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Movie Review: Gone Baby Gone

February 23, 2008 Leave a comment

Cinematically amazing.

Emotionally agitating.

Mentally disheveling.

Ethically challenging.

Parentally disturbing.

I just watched Gone Baby Gone and I am blown away. The movie deals with dark themes of child abuse, drug abuse, systematic corruption, and moral dilemma. The performances by the actors are astonishingly authentic and you simply can not watch this movie without some kind of emotional response.

The dilemmas that arise in the lives of the movie’s characters are both plausible and profound, leaving you the viewer, with the trouble of having to acknowledge and wrestle with your own feelings and convictions. Multiple times during the film a word was said, or an action was taken, that forced me to come face to face with the wondering of what I would say or do in that instance.

If you like to watch movies that demand an intelligent following of the plot and that force you to engage mentally with their themes, and if you like movies that pull out of you an emotive response from heart, and if you can handle the massive amount of swearing (which, I believe, could not have been removed without a massive loss in the development of the authenticity of the characters) than Gone Baby Gone is a must see.

Categories: Movies, Thoughts

Blowing the Horn Before Hitting the Train

February 1, 2008 Leave a comment

I almost perished yesterday as I was driving home from a morning appointment.

I was driving down a country road enjoying the day. The sports talk was playing and I was excited to get home and see the family. I must have zoned out for a second because all of a sudden I noticed some flashing red lights off to the side of the road ahead of me. Then a split second later I heard the scream of a horn followed almost instantly by a train barreling across the road right in front of my car. I slammed on my brakes and stopped. Had I noticed the lights or heard the horn one or two seconds later and I would have driven right into the side of the moving train.

I was doing some writing tonight for my talk on dating and I was thinking about accountability. I believe we all need a person or two in our life who can blow the horn on our behavior before we slam ourselves into something. I hit the side of a train a couple years ago because I chose to ignore the blinking lights and warning horns of the people around me. I don’t want that to happen again.

Hitting a train hurts badly; it can even be fatal. However, if we will intentionally invite others in to our lives and ask them to blow a horn if they see us on a path to crashing , then we will be doing ourselves a great favor. Hitting the brakes so hard today didn’t feel comfortable, some stuff in my car was even displaced and needed to be reset, but I lived and that is what matters most.

Categories: Thoughts

Passive-Aggressive Leadership

January 31, 2008 1 comment

One area of my leadership (and life in general) that I am working to develop is the ability to confront issues with other people head on instead of taking out my frustration and anger in a passive-aggressive way. If you’re not familiar with the concept of being passive-aggressive let me illustrate with some examples…

  • When an employee is not performing and meeting expectations, instead of sitting down and discussing it, you simply schedule him less hours.
  • When a friendship is not going the way you anticipated it to, instead of getting together for coffee and sharing honest feelings, you simply stop calling him.
  • When you don’t think your spouse is holding up their end of the cleaning bargain, instead of talking it through, you simply leave the dirty wine glasses on the counter and silently count the days until they get washed.

As you read the example above you might be tempted to think, “How childish is that behavior?,” and you’d be right. It is childish. It reminds me of what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corninthians 13:11,

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”

Becoming a man doesn’t happen just because we get older in years. For me personally becoming a man is about becoming a different kind of person. The kind of person who responds to frustrating situations with levelheadedness, courage and maturity not passive-aggressiveness.

How are you doing? In what areas of your life are you still behaving in childish ways? A great way to find out would be to ask your spouse or a close friend where they see childish tendencies in you. I would also recommend praying and asking Jesus to reveal to you any of the areas in your life where he wants to do a maturing act in you.

Categories: Leadership, Thoughts

The Relationship Between Listening and Acting

January 26, 2008 1 comment

For the past couple years Stephanie and I have been in a place of waiting, anticipating and questioning what God has for us in the future. Recently that feeling has been hitting Stephanie the hardest as she wonders about where God is calling her vocationally. It seems like we are in this weird place where every little thing gets shoved through a filter labeled “Is God trying to tell me something?”

Don’t get me wrong, I want to live listening to the Spirit and with an openness to follow, but I’m kind of getting to a point where I just want to take action and trust that God is in control and that he will work out all my decisions for my good. Otherwise I’m spending too much mental and emotional energy chasing down every dust ball that gets pushed along the front of my mind.

It is a delicate balance between wanting to please God and go where he leads and sitting around doing nothing and being perplexed under the guise of faithfulness.

The Great Invisible Jesus

January 12, 2008 Leave a comment

Each time I read these verses I am amazed trying to imagine what it would have looked like when this happened that day:

28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

How does an angry mob simply lose a person and allow them to “pass through their midst?” Did Jesus go stealth and invisible just slip away? Or, maybe the people were acting so wildly that they didn’t even notice what was going on and who was moving past them?

I don’t know, but I would love to review the video in heaven some day and see the look on people’s faces when they were all standing at the edge of the cliff and they realized, like idiots, that they lost Jesus!

Categories: Jesus, Thoughts

Rethinking Small Groups

January 3, 2008 3 comments

There was a time in my life where I was thinking and talking about the importance of small groups everyday. I would use borrowed phrases like, “The greatest spiritual transformation in a person’s life often comes through the community of a small group.” But over time there was a growing disappointment in my spirit that small groups were delivering people what they were promising. There was talking and eating and fun, but there wasn’t the deep level of intimacy and spiritual growth that had been dangled in front of people like the proverbial carrot. In some cases, such as ,y own group, small group, instead of helping people, actually provided the fertile round for some terrible seeds to grow.

I’m not completely against small groups now. I still believe that we need other people in our lives. We need a group of people with whom we can ‘know and be known, serve and be served, love and be loved, celebrate and be celebrated.” But I think church leaders should think carefully before the push for programmed, church-driven small groups; this is especially true with those people who have been Christians a long time.

Tony Morgan blogged a quote from the Willow Creek case study “Reveal.” Often misquoted and applied Reveal is the result of Willow’s work (and six other churches) at trying to look at itself and measure whether people in the church were actually growing spiritually. Here is the quote that grabbed my attention:

Regarding small groups, “Meeting the need for connection and genuine spiritual relationships is crucial to spiritual growth. Yet organized efforts to create these environments appear to be effective only in the earlier stages of spiritual growth.”

My take:

People who have recently met Christ are typically excited to learn more and to meet other Christians. They speak more openly about who they were without Jesus and their souls crave anything that speaks of Christ. They know they don’t know and they have no problem joining up with fellow new believers to pursue something so fresh and moving in their lives.

Conversely, people who have been followers of Jesus for a long time don’t feel the same need to make Christian friends. They may already have enough Christian friends, or, they are content to see ‘church people’ on Sunday and to be with other people during the week. Long time Christians know how to play the game and conceal their spiritual warts, and they may small groups as a threat to their security. After years and years of sermons and Bible studies their attitude may be that they know all they need to know and they see small group as just another spiritual activity that takes from their precious time without returning much of a yield.

So what is the answer? I believe that we lead people to a place where they see the need for spiritual community and we then release them to make it happen. As church leaders we have to turn over the reins of our peoples’ lives to the one who made them. Pastors will give an account for what they did with there people, but God is the one responsible for their fates. ‘Spiritual friendship’ should be preached on. The Bible should be taught and people should see for themselves how those who have loved God from antiquity have locked arms with like minded souls. But no one in Acts 2:42 got there because they signed up for it. Acts 2 came because the people loved Jesus more than they loved themselves and they were moved by the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Categories: Community, Thoughts

2008 Goals

December 22, 2007 1 comment

Have you started thinking about your goals for 2008?

I am beginning to formulate a few thoughts. I am working to develop a some goals in the following areas…

– spiritual growth
– things to start doing
– things to stop doing
– my role as a father
– my role as husband
– my role as a leader/manager
– personal accomplishments and interests

We have all heard the saying, “If you shoot at nothing you will hit nothing.” I don’t want to hit nothing and be the same dude at the start of 2009 that I was at the start of 2008.

How about you?

Categories: Goals, Thoughts