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Friday, February 28, 2014

Movie Review "The Son of God"


Today was the premier of the movie that many of us bible geeks have been waiting for "The Son of God". For those of you who might not be aware the "Son of God" is based on Roma Downey and Mark Burnett's ten hour mini series "The Bible" that was aired on the History Channel last year.  While the mini series encompassed the entire bible "Son of God" focuses on the three years of Jesus' ministry here on earth.

Other than a few references to the Old Testament and Jesus birth at the beginning, the entire movie depicts Jesus' earthly ministry, His death and a very condensed version of the resurrection.  The movie was well done and certainly was respectful and fairly accurate in its depiction.

Those who are well versed in the bible will notice that some stories were abbreviated.  I was some what disappointed that some key verses of John 14 were left out.  When Jesus spoke in the movie He jumped from John 14.1 right to John 14.4.  Eliminating the three key promises Jesus made to His friends at the Last Supper (there is more than enough room in My Father's house, I will prepare a place for you and I will come and bring you there myself).  There were other scenes where the same thing happened but that is the one that jumped out at me.  These abbreviations are understandable given the time constrains of producing a movie.

Some secular reviewers gave the movie poor marks, one even went as far as to say there was nothing fresh or daring.  Well I take that as a compliment because if there was anything fresh or daring about the movie it would not have been true to the bible on which it is based.  While this movie is unlikely to convince a skeptic it is a great two hour + introduction into Jesus' life.

This is the first motion picture in ten years to tell the story of Jesus' life.  The last one was Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ", which primarily shared the last twelve hours of Jesus life with the audiance.

 Overall, I would recommend going to see the movie especially if you want to get a nice little over two hour over view of the life of Jesus. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What Does The New Testament Say About Giving?

Recently, I decided to examine what the New Testament teaches us about giving.  There are two verses that I think make clear what God expects of us.  The first is in Matthew 6:1-4 (ESV).  This text is in red letters to demonstrate that these are Jesus' actual words.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.  Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

The other verse can be found in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (ESV) in which Paul teaches the people of Corinth about giving.

 "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work."

 What I learn from these verses is that giving should be voluntary, from our hearts, each gift should be cheerfully given and done in secret.

Let's examine the idea that giving should be done in private as that is what Jesus Himself teaches us.  It is clear we should not make a show of it.  In other words we should not give money with conditions such as the naming of buildings or wings.  If we want to help give the money quietly without strings.  We should not be calling press conferences to announce our gift nor should we make a public display when giving it. 

Paul expounds on this further teaching us through his lesson to the people of Corinth that giving should be voluntary and not under compulsion and that it should be cheerful.

I take these verses to mean God expects us to give but he expects us to do so voluntarily, in secret and not by compulsion.  What does this say about churches who require as a condition of membership that their members divulge their income and provide documentation so that the church can monitor that you are tithing. To me that seems more like compulsory giving or a church tax.  I am not sure about you but I do not consider taxes to be voluntarily, cheerfully or secretly given.  I would hope those churches will prayerfully reconsider their policy. For individuals who are not giving they should also prayerfully reconsider their motives.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Parable of the Faithful Servant

"Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake.  Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.  And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake."  Mark 13:33-37 (ESV)

The above quote is Jesus' parable of the Faithful Servant as recorded in the Gospel of Mark.  What is Jesus telling us in this parable?  Who is the door keeper and who is the Master of the house.  Each of us is the doorkeeper and the Master of the house is God our heavenly father. 

In Mark 13 Jesus is discussing the ending of the age.  In other words the end of the world as we know it.  In the line before Jesus shares this parable He tells us "But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

Taking this in context it is clear that the doorkeeper in the parable is each of us and the Master of the house is God the father.

Jesus is warning us that we do not know when the end will come so we always need to be vigilant and always ready.  For the most part this is true not only for the end of the age but also the end of our life on this earth.  It is fairly rare for us to know when we are going to be called home.  On January 25, 2014 two young people went to work in Columbia, Maryland with no idea they were living their final hours on this earth.  Little did they know that in a matter of hours a gun man would take their lives.  This was clearly two lives cut short.  But it is not only the young who have no idea.  This past Thursday the staff at an assisted living facility in Baltimore prepared the day room for the 104th birthday celebration of one of their beloved residents.  Little did they know the Lord had other plans and called the guest of honor home only hours before his 104th birthday.

Former NFL Quarterback Trent Dilfer, a committed Christian, recently discussed the death of his five year old son in the book "Men of Sunday" and provided us with some valuable insight. 

"if the motivation for your faith is what's going on in the...years we have here on this earth, then you are missing the truth of God's promises. What God promises is eternity. This is not our home. When we make our decision to trust in Him and to follow Him, our home is with Him for eternity."

Trent's words are thought provoking especially in light of Jesus words to us in Mark 13.  Our focus must be on eternity not on what is going on in this world.  God has a far better place for us and the short time we spend on this earth weather it is 20 minutes or almost 104 years is miniscule compared to eternity. It is important that we spend our time on this earth preparing for what awaits us for eternity.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Podcast Interview of Pastor Bob Tousey

Below is a link to a podcast interview I recently gave.

Water For Shepherds: Ep#09: Pastor Bob Tousey: Right Click to Download MP3 (12MB) Bob Tousey is a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law. He was ordained in 2001 and i...