Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sometimes We All Love Darkness More Than Light

“Everybody's got a secret Sonny
Something that they just can't face
Some folks spend their whole lives trying to keep it
They carry it with them every step that they take”

These lyrics come to us from Bruce Springsteen’s classic song “Darkness On The Edge of Town” which comes off of his 1978 album of the same name. As I was listening to this I began to think about how often times we try to keep our sin covered up and out of the light of day. We are afraid of what may happen to us if we dare to confess our secret sin to another person because we fear what kind of shock or judgment we may receive in return. Worse yet some of us refuse to even confess our sin to God, which when you ultimately think about it is ridiculous because God is all knowing to begin with, so we technically can have no secrets from Him (Psalm 44:21).

King David found out devastating trying to cover up sin can be, when he had an affair with one of his soldier’s wives (Bathsheba) and then, when she told King David she was pregnant, he had her husband put in the front lines of battle to ensure that he would be killed. (2 Samuel 11) At the very end of chapter 11 we are told that “the Lord was very displeased with what David had done” (v. 27b). Therefore the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell King David a story that illustrated led David to openly confess his sin to Nathan and the Lord. However, the Lord punished David for his sin, as the baby born to Him from Bathsheba was struck ill and died. While God ultimately forgave David for the sin of adultery and sending a man to his ultimate death on the battle field, He did not let that sin go unpunished.

I would like to address confessing sins to another person for a moment. This is very important for us as Believers to do, and something that we are commanded to do in James 5:16: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results” (NLT). Notice specifically that James doesn’t tell us that when a fellow Believer confesses a sin to us that we are to judge them; quite the contrary, he tells us to pray with them so that God can heal the wound in their heart caused by that un-confessed sin. Don’t get me wrong, God does hear our prayers when we confess our sins to Him directly as well (1 John 1:9), but I believe there can be more power in helping us to stop repeated patterns of sin in our lives when we confess them to another Christian.

Let me also address the concept of “darkness” that Springsteen writes about in the song that I quoted at the beginning of this post. I believe that the ‘darkness on the edge of town’ that he is singing about can be interpreted as a metaphor for the place we all tend to hide our dark secrets. You see as we continue to hide things out of the light and in the darkness, the darkness gets darker and darker and threatens to take over our lives. Jesus told us in John 3:19b-20 that the world “loved darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. They hate the light because they want to sin in the darkness. They stay away from the light for fear their sins will be exposed and they will be punished.” (NLT)

While confessing sin to another person is scary and intimidating it also allows us to openly admit that we are human and desperately in need of God’s Grace. I can’t completely tell you why, but in my personal experiences when I have confessed my sin to another Christian whom I trust, I have experienced God’s Grace in a way that I haven’t when I confessed that same sin to God directly. It also allows me to have accountability with another person who can ask me how I am doing in my Christian Walk. I think this is what God desires for us, and why James tells us it is so important in the passage I quoted earlier.

God is a Gracious God, but he also needs for us to be willing to expose our sin in His light. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:8 “though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light form the Lord, and your behavior should show it” (NLT). Once God has cleaned out our sin he wants to fill us with His light so that we can be like Jesus and be light that shines though the darkness (John 1:5). It is then that we can begin to illuminate those dark places on the edges of our own towns with the Gospel!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The power of forgiveness trumps the power of Satan!

M. Night Shyamalan has been one of my favorite writer/directors since I was in high school. I’ve always felt that his movies are full of definite Christian views on the concept of good versus evil. Films like “Unbreakable” and “Signs” show a definite view that evil is very present in the world, but God can also use people and circumstances to intervene in our lives to overcome evil with good.

That message is very prevalent in Shyamalan’s newest film “Devil” which he wrote but did not direct this time around. This is supposedly the first of three Shyamalan movies that will be known as “The Night Trilogy” and if that does in fact come to fruition, I will be very excited to see what the next two movies have in store for us.

“Devil” begins with these words written across the screen from 1 Peter 5:8 “Be careful! Watch out for the attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.” Then the film begins and it is the story of five strangers who become trapped in an elevator in a very tall office building in downtown Philadelphia. Initially the five people are annoyed that they are going to be delayed from their various meetings they were on their way to in various parts of the building. The security guards in the building are able to see the five strangers in the elevator through the camera, but are unable to hear what passengers are saying, though the people can hear the security guards, who assure them they will be back up and running in no time. This however, is far from the truth!

What was initial annoyance turns to terror for the five people though, as the lights begin to flicker in the elevator and the passengers begin to be fearful that something bad is going to happen. One of the security guards also becomes fearful when during a period when the lights were flashing on and off in the elevator, the camera picked up an image of a devilish face grinning! This causes that same security guard who is dubbed ‘very religious’ by one of his co-workers to begin telling the other security guards about a story that his mother used to tell him about how sometimes the Devil walks the earth, disguising Himself in human form. The security guard then states that he believes one of the passengers is the Devil disguised in human form, and that he will begin killing each passenger off. This security guard is proved all too prophetic as the lights on the elevator continue to periodically go off and each time it happens another one of the five passengers meets a grueling death!

This causes the building security to call in a Philadelphia Police Department Sergeant to attempt to figure out which of the five passengers is committing the murders. The ‘very religious’ security officer begins telling the Sergeant about his theory, which the Sergeant finds ridiculous at first, but he becomes more convinced as the movie plays on.

While this film does a fine job of illustrating how in this world we often are not battling human flesh as Christians but “against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12b), it also demonstrates how Satan can be defeated. As our security guard states while he is telling the story his mom always told him about how the Devil sometimes takes human form and walks among us, ‘many times human beings would try to defeat him (the Devil) using force, but he cannot be stopped with man made power’ –That statement alone is very true, and while I will certainly not give away how this movie ends, I will say that the ending demonstrates how the power of forgiveness trumps the power of Satan!

You see because that is ultimately how Jesus crushed Satan’s head when he died on the cross. Jesus died for our sins, in our place, so sin would no longer have the power to send us to Hell. Since tempting us into sin is Satan’s method for sending our soul to Hell, Jesus disarmed Satan’s power at the cross! By offering us forgiveness for our sins of the past, present and future, Jesus has defeated Satan for all time. Therefore, each time we confess our sins to God he will be faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9) and each time we forgive another person for an act they committed against us we demonstrate Christ’s power over Satan to one another (Colossians 3:13).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Things don't always resolve in life, but life can have memorable scenes!

I am an optimist by nature. I am one of those people that will believe a baseball team down six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning can still come back and win the game. I am a positive person period. So when I read Donald Miller’s most recent book “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years” I was a bit taken aback by one particular chapter in the book, entitled “Why God Hasn’t Fixed You Yet.”

In this chapter Miller writes about how he believes God is not going to fix everything in our lives. We will never ultimately see every issue we have had in our lives resolve before we die. This was a bit depressing for me to take in as a die-hard optimist. I wondered, was there scripture that could back up such a bold statement?

As I searched the Bible I found that yes indeed there is some Biblical backing for a bold statement such as this. In fact, some of the things I had discovered were things I already knew about, but had never thought of in this light before. One example would be the fact that the book of Acts tells us Paul and Barnabas had a fight over where to go share the Gospel next and ultimately split up because they couldn’t agree (Acts 15:39). As far as we know they never reconciled, at least not here on earth.

Another example would be the Apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” that he discusses in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. He mentions that he prayed that the Lord would take it away three times and each time God told him “My Grace is sufficient for you.” Paul never tells us that there was a time when God did take away whatever the ‘thorn’ was. Whatever it was it certainly was unpleasant for Paul to deal with, but for whatever reason God didn’t heal him. This ultimately leads Paul to state in verse 10 that sometimes in life we need to, like him, be ‘content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.”

Well I don’t know about you but I would consider unresolved things in my life to at times fall under the category of ‘hardships’ and ‘calamities’ and yet Paul tells us to be content with these things. Paul also says in Philippians 3:20-21a that ‘we are citizens of Heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as savior. He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like his own.” See, conflicts and unresolved issues in our lives are a result of sin, and since we are still living in this fallen world, they will never completely go away in this life, while we are still living in our earthly bodies. However, one day when Jesus returns we will have new bodies, and arrive in our eternal home of Heaven, where sin will no longer exist.

While not a whole lot is written in the Bible about the details of what Heaven will be like, Jesus told us in Matthew 8:11 that there will be feast and that people like Old Testament heroes such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be there. That sounds exiting to me, as I enjoy eating and fellowship with Godly people very much! However, while we are still in this life in this world, Jesus Himself also warned us that we would have trouble, but he would leave us with His peace (John 16:33).

I have decided that when issues arise in my life from here on out, as long as I do everything in my power to resolve an issue I may have with another person, God will not hold it against me if the other person refuses to want to work things out. I can then cling to the peace Jesus describes there in John 16.

I conclude this by going back to the book I mentioned in the beginning. Donald Miller in the very next chapter entitled “Great Stories Have Memorable Scenes” brings hope and optimism back into his book, as he describes how as songwriter Mike Stand once wrote “great things happen in this world.” He talks about how in movies, there are often memorable scenes that take place at times in weird locations or at weird points in the plot that you may not expect. Life is often this way as well.

Think about your own life for a second. Aren’t there some pretty memorable scenes in it? Perhaps the night you first laid eyes on that special girl you are now dating stays with you. Maybe the day when you were 12 years old and you got the game winning hit in your summer softball league is a moment you will never forget! Perhaps the moment you drove off the lot after buying your first car is forever immortalized in your mind as it you remember the way the sun shone in your review mirror and the car that was in front of you as you drove off to great the day.

The Bible is full of some amazing moments that I’m sure those that witnessed them never forget. Two examples that have always stood out to me are Samson killing 1000 Phillistines with a Jawbone in Judges 15, and Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11. Can you imagine the awe and wonder that people must have felt when Lazarus walked out of the time when Jesus called out to him? How about the utter amazement the Israelites must have felt and seeing Samson waylay on the brutal Philistine army like that?

Whatever, moments are special to you they are just that, special. They often aren’t of any monetary value at all. They are life’s simple pleasures. I think that is why we are told to be content as long as we have enough food and clothing (1 Timothy 6:8). God ultimately wants us to obey His commands and love one another to the best of our abilities, and extends us Grace when we fail to do so; until one day when we will no longer be alive, and instead be in His presence for eternity. Until that day though, enjoy as many special moments as you can, seek forgiveness from the Lord and others when you fail them, and be content with all He has given you!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Green Day and the Gospel

Loneliness and isolationism are two of the most common afflictions people suffer from today. When you consider the fact that almost 50% of marriages end in divorce these days and school bullying seems to be causing more and more student suicides each year, it shouldn’t really surprise us. The fact remains that as human beings, God created us for community. He stated in Genesis 2:18 that it was not good for man to be alone. Keep in mind this was before sin had entered the picture, and yet still, God realized that man needed companionship with other creatures like him. So the need for the community was not the result of sin entering the picture.

Perhaps one of the songs that best exemplifies our need for companionship, and a Savior would be Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” which hit the radio airwaves in the fall of 2004 during my senior year of high school. Appearing on their breakout comeback concept album “American Idiot” (an album deemed extremely anti-Christian by many Christian publications due to it’s occasional use of cuss words, mentioning of drugs, and anti-Bush ranting), this song struck a chord with me as a Christian, despite the negative press it was receiving.

The song starts off with a character stated he ‘walks a lonely road the only road that I have ever known’ which then leads him to sing in the chorus:

“My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me,
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating,
Sometimes I wish someone out there would find me,
“Til then I walk alone”

I remember being struck specifically by the line “sometimes I wish someone out there would find me.” Here is a lonely person who seems to have accepted his fate at the beginning of the song to walk a lonely road, but by the chorus is hoping “someone out there” will find him. I immediately thought of how that ‘someone’ in the song could easily be God, and that ultimately the song’s protagonist desired that God would see him and find him.

The Bible is filled with verses that tell us that if we seek God we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13, Deuteronomy 4:29). Jesus echoed these sentiments in Matthew 7:7 when He said “Keep on asking and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened.” (NIV)

Fellowship with one another as Christians, and with Jesus is essential. If we as the Church were to seek out lonely people more often and welcome them into fellowship with us, isn’t it possible we might help them to feel less lonely? Wouldn’t it also make sense that if they were to meet Jesus in a personal way they might for the first time in their life, experience what it means to be loved unconditionally?

One of the best ways for we as Believers to do this is to go out into our culture and listen to what they are saying in their music, movies and TV programs. Because art often (not always) reflects what is going on in the lives of the people within the culture it exists to entertain, it is important for Christians to spend time within the culture to understand the messages being transmitted in the music, movies and TV shows. However it also requires us as Christians keep a discerning eye when doing this, because there are some parts of art that would tempt us into sin, which will do no good to our ability to witness to a culture if we become just like the people we are trying to reach. We need to be different, and the people inside our culture need to see that. That being said, by knowing what messages are being transmitted by our film, popular music and TV programs, we as Christians can communicate the Gospel by using the messages conveyed within the art.

If you think that I am way off by suggesting this, let me encourage you to read Acts 17: 15-33. In this amazing story within an awesome book about the history of the early church, the Apostle Paul is in Athens, Greece where he is led by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel to the Greeks, a nation that is exclusively Gentile, who had no way of knowing anything about the Old Testament like the Jews did. Paul spends some time walking about the city of Athens and observes how many idols they have to false gods. This troubles him deeply and he decides to speak to the citizens of Athens about the Good News. So he begins preaching the Gospel in the middle of city each day until he gets the attention of the philosophers who ask him to speak to the full Council of Philosophers about ‘this new religion.’

Paul then addresses the Philosophers by telling them he realizes they are very religious people and that they even have altar built with the inscription “to an unknown God.” He then informs them that this unknown God is in fact the true God of the universe, and he then tells them all about God sending Jesus who was raised from he dead and will one day judge the world.

By the end of the story many think Paul is crazy, some want to hear more at a later time, and a few become Believers! You see how Paul used the culture to share the Gospel with the people of Athens? He took what he saw of their art and religion and reinforced the parts of it that were good and right, while redirecting their thinking in areas that were wrong.

To conclude this post, let’s go back to that lyric from Green Day. We as modern day believers could use this song to share the Gospel with people, but telling them that there is in fact ‘someone out there’ who has always known them. That ‘someone’ is the Lord of the universe who knows everything about them because He created them. He loves them so much and sent His one and only Son to die in their place for their sin, so that they could have a relationship with Him once again!

Friends, it is time we take back our culture by telling it about the Love of Christ! One of the best methods for us to do this, is to find openings by using the messages our culture is sending out, analyzing them for the Truth of the Gospel and pointing that Truth out to a world that desperately needs it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Iron Sharpening Iron In the 1961 Home Run Race!

Friendship is essential to our ability to grow as people. This is especially true for those of us who are Christians. As Solomon wrote in Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” Without the benefit of a true friend who will call us out when we do something wrong, encourage us when we are down, and celebrate with us when times are good, we would probably not truly experience all that God has for us in life.

This point is wonderfully depicted in the movie “61” which was HBO’s 2001 made for TV movie about the 1961 home run chase between fellow Yankees Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Most people (especially die hard baseball fans such as myself) know that it was ultimately Maris who won the home run contest by breaking what was then the all time home run record of 60 home runs hit in a season by Babe Ruth. What many didn’t know (myself included) was that Yankee fans were not really happy that Rodger Maris was the one who would break that record. Yankee fans wanted Mickey Mantle to be the player to accomplish this feat, because he was a lifelong Yankee, and Maris had just arrived as a free agent from Kansas City in 1961.

As the movie unfolds we see that both of these men develop a friendship, and while the media and fans were at odds over who would ultimately break the record held by the Babe, these two men were both supportive of each other, as we see in several scenes scattered throughout this finely crafted film.

Early on in the movie, Mantle is thrown out of a night club because he was drunk, which then leads him to drive while intoxicated causing him to crash his car into a lamppost. The hotel manager where Mantle was leasing a suite for the season informs Maris and couple of the other players who came to Mantle’s aid that this behavior was becoming more commonplace and he wouldn’t be able to keep the press away much longer. Realizing this would be extremely detrimental to the team and Mantle, Maris offers to allow Mantle to come out to the suburbs of New York and share an apartment with him another player. Mantle agrees, and Maris tells him that in order for the agreement to be in place, Mantle would not be allowed to bring any women back the apartment, and his alcohol consumption would be kept in check. Mantle, begrudgingly at first, agrees to the terms.

This would be an agreement that Maris would take seriously, as during one intense scene he confronted Mantle about his reckless behavior and how it was ultimately harming his body and his ability to play baseball. As it would turn out, Mantle would many years after he retired, become a Christian and confess that he was an alcoholic and a playboy during his playing years.

While Maris undoubtly had a positive impact on Mantle, it is important to note that Mantle also was a good friend to Maris. As I previously mentioned, Maris was not the fan favorite to break the home run record, and he actually received nasty letters in the mail telling him to ‘Die Maris Die” and even had someone call his wife and threaten to kidnap one of their children!

During this time of turmoil for Maris, which caused his stress level to be so high his hair started to fall out, Mantle quietly encouraged him to not worry about what the fans said, and that most threats were not likely to be executed. In one great scene closer the end of the movie, Mantle sits down in Maris’ room with him and states that “people are stupid sometimes Rodger” and then tells him to not read his mail, and to focus on striving to break the record, and that he (Mantle) would be his biggest fan, because injuries were getting the best of him and he would no longer be able to stay in the race with Maris.

In fact, when Maris did break Babe Ruth’s record on the final day of the 1961 season, Mantle was in a New York hospital recovering from an infection. He was however, watching the game on TV and cheering Maris on the whole time!

Ultimately I think this story illustrates how a relationship that is Godly makes both people better. One example of a relationship like this in the Bible that comes to mind is David and Jonathan. In 1 Samuel 18-23 the Bible tells us how these two men encouraged each other and that Jonathan though he was the son of King Saul, who wanted David killed, vowed to protect David and spent many a time encouraging and defending David. The Bible tells us there was an instant bond when they met (18:1) and that they were friends until Jonathan was killed in battle (2 Samuel 1:4).

True friendship is rare, especially in the world in which we live today. In our fast paced culture friendship tends to be something a lot of people use to get ahead. More often than not people use each other and then drop each other once there is no more use for the friendship. This is a far cry from the kind of friendships we see in scripture, which are the kind we should most try to emulate. When Christ said in John 15:13 that “the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends” he meant that friendship should be something we are willing to die for, and thus certainly not something we should view as disposable!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pleasure was created by God

As Christians, there are times when it can be insightful for us to look at matters from the perspective of a person who is not a Believer. It can give us understanding as to why they act the way that they do. For example, a person who does not have the Holy Spirit inside of them to help them discern right and wrong should not surprise us when they act in ways that are opposite that of Scripture. Jesus isn’t their Savior and they have no personal relationship with Him, so why should they want to act in according with His will?

This idea of playing ‘devils advocate’ is an idea that C.S. Lewis did almost literally in his 1942 classic “The Screwtape Letters.” In this fine and succinct work, Lewis writes from the perspective of a senior demon in Hell named Screwtape, giving his nephew Wormwood, who has recently graduated from Demon College, advice on how to tempt his first human specimen.

The writing is witty and often times quite funny, but one of the moments that stood out to me most though is where Screwtape is discussing the concept of “pleasure” with Wormwood. He states that Wormwood must:

“Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures, which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. “

Bearing in mind that when Screwtape mentions “The Enemy” his talking about God, you may be saying to yourself “What? Seriously? All pleasure in itself was created by God?” Initially this was my thought as well, but as I thought about it more and more, especially in the light of Scripture, I believe Mr. Lewis is in fact one hundred percent correct.

If you recall with me in Genesis 1 after God had created everything in the world the Bible tells us that “God looked over all he had made and he saw that it was excellent in every way” (Genesis 1: 31a). Think about that for a second. That means that things such as the artistic wonder of a sunrise or sunset, sex, and the tools that would later allow people to create music, movies and write books, were all part of God’s creation and all were “good” in the eyes of God.

However, at this point in time Sin had not entered the picture, so therefore all of the things mentioned above would only be used in ways that would honor God. As we all know Genesis 3 was coming, and man would sin, thus destroying the perfect world God had created. Author and Pastor Mark Driscoll has described that day as the “Great Thud” in mankind’s history and nothing could be more accurate.

From each day on then, Satan has had power to tempt us in this world and we all yield to those temptations at times, though those of us redeemed through Christ’s blood can be forgiven for these acts. Thus, as Lewis has cleverly written, while Satan himself has never produced any pleasure, he still uses pleasure in the form outside of what God intended it, to lead us into sin. For example, God created sex and thinks it is awesome and pleasing to Him, but he created that form of pleasure to exist only within the commitment of marriage, and nowhere else. Satan then tempts mankind by telling them that God didn’t really say it was only supposed to occur within marriage, but that it was a pleasure people can share without any commitment. See, the pleasure that comes from sex was created by God, within the rules that he designed it, but Satan simply lies to us by telling us we can partake of that pleasure without any rules attached.

It is important to remember the next time Satan throws us a temptation that would provide us pleasure if we take the bait, that God is not trying to steal our fun! He created the fun in the first place, it may just be that not all the fun we can have in the world can be had without certain boundaries He has put in place! If we resist those temptations by submitting to God (James 4:7) we will be blessed in God’s eyes. Then we should rejoice in Him and delight in the salvation he has provided for us (Psalm 35:9) because without we’d all be pawns in Satan’s grip on a path that leads to destruction! (Proverbs 3:25)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Beware of the company you keep!

I recently saw the movie “The Social Network” which by most accounts should be in serious contention for the Best Picture award at this year’s Oscars. For those of you who haven’t heard, this movie is the story of Mark Zuckerberg, the man who created one of the most popular websites in the world, Facebook. Zuckerberg did this during 2003-2004, while he was a sophomore student at Harvard School of Law in New England.

The film takes us into the story of Zuckerberg’s initial creation of Facebook as an exclusive website for students at Harvard, so they could all be connected as a campus. One of the fraternities initially posed this idea to Zuckerberg, who then decided that he wanted to open up Facebook to all college students all over the country. Teamed with his friend and initial business partner, Eduardo Saverin (who helped write the code for Facebook as well as contributing a large amount of his trust fund money) Zuckerberg builds what they first dubbed “the Facebook” on servers run out of his dorm room.

Zuckerberg’s life begins to spin out of control when he meets Shawn Parker (who in real life was named Shawn Fanning) the man responsible for founding Napster, the first online music file sharing website. In Parker, Zuckerberg sees his chance at nationwide fame, and decides to move out to LA for the summer of 2004 to hang out with Parker and expand Facebook with Parker’s help. This leads him down a path that shows him turn his back on Saverin who had never done anything but support (money and all!) and encourage Zuckerberg in his efforts.

I will not share what ultimately happens in this movie because that would spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, but I will say that I definitely saw this movie as modern day parable. I kept finding myself likening Zuckerberg to a modern day Solomon who initially started out his reign as king of Jerusalem with Godly intentions. He even asked God for the gift of wisdom to be able to rule the nation in a way that would be obedient to the Lord, like his father David had been. (1 Kings 3:5-15). However, as time went on Solomon was led astray by marrying women from pagan nations, (1 Kings 11) ultimately leading the Lord to split up his kingdom after his death (1 Kings 12).

Biblical scholars have generally agreed that Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes near the end of his life and when he wrote: “Everything is meaningless, like chasing the wind” (Ecc. 2:17) the ‘everything’ he was talking about was his pursuit of things other than the Will of the Lord in his life. This readers, is a lesson that young Christians such as myself need to learn now while we are young, and I think it is a lesson quite well articulated by “The Social Network.”

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Leading and Loving Sacrificially

One song that has been popular on mainstream radio since last October is “Mine” the first single off of Taylor Swift’s new album “Speak Now.” As I was listening to the song, I began to realize that while there are some aspects of the love story in this song that are in direct disagreement with the teachings of the Bible, there are other parts that speak some truth from Scripture about romance.

I assume that most of you readers have heard this tune, but if you have not or it has been a while I will review. This song is written in the first person as the story of a girl who appears to have had a difficult family life (she calls her father a ‘careless man’ in the chorus). She thus is very guarded about opening up to anyone, and doesn’t trust that any man’s love will ever last. However, she meets a young man who moved to her town to attend college and she falls for him immediately.

Swift then advances the story ahead a few years, where it appears they live together outside of the bounds of marriage, which certainly implies premarital sex that is prohibited in scripture (see 1 Corinthians 5 where Paul devotes an entire chapter talking about sexual immorality). However, we also learn that our protagonist had shared her secrets with this young man, thus dropping her guard, putting herself in a vulnerable position.

This is where things get interesting, as one night at 2am a fight breaks out between them finding our young woman running out of the house where she is surprised to find her boyfriend following after her. As she braces herself ‘for the goodbye’ since that is ‘all she’d ever known’ he completely surprises her by stating “I’ll never leave you alone” and then reminds her that he loves and her.

While I would be much happier if this song included marriage, there is still something we as Christians, particularly Christian men, can glean from this song. God has designed us as men to be the pursuer of the women. A whole book of the Old Testament is devoted to the Godly view of sexuality and romance, and the Apostle Paul wrote about how the husband needs to be the leader of his wife and children, by submitting to the authority of God (Ephesians 5:25-33). In this chapter Paul tells men that they are to ‘love their wives with the same love Christ showed the Church.’

Jesus gave up his life as a sacrifice to redeem the Church, therefore husbands need to sacrifice of themselves to lead and love their wives. Kind of like the young man in this story song. When they got into an argument and she stormed out, he followed her and brought her back, by reminding her of his love for her. He didn’t let her leave with a broken heart, and sought after her and led her back!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Welcome to my blog. I feel an introduction is necessary. First and foremost I want to explain why I have titled my blog “Turn on your Light and wash the darkness away.” There are two reasons actually the first is that is a direct quote from the chorus of one of my favorite songs entitled “We All Need Some Light” by the progressive rock super group Transatlantic. The second is because I’ve always felt this song is a phenomenal paraphrase of Jesus’ words in Matthew 14-16:

“14 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

That is what my blog is going to be about. I will show how the Light of Christ is shining in our culture even in places such as ‘secular’ music, movies and books. I will then “let my Light shine before men” by sharing how I personally view the message of these songs movies and books line up with Scripture and are functioning as Light in our dark culture. Sometimes this will be a stretch, and I realize that. I welcome any disagreements and/or differing opinions and your comments are always welcome. All I ask it you read my opinions with an open mind, and I will promise to read your argument with an open mind.

I’ve found that I have opinions about so many things in life, and I am always zealous to share those opinions with everyone, anywhere and at anytime. This generally leads to me doing way too much talking when I am out with friends and way too little listening to what they have to say. I can’t count the number of times I have cut someone off by jumping in and saying “oh yeah I think…” or “yes I agree that reminds me of…” That is something God has really convicted me about in the last week and as I have been seeking Him about what I should do to keep myself from always having to jump in and share my opinion about things.

Ultimately I’ve realized that this highlights a problem with the sin of pride. You see I want my opinion to matter and to be heard because deep down I think it is more important than, or will better impress the guy or girl I am having a conversation with, and that is simply NOT true at all. Therefore, I feel that God has released me to write my ideas and opinions out on this blog and hopefully get some of that aggressive desire to always share my opinions on things out of my system in writing.

So here is what you will find on “Turn on your Light and wash the darkness away.” You will find my commentary on the music I am listening to, the movies I am watching and the books I am reading. You will find musings about how certain songs and movies illustrate Eternal Truths directly out of the Bible. You will find my thoughts on books I’ve been reading, which tend to be very Philosophical in nature (i.e. lately I’ve been reading works by C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, and John Piper). Most of the blogs will be between 300-600 words. I do not intend to write very long posts very often.

So here as we begin a new year I hope you will join me on my quest to be a better listener, and in the meantime write more about my opinions on things. Comments, as I said earlier, will always be welcome.