My brother often looked at her and used his fingers to flick off the "imaginary Mom" off of his shoulder... but I digress...!)

While your Mom might not always be with you, there is a parent figure who IS always watching you... God sees your stumbles and falls... your good days AND your obnoxious ones. And while He loves us and forgives us, He can still feel disappointment in our choices. I screw up daily... by the hour, sometimes! ... but I one of the things I pray for is for God to help me be a better person/mother/wife/friend/Christian tomorrow than I was today. And in order to actually accomplish that, I have to make better choices.

How's your behavior lately...?

Are you representing your gender well?

Your family well?

Your Creator well?

Take care of you this week,

:) Mags

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Found God In "Good Morning"

Someone sent me this little acrostic... I thought it was cute...! :)

When I say "Good Morning" I mean to say

G - God
O - offers us His
O - outstanding
D - devotion to

M - make us
O - obedient &
R - ready for a
N - new day with Him.
I - inspire others please, and
N - never forget
G - God loves you!

Today as I was driving home from dropping Luke off at preschool, I passed a local business. With the anti-smoking laws in place in our area, workers can no longer smoke in or even on the property of their place of employment. Therefore, at this particular large insurance company, the workers have to cross the street to a drainage ditch to smoke. At any given time of day, you can find workers huddled in the cold on the edge of the street - teetering between swiftly moving cars on the road and the soggy ditch below them.

Admittedly, I've been very judgemental when I've driven by in the past - rolling my eyes at the rediculousness of these people - clinging to their smoking habit by the side of the road. In winter, you cannot tell the difference between the smoke drifting out of their mouths and the cold vapors of regular exhaling. It just seems sad.

Today, as I drove home, there was one solitary man on his smoke break. One older guy bundled up tightly in the 30 degree wind. With his ear-flap hat, the only bits of exposed skin included his eyes, nose, and mouth - complete with the cigarette dangling from his lips. But today as I stopped at the light in front of his ditch, I prayed. I prayed for this man - that God would give him the strength and determination to quit. He cannot possibly be happy out there... ruled by an addiction that drags his body out into the freezing temperatures to smoke. He certainly didn't look happy. But instead of sitting on my soap box with my judgemental frown, I took action... a small action, albeit, but action, nonetheless. I said a prayer for this man.

What soapboxes do you stand upon? What frowns do you cast at other people just trying to do the best they can? It is so easy to say that "my sin isn't as bad as that person's sin." I know - I've found myself qualifying sin more than once... But God doesn't qualify sin.

There is an interesting passage in 1 John 5:16-17...

The Message:
For instance, if we see a Christian believer sinning (clearly I'm not talking about those who make a practice of sin in a way that is "fatal," leading to eternal death), we ask for God's help and he gladly gives it, gives life to the sinner whose sin is not fatal. There is such a thing as a fatal sin, and I'm not urging you to pray about that. Everything we do wrong is sin, but not all sin is fatal.

The NIV:
If you see a Christian brother or sister[a] sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it. 17 All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death.

Here it says that we should pray for others we see sinning (unless their sin has led to their death - which, at that point, it's too late, I guess). I'm not saying that "smoking" is "sinning" - but it is hurting one's body... a creation of God. I imagine when we do anything that hurts ourselves or another of His creations, He's not too thrilled. And, standing on my soapbox with my judgemental frown is not helpful to this person at all. A better avenue is for me to DO something to help - and given that I don't know this man, praying for him seemed a better option than stopping my car, rolling down the window, and telling him he should stop...! :)

Take a look at your day - your everyday, ordinary routine and see if there is someone you can pray for. The poem at the top of this post says to "inspire others" - You never know how much of a difference your prayers might make to another person... :)
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