Andyouinvitedmein’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘conservative Christian

I’ve read several reviews about Left Behind and they have been negative with cheap shots tossed at the quality, story line and disaster elements. Ironically several of these came from traditional Christian news outlets like Christianity Today. Last night I took my daughter and her boyfriend, whom we are trying to win to the Lord. Here is my question: what movie did the CT reviewer see?

First, I have to say that my husband is a stylist for television and movies. In our 30 years together I’ve learned to look for bad hair, continuity issues and, simply said, anything that I might find to critique, I would. Left Behind had very little to criticize.

The story was actually better told than the original book. It held to the basics, but has more impact. While the end landing was a bit over the edge, it was no different than any super hit like 21 Jump Street when the two heroes magically escape a shoot out. In reality they would be dead, and in reality the plane landing would have been different. In reality any part of any Hangover movie is just absurd, but entertaining in a perverted way.

The movie did not look low budget or any such nonsense. It was of good quality. Who complains about the grain of the film when we watch old Chaplin movies? And the group from Albany, Georgia who do the fantastic films like Courageous…who needs film quality when the message is quality. Just sayin’, dude reviewer, get a life.

Character development was good. The continuity of the script and editing are better than some big budget films. I was an extra in Steve Martin’s A Simple Twist of Fate where the editing crew must have had too Slurpees before they started. In Left Behind there were some issues such as the sunlight in NYC went on a little too long and it should have gotten dark quicker. These are minor.

The movie isn’t a Bible beater, but a subtle message of “you better get right with God.” The puzzle pieces of The Rapture came together in logical fashion just as they might in real life. Nothing too fantastic or magical.

Speaking of real life. On September 23 my youngest daughter had a very bad wreck. The day before her boyfriend was saying he didn’t believe in God. The morning of the wreck I texted both of them a message: you don’t know the day or the hour… . In the wreck my daughter suffered temporary, short term memory loss and a bad eye injury. Her boyfriend had a tiny cut, and he was on the side of the car where the most damage occurred. The car stopped a foot short of a log that would have impaled the car and killed them. And still he questions God.

The verse at the end of the movie was that we do not know the day nor the hour. And we don’t. There might not be a rapture, but certainly there might be an attack from an enemy outside the US. There’s Ebola. There’s unrest in the US. This is the season of tornadoes and hurricanes. And there are those car wrecks that can happen anytime, and without warning.

I took away from this movie the message that we can give excuses all day long, but at the end of the day we need “to recognize,” as my students used to say. We need to recognize that Jesus is Lord and one day we will have to give an accounting. We can pull every “but if God is so good” card and still we must give an accounting at the end of our journey. And what will you say? One of my favorite explanations is found in the old Carman video that can be found in YouTube. Check out Witches Invitation. And on that day you can either call on all your excuses or simply say: I’m saved by the Blood of Jesus and my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

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Did you go or did you boycott? Someone brought me a biscuit, but I didn’t go myself. I wasn’t boycotting either. Twenty years ago I boycotted K-Mart, and didn’t think much about it. Today I’m looking at the hard cold facts.

My facts probably differ from yours. I’m a conservative Christian and I love my friends in the gay community. They have loved and supported me in more ways than I can list. I love my conservative brothers and sisters. Without the conservative Gospel I would never have known Jesus like I know Him!

Therein lies the issue. Is this boycott from Jesus or is this a politically motivated boycott (girlcott, chickencott or whatever)? What would Jesus do? He’d probably go to Chick-Fil-A and buy enough for all his gay friends and eat dinner at their home. He’d love beyond reason…grace…and…

And where does the boycott work in bringing people to Him? Loving when it’s difficult is called grace. When we become Christians we give up our old man, and are supposed to be Him where we go.

So when the flying chicken biscuit wrappers fly to the ground what will be left to dwell on? A huge business day and someone shouting from their side of the fence saying “we won this one.”

Is that Jesus?

Yesterday, I read an article about Anne Rice. It said she’s leaving Christianity. Actually I don’t read her books and her position on anything doesn’t matter, but this caught my attention. I figured she was more of a gal who considered herself a Christian because she was born to parents who were not a part of another religion. What surprised me was her statement: 

“My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me,” Rice wrote. “But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.”

Rice isn’t the only one who stated this. I’ve read that Ghandi was seeking Jesus, and actually loved Jesus, but when he went to a church he was turned away.

Wow…what a testimony to a picture of ourselves as conservative Christians. As a group we can look in the mirror and ugly stares back. Christ is difficult to emulate: He lent a hand and support to a woman caught in adultery; he told a story of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, and in each of these stories the theme was going against cultural and traditional religious rules to give of ourselves–just as he had practiced before them with the adulterous woman.

Few Christians show this side–most days I don’t, I’m sure. Our churches try to demonstrate Christ through the rules, and if you break one of those rules (written or assumed) then you’re considered to be “out of fellowship”. Where I live those rules mean to be Republican, don’t drink, cuss or smoke, and so-on. Some denominations say no instrumental music, others say no hair cutting, then others suggest you have no faith if you get sick, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. These rules actually drive people away from Jesus, because they make ‘him’ look like a  man with a check list waiting to condemn people to hell.

I read that Sandra Bullock didn’t want to play a Christian lady in The Blind Side, and said no three times. In the end she was totally pulled to Leigh Anne Tuohy because Leigh Anne gave sacrifically. She was born in a home of privilege that practiced segregation. For Leigh Anne and Sean to embrace the plight of Michael Oher was sacrificial on all levels. Now we have a beautiful success story, but I’m sure seven years ago the road was very difficult.

Beginning today make the word “Christian” mean more than a fried chicken eating, self-righteous pew warmer. Rules and finger-pointing is much easier than show grace and self-sacrifice. Jesus said if he was lifted up then he would draw all men to him. Instead of picketing Planned Parenthood, bring the workers some coffee then ask the next person coming for an abortion if they want to live with you for the next few months as you will take care of all their needs. Instead of trying to find the President’s birth certificate, spend that hour praying for him. Find a single parent or widow and help them around the house.  Be willing to have your motives questioned by your fellow church members–be willing to be kicked out of your comfortable church because you spoke up or acted like Jesus. The road isn’t always easy being a Christ follower, but the rewards will be eternal.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra by Michael Tyler

Trans-Siberian Orchestra as photographed by Michael W. Tyler

On Sunday we went to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and with all the lights and acoustics I suddenly felt like I could be on that stage performing. I was dreaming like when I was younger and it seemed like the sky was the limit on what I could do and who I could become. When you are young you don’t think about not seeing a loved one again.

The last twenty-four hours has been nostalgic in that I longed to be back at my grandparent’s house. There were certain things that could only happen there with them like my grandfather calling Santa “Santy”. Or my grandmother always burning the bottoms of cheap biscuits–those you buy in four pack for around a dollar for the four.

Everyone was welcomed at their home. Family members who might not be welcomed anywhere else were welcome to come and have a bite to eat and fellowship. Because my grandparents were peacemakers, no one who had an ought with another got mad at Jewell and Ercie for befriending the other party. This gift has been passed down to my parents as they could have hostile acquaintances come to their table and peace would take over everyone…there was no more family or friend “war”.

This is Christmas Day…the day our Savior was born and it was through him that our sins are forgiven and we are reconciled to God. Today is the day you need to find that loved one who has been outside the warmth of your embrace…if you can’t find them by traditional means search through Google, Facebook and MySpace. Make this a “Lost Sheep Day” and welcome them home.

I started this blog by talking about youth and things we don’t think of such as losing our loved ones. On Christmas Eve morning I lost a friend named Jack. He was a beloved pastor who had the heart of a child and embraced everyone. I’ve known Jack for eight years and suddenly time was gone: time to tell him how much I loved him or how much embodied the grace of Jesus in his everyday life.

On Christmas Eve night a close friend became a grandmother. That baby is just like the baby that comes to everyone. Remember that special love the first time you saw your child, sibling, friend? If you are not in touch…reach out and get in touch TODAY!!! Blessings…

It has been a month since I’ve blogged. I’m getting settled into a new job and have been working long hours and many weekend days and nights. Last weekend the girls and I went to a church that had none of the perfect qualities that we might desire. My oldest loves worship. My youngest loves peers. I love intellectual sermons that challenge the heart. But for sometime I’ve known that God wants us to visit that church.

This church was the victim of an electrical storm so the scant sound system and overhead had “gone to glory” in electrical terms. The songs were long and not what we like for worship. Other similar issues were like this, and the guest speaker was a preacher who sounded like Tyler Perry’s Madea. Yet in the middle of all of this we were deeply touched by God. My oldest and I both felt like we were swinging in my grandmother’s swing at sundown on a summer’s evening. We haven’t felt such spiritual peace in months.

A couple of days ago I was with my mom and mentioned an older, poor preacher who came to town back in 1991 and his sermon spoke depths into my heart. Once again we were visiting a poor, poor country church that is commonly called “The Little Church” in our area. This man gave me some wise insight that continues to carry me today.

In my book And You Invited Me In there is a character named Miss Lois. She is a real person in my hometown. Family illnesses prevent her from attending church except on rare occasions. However, she reads and prays and has a closer walk with the Lord than anyone I’ve ever come across.

So what is the point of all of this? Finding God isn’t a matter of getting to Atlanta, San Antonio, Tulsa or Houston to get blessed in that mega-church where the pastor sells thousands of books. God is sometimes found in the hidden places. And it is there he has the greatest blessings for our lives. For a moment we might think “no, this can’t be God” but if we rest in Him we will soon find that He is moving mightily in the willing vessels, the pure heart and those who ask nothing but to be with him.

This is probably part one of a series of thoughts on the heart.

I’ve always been conservative, and keep more of a conservative leash on myself than most people would realize. On the other hand, in the last few years I’ve tried to listen to people on the outside to understand what they’re hearing from us. One thing that continues to pop up in commentaries and newscasts is that we conservative Christians are two-issue people: we’re pro-life and anti-gay. And when it shakes out, that’s about where we stand.

A decade ago the talking heads of conservative religion said that if you were pro-choice or homosexual you were the “doom of America”. Somehow that unbalanced train of thought continues today. What we don’t realized is that something happens when we make those our only issues…I’ll cover those in a minute….

First, Jesus was all about the spiritual. Pharisees and all those like them were going around making sure every mint twig was tithed and Koshered. Jesus ALWAYS spoke about a person’s heart–so we need to remember that in all we do. It was the giving heart of the widow in the “widow’s mite.” It was the heart of the Samaritan. Let’s put a new twist on the Samaritan for today.

There was a man in Hartford, Connecticut who was hit by a car and no one stopped to help. Many people passed him on the street and didn’t want to get involved. Surely there were many church people who drove or walked past. And God looked down and wondered what was wrong with their hearts that they could ignore someone in pain when all of them had so much–health, material goods, jobs, family, and so on.

I don’t know if America is going to fall or rise. If we fall, I can’t say what will be the magic bullet to kill the nation, but since Jesus clearly spoke about the condition of the heart we need to look inside an examine our ways. Because that’s probably why we’re sinking…

Therefore when we isolate a group and make them our scapegoat, then we disenfranchise this group of people. We make them non-people, and non-people become expendable. Once they’re expendable then you hear a grade school child say: well, it’s okay to kill a gay person. (And the child could not understand why I said it was wrong.)

If Jesus were to return today he wouldn’t ask any of my conservative fellows about the political issues of the day and how we changed the world by an amendment here and there. He’d ask if we treated our neighbors with honor–you know the neighbors who’ve just returned from a California wedding. He’d ask why we hadn’t been there to wipe the tears of our child we sent away because (s)he was “living in sin”. Jesus would ask how we could forget about this child’s pain because God never forgets about our pain. He never sends us away. That would be like the people passing the man in Hartford, and God isn’t like that…

Therefore, forget the outside…look at the heart, your own heart. Listen for the heart of the person you don’t understand. Listen for the cry of their heart.

May 12, 2008
And You Invited Me In
“In the conservative church, our problem is not having enough grace. Grace is the name of our ship and why we are saved. Extending grace when it seems impossible what the book is about.”

By Jeremy Reynalds
Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

 

 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS) It’s a tragedy that Cheryl Moss Tyler’s book “And You Invited Me In” would be considered controversial in most conservative evangelical circles.

That’s because it’s a very readable and eminently Biblical exhortation for self-described Bible believing Christians to show the love of Jesus Christ to homosexuals. Once I began reading “And You Invited Me In,” I couldn’t put it down. If you choose to purchase the book, and I strongly suggest you consider doing so, I believe that you’ll experience the same reaction I did.

Click here to link to and read the full review of And You Invited Me In by Jeremy Reynalds: http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2008/s08050065.htm