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

When Discipleship Fails

Last month I had the opportunity to attend a leadership seminar at our church. This seminar was designed specifically for Community Group leaders and focused on the topic of how discipleship takes place in and out of the church.

The discussion leader developed this seminar around a central principle that discipleship begins not only with our desire to build disciples within the church, but with those we meet outside of the church. What? How do you disciple someone who isn't a follower of Christ?

The speaker reminded all of us about the "marching orders" Christ gave to believers at the end of Matthew 28. Often given the paragraph title of "The Great Commission," Jesus commands us to make disciples first by “going” and then by “baptizing” and finally by teaching them to “observe the commands” of Christ.

One of the repeating phrases I heard during the discussion was that we need to remember that God is inviting people into Jesus’ story. As important as we might think we are, we only serve as the go-between. We are called/commanded to go out and live on mission. As we live as missionaries in the world, we find those people that God is inviting and then we connect them to His story.

I remember the first time I heard this passage of Matthew explained the same way. Suddenly it was not a passage about evangelism anymore. It quickly became a passage about discipleship.

I have been noodling this around in my head for the past month or so and I have been thinking through my life in the church. The typical model I've seen is to get people to buy into the grace God extends through Jesus (evangelism) and then tell them everything they must do as believers (discipleship)! What a crappy model! Not only is it wrong, but it sets people up for a life of bondage to religious behavior.

The more I thought through the ramifications of Matthew 28 as a verse on discipleship, I also thought through some other methods we often choose to use. Along the way, I see three ways we try to reach people for God and fall absolutely flat.

Connecting People to Our Story

This is an easy one for any of us to do. I did it for years. We love to talk about ourselves, so telling people our own story is almost the default approach we will take. It's fun to share how we came to put our faith in Jesus. I’m not saying that we do it deliberately. Not at all. When we tell people about our faith in Christ, it just becomes easy to make the story center on us and what God has done in our lives.

I've written and spoken about that often on theMangoTimes, it is what I like to call:  Lifestyle Evangelism. Instead of telling others about Jesus, we tell them about what we do. It’s natural to tell others "how we do family” and “how we do school” or “how we do church.” There are so many people looking for practical answers, so telling them “how we do life or how we do culture” is an easy response for us. But often we don’t share Jesus, we share a lifestyle. 

One other way I think we do this is when we put the emphasis on OUR personal testimony. There is nothing wrong with sharing our story, but ultimately we are not trying to connect people to OUR story and we fail to connect people to Jesus' story.


Connecting People to the Disciple’s Story

Do not miss what I am saying here. Peter’s story. Paul’s story. They are great stories. What the apostles said was really good and it is important to share what they have said. The epistles of Paul and the letters of the other apostles is the Word of God. We must share their words, especially when they preach and teach about the gospel and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is the story!

However, if we are not careful, we CAN forget to share Jesus.  Like my first example above when we focus on our story (lifestyle evangelism), we can stop short here too. We can find ourselves focusing only on theology with other people. I guess what I really am describing here is a type of Theology Evangelism.

There are many Christians who do a great job teaching theology. There are many others that attach theology to evangelism and discipleship (aka apologetics). I TOTALLY AGREE that it is important to know God and know what He has to say about Himself and the world we live in. I'm not talking about teaching theology or the use of apologetics. I'm referring to people who teach others everything they know “about God” but they fail to simply introduce people to Jesus. Theology is wonderful, but on it’s own it will not save one soul. 


Connecting People to the Church’s Story

The third way we can fail in discipleship is when we focus our discipleship on the Church’s story. It doesn’t matter which era of church history appeals to you the most. Whether you focus on the history of the Orthodox church, the Roman Catholic church, the Reformed Church, the Anglican Church, or any splinter of the church that followed throughout the centuries, if you are emphasizing the church’s story in your discipleship of others, you missed it again.

The history of the church and what the church believes and how the church practices the faith is important. Like theology , doctrine helps to protect the church from error and keeps people from straying into cults or worshiping a form of Christ. Keeping with my theme, Doctrine Evangelism will do nothing to convert sinners to salvation. Like Theology Evangelism, Doctrine Evangelism falls short.

Consider this: Doctrine and theology will often lead us to focus on telling others what they must avoid or accomplish, but often fails to mention what has already been done for us as believers.


Connecting People to Christ’s Story

Here is a good test: If you feel like your church has fed you a steady diet of 'being told what to do," then chances are you have not been discipled into Christ’s Story. If you are carefully walking a tight rope and trying not to fall off due to right/wrong behavior, you are probably not living in Christ’s Story. As a believer, if you are constantly worried that failure negates you're acceptance by God, you are not living in Christ's story.

If you are living in a church or family or belief system that tells you over and over how to behave better, let me encourage you to dig a little deeper into Christ’s story. See if you will agree that your very best behavior is rejected by God. Discover how God's answer for you was the perfect life of Christ lived out on your behalf.

I bet you will find that you may need to stop focusing on behaving better and give a lot more credit to believing better.

Quietly making noise,
Fletch

Dropping Nate At College

I wrote a blog post over at Homeschooling In Real Life today. I shared a little of my experience dropping Nate off at college and the advice I gave to him as we parted ways. Are you wondering what we talked about?

Let me give you a hint. It's Fletch, all my conversations boil down to the same thing: The Gospel.

Click on the picture to read: What I Said To My Son When I Dropped Him Off At College.

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