Courageous Movie Trailer

King’s Grant Baptist Church has a license to show the feature film Courageous. It is free, and space is limited. Join us on Friday, January 20, 2012, at 7:00 pm. This film can be a significant event in the lives of our men and families in the Little Neck community. It will challenge men to strive to be more than “just good enough” as fathers and husbands.

Here is the movie trailer:

Faith Like Potatoes

Over a year ago I watched a film called Faith Like Potatoes. Weird title but a great film, based on a true story of a farmer turned preacher in South Africa.

Angus Buchan, a Zambian farmer of Scottish heritage, leaves his farm in the midst of political unrest and racially charged land travels south with his family to start a better life in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. With nothing more than a trailer on a patch of land, and help from his foreman, Simeon, the Buchan family struggles to settle in a new country. Faced with ever mounting challenges, hardships and personal turmoil, Angus quickly spirals down into a life consumed by anger, fear and destruction. This is a story that tells the moving life journey of a man who, like his potatoes, grows his faith, unseen until the harvest.

The Bible often brings up farming, for instance…

And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor (2 Timothy 2:6).

In this section, Paul brings up a farmer as one of three illustrations of a faithful minister of the gospel. The other two (soldier and athlete) probably sound more exciting. Although it’s not Paul’s intent, the truth is that a farmer leads quite an exciting life. He works one of the most dangerous careers a person can choose. Soldiers may face greater dangers from time to time, but a farmer lives and works between sky and earth every day. I recently discovered that in our time, farming outranks any other career in producing work-related injuries and death. Farming is not for dabblers, cowards, or the lazy. And farmers can teach us a lot about faith.

In comparison with athletics and soldiering, farming helps us understand the persistent and patient parts of faith. Action and results come fairly quickly for athletes and soldiers. Not for farmers. They place a seed in the ground and return to harvest the results, but it can be a long time between those two actions. Successful farmers know how to wait. They may not enjoy waiting; but they learn to do it. Waiting doesn’t usually mean doing nothing, but the hardest part of waiting is the waiting.

Farming comes up various times in scripture (sometimes the farmer represents God or the ministry of the gospel).

  1. Jesus used many farming situations in his parables (like Matthew 13:1-23).
  2. Paul discussed the parallels between farming and the development of believers (as in 1 Corinthians 3:1-9).

In 2 Timothy 2:6 we get to see ourselves as farmers. With that privilege comes responsibility. If we’re going to “enjoy the fruit” of our labors, then we better be “hardworking.” The farmer who is not hardworking will reap what he sows–little or nothing.

A wise farmer knows what he can’t do.

  1. He can’t put life in a seed.
  2. He can’t make it rain.
  3. He can’t force the seed to grow.

There’s much that’s out of his hands. But he does his part.

  1. He plants
  2. He waters
  3. He cultivates
  4. He waits

As believers, we plant seeds (acts of obedience to God) in one another’s lives. We deposit seeds (the gospel) in the lives of those who don’t know Christ. The actual results of these actions are in God’s hands. But we often get to be the first to enjoy those results because we’re there. If we recognize the way that we are farmers, we remember we’re in the field every day. Every moment becomes a new opportunity to persistently plant seeds and then patiently wait to see what God will do.

Application:

  1. Have you seen the film? It is well worth renting for your family movie night, and then discuss lessons seen in the film.
  2. How is your faith growing? Abundantly? Wonderful harvest? Bearing much fruit? Or is there a drought? Weeds springing up?
  3. What changes will you make to help cultivate your faith?
  4. How are you getting to know God better?
  5. What fruit do you see beginning to bud? Which fruit are ripe for harvest?
  6. What hired help do you need to farm better? To whom can you become accountable for your Christian growth and maturity?
  7. Can the Men of Steel help you to become a more productive farmer? (Next time we get together is April 30 at 7:30 am).

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Soul Surfer Opens This Weekend

Based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a 13 year old competitive surfer with big dreams and a courageous spirit. Coming from a family of surfers, riding the waves is all Bethany can dream about. But her dreams turn into a nightmare after a sudden shark attack takes her left arm and her hopes of ever surfing again.

Soul Surfer is an inspirational film for the entire family about overcoming obstacles and turning tragedy into triumph. The movie emphasizes Bethany, her family and their Christian faith; being faithful to church and being positive role models.

There are people who go through tribulations that most of us cannot even imagine even in our worst nightmares. You might expect them to be crushed under the weight of the calamity that has befallen them, but many times they emerge with a victory greater also than we could imagine as well.

One such person that fits in this category is Bethany Hamilton. By now you’ve probably heard about, read, or are about to see her story in the film Soul Surfer. At only 13 years old, she was attacked by a shark and sustained the loss of her arm. And if that weren’t enough, she also lost the love and passion of her life – riding the big waves. A blow like that would be enough to discourage any young teenager from moving forward as she saw her future dreams burn up in the flames of catastrophe.

Or so you might have thought – but Bethany Hamilton gathered up the ashes of her dreams and offered them to the God who “causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).

And if you asked her today about her perspective on what happened, here is her answer:

“I try not to make a big soap opera out of the shark attack. I would rather focus on what God has allowed me to do in picking up the pieces of my old life and adjusting to parts that are new and different for me. Most of all, I want to use my story as a way to tell people about God’s story. It seems like he has given me the attention of the world for a moment, and I had better take advantage of it while I can.” (Soul Surfer, 2004).

How does someone who has undergone such trauma find the strength not only to move on, but allow herself to be used by God in amazing ways?

I would say it has a lot to do with her earthly father and her heavenly Father. In the film there is a scene that chronicles a conversation that took place less than two days after the attack. Bethany is still in her hospital room, and her father, Tom, is keeping a quiet and prayerful vigil at her bedside. When Bethany awakens, she looks to her father for assurance that she can overcome her tragic loss and get back to the sport that she passionately loves. Her dad encourages her with a reminder of a promise from her Heavenly Father:

Bethany: “When can I surf?”

Tom: “Soon.”

Bethany: “How do you know?”

Tom: “Because you ‘Can do all things …’”

Bethany: “… through Him who gives me strength.”

Bethany claimed that biblical promise and God has given her the strength to do more than she probably ever imagined as she was lying in that hospital bed.

When God causes all things to work together for your good, the biggest question is: Are you willing to use your story as a way to tell people about God’s story?

  • His story is about a God who loves His creation so deeply that He was willing to suffer more than any of us could ever imagine to open the way for heaven.
  • His story is about a Father who was willing to endure the loss of His Son Jesus so we could spend eternity with Him.
  • His story is written by the moments of our lives and the conversations we choose to have with our friends who don’t know about the amazing news of the gospel. They are the people whose souls need to be saved from a pointless and meaningless future.

Are you willing to be a soul saver?

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Aslan Returns December 10

Aslan Returns

The Official Narnia Site – Movie Trailer

I read the book years ago and can’t wait for the movie to get here. Here is a brief synopsis of the book… destiny is before us and we are all going to be tested:

Lucy and Edmund are spending a dreary holiday with their cousin Eustace, who is a rather mean spirited little boy. They are unexpectedly drawn into Narnia when a painting of a ship on the wall of Lucy’s room comes to life, and the three children fall into the ocean to be rescued by the Dawn Treader.

Once safely on board, Lucy and Edmund are greeted by their friend Caspian (now King Caspian) who has undertaken a quest to find the seven lost Lords of Narnia, as he had previously promised to Aslan. Lucy and Edmund are delighted to be back in Narnia, but Eustace is less than enthusiastic.

They first make landfall at the Lone Islands, which is nominally Narnian territory, but has fallen into degeneracy–among other things, they participate in in the slave trade. Caspian, Lucy, Edmund, Eustace and Reepicheep are kidnapped by a slave trader to be sold. A man “buys” Caspian before they even make it to the slave market. He turns out to be the first lost lord, Lord Bern, and acknowledges Caspian as his King when Caspian reveals his identity. Before they leave the island, Caspian re-claims it for Narnia, overthrows the greedy governor, and replaces him with the Lord Bern, whom he creates Duke of the Lone Islands.

At the second island they visit, Eustace leaves the group to avoid doing any work. He hides in a dragon’s cave to escape a sudden downpour. The dragon’s treasure arouses his greed, and he fills his pockets with gold and jewels and puts on a large golden bracelet. He then falls asleep and wakes up as a dragon, with the bracelet badly hurting his arm; it fit his boy’s arm but is far too small for his dragon’s foreleg. As a dragon, he becomes aware of how bad his previous behavior was, and uses his strength to help make make up for it. Aslan visits Eustace during the night and turns him back into a boy, and as a result of the visit, Eustace becomes a much nicer person. When Eustace is finally able to take off the bracelet, Caspian recognizes that it belonged to another lord, Lord Octesian; presumably the dragon killed Octesian and added the bracelet to its collection.

They visit Burnt Island, Deathwater Island (so named for a pool of water which turns everything immersed in it into gold, including one of the missing lords), the Duffers’ Island and the Island Where Dreams Come True. This last island, where nightmares become real, is never seen, but is where they find a crazed Lord Rhoop. They come to the Island of the Star, where they find the three remaining lost lords in an enchanted sleep. The fallen star inhabiting the island informs them that the only way to awaken them is to sail to the edge of the world and leave one member of the crew.

The Dawn Treader continues sailing into an area where merpeople dwell and the water turns sweet rather than bitter and salty. At last the ship can go no further as the water has become too shallow. Caspian wishes to travel with Reepicheep to the end of the world, but his subjects are unwilling to let him go and remind him that he has promised the daughter of the fallen star that he would go back for her. Caspian declares that nobody will go on and descends to his cabin, here a painting of Aslan comes to life and tells Caspian that Edmund, Eustace, Lucy and Reepicheep are to go on to the end of the world, but Caspian must return to Narnia.

Lucy, Edmund, Eustace and Reepicheep venture in a small boat through an ocean of flowers until they reach a wall of water that extends into the sky. Reepicheep paddles up the waterfall, and is never again seen in Narnia. Edmund, Eustace, and Lucy walk in a strange land where they find a lamb. The lamb turns into Aslan who tells them that Edmund and Lucy will not return to Narnia and that they should learn to know him by another name in their own world. He then sends the children home.

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As Christ Loves the Church

I’ve been leading a study through the book of First Peter, and we recently took a look at 1 Peter 3:1-7, some pretty interesting words for wives and husbands. Paul sums up pretty well in his letter to the Christians at Ephesus:

For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her. — Ephesians 5:25

Men, it looks like we have it easy. After all, our wives have to “submit” (Ephesians 5:22), whatever that means, but we just have to “love” them. What could be simpler? Flowers from time to time. Chocolates on special occasions. Perhaps even a power tool or two she can claim as her own even though we store it on our work bench. We might even manage to mumble “I love you” just to make it clear. Submission sounds hard. It involves yielding to someone else. That someone would be the husband. Does that mean what it seems like it means? We’re in charge? We call all the shots? We give the orders? Let me know how that goes for you.

The movie, My Big fat Greek Wedding, had an interesting analogy about who’s the head in the marriage or family. The bride’s mother says that the husband is the head, but the wife is the neck who is able to turn the head in any direction she chooses. I thought that was too funny.

Let’s go back to Ephesians 5:21. Wait a minute, there’s something here about “submit to one another.” Seems like that could be a problem. Ephesians 5:22 tells her to submit, and Ephesians 5:25 tells me to love.

Take a look at that little phrase “just as Christ loved the church.” It tells us that my examples of loving (in my paragraph above) don’t really apply. Jesus never sent flowers to the church. He never picked up a box of chocolates on the way home from the carpentry shop as a peace offering. He never mumbled “I love you” through a mouthful of hamburger. Jesus loved by dying. He loved by suffering, hurting, and sacrificing. His kind of love sounds hard–almost as hard as submitting. Maybe even harder.

Loving that way might just take everything we’ve got, but here’s the deal. I believe that one of the primary reasons our wives struggle with submission is that they often have little real confidence in our love. Genuine love paves the way for submission (not the other way around). Jesus died for the church before the church was around to submit.

Real dying love doesn’t come naturally for men, face it, we’re selfish. If you figure out how to love your wife, you probably won’t have to bring up the issue of submission.