The Gospel According to ‘The Magnificent Seven’…

Over the weekend, I went to see the latest version of ‘The Magnificent Seven’, a remake of the western classic of the same name, starring Yul Brenner (which itself was a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Seven Samurai’). And it was exactly what I thought it would be and wanted it to be.

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Western’s, as a genre, have experienced some hit or miss success in recent years, but there is still a large swath of people who enjoy watching them, and I think there are good reasons why. The main character is almost always someone we, as the audience, can identify with. The main villain is usually the worst kind of human being, with nothing worth redeeming. The stakes are usually an innocent person/population being treated horribly. It’s a classic good vs evil arc.

Now, God and I have the kind of relationship where He shows up in movies for me. And this was no exception. So here are a couple of ways I saw the Gospel in ‘The Magnificent Seven’ (without spoilers)  Continue reading

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Glimpses of Heaven…

On Christmas Eve, 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 catch a glimpse of something that no one else had seen before. The crew was running experiments and studying the impact of orbiting the moon in the build up to landing on the moon. As a part of the experiments, they became the first human beings to orbit the moon, and thus the first human beings to travel to the dark side of the moon. Apollo 8 was about halfway through their mission when William Anders looked out the window and saw the earth rising above the moon, like the sun rises over the horizon on earth.

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In an instant, the three man crew of Apollo 8 were the first human beings to ever witness an ‘earthrise’. They had witnessed something that no one else had. They frantically looked for their color film so they could try to capture the picture as best as possible. They understood that they had an obligation to share this sight with as many people as possible when they got home. It was too beautiful, too incredible, too important not to share.

Christians have a similar responsibility.  Continue reading

Things the Church can learn from ‘Heathens’…

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A couple of weeks ago, the band ‘Twenty One Pilots’ released a new single named ‘Heathens’, in conjunction with the release of the movie ‘Suicide Squad’ a movie about a team of villains. Because the song was featured in some marketing with the movie, it seems like the lyrics are written about the characters in the movie (and there is definitely some correlation). The truth is that the song has a deeper meaning. The lead singer, Tyler Joseph, is a strong Christian. He wrote the song to other Christians (read: the church), on behalf of his non-Christian (read: heathen) friends.

So here are a few things the church can learn from the song ‘Heathens’: Continue reading

Making It Up As You Go…

A while ago, I learned about parkour (which is French for ‘Free Running’). Parkour is, essentially, combining running with gymnastics, with a little bit of climbing thrown in. The internet is full of videos of people who practice it. Parkour can look a little odd to an outsider to be sure, but it’s a really interesting skill set.

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The most remarkable thing about it isn’t the general athleticism required (though that is certainly incredible). When someone watches a parkour maneuver for the first time, they usually want to ask how they ‘planned’ the trick. They’re surprised to find out that for a vast majority of the stunts and tricks, there wasn’t a plan. The athlete just made it up as they going. The most incredible thing about parkour is that is it essentially athletic improvisation.

Pastors and church members like plans. I know I do. Plans offer security and stability. Plans can also limit what churches or Christians can do in their spiritual lives. Here are a few things I think we can learn from Parkour for our spiritual lives. Continue reading

Burrowing wells…

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I’ve gotten the sense that over the last year or so, God has been up to something in my life. I just wasn’t able to put my finger on it until lately.

I saw a really interesting segment on a documentary a few months ago. In the segment, they were showing two villages that lived fairly close to each other in a desert. Both of these villages had been established around a single well that was drawing from an underground river. These two villages realized that if they would connect their wells, there would be more water flowing, and they could almost create a network of wells.

In order to do this, each village had to send people down their wells and carve out a tunnel following the river toward the other village. The person who was digging this mud, rock, and dirt out was up to their knees in muddy water, taking buckets full of rock back to the well to be taken away by others up top helping out. It’s messy, dangerous work, where there is a risk of cave in each day.

I think there are two periods of my spiritual life that God is using ministry to carve a deeper well between. It’s messy, confusing at times, and glorious at others. Continue reading