Noah, and all the bible I found there

This was initially shared as a Facebook Note, but due to the number of shares it was getting I thought I’d post it here as well. 

I saw Noah last night and thought it would be fun, and hopefully helpful for some, to recall some of the parts I found to be very  biblical.These are just some quick thoughts that come to mind as I think of the movie and it’s biblical story, found in Genesis 6-9. I’m sure there are more, and I’m sure there are plenty of artistic liberties taken. When I go to movies, I don’t expect to receive sound biblical theology from Hollywood. I go to be entertained and to be extorted by popcorn and Coke prices. With Noah, however, I was both entertained and pleasantly surprised by how much bible I found there. But with any movie taken from pages in our most sacred of books, I hope it causes you to turn to the primary source, as it did for me.  Don’t go to the movies to get your bible on when we have in our hands – and take for granted –  what Noah would have died for to have in his. 

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1. Creator. The name “God” does not make an appearance in this film, but “Creator” is named numerous times. It is very clear in the movie that there is a Being which created all that is, and that this Being has a will and a plan for Creation. It would have been unbiblcal for Noah to have called this Being “God” because the name for God does not come till many, many years later to Moses.  The movie reminded me that Noah didn’t have a bible to refer to while he was alive and had far less revelation than we have today about who God is and how God acts.

2. Veggies. Noah and his family, who are called “good,” eat only the plants and seeds of the land. The “wicked,” who are called Sons of Cain, eat meat. Noah is obeying the commands of Creator as found in Gen. 1:29, where the Creator gave Adam and Eve all the plants and seeds for food, but not animals. It is not until after the flood that the Creator grants permission to eat meat (9:3).

3. Evil. I thought the movie made it clear that the reason the Creator was sending this flood was to wipe out humankind due to their wickedness and to begin again. A number of times there were flashbacks to Cain’s murder of his brother Abel and reference to the evil that spread through the land due to Adam and Eve’s first transgression.

4. Nephilim. These are called “sons of God” in Gen. 6:4 and are mentioned again in Numbers 13:33. The Hebrew word literally means “giants” and these “Watchers,” as the movie called them, were as good a guess as to what they were like as any one else’s. I thought they gave a plausible account to how Noah might have built such a huge boat.

5. Heavy. In the biblical story we are not told much, if anything, of Noah’s thoughts or feelings. The movie depicts Noah as being very heavy-hearted and burdened by the task given him. And no wonder! Noah watched the world, and everything in it, die, while only he and his family and the animals on the ark survived. If I were in his shoes I would have had nightmares over the screams heard outside the ark as people drowned. I would have wondered, “Why me? What good am I that I should be saved?”  and I would have second-guessed all the time whether what I was doing was right (remember, Noah didn’t have a bible).   I appreciated this interpretive look into the heart and mind of Noah, which I think rings true. If you are expecting a story of hope and joy and butterflies and rainbows, where Noah is excited about watching the world drown while he pets sheep, you will be disappointed, and, I believe, recalling unbiblical renderings of the story from our green felt-board days in Sunday school.

6. Cross. My favorite line in the movie was when Noah, wrestling with being obedient to the Creator above all else, says, “We have been entrusted with a task far greater than our own desires.” What a beautiful foretaste of the Cross of Jesus Christ and the calling of everyone who bears His name! Whether the director intended this or not, he put in the mouth of Noah words which echo throughout all of Scripture: That obedience to God is more important than the desires of our flesh. All who wish to follow Jesus must live by these same words.

 

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Let’s Get Heavy!

I want to be very heavy.

I remember when I was giving over to sexual sin all the time I felt very light.  I did not have any real direction and could be swayed any which way with the slightest push.   The last book I read was always the best book, and anything novel, or new, was king.  When talking to others I was a yes-man, eager to have their approval and liking, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with what they were saying.   The compass of my life was always spinning, pointing in whatever direction my desires for that day led.   When talking with others I was not fully present but easily distracted and lifted away by the slightest breeze.

C.S. Lewis writes in his book, Weight of Glory,

It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Another image of his comes to mind, I believe it’s from The Great Divorce, and I am sure I am not remembering it correctly but the word-picture I recall him painting of our bodies in heaven are such that they are heavy, or weighted, with holy desires and purpose.   On earth we were light and flighty, but in heaven we are solid and immovable.    We are full of the fullness of His glory.

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I believe God is preparing us to know such weightiness even now, and that we can know it in greater and greater degree, or from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18), as we pursue Christ and His holiness.   Paul writes,

So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…  (2 Cor. 4:16-17).

Like I said, I want to be heavy.  Don’t you?   I want this “eternal weight of glory” ever increasing in my inner-man, out-weighing day by day the outer-man which is wasting away.   I don’t want to be tossed to and fro by my fleshly desires which are too weak and fickle when compared to the incomparable glory of God and the treasures He has in store for those who will seek Him and His righteousness first, above all else.

The “momentary affliction” which we must all bear as our “outer-man” dies is worth it!    I pray that God will give you and I the strength we need for today to grow up in Him, and to bear the weight of His glory for the world to see.    Let’s get heavy!

 

The Heart Mender by Lyndell Hetrick Holtz

My mom’s new blog….worth checking out!

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In May of 2004 I stood on the northern rim of the Grand Canyon for the first time in my life. I was stunned. No picture had ever prepared me for the vast beauty that stretched before me.  The sun was setting, casting a shimmering halo all around me and a warm breeze wafted up from its eternal depths.  It was a moment of pure beauty. Tears spilled from my eyes and trickled down my face–not only because of the scene that lay before me, but also because I was keenly aware that something greater and more beautiful than the Grand Canyon had been created inside of me.  Four years prior to this day, my life was a train wreck. I had committed the unthinkable: adultery. And the consequences were life shattering. Much of my story has been published in my book called,  “Confessions of an Adulterous Christian Woman”.  So what I…

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Mumfie and the tug between Want and Ought

I’m watching an animated movie called Mumfie’s Quest with my daughter.   Mumfie, an elephant, is on a quest for friendship and happiness.   While walking he comes upon a fork in the road with two paths clearly marked:  The Way You Want to Go is one, and The Way You Ought to Go is the other.   

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Rarely is the way we want to go the same as the way we ought to go.  Scripture is clear as to why:   Our flesh desires to be friends with the things of this world and is at odds with the the Holy Spirit which desires to bring glory and honor to God.  The battle, Paul tells us, is not against flesh and blood but against the powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12).  

Jesus put it bluntly:  

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few (Matt. 7:13-14).  

The hard way is one of self-denial.  It is to be in total submission to the will of God, even when that means my death or even forsaking my quest for friendship and happiness.   “Foxes have dens and birds have nests,” said Jesus, “but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head”  Luke 9:58).   And again, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).   

I have a hunch that Jesus, had he done what he wanted to do, would have ran far from the Garden of Gethsemane just before his betrayal.   Thanks be to God, however, he submitted his wants to the will of God, and took the harder road.   It made all the difference. 

What we want to do and what we ought to do is rarely the same, and the latter is never easy.   Jesus promised this way would be hard.  He promised that denying ourselves would be the same as our death.  Dying hurts.   Sometimes it feels like you are wandering in a wilderness and you want nothing more than to run back to Egypt, to your bondage, where at least you had steak and eggs (Exodus 16:1-3).    Those who did missed out on the true promised land God had prepared for them.    And had Jesus run for cover, he, and all of us, would have missed Easter.   

The way we ought to go is never easy.  It’s always hard.  But it’s always worth it.  If for no other reason than to get to suffer with Christ, and hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  

 

 

Addiction and Spiritual Malpractice

Below is the video of yesterday’s ADDICTION sermon.   It’s a sermon I would never have been able to preach a few years ago.   Why?  Because I was committing spiritual malpractice.

For many years as a pastor I would look at pornography or engage in other lustful pursuits during the week before preaching a sermon on Sunday.    I knew I was committing sin, and felt terribly guilty about what I was doing, but justified it by convincing myself the good I was doing on Sunday outweighed the evil I was doing the other days of the week.   I convinced myself that God can and does speak through donkeys and would bless my efforts despite my habitual ass-likeness.

I realize how outrageous this sounds to many of you.  How can you be so  blind!? you ask.   But this is precisely what sin does to us.  It blinds us to the truths of God.  Paul calls us “darkened in our understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in us, due to the hardness of our hearts” (Eph. 4:18).  It doesn’t happen overnight.   The spiral of degradation takes time, dragging us deeper and deeper into it’s grip until the things which seemed so obvious before are now blurry, unclear, and suspicious.    When living in sin the Bible reads less black and white and a lot more gray.

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Jesus called such practitioners of religion “whitewashed tombs” (Matt. 23:27).   They looked good on the outside but inside their hearts were decaying, ugly, far from God.   They were blind to it, though, just as I was blind to the darkness of my own heart and the effect it had on others.   A blind shepherd cannot lead sheep anywhere good, nor to any place they have not been themselves.   A preacher who is looking at porn on Saturday cannot expect God to bless his or her efforts on Sunday.    We grieve the Holy Spirit, and thus short-circuit the mighty work God wishes to do in our churches when we live under the bondage of habitual sin.

Oh the number of Hail-Mary-Prayers I threw out there on Sunday morning!  Hoping that somehow, someway, God would be pleased to overlook what I had been looking at all week and bless “the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart.”   What a fraud!   Granted, all good things come from the hand of our Father, and it is only because He is rich in mercy that I was not struck down dead in the pulpit and, I pray, I did not make a shipwreck of too many people’s faith (A couple years ago I wrote a letter to my former church, repenting to them for my spiritual malpractice, asking them to please forgive me.  To this day I pray for them and anyone who had the misfortune of sitting under this “blind guide,” that God would bless them and keep them and fill their heart and minds and souls with every good thing.   I praise God today that they have a pastor whom I believe loves Jesus and knows His power to save.  Praise God for answered prayer!).

The truth is, pastors, if we cherish sin in our hearts God will not listen to our prayers (Psalm 66:18).    If our private lives are such that we are not walking in the Spirit but in our flesh then our prayers that God bless our people, heal their wounds, superintend our words, and pour out His Spirit on His church have no guarantee of being heard.   We are committing spiritual malpractice and must repent.   We must cry out to God to give us a spirit of repentance, that He would open our eyes and our hearts so that we might see ourselves in light of His Holiness.   We must cry out that He would soften our hearts so that we can see our sin and how much it displeases God.   When we do this, the scales will fall from our eyes and we will know.    No longer will God and His word be gray to us.    The delusion will dissipate and we will begin to expect God to heal the wounds of His people and pour out His Spirit in a mighty way on Sunday because He has done it in our own hearts every day of the week before.

Pastors, let us not fool ourselves into thinking that the state of our churches as they are in this country are signs of God’s blessing.   Many of them stand today only because of God’s mercy.   Jesus died on the cross to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).   If we are not witnessing strong-holds coming down in our churches, then we must not point fingers at them but at ourselves.    What strong-holds are in MY life?   What am I not believing God can deliver me from?   Stop committing spiritual malpractice on yourself and your sheep.    “Repent, and turn again, so that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19-20).

That Could Still Be Me

Yesterday I received a phone call from someone I was involved with in my past.   It’s been nearly three years and this came as quite a shock.  I’m not sure how she found my number.   The conversation was short and one-sided. My side.   I told her that the person she thinks she is calling no longer exists and that she should never call or contact me again.   Ever.   And I hung up.   Later I told my wife all about it.   She figured this would happen sooner or later and hugged me and thanked me for telling her.  All is well at home.

The most haunting, frightful thought for me surrounding that phone call was this:  That could still be me.    Three years later this person is still seeking thrills over a phone line, consumed with lust and chained to fleshly desires.   It’s a living hell which I know all too well.   And but for the grace of God, that could still be me.  

Last night my wife and I gave thanks to God for this reminder of where we once were and where we are today.   Perhaps I was in need of a reminder of what God has saved me from and the ridiculousness of it all.   Because it really is, you know?    God made something so wonderful and yet millions of us settle for a cheaper, fake model.   We are fixated by pixels on a screen or a voice on a phone line or a stranger in a hotel.   AND NONE OF IT IS GOOD ENOUGH.    More is always desired and necessary and yet the itch never stops.   It’s absolutely ridiculous.   Yet at the same time it seems like the most powerful, intoxicating, necessary thing  and we can fathom nothing better, in heaven or earth.   Such is the pull and delusion of sin.  

Indeed, as Augustine said, our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee, O God.

I was shaken by the thought that that could still be me.  Three years later I could still be a slave to my desires and passions, ruled by my flesh, no doubt divorced, alone, estranged from my kids and family, wanting nothing more than a cold pizza for breakfast and an internet connection.    That could still be me.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ Jesus broke the chains of the devil in my life and set my heart and mind free!   It is a wonderful thing to be able to say, “The man you seek no longer exists.”    God has made good on his promise to make a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17)!   The old has passed away, behold, the new has come !

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If you are where I was three years ago, and where she is still today, think about where your life will be three years from now if you continue on the path you are on.   All your best thinking has brought you to this point, and you have to admit it’s ridiculous and a mess.     Will you accept the offer of life that Jesus extends to you even now?    He loves you madly, and has gone to great lengths to prove this to you!   The fact that you are reading this now is a sign of His mercy on your life.    He is trying to break through the delusion of your sin and bring you to a place where you can, as though for the first time in your life, hear His words – pure words – afresh and new.      Matthew 4: 16 says,

For those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.

You have been there long enough, haven’t you?   Do you wish to be there still in three years?    It only gets darker and more hellish, my friend.

This morning during morning prayer time my wife and I prayed for that woman who called.   We prayed that God would flood her with need-filling mercy, that He would save her soul, that He would open her heart to receive the good news that Jesus more than satisfies and can do far more than we can even ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).    It’s the same prayer we pray for you, dear reader, every day.    In three years time may you, too, be able to say, that could still be me, but thanks be to God, it is no longer I!