Rest

In the beginning of Batman vs. Superman, Lois Lane is being held by a group of militants. When the base is attacked, a militant grabs her in a headlock and puts a gun to her head. It is at that moment that Superman appears.

She looks into his eyes and does something amazing. With a nod and a smile, she lets go of the militant. The militant who has a gun to her head. And who has a death grip on her. She lets go!

Why? Because Superman can’t take him out while she’s still attached to him. If she held on, she would have been dragged with him or otherwise hurt.
I’ve been wrestling myself lately. I’ve been wrestling with extreme emotions and suicidal thoughts. I’ve been crying constantly. I feel like I’m in a death grip myself with depression. And it wants to end this battle shortly.

I popped this movie in the other day and this scene grabbed me. It’s a departure from the classic damsel in distress narrative. Most of the time, the “damsel” is portrayed as a panicky waif. She is no more than set dressing to tell the hero’s story or to show his strength. In real life, these damsels actually hinder any efforts to save them through their panic.

Watching this scene, I was reminded of Jesus’ words, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28, 30) In the new DC cinematic universe, Lois Lane knows full well who Superman is and has a relationship with him. She trusts him. Lois Lane is no longer a panicky waif. It’s no longer “fight or flight”. She has a third option and that is rest. We tend to think of rest as a passive action. We see here that it is much the opposite. It is a conscious decision to let go in spite of the fear, in spite of the anger, anxiety, and depression that you feel.

It also means no longer identifying with those things. By letting go, she is saying that this battle is already over. She is saying that these things have no control over her.

Just as in real life, this doesn’t mean that trouble doesn’t exist or won’t find you. It just means you now have a third option for dealing with these things.

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Who’s Your Daddy?

One of the main questions that philosophy seeks to answer is, “Where do you come from?” God has been talking to me about my origins these past two weeks and it really tied a lot of things together for me. I’m sure philosophy has some really interesting answers but here’s mine.

The four Gospels were written by four very different men. If you’ve peaked at the first Gospel, Matthew, you’re probably wondered what the deal is with all the “begats”. Well, from what I know about the culture of the day, your origins were very important. They determined what your station in life was and who would listen to you. Both Matthew and Luke, the 3rd Gospel, give a genealogy of Jesus Christ. However, they are different.

Matthew traces Jesus’ lineage back to Abraham. Matthew wanted people to know that Jesus was a Jew and also heir to the throne. Luke, who was a doctor, traced Jesus’ lineage back aaaaallllll the way back to Adam. Luke wanted people to know that Jesus was a human man, the Son of Man. It is believed that Luke’s genealogy traces Mary’s family history because Joseph wasn’t the biological father of Jesus.

What about Mark, the 2nd Gospel? He wanted people to see the suffering servant side of Jesus. Nobody cares about the family history of a servant. So Mark doesn’t bother with a genealogy.

Then that leaves John, the 4th Gospel. At first glance, you’d think that he left out a genealogy as well. You see, John wanted people to know that Jesus was the son of God. Where does God have his origin? In God! Now read the first couple verses:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
John 1:1‭-‬4, emphasis added

John’s genealogy is pretty simple. Jesus came from God. But what else came from God, according to John? We did!!!

If you think you’re a result of your parent’s decision on prom night, you are very mistaken. You’re a result of the conscious direction and will of God. God does not make accidents. You may have even been conceived out of rape but your true origin is in Jesus Christ. That’s far, far greater news.

I was talking with a friend the other day. He’s feeling a lot of condemnation from his family. He’s trying to better himself but his family only sees and remembers the bad. I think sometimes we have to choose which family we’ll follow. Not all the time but sometimes. That doesn’t mean disowning them*, cursing them, or holding onto unforgiveness, it simply means choosing a different path than they showed you.

*Sometimes, going “no-contact” is the only sane and healthy choice with an extremely narcissistic family or family member. It’s never easy so really pray about this option before going through with it. God will give you the grace to handle it.

There’s a proverb that says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

This is all fine and good if your parents or guardians started you off on the right path. A lot of us, however, were not and now we’re seemingly stuck on a dead end road. It is a scientific fact that that our brains grow more in the first few years of life than the rest of our life combined. This is when we need to recognize our origin and possibly switch paths. And God gives us Grace to do it through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37

Again, this is not about disowning family or breaking up families. Far from it! He’s calling us to or true origin. Whose heritage will you identify with? Whose heritage will you manifest? Are you descended from your natural father and mother? Or are you descended from Jesus? Jesus was all about his father in heaven. I’ve posted on this before. When Jesus was tempted, he never said he couldn’t do those things. He refused to do them because His Father had not requested it. The temptation wasn’t all the kingdoms of the world at his disposal, they’re already HIS!!! The temptation of Jesus Christ was to convince Him to do something independent of His Father in Heaven!!!

Just as you have DNA from your parents, you have inherited spiritual DNA from your Heavenly Father. And you are the spitting image of Him!!!! When the Father looks at you, he sees Jesus. You might need a bit of a polish now and then but He sees Himself.

Here’s the issue: Nobody has a problem believing Adam gave sin to all but hardly anyone believes Jesus brought holiness and righteousness to all. Sure, you may have inherited a disease from your parents or a bad personality trait or a predilection to addiction. It’s easy to see what you’ve inherited from your natural family. Almost no one wants to see what they have inherited from their spiritual family.

It’s like that scene in Ever After. Danielle had been secretly meeting Prince Henry for romantic rendezvous’. She had been using her mother’s name because her mother was a noble. Danielle makes it to the ball, only for her stepmother to out her as a servant in front of the prince. Her stepmother literally rips her wings off. Prince Henry, being human, is understandably upset. The same happens in Heaven. Satan continually tries to “out” us as fake. “She’s not really yours. She’s been my servant for 20/30/40 years.” Jesus, however, knows the truth. He says, “No, you’re wrong. She’s been my child since before the beginning of time. She may have glanced your way a time or two but she’s mine.”

So what we need to do is change our identity. In Genesis 17, God makes his covenant with Abram.

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty ; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”  Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram ; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.” Genesis 17:1‭-‬5, emphasis added

At first, it seems God is giving an impossible command. Walk before me and be blameless. But what happens after that? Abram gets an identity change! He’s no longer Abram but Abraham. Sarai is now Sarah. Both their names get an extra “ha” like a breath of air or even laughter. Air or laughter is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. They now have a name that reflects their origin in God. Now the command is not so impossible. If God is faithful and blameless, then so are we!!!

Such. Good. News!!!!!

Tarzan

“A normal man will do the impossible for the woman he loves. My husband is no normal man.”

From Song of Solomon: “Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved? Under the apple tree I roused you; there your mother conceived you, there she who was in labor gave you birth.

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”

I was scrolling Facebook the other day when I came across this trailer for the new Tarzan movie. Normally, I don’t watch videos on Facebook but the caption caught my eye. “My husband is no normal man.”

Holy Spirit immediately began to speak to me about Tarzan as a type and shadow of our bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Before a couple days ago, I had never given the story of Tarzan much thought but now I’m going to have to read some of the original stories.

I was meditating on this image of Jesus as Tarzan and here’s what I wrote:

He doesn’t care about your culture.
He doesn’t care about your rules.

He doesn’t care about your religion.

He doesn’t dress like you.
He doesn’t talk like you.

But he loves you.

He is your North Star.

You conform to him.
Not the other way around.

Abandon your culture. Abandon your rules.

Learn a new language. Learn a new culture. Speak out of the heart and spirit.

The enemy can take you but you can say,

“A normal man will do the impossible. My husband is no normal man.”

You can face your trials with no fear.

For he will come for you. Be near you.

He is wild. He is passion. He is fire. Jealousy unyielding as the grave.

He has no fear. He has made a public spectacle of your enemies.

Your husband rewrote the natural order to be near you.

Where is death’s victory?

Where is death’s sting?

Your husband is no normal man.

Yet.

You are one with him.

You are no normal person.

Greater things will you do together than apart.

Matrix Revolutions

Watched Matrix Revolutions the other day. I think I figured it out. Neo lets Agent Smith take him over. Smith thinks he’s won. But it’s only through taking on Smith’s form that Neo is able to spread his essence to all the Smith duplicates and shatter them, leaving behind the people (and programs) they once were. Reminded me of I Cor. 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

Because, in the same way, Christ took on the sin of the world and died. Right then, the power of sin and death was broken and the veil was torn, allowing the Holy Spirit to spread throughout the Earth.

Twins – Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito

Twins is a wonderful little PG-13 comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito.  In the movie, they are twin brothers.  That’s right.  Twins.  Tall, muscular Julius Benedict (played by Arnold) and short, stocky Vincent Benedict (played by Danny).  They are actually products of a genetic experiment.  The purpose of the experiment was to create a super-human.  Scientists isolated the best traits out of six gifted men and a mother was chosen whose name was Mary.  So Julius and Vincent have seven parents in total.  However, while only one baby was expected, two were born.  The one deemed the fittest (Julius) was sent with one of the scientists to a beautiful island paradise.  The other one (Vincent), deemed unfit, was sent to an orphanage in Los Angeles.  When Julius is 35, he is told about his brother.  Sensing his brother is in trouble, he goes to Los Angeles to find him.  Fun ensues.

So I was two years old when this movie came out.  However, I do remember watching this movie as a kid.  A couple months ago, it was on Netflix so I decided to relive some old times and watch it.  Mostly, I wanted to see if it was funny to adult me as well as toddler me.  However, this movie turned out to be far more profound than I ever imagined.  You see, God is rather impolite and likes to talk during movies.  As he was talking to me, I began to see a wonderful spiritual allegory taking place.

The first thing that stood out to me was the mother.  The mother’s name is Mary Ann Benedict.  Benedict means “blessed”.  So, at the start, you have a girl named “blessed” Mary who is impregnated, not through sexual intercourse, but by in vitro fertilization.  A virgin birth, if you will.  As such, she gives birth to Julius Benedict who is strong physically, mentally, and spiritually.  She is promptly told that her baby died.  She is not even told about Vincent.

A little farther along in the movie, Julius is told about his brother and immediately runs off to see if he is alright.  So Julius gives up his island paradise to go find his brother out in the real world.  Consider the passage in Philippians 2:6-7 which says, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”  So just like Julius leaves his paradise to go find his brother, Christ left his paradise to come find us.  Julius, upon entering the US, immediately goes to the orphanage to find out what happened to his brother.  He is told by the nuns that he is better off without his brother.  How like the religious system to reject those who aren’t already perfect.  Julius is told to look for his brother in jail so that’s his next step.

It just so happens that Vincent was picked up the night before for unpaid parking tickets.  So the first time Julius and Vincent meet is at the jail house.  How awesome!  Why?  How does Jesus find us?  He finds us when we are in bondage to our sinful nature.  What does Julius do?  He pays Vincent fines so he can be released and asks for nothing in return.  So it is with Jesus.  He paid our price so we can live free and asks for nothing in return.  Moving on… While Vincent is thankful to be released, he does not believe that he and Julius are related so he ditches Julius at the impound lot.  It is only when Julius saves him from the loan sharks that Vincent keeps him around.  It is like our own spiritual journey.  At first, we are only interested in what Jesus can do for us.  Does Jesus care?  NO!  He loves to show us what he can do!  Ultimately, he is interested in a relationship with us and he loves to get our attention.

Julius convinces Vincent to search for their biological parents while Vincent has a secret plan of dropping off some stolen merchandise.  Their first stop is at a geneticist’s lab who was involved with the experiment.  At first, the scientist denies any involvement but after some prodding comes clean.  He calls Vincent by name and asks if he escaped from prison.  He later explains that the experiment was a success but there was a byproduct.  Vincent was “the crap left over”.  It is one of the most heartbreaking moments of the film.  Because, throughout the movie, it is shown that Julius and Vincent are quite alike.  They have the same mannerisms, preferences, etc.  They even something of a psychic link.  They really are twins.  So it is with our relationship to Jesus Christ. Being born again, we share the same DNA as Jesus Christ. We are twins. But, we aren’t “the junk left over”. The “church” will try to tell you that you’re missing something. You need to strive to be like God. We need to climb that ladder. We need to clean ourselves up. In reality, we aren’t missing anything. We have the DNA of the creator in our blood. We are just as strong and smart and beautiful as He is. Jesus gave us his entire self. We have his entire Holy Spirit within us. We don’t just have what was left over, we have it all.

Throughout the rest of the movie, Julius proves to be a good example to Vincent and their relationship develops.  After collecting the fee for dropping off the stolen merchandise, Julius convinces Vincent to turn himself in.  They end up getting a healthy reward and starting their own legitimate business.  They both get married and have twins of their own.

Like any analogy, you can’t think about it too hard or it falls apart.  For example, the scientists are like God but God would never lie to us or separate us from Jesus.  Also, I don’t see Jesus engaging in pre-marital sex.  So you got to be careful how far you take this analogy.  However, it is useful in some ways.  I think it would be a good conversation starter with the men in your life.  Men can have a hard time relating to bride-of-Christ allegories or even father/son allegories.  However, Jesus as a twin brother should be easy enough to relate to.

Oceans – Hillsong United

This song reminds me of a movie I haven’t watched for several years. That movie is Gattaca. It’s a science fiction movie about genetic engineering. In this future world, some people are born naturally and some are born by genetic engineering. Those born naturally are looked down upon as being diseased and unfit for more than menial labor. Those engineered are first class citizens with all the privilege. Part of the story focuses on Vincent and his brother Anton. When they were kids, they would go out in the ocean and swim as far as they could. But, being born naturally and with a heart condition, Vincent could never make it as far as Anton could.

That is, until one day, when they are adults. They swim and swim. Pretty soon, Vincent catches up to Anton and then passes him. Anton asks, “Vincent! How are you doing this Vincent? How have you done any of this? We have to go back.” Vincent replies, “You wanna know how I did it? This is how I did it Anton. I never saved anything for the swim back.”

I don’t remember much of the movie except for this part. You see, we are like Vincent. We were frail and flawed. But God calls us to the deeper waters of His grace. My question for you is: Do you save anything for the swim back? Do you just get your feet wet and run back to shore? May we ever swim in the ocean of God. May we go so far that we can’t see the shore. Only then can we see how truly wide and deep is the love of God.