The Heart of Man, The Love of God

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Don't miss this one!

You have one more chance to see this great movie!

I love movies. I love movies that are made well. I love films where the director focused his lens on beauty. But I really love movies that make me think and potentially change my view on the world.

The Heart of Man is one of those movies. As a reader of my blog, I don't want you to miss your once chance to see this film on a big screen, surrounded by a full audience in a public theater environment. It really is worth your time and money to experience this film in a theater.

You know how much I love to talk about the gospel and the love of God. It is part of my everyday conversations around here. It is so rare that a film is made and communicates the concepts of God's love and redemption so clearly. 

FILMING TECHNIQUE
The Heart of Man is filmed in a unique way. It very clearly depicts individuals and couples who share their personal lives in a documentary interview format. They are quick to walk you down to the dark spaces in their journey with God. Addictions, hurt, damage, and pain are on display. (Note: this film speaks candidly about sexual sin and you should consider who you bring - more on that below). Had the director stopped there, I would simply not recommend this film. There are plenty of places on the internet where you can listen and watch folks open up honestly about dark sinful choices and how they were redeemed.

What if our brokenness is a bridge, not a barrier?

This director does not stop there.

Within the personal interviews, the director weaves a story of The Prodigal in a beautiful and vivid way. The story is simple and easy to follow, but is told without dialogue. This is why you must see this film. The images still burn in my mind. To see the depth of the love of God and what He does to pursue us before, during and after our descent into sin is life-changing.

THEMES
This film speaks clearly to themes of sexual addiction, infidelity and sexual abuse, but in no way should you pigeon hole this movie in that way. It's a movie about living in freedom and knowing that the Father loves you and pursues you and never gives up on you.

This is a film for those struggling in addictions. A film for those struggling with sin. It is a film for those struggling with loss. It's a film for those struggling with despair and a loss of hope.

In fact, I would say that this film is made for everyone. Sinner. Saint. Believer. Unbeliever. Christian. Non-Christian. Protestant. Catholic. Muslim. Jew. Hindu. Buddhist. Gay. Lesbian. Transgender. Man. Woman.

DISCUSSION
I believe this movie will begin discussions on your walk back to the car. You will leave a changed person with a desire to talk through certain scenes, how they were filmed and what they communicated and how you feel about it.

Kendra and I saw it on opening night during a limited release. We immediately made plans to purchase this film and turn it into a community event where we could invite our friends who are waking up from Gospel Amnesia and those who are discovering the love of God for the first time. We were stoked to hear it was out on re-release for one more night. 

What about kids? We have learned to have discussions sooner rather than later. That being said, we would not hesitate to take OUR 10 year old son. We've had hard conversations already. This film would only serve to clarify the love of God in his life. We are willing to step in and talk about themes of sexuality, lust, adultery, pornography and the brokenness in the world. If you aren't prepared for that, you might want to consider who you invite along.

Are you interested in joining us? Leave a comment or contact me here and we'll keep you in the loop.

Quietly making noise,
Fletch

Freedom In Christ

I updated my MacBook Air this week with the new Mavericks operating system. I love the iBooks app that comes pre-loaded. Reading on my computer? Are you kidding me? Yes, please. As I opened my library, one of the stored books I found was The Radical Reformission, by Mark Driscoll. I remember reading and enjoying this book several years ago when I was trying to read books on my iPad.

I enjoy finding old books that I connected with at a different time in my life. This was one of those books. At the time, I was in the midst of recovering from Gospel Amnesia, this was one of the books that spoke to me from nearly every page.

This section below was one of the few I had highlighted. I even wrote a blog post about it once. It's worthy of a second mention.

“Reformission is ultimately about being like Jesus, through his empowering grace. One of the underlying keys to reformission is knowing that neither the freedom of Christ nor our freedom in Christ is intended to permit us to dance as close to sin as possible without crossing the line. But both are intended to permit us to dance as close to sinners as possible by crossing the lines that unnecessarily separate the people God has found from those he is still seeking. To be a Christian, literally, is to be a “little Christ.” It is imperative that Christians be like Jesus, by living freely within the culture as missionaries who are as faithful to the Father and his gospel as Jesus was in his own time and place.

I am advocating not sin but freedom. That freedom is denied by many traditions and theological systems because they fear that some people will use their freedom to sin against Christ. But rules, regulations, and the pursuit of outward morality are ultimately incapable of preventing sin. They can only, at best, rearrange the flesh and get people to stop drinking, smoking, and having sex, only to start being proud of their morality. Jesus’ love for us and our love for him are, frankly, the only tethers that will keep us from abusing our freedom, yet they will enable us to venture as far into the culture and into relationships with lost people as Jesus did, because we go with him.”

Excerpt From: Mark Driscoll. “The Radical Reformission.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=362055909

Quietly making noise,
Fletch



Gospel 101: For My Kids

Sometimes, words can lose their meaning. Around our house, we talk often about the gospel and I think it often just becomes a buzz word. I do not want my kids to become numb to the good news of Jesus in their lives. 

So, this post, written in the Fall of 2013, is a reminder for my family of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Blog readers are welcome to listen in. Maybe you have heard it before? So have I, but I never grow weary of hearing what Jesus did for me and for you and for others. 

Let's get started.

The Gospel does two things. The Gospel saves us from our past - The Gospel also secures our future. 

In other words, we know the good news of Jesus saves us from our sin. We also know that trusting and believing in Jesus is what secures for us eternal life. Two sides of the same coin, right?

But what about the coin itself? What about the here and now? Last Spring, Redeemer hosted a conference and I heard Tim Lane from CCEF speak about a Gospel Gap.

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We live in this gap and we need to ask ourselves what we are choosing to fill in the space? Another way to ask the same question is this: Jesus saved us (Past) and He will ultimately give eternal life(Future), but how are we choosing to live in the meantime?

I want to warn all of us: Let's not get lost in empty words around this house. What I am writing about in this post is no longer theory. This is Gospel 101. This is no longer spiritual jargon and words that you hear repeated weekly when you show up at Redeemer. This is life. This is the practical gospel. This is truth that we can grab and hold onto.

So, let me begin with a few questions:

What are you choosing to fill in this gap between salvation and eternity?
 What are you doing to relate to God? 
How are you choosing to live out your faith in the hear and now?
 
What is it that you feel you need to do to be right with God or to be accepted by Him?

 Let's look at that same question in reverse:   What do you believe you are doing that is causing you to NOT BE ACCEPTED by God?

Regarding your position before God: 

 Are you trying to fill your life with right behavior? 
 
Are you working hard to avoid the really bad behaviors?
 
Are you trying to fill each day with pure thoughts and holy deeds? 
 
Are you trying to be the best biblical scholar?
Are you trying to be the best Christian you can be?
Ultimately I ask: Are you secure in your faith or is acceptance with God something to be maintained or earned continually?

What about your response to others:
 
Are you trying to have the best responses to everyone watching? You know what I mean? Are you driven by wanting to show others how a Christian responds or how a Christian is supposed to behave? Is this a performance for the acceptance of others?

This past summer, our family was confronted again with destructive sin that has affected each of us. Like a rock thrown into a pond, the rippling effect of that sin have travelled outward to each of us. Let me share my personal response. Initially, I determined to give the "best Christian response.” I wanted to do something and show others how  Christ would respond to sin. I was trying so hard to be Christ in this situation.

It feels good to do something, doesn't it? It feels good when I feel like I’m behaving well for God’s approval. Truthfully, it feels good when others recognize what you are doing and affirm that it's the right thing to do. Have you experienced that before? Don't' you find it affirming when others say things like, “You are being like Jesus...”

The truth? The prophet Isaiah covers this quite adequately when he wrote that our righteous deeds are like filthy rags. It’s not at all about what I do or how I respond. The question is not: What can I do today to please God? What can I do to be acceptable in His sight? Or how can I be Jesus in this situation. I don’t need to be Jesus in the situation. I need to POINT people to Jesus, because my efforts, my good deeds are nothing more than filthy rags. 

In this story, I am not Jesus. 

This fall we have been learning a lot about how Jesus responded to people He met during His ministry and often we try to identify with Jesus and His response. Remember, we are NOT Jesus in these stories.

When He interacts with the Pharisees, we need to remember that we relate better to the Pharisee than to Jesus. Likewise, we are the Samaritan prostitute in the story and we are the demoniac living naked at the tombs. I am the dead guy with burial clothes still stuck to his skin. I am the blind guy with spitty mud around freshly opened eyes. I am the leper healed from a life of abandonment. I am NOT Jesus in the story.

My only job, my only responsibility, the only thing I can do is to run into town and tell others about the one who restores sight, the one who heals and the one who saves. Yes. My job is to point others to Jesus, not BE Jesus.

Again I want to move beyond the philosophical Gospel. I want to stop talking about Gospel theory. The answer is simple. I can’t do anything myself. Jesus has done it all. He gets all the credit. He is the star. So, I can stop. I can relax. I can put down the books on theology and doctrine. I can put aside my agenda for holiness. I can simply acknowledge and thank Jesus for what he's done. 

In a nutshell, I can remember that it is all about Jesus. As Tchividjian says, it is truly Jesus plus nothing. Here’s where it gets good: That brings great joy, because it is finished! This is not just a mantra. These words are the healing balm to my sin-stained soul and comfort to my damaged heart. 

My response? I should be driven to my knees in thankfulness and in great thanks I should want to pick up the theology book to know my great God even better. I should desire Him and desire to please Him with right behavior. Not to get something, but because of something I’ve already been given. Jesus!

Some around me have said that they struggle with the practical application of the Gospel. In other words, what does Gospel living look like in the day to day? Hopefully the words I’ve put together have helped explain it. The truth is that I have stolen words and phrases from some of my favorite authors. These paragraphs are nothing more than a compilation of ideas from Tchividijian, Merrick, CCEF and the sermons at Redeemer Church.

Hopefully it is a practical explanation of how the gospel has worked itself out in my life. I would love to hear how it works out in your life too.

Fletch

 

How People Change 2013 - Join Me!

If you have been hanging around theMangoTimes for the past few years, you know how often we like to talk about the gospel and how it centers us from looking for our identity in the "practices" of religion or the traps of the world.

On April 26th and 27th I will be attending the  "How People Change 2013" in Modesto, CA. Several churches, organizations and individuals are bringing Tim Lane, president of CCEF for a two day conference that focuses on just this topic. Understanding our identity in light of the gospel. 

I recommend this conference to ANYONE wanting a deeper understanding of the gospel. If you are struggling in your faith, feeling like it's "hard work," or wondering what it was that woke our family up from "gospel amnesia" then I would love to have you join us for this event.

It is open to individuals, church leadership, so feel free to share this with others. For more details you can click through the photo above to the conference website, or take a look at this video put together by some leaders in our church:

If you have any questions or would like to hang out with me at the conference, let me know!

Quietly making noise,
Fletch