NOAHPlease note this review is riddled with spoilers… however you may not care.

I went to see Noah last night with a group of guys. When I originally saw the trailer I remember thinking “wow… that’s kinda interesting… Russell crow doesn’t look 600 years old…I’ll wait for redbox”. Then blog after blog of Christians condemning the film before even seeing it made me automatically want to go check out the film. Some may see that as wrong motives, but I am convinced the church is great at condemning things that they haven’t seen first or researched. This “judgement” even extends to one denomination badmouthing another. We are notorious for it.

And so… I went. I went in with hopes. Either this film was amazing and I could see what all the concern was or it was horrible and I could see what all the concern was.

What I got was mediocre and I walked out thinking. “Wow…I am sure the church has something better to do than complain about this lame film”. No before you jump all over me let me just explain that. Nothing is more dangerous to the Faith than another sect preaching something that is so close to the truth that it is hard to tell the difference and you can get easily duped. It makes absolute sense that the christian church needs to make real clear where they differ from the counterfeits like new age, Mormon etc. Many were concerned this film would teach people untruths about God and the Genesis story, even though we have very little info not only about the noah story but also how creation began. This film however takes huge fantastical leaps towards “The Neverending Story”, but with computers that did worse graphics than the puppets that film used, that I am convinced anybody that sees it will think. “there is no way that was in the bible… let me me go read Genesis” or “what the heck was that… I want my $9.25 back”.

I have rules with christian or bible story films: 
1. If they are claiming it is a good adaptation of a bible story and accurate as best they could… It will be horrible and it won’t be accurate and possibly too close that it will confuse people. In addition it may have kirk cameron or a sound track from nickleback so I can’t watch it.
2. You want to take a bible based story and attempt to keep the core truths and internal struggles while layering over a fantastical backdrop? I will give this a watch and see if it is good.

I think of my favorite play Godspell, written by a jewish man, about the book of matthew which is brilliant. Then there is my other favorite, Jesus Christ Superstar, which is written about the rise and fall of a rockstar through the story of Jesus. In that film and play we see a story that has the roman soldiers with machine guns and a hippy bus that the disciples are standing on. There are moments in the film where I know what andrew loyd webber was trying to illustrate and yet gave me such huge insight into the heart of my savior.

There are films like 10 commandments, left behind, and 500 1980′s mark of the beast films that get a green card from christians even though they are not only off biblically, but also illustrate in some cases end times theology that can be at best called “theory”. Not sure why films like that get a free pass.

Back to noah… So you can get in my mind as a you read this review, you need to know that I am a geek, scifi nerd, steampunk fanatic, and used to draw comics books for a few studios and role playing companies. I say this because I am looking at this film through that lens and it may be a very different lens than you have, but it is a very cool one!

The movie begins with what looks like crappy hand drawings and techno color weirdness. It has these comic book inspired, but instead of learning from 300 or sin city how to visually do that right they took a page out of what waterworld would have looked like on a low rez screen.

The director jumped into his theories of creation and regardless of where you stand on evolution or no evolution he made it clear it all started with the “Creator”. I loved that name for God! We have no idea what adam and eve called God in the garden. Moses was told to call Him “I AM”. The name “creator” is great because it reminds us as the “creation” we can never be greater. It is a humbling term for God and very cool.

I realized I was not upset or angry at anything in the movie. The directors additions of the Mad max world complete with welding helmets and tin roofing material could have been epic and instead to me were merely laughable.

Noah seems to live on “Tatooine” which was cool, but had me a bit distracted waiting for a Sandcrawler to pull up and Jawas jump out.

I am not going to go minute by minute because to be honest I can really only remember the stuff I was laughing at. So excuse my diarrhea of the fingers here.

The Rock creatures or “watchers” I guess were suppose to be his pre version of The Nephilim hybrids…sorta…who in bible were offspring of the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” and referenced slightly as being fallen angels here. We know pretty much nothing about these guys in the bible and it seemed to me Aronofsky went WAY left field with these guys almost to intentionally stay away from guessing what they were like. So while the nephilim were the “offspring” he kinda bypassed that and just went with fallen angel rock guys instead. There is a scene with the rock dude and he lifts up all six hands and says “Their in good hands”. I let out a huge laugh as I pictured a “neverending story” Rockbiter saying “these strong hands…”

There were a few political nods of course. One for PETA which made it very clear that if you eat prehistoric animals you are destined for destruction so become a vegan before the end of the movie because a flood is coming!

While I wasn’t upset about the odd additions I didn’t understand the subtractions. They did not serve a purpose. They could have had in there noah hearing clearly from God about the exact dimensions of the ark instead of the odd seed of eden peyote drink Methuselah gave Noah to help him “hear”.

The other subtraction was the wives of Noah’s children. There was an odd story line with finding their wives among the sinful people and not finding any that were worthy to be on the boat because ALL have fallen short. Next thing we know there is a refuge girl who grows up played by Hermione… I mean Emma Watson (who to me stole the show… she was amazing). She gives birth to twin girls and then noah goes crazy believing that even his line was not to be saved. Where Aronofsky went with this, regardless if accurate, could have been done even with keeping the sons wives. I read a TON of people mad about noah going crazy, being angry and unrighteous. I am not sure what movie they were watching because that leap made me think a ton about what was going on internally with Noah. Did you ever do something God asked you to and everybody around you had you to the brink of believing something other than the truth? This really made me look harder at the story of noah and how this must have tore him apart.

The scene where the water comes and he hears screaming around the boat must have ate noah alive in real life. It was reminiscent of titanic but instead of the people on boat dying, the whole world was. Hearing that was mind-numbing.

I am convinced that while we don’t 100% know what adam and even looked like I picture Adam as Thor and Eve as a supermodel. They were perfect and untainted. In this film they are glowing cocoon people and I could not tell which was the girl. So what happened when the curse happened? Glow disappeared and they grew “body parts”?

That brings me to the cartoon satan snake. He shed his skin and came out black and evil as he headed to the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Glowing adam sat and looked at the snake skin… “ooo pretty” as the snake showed eve the forbidden fruit. There it hung… it’s not an apple which is great!… its instead a beating heart fruit? hmm. nasty! EVE what are you thinking! its a heart! DON’T EAT IT! ugh… you did… Well lets at least save the snake skin because it gets all shimmery when you wrap it around your arm in just the right way. Eden wasn’t really pretty either. It wasn’t lush and mystical. It was instead a rainforest and it looked more like I would need to be up on my shots than sunbathing in a magical world.

The “don’t kill the babies” moment was pretty amazing from a pro-life point of view especially when noah said that all he had in his heart when he saw the baby girls was love.

Anthony Hopkins forgot how to act. Jennifer Connoly had an amazing scene where she was yelling at Noah that gave us a look at the human side of that family verses just seeing them in a “Story”. I might add she looked amazing for her age. Russell Crow surprised me. I actually found him convincing as noah just not as a 600 year old noah. He did get to reprise his role as “master and commander” while swinging from a rope and getting hit by a tidal wave. Tubal-cain who the bible refers to as a worker of bronze and iron was used in this story as the “bad guy”. He had one great speech in the movie. Let me rephrase that. The content of the speech was amazing, but not the acting. I just looked him up in an effort to make sure I never watch a movie with him again. FYI .

I loved the miracles in the movie because coming from the time just out of eden, the idea that God was still connected to man was great and made sense. There is a scene where Methuselah heals Seths girlfriends womb and it was very cool and awe inspiring yet at the same time because hopkins was acting bad left a “merlin: made for tv” feel. She then runs into the arms of seth and they realize they can finally have a kid. Right then Barry white comes on and…

Speaking of music; The soundtrack was terrible. Remember in the early 90′s every keyboard/piano had a sound called “orchestra hit”? It seemed to me they found that sound too often. Every intense moment or intimate scene was interrupted by this goofy music.

It was evident their budget ran out halfway through not only with the soundtrack and animation but also the animal footage. We barely saw them! Not only did we not really see them, but where were the prehistoric animals? I am not even talking dinosaurs, but anything! The only ones we saw were a few odd looking deer and in the beginning an armadillo-dog. Normal animals for the rest of the movie. Then at the end after noah goes through his “im drunk on berries” phase we see a montage of the animals in their new home. IT’S ALL STOCK FOOTAGE from animal channel! And I’m sure I saw beast master bringing his two ferrets on the ark.

At the end there is a cool moment with an epileptic seizure inducing rainbow as Noah passes his birthright and the mark of the Creator onto the baby girls. His arm and snake skin glow… He reaches out one finger staying true to elliot and ET and as he touches the babies… DING… a bell sound? wthflockofseagulls! did an angel get it’s wings?

Let me conclude with this… It is absurd to be upset over this movie being that it itself is such an absurd film. It has some really lame stuff in it and some brilliant human struggles in it that quite frankly I liked a lot. It however is a RENT ONLY. Not because you shouldn’t support it, but really because I think the crappy animation may look better on a small screen.

I just found out a graphic novel comic is being made of it… or it may be out and it looks very cool. I might have to check that out because the idea behind this was brilliant I think… It was the execution that made it look like a lousy version of the “dark crystal” meets “conan” meets “mad max” and tina turner wasn’t even in it!

I hope all of this made sense… this is the longest review I have ever done and to be honest I don’t want to spend time editing my mystery science theater 3000 off the cuff review… Take it for what its worth… Its not scary and evil… it was kinda lame and sometimes really funny how much it was.

Now to start complaining about the new “exodus” movie coming out… Maybe there is something more important to do as the church… hmm.

DESCRIPTION OF THE COMIC: From acclaimed filmmaker DARREN ARONOFSKY (Black Swan, The Wrestler) and artist NIKO HENRICHON (Pride of Baghdad), NOAH is a fresh take on the biblical epic for the 21st Century. A fantastical world is about to be destroyed and one man is chosen to start a new one. As wicked forces try to take his Ark, Noah must hold his family together while they watch the annihilation of all they know. Infusing the Book of Genesis with fantasy and science fiction, NOAH both reinvents the elements of the Flood story everyone knows and simultaneously takes the reader beyond them and into the unexpected.

paul-baloche-live-feature

Paul “THE MAN” Baloche has a new album which releases April 1st. If you are in the church or in ministry at all and don’t know who Paul is I will be praying for you. The reality is if you have heard ANY song in the church, most likely he either wrote it, co-wrote it, or the author was thinking about how awesome Paul is when they wrote it. So that being said, if you haven’t figured it out yet, Paul is one of the most prolific writers/worship leaders we have out there. What sets him a part is his humility. I have had the pleasure of working with Paul at a worship conference I co-created which was amazing. I saw Paul strip away the “fame” and walk in without pride and just show people how to seek the heart of God.

This same man, with 5 bazillion twitter followers, when he saw there were bad storms in my area sent me messages to see if my family was ok and let us know he was praying for us. Now… why am I prefacing this review with all that? Is it to name drop? Not even in the least… The truth is…I want everybody who reads this to know that Paul is a man who cares about people. He loves the “C”hurch and is a man after God’s heart. It is even more amazing that on top of all that he is a brilliant writer.

I have had no qualms in the past to say that, while I am a huge Baloche fan, I am not big on most of his studio albums. [edit] LET ME CLARIFY: I love everything Paul does, but every time a friend says to me they are not a fan my reply is “you should see him LIVE”. When they do they become a fan. There always seemed to be a disconnect there. – “The same love” was the exception and it was the studio album that that blew the doors off his other ones. IT was SO GOOD, But I craved a live album…I begged Integrity via email, twitter, my reviews and in my brain to make a Live Baloche album. This isn’t meant to sound hyper-spiritual, but somehow the studio stuff seems to sterilize the worship for me. Paul is amazing live because you can hear him leading worship and not just laying down a track. In essence, LIVE puts the “groan” of the holy spirit back into the track for me.

Then the email came to check out the pre-release of the Paul Baloche LIVE album and I was ecstatic. I never blow smoke on reviews, even if I know the person because I think it is important that the church puts out quality stuff. This album is not only amazing, but it is EXACTLY the album I have been waiting for Paul to make. There are new songs, familiar songs, and retakes on hymns. It offers singable corporate worship songs that are well crafted and not drivel. More importantly it offers a worship experience for the listener. This is not just a bunch of tracks mashed together. This is an experience where the listener can feel like they were at this event and be led into worship of the King by one of the best leaders we have in the church today.

I give this a full 5/5 stars and think this a must CD/DVD for every collection, home, and personal worship.
DO NOT PASS THIS ONE UP!

The full Paul Baloche – LIVE CD/DVD song list follows:
1.   Our God Saves
2.   God My Rock
3.   You Lift Us Up
4.   The Same Love
5.   Jesus Be My Savior
6.   Mighty Fortress
7.   My Hope
8.   Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)
9.   Today Is The Day
10. He Is Risen
11. Glorious / Holy Holy Holy

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this CD free from Integrity and Hoganson 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.”

Today, as I sat in the waiting room at the doctors office, I began to think thru some thoughts on Christianity. I have seen churches remove crosses because they wanted to make sure people feel comfortable. Some have decided communion is no longer valid and a bit creepy because it mentions the blood and flesh of Jesus. Then there are the christians that have learned to profess something they aren’t willing to walk out. Christians that are 100% on point to biblical text, but at the expense of loving others. Too often I have seen the church stand up for truth and then use that truth as a smoke screen and justification for anger and hatred.
This got me thinking about how I can sum up where I think we are going wrong and that we are turning people away from the ONE who can save them.
So here they are…

My top Two ways to do Christianity wrong:

1. Preach a gospel that doesn’t offend the lost
- 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
“the cross offends men and women, because it is contrary to their ideas of human worth” – C.H. Spurgeon

The cross is offensive. sin is offensive. our depravity and need for God is not an easy message, but its the ONLY one

2. Walk a life that offends people and doesn’t point to God’s grace
 - John 3:17-18
“You will find all true theology summed up in these two short sentences: Salvation is all of the grace of God. Damnation is all of the will of man.” - C.H. Spurgeon

Yes… we are suppose to speak the truth, but even more importantly we are to speak life. Our role is to show people that sin, while fun, without the cross equals death. We can’t point people to Jesus if we are preaching the wrong one. Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world, nor did He come to teach us how to condemn. He came to save it and we need to show people that:
OUR GOD SAVES. OUR GOD LOVES. OUR GOD PAID SO ALL COULD RECEIVE HIS GRACE.

Let us be careful to not get those two ways wrong. Don’t water down the gospel and don’t let your sin and pride keep others from the free gifts of God’s salvation.

Shadow God

March 18, 2014 — Leave a comment

shadow

One of my favorite things in life is taking a hike. Not up a mountain where I’m too dead to enjoy it but a hike nevertheless. I guess you can say I prefer lazy, I don’t need an oxygen tank, hiking. I see God in the walk, in the elegance of the trees, in the shade of the overhanging foliage and in the bazillions of creatures all around.

I have a love-hate relationship when my family is with me while hiking though. I love having them with me but the older ones seem to lag behind and yell a lot scaring all the cool woodland creatures away. Any chance at seeing a hawk or scurrying animal are pretty much gone when those two boys are with me. Our two little ones are just the opposite.  They run so far ahead that when they trip over a rock I am no where near to catch them or even help them back up. They are just moving too fast and are not able to hear my warnings. I’ll be honest because I get frustrated. I want them to listen to my experience in hiking. In taking it all it. My knowledge about birds and my caution about things that can trip them up. My goal isn’t making it so they don’t enjoy themselves. As a matter of fact sometimes having a bit of structure makes things even more enjoyable. My goal, in reality, is to teach them to shadow their father so they stay safe, take the right paths, and don’t miss the lessons and treasures.

The most simplified way of explaining Shadowing God is that it is the concept of walking with Him. It is very similar to my walk with my kids. There are times we get ahead of God. We jump into things we shouldn’t because we are 20 steps ahead of Him. We don’t heed the warnings of the Holy Spirit. When we trip up, we have isolated ourselves from the Church and God and there is nobody there to pick us back up again. Other times, like my oldest, we lag behind and we drag our feet. We yell so loudly we can no longer hear the still small voice of God. He asks us to catch up so we don’t miss what He is doing.

The Bible says His word is a lamp that lights our path. Sometimes that path is so dim we can’t see our hand in front of our face. It’s those times when we need to shadow closer and put our hands on God’s shoulders. The farther we get away from God and His voice the harder it is to see clearly. Other times our path is very clear and full of light. There will always be an ebb and flow to our walk with God but regardless of our situation one thing is clear…
It’s best to STAY CLOSE.

John 15
English Standard Version (ESV)
5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, it is he that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

So in this text we are compared to branches that grow on a vine. It uses the word Abide:

Abide means: to endure, accept, remain, dwell, continue

It’s essential to understand that abiding is “being” not “doing”.
Staying close is about being constantly in the presence of GOD.

Sometimes when you start at a new job your boss asks you to “shadow” a more experienced employee. The reason is because your goal is to not only learn from this person, but emulate them. The more you shadow the more you become like that person and exhibit “good fruit”.

Our “fruit” (good deeds, attitudes, etc) comes out of relationship with God.
listen carefully… our Relationship with God does NOT come from the fruit.

Colossians 2:6-7
New Living Translation (NLT)
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to
follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him.
Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will
overflow with thankfulness.

As we ABIDE… as We stay close then we will overflow with the goodness of the
almighty. As our roots grow down deep into Him the less we will be shaken and the more we will become like Christ.
This doesn’t me there are not things to do… What I’m saying is it starts with getting to know our GOD and being faithful to Him.

Mark Batterson said “Faithfulness is not holding the fort… it’s storming the gates of hell”

The Bible makes it clear it wont always be easy. There will be trials and persecution and there will be such amazing joy.
Who we are and what we do comes from God.
We love because he first loved.
We give because He gave.
It starts and ends with God…He is not dead…He is alive:

Acts 17:28 “for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own
poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.”

It is important to recognize that our walk is not for you and your buddy Jesus.
We were meant to Shadow God together. This is not a personal walk. It is a communal one.

1 Corinthians 11:1
“And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.”

In other words “shadow me as I Shadow God”
We need each other. We need the Church and the body because it is a realm where an invisible God is made visible. Church is not a country club where you pay your dues and get what you want. We don’t do membership at Ember because we realize that there needs to be a mindset change in the church away from the country club mentality. Instead it needs to move towards the reality that God calls us to sell all and follow Him. The reward is not in us getting things we want, but in getting to be with a loving God.


The church community is so important.
It’s a place where we abide in the shadow of the almighty!
It’s a place where we share our lows and our greatest triumphs!
It’s a place where we learn to embrace our diversity and find oneness as we take a bite of bread and drink wine.

One of the most paralyzing things in our walk and one of the main reasons why Church has become less about God and more about us is we Love the big event and are not good with ordinary.

I have great parents and they are also good grandparents. Over the years we have had many discussions with them about grandparenting. They were convinced that big outlandish events were how they should hang out with our children. While the events and trips were cool it became something that was not maintainable. Over time it became paralyzing because the “amazing” trumped the “ordinary” and the idea of just sitting down and reading a book with the kids seemed too miniscule.

We have forgotten how important “ordinary” is.

Acts 9:36-42
36 Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means
Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she
became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper
room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was
there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So
Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper
room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other
garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all
outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha,
arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he
gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he
presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many
believed in the Lord.

Tabitha, maybe a widow or rich herself, took care of the broken and poor widows.
In verse 36 it says that this WOMAN was a disciple. I love that because once again we see the heart of God for the marginalized.
She used her talents and walked with God. She didn’t wait for a church event or for the leaders to create a clothing drive. She instead loved those around her and in front of her on her own. She considered the widows her friends and community.
When Tabitha died the widows lost a friend and their protector. God considered her healing to be urgent. This was the first resurrection performed by an apostle and I am convinced Luke and God wanted to show us that her faithfulness, being good at ordinary, and her love for the broken was storming the gates of hell!

She says nothing with her mouth in this chapter, but she said so much in how she shadowed God. She saw Jesus in the mundane task and in her broken community. She chose to abide and the fruit and transformation of her whole community came from that.

Shadowing God is not about our devotions…It’s about being devoted
It’s not about our intentions… It’s about being intentional
It’s not about our worship… It’s about the object of your worship.

Don’t underestimate the value of being ordinary and shadowing God. It is in our obedience in being “ordinary” that God fully shows how He is Extraordinary.

888295046336_cover.170x170-75This video is a preview of an upcoming album from my friends Kristen and Bobby Gilles. It is an album born out of the confusion, pain, and hope of a couple trying to worship God after losing their baby. Much like Steven Curtis Chapman’s album, “Beauty Will Rise”, it weaves hope and grief in an intoxicating way, but also makes it way to personal to review affectively. The church needs albums like this. The church needs people like this. Those who are not afraid to ask the tough questions and show that while they are still in pain, that there is hope and we worship a loving God.

Learn the story behind Parker’s Mercy Brigade by Kristen Gilles, a collection of new worship songs to the Lord who gives and takes, and who works the giving and the taking for the good of those who love him. Half of all proceeds from the sale of Parker’s Mercy Brigade go to Nadus, documenting social justice issues around the world and partnering with local organizations to provide humanitarian relief and Christian witness.

And because half of all proceeds go to Nadus Films, when you purchase the CD or digital download, you haven’t just bought a record, you’ve joined Parker’s Mercy Brigade.

Preview video produced by Nadus Films.

PRE-ORDER ON ITUNES