Kung Fu Panda and the Peace of Confession

I dismissed the original Kung Fu Panda when it first came out, but I’ve seen it with new eyes, and partly through the eyes of my children. It’s a delightful movie, not only because of its great animation, top-notch fight choreography, and well-timed humor, but also because it is has unexpected depth. This depth is made manifest the most in the character arc of the cynical kung fu master, Shifu.

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Princess Hiccup – Fearsome Feminine Strength

So I wrote a children’s book, based on a request made by my daughter, and I need your help to make it a reality. I wanted it to be light and fun and silly. And it is all of those things. But I believe it is also true, with a certain gravitas in some scenes, colored by Scripture. This was not my intention, but rather the tones bled into the story as I was writing and editing.

These two verses will be in the back of the book in the acknowledgments section, noted for their inspiration:

“Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?” Song of Songs 6:10

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” Psalms 126:2

The latter is pretty obvious. Ultimately, the Lord is the source of all laughter, the Prime Comedian, the One Author. Satan (that dragon of old) seeks to disrupt it. When you lose joy and laughter, you lose your thankfulness, and your faith will follow close behind them.

The verse from Song of Solomon, however, is a bit odd, and it has been translated in many ways. This is said by queens and other maidens, in praise of the woman who is being pursued. It speaks of a special kind of feminine strength, one that is finely honed and directed. It is not the brute, raw strength of masculinity, but it is a true strength. Helen of Troy inspired the launch of an armada, but the woman of the Song can stop an army.

Woman is the glory of man (1 Cor. 11:7), and as such a Biblical woman makes possible her husband’s coronation as a king. She helps lift him up so that he might go and do battle. A kingdom, a city, a household with a Biblical queen on the ramparts is a beacon of strength to her king, and a terrible visage to her enemies.

One of my favorite authors has been known to say that the point of the Bible is this: “Kill the Dragon, get the girl.” The lad in Princess Hiccup is a carpenter’s son. You are free to make the connection yourself.

So not only is this a fun little book that can be read to all ages, its also a little subversive to the culture at large. If you can donate and help make this book a reality, I would really appreciate it. If you can’t donate, you help out tremendously just by sharing the Kickstarter page.

More Necessary for Us to Remain – Father’s Day Reflection

Every father is a pastor and a preacher. Every father is a shepherd. You are leading somebody to somewhere. You are teaching somebody about something. These are unavoidable. Even if you abdicate these responsibilities out of laziness and selfishness, you are still fulfilling them in some fallen, marred way. They follow you into the pit of cowardice. They learn the lesson of….whatever.

And woe to those who would cause a little one to stumble. (Matthew 18:6) It is a responsibility that should make us tremble.

Yet, God always gives blessings with responsibility. At this point, I can’t think of a greater gift than when my daughter yells “Daddy!”, runs up to me, grabs my hand, and drags me to the latest mischief she’s gotten herself into. I’m sure my son will be the same way, although I assume his mischief will entail more of a combination of mud and scraped knees. It is a delight. It is a privilege.

It is something that has eternal consequences.

Our children are a precious gift, but they are not to stay the same as they are. Their souls need to be converted just like our souls. They are lumps of iron that need to be forged into sharp arrowheads (Psalm 127:4).

If you are a father, your children are the main reason you are here. And like Paul, our sentiment should be directed by Heaven, but bound to earth.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this,I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. (Philippians 1:20-26, ESV)

Our work is fruitful labor (Proverbs 22:6). He gave you a wife because he desires Godly offspring (Malachi 2:15). He commands us to never stop teaching them the ways of righteousness (Deut. 6:7 and 11:9). Every hour of every day is somehow devoted to this task. You imitate Christ, not only for your own sake, but for the sake of the souls put under your charge.

It is good to long to be with Christ. But for those of us with children, with the weight of a kingdom on our shoulders, it is more necessary for us to remain. For their account. We long for Christ, but first, we must bring Christ to them.

And so we should desire to stay here. If Paul thought it better on the Philippians account that he should remain and minister to them, how much more so our own children?

Thanks be to God that this heavy responsibility comes in the form of a gift, and is first made light with unspeakable joy.

The Purpose of Food

What is the primary purpose of eating food?

The common answer is that it keeps us alive. It gives us strength. Food certainly accomplishes this and more. But if that were the primary purpose, if that were the main reason we needed to eat, it seems there is a whole lot of wasteful abundance.

God could have just made a pill that fulfilled all of our nutritional needs. Take once a day, and…that’s it.

Instead we see an all-you-can-eat buffet spread out before us. A variety of trees carve up the same air molecules and produce a variety of different types of fruit. The list is too long to recite.

A rainbow of vegetables spring up from the ground. Do you know how many different cuts of meat, different flavors and textures, can come from a single cow? At least 12. And that’s just one animal.

Why? Why all the apparent excess? Surely we could get by with far less. And if the primary purpose of food was to sustain us, then that would be a fair point. But the primary purpose of food is not really to feed the body. The primary purpose of food and eating is really to minister to the soul.

David hints at this in Psalm 34:8a. “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!”

And in this meal, the Lord’s Supper, this is infinitely true. Here, above all other meals, we taste, and see that the LORD is good. We look to the cross and see that the LORD is good. We look to the Son’s broken body and shed blood and see that the LORD is good.

And then we look at the empty tomb…and we see that the LORD is very good.

At the beginning of creation, the second instruction God gives to man is that he should eat of the earth:

“And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” (Genesis 1:29) (ESV)

God gives man no less than the world itself, laid out like a grand banquet, to give Man life. Man did not deserve it. It was given freely as a gift. This Father, whose imagination knows no limits, who already gave man everything, then gave his own Son so man might have life more abundantly (John 10:10).

Not surprisingly, this abundant life, this new creation, is described throughout Scripture as a glorious banquet, bursting at the seams with good food and rich wine. In the context of the institution of the Supper, Jesus says in Luke 22:29-30, that “I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom…”

We are given a kingdom SO THAT we can eat with Jesus.

So what is the purpose of food? Like everything else in creation. To point to Christ. To point to the one through whom it was made. To point to this meal and the great meal we will share with Him in the world to come. So that we can dine at the table of the Great King.

So taste, and see that the LORD is good.

Enough Substance

On a previous post, I talked about the real equality promoted by the Jubliee laws in the Old Covenant, which actually goes against a lot of socialist nonsense that these laws usually get hauled out to defend.

The true meaning is that both the rich and poor in Israel depended on God totally for anything they had. It was a mercy that the poor had little, and it was a mercy that the rich had abundance. Niether deserved anything.

The summation from the previous article:

The real message is that, for goods to be distributed more fairly, everything would go back to God, and our hands would be empty. That is real fairness. That is our real equality. Anything more than destitution is a mercy.

Throughout the Bible, we actually see no evidence that Israel ever observed the Jubilee laws, another mark in the disobedience column. But, not surprisingly, we have David summing up the point that Israel was to learn.

Psalm 62:9:

Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. (ESV)

Once again, we see what equality actually means. Niether has enough substance to even move the scales, regardless of the pretensions.