I wrote this regarding Mother’s Day for our church bulletin.
Mother’s Day is a complicated day.
It all started with a woman named Anna Jarvis in 1907 as a way to remember her deceased mother. Just two years later and Jarvis was (unsuccessfully) campaigning to shut Mother’s Day down and stop it from happening again. Why the sudden about face?
Jarvis hated how commercialised the day had become in such a short time. That companies seized the opportunity to increase sales of flowers and greeting cards etc. For Jarvis, the true meaning of Mother’s Day, a day where love and appreciation was shown to the women who raised us, was replaced by a cheap cash grab.
Love it or hate it, Mother’s Day isn’t going anywhere. But the reason I think it’s complicated is not just because of ridiculously sappy greeting cards.
As a church, we want to affirm the role of mothers in our community. Mothers have been given a special role by God to love and nurture children. Mothers give us life and they keep us alive. As a father, I am very thankful for the blessing my wife has been to me and to my boys.
But not all women in our community are mothers. This may be their choice. Or it may be because their wants and desires to be a parent have not matched up with God’s plans for this world. A day celebrating motherhood can be difficult when you are not a mother. Or if you are a mother and your family life is filled with strife and conflict. Celebrating motherhood may be the last thing in the world that you want to do.
The reality is that things are not right in this world. The good world that God created, with everything in order and everyone in good relationship with each other has gone. This is the world we live in, where our lives are not what we want them to be. We long for something better. We long for Jesus to return and make things right. That day is coming. Until then, we wait.
For all our mothers today, we pray that you are looked after. That your family shows you how much they need you and love you. For our women who are not mothers, we pray that you will be looked after. That as a church we can show you how much we need you and love you. A church is not a random collection of strangers, but a family brought together by God to love and encourage each other as we wait for Jesus’ return.
Today, let’s be thankful for all the women in our church family and show them our love and appreciation.
Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence
X-Men Apocalypse is the closest representative of an 80’s X-Men comic we’ve ever seen on the big screen. And that’s a good and a bad thing. In the 1980’s, the X-Men were by far the biggest thing in comics. The X-Men were big and loud and exciting, with complex characters that had powers and abilities that made sure every panel was something phenomenal. While the X-Men movies have tried to capture this feeling, they have largely fallen short, usually because of budget, technology, or fear of spandex. And now we have X-Men Apocalypse, which has given me the comic book movie I never knew I wanted and now eagerly want more of.
It’s 1983 and things are looking up for mutants – people born with extraordinary abilities. While they are still hated and feared by the world around them, they are no longer living in the shadows, and some mutants are even seen as heroes. But because it would be a pretty boring movie if it was just 2 hours of mutants sitting on the grass having a picnic, a major crisis is about to hit. The ancient and powerful mutant Apocalypse has woken up and he is not a fan of the status quo. He believes in survival of the strongest and is planning an extinction level event to kill the weak and promote the strong. Of course, it’s up to the X-Men to save the day.
The star of this movie is Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique. Over three movies, she has taken a character already filled with depth and complexity and taken her in a new and exciting direction. Mystique as a reluctant folk hero is something we haven’t seen before and is something I want to see more of. I really hope that if there’s another X-Men movie that we get to see her develop the character more. Most of the characters we see on screen are given moments to shine, though given the enormous cast, some are going to fall through the cracks (I’m looking at you Jubilee, you big tease).
This big cast is both a blessing and a curse. On the plus side, it means that there stacks of opportunities to show off those cool looking powers used in innovative ways. If you liked the Quicksilver scene in Days of Future Past, you’ll love how he’s used here. On the negative side, if you didn’t watch Days of Future Past, you’re never really introduced to him. I’d have to watch the movie again to check, but I didn’t hear the character given a name until the movie was almost over. Storm, who is one of Apocalypse’s generals, I’m not even sure she’s named at all (neither real name or superhero name). I feel like unless you’ve invested effort into knowing these characters before watching this film, you’re going to be lost.
Finding the themes in a CGI heavy block-buster punch ‘em can be a bit like reading a Where’s Wally book – they are there but can be hiding somewhere behind an explosion or two. The villain Apocalypse follows a very Nietzsche style philosophy – the strong will rise and the weak should get out of the way. In the movie he is challenged by Professor Xavier (James McAvoy), leader of the X-Men, who asserts that it is the responsibility of the strong to protect the weak. From a Christian world view, we are not Apocalypse. We are not even the X-Men. Because we are not the strong. We are the weak. We are powerless in the face of sin in this world and we are unable to overcome this great adversary. If we were to follow Apocalypse’s world view, we wouldn’t stand a chance. We’d be lost. But Xavier is on to something. It’s up to the strong to protect the weak. And the strong is Jesus. We need Jesus. He, not the X-Men, is the saviour of the weak.
This movie has flaws, no denying it. But it also has a man with metal wings fighting a blue skinned teleporter. If you’re after a movie full of superheroes using their powers and not being all grim and gritty and serious where it’s always night time and raining, then check out X-Men Apocalypse. It’s my favourite superhero movie of the year so far.
Most days of the year, the best way to describe my office would be organised chaos. There’s stuff everywhere – mostly dumped there at the end of a long night of youth group or as I’m rushing from one event to the next. In those rare moments of quiet – when programs are wrapping up for the year and I feel like I can stop and take a breath, I get on top of the job of cleaning and organising my office. And in even rarer moments, I start thinking of how I can do the organising thing even better.
And that’s when I get ideas like the Youth Ministry Toolbox.
From the day I got my first smart phone, Glo Bible has been one of my favourite apps. Not only does it have a full text version of the Bible (which alone makes it a worthwhile app) but it’s chock full of extras like commentaries, maps, videos and dictionary articles. On top of that, the apps visual interface is a joy for a visual learner like myself. If you have an iOS device, Glo Bible is a must have app.
At least until the new version comes along early next year. The team behind Glo Bible are currently running a Kickstarter to raise funds to produce an even better app. I’m really excited about the new app and I’m really keen to check it out. I’ve signed on for the Glo Premium reward, which will give me the premium version of the app at a discount rate ($25 reduced from $40). Have a look at the campaign video and consider supporting this great project.
Here is a post from my Formspring page that I thought might be helpful. I’m no longer using Formspring for questions these days. Head on over to my Tumblr if you have a question that you’d like to see answered on Pop Culture Christ.
I’ve heard a lot of people saying they ‘feel as though God’s calling them’ in a certain direction. How can I ‘hear’ from God about big life decisions, like whether to go to bible college or change careers?
The language of calling to specific roles or directions is not something we find in the Bible. What we do find is a calling to godliness. “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) God calls you to live a life that brings glory to God. And because we believe that God is in complete control over this world, we know there is nothing we can do to disrupt his plans for salvation in this world. So what decisions should we make in life? Well, in some respects, it doesn’t matter. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, strength and soul. In everything you do, bring glory to God. So make decisions that honour God. If both your choices bring glory to God, then choose the one you like best. Because God will use you no matter what. We are free to choose.
Because God has freed us to choose, we should be careful when it comes to “listening” for God’s call. He doesn’t promise us he will speak to us and direct us in this way. What he has promised is that if we listen to his Word, the Bible, we will know how to be one of his people and how to live like one of his people. As long as we follow this direction, we are free to live and make decisions as we choose.
For a while I’ve been playing around with Formspring, a site where people can ask you questions and you post the answers to your public page. It’s a site I like… in theory. In practice, I’ve found it clogged up with spam and frivolous information. Originally I joined up to Formspring to interact with authors I enjoy. Now many of them have stopped using Formspring. And now they’re using Tumblr. And from now on, that’s what I’m going to do as well. I already use Tumblr for posting random thoughts and links. I check it regularly and interact with it. And they have a function that works the same as Formspring. So if you have a question that you would like to see me ask, you can either go to my Tumblr page or go direct to my question page. Just like Formspring, there is still the ability to ask questions anonymously.
Is there a question you’d like to see answered on Pop Culture Christ? Is there a movie or song that you would like to see me comment on? Head over to Tumblr and ask away!
Here is a post from my Formspring page that I thought might be helpful.
Does the Bible have any other names for the devil?
Sure. There’s the Serpent in Genesis 2-3. Satan in passages such as Job 1. Beelzebul in Matthew 12. Prince of the Power of the Air in Ephesians 2. The Evil One in Ephesians 6. The Dragon in Revelation 12. And I’m sure there are many more.