Movie Review: CHRISTIAN MINGLE The Movie

Leave a comment

christian mingleCapitol Christian Distribution
2014
PG

Oh, don’t look so incredulous. We live in a world where major motion pictures have been made for board games and those emoji characters on your smart phone. So really, the idea to make a movie based around a specialized dating website was going to happen sooner or later. Only, the fact that there was one made based on a popular Christian dating site, and as a light hearted faith-based rom-com was enough to pique my morbid curiosity, and thus the reason for my reviewing this*.

Christian Mingle stars that other Party Of Five costar that isn’t Nev Campbell or Jennifer Love Hewit — Lacey Chabert — as an ad executive named Gwyneth that is good at her job, but is woefully unsuccessful in finding that special someone that makes her heart go pitter-pat. Deciding to take maters into her own hands, she signs up on the dating website Christian Mingle. Problem is, she hasn’t been to church for years, and has lapsed in her Christian upbringing. But, that’s okay, as she purchases some items to help her fake it: The Bible for Dummies and Christianity for Dummies. And yes, these are actually available for purchase at your local bookstore. Presuming everyone knows what a bookstore is in this day and age. Anyway, she meets a guy named Paul, and after a couple of slightly awkward yet successful dates, Paul takes Gwyneth to a Bible study and finally to church to meet his parents, where, during after church lunch at a place named Steak & Cake**, Paul reveals that he’s traveling to Mexico with his family’s construction company to repair a church in Mexico. She accompanies them, and during the trip it’s discovered that she really isn’t a Christian, and thus Paul breaks up with her for the deception. Ironically, after returning back to the States, this helps to kickstart her own genuine Christian faith, and in the process, begins to learn what is truly important in this world. Although, regardless, she still gets the guy in the end, so, boo on that.

For what it is, Christian Mingle: The Movie is a harmless, light-hearted rom-com that leans less toward Christian propaganda and more toward an honest attempt to entertain. The result is corny, fluffy and quite a bit cheesy. But, there’s a kind of charm about this that would lead me to give it a repeat watch more than, say, any one of the God’s Not Dead movies, or anything Kirk Cameron has recently produced.

I do not regret watching Christian Mingle: The Movie. You may not regret watching it, either.

[* = Fun Fact: I actually made my youth group with this one evening. Because I love them. Imagine what I would do if I didn’t like them.]

[** = Another Fun Fact: There really is a Steak & Cake in existence. I helped fix their point of sale device one afternoon at work. They also serve more than just steak and cake. My mind was sufficiently blown.]

Advertisements

THREE DISTORTIONS OF CHRISTIANITY

Leave a comment

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God — or rather are known by God — how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the Gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of chilbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you! – Galatians 4:8-20

Almost from the beginning there were forces at work within Christianity that would have destroyed or sidetracked the movement. Of these, three created many problems then and have continued to reappear in other forms even today. The three aberrations are contrasted to true Christianity.

  • JUDIAIZED CHRISTIANITY

Their Definition Of A Christian: Christians are Jews who have recognized Jesus as the promised Savior. Therefore, any Gentile desiring to become a Christian must first become a Jew.

Their Genuine Concern: Having a high regard for the Scriptures and God’s choice of Jews as his people, they did not want to see God’s commands overlooked or broken.

The Danger: Tends to add human traditions and standards to God’s law. Also subtracts from the Scriptures God’s clear concern for all nations.

Application Question: Do you appreciate God’s choice of a unique people through whom He offered forgiveness and eternal life to all peoples?

  • LEGALIZED CHRISTIANITY

Their Definition Of A Christian: Christians are those who live by a long list of “don’ts”. God’s favor is earned by good behavior.

Their Genuine Concern: Recognized that real change brought about by God should lead to changes in behavior.

The Danger: Tends to make God’s love something to earn rather than to accept freely. Would reduce Christianity to a set of impossible rules and transform the Good News into bad news.

Application Question: As important as change in action is, can you see that God may be desiring different changes in you than in others?

  • LAWLESS CHRISTIANITY

Their Definition Of A Christian: Christians live above the law. They need no guidelines. God’s Word is not as important as our personal sense of God’s guidance.

Their Genuine Concern: Recognized that forgiveness from god cannot be based on our ability to live up to his perfect standards. It must be received by faith as a gift made possible by Christ’s death on the cross.

The Danger: Forgets that Christians are still human and fail consistently when trying to live only by what they “feel” God wants.

Application Question: Do you recognize the ongoing need for God’s expressed commands as you live out your gratitude for his great salvation?

  • TRUE CHRISTIANITY

Their Definition Of A Christian: Christians are those who believe inwardly and outwardly that Jesus’ death has allowed God to offer them forgiveness and eternal life as a gift. They have accepted that gift through faith and are seeking to live a life of obedient gratitude for what God has done for them.

Their Genuine Concern:
Christianity is both private and public, with heart-belief and mouth-confession. Our relationship to God and the power he provides result in obedience. Having received forgiveness and eternal life, we are now daily challenged to live that life with his help.

The Danger: Avoids the above dangers.

Application Question: How would those closest to you describe your Christianity? Do they think you live so that God will accept you, or do they know that you live because God has accepted you in Christ?

[taken from the Life Application Study Bible]

::END TRANSMISSION::

Like A Cat On A Leash…

Leave a comment

cat on a leashBetween the ages of four and five, my family was living in Iceland at the Keflavik Naval base. One afternoon, my dad came back home with a cat that he said was rescued from an abandoned car, and became our family pet. This cat didn’t like me too much, because–for reasons logical to my five-year-old mind at the time–I would always try to walk the cat like a dog. I would tie a belt around her neck and try to go for a walk with the poor thing. Of course, that cat wasn’t having any of it, and would do the passive-resistance thing by laying on her side and not moving while I tried dragging her along, urging to just walk instead of being dragged. It’s a miracle I didn’t inadvertently choke the poor thing to death.

Again, I was five. I didn’t know any better. My parents did punish me when they caught me doing it. Please keep the threats to my life to a minimum, they do get boorish after a while. Anyway…

I bring up this trip down amnesia lane for the purpose of illustrating another bit of truth about my daily wanderings in this post-Evangelical wilderness of mine: my flesh just doesn’t want to cooperate. Since endeavoring to become a disciple of Jesus Christ and not merely a follower (there is a difference; perhaps one day I will finally write about that as well…on the list it goes), and letting the Holy Spirit do His thing with the sanctification process that will be going on until the day I go Home, my flesh isn’t very happy about it.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.– Galatians 5:24-25

The thing about crucifixion as a means of execution is, it’s not the most efficient or even humanitarian way of being put to death. It could take hours, days, even weeks for the condemned person to finally die. In the meantime, it’s a very painful, very horrendous and slowly antagonizing death. The metaphor is very apt, as my flesh is slowly dying, being put to death by the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification on me, and it knows it’s dying. It can feel the death processes very clearly. And it’s not going to go without a fight.

Basically, when my flesh can’t get what it wants, when it feels it’s being dragged along by the Holy Spirit upon the leash that ties it to me, it does what the cat in Iceland did: it tries to make the process as rough as possible by laying down and dragging along. I want to follow the Holy Spirit, but my progress is being hindered by this dead weight not wanting to comply.

But, I seem to be in good company with this struggle. As the same guy who wrote the words in Galatians, also wrote this in Romans:

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!– Romans 7:21-25

So, here I am, wanting to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, but being bogged down by my flesh more often than not. I despair, but then I remember that the Apostle Paul himself struggled with the same thing. And if one of the greatest followers of Jesus Christ had trouble, what makes me think I’m going to get to the end of this path I follow unscathed?

::END TRANSMISSION::

My Dark Night of the Soul: Wretched

Leave a comment

dark night of the soulWords cannot express at how consistently amazed I am at the constant flow of grace and mercy that Father God gives me, despite my constant failings at striving to “be holy like He is holy”. My mouth says one thing, my mind knows what I should do, but I end up doing the opposite anyway. I am a wretch, my sinful self amplified, making me hyperaware of my state of wretchedness. But, that’s actually a good sign, as the Holy Spirit that dwells in me illuminates things, allowing not only His sanctification to progress, but shining also on the fact that it’s only the grace and mercy that flows over my by what Jesus Christ provided on the cross that gives me hope and joy.

I curse my wretched flesh, but I know it’s mortifying. The Holy Spirit continues its work in me, despite this dark night of my soul. I praise You, Father God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit…

::END TRANSMISSION::

On Bible Translations And Such…

Leave a comment

NecRoSarX Chronicles Headershelf of biblesSo, after several months of deliberation, I went and bought an NASB version Bible. You would think that I would already have one, what with my strong interest in studying the Scriptures and comparing translations and whatnot. Well, I do…except that doing just that is easier with the online resource sites, like Bible Gateway and others.

When it comes to hard copies of the Bible, I stick mainly to an NIV and NKJV, with a few RSVs around simply because I grew up in a church that used the RSV exclusively, and I somehow ended up inheriting them whenever a congregationalist died. Some day I’ll get around studying from that; but, ever since I started seriously studying the Bible when I was 19, I’ve mainly used an NIV.

The reason why I’ve stuck with the NIV has nothing to do with any idea of superiority over other translations. It’s just been the one that I’ve found to be the best to delve into and study the Word of God over the decades. And before you say anything, yes, I am very much aware of the various arguments against using the NIV, and I’ve investigated the claims and have come to the conclusion that the critics are more than a bit off with their criticisms. My faith has deepened and my love of my Lord and Saviour has strengthened by using the NIV. And, I still continue to use my well-worn Life Application study NIV. Giant Print, now. Less of a strain on my well-worn eyeballs.

So, why then have I started studying from a NASB? Well, some time ago, I took an online quiz pertaining to what kind of Bible translation goes best with my personality. I normally don’t put too much stock in these online quizzes (I once took a quiz on what kind of music I would like due to my personality, and the result was Girl Band), but I had some time to kill at work, and I thought I would be amused by the result.

Turns out, since I seem to take studying the Bible rather seriously, delving into the original languages and historical and cultural contexts to get the full meaning as a whole and favoring an exegetical style of learning, that I should consider studying from a New American Standard Bible. Which, I found intriguing, as I did know a couple of friends that did use that translation. Both had the usual “It’s the closest to the original languages in the literal translation” claim that I pretty much heard from everyone else using different translations. And the NASB is one of the two translations the pastor of my church recommends (the other being the New English Translation put out by Dallas Theological Seminary).

The second reason why I decided to finally get a hard copy of the NASB to begin studying from is because I have gone through the Bible a couple of times, and as much as I don’t like to admit this for fear of sounding less spiritual (whatever that means), I’ve been finding myself getting rather…apathetic about continuing on with the same translation. I’ve also been studying from the NKJV as I’ve mentioned earlier, but with the results of the quiz, I took some time to ponder getting an NASB to study from. To get a new perspective, refresh my desire to delve into the multi-layered richness that is God’s holy Scriptures.

So, I bought a relatively inexpensive Giant Print edition at one of the Christian bookstores in Omaha. Not Parables, in case anyone from my area is wondering. I’ve started off with the same book of the Bible that I always start off with when breaking in a new Bible: the Gospel of John. Here begins my continuing journey to keep His words in my heart and mind. Cheers, all.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Book Review: WHEN WE WERE ON FIRE

Leave a comment

41S+K+dTvML._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Addie Zierman
Convergent Books
2013

To the general outsider, American Evangelical Christianity (TM) can seem, at best, rather odd. As someone who has spent the better part of a decade within this, shall we say, unique bunch of bright-eyed believers, I can attest that we can, at times, seem like an altogether alien sub-culture. That was a lot of alteration that I just used, there.Anyway, we have our own language (Christianese), our own music genre, our own movies and art, and so many stylized varieties of ministries and outreaches it’s a wonder why most of the world hasn’t been converted yet. Well, it’s not really that much of a wonder, but since this is a book review and not one of my annoying blog rants, I shall digress.

When We Were On Fire was the second book I purchased from Google Play, after testing the e-reader waters to see if it would be a good fit for this old-school bibliophile. I’m always interested to hear and read about other people’s’ experiences with American Evangelical Christianity (TM), and how it impacted their faith, for better or worse. And this title seemed intriguing, to say the very least.

Here, author Addie Zierman goes through her experiences growing up as an Evangelical teenager, an on-fire adolescent spearheading and getting involved with various student and youth endeavors in the name of Jesus evangelism, and traces her journey through college, when everything faith-related seem to fall apart, through to her finally rebuilding from the resulting debris, reforming her faith as an adult.

I absolutely adore When We Were On Fire. It has an inviting laid back conversational style, but is also unflinchingly honest with the narrative. Meaning, this isn’t an easy book to read, yet at the same time you won’t be able to put it down. For some, reading When We Were On Fire will be a look into a side of American Christianity they’ve never experienced; for many others–like myself–reading this memoir will trigger many flashbacks to our own experiences of a time that we remember as “The 90s”. Specifically, two things really stuck out at me while reading this: One was her recounting her first boyfriend in high school, which turned out to be rather toxic in that he would use God as a means of manipulation (I cringe, because I recognized my old self in the boyfriend, really), and her experiences with Youth With A Mission, aka YWAM, one of the many evangelical youth outreaches that have had their fair share of controversy come out of the woodwork. I remember specifically, I once went to a YWAM-affiliated event called Aquire The Fire, where I very narrowly avoided getting signed up with YWAM. Reading this (plus the stories of other former YWAM workers), it’s rather evident what kind of a bullet I managed to dodge, there.

Overall, reading When We Were On Fire, you not only grow to appreciate Mz. Zierman’s honesty with her journey, but also how she managed to maintain her sense of humor with all of this. I highly recommend this book, not only for those who’ve been through these things, but also for those who haven’t, to gain a perspective that can be lost with all of the hype. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.

Article: POKIN’ THE SHEEP + KILLING JESUS

Leave a comment

NecRoSarX Chronicles Header

skull spiderI do admit to being what others would refer to as provocative. Blame it on my tendency to not being satisfied with mere pat answers, or just taking things at face value. It’s not that I set out to play Devil’s Advocate with everything and everyone; part of my wrestling with my faith involves examining things from multiple angles and perspectives and not settling into a comfortable pathos.

For instance, I once made a shirt that said What Would Satan Do? Aside from being a response to the popularity of the What Would Jesus Do? merchandise that was everywhere at the time, I think that’s a good question for Christians to consider. Wise as serpents and innocent as doves, and all that.

One particular shirt, however, seemed to really get under everyone’s skin when it really shouldn’t have. I was at Cornerstone 2002, and was perusing the merch tents one hot and sultry afternoon. One table set up sold an array of shirts, one of which had I KILLED JESUS in big letters on it. This shirt called to me. It perfectly communicated, in shirt form, that because of my sins Jesus died on the cross. I was found guilty, but Jesus died in my place to atone for my sins. Also, the cotton blend was lightweight yet durable, and most importantly, it concealed my upper torso. So, I bought it, and immediately changed into it outside behind the merch tent.

To put a context to the reaction to the shirt–earlier in the fest, I was wearing the previously mentioned What Would Satan Do? shirt. Nobody bats an eye. As a matter of fact, I had a couple of people ask where they could buy one for themselves. I change into the I KILLED JESUS shirt, and suddenly I find myself unable to go ten minutes without someone stopping me to ask what my problem was. What was I thinking, wearing a shirt that said I KILLED JESUS at a festival that catered to Christian music and arts? You would have thought I was wearing the Cradle Of Filth shirt that said JESUS IS A [derogatory misogynist slur] on the back. Several times, I had to explain the meaning behind it, that not only did I kill Jesus, but they did too, for the same reason. It finally got to the point where I began answering with, “He got better,” and left it at that.

Mind you, I’m far from naive, thinking that everyone who attended Cornerstone was a professing Christian and were familiar with the core doctrines of the faith. But, I did find the nature of the questions and statements interesting. Could it be that, in this day and age, that the reason for Christ coming in the first place is becoming taboo in Christian circles? I admitting to any kind of sinful nature, and thus necessitating a perfect sacrifice for atonement, just not in keeping with living a victorious life? Or are some just simply unaware of Jesus’ death and resurrection to begin with? Like, they read the Gospel accounts and just stop reading when things get to the Last Supper, like shutting off Old Yeller before the dog gets rabies, unaware of the ending?

Or, perhaps they are aware of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but are still squicky to admitting it was our sins and separation from God that lead to His death on the cross? We’re quick to place the blame on the Jews, or the Romans, or whatever. I know all too well, however, it was I who nailed Him to the cross. As well as you. And everyone else who has ever lived. And I will continue to admit it openly: I killed Jesus. But fortunately, it didn’t end there.

I am a great sinner. But I serve a great Saviour. Cheers, my wonderful freaks…

::END TRANSMISSION::

Older Entries