Frederick: A Story of Boundless Hope
By Frederick Ndabaramiye, with Amy Parker
“My God won’t let me do that.”

These seven words of boundless hope would irreversibly change the life of the teenage boy who spoke them.

On April 7, 1994 the life of Frederick Ndabaramiye and his family changed forever as the Rwandan genocide erupted in their homeland. This is his story of Hope and faith in a God that can make all things possible. Frederick writes about how his family had to flee the tyranny and how eventually he was captured and tied to a board as vigilantes cut his hands off. His journey of learning after that is what most of the story is about. We see him learn how to deal with the pain, anger and feeling of uselessness as God intervenes ands orchestrates his future.

Eventually Frederick learns that he has the gift of painting. As he paints God begins to heal him from the inside out. I don’t want to share too much of the story because the book is very short and is an important read. Most of us in America never have to experience persecution beyond somebody making fun of us. To watch this man experience the things he did and then to see the joy that exudes form his is mind-blowing. You will learn and appreciate forgiveness, but even more importantly you will walk away knowing that God takes what is broken and He makes all things new.

I think this is a well written book. It is more than a feel good story. It is a story that challenges you to have Joy in your life and evaluate your own priorities.

5 out of 5 Stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this BOOK free from booklookbloggers for books to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by: Marie Kondo

I would normally consider myself a professional organizer who’s lack of consistency with it gives the perception that I am not. I love the idea of a clean home and we clean our house every week. There does seem to be a difference between the IDEA of a clean home and an ACTUAL clean home.

We have four kids who all have different levels of a hoarders mentality. If they say that was inherited from myself or my wife, we will deny that to the grave! The reality is that every sat my wife try to wrangle our kids and work them into a cleaning frenzy to tackle the daunting hurricane of legos, books, dirt, garbage, and clothing.

My wife believes in cleaning a little bit each day, but for 8 years I have worked from home and learned that I am quite possibly the worst housewife on this planet. When I got this book to review I was intrigued and excited to learn something that might transform our dysfunctional and disturbing system.

Jumping right into reading I learned that this woman was going to get right into it. She is a bold, simple and very clear writer. Many of the insights give you a picture of a small Japanese home in Tokyo, but eventually you begin to realize that what she is saying makes perfect sense.

She instructs that the concept of tidying up a little daily is foolish and will never result in cleanliness or sanity. Instead she recommends to take everything in categories like, clothes or books and then put them on the floor of one room. Afterwards you are to pick up each item to determine if you will keep it or discard it. So what is the criteria? How long since it has been used? Is it broken or dirty?

No… She says to simple hold it and ask “Does this SPARK JOY”

I am greatly intrigued by her approach to each item, how she organizes and how she folds clothes. My wife is currently reading the book and we plan to attempt this. The clothes should be easy, but I think the books may be hard for me. Kondo says that the less books in your home the greater the impact of the content.

I am going to rate this book a PRE- 5 out of 5 stars because while I loved the book, the rating may change when I attempt to actually do this in my home. Stay tuned…

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this BOOK free from Blogging for books to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

movie1

In the last two weeks I have had the opportunity to sit in a theater to watch 3 different films…
Here are my reviews of each:

KINGSMAN: SECRET SERVICE:
I was invited to see this flick by a buddy of mine and I went in blind because I had not even seen a trailer of it before walking into the theater. It was rated R and I expected some violence and language, but what I didn’t expect was the preview trailer before the film. On the screen came the preview of the movie “unfinished business” and I was subject to non stop cursing from the start and it ended with a full nudity sex scene that was meant to be funny. Sorry Hollywood, it wasn’t funny at all. As a matter of fact it almost spoiled my movie. When you go to a film with an expectation of the content that is in it and then met with a trailer that is more inappropriate than the movie itself, you feel cheated and ticked off.
So enough of that rant. Lets get to the movie review. It started off amazing with a smart james bond type of script. It was slick, creative and heady. As soon as I got comfortable with that Samuel Jackson came on the screen as the bad guy that can be best described as the cross between Russell Simmons, Snakes on a plane, and a Dr. Evil with a lisp. I was so entranced with this film and when Sam Jackson showed up I could no longer take the movie seriously. I decided to sit back and attempt to calm my spy alter ego down. I found myself entertained, but no longer impressed. The violence was over the top and almost cartoony which ruined the smarty spy aspect. At the end of the movie we find out a mechanism in a persons neck could make their head explode. Ok.. That actually does make sense… and then we actually see 200 peoples heads explode. Do they explode like you would anticipate with blood and brains all over and us wanting to throw up from disgust? Nope… they explode with colored chalk dust in a cloud of purple and blue rainbows followed by a mushroom cloud of disappointment. To cap it all off, because I can only assume they wanted to compete with the “coming soon trailer” before it they decided to throw in a butt shot in the last 2 min for absolutely no reason at all.
Conclusion – I tried… I really tried… Sam Jackson and the color chalk exploding heads made a really cool spy thriller into a fantastical dumb mess. – 2 of 5 stars

THE IMITATION GAME:
My wife and I had a date night last week that started off with a nasty, moldy piece of toast at IHOP. It was essential that this movie changed the trajectory of my evening. THANK GOD IT DID! I am a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch, having first become a fan with the BBC show “Sherlock”. I don’t have a ton to say about this movie because there is literally nothing about it I could complain about. The story was based on a true one and while I had heard pieces of this, it was amazing to watch what happened. The acting was extraordinary! The script was well written, believable, inspiring and obviously a labour of love. I didn’t want this movie to end. It is not a traditional war movie because it is centered around a bunch of code breakers. This movie is a masterpiece.
Conclusion – If you don’t see this film I will come to your house and smack you. 5 of 5 stars

JUPITER ASCENDING:
Do you see the picture I chose for this post with the girl, Jupiter, falling from a building and screaming that somebody would save her from the pending doom? That is exactly how I felt watching this movie. I really wanted to see this movie. I really wanted to like this movie and I really wish I had bought a coffee to bring into the theater because my friends to the left and right of my both fell asleep. The PG in the PG-13 rating for this movie I’m sure stood for PIECE OF GARBAGE! Visually it was mind-blowing and memorizing even if the laser guns never seemed to hit anything or anybody. As I was being entranced by the visual effects, the space ships and the intergalactic steam punk world I was bombarded by quite possibly the worst script ever written in movie history. It was like that scene in the wizard of OZ where Dorothy was told to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”. The Visual effects were designed to attempt to distract us from a script that was obviously written by a panel of 4 year olds. Somewhere in the middle of the movie, as we were all woken up from our slumber in the utter boredom, it became apparent we were watching a Space twilight movie. Every time there was a cool fight scene I would sit up excited to finally get into the movie, only then to find myself scratching my head wondering why something so beautiful was so boring and contrived. There are three major bad guys who individually have a climactic scene. Oddly enough though the scenes end with nothing climatic ad all and cut to another place in space. As a movie watcher you are tossed around, jumbled up and forced to ingest this story on account you don’t want to waste your $9 by walking out.

Caine is falling in love with Jupiter, but Doesn’t believe they have much in common. Jupiter disagrees…

Caine Wise: Your Majesty, I have more in common with a dog than I have with you.
Jupiter Jones: I love dogs

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! “I LOVE DOGS” as she leans in and tries to kiss him? all this script convinces me is to write a PSA to all the kids out there. Ahem… KIDS… DON’T DO DRUGS and STAY IN SCHOOL or else you will write dumb crap like this!

There is even one scene where she asks CAine “do you want to bite me now?” He doesn’t bite her, thankfully, but this MOVIE sure BITES!

Conclusion – I could literally talk about every every moment of this ‘dog dung wrapped in a beautiful package’, but It’s best I put it simply. DO NOT see this movie! Let me give you some recommendations of other crappy movies instead so you can grasp how bad this was. Battlefield earth, Leonard part 6, BioDome, Catwoman, Rabid Grannies. Are you tracking with me here? 2 hours & 5 min you will NEVER EVER get back.  0 of 5 stars

lent2

The Lenten season began last week. Lent leads up to Easter in a similar way that Advent leads to Christmas only with a different perspective. The idea around advent is an Expectation of the coming of Jesus on Christmas day. Lent however is a time of self-assessment and surrender to prepare our hearts for the death and resurrection of the King of Kings

There is a reason why Lent begins with ash Wednesday. The ashes that are put on a persons head are a symbolic representation of mourning our sin, a reminder of our mortality, and is usually in the shape of a cross showing we are marked by jesus and share in his resurrection.

We know that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, but starting lent with an understanding of lament and mourning of our sin is critical. We need to begin this lenten season recognizing that we are dust that God breathed life into. We are little mud men and women who have been given the opportunity of having eternal life because of God’s mercy, kindness and sacrifice.. And in the same way we were formed out of dust we will eventually return to dust. Life is short and Ash Wednesday reminds us of that.

I love the way the NLT says it in:
James 4:14
 New Living Translation
How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone

What we do with our short time on this earth matters. What or who we devote our days to shapes who we are.

Last week 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians were martyred or in other words killed because they were followers of Jesus. It is noted that some of their last words before they died was “Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus, Help me”.

My heart was heavy when I heard this news. It is important to note I want you to know that this kind of thing happens ALL the time. Since Jesus walked this earth Followers of Jesus have been persecuted. If you go to Voice of the Martyrs you can read about men and women who are Marked by Jesus and are persecuted or even killed for their faith. 

I am not saying this to get anybody down or cause any fear. I am saying it because with every great move of the church there is Great prayer and Great persecution. I am so thankful we have not been persecuted or threatened like these followers of Jesus.

Our blessings have also made us comfortable about our faith. Because we aren’t concerned for our lives, we feel that God doesn’t need the full control.

Lets now look at Genesis 2:15-17 (ESV)
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat[a] of it you shall surely die.”

God gave Adam simple instructions… you guys get everything here, but you should not eat from this tree..

Genesis 3:1-7 (ESV)
3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

So in this scripture a few things happen that lead all of humanity towards a need of reconciliation with God. Adam and Eve not only disobey God but they are tempted and succumb to the temptations of Pride and control. They were told that if they ate of this tree they would be able to see what God could see and they didn’t trust the Creator.

Adam and Eve were given a choice to surrender their control. God says “You shall not” which means it is their choice. He doesn’t say “you can’t”. In those beginning statements We see God’s desire for us to not be robots but to have free will. And we see His grace because not only did they not die after they ate it, but God had a plan to fix this mess by sending Jesus.

We are given this same choice that adam and eve were given every day.

The question is: Will you surrender control to God?

Continue Reading…

50shades2There are 5 million posts on 50 shades of grey coming out with people who are for it and others who are against it. When the trailer came out I wrote a post all about my concerns. Over the time period between the trailer release and maybe a month ago there just didn’t seem to be too much media on it encroaching on my space. Then February began and I could not watch tv without seeing the commercial. Everybody on the planet wrote a blog post on it. Every commercial on hulu had an advertisement and every late night host wanted to chat with the actors.

I didn’t necessarily want to flood the internet with more chatter, but I do have a few things to say on this topic as a Pastor, Man, Husband and father… so here we go.

In the last week I have seen discussion on twitter, facebook and other social media from friends and acquaintances about their excitement over the release tomorrow night of this film. I have seen people setting up ladies nights for valentines day to go see the movie instead of staying home with their husband. Most of these woman are Christians and It makes me sad.

As a pastor: I have had the pleasure of doing a bunch of marriage counseling. Marriage is hard and worth fighting for. Porn of course is our new addiction of choice. In the old days guys would hide their playboy under their bed. Porn was underground and secret. Somewhere along the way it became almost an expected norm that Guys would be into pornography. In recent years we have noticed a recognition that this addiction is not gender specific and women are also becoming addicted to erotica and pornography.  Whole ministries are dedicated to working on healing of the minds and hearts of these women, like Whole Women Ministries and Dirty Girl Ministries.  Study after study has been done that porn and erotica doesn’t “spice up” a marriage, but instead it destroys it. It creates in a mans brain a photoshop image that can’t be erased and in the woman’s thoughts a fantasy that can never be duplicated. I have seen this tear apart homes. I have seen it lead to affairs and divorce. Getting wrapped in it, is a perversion of love and an invitation of that perversion into your marriage bed!

I don’t care if the movie/book is good or not good. Arguing over it’s literary quality or cinematography is worthless. It is a twisted view of sex and relationships. Most importantly it is a perversion of LOVE. – From “50 Shade is Black and white

In addition to all of this is the sick and perverted increase of people who are searching for the abusive, submissive and violent world. You can call it what you want, but it all boils down to something commonly known as intimate partner violence. I have friends on the front lines of trying to take down sex trafficking. I have worked with bringing hope to hookers. I have pastored people who have been beaten, abused and almost killed under the guise of love.
This movie does NOT represent 1 Cor 13 and how God describes love. 

This is not a statement that all movies with nudity and violence are evil. It is a statement that 50 shades is designed to normalize smut. I have met with too many couples who’s marriage is on the rocks from issue after issue… Don’t add another one to it! I truly believe the precedence that this movie with make with it’s record breaking ticket sales and normalizing the erotic/porn culture will make the marriage counselors have more appointments this next year than they will know what to do with.

As a man: The word says “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:28 and if most of us are honest we have committed that sin.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
Simply put that I know I will be tempted, but it’s my choice to take the “way of escape” that has been provided for me.

It is a man’s choice, knowing he is a visual creature, to remind himself to run from things that will be burned into his memory.

A man should be in pursuit of real intimacy and a healthy sexual relationship instead of a selfish, abusive cheap thrill.

“Guard your mind and your body. God has a plan for you and it does not include selfish Love. It is a sex-saturated society… Like David and Bathsheba, Stop looking out at woman bathing on rooftops! RUN!” – From “50 shades is black and white

As a Husband: One of the many favorite slams from the “pro 50 shades people” is that those who are against it are prudes. Let me go on the record here and say that sex is awesome! There is no reason to dance around that statement. Sex is great! God didn’t create something so good that he would also keep it from us. He wants us to enjoy it, but He also gave us boundaries for our sake. Sex is not just physical. It is emotional and spiritual. The Bible says that when a man and woman come together they become one. Most people who have had sex and broke up with their partner will also say that they lost something of themselves because it. God knew what He was doing, but our society has taken this amazing thing and made it common and of little value.
If a woman knows their husband is looking at porn, thinking about other women while having sex with his spouse, or going out to strip clubs… most of them would be pretty upset because they know it has destroyed intimacy. It has brought another “woman” into the marriage bed.
Erotica for women is no different.
As a husband if you found out your wife was reading erotica and pre-ordering tickets to see this movie you would be pretty hurt. What has surprised me about this movie is that scenario isn’t happening. Instead, many men are standing by idly while their wives make plans to see a movie the will add a visual to the fantasy they have already created in their minds from reading the book. This is a fantasy that breaks trust and creates a sexual longing for somebody other than their husband.
Men… Why are you ok with this? 

Men…Pursue your wife today.. make sure they know how amazing they are. If you haven’t told your wife she is beautiful lately, GO NOW! The bible says to treat your wife like Christ treats the church. We are to be willing to give up everything for her. Not treat them as a slave for OUR selfish needs. Love her. Cherish her. Be intimate with her. Pray for her. Protect her. – From “50 shades is black and white

As a Father: I am a proud father of 4 kids. 3 boys and 1 girl. I want my kids to know how great sex is. I want to make sure they never feel weird about it or ashamed in a world where much of the church still treats the word “sex” like it’s taboo.
I also want to make sure that they understand why sex in a marriage was God’s plan for us because that’s where it’s best. I want them to know that intimacy with your spouse is the most amazing thing you can have.
When my boys talk back to their mom sometimes I pull them aside and say “I never want to hear you speak to your mom… or ANY woman like that again”. The reason why is not just because they need to respect their mom, but also because they need to learn that women are a gift. My boys need to learn that women are to be treasured and not lorded over. I want my boys to know and admire beauty without being in the trap of the disease of lust… And I pray for them daily and for their future wives.
Then there is my daughter. I want her to know how valuable she is. She is a jewel and the fingerprint of God! I want her to be strong, powerful, giving and beautiful inside and out. I pray daily that she will never ever seek her self worth in some jerk of a man who treats her like she is disposable. I pray daily for her future husband that he will love her, cherish her, applaud her and protect her.

If my daughter ever gets caught up with a man who is like grey in that he is a stalker, abuser, selfish, domineering, controlling, and violent then he needs to know that I will create my own red room of pain and KICK HIS SELF ABSORBED #$@!

Let me conclude this long and final post on this issue. Well… at least until 50 shades book 2 comes out.

I want to plead with you dear reader:

This is not art.
This is not a romantic chick flick.
IT is warped, twisted, photoshopped and scripted.

DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. Do not fall into the trap that this will be harmless fun. Do not bring this into your marriage bed!

Church Leaders: STAND UP and Don’t be afraid to tell your congregations that NOTHING about this film fits into what God wants in our minds and hearts according to Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Women: Valentines is this week and instead of going to see 50 shades with the ladies, stay home and have sex with your husband. Your marriage is worth more than $9.25! If you aren’t married…

How you choose to live in Christ NOW maatters. God has a plan for you. You are holy and pure because HE IS! Song of Solomon 4:1 Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! – From “50 Shades is black and white

Men: actions speak loud…Pursue your wife! PROTECT her and your home. Chase after intimacy and love.

If you aren’t married…

Like David and Bathsheba, Stop looking out at woman bathing on rooftops! RUN!

Parents: Teens are going to see this movie. Please teach them that what they see and feel won’t leave their minds. If your kid does go.. Pray and talk to them about it no matter how awkward it is.

 

A few links worth a read on this:

Glenn Packiam -http://mysteryoffaithblog.com/2015/02/10/better-sex-the-subjugation-of-women-and-shades-of-the-real-thing/

Challies – http://www.challies.com/a-la-carte/7-lessons-from-50-shades-of-grey

A real 50 shades relationship – http://endsexualexploitation.org/articles/the-reality-of-a-fifty-shades-relationship/

50 Problems with grey – http://www.garythomas.com/50shades/

Crystal Renaud and Dirty Girl Ministries – http://dirtygirlsministries.com/