Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bonus Blog - The Princess and the Frog

I had the privilege of taking my four girls and MrsRev to go see Disney's newest hand-drawn animated film Friday night, The Princess and the Frog. It is a somewhat different take on the old story of The Frog Prince that many of us remember from our childhood. The Princess and the Frog is "A fairy tale set in Jazz Age-era New Orleans and centered on a young girl named Tiana and her fateful kiss with a frog prince who desperately wants to be human again."*
My first reaction to this film was, "Wow! Disney is back." It's been a long time since the Disney company has put out an animated film that wasn't a Pixar production that was this good. I'm in my mid forties and I was a child when it last happened, so do the math. All four of my girls (5y/o and under) were completely enthralled. They didn't fidget, they didn't fuss, and they didn't even have to get up to go to the bathroom.

"Ah," you say, "but where are the theological perspectives?" Well if nothing else, this is a feel good movie. And there is always something of God in just being happy, at least until we human beings pervert it in some way. I did notice one really excellent point about the things that we wish for. Throughout the film we find different characters wishing on the morning star for things that they want. For Christians we don't wish, we pray. But often we pray a lot like the characters in this movie. We ask God for things that we want or things that we want to happen. During the course of the story, Tiana and Naveed learn to wish for what they need instead of what they want. Imagine how pleased God would be if we were to start praying for what we need, and what others need instead of what we want. Imagine how much more God would answer prayers for the needs of the people and ministries around us if we only prayed for those things and not for ourselves. Maybe more of the events that we experience on a daily basis would be happy endings, like every Disney movie that we all know and love.

So if you have small children, especially little girls who love Disney princesses like mine do, go see this movie. And while you're at it, lift up the needs of someone else this Christmas season. Think of the good we can all do this world with a little more selfless prayer.

Oh and BTW, I will be blogging another Christmas movie next week but I also have plans to go see Avatar next Friday. So don't be surprised if you get the double bonus two weeks in a row.
Grace and Peace!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Bishop's Wife - The power of love and prayer

The Bishop's Wife is a romantic comedy starring Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young originally released in 1947. Here is what the DVD cover says about the movie: "Heavenly bells are ringing, jubilant choirs are singing and Christmas joy is blanketing the world like freshly fallen snow. But the Yuletide spirit has yet to warm Bishop Henry Brougham's Victorian home. Struggling to raise funds for a new cathedral, the preoccupied young clergyman has neglected his loving wife Julia, and now only divine intervention can save their marriage! But the powerful and handsome angel sent from above has a mind of his own... and teaching mortal Henry an immortal lesson in romance isn't all he's got planned."
Aside from the obvious theological implications of angels, clergy and cathedrals, there are several good messages in this film. Dudley the angel only appears in answer to prayer. Later he suggests that he can only be dismissed by prayer but remains when the Bishop's prayer is offered for the wrong reasons. This is a nice example of the fact that God knows and answers our needs rather than our wants, no matter what we've asked for.
Another thread of the story involved a rich woman who will donate enough money to build the cathedral, but only if it carries the name of her late husband in very prominent places. Dudley comes along later in the story and simply listens to the woman's expression of grief and loss over her late husband. She later decides to donate the money to missions and charity instead of building the cathedral. This idea perfectly reflects James' words when he wrote, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27) While there is certainly nothing wrong with churches and church buildings, there's something to be said for directing our money toward ministry.
The Bishop's Wife is one of those wonderful movies made when stories were more important than eye-candy and flash. While not quite on par with the best Christmas movie of all time (It's a Wonderful Life), it is well worth your time as a pleasant Christmas diversion.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Muppet Christmas Carol - Fun with a Message

I have to admit up front that I am a big fan of the Muppets. I used to watch The Muppet Show and own several seasons of the show on DVD, The Muppet Movie is one of my favorite films and this is one of my top Christmas movies. The Muppet Christmas Carol is a pretty standard Dickens Christmas Carol interpretation with one interesting twist. Gonzo plays the role of Charles Dickens who narrates and provides comic relief in some of the more sinister parts of the story. Michael Caine portrays Ebeneezer Scrooge adequately enough and Kermit the Frog is the perfect foil as Bob Cratchit. As this is easily one of the most well-known Christmas stories I don't feel a need to give a synopsis. There is little here that deviates from the story that we all know and love. What is different is how much fun this version of the classic turns out to be. There are numerous asides, in-jokes and comedic liberties taken by the Muppet characters while the human characters play straight man every time. Without question, this is one of the best family Christmas movies out there. It comes highly recommended by this rev.

But The Muppet Christmas Carol offers more than just wholesome family fun. There is a message to be found in this picture as well, in fact, several messages. The first message comes across in one of the opening songs. We meet Scrooge walking through the streets as the numerous Muppet characters sing about how bad a person he is. In the song it is implied that he is this miserable because of his self-imposed isolation. Of course we learn later on that his isolation was not always self-imposed. What I find interesting is that if lonliness creates misery then the converse must also be true; presence and fellowship creates joy. As a pastor I find this to be especially true. Being present for people in their time of need brings joy to the person I visit and to me as well. I also find that church people are never happier than when they are in the company of fellow minded folks. Worship time is always a time of joy. And joy always seems to be found where people gather together.

A second message became apparent during another song. When Scrooge is haunted by his dead partners, Jacob and Bob Marley (told you there were inside jokes), they sing to Scrooge about the chains he'll wear in the afterlife. One of the lines in the song says that Scrooge must "change to lose his chains." This might be one of the most compact salvation statements ever put on screen. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus put it this way, "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." To repent literally means to turn around. Scrooge is told to turn around from the way he is going in order that he not have to wear the chains he is forging in this life in his afterlife. We are all called by Jesus to change our ways and choose His ways. The Muppets might put it a little differently, but it's a message of salvation none the less.

One last message came out, and this one in a song as well. When Scrooge is traveling with the ghost of Christmas present, the spirit sings a song about the feelings we all experience at Christmas. One of the lines in the chorus says, "Wherever you find love it feels like Christmas." What a wondeful way to express the true meaning of Christmas. This blessed season really is about love more than anything else. It's about the love of families gathered together over a festive meal. It's about the love of friends for one another. It's about the agape love of anyone who gives of themselves to others. But most especially, Christmas is about the love of God for humanity represented in the gift of a Savior in the form of a little child. So indeed, wherever you find love it certainly does feel like Christmas.

So take a little time this Christmas season and enjoy The Muppet Christmas Carol with your family. Share the love. Merry Christmas.

Thinking about what films to blog for the next few weeks...

I've been thinking about what movies to blog about in the next few weeks and it just seems so obvious. I guess I have to look at Christmas movies. I have a few on my shelves, ones that I truly enjoy. But I was wondering if there are any that you really like that you'd like me to take a look at. I'm going to do one today or tomorrow, but the next couple weeks are open to suggestion. Thoughts?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Inkheart - Incarnational reading

Inkheart is another movie based on a series of popular youth novels and follows in the footsteps of the Twilight series and the Harry Potter books. It is the story of Mo Folchart, a "silvertongue" and his daughter Meggie, both with the ability to read characters and items from a book into existence by reading out loud. Inkheart was released in 2008 and stars Brendan Fraser and Helen Mirren along with Andy Serkis who is most well known for playing Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The storyline follows Mo as he attempts to right a wrong he committed twelve years previous by reading a villian out of the book of the same title as the movie. Mo is helped along the way by characters both real and read out of fiction.
This film is very family friendly with only a few objectionable words and several scenes that might be frightening to little children. Inkheart is rated PG and is suitable for family movie night.
I couldn't help but play a little "what if" with this film. What if Mo read the Bible out loud? Would he be able to bring Jesus to life? Would that count as the second coming? What about God? The prophets? Historical figures? If these people were real before, rather than fictional characters, could Mo make them appear?
The reality though is that it wouldn't matter. As Christians we believe in an incarnational Jesus Christ. He came to earth in the flesh. His presence among us in the flesh demonstrates how God cares about our physical bodies and that we should too. Because Jesus is present with us even now, we become "silvertongues" when we read His word. He becomes more real to us as we read about him in the Bible, and whether we read to ourselves or out loud doesn't matter.
I enjoyed this film much more than I expected considering that critics panned it. It's worth a look and a little wondering, but Jesus has already promised to be with us no matter where we are (Matthew 28:20).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

That day has come...

Bonnie and I have been anticipating the adoption date of our little girl for quite a while now. For some time we've felt like the day might never come. It has arrived! Today (Tuesday November 17, 2009) we appeared in Family Court in Salem County and officially became parents again. Our new little girl is Delylah Rose Stevens and she is probably happier than we are to have been adopted. She is now three years old but will be turning four next month. We're now planning her baptism and looking forward to many years of happiness, joy and love. Thanks go out to all who have been in prayer for us in this process. We know you've been praying because we've felt your support. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! AMEN!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Need to share a blessing

Yesterday one of the DYFS nurses was at our house to talk to us about three of the little girls that are living with us now. She also happens to be the nurse for the little guy that was with us back in Feb/March. Just so you don't have to look up my post about it, he came to us at 18 days old and was with us for about four weeks. I was very nervous about having an infant in the house but he became one of the biggest blessings for us and it was very difficult to let him go. Anyway, when we found out that this nurse knew him we had to ask how he's doing. She informed us that he's doing really well, walking around a little, putting on weight, and that he's really attached to the daddy in his household. This news made me realize that even though he was very little, we made a difference. It's not often that you get to know how you've helped as a foster parent. It's a huge blessing to know when you've made a positive impact. Thank you God. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Zombieland - Why the rules are good

Yes, I know I just wrote about a horror film last week but it's almost Halloween. One more and then I promise to go back to family films. Zombieland is a horror/comedy (horrordy? comedorror?). Anyone who thinks that blending horror and comedy is a new concept hasn't seen Arachnophobia. And if you think zombie horror comedy is new then you haven't seen Shawn of the Dead. Both of those are worth a look and a laugh by the way.
Anyway, here's what Columbia Pictures writes about Zombieland - "The horror comedy Zombieland focuses on two men who have found a way to survive a world overrun by zombies. Columbus is a big wuss -- but when you're afraid of being eaten by zombies, fear can keep you alive. Tallahassee is an AK-toting, zombie-slaying' bad ass whose single determination is to get the last Twinkie on earth. As they join forces with Wichita and Little Rock, who have also found unique ways to survive the zombie mayhem, they will have to determine which is worse: relying on each other or succumbing to the zombies."
Before I say anything, I have to admit two things: I'm not a big fan of Woody Harrelson and I am a big fan of this little sub-genre of horror/comedy. That being said, this film was a pleasant surprise for me. Like any good zombie film there are many many creative scenes of zombies being put to their final rest, lots of splatter and quite a bit of gore too. But there is also a good story here about four people, maybe the last four non-zombies on earth, trying to survive the flesh eating menace and their mistrust of one another. If you like your comedies gory or your horrors funny, this is the film for you.
Theologically there is more in this film than you might think for a film of this sort. First - zombies. Zombie movies tend to be commentaries of some sort. George Romero has mastered the technique of commenting on the ills of society through his zombie movies. Zombieland tends to comment on the human condition (our ability or inability to trust, need for companionship/fellowship, wants and needs, etc.) more than society but the commentary is present for those who care to look.
More importantly, there is a wonderful message about rules in Zombieland. The main character, Columbus keeps a list of survival rules for himself that get flashed on the screen throughout the movie. Rule #1: Cardio - because then you can outrun the zombies. Rule#2: Double Tap - because this is no time to preserve your ammunition. Rule #3: Beware of bathrooms - because the zombies got smart and learned to attack us at our most vulnerable moments. The rules are not limiting, they are freeing because they are life preserving. The rules are for Columbus' benefit not his punishment. This is a direct correlation to God's rules for humanity. I cannot say how often I have heard about Christianity being about rules and regulations from God. Part of this is certainly true. God gave us the Ten Commandments and Jesus said that there are two important rules - Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. People outside the faith seem to think that these rules are limiting. But those of us who listen to God understand that the rules are for our benefit, for our good, for our protection and for our freedom. God's rules are not punitive, they are life giving. Columbus' rules are not punitive, they are life giving. In fact, it is only because of his rules that Columbus has survived to that point. God wants us to live and thrive too, that's why God gave us rules.
Anyway, if you go see one horror film in theaters this Halloween season, make it Zombieland. And if you go see one comedy in theaters this Halloween season Zombieland fits the bill too. If you don't mind the gore, this one is well worth seeing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Our Two Year Fostering Anniversary

We took in our first two children on October 26, 2007 - Two little brothers who had been in the system for a while. Monday was our two year anniversary as foster parents and we celebrated by taking in two little sisters, 4 and 5 years old. They are two very happy, outgoing ladies and they are also loud! But I can live with the noise because it's a joyful noise. This brings us up to fourchildren at presnt (that's capacity for us), all girls ages 3, 3, 4 and 5. It also brings the total number of children to come under our care to 16. Sixteen in two years! I think that I'm truly coming to understand what it means to be blessed in order to be a blessing. God blessed the nation of Israel so that they could be a blessing to the world. We have been blessed with the heart and the resources to be able to care for little children in need. In turn, we reap the blessings of seeing children happy and healthy. God is good.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Adoption Update

Just to keep you all informed about how the adoption is progressing, we got a letter from our lawyer yesterday and a phone call this morning. DYFS has signed the consent for us to adopt our little girl, so both contacts were to set up a meeting with him for next week so that we can sign the forms and petition the court to set the adoption date. We've gotten conflicting reports from different people about when they'll be able to schedule the hearing. One judge likes to do a lot of adoptions on National Adoption Day (or as close to it as the court schedule allows) which is Nov. 20th. Family court that week is Nov. 17th. Both of those dates have been tossed around, but the lawyer says that the person that does the scheduling (surrogate?) isn't that efficient and we may not get a hearing that soon. All of this can certainly get a little frustrating, but it is progress and we are excited to be moving forward instead of sitting still.

Also, we were joined last week by another little one. She is also three years old but unlike our long-term little girl, she is very, very quiet. She's probably spoken 20 or 25 words to me in just over a week. We've been told that she's a short-term placement, but they don't have a realistic time frame just yet.

So keep us all in your prayers. And thank you for your support!

Monday, October 19, 2009

30 Days of Night - A vampire "what if..."

So it's getting near to Halloween and all the premium channels are playing horror movies... a lot of horror movies. One that I've seen before and found interesting is a film called 30 Days of Night. This film stars Josh Hartnett and is based on the graphic novel (that's a big comic book for those of you unfamiliar with the comic book scene) of the same name. The basic premise of the film is a "what if" story. What if vampires decided to invade a town above the arctic circle during its month-long winter night? Well, they certainly wouldn't have to contend with that bothersome lethal daylight thing, now would they?

Actually, 30DoN isn't a bad film, at least as far as vampire/horror films go. To be sure, there are loads of horror films produced today that are little more than slasher porn. How can we kill the most people in the most gruesome ways we can think of and get away with it? Don't believe me? Take a look at Hostel, Turistas, Hostel 2, the remakes of Friday the 13th and Halloween as examples. Just make sure that you keep a bucket handy in case you have a weak stomach. Anyway, back to the film at hand. We're certainly familiar with vampire movies, how to kill vampires, what vampires are capable of and how they operate. There's nothing new in this film as far as that goes. What is different is the claustrophobic feel of this film. The humans that over winter in this small town are cut off from civilization very early on and are forced to try to hide and survive as the troop of vampires holds sway over the town.

Before I say anything about the theological ideas in this film I want to make sure that I mention that this movie is rated R and there are many scenes of bloodshed, violence and peril. It's definitely not a film for children.

Anyway, two theological points jumped off the screen for me in 30DoN. The first was a scene where a human woman was begging for her life with the leader of the vampire troop. She says, "Oh, God." He looks at her and replies, "God?" pauses for several seconds and looks around and up at the sky and then looks back at her and shakes his head saying, "No God." The situation reflected the contrast in thinking between believers and non-believers. When faced with trouble we turn to God. We seek God's help at the worst of times and we thank and praise God at the best of times. Non-believers look at us, shake their heads and think to themselves, "No God."

The second point occurs at the end of the film (this is a spoiler alert. If you haven't seen the film and you might like to skip this next paragraph as I'll be revealing plot points at the end of the film). When things seem to be hopeless for the few remaining humans, Ethan (Hartnett) takes a syringe of vampire blood and injects himself with it so that he can fight the vampire leader. After Ethan defeats the leader the other vampires slink away and our heroes survive, except Ethan. Having turned himself into a vampire, he chooses to sit and watch the sun rise, effectively committing suicide. Because of his self-sacrifice Ethan becomes a Christ figure in this story. He sacrifices himself and his life in order to save everyone else. Jesus said in John 15:13: No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Not only does Ethan demonstrate his love for his friends, he demonstrates the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.

While 30 Days of Night is not the best horror movie you can rent this Halloween season, it is an entertaining film with a somewhat different twist on the traditional vampire flick. If you like vampire or horror movies it's worth a look.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Labyrinth - Not your momma's muppet movie

So to start off this movie blog thing I thought I'd write about a film that I've preached from before and one that I enjoy watching. Labyrinth is a Jim Henson directed and George Lucas produced muppet movie, but it's not your typical muppet movie by any stretch of the imagination. The overwhelming majority of the characters in this film are Henson muppet versions of goblins and other fantasy denizens that are definitely not cute like the muppets of TV and Sesame Street fame. David Bowie stars as the Goblin King and Jennifer Connelly plays Sara in this imaginitive, coming of age fantasy. This film, originally released in 1984, centers around a young girl named Sara who finds herself thrown into a fantastical adventure in a magical maze in order to save her little brother from the Goblin King. Along the way she learns a series of life lessons and she learns about what's really important.

Early on in Sara's adventure she encounters a talking worm who gives her the following advice - "Things are not always what they seem in this place, so you can't take anything for granted." To be sure, this is good advice no matter where you are. In this world things are rarely what they seem and it's almost never good to take things for granted.

One thing that's striking in this film is someting that Sara says many times over, "It's not fair!" How many times do we hear people cry about the fairness of things today? I'm sorry to inform you of this, but life isn't fair. God promised us salvation but God did not promise that life would be fair. But this thought is something that Sara overcomes during the course of the movie by taking control of her situation instead of letting it control her.

As I see it, the most theological aspect of this movie is he idea of fellowship. Sara finds companions of like mind along the way, companions who ultimately help her find her way through the labyrinth and rescue her baby brother. At the end of the film, when she's back home and deciding to put away her childish things (1 Corinthians 13), Sara becomes nostalgic for her old friends. They show up and the film ends on a high note with the cast of muppets singing and dancing, having an ultimate celebration. I find this idea reflects what it may be like in heaven when one person is saved. I also believe that the fellowship of friends on a journey reflects the fellowship of Christian believers. We are all on this journey together. There are times when we just need one another, times when we need to celebrate growth, celebrate milestones, even just to celebrate little steps of faith. Paul wrote extensively about the community of the church and how we are to love and support one another. Jim Henson seems to have grasped this idea in Labyrinth, whether he was a Christian or not.

2009 is the 25th anniversary of this film and there was a recent DVD re-release, so it is available for rent and purchse. A word of caution to parents - there are occasions in which the main characters are in peril and a few scenes in the dark that little ones might find scary. But overall, Labyrinth is a wonderful family film with a healthy message. Enjoy it.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Ground Rules

OK, if I'm going to pontificate theologically on movies it's probably worthwhile that you all know a little more about my movie preferences and such before we begin. Afterall, I wouldn't want people expecting me to do something that I might never do.

First, I'm a guy. That means two things; I like "guy" movies and sometimes I'm not too discerning about the quality of a film. I may occasionally comment on a film's acting or script or whatever, but I'm certainly no critic. Also, don't expect me to be watching too many "chick flicks." I will not be reviewing Fried Green Tomatoes or Steel Magnolias anytime soon, if at all.

Second, my reviews will not always be of current movies. I have a pretty large collection of DVDs at home and I get premium channels on cable. Whatever I write about will simply be whatever has sparked a thought for me this week. I'm also not going to limit myself just to movies. I could comment on a recent television show, a CD I just bought, a book I'm reading or anything else that's going on in popular culture.

Third and finally, I'm not the only game in town and I know it. I read several websited that comment on movies and popular culture from a theological perspective. is one of my favorites and I recommend it. If you just want a heads-up on current movies read

All in all, I'm just a Christian guy who likes to watch movies. Hope what I have to say is interesting and maybe a little informative.

Even more adoption news

MrsRev spoke to the caseworker today. They'll be out on Tuesday to finalize the paperwork with us and are moving to expedite the adoption. They'd like to schedule the adoption hearing for Nation Adoption Day, November 20th, also coincidentally MrsRev's birthday. Does this mean I'm off the hook for a birthday gift this year?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

News on the adoption front

We got a call from the law guardian of our little girl today and they've finally heard from the appeals court. Birth mom's appeal? Denied! She has two weeks to appeal this to the state supreme court, but most often this doesn't happen and even when it does it is rarely heard by the court. This now clears the way for us to adopt this little girl and makes MrsRev and I very happy. We've already bugun the paperwork for the adoption and things will move fairly quickly once the two weeks passes. So, the likelihood is that within a month or so I'll be able to post some pics and pass around a few cigars. I'll keep you all posted.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Foster update

MrsRev and I are still foster parents and still loving it. Since the last time I updated folks on our foster situation we've had a few more children pass through our home. The five year old boy that was with us in February has been moved to a special needs home. The ten year old turned eleven in May and went back to live with his dad in July - it's a success story in that the dad got his act together. The baby was with us for four weeks before he went to family in preparation for going back to his mother. Since then we've had one boy and three little girls come and go, each for short stays before going to family. The three year old little girl that was with us is still with us and we're still waiting for her case to clear the courts so that we can adopt her. As of right now the local DYFS office told us that they've never had a case in appeals court for this long. It's nice to set a record, but this isn't exactly the kind of record one would want to be a part of.
T, my twenty four year old daughter moved out in May. She's doing really well out on her own and we're very proud of her.
So now it's just MrsRev, me and little D in the house. We get occasional calls for placements and have either not had the room or the kids went to family before they ever got to us. MrsRev was just elected to head the volunteer unit for foster parents in Salem county so our involvement just increased. That's good, in fact it's all good. I wonder if any of you have room in your hearts and/or your lives for children in need. Fostering isn't for everybody, but it is an amazing reward in and of itself. Wanna talk about it?

Thought about this blog after a long hiatus

Obviously I'm not very good at this blogging thing (yes I know I've said that before). But I was thinking about this site this week and an interesting thought came to me. I am a pastor and I am a movie fan. I don't just like movies, I love them. I watch at least one and usually more like two or three movies a week. Sometimes it's for entertainment but usually it's a part of my preparation for preaching and/or just being relevant. Anyway, it occurred to me that it might be interesting for people to read what I thought about some of the movies that I watch, especially if I were analyzing with a theological mindset. So I'm going to give it a try just to see what happens. Oh, and since this blog is linked to my facebook page, every one of my FB friends gets the pleasure of being notified about my ramblings. Lucky you.
I haven't figured out a schedule for this thing just yet; it'll likely be a work in progress for a while but it should be fun.

Friday, February 20, 2009

More foster updates

We've been joined by one more. Thursdy we welcomed an 18 day old infant to our home as the ninth foster child to join us in some way. We don't know the circumstances that put him "in the system," and I couldn't share them even if I did, but he is a cutie. We now have a full house once again (RevDon, MrsRev, T 24y/o, a 10y/o boy, 5y/o boy, 3y/o girl and the new little guy. Without a doubt, I have the hardest time with the babies. I'm a light sleeper and they don't sleep much at all. MrsRev tries to keep him quiet, but I'm usually awake before she is.
Anyway, he probably won't be with us much more than a few weeks when his case is heard in court. Just pray that I can get the sleep I need, because he gets to sleep anytime he wants and I don't. :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Great Show but...

I'm sitting here watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I must admit that I really do enjoy this show. It makes me feel good to see people who have experienced serious tragedy get rewarded for their perseverance and selflessness. The people behind this show do things on a large and public scale that I have done on a smaller and private scale on mission trips. That is the good side of the show.

But not everything in EMHE is quite so good. I fear that there is an element of this show that reinforces the entitlement attitude that pervades society today. I'm certain that there are people out there who watch EMHE and think, "Why aren't they coming to build me a new home? I've had a hard life! I've suffered losses!" Last week my oldest son expressed that he wanted a home and amenities like the people on EMHE got. I asked him if he was willing to make the tradeoff for it. What? I said, "Are you willing to have your house burn down and lose your dad and older brother in a drowning accident in order to have a new home?" I think he learned a little something.

One more thing that bothers me about the show. When one goes on a mission trip in order to help others, one sacrifices. You give of your personal vacation time, usually pay money, sleep on church or gym floors, and work outside in the elements usually without shelter. I don't see a lot of sacrifice from the workers on EMHE. This is their job, they get paid to do it. The main crew, Ty and the designers are certainly not sleeping on the floor, and everyone working on projects for the house outside has and EZ Up for cover. Even the major sponsors "give" items for the home and family, but they receive promotion for their products in the midst of the show. The builders probably put out a lot and their employess often work at a reduced rate, but in all, I don't see the kind of sacrificial giving portrayed in this show that I know we all receive in Jesus.

Nonetheless, I still can't take my eyes off this program. It never fails to bring a tear to my eye and joy to my heart. And in the end, there's nothing bad about that.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fostering update

While I'm at this, thought it would be a good time to update on the fostering adventures of MrsRev and I. Since we became foster parents in the fall of '07 we've had eight different children come into our lives. The first two little boys that came to us in October of '07 left in November '08 and January '09; one to a special needs home and one to be adopted by family. The little girl that joined us in December of '07 will be staying with us as we will be adopting her as soon as the courts approve it. Another young man (10y/o) joined us in April of '08 and is still with us. All the others have been short term or vacation placements. Right now we have a 3y/o girl and two boys 10 and 5.
I've been asked numerous times over the last 16 months about why we do it and why we take in so many children. The simple answer is, because we can. Yes I am in my fouties, but I'm not dead yet. Yes, MrsRev is a full-time student, but she's a home study student with University of Phoenix. We have room in our home and room in our hearts to accomodate chidren who need love, consistency and stability in their lives. Why wouldn't we share it? How could we not share it? Foster parenting has been one of the most challenging but also one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. My heart and my life is so completely full when that little girl looks at me and says, "Daddy, I love you." Who could ask for more?

Love on Valentine's day

I can't help but think that this society has little to no concept of what love really is. We just don't have enough words. Ancient Greek had more than ten words for love. Ancient Hebrew had at least three. Modern English has one. Something is missin there. I mean, I just talked about how I love my wife, but I also love Chinese food. Not in the same ways of course, but what other words does the English language afford me?
The modern world really doesn't know how to love like God knows how to love, that's for sure. We love with expectations. We expect to be loved back. We expect favors for loving someone. "If you love me..." or even better, "If you really loved me..." God loves without expectations. God says, "I love you." We respond with, "Then why am I unhappy? Why don't I have everything I want? Why do I still have needs? If you really loved me God, I wouldn't be unhappy." And still God says, "I love you." No conditions. No stipulations. No expectations. Agape = unconditional love, that's what we all need on Valentine's Day. Save the chocolate and flowers for somebody else.

Friday, February 13, 2009

OK, so I'm not so good at this

Yes, it's been a long time since I last posted a blog. Yes, more than a year. I know. I get so busy and I just forget to even look. But I've been thinking recently that I need to be more reflective. In talking to a friend about this she suggested that I start a blog. Well, I have one already! Do you? What is it?

I had to admit my shortcoming when it comes to blogging. But it did get me to thinking that this would be a good way to "think out loud" a little more and thus be more reflective about things going on in my life. So I'm scrapping the idea of posting my sermons. Instead, this wil become my place to ruminate on "stuff." Maybe there's no one in the whole world that wants to hear what I have to say except me and my lovely wife. That's cool too.

And speaking of MrsRevDon: I was in the Blockbuster a couple of weeks ago (Blockbuster is a dying breed by the way. Netflix will bury them soon), and I came across a film called "I Think I Love My Wife." I thought to myself, "I KNOW I love my wife." Maybe this comes out of it being just before Valentine's Day, but MrsRev is the most beautiful person I know. She has a heart the size of a major metropolis. Her first and last thought of every day is for the care and well-being of someone else, usually me. Aside from being a full-time college student, she is a stay at home mom for three foster children, a husband and an adult daughter. All that and she's studying to become a family therapist. There are so few good people in this world that I just have to crow about this one.