Everyone should experience these 50 things sometime in their lives during the Christmas season. I have already experienced some of these, but some are things I hope to experience.
50 Things to do during Christmas:
1. “A Christmas Story” marathon.
2. Sit in Santa’s lap for a picture. It still counts if you cry your way through it.
3. Adopt a child (or 2 or 3) from the “Angel Tree” at church, buy gifts for him/her, and deliver them.
4. Cut down your own Christmas tree.
5. Decorate a Christmas tree with ornaments that have memories attached to them. Never waste your time making the tree look pretty or having matching ornaments.
6. Sleep way more than you should.
7. Cut and decorate Christmas cookies with colored icing, sprinkles, red hots, etc. (Or just eat the ones your Aunt makes.)
8. Build a fire in the fireplace (yes, even if it’s 80 degrees outside) and read the Christmas story as a family.
9. Let the kids unwrap one gift on Christmas Eve, but make sure they get that same gift every year so there’s still no surprise.
10. Be intentional about spending some time reflecting on Emmanuel (God with Us) – Jesus. Here’s something I wrote about Him. Consistently Emmanuel
11. Participate in a live nativity.
12. Spend at least 100 hours placing exactly 6 colored stars on tree cookies made of green tasteless dough which you will sell to the nearest Christmas Tree Farm to make $$ for Christmas gifts. (This was for you, Laurie.)
13. Go Christmas caroling.
14. Be surprised when someone kisses you under the mistletoe.
15. Attend a candlelight service with your family.
16. Incur some kind of injury Christmas afternoon as you play with your new toy. (“You’ll shoot your eye out kid.”)
17. Give a memory to someone. Experience something together.
18. Unwrap “the ball” with your family. (It’s a tape ball with small gifts wrapped inside. The ball gets passed around a circle and you get to keep what you unwrap. You keep unwrapping until the next person rolls a 6 with a pair of dice.)
19. Watch the greatest Christmas movie ever made: Die Hard
20. Leave cookies out for Santa. Eat cookies left for Santa.
21. Dress up as Santa Claus so that a child believes at least one more year.
22. Instead of buying gifts, give $$ to your favorite charity.
23. Go to the trouble (in spite of the traffic) to take the kids to see some spectacular Christmas lights.
24. Go on a hayride.
25. Obtain an injury and get frustrated as you ignore the instructions and attempt to assemble the things Santa left your kids.
26. Take family pictures.
27. Re-gift. Or use gift cards to buy gifts for others.
28. Watch the eyes of someone you love as they open a special gift.
29. Play football in the yard with the whole family.
30. Put pumpkin pie on your shoe, pretend you came in from outside, and then when someone notices the “poop,” wipe it off with your finger and eat it. (My brother’s idea – and it was hilarious! My grandma is the one who noticed.)
31. Use an advent calendar where you get to do something (Ex: eat a chocolate, hang an ornament, etc.) each day leading up to Christmas.
32. Arrange for your children to play “Jesus” in some sort of local Christmas production. Bonus if you are Mary and Joseph.
33. See Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God” Christmas production (or at least listen to the recording each year.)
34. Wake up way too early as your kids anticipation gets the best of them.
35. Secretly open a gift, seal it back up, and then act surprised on Christmas morning.
38. Use baby powder to leave footprints from the fireplace to the place where Santa left the gifts. (But make sure you make the footprints go back too – my parents missed that last part.)
39. Count the number of Jesus figurines you can find at grandma’s house.
40. Ask your grandma/grandpa about how they remember spending Christmas as kids.
41. Eat monkey bread.
42. Enjoy a “White Christmas” and do some sledding, have a snowball fight, or build a snowman.
43. Take the family skiing over the Christmas break.
44. Take the family to an old barn and read the Christmas story there among the animals and smells.
45. Bluebell Peppermint Ice Cream – it’s only made during the holidays.
46. Search the sky for Santa’s sleigh.
47. Get stranded due to icy/closed roads in some random west Texas town on the way to a ski trip. End up having to sleep with the animals ’cause there is “no room at the inn.” (It was Quanah, TX and the people of First Baptist Church were very gracious with their gym. They even let traveling pets sleep there.) Here’s a post about this experience: No Room at the Inn
48. Drive all over the country trying to see all your relatives and in-laws on Christmas Day.
49. Snack on Homemade Chex Mix, peppermint bark, and peanut clusters.
50. Celebrate Emmanuel!!! (Jesus = Emmanuel = “God with Us”)
Things not to do:
1. Get so busy trying to do the things on this list that you forget #50.
Expectations Matter. Part 1 – Two words matter. (This will be a short series of posts.)
Check out this psychological test!
A professor doesn’t show up to teach one day @ MIT. The students are told there will be a substitute and they are each given a short bio describing their sub. It reads:
“Mr. ___________ is a graduate student in the department of economics and social science here at MIT. He has had 3 semesters of teaching experience in psychology at another college. This is his 1st semester teaching this class. He is 26 yrs old, a veteran, and married. People who know him consider him to be a very warm person, industrious, critical, practical, and determined.”
Now, here’s the catch. Although they believed that everyone was reading the same bio, only half of the class got this bio. The other half got the same bio with two different words. The words “very warm” were replaced with “rather cold.” The last line of the 2nd one read, “People who know him consider him to be a rather cold person, industrious, critical, practical, and determined.”
After sitting in and viewing the exact same teacher under the exact same circumstances, the students were given a short questionnaire about the sub. By their responses, you’d think they had experienced two completely different classes with two different teachers. The students who got the “warm” bio, loved him. Their descriptions were: good-natured, considerate of others, informal, sociable, popular, humorous, and humane. The 2nd group with the “cold” bio described him as: self-centered, formal, unsociable, irritable, humorless, and ruthless.
Two words have the power to change our perceptions and possibly destroy a relationship before it even begins.
The example above is from the book “Sway” by Ori and Rom Brafman. I will be using a few more of their examples throughout this short series of posts. You should check out their book. It’s great stuff!
They call this effect the “diagnosis sway.” Once someone has “diagnosed” another person, it’s very difficult for them to let go of their perception and they will view every interaction with them through this lens. This is what happened to the students. The bios gave them a pre-determined diagnosis and so they viewed everything about the substitute through this lens – picking up subtle nuances and perceptions which would support their diagnosis. This is why first impressions are so important. Once someone has diagnosed you, they will see only those characteristics which will support their first impression diagnosis.
I wanted to write this series of posts because we’ve been talking about expectations in my teacher’s alternative certification classes. Teachers can be “swayed” or have the wrong expectations of a student for many reasons. At the beginning of the year a teacher may be tempted to talk to the students previous teachers to find out what he/she is like, but I’d say they should refrain. A student should have the opportunity to “start over” each year. The new teacher should be willing to “draw their own conclusions” without the influence of others.
“Stand and Deliver” is one of the great movies about teaching. This is the teacher hero’s secret. He has higher expectations of his students. He has not diagnosed them as average or incapable, but instead he sees the possibilities within them and encourages them. Expectations matter.
Thought I’d post some of the powerpoint games that I’ve created for our youth group. Feel free to download them and use them however you’d like. I’ve attached zip files with all the pics and the photoshop template so you can add to it and make your own questions. The “Would You Kiss?” game is one of our favorites – especially when I add pics of some of our own youth.
If you click on the pic, the download should begin.
Last night I woke Miranda and the kids up @ 11pm. I had no idea the power saw could be heard in the back of the house – besides, it was just 2 quick cuts. . .well. . . that was a mistake. Anyway, we’re leaving tomorrow for a trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama for vacation. The Mathews (mostly Patti) love the beach and try to take a trip every year. However, it’s been a few years since we’ve had so many births recently.
We will be in the car with two kids under 2 for at least 8 hours. We are gonna need all the help we can get to keep them from crying (or at least distract them enough so they don’t realize they’re strapped into a car seat for that long.) I decided that there was no need to buy a portable DVD player (mostly ’cause I’m cheap) when we have our laptop, so the quest began. How could I set up the laptop in the car for Kasen to watch movies/tv shows/cartoons from itunes? I already have a converter so I can plug in the computer and the audio link could be run through the Aux input. All I needed was a little tabletop. Here’s where my old Jr High Shop Class ingenuity kicked in. Here’s a pic of what I ended up with. It’ll work this time, but maybe next time I should invest in a headrest monitor.
I even arranged for the shelf to be taken out when not in use.
Clint Eastwood is truly a legend, but I must admit that I was never a really big fan. . . well, that is. . . until now. “Gran Torino” is a great film depicting many aspects of society today. As our world becomes more and more global, cultures collide – and Gran Torino illustrates this well. Earning it’s “R” rating for language and violence, this film is ultimately still about community, love, loss, and relationships between the most unlikely candidates. I don’t want to be a spoiler, but the end is a masterful expression of Jesus’ teaching in John 15:13. (Spoiler alert!!! Don’t look it up or click the link if you haven’t seen it. If you’re spiritual enough to have that verse memorized, well, I figure you’re also spiritual enough to forgive me for spoiling the ending for you.)
Anyway, I would highly recommend “Gran Torino” to any adult who can endure the language and enter into the cultures represented. The ultimate message is not only powerful, but one which is desperately needed in our world today.
The movie, Patch Adams, (Universal Studios, 1998) is based on the life a Dr. Patch Adams. A man who believes that “the most revolutionary act one can commit in our world is to be happy.” (from his biography on internationalspeakers.com.) Famous comedian, Robin Williams, plays the role very well. The film begins in a mental institution and follows Patch through a series of events which lead him to discover his vision for life – to help people. This in turn eventually brings him to medical school – the central focus of the film. During this time he spends many hours in the hospital working with patients on their health situations – this includes both medical and emotional needs. His desire to “treat the patient rather than just their condition” lands him in the direct line of fire of the dean of the school and in a climactic moment, Patch is vindicated by the school board in front of all the people who were closest to him – his classmates, school faculty, hospital nurses and patients, and many others. In the film Patch has a vision for a free hospital and in real life, we see that this vision has become true. He now serves as the founder and director of the Gesundheit Institute which has offered free medical care to over 15,000 people over the years. He combines his medical training and his experiences as a street clown to understand the relationship between laughter and therapy, and serves others by taking “clown tours” of hospitals and orphanages each year in Russia. (all personal information is from his biography on internationalspeakers.com) Patch is the kind of man that anyone and everyone can learn something from.
Patch is the epitome of good leadership. He was a man (1) with well-rounded character, (2) was good at making and keeping relationships with people, (3) had a vision for what his purpose was in becoming a doctor, and (4) had the skills to accomplish it. We will seek to demonstrate each of these qualities using scenes from the film.
If only one positive thing could be said of Patch Adams, it would have to be something concerning his character. A careful viewing of the film and study of his character reveals that it is almost impossible to find any kind of character flaws. Patch was pure in his intentions and he did not let anything get in the way of his drive for helping others. The only real character flaw in Patch was his blatant disregard for authority. However, what is interesting about this flaw is that it was always for the better. He broke the law or the rules of the school so that he could go and help people. As mentioned before, he did not let anything get in the way of his passion to help others.
When first introduced to Patch, he is in a mental hospital – self-admitted because he had tried to commit suicide. While he was in the mental hospital, he was searching for help for himself but ended up helping others with their problems. He had a unique personality which allowed him to love others greatly, especially his roommate in the mental hospital. To help his roommate get over his fear, Patch acted like he was shooting all of the imaginary squirrels in the room so his friend could go to the restroom. By being real with his roommate and others in the mental hospital, he helped them with their problems and later in the movie, we see his roommate at Patch’s graduation from Medical School. What he did with his roommate had a lasting effect and Patch was passionate about helping others in the same way. It was in the mental hospital that he figured out what he was going to do (a vision) with his life. So, he went to Medical School.
Patch was an extremely diligent worker. He was one of the top in his class and yet it seemed like he hardly ever studied. He was always over at the hospital playing with the patients to improve their state of being. However, he told Carin that he had read the whole Biology book, which any college student knows is crazy. He obviously studied a lot since he was among the top in his class at the Medical College.
Another gold star on Patch’s character report is his honesty. When he told the Dr. at the mental hospital what he was going to do with his life and the Dr. defended himself by saying that is what he did, Patch told him outright that the Dr. sucked at it. Also, when Patch was accused of cheating by one of his classmates, he went straight to the student and confronted him about it. Patch told his classmate exactly what he thought of him and told him that in spite of the situation, he didn’t hate him. It might come as a shock that this extremely gentle and loving guy would have the boldness to be blatantly honest, but this extreme integrity and honest actually endears him to the audience. A couple of other confrontations within movie continue to do so.
Patch’s integrity is almost untouchable. His passion for his life was to help as many people as he could at any cost. That even meant buying a ranch house and opening it up to people who could not afford health care and could not be admitted into the hospital. He opened up his house to them and even had his friends help in building up this “free hospital”. He and his best friend in the college went around town looking for people who needed help and brought them back to the house to help them. Even with the threat of being kicked out of the college for “practicing medicine illegally without a license,” Patch stood his ground for what he was doing by explaining the operation of the free hospital. He was breaking the law technically, but Patch’s integrity, good grades, and “excessive happiness” had persuaded the College Board to allow him to stay in college. One of the biggest struggles and test of integrity for Patch was intertwined with this free hospital he was in charge of as the love of his life was murdered by one of the patients when she went to help him. He was ready to give it all up because this had happened. But in the end, he stayed with the hospital and stuck to his vision of helping people.
In talking about the theme of this movie, it seems to involve looking at the simple view of humans and their emotions, instead of their ailments. In so doing, the movie expresses how people tend to produce defense mechanisms or even a cure to their ailments. No one else could have played this role as well as Robin Williams did. Not only was he very funny through out the movie, but he also captured the audience with the deep rooted problem that medical practice seems to miss. He touched people’s lives with his funny antics and his lively character, showing human concern and compassion; something not seen in the medical field in the movie. Patch Adams received his nickname (and identity) as “Patch” due to a moment where he patches another patient’s cup. He finds himself fighting an uphill battle as he faces different obstacles – including the dean of the university who tried to have him expelled from the school. Patch wins over most of his peers by his uncompromising faith in what he believed, and at the end he makes everyone a believer in his ideas.
Patch Adams is inspired to continue in this line of helping others as he did with the patient’s cup. His vision becomes clear to him due to the response he received from the patient and also of how he learned a principle that had been previously alien to him. He was shown how not to look at the problem but to look past the problem. The answer obviously is not the problem but beyond the scope of the problem. Interestingly, enough Patch begins pursuing his vision of helping people by going through medical school to become a doctor; he starts off being unpopular with the immediate crowd because of his vision and his non-conformity. Through many situations of treating patients with an uncanny effort of concern and compassion for them, he wins over the staff of the hospital and eventually his own colleagues. By going about and living up to his ideas and beliefs Patch succeeded in convincing others to believe in his views. Even the most adamant of his peers, finally breaks down and sees the value of his labor. The proof of his efforts makes the difference in the movie because people around him approve of his work.
Patch Adam’s represents the epitome of relational leadership. Patch exemplifies what leaders should first do before assuming a leadership role. Patch began by practicing his ideas in his view of treating patients. He modeled his vision and convinced people to believe in his ideas. His peers even began to join and help him with his techniques and succeed in demonstrating how his ideas were effective. His ideas involved sacrifice and time which was valuable to a student attending this university. Patch became a household name because of his charitable and compassionate disposition. He got to know many people on all levels of life; he listened to many people and helped them all. Even if the patient was beyond help of his or her aliment, Patch was committed to making their last days as comfortable as possible. Patch appreciated the simple things in life and this was reflected on his peers and coworkers.
In addition to his character and relationships, Patch is a great example of a leader due to his clear vision. This vision propelled him to accomplish much and fueled others to come along side him and join in these efforts. In his book Visioneering, Andy Stanley shares that vision is not just something that “could” be, but also something that “should” be. (Andy Stanley, Visioneering, pg 17, 1999, Multnomah Publishers, Inc.) Patch’s vision was no exception. While in a mental institution, Patch discovered both his vision and his identity. Another patient called
him “Patch” when he fixed his cup. With this new identity, and the realization that the doctors in the institution were incapable of helping others, his vision was born – to help people. Not only “could” people be helped, but in the situation that he found himself in, they “should” be helped. Something had to be done. This fueled everything within Patch. It motivated him to become a medical student,
but even more, to question the practices which had become the norm among
Another experience helped him to solidify this vision. As described before Patch helped his roommate pee, by pretending to shoot some imaginary squirrels. It may have seemed like an insignificant accomplishment, but on the heels of his realization about his identity and vision, it was huge! It was the small success story that Patch needed to help him believe he could accomplish this vision of helping people. It was the very next morning that he began his journey to become a doctor by checking himself out of the mental institution.
Vision requires much more than just an idea about what could and should happen though. A true vision motivates one to go through trials. Patch gained an understanding from a character named Arthur Mendelsonn in another scene in the mental institution. Arthur, who has some clear psychopathic behaviors, is running through the ward holding up four fingers and asking people to tell him how many he is holding up. When they say “Four,” he gets upset with them and says that they all have small brains. In a tender moment after Arthur first calls him “Patch,” he explains that there are four when you look at the problem, but if you look past it to the solution, you see eight (each eye sees four). This concept is vital to understanding vision. Any vision worth striving for will come up against some opposition, and if we are able to look past the problem to the solution – to focus on the vision rather than the problem, we’ll be able to persevere and eventually succeed. There’s one particular scene where Patch is coming up against the dean of his medical school, where this proves to be true. Patch is able to see beyond the dean, to the vision of becoming a doctor.
One last incident in Patch’s life illustrates his quest/readiness for his vision – to help people. Patch has a strong imagination, and while eating in a little diner, he starts playing with the things on the table: a napkin dispenser, ketchup bottle, etc. He sees more than these items though. Patch sees a building, a “new kind of hospital.” Men of vision, like Patch, are able to see what others can’t see. They look through a lens of vision which allows them to notice things differently and apply situations to their vision that others would not have seen. Men of vision are consumed by their vision and so they’re always on the lookout for new or better ways to accomplish it.
For any leader, skills are a necessary thing to have in order to lead in the field in which they are a part of. Patch was skilled in many things, but his abilities in the area of study, medicine, and relationships are standouts.
There were tensions in the movie between Patch and his classmates because of his ability to make time for his relationships and still be able to study the material thoroughly. His study habits were so good, that he was able to graduate near the top of his class. He, when talking with another student about studying, even mentioned that he had already read the entire biology book. His skills at being a good doctor/medical school student did not come easily, but as a result of hard work, and more than likely, frequent long nights without much sleep.
His excellent skills at being a medical student were shown in his grades, but as well as with the people he was able to treat. He treated his patients with laughter and love, but he also treated them with the knowledge he obtained at medical
school. His patients had an overwhelming recovery rate (though not clearly shown, it was implied in the movie) or improved level of living. His patients did not seem to doubt his ability to take care of them. He was able to identify a medical problem with relative ease, but was not afraid or ashamed to ask for help when he did not have a solution to a problem or if he did not know how to handle a situation he was in. When faced with the possibility of being dismissed from medical school due to “excessive joy,” he went to a person that would know exactly what would need to be done.
As mentioned before, when he was faced with the possibility of being forced out of medical school, he had to go in front of a school board for review. His actions were reviewed, but also his grades were under the microscope. These grades are a direct reflection of his skills or abilities to perform as a student and as a doctor. The board decided not to remove him from school, in part, because of his excellent grades. His grades were on a consistent basis near top of his entire class. If there was any doubt in his ability to be a good doctor, it could not have come from his grades.
One skill he had that many of the other students at the school lacked was the skill to communicate in a joyful way to people. The majority of his peers did not refer to patients by their names, but by their assigned bed or room. Just knowing someone’s name made the difference for his patients. He even went beyond that and got to know the person’s likes and dislikes. When he listened, he also remembered what was said to him.
These scenes help in understanding that this skill (memory, or heart-felt memory) is an amazing ability. Remembering such things as people’s desires comes as a result of hard work – it is intentional work. Patch excelled at remembering what people said. This helps any leader in building relationships with other people. When trying to gain the trust of followers, a leaders who remembers his follower’s visions and dreams, is more able to help them accomplish their personal goals while still being able to lead them to accomplish the vision for the
group. Patch did this with many of his patients. He helped them to fulfill some life-long dreams before they left this life.
Some skills, people are born with. Some would call these gifts rather than skills, but nonetheless, they help people accomplish their goals as leaders. Patch, whether born with it or if he worked for it, he certainly had the skill of listening. He talked quite a bit, but listening to the people Patch talked with, helped him lead. He may not have been able to read body language, but when people spoke, he was able to listen. He used this skill to aid his other skill of remembering other people’s desires. Patch had many other skills too: getting tasks accomplished, relationships, laughter, and others. His skills helped him lead in altering the medical field forever.
When it comes to leaders, it is difficult to find one that compares to Patch Adams. He had his faults like all leaders do, but his outstanding leadership qualities overshadow them in most situations. Patch was a leader with character that would impress angels. His developed deep relationships and through them was able to impact many lives. His vision to help people by offering free medical care was unheard of, but it was a vision that he was able to influence others to take part of. His skills in the medical profession were hard to match.
All of his leadership qualities were established through his personal pilgrimage through his life. He was able to discover his identity in helping others, what his integrity would be like because of the lack of integrity around him, his ability to be intimate through close relationships with people seen as outcasts, and his intensity to help others through their problems. He was a leader’s leader. His persona and enthusiasm was contagious. He never forgot his past, but always looked toward the future. He had a goal to not focus on problems, but to look past them in order to overcome them. Patch Adams – the leader’s leader in the medical world.
I went to see the movie “Amazing Grace” yesterday. Dr. Loken gave us credit for one of our class projects if we saw it. I must say that it was pretty good, but I was still disappointed. The film told the story of William Wilberforce, who fought against slave trade in England. His pastor, in the movie, is the man who wrote the song, Amazing Grace. He had been a slave trader himself, but then discovered God and found his real life in Christ. There are certainly good points in the film, but in general it moved pretty slowly. There wasn’t much action or even stimulating conversations to pull me into the story. I thought the highlight came during a scene where he was trying to convince some rich people about the horrors of the slave trade buisness and had their tour boat park up next to a slave traders ship. He was able to speak to them about the inhumanity and they could see the shackles and smell the “death” around them. There’s nothing like personal experience to turn our hearts around and make us aware of our own callousness.
One other scene that is worth telling you about happens at the very end of film. After many years of fighting, he finally wins the votes he needs to have his bill banning slave trade pass and another man stands up and talks about other “heroes” like Napoleon. He says that those guys come home to crowds of people cheering and chanting their names, but they still have to live with the horrors of war in their hearts forever, but that one like William Wilberforce, only has the souls of men who have been freed on his mind.
Dr Loken was sick last week and so we watched the movie “Solomon” for class. I hate it when we do that. I can watch a movie at home. Dr. Loken’s teachings are much better.
There are some movies that can be life-changing. Movies can challenge your thinking and make you see things differently, but in general the “Christian” ones aren’t as good. It’s horrible to say, but it’s true. It seems like these days the church is almost always behind when it comes to the arts, but in years past the church was the center of it all. There has always been something about the “mystery” of God that inspires artists to try to express that which can’t be defined. I guess somewhere along the line the church decided that they had God figured out so art/mystery lost out.
Anyway, it seems to me that in the area of music, the church has gained some of the ground lost in catching up to the rest of culture. But in almost every other area – movies/film, writing, dramatic arts, painting/sculpting – we still seem to be way behind the rest of culture. The truth is that we as Christians have more truth to express to the world than any other people group. We should be setting the bar for every other artist in the world! What happened? How do we encourage people to express themselves to the Lord? We ask them to sing and pray in church, but what happened to these other expressions? How can we “worship” with our lives? our talents? our abilities? What would the rest of the world gain if we were each to take these ideas seriously? What could I offer the world as an expression of my heart to the Lord? What will I offer to Him?
It’s interesting that the movie Solomon is the one that sparked all these thoughts in me. I mean Solomon was the guy who organized all the most creative artists in the world at that time to build the temple. Solomon was an art supporter, and yet the movie/artform that portrayed him was lacking in that area. Weird.
Last night was a crazy night. We were getting all kinds of warnings about the weather and the news people were saying not to get out in it all. It was supposed to freeze, and schools were shutting down. But I had class. I really have enjoyed the classes I’ve been taking and so even with all the warnings and an hour and a half drive, I decided to go anyway. I called ahead to make sure we were going to have class before I left, and they said they were so I headed out.
As I drove, I listened to a couple of sermons by Rob Bell. (That has kinda become my habit on the way to school. I get Rob’s latest teaching every week that way.) The roads weren’t too bad. Certainly not as bad as I had expected after all the hype the news people were making – I didn’t see any ice at all. When I got to school, I heard that we were having class, but that Dr Loken wasn’t there and we’d be watching a movie. I was dramatically disappointed. (Wow that’s a nice alliteration – “dramatically disappointed” – Can you say A.D.D.? Sorry.)
We sat for two and a half hours and watched “Abraham” with Richard Harris. Every time he spoke I couldn’t help but hear Caesar from the movie “Gladiator.” It was a pretty good movie. There were lots of parts that they had to write in and guess about how things might have been, but it still followed the Biblical text for the most part. The scene at the end of the movie where Abraham is tested and is asked to sacrifice his son Issac was interesting – Issac is portrayed as understanding what Abraham is going to do and even tells him to tie him up tighter. I never imagined it quite like that. I always figured that Abraham had to wrestle his son to the ground to tie him up. Maybe the sense of honoring your parents that they instilled in their children was greater than what we see today – wait, I’m sure it was – but I’m just not sure about how much more ti was. Could Isaac have offered himself to his dad and ultimately to the Lord like that?
I did take special note of what Abraham said to his servants as I watched last night. They accurately portrayed him as saying that he and the boy would go up the mountain to worship and then they’d both return, but Abraham spoke these things with a fearful and trembling tone – it almost seemed as if He didn’t believe they’d both return. I’m sure it would be normal to be fearful about the whole situation, but this is the moment of faith that He is commended for in Hebrews, and He believed in God’s promise (that He’d make a great nation of him) so much that He thought Isaac would be raised from the dead.
It’s interesting to me that both faith and doubt were so clearly co-existing in this situation, but Abraham chose to act on the faith. In this moment, even though the Jewish faith doesn’t yet exist, Abraham is half Jewish (faithful) and half Gentile (doubtful) on the outside, but is still completely Jewish on the inside – in His heart, He remains faithful.
The truth is that, for me, faith and doubt co-exist more often than not. Even in my best, most faithful moments, when I put on my game face and act on faith, my insides are twisting and turning, trembling and fearful. It’s in those moments when I put fear aside and trust in God – it’s in those moments when my faith is stretched, and doubt is defeated. If I imagine myself like Abraham – everything in my life culminating to one moment of choosing faith or doubt. What would I do? Can I put fear aside? Would I act on faith? It’s one thing to act in faith in a normal everyday sort of situation, but what about when my whole life’s journey is at stake? Would I stake my life on Christ? Would I stake my son’s life on Christ?
Prayer: Lord, I don’t know much. I know that You are all that I need. I know that You have provided for me over and over in my life. I know that You love me. I know that without You, I would never have any faith at all. I know that doubt consumes me when I’m on my own. I know that there’s a battle within me between doubt and faith. I’m grateful for the battle, because I know that means You’re in me. I also know that sometimes I let the doubt to win out in my life. Sometimes I even encourage it. Lord, change that part of me. I mean, I know You’re gonna win – there’s no battle that isn’t Yours for the taking. Lord, win in me. I trust that in the momnts where I must choose, You will show me Your way of faith. Lord, nudge me – No, push me – push me hard – throw me to the ground if You must – but make me go Your way – Let me walk in faith no matter what the cost. In those testing moments, I want to honor You. In every moment, I want to honor You. I want to honor You.
We went to see the movie the other day and I thought it was great! I don’t think the High School guys who went with us enjoyed it too much, but it followed the Biblical account pretty well. Mary and Joseph were portrayed as a couple who didn’t know each other very well, and he was definitely older than she by quite a bit. This is very likely considering the customs of the Jewish people in those days. Her visit with Elizabeth and the shame that went along with her pregnancy was also shown well. The town of Nazareth was also shown pretty accurately. The houses were made of stone which would have been true for them and Joseph is shown in one scene cutting rocks. We have typically thought of him as a carpenter but the actual greek word “tekton” means “a worker who builds.” In those days since building were made of stones – that more than likely would have referred to a stone mason. The scene where Joseph asks for Mary’s hand in marriage was good too – he spoke of going back home to prepare a place for her as would have been their custom. I just discovered one thing wrong in the movie last night in my hermeneutics class. Mary and Joseph probably would not have been traveling to Bethlehem alone ’cause Nazareth was a “branch” city of David. This meant that there were probably lots of folks from Nazareth who had to go to Bethlehem for the census – not to mention Joseph’s family – parents, brothers, sisters, etc.
I really enjoyed the shepherds and the kings too. The shepherds fields really looked like the fields that I was able to see in Israel – not fields like we think of here in the US – but much more rocky. I also was intersted in how the shepherds were shown as old men. I had always thought of them as young boys, because it was the lowliest of jobs and because of the way I imagined David growing out of it. Anyway, those young boys certainly grew up – I had just never really thought of it quite like that. As far as the kings go, more than likely they weren’t there that night, but the whole idea of the three stars/planets aligning together during that time is accurate according to astronomers today. The scriptural account (Matthew 2:11) says that the wise men came to a house so it probably was later. It could have been as much as 2 years later ’cause Herod wanted the children 2 yrs and under killed. The way the kings described their gifts – Gold for a king, Frankincense for a priest, and Myrhh for sacrifice was pretty cool too.