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Monday, May 22, 2006

De-Coding the Media

It's interesting to me to notice that news articles like this one are trumpeting that the opening of the The Da Vinci Code movie was "the second-biggest debut ever at the global box office." Facts from a little further down in the article:
  • In the U.S., the enthusiasm was less intense: it "...sold about $77 million worth of tickets at movie theaters in the United States and Canada during its first three days," and "The biggest North American opening this year had been $68 million for 'Ice Age: The Meltdown' seven weeks ago. But 'The Da Vinci Code' numbers were still far from the $115 million record held by 2002's 'Spider-Man.'"

  • The reason it had such a big opening weekend was because of overseas markets: "'The Da Vinci Code' earned about $147 million overseas, the biggest international opening ever."

  • It didn't even do as well in the U.S. as another movie with a religious theme: "The strong sales came despite -- or because of -- an onslaught of protests and publicity not seen since another religious movie, Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ,' earned $84 million domestically during its first weekend in February 2004. It grossed $612 million worldwide."
Seems like another indicator that the world outside the United States tends to not be as likely to reject a movie based on "Christian" religious convictions. Whether this is because they are not Christians, or because they are open-minded, or because their Christianity does not transfer over to their not-at-church lifestyle, or because they do not consider it a movie that has any relevance to their religious convictions at all, I don't know. All I know is that the movie has gotten mainly blah reviews, and although I would not consider it a betrayal of my faith to see it, if it's not even that great of a movie I can't imagine why I would bother. I also have heard that there are many countries in Europe and elsewhere, coughcoughfrancecoughcough, that have become increasingly opposed to Christianity and desperately need our prayers. Hopefully that statement does not make me come off as a USA bigot; I've been to Germany and France and Austria and met many Christians and enjoyed the trip very much. But the figures for this movie do seem to lend a tiny bit of support to what I'm hearing from ministers and missionaries who are in the trenches in other parts of the world. If you live in Europe or elsewhere, please do not be offended, and please do post comments confirming or refuting this post!

Bein' Like Daddy

I'm a songwriter. There are lots of people who write songs or poems, paint, write or tell stories, dance, or do something else that we call "creative." Chances are, you do something like that. Isn't it cool to realize that when you are creating something new, you are in a sense being just like the little kid who walks in Daddy's shoes and wants to use his after-shave? When we use our creative talents for God, we're imitating our Daddy who created everything.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

God's Answer for Broken Relationships

Sunday during our church service we had a brief time of praying for one another... sometimes Pastor has people turn to each other in small groups and pray for each other's needs. This particular time, in the middle of a quick, off-the-cuff list of things we could pray for, he said something about "broken relationships." As I was praying up in the choir loft, I began to thank God that He provided for Salvation by His blood, and healing by His broken body, and on and on... thanking God for everything I could think of that was provided by Jesus' death and resurrection. Then suddenly something occurred to me.

When Jesus was on the cross, all of His closest friends ran away. Only one of them even came back to be with Him as He died. Jesus even gave His own mother away. When He needed them most, almost all the people in Jesus' inner circle had abandoned Him. What I realized was that as Jesus was bearing our sin on Himself, He was also suffering the pain of broken relationships. God's healing and salvation is there for those things too! I guess that just goes to show that there are always more layers to discover as we meditate on what the Word says happened at Calvary!

Monday, May 1, 2006

How Not To Sing

I have a malady which is not good for someone who sings in church. I'm not talking about someone who sings along to the hymns or whatever; I'm in the choir, and from time to time I am even involved in solos and small ensembles. But there's something that gives me problems from time to time, and it causes me concern.

I have a lump in my throat.

It's not a growth or anything like that, though... it only shows up at certain times. For example, I was listening to Christian radio this morning and I started singing along with the Newsboys on a song we sing at my church:

I'm forgiven because You were forsaken
I'm accepted, You were condemned...

BAM. Lump in throat. Can't keep singing with a lump in the way. I didn't even get to "I'm alive and well, Your Spirit is within me because You died and rose again." You can imagine how this could be a problem for someone who sings in church... I don't know if I've EVER made it all the way through the third verse of "In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song." And of course, developing an unscheduled lump in the throat while singing of the goodness of God is touching and all, but doesn't help to provide a stellar vocal performance when you're singing for an audience!

I've heard of people who pull over their cars and raise their hands and have a brief little unplanned worship service right there on the shoulder when they think of something that spiritually moves them. I've even heard preachers talk about getting out and running around the car, they got so excited. Some people probably do stuff like that, but for me, the lump (and maybe a tear or two in my eyes) is basically what happens when gratefulness for God rises up in my heart. I guess I'm not a very showy person... God likes it when we use our bodies to praise Him (and I do sometimes), but when I'm going about my daily business it kind of localizes itself an inch or two below my chin.

Luckily, to date my lump has only appeared when I am singing just for me and God. And actually, in those situations, I'm thinking a lump isn't such a bad thing. It means I'm actually paying attention to what I'm singing, and I'm understanding some tiny bit of what God means to me. In fact, I recommend that everyone who reads this sings a song that gives them a lump today. It doesn't matter if the lump comes from singing "Only Thou art holy, there is none beside Thee, perfect in power, in love and purity" or "I can hear the trumpets sounding and now His face I see... Praise God, He's coming for me!" or "He reigns in Heaven above with wisdom, power and love" or "We stand and lift up our hands, for the joy of the Lord is our strength." It doesn't really matter what song about your Lord gives you a lump in your throat... and it doesn't matter if it's a lump, a jump, a shout or a prayer... let worship music draw you nearer to Him today.