Movie Commentary: Bella

From time to time on this blog I will make comments on movies, television shows, or other culturally significant issues. When I make comments on a movie I am not going to censor content. So if you do not want content spoiled it is best to read my thoughts after viewing said movie.  If I think a movie is not worth viewing I will state so up front.

            This weekend I watched the movie Bella with my wife and mother.  I had heard good things about this movie and heard it had a strong positive pro-life,  even pro-God/Christianity message. 

            In watching the film, I found the message to be rather straight forward. In terms of the message of the film I found it to be a mixed bag.  On the positive side, the movie definitely has a strong pro-life message. It stresses the importance of relationships and the value of life.  I did find the movie to contain more elements of kharmatic thought over essential Christian themes. 

            The main character essentially saves the life of a child, in essence undoing the life he cost.  It came off as promoting the good done to replace the bad. Some elements of it would seem to fit into an episode of  My Name is Earl without the humor. 

            It do admit that the movie does have a strong positive message. It does a good job of showing a character moving beyond being wrapped up in self and reaching out to others but again it comes off more as kharmatic versus essential Christianity. The main character even is shown with a guru-like, messiah type persona. Perhaps you could stretch the presentation to have allegorical references but the essential themes of the film do seem to fit kharmatic line of thought.

            In terms of the pro-life message I did find it to have value. However, I look at the content of the film and the emphasis on the life of the child and I see the persistent cultural theme of having a child is the apex of humanity. The film does a good job of contrasting selfish pursuit versus looking out for others. However, I do not see complete selflessness in the film. 

            The film did have some moments referencing God, including a blind-man interacting with the two main characters with a sign behind him stating “God made me blind so that I might see” (any errors are do to my faulty memory.)  If anyone who reads this blog and has different thoughts please share them. Am I missing something in this film?  Is the value of this film simply the pro-life message?  I would appreciate any comments.

Lessons from a game called werewolf/mafia:

Lessons from a game called werewolf/mafia:

 

            Over the past three four years one of the ways I engaged in entertaining and distracting myself is a game called werewolf, also known as mafia.  It is a game about deception.  Basically there is a team of bad guys trying to deceive others and folks who are trying to figure out who the deceivers are.  This post isn’t about the dynamics of the game (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mafia_(game) but some important lessons that can be learned.

            One important lesson is that no one is beyond being deceived. The most skilled people at spotting varied ‘tells’ or spotting the deceivers can fail or falter. No one is beyond being deceived by someone else or even themselves.  In applying this lesson, we each need to be aware and acknowledge that no one is beyond deception.. Anyone that thinks they are beyond being deceived is fooling themselves.  We need to continually engage in prayerful self-examination and ask God to show us the ways we have been deceived and to show us truth. 

            Another important lesson is that people prefer to follow.  I have seen this play out on numerous occasions. As soon as someone displays proficiency at finding the deceivers, others tend to follow them.  It is much easier to follow then to examine facts and details and search for the truth on your own. If someone exhibits apparently greater skills it is much easier to follow rather then examine facts for yourself. It works out well when the person is right but when the person is wrong, the results are not satisfactory and often assist those looking to deceive.   

In applying this  lesson to life and exposing deception we need to be willing to examine and test things on our own. We need to not just simply trust the words or actions of others, no matter how often they have display accuracy.  Blindly following others is detrimental, particularly if a person relies on others for the word of God and not spending time spending time and studying the Word.  Also if we spend more time reading Christian authors and others interpretations of the word, we leave our self vulnerable to be deceived or follow error.

Another important lesson is that the greater the distractions, the easier it is to be deceived. Time and time again I witnessed where people couldn’t sort through multiple information even when there were clues to what is true and what is false. The simple application to this lesson is the greater amount of distractions; the harder it is to assess truth.

            A surprising but important lesson is that when looking for deception it is easy to become paranoid. This means we can easily see lies and deception in people that are being truthful.  Now while such paranoia can make for interesting game play, in life it makes  things confusing.  God doesn’t offer confusion but we can sure generate a lot of it on our own doing. Given how easy it is to become paranoid this stress the importance of depending on God and leaning not on our own understanding. We can easily find lies and deception where there is none, just as much as we can fall prey to lies and deception. The enemy loves when we do become paranoid and find lies in the truth.

            In watching multiple games played out another sure lesson is that deceivers have no problem ‘eating their own.’   In order to gain trust, exposing someone else engaging in deception can be a way to gain trust and greater deceive others.  The last game I actually played, it was done to perfection when one member of the team of deceivers was exposed after another with even easily sorted out lies being spoken ultimately resulting in trust for one person who ended up winning the game.  Such tactics breed pride and over-confidence as well as stimulating trust. So while “the house” may be “divided against itself” the goal is to lay ground work for other lies or deceptions to be accepted or a deceiver to be trusted. In our lives, we need constant evaluation and with the light of scripture. We need to test all things continually and be wary. 

            The last lesson I want to discuss is that any time someone discovers a tell or a pattern to sort out the deceptions in the game, once the deceivers are aware the deceptions and game play the strategies and lies adjust to take them into account.  If lies always followed the same pattern, they can be easy to spot, but eventually there comes a time when what you used to rely on is ineffective.  Of course, with God, His discernment is always accurate, and always ahead of the enemy.  For each of us though, of our own strength and power, it is easy to be deceived and trust others based on confidence in a “technique” or “test.”  The enemy is crafty, and will adjust!

            There are probably more lessons I can take from the game but the essential point is we are all easily deceived and of our own effort finding and exposing deceptions is ultimately impossible. Our enemy, Satan, is the master of deception. Each of these things I have observed about deception is but a drop in the bucket of Satan’s tools.  We need to live in surrender and dependence to God, we need to repent of relying on our own strength, we need to Holy Spirit to give us wisdom, we need constant exposure to the Word of God, and we need to the grace of Jesus the Messiah to cleanse us from our self-effort and failures.  May we all grow in truth and be sober and alert lest we become embroiled in deception.

Evaluating the “Fruits” of the so-called Lakeland Outpouring:

There is a lot of good information throughout the World Wide Web about Mr. Bentley and what has been proclaim as the “Lakeland Outpouring.” There is much conversation about how he is deceiving, glorifying self and angels, espousing and imparting New Age and occult teachings, and the probable source of the experience and healings (Kundalini). These are important things for a believer to know and spend some time at sites like http://www.deceptionbytes.com and you can learn much. However, I have yet to see a simple evaluation of what is actually occurring at Lakeland.
For me the question is simple. Is what is going on at Lakeland of the God and of the world. The things that are of the world are described in 1 John 2:16: “16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” So for me it is worth examining the Lakeland outpouring to see if what is promoted there consists of what is described as “from the world.”
First let’s look at “lust of the flesh.” When I think of the category of lust of the flesh to me it all comes down to craving an experience or pleasure. It is about what stimulates the senses. When I think about this, the immediate things my mind places into this category are things such as gluttony and sexual immorality. In essence, the core of this category is all about the “experience.” When I examine what is going on at Lakeland, essentially it is all about “the experience.” The ongoing declaration at each session is always “Come an’ get some!” The experience is explained as being of God and being filled with the Holy Spirit, yet really comes down to experiencing the ecstatic. So when I examine the Lakeland outpouring I find part of the nature of the “outpouring” to be “lust of the flesh.”
Next let’s look at “lust of the eyes.” When I think about this, the immediate things my mind places into this category are things such as riches and possessions. In essence, the core of this category is all about the “wants.” When I examine what is going on at Lakeland, I find that it is essentially all about wants. The focus on healing alone is about “wants.” It is about wanting and expecting an “outpouring” that will result in “healing” of the physical. The fact that on the surface people seem to get there ‘wants’ addressed is even offered as ‘proof’ that God is at work. Ultimately to me it is about stimulating and feeding the “lust of the eyes.”
The third category is “the pride of life.” When I think about this, the immediate things my mind places into this category are things such as success, purpose, and self-evaluation. In essence, the core of this category is all about the promotion of self. When I examine what is going on at Lakeland, I find that ultimately self is promoted. I tuned into Mr. Bentley speaking one night for about ten minutes and he seemed to be trying to teach from Acts 2. However, what he emphasized was “great grace.” He challenged all to want to be brought into the “extraordinary.” I have witnessed Mr. Bentley emphasizing the “miraculous” and even fishing for connections of testified miracles. It is all about “the show” and what is happening at “Lakeland.” The message is that what is happening is so extraordinary that not only should you experience it, but you should receive an impartation so that you too can do the “extraordinary. In essence, you can become “special.” It is the essence of “the pride of life.”
So when I look at what is going on at Lakeland, in spite of things being claimed to be done in Jesus name, biblical examination to me results in declaring the “Lakeland outpouring” to be “of the world” and not “of the Father.” Lakeland outpouring is all about experience, wants, and elevation of self. True revival is about denial, surrender, and elevation of Jesus the Son of God come in the flesh.

Answer to Big Brown at Belmont: Lesson in Humility

This past weekend the whole world was shocked as the amazing horse known as Big Brown failed to not only win the Belmont but came in dead last. Obviously pundits are at a loss for such a dismal and mysterious failure. Reasons speculated for the dismal failure range from his hoof injury curtailing training, the lack of steroids having an effect, or simple jockey error. However, each reason if looked into has come up lacking sufficient explanation.
For me the answer is straightforward, pride. The trainer Rick Dutrow JR. was on record prior to the race that the results were a “foregone conclusion.” He intimated that there was no way Big Brown could possibly lose. When I read such a proclamation prior to the race I actually prayed for a loss because the comment reeked of arrogance and pride. It is my firm belief that God directed the horse to not win as a lesson to us all on humility.
God created us with talents and gifts. Some are mightily gifted and on most occasions could easily defeat all comers. However, no matter what gifting, no matter what talent, no matter what superiority, anyone on any day can be defeated. Our talents and gifts are just that, talents and gifts. Victory today can turn into defeat tomorrow.
So next time you notice yourself full of pride over something you have done or accomplished, thank God for giving you the ability. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, and ultimately we are just stewards of the gifts and talents God has bestowed.

The beginning, finally.

Hello and welcome. This blog has been a long time coming. I have been felt read to start sharing and writing thoughts about the Church, the world, and whatever God puts on my heart for some time.  I have been negligent in following through with this call until now.

I have been negligent because I have been to wrapped up in distractions and self-pity over events in my life.  I put myself above what God was calling.  I had many excuses and many reasons why not.  I did not surrender fully to God.  And yet now I start.  Finally! Time to surrender!

So what brought me to this point of surrender?  Well, it was a wake-up call from God.  There has always been a part of me that has wanted to see God actively moving in people’s lives.  I yearn to see people healed of deep wounds and set free from bondage.  I want to see people brought into True peace.  In that  yearning, I ultimately was made aware of what is called the “Florida Outpouring.”

                When I first learned of it I tuned in, watched it for the duration.  First, I was glad to see people seeking after Christ.  However, as I watched I had several checks in my spirit.  I observed the “laughter” Mr. Bentley was exhibiting and it seemed to me a faked forced, laugh.  I watched Mr. Bentley take testimonies of miracles and saw him fishing and twisting for connection to the “Lakeland outpouring.”  The third thing of concern was he made a comment stating flat out “You’re going to give me all your money.”  It was a disjointed statement at the time, and I wondered about it. I believe soon after that he began speaking on “seeds of faith” giving, always a red flag for me.  His teaching that night talked about four levels of healing. Nothing seemed off regarding that teaching at the time.  However, in retrospect, it was all about receiving the “healing” and very little about surrender to Jesus, the Messiah.

                I had failed at the time to attend to the red flags. Sent emails out to some family and friends pointing out the revival and initially made some posts defending Mr. Bentley on a Christian forum.  I sadly sent a prayer request for my wife’s health to a pastor of the church sponsoring the event, because I hate how my wife has suffered and want to see her set free.   Well, I went to bed that night and woke up with a heavy feeling in my spirit.  I prayed to God about Mr. Bentley and what was happening and began to research further.  What I found was that Mr. Bentley was not serving Christ and was deceiving many. 

                In making me aware of the deception, God also made me aware that I had put much ahead of Him.  The chief of which is my own entertainment and pleasure. How I had not placed God at the top and that I needed to wake up and surrender to Him.  I needed to take my eyes off the things of this world and focus on Christ.  There were other parts of the wake-up call but in this initial post it is not the time to go into such matters, but God made it perfectly clear .

                In think God’s move in my heart is best summed up in the verses in Ephesians 5:13-16 “13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

            So now that you are a little aware of what finally got me here, blogging, let me share with you what I hope my posts on this blog will do.  First of all and most important is to bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God come in the flesh and bring others to a place where they submit wholly to Him.  The second thing I hope to do on this blog is to shed light. I haven’t totally fleshed out what that means, but a key verse God has been directing my life with is “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and Glorify God in heaven.” Matthew 5:16  In time I will expand more on what shedding light means.  The important thing is for me to start posting and let God draw to the sight, those that we will. 

May God’s Grace and Peace illuminate your heart and may you be drawn in surrender to Him.

Timothy G. Blake, Peacebringer.