Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Light - A Bible Zinger.

This week's sermon at church was on light.  (Since it's Advent, the four weeks leading up until Christmas, they were going through various themes floating around about Christmas.)

I decided to write up my thoughts on the subject, because it leads to one of the big surprising things I've read in the Bible.  It's been my thought to go through some of these "zingers" for awhile, thinking that you guys might be as amazed as I've been by them.  This is a pretty decent one.  I'll be letting fly with some others later, including some real nukes!

Anyway.  Naturally, this sermon on "light" drew a lot from the book of John in the Bible.  I say, "naturally", because this is a major theme that the author decided to go with throughout.  The other Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) told the story of what they'd experienced from their own particular perspective, but John, from what he saw of Jesus, it's all about light!

For starters, in his intro he says: (John 1)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
This is like the ultra-jam-packed espresso version of who Jesus is.   There is a lot in there, and well worth chewing on, but for right now I want to point out the last line.

"The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend it."  So true!  I don't know where you guys are, or have been, but this was ALL ME!  Sure, I thought I had a pretty good handle on who God was.  Everybody does.  But as soon as I put down my preconceptions and started to approach Him on His terms... and let the self-defining "I Am" define Himself...

Well, to say I originally, "did not comprehend it" is an understatement of scandalous proportions.

But then, here I am drawing lessons off the the thing and I haven't gotten to the zinger yet.  First, let's take another bite of chapter 1 before moving on to that, just to drive the point home:
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.   He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
It's strange from that perspective, isn't it?  I mean, you'd think we'd recognize the Creator of the Universe.  And more than that, you'd thing we would be clamoring to get to know Him.  But there it is all in one kidney punch.  He came to fix things.  And in response... we crucified Him.  Ouch.

That's a good segue into that verse that floored me.  In context, this is the bit where the author of John describes the night Jesus was taken away to be killed.
Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
(John 18:3)
Missed it?  Don't feel bad, I did who knows how many times before it dawned on me.

Well, compare to what the rest of the Gospel writers said. (BTW, this is a great lesson in why we need all of the Gospels, not just one.)   Everybody else describes only the weapons:  clubs and swords.  Weird in it's own right.  Was Jesus all that dangerous?  In Luke's account of the incident, Jesus says,
 Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs?  When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
But the zinger is:  why did John, the gospel of light, mention torches and lanterns?

Answer:  John is calling out the irony that, these people come looking for the light, and brought along torches and lanterns to help themselves find it!

Let that sink in.

We think we need to (or even can) bring something of ourselves into the picture.  Yet just like John said in the beginning, we can't even do that because we have no clue!

I think that's a very good lesson, it being Christmas and all.

One pet peeve of mine is all these well-meaning TV specials.  "It's not about what you receive, but what you give."  Cute, but DEAD WRONG!!!

Christmas is absolutely about what we receive: the free gift of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ!  Trying to do any bit of that on out own is just as silly as... well... looking for The Light and bringing our own lantern. ;)

Live YOUR adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher

Monday, December 21, 2015

Hate the Successful

At the risk of doing two Dave Ramsey vids back-to-back, here's another that came across the wire.
(Watch it, or don't.  The article below will cover the content, and I don't care if he gets clicks for it or not.)

So here's the deal:  Guy works several jobs every spare moment, reduces to an all mac&cheeze diet, and pays off a $250k home in only three years!  What's crazy is what happens next.  All of a sudden the internet trolls climb out from under their bridge and storm the guy.

The big questions I want to talk about today are, "Why?", "What does it mean?", and "What is the proper response?", and, of course, relate all that back to the adventurous life.

First off, why all the hate over a guy who has a vision and takes extreme, self-sacrificial measures to make it happen?  After all, it lands somewhere between, "doesn't hurt anybody" to "wow!  If he can do it, maybe I can too!"  Why wasn't that the reaction?  Why do people hate people who are successful so bad?


It all comes down to the 10th commandment.  (Hint: That's the one about "covetousness".)
Today, in our culture, that's not a recognized sin though.  Now it's politically correct to be envious and want a share of what somebody else has.  Total jealousy.  Total envy.  In fact, I have a right to everything you have, whether I've earned it or not!

But why that as a commandment?  If you could only pick ten rules, would that be one you'd put on the list?

It really is an important one when you think about it.  The alternative is to be consumed with envy and desire, which, if left to its own devices leads to theft, destruction, rumor milling, even murder.  And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

"The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil."  (1 Timothy 6:10)

A little rant:  Note that the object of that sentence is a phrase, "the love of money", and not a single word.  But, people shorten it to "money", and say, "See?  Anybody with more money than me is evil!"... though, ironically, their motivation for doing this is a love of money and the bitter envy that sprouted from that root.

What other "all kinds of evil" does covetousness produces?  Where even to start!??  It's all over the place!

Let's talk tabloids.  So and so was caught doing some scandal with so and so!  Look at so and so in her bikini -- she's certainly put on weight!  So and so is getting a divorce!  What's the appeal here?  Is it, "Oh, poor George Clooney.  I feel sad.  I need to remember to pray for him."?  Of course not!  It's all about the scandal!  It's all about tearing down the stars so we feel better about being nobodies.

Or, like the recent trend in the Olympics where they keep the camera's trained on an athletes face as the scores are announced, hoping to catch a foul reaction.  There's even an entire internet "meme" known as "McKayla is Not Impressed", featuring a scowling McKayla Maroney's reaction at taking silver in the 2012 Olympics.  There's probably more to the story than just a sour snapshot, but you know what I mean?  It's like, "Out of 7 billion people on the planet, you're only the second best.  No wonder you're so unhappy."  Grow up!

And that's just the mean-yet-petty department.  It gets as sick and serious as you've got stomach for.  Who knows how many have been killed over the years due to feuds and rebellions and class warfare all over the globe?  Read about the "Reign of Terror" sometime.  People getting lined up and guillotined at total random, but for the sake that they had money, and the mob wanted it!

For the Christian, however, God gave a commandment, not a suggestion.

Not exactly what He was going for in this verse, but it reminds me of something Jesus said, "And when she finds [her lost coin], she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’"  (Luke 15:9)  If this was written today, her friends and neighbors would be all negative and backbiting at her good fortune.  But look at the thing!  It's not supposed to be that way!

When somebody (like in Jesus' parable) comes into money, how about we congratulate them and cheer for them.  When somebody is wearing a nicer outfit, rather than grumbling we should say, "hey, looking good tonight!"

When somebody does great things, we should be the cheering squad, not trying to drag them back down to make ourselves look better.

I guess I could do that.  I could shut down the blog and tell myself to live my own adventure.  The rest of you can just rot for all I care.

But I won't. :)

I'd rather you guys succeed!  I'd rather you face your trials and become the heroes of your own story.  I hope you to win, too!  The world needs all the Godly champions it can get.  It needs you and I both to...

Live (Y)OUR adventure!
- E.L. Fletcher

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Victim and the Hero

I don't know what you guys think of this Dave Ramsey.  In fact, my own opinions have changed a lot in regards to him, so I couldn't say anything bad about whatever your thoughts are.

Regardless, I really liked something that came bobbing down the social media irrigation ditch today.

As one might suspect, the video's title "The Victim and the Hero" really caught my eye.  If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you already know that "live your adventure" is a drum I like to beat, and it turns out Dave was playing my song.

Apparently from whatever broadcast this came from, he was speaking in the context of millionaires and a person's capacity to become wealthy.  I'm not talking about that.  I am, of course, more about living the adventure.  I guess my point in saying this is: try not to get too distracted by the "millionaire" thing.  Instead, grab some inspiration to take home in one of those funny little boxes the Chinese place gives you.

(Wait.  That was a lousy metaphor.  But you get the idea.)

In the interest of time, you could jump past the lead-in boilerplate to 5:16 or so.  That's when it starts to get good.

"I'm here to remind you:  You're not a victim.  You're a hero looking for a story.  You're gonna win.  Rocky music in the background... you're standing a the top of those steps with your hands in the air!"
-Dave Ramsey

I tell you what, after the type of day I had today, this packed quite a wollop!

And you know what's the worst part?  He's absolutely right!  That victim thing will really bring you down, man.  It's like "why can't this change", "if only I had this, or that going for me".

But I guess there was that one proverbial dude in the Bible (Ecclesiastes 11:4) .  Oh, it's too windy!  Oh, no!  Now it's too rainy!  ... well, it looks like it might rain, anyway.  Blah, blah, blah.  The point being, nothing's ever the perfectly perfect enough.  If a guy is looking for some excuse to complain about, he'll always find one.

That's more or less where I'm at.  I don't know if any of you guys may be in the same boat.

Now don't get me wrong.  I'd prefer if life would quit beating me up and things were going a little bit smoother around the homestead.

Still, we're not created to be a victim.  We're created to be "more than conquerors" (Romans chapter 8).  And that's something I think we all need to remember!

Live YOUR adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

3 Surprisingly OK Movies

Just to mix thing up a little, here are three movies I've seen recently that I didn't hold much hope for, but actually turned out pretty good.

#1 The new Annie (2014).  There have been many Annie remakes, but all so far have been horrible clones of the classic Aileen Quinn from the 80's.  I mean, come on!  You've got Tim Curry AND Carol Burnett in it!

It's like Christian songwriters who try and redo Amazing Grace.  Stop.  Just stop.  You've already failed.

And then, this is a mainly African-American cast, so it smacked of the whole "equality" schtick.  Like, "See?  See?  We can do Annie too!"  Yeah, okay guys.  Have fun with that.

Then I saw a preview for it on the Mom's Night Out DVD, which convinced me it might have some hope.

It was actually pretty good.  It certainly leaves all other remakes in the dust!  The plot is modernized and changed quite a bit.  Also, the classic musical numbers are remixed and done well.  And there are a few more songs that do seem to work well beside the others.

On the downside, some of it felt a little shoehorned in, and some of the supporting cast were... not great.  Plus they replaced the "Let's go to the movies" number with some "moonfish bay" thing - which was lame.

But the little girl, Quvenxhane(sp?) Wallis really carried the whole thing on her excessively adorable frizzly little head.

All of the classic elements seemed more like an 'omage than a "me too". 

So overall: WAY worth it!!!
In fact, I'd recommend doing a double-feature with the old classic and this one.  They'd complement eachother.

#2 Disney's Teen Beach Movie.  Really?  Really!  A Disney Channel  made-for-tv movie...  that was actually okay!!!

The premise is two teenagers get sucked into a classic beach/surfer movie.  So you, like me, are probably thinking, "ugh!  Must I?"

Turns out that the music (through pretty badly dubbed) was immensely catchy.  Then the actors they found did so much dancing, they must have searched quite awhile to bring together such a cast, because they were really great.

Strangely enough, even the cornball elements even work.  Like they're making fun of hammy over-the-top movies, rather than being one themselves.  This could just be a happy coincidence, but it plays as legit, so I give them benefit of the doubt.

Like Annie, this is another fun movie with great tunes.  You want fun song-and-dance?  This is it!

#3 Black Lighting.  What can I say?  Picture Spider Man, only with classic cars... and in Russia.

Can't picture that?  Well, if you see this one, you will.

Basic premise:  Years ago, a team of Russian scientists was working to develop an all new power source that could fuel the world forever, etc.  Enter evil robber-baron who needs to find this power source to fuel his massive drill, which could tap a fortune in diamonds and destroy Moscow in the process.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that the two sappy lovey-dovey scientists slapped the power source into a classic car to make it fly, "to the moon", as their old amateur Sonny-and-Cher-style song says.

Anyway, dusty old car falls into the hands of a poor working-class teen.

He spends the rest of the movie delivering flowers at Mach 3, capturing street criminals, and then, the inevitable epic showdown with the big baddy.

First off, I should mention that this movie is Russian made, and is subtitled.  Though I prefer subtitles at times (Japanese animation) they get a little bit hard to hang onto for an action movie.

That, and the Spider-Man similarities seemed a bit much.  At one point I turned to DW, and added the only thing missing, "With great Buicks comes great responsibility."

If you can get around that though, there really are no downsides.  Plot, acting, effects - it could have been corny at any level, but it all held together really well.

All in all:  Also much recommended!

Live YOUR adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tired Knees and New Beginnings

Currently struggling with a bout of... something.  I dunno what it is.  I'm just tired all the time.  My body is just breaking down on me.

I don't know exactly what it is.  The flu?  Depression?  Some chronic thing?  Ebola virus?  I don't know.  One of the kids' Bible teachers has almost even convinced me it's "Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome"... whatever that is.

Personally, I think my birthday coming up in a couple weeks has something to do with it.  I never knew aging would be so jerky.  By that, I mean the way most years just come and go, but every once in awhile you hit one of those milestones where it's like WHAMO!  Your warranty has just expired!
(If you know what I mean.)

But enough old-people talk.

Back to the story.  I finally got DW to read something by Clive Cussler - the secular model similar to which my current series is based.  His keystone series, Dirk Pitt, contains far too many sex scenes to even have in the house, but his Fargo adventures (though sometimes rather anti-Christian in worldview and  theme), are a lot cleaner due to the fact that it's a husband and wife team.

It was horribly difficult to get her let go of the household for a change and to relax with a fiction story, but I convinced her that it was "research", which did the trick. >:)

As far as that went, she did come back with a few new thoughts for my books that, I think, will make them better.

Oh yeah!  Random topic change!  Some interesting news happened over Thanksgiving.  Not sure what it means just yet, if anything, but what went down was that kind of uncanny chain-reaction of events that just smells like Providence to me.  We'll see.  If it amounts to all that it *could* amount to, then it's one of those anecdotes you'll hear me reciting on every single stage you hear me on!  (Yes, that kind of chain-reaction!)

All in all, life is good.  No, scratch that.  God is good.   This other stuff going on... think I maybe just need to take a step back and get a handle on a few things:  Rein in a few things that have gotten out of hand. --  Get back exercising and moving. --  That sort of thing.

Then after that, hey, who knows what twist this story of life will take next? ;)

Live YOUR adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher