Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: Mars Needs Moms

I try to highlight those few things in popular culture that re-enforce Christian value.

Disney's new movie Mars Needs Moms does just that.

In the movie, Milo's mom is kidnapped by Martians who use the brains of human mothers to create better child-care robots — necessary because their society has cast off males entirely, leaving the females too busy to be mothers. Milo stows away on the kidnappers' ship and, with the help of a man who was once in Milo's shoes, tries to rescue his mother before it's too late.

It's not a great movie, but it is a good movie, and the kids will enjoy it. More importantly, though, the movie will show them that mothers and fathers are important.

There are a couple of unfortunate moments of potty humor (one during the closing credit montage), but overall it's pretty clean with mild violence. I think there was one mild swear word. Visually, it was very attractive (we saw it in 2D). And you should expect to get all verklempt during the climax.

I give it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. If you're going to take your kids to one of the cartoons that are out now, this is the one to see.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Tale of Two Neighbors

I'm probably going to get in trouble over this. My neighbors on either side of me have something in common: they recently lost their homes. Both houses burned to the ground — a pretty much total loss.

But the neighbors, and their situations, are not that much alike.

The man on the right has a good job and makes a good living. His family has some savings, good credit, and good insurance. The initial loss was terrible, but after a couple of days they were able to get some money from their insurance company. Combined with their savings (and probably a little on the credit card), they've been able to get a hotel room and buy some clothes. The house will be rebuilt, and it looks like they're going to come back from this pretty OK.

The man on the left has been out of work for two years. His family was already on the verge of losing their house. Their savings have been depleted, their insurance has lapsed, and their credit is ruined. They literally have nothing but the clothes on their back.

The family on my right needed a little help right after the fire — a place to spend the night, some clothes to wear to go shopping, and a shoulder to cry on. The family on my left is going to need a lot of help for a very long time.

Given my finite resources, where should I focus my efforts — and money?

Here's where I get in trouble: The family on the right is Japan. The family on the left is Haiti.

Right now Japan is a shambles. They need man-power and materiel to manage the crisis, help the injured, and deal with a few damaged power plants.

But as the "donate to help Japan" links start appearing, a voice in my head keeps whispering, "They're the third richest nation on Earth."

I keep beating the drum of discernment in generosity: We have to use our finite God-given resources wisely, to make them stretch as far as they can, and to use them in ways that do not further harm the recipient. To think about how and to whom we should give.

I'm not denouncing, decrying, or accusing. I simply ask that we all consider this question: Given the great need in the US, Haiti, Indonesia, and all the other places we're investing our resources, how much can and should we give Japan?

I'm totally open to have my theology or my grasp of the facts corrected, but this is the way my thinking is going these days. And maybe I just need more sleep (we're babysitting a two-month-old for a few days).

What do you think?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lewis on Liberalism

Theological liberalism, that is.
"All theology of the liberal type involves at some point - and involves throughout - the claim that the real behaviour and purpose and teaching of Christ came rapidly to be misunderstood and misrepresented by His followers, and has been recovered or exhumed only by modern scholars."

-C.S. Lewis

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How Do We Get Peace?

Do you want peace?

Of course you do. Everyone wants peace. It's not just a great thing, it's one of the "fruit of the Spirit" — a mark of maturity and authenticity in a Christian's life.

So why do so few of us have it? We simply don't know how to get it.

John 14-16 is a very interesting passage full of all kinds of important ideas. It also contains an unusual statement by Jesus.

He starts by telling them some hard things:
"In my Father’s house are many rooms. ... I am going there to prepare a place for you.

"Before long, the world will not see me anymore...

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.... If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.

"[A] time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.

"In a little while you will see me no more... I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices."
Then Jesus makes this surprising statement:
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace."
Jesus is leaving them, and they will be mistreated and will mourn while the world celebrates. This is supposed to bring them peace? How does that work?

I think this statement cracks the code: "I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you."

Mourning and being persecuted will not bring them peace. Knowing that they're going to mourn and be persecuted will not bring them peace.

Knowing that Jesus knows what's going to happen, has a plan, and has it all under control will bring them peace.

And it will for you, too. A big God makes it easier to ride out the trials of life.

So "in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord." "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Free Audiobook

One of these days I need to do a real review of RC Sproul's classic The Holiness of God. I can't recommend this book highly enough. If you haven't read it, you need to.

And a free audiobook makes that inexpensive and easy.

It's available free this month at ChristianAudio.