February 24, 2009

Movie Reviews

This past Saturday Tai and I, along with a couple friends, went to a movie marathon at a local theater that showed the 5 films nominated for "Best Picture". The first movie started at 10:30am and the last one started at 9:45pm. Needless to say it was a great day of sitting around, eating lots of popcorn and drinking lots of coke (and we cheated because we had already seen one of the movies so we left for about 3.5hrs while our friends stayed the whole time). Below are some of my thoughts on the 5 movies in the order they were played on Saturday.

Overall a pretty good movie. Homosexuality is such an interesting topic and I think the movie did a good job of making the point that discrimination for any reason is NOT cool. And though I don't think this particular lifestyle is God's plan for His creation it was a good reminder to me that the Church must be a place of love, love through truth and grace.

I thought Sean Penn did a great job as Harvey Milk by capturing the viewers attention and emotions throughout the entire film. Overall I would rank this movie at #3 (though extremely close to being a tie for #2) out of the 5 nominations.
*Disclaimer: strong sexual themes, language

I did not find this movie to be particularly interesting or really that good for that matter. I was somewhat surprised to see Kate Winslet win "Best Actress" for this film but I also did not see any of the other movies containing the "Best Actress" nominees. I personally did not think that the plot, storyline or characters of this film were strong enough to wade through the uncomfortable amount of awkward and unnecessary nudity. Overall I felt like the movie was fairly weak and did a poor job of engaging the viewer. This movie was #5 of 5 and would not earn a recommendation from me.
*Disclaimer: nudity

I thought this was a fairly entertaining film but that goes to figure as it is based off the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald written in 1922. I liked that the story was something different and found it interesting but they should have taken note from the original in that it was a short story. The movie is 166mins long and seems much longer still. A good story but not strong enough to be strentched into an almost 3yr movie. I thought Brad Pitt did fine, nothing spectacular and in my opinion, not even worthy of a "Best Actor" nomination. This gets my #4 of 5 for the day. I would recommend it if it didn't feel soooooo long toward the end.

Great movie! Completely deserving of winning "Best Picture" as it was by far the strongest overall film of the day. Everything from the story, characters, music, scenerary fit perfectly together. This film is put together extremely well and takes the viewer on an emotional adventure through the valley of loss, desperation and longing onto the mountaintop of joy, perseverance, determination and love. I'm not sure I can say enough about how good a movie I thought this was. While I found this film to be quite entertaining I also couldn't help but notice the extreme poverty that so many people in the world live in with little to no chance of every breaking the cycle. I think a good movie is one that can entertain, engage and humble the viewer at the same time. This easily gets my #1 of 5 vote and a recommendation.

This movie pleasantly surprised me as it was the last movie of the marathon day, starting at 9:45pm. My initial thought was that this was going to be a killer movie to see as the last one because it had the potential to be incredibly boring but ended up being quite enjoyable. Though the whole Watergate scandal is still fairly confusing to me, even after watching the movie, I thought it was well done and well put together. There were enough things going on that kept me engaged in the story, despite the fact that it was centered around the idea of 2 guys sitting down talking to each other for something like 12hrs. I thought that both Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as Frost did a great job. Surprisingly enough, I would recommend this movie as it got #2 of 5 on the day.
*Disclaimer: language

February 19, 2009

2 Questions: Part IV

I've been taking some time to read, study and think about this whole discipleship thing. I feel like the more time I spend with this idea of discipleship the closer I come to the conclusion that it has become something that is seen as optional in the life of a Christian, and to be honest, I'm not really sure Jesus gives us the option or not. I mean, it kind of seems like we're either going to follow Him or we're not. None of this lukewarm stuff, hot or cold.

I don't think Jesus intended discipleship to be something on the menu of Christian faith as a side item. "Yeah, I'll take the forgiveness & salvation combo meal with grace as my dessert. Can you leave off the discipleship cause I'm not really feeling that right now." I'm just not convinced it works this way and as a matter of fact, I think being a disciple comes with the whole I'm-a-Christian package. Is it possible that to be a Christian is to be a disciple? Can one be a Christian without being a disciple of Christ? Maybe it's our level of discipleship that is the question not necessarily our level of Christianity (ha, whatever that means)?

It would seem that in order for one to know where one is in his or her discipleship journey it would be important to understand what a disciple of Jesus looks like. We'll spend some time going over that in 2 Questions: Part V. Look how much fun we're having with just two "simple" questions.

February 11, 2009

2 Questions: Part III

Thanks to everyone that took some time to read and respond to 2 Questions: Part I and 2 Questions: Part II. I've really enjoyed checking out what you had to say in response to those 2 questions. Certainly plenty to think about and hopefully continue to discuss.

My thoughts:

  • The purpose of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus.
  • A disciple, in its most generic form can be described as a student, pupil or follower who makes it his/her primary purpose to learn from and be like the one s/he is following or being taught by. With that being said, a disciple of Jesus is someone who makes following Jesus through thought, word and deed his/her focus.
Back in Jesus' day, not unlike today, it was possible to tell which leader a disciple was learning from based on the way the student acted and reacted, talked and thought. It's the idea of the student trying to be so much like the teacher that the student starts to take on the identity of the teacher. In our case that means that as we grow closer and closer to Jesus, people begin to see more of Him and less of us.

Discipleship is a process and a journey in our relationship with Jesus. This discipling relationship that Jesus invites us into is never stagnant so continually asking ourselves whether we are moving closer to or further away from Him is a great way to gauge where we are in the process of becoming a disciple of Jesus.

February 8, 2009

Pride & Anger

My sermon from this morning.
Pride & Anger

We are going to take a look at a story about a journey inward. A journey that pride and anger can take us on that turns into an obsession with ourselves. We’ll see how they magnify and pervert the natural love for self into a disdain for others. And so the challenge for us is to see ourselves in this story because our natural thought process begins with the thought of ‘me’.

2 Chronicles 26

Some background…at this point in the history of the Jewish people the kingdom is divided between Israel to the north and Judah to the south. It is during the reigns of Jeroboam II in Israel and Uzziah in Judah that the borders of the kingdoms briefly reached the extent they had been under the united kingdom of David and his son Solomon, some 140yrs earlier. This would be extremely significant to the citizens of the two kingdoms because it was reestablishing the kingdoms’ power and glory of old and the kings who were able to do such a thing would be greatly loved by the people. So, keeping all of this in mind we begin our story in 2 Chronicles 26.

Uzziah was “born into” what he had and his position.

-he found support from his family

He did right in the eyes of the Lord. (4)

He sought God (5)

-God was his first priority, his first thought

He was instructed in the fear of the Lord.

God gave him success as long as he sought Him. (5)

He went to war and God helped him. (6)

-he found support from God

His fame spread as far as the border of Egypt, because he had become very powerful. (8)

-a sense of entitlement starts to creep in

He built towers and wells and fortified the city. (9-10)

He had people working in his fields and vineyards. (10)

-pride makes us think that we are doing people a favor by allowing them to work for us or be in our presence

He had a well-trained army that was ready to go out. (11)

-another example of support

His fame spread far and wide because he was greatly helped UNTIL he became powerful. (15)

-pride usually shows up when we are at our best

-pride makes us forget the support we have received from others and twists it into the thought that we have somehow made it on our own

-he found support until he abused it

His power, which led to pride, led to his downfall. (16)

He was unfaithful to the Lord and blatantly disobeyed God’s commands. (16)

-pride is that thing that makes me think I have all the right answers or the right to judge others as not having them because in the back of my mind, I believe God agrees with me.

-as Christians sometimes it’s easy for us to fall into “spiritual pride” which can take a couple different forms:

-it can be the mindset that I have the ability or right to judge another’s spiritual condition

-it can also be the mindset that believes I have the ability or right to hold onto things even after Christ has forgiven them, whether they were committed by myself or someone else

-“pride made the soul desert God, to whom it should cling as the source of life, and to imagine itself instead as the source of its own life.” Augustine

He was confronted with the painful truth. (17-18)

-it takes courage (and sometimes other people) to confront a prideful person

PAUSE (to take a look at Anger)

At this point he has a choice…

He became angry. (19)

-he could deal with his anger in a Godly way or sin in his anger

-notice that the leprosy doesn’t show up until the misuse of anger, the raging

He rages against the priests. (19)

-he took it out on others, people who even cared for him.

UNPAUSE (back to Pride)

His pride continued even in God’s presence. (19-20)

-once he realized it, he wanted out

-there is a sense or feeling of regret but the damage had already been done

His pride resulted in loneliness which led to pain, isolation and eventually death. (21)

-pride eliminates every life-giving relationship we have to enjoy

The remedy…

Service. The very thing that Jesus calls us to be is a servant because it forces us to think outside ourselves, to look outward as opposed to inward. True service naturally requires humility. We are forced to recognize that it is not about me.