Category Archives: Faith

“The Shack” (My Review)

To Begin With

To begin with, let’s spell out what we know is true about God and His relationship to mankind. I mean, before I start talking about my impressions of a work of fiction – a movie – let’s talk reality, theologically speaking.

First, God is best understood as existing in trinity:

TRINITY (from Lat. trinitas).† An expression for the revelation of the one God (Deut. 6:4) in three “persons,” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the trinity is a theoretical model intended to systematize various expressions in the Bible. The basis in Scripture on which it was built can be summarized as follows: there is only one God; each of the three divine persons is recognized to be God; God’s selfrevelation recognizes distinctions among these three persons in that there are interactions among them; and these distinctions are not just a matter of revelation (as received by humans) but are also eternally immanent in the Godhead.

Source: Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 1019.

Second, God has spoken and speaks to His children through the revealed and completed work of Scripture (the Bible). Therefore, what contradicts or stands in opposition to the Word of God is contrary to truth, therefore in error.

Third, God also speaks in a general sense through the works and workings of His creation (Romans 1:19-20).

Does God still speak to his children through dreams? I believe it is possible, for God can do anything He wishes, and He’s the same today as He was yesterday. However, does He speak through dreams and visions to His children in the same way which is recorded in the Bible? That’s debatable.

Fourth, God works in ways we can’t always understand…

For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV

Therefore, if He wanted to, there’re’so nothing to stop the Lord from giving a man a dream of being with the Godhead in a shack for a weekend, eating Divinely-prepared breakfasts and dinners, while not compromising what He has already revealed in the completed canon of Scripture. Has He ever done such a thing? I don’t know. But He could.

My Review

Look, I am not a professional film critic. I don’t know much about industry lingo. The best I can do is simply tell you what I think about what I saw.

Despite what many of my Christian brothers and sisters have said, I thought The Shack was a really good movie. I have never read the book on which the movie was based, so I don’t know how it compares. But what I do know is that what I watched did not contradict the overall truths about God as mentioned above. That’s the first big point.

What we have in The Shack is a story about a man who lost his youngest daughter to a terrible sex crime. The aftermath of the loss brought about bitterness, guilt, and questions of God’s character. In short, the lead character felt qualified to judge God.

Instead of being angry or disappointed with the lead character, Mack, we find out that God loved him and wanted to restore joy and wonder to his faith. Even more, God wanted Mack to trust Him. In The Shack we see a God who wants to restore relationships with His children, those who are His, but have strayed as a result of their pain.

There are certain elements in this movie that have been criticized unfairly. One of those is in the way God the Father (“Papa”) is portrayed for a good portion of the film as an older black woman. This alone has cause some to flip their lid. However, should one watch the movie he would find out that there was a practical, personal reason for God appearing as woman – Mack had an abusive father as a child, and it was always an older black lady who comforted him with godly wisdom and fresh-baked apple pie. When Mack asked Papa why He was a woman, she (God) replied: “After what you’ve been through, I didn’t think you could handle a father right now.” Later in the movie when Mack needed the leadership of a man, God assumed the role of a masculine male.

Essentially, no doctrine was compromised by the depictions of God the Father. The film told a story which reflected the same truths as depicted in Luke 13:34 and 15:20…God can be both a mother hen and a merciful father.

Believe it or not, Jesus was portrayed by a mid-30’s, Israeli-born Jewish man. The casting was perfect.

The Holy Spirit was portrayed by a young Asian woman. I didn’t get that one, but it really didn’t matter; if your going to put a physical appearance to the Spirit, an Asian girl is just as logical as an older black woman.

Honestly, before the movie started, I had in front of me a note pad ready to record every blatant heresy I was expecting to see. Yet, when the movie was over the pad was still bank. Frankly, there was only one line in the movie that caused me to pause it and have a quick discussion with my family…(NOTE: Discussion is the important key to watching any movie with one’s family.)…Papa responded to a question Mack asked about punishing people for their sins by saying: “I don’t punish…sin is its own punishment.” I understood the sentiment, but a quick word search on BlueLetterBible.com through some in some wrenches.

The important thing to remember is that the movie storyline clearly indicates Mack never actually, physically, went to the old shack. What we are left with is the question of whether or not God might choose to miraculously step in through a vision or dream and individually speak to a man in order to change his heart. But even that is not the main point of The Shack.

The main point of this movie is to show through admitted fiction that what we think we know about God might be wrong. Even though The Shack does do a good job of reinforcing a biblical description of the Godhead, especially relating to the question of pain and evil in the world, there is an element of danger: If we don’t point people to the Bible to read what God has written about Himself, only cause people to question their perceptions, then we are only left with more questions and more uncertainty.

In conclusion, there are many quality moments in this movie worthy of open discussion. As a Christian, I was certainly blessed by what I watched. My only concern is that, other than showing the main character and his family in the end worshipping together in a Christian church, there are too many loose ends: an unbeliever who watches is not given any distinct instructions on how to experience a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, only an affirmation that it’s OK to trust God, even in the bad times, because He is always good.

I would love to hear your feedback, so share your thoughts in a comment. 

 

 

16 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Faith, General Observations, God, Movie review

Fight On!

A word of encouragement from the “preacher.”  

“Are you fighting with the adversary today? Are Satan, the world, and the flesh, all against you? Be not discouraged nor dismayed. Fight on!… Fear not, you shall overcome, for who can defeat Omnipotence? Fight on, “looking unto Jesus;” and though long and stern be the conflict, sweet will be the victory, and glorious the promised reward.” – Charles H, Spurgeon 

Fight on, brothers! Fight on!

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Faith, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, Struggles and Trials

Would You Pray With Me? 

Dear Lord, you know who I’m praying for at this moment. You know who she is, her name, everything she’s going through, and even her real hair color. Father, you even know every hair out of her head, as you said in your Word. Now, God, I’m coming to you, along with all those who will pray with me, and interceding on her behalf.

Lord, she says she doesn’t believe in you, But so often that’s nothing about a denial of the truth. She knows you’re there, she just doesn’t want you to be there. God, soften her heart, break her heart, do whatever you need to do to open her eyes to the truth. You were there, and you were waiting, draw her to Yourself.

Lord, I know of many people who have been hurt by those who call themselves Christians. I know this young girl has been hurt, too. But I also know that there have been many who you have broken through the hardness of the walls they have built around their hearts. Break down the walls around this young woman’s heart. 

Jesus, I know you are glorified whenever anyone gives his or her heart to you. Lord, I pray that you would be glorified when this young woman turns from her sin, repents, and gives her heart and life to you.

Continue, or God, to break our hearts for the lost!

In the name of Jesus Christ I pray this, amen.

14 Comments

Filed under Faith, grace, Love of God, Prayer

My Father’s World

Katie, my middle daughter, is now in Europe. She is soooo far away! Completely out of my hands. 

Before she left I warned her, “Now Katie, understand, I DO NOT have a particular set of skills…” If you don’t get it, don’t worry; leave that to me. 

But, you know, even though I don’t have a skill set which includes hunting down bad guys or rescuing damsels in distress, my Father in Heaven – the Creator – does! He has more skills than anyone can comprehend! 

As a matter of fact, this is my Father’s world, and He is far more capable than I of watching over my daughter, no matter where she is. 

Here is Katie singing this past Sunday morning. 

6 Comments

Filed under Countries, Faith, Parenting

A Baptist Being a Baptist 

More than Boating and Fishing

Believe it or not, there are more things one can do at a lake than fish, go boating, or camp. Personally, I believe what I got to do today was more fun and more worthwhile than catching the biggest fish.

Jesus said if we would follow him He would make us “fishers of men.” So, instead of going to the lake to get fish, I got to go to the lake to put “fish” in it!

Here are some photos of the baptism we had at the lake next to our church in Soddy Daisy, TN. Since the little old church doesn’t have a baptistery of its own (why I don’t know), the big one out by the pier and boat ramp had to do 😉

May I just add one thing? The water was absolutely cold! So, those of you with the nice, heated, indoor baptisteries, not to mention those nice rubber suits you guys get to wear to avoid getting wet – THIS WAS WAY MORE EXHILARATING!

Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” – Mark 1:17 NKJV

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: – Matthew 28:19

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. – Acts 8:12

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. … And as they went on [their] way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, [here is] water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. – Acts 8:12, 36-38

Just doing what Baptists do 🙂

11 Comments

Filed under baptist, Church, community, Faith

10 Easy Tips to Spark Up Your Love Life (Conservative Evangelical Edition)

Your Requests

Lately I have been getting a lot of requests* from my readers and random people I meet on the street. They have been asking things like, “Hey, Anthony! Why don’t you write a blog post that deals with relationships and dating?”

There have also been multiple married couples** across the country come up to me and point-blank beg me to share my thoughts on marriage, keeping the love alive, etc. Probably 25 couples*** specifically asked, “Can you enumerate a list of actions we as couples can take to ‘spark’ things up, but in a Baptist way?”

So, what else can I do but give my readers what they ask for, right?

Therefore, as requested, here are approximately 10 easy tips to spark up your love life – if you are a conservative Evangelical or Baptist, of course.

10 Easy Tips to Spark Up Your Love Life

Men:

  1. Open the car door. I know, it may sound old fashioned, but the ladies really to like it when you open and hold the door to the car, especially when other people with bad marriages are looking. NOTE: Make sure you hold it open and watch your wife/fiance/date actually complete the task of getting all the way in before you turn your head and shut the door. Remember, it’s not your responsibility to notice the ooo-ing onlookers touched by your chivalry; that’s the female’s place…you don’t want to break her ankle.
  2. Buy her flowers. Christian girls adore God’s creation just as much as the nearest tree-hugging liberal. Therefore, don’t forget to buy your woman some flowers now and then. NOTE: Make sure beforehand if she is allergic to any particular specimen. Otherwise, make sure you have some anointing oil handy, along with someone who can demand that the spirit of asthma be gone.
  3. Choose the right restaurant. When your better half wants to go out to dinner, or when you suggest it, ask where she would like to eat. When she then says, “Oh, it doesn’t matter; wherever you want to go,” you softly say, “I think I would like to go to _______.” With what do you fill in the blank? The restaurant SHE likes, NOT where you would actually want to go.
  4. Tell her she looks beautiful. Married guys, right when you roll over in the morning and see your wife, tell her you love her AND “you look beautiful this morning!” No, she won’t believe you, but she will enjoy hearing it. Then, later in the day, say it again, right when she doesn’t expect it. NOTE: Don’t tell her she looks beautiful more than twice in the same day – she’ll know you’re up to something and the plan will backfire. Single guys, just tell her she’s “pretty” and save the rest for marriage.

Women:

  1. Tell your man you’re proud of him. In all seriousness, if there is anything a man wants, it is to be respected. Even if he’s been acting like an idiot and messing up everything he touches, let him know you are proud of him for trying. The last thing you want to live with is a bumbling idiot whose depressed, too.
  2. Brag on your husband. Don’t misunderstand, bragging on your husband is just the half of it. What you need to do to spark things up is brag on him to other women, and do it is such a way that he is not supposed to know what you said, but you “accidentally” let him find out. For example, send an email or text to your BFF saying something like, “God gave me the best husband any woman could ever dream of! I’m sorry your husband isn’t as wonderful as mine…#praying4u” Then, leave your computer on, or “accidentally” forward him a copy.
  3. Surprise him with tickets to a manly-man guy flick. Believe me, ladies, if you want to make your man feel special, accepted, loved, and adored, say to him, “Honey, guess what? I got us both tickets to go see Star Wars! Unless, of course, you’d like to go see The Day the World Was Saved by Blowing Up Stuff; I’d really like to see that, too.”
  4. Pick some flowers for him. First, you’d be amazed at how guys can be touched by something as sensitive and caring as you giving him flowers. But, keep this in mind – don’t buy them! Your man will be far less stressed if you don’t spend money on stupid stuff like flowers that are only going to die in a day or two, anyway. Pick the flowers and he will love them – and you!

TransGender & LGBT Folk:

NOTE: I can’t help you. However, see the United Methodist, Presbyterian (USA), Unitarian Church, Alliance of Baptists, and Ecumenical Catholic websites, to name a few, for further information. Or, just look for wherever the co-opted symbol of the rainbow is displayed.

For Couples (heterosexual, married, and not just living together):

  1. Pray together. Don’t just pray for each other; pray WITH each other.
  2. Go to church together. Don’t just go to church, however; sit with each other and worship together. NOTE: if you have children that seem to require the whole pew and it forces the both of you to separate and sit at either end, see my other post entitled “Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child.”
  3. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5. That’s all I’m going to say about that; you’ll need to look that up on your own.

BONUS: Spend the evening together at your local Lifeway Christian Book Store.

Conclusion

The last bit of advice I can give is this: Put God first in your relationships and He will provide whatever you need to make it great and make it last.

 

* Not really.

**Again, not really. I’m joking.

***Ditto.

9 Comments

Filed under baptist, Christian Living, Defending Traditional Marriage, Faith, Humor, Relationships and Family, wisdom

“It was Jesus”: A Testimony of Faith and Praise

I am a blogger, a semi-professional writer, but my wife is not: she’s an accountant. Valerie deals with numbers all the time, not words.

However, when Valerie does write, she has a flair all her own, one that I could never duplicate…one you will enjoy. Therefore, when she recounted to me the conversation she had yesterday with her gynecologist, I knew you needed to hear it…

In her words.

So, what you are about to read are the words of my wife, Valerie. I’m turning over the keyboard to her.


I feel that to do the Lord the justice that He deserves, I need to go back about 12 years.  I had a complete hysterectomy, including my ovaries, when sweet Haley was maybe 4 years old.  Please understand this was not as a form of birth control; no, I would have had more children if I could have.  (I really do not know if Anthony and I had discussed more – maybe it was just me, but either way, you know who would have won that battle!)  I was very lucky to have the last two children that I had and am very thankful.

During the three-day hospital stay after having the hysterectomy, my sweet husband was by my side – sure wish I had pictures! Yes, he was sleeping on the chair/bed for the visitor who is crazy enough to stay.  The funny part is that I was hotter than I’d ever been and he was colder than he had ever been.  You see, on day two, it just happened to be the coldest day of winter that we had that year.  I looked over as I sat on the bed with only a hospital gown and panties on, to him with a toboggan, a winter coat zipped up tight, and several blankets.  I had the air conditioning on in the room and still was hot!  I guess I could have opened the windows, but I didn’t think about it.

Now, we lived in KY at the time.  After having two bad experiences at the local hospital (Jenny Stuart, but nick-named “Killer Stuart”) our family drove to the next closest hospital which was about 40 minutes away.  I was released just after lunch on day three.  I was still just burning up!  I had the window down and my head sticking out going down the Pennyrile Parkway in something-teen-degree weather.  Anthony?  He still had that same coat, toboggan, and now gloves on.  Somehow I figure this was a faster drive than usual.

I had a patch on my arm with hormones that I was supposed to wear five days, remove two days, and then apply a new patch for five days.  After the second day of the second patch, I ripped it off and Jesus and I had a little chat that went something like this:

Me: Jesus, you know that I did not desire this hysterectomy.

Me: Are you there?  I said I did not desire this hysterectomy!  I wanted more children…. (by now the tears are coming).

Jesus:  (He did not audibly speak to me, but the Word of God sure came flying at me.)  Be happy in whatever state you are in.  Be content with what you have.  I am here.  I will help you.  I love you.

Me:  Ok, I will be content and happy, but I really need for you to handle the hormone part because really just can not take the patches.

Jesus: (I waited….)

Well, things were much better.

In 2007 or 2008, I had my yearly exam at the gynecologist.  While waiting in the exam room, I was reading the poster on the back of the door about the pros and cons of estrogen.  Looked to me like the cons were medical complications and problems, and all the pros were for pleasure and nothing really medical at all.  After the exam, my doctor always leaves and has me dress and then the nurse will come and get me to take me to his office where he sits across the desk and talks to me about his findings and makes suggestions, etc.  While I was waiting for the nurse, I snapped a picture of the chart on the back of the door.

Once in his office, he began the spill that I had heard for year after year about how important estrogen is and how much better I would feel.  I brought up the poster on the door and he said, “The cons rarely ever happen.  In fact, I have never had a patient experience any of those problems.  So that year he convinced me.  I left and went to Target to get my estrogen prescription.

Two days later, Anthony and I were at the mall shopping (not my favorite thing.) and he said, “I wish you felt better.  We hardly ever get to do this.”  I told him if I could just vomit I though I would be better.  The next day, I went to work and I felt really bad.  I never even thought about the estrogen as the cause.  I was so really achy.  Could this be the flu?  I worked later than usual trying to get things finished up so when I was driving home I hit major traffic on I-24.  I typically drove the van, but for some reason that day was in the Honda Accord, which happened to be a 5-speed.  I remember my right arm hurting so badly that I was clutching with my left foot, holding the steering wheel straight with my right knee, and shifting with my left hand.  Traffic was c r a w l i n g!

Anthony NEVER meets me at the door when I come home unless I phone ahead and ask him to come out and help carry stuff in. That day, he did.  He opened the door, looked at me, and then said, “You look awful!”  It did not even hurt my feelings; my reply was only that I needed to read about female heart attacks.  I had all but two of the symptoms.  Needless to say, we headed straight to the ER.  My initial EKG was just a little off, nothing to worry too much about.  Other tests were showing things getting worse and a second EKG was not good.  I kept telling them, “It’s the ESTROGEN!” and they kept ignoring me.  I was admitted for further testing.  I finally got the floor doctor to hear me.  He didn’t believe that to be the cause but did tell me to call my GYN and have him come remove the estrogen.  I did it myself.  That was early morning.  As the day progressed, my test  results were getting better and better.  I fully expected to be going home.

But I have a daddy who has a lengthy heart history that was not impressing the doctor to make rash decisions.  My dad told my brother to make sure the doctor knows the family wants him to do a heart cath because my dad’s heart attacks never showed up on the early tests, but always ended up with stents after having a heart cath.  Well, the doctor agreed.  So here I go the next day into a very scary procedure.  I left with a clean bill of health, heart-wise, but with a diagnosis of “chemically induced heart attack. Listed in my chart was, “Allergic reaction to estrogen.”

Now, let’s finally fast forward to yesterday (4/19/2017). My yearly exam with the gynecologist.  Even though I have told him that estrogen had thrown me into a “chemically induced heart attack,” he tends to think it was co-incidence.  Each year we have that same talk, and each year I remind him.  This year was different.

Yesterday, I was waiting in his office admiring his children and cool artwork when he came in and sat behind the desk.

“Valerie,” he said, “I do not have you down as taking any kind of replacement hormones, and if my memory serves me correctly, you aren’t.”

I said, “No.”

He said, “I didn’t think so, but looking at your cells under a microscope, I am very surprised  – at your age and having no ovaries – to find that your cells look very estrogenized.”

He was puzzled to be sure!  I said in a very every-day, casual voice, “Oh, that is Jesus!” He looked up at me with a questioning expression.  I continued, “Years ago I told Jesus that I did not want to have a hysterectomy and that I had wanted more children and since I had to have one anyway, I asked him to take care of the hormones …and he has!”  He took it in and shook his head, looking back down to the chart, and then asked a more personal, intimate question that I really do not want to share on here… again, he was surprised.  I quickly added, “that is Jesus, too.”

You just never know where the opportunity to share Jesus will come up.  Even though I did not get the chance to tell him all about the Good News, I know a seed was planted.  I wonder how he slept last night?

– Valerie J. Baker

So, did you like what Valerie wrote? Let her know in the comment section.

15 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Faith, God, Guest Posts, Prayer, worship