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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.”

I have been doing “ministry” my whole life it seems. My dad was a pastor and my family can be best described as missionaries. I have been in ministry/working in and out of the church on my own and with my wife for 18 years now. I have seen it all. I have seen the amazing side of the church. The side that loves and cares for those who need jesus. Somewhere along the way, and I can’t remember exactly where, I saw the veil pulled back from the Church.

Pay no attention to the crap behind the curtain.

The hidden side of the church is an ugly side. It is a side of conflict, discouragement, gossip and hypocritical prejudice. We all know that this exists as a whole, but love the idea of our church leaders being exempt from such things.

Great words, rich with meaning and purpose, once gave the church purpose. Words like: evangelical, sacraments, charisma, and even Christian are now tainted by politics and culture. They now give way to judgement from people on the outside and Christ is automatically written off because of His followers.

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

I wanted to just spill some stuff from my soul and since this is my blog I can do what I want.

To those who are not in “the Church”

I am sorry…
I’m sorry that we have not loved as Christ loves us.
You are not our pet project.
We are not the sin police.
I am sorry you think we are nasty, judgmental, hypocritical, uncaring and isolated.
You are right…We are…
The truth is we are messy and scarred. Many of us are still bleeding from life.
We are torn and broken.
Broken people have sharp edges. Our words can cut deep.
Our leaders and pastors are good at pretending sometimes, but we are just as messed up.
We all need jesus.
What sins are you carrying?
I am carrying sin as well, but I get to lay it at the feet of jesus.
Please don’t let the cloud of my mess and imperfections make it hard for you to look through the Fog and see the light of Christ.
My job as a pastor is not to judge you.
My job is not to change you.
My job is not to constantly point out your cuts and then pour salt on the wound.

My job is to grab your arm and walk side by side with you helping us both chase after Jesus and rest in the shadow of His grace.

To those who are in “the Church”

Awake O sleeper. Rise from your apathy.
Stop licking your wounds while cutting others.
The church is a hospital for the sick and for those who don’t know there is a cure.
It is not a country club and a place to get “high” on the spirit.
If the spirit keeps telling you to stay in the building and not go tell others about God then you are listening to the wrong spirit.
Our call is to love.
More importantly our call is to walk in humility.
Always remember we are in constant need of God’s grace.
We can’t give grace when we haven’t received it yet
We can’t give the love of Christ to others when we haven’t submitted ourselves to Him.
Don’t forsake the one that loves you and gave His life for you and then pretend you are sacrificing sitting in the comfort of your brand new church chair.
Stop arguing.
Stop debating meaningless drivel.
Stop justifying and defending church culture and instead BE THE CHURCH.

Our job as the church is to point others to Jesus.
We are to shadow Jesus. To copy how He heals the broken hearted. To copy how He sets the captives free.
We are to be ambassadors of His love.
Preach transformation.
Preach grace
More importantly ask God to help you live it.

 

It is 12:24am…

5/6ths of the klampert family stayed awake for the ball drop.

I am about to go to sleep and can’t quite because I am just floored about how the year has gone.
My wife, Kelly, said to me “It’s been a week already since Christmas…It went too quick!”.
What I find amazing about that statement is that the year seems to have gone by even quicker.

This was an amazing year for our family. The kids are growing up fast and getting so smart. We have our great times and we have our challenges like every family, but at the end of the day We have four of the coolest kids on the planet.

We had the opportunity to minister at a great church this year and I had the wonderful pleasure of pastoring in worship some amazing people.

God gave me a personal retreat where I could be with friends in the mountains and worship. This led to the production of a very raw, live worship album.

This summer, I had the privilege of seeing God move prophetically through friends in the band “the brothers mcclurg” at the church I was working at. Even more amazing God made it very clear that He is ready to shake the foundations of our area and he healed a man who could barely walk that night.
Miracle after miracle. Strongholds were broken and broken were made whole. Our God has been good this year.

The changes came swiftly after. I stepped down from my role at the church and our family followed God’s leading to head into prayer and seek God’s heart and call with surrender and with no personal agenda.

God birthed in myself and 3 other families to start a new church in Newport County. He gave us a call and a vision. God followed that with a name; Ember Church. He made it clear that we would pastor the church together as 4 co-pastors. I will blog on this more later, but it has taught me so much about submission and surrender.

So much has changed this past year. So much pain and confusion. So much Joy and victory. Much is uncertain about the next year, but i know it is well with my soul.

I am praying 2014 is a year not of resolution, but instead a year of restitution and a year of revolution.
I pray God binds my family together even more strongly this year.
I pray God makes my marriage bulletproof.
I pray God helps us instill the fruit of the spirit in our kids.
I pray for my co-pastors that He would do the same for them.
I pray for an awakening in our city.
I pray for dreams and visions.
I pray that I can be used as God’s instrument.
I pray that Ember Church grows from the lost finding Jesus.
I pray the other churches around us overflow with people seeking hope.
I pray we see revival in the Church and that God would breathe on these dry bones.
I pray for miracles and that the glory of God would flood our city!

“It’s time for heaven to invade, and all the earth to shake
It’s time for the miraculous. It’s time for dreams to be unleashed
And every curse to cease. I know nothing is impossible”
-Daniel Bashta

trail

I was doing some internet strolling this past week while in prayer and thinking about ministry leading and I kept getting this picture of a trail guide. Once that was in my brain I did a little searching and came across an article on WikiHow called “How to lead a nature walk“. I found it very interesting and things started to pop up in my brain as I went through each step and compared to the local church and leading towards a vision. Below is the list on leading a nature walk and how it translates to the church

1. Read up about the local plants and animals that live in your area. Field guides are a good introduction to acquiring this skill set. So is tapping the wisdom of long-time naturalists who might live nearby.

Church: Study the word, be in prayer, read books, find a mentor

2. Take a hike through the area beforehand and note any unusual features about the area. Are there nests to observe or evidence of animal activity (beaver damage to trees along a riverbank for example)?

Church: Plan and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Canvass the field. Make sure to grab your compass (Jesus) and fix your eyes on him

3. On the day of the tour, gather your group and assess their physical limitations if any. Will the weather impact slipperiness of trails? Is there a more comfortable, safer alternate?

Church: Assess the people you are leading and their spiritual limitations. Take a look at the plan ahead and see if you need to disciple more to prepare for the road ahead.

4. Introduce yourself. Provide your group with a brief explanation of the planned walk. Give out maps if relevant. Point out comfort facilities; it is a good idea to suggest a rest stop before heading off. If you have any heavy props to show, this is a good time to do it (to avoid carrying them, or forgetting them at the end of the walk).

Church: Introduce vision, preach vision, and then repeat. Make sure to communicate so everybody understands the vision.

5. Have the members of the group introduce themselves to one another. This way they can get to feel comfortable around one another quickly.

Church: An effective team is most often a team with real relationships. Foster authenticity and community.

6. Ask members of your group to let you know what they would be most interested in viewing, for example, edible plants, birds, nests, burrows, medicinal plants, etc. You can then tailor the hike as much as possible to their interests.

Church: Make sure to ask people their desires and hopes and give them ownership along the way.

7. Find out if anyone is phobic about snakes, spiders, insects or any other animals that you may see on your hike. You may actually be able to help them face their fears if you show them how to correctly handle the animals. At the very least, provide appropriate reassurances as to the group’s safety.

Church: Sin, addiction, fear, etc will always thwart moving forward with a vision. Creating an environment where you can put everything on the table is important. As hinderances come up you will be more prepared to address them.

8. During the tour, ask questions, don’t talk at people. Engage them by pointing out a few things and then let them take it from there. Be open to questions.

Church: Engage people and hearts. Lead by example and as a servant. Don’t dictate.

9. Collect your walk items. Ensure that all your other carry items are with you, such as demonstration props, and essentials such as First Aid, maps, two-way radio, water, snacks, etc. When it’s time to set off on the walk – either lead the way or point the way where appropriate.

Church: Be prepared and well planned. The same God that can change anything with a word also honors those who plan and are good stewards of His work

10. Give presentations where appropriate during the walk. When you make your stop to wait for the group to catch up, adjust your position so that you are positioned in the middle of the group. With you at the middle of the group, the whole group has a better chance of hearing your talk and seeing any activity.

Church: Use every opportunity to preach Jesus. In the same way Jesus entered our story we have entered His and taking time to remind people along the way is important.

11. Be aware that there will always be stragglers. If you’re leading without others, take a head count and silently add up the numbers at regular intervals. If you’re lucky enough to be a leader with a few sweepers, use the sweepers to check if everyone has arrived at a stop. One of the sweepers can always be elected to return to base if needed, without disrupting the whole group. If you have a very large group that feels unwieldy in terms of managing, it might be better to break this large group into smaller groups, making sure to keep people with their family/friend groupings.

Church: Press forward and take care of those who drift. Make sure not to let one persons problems monopolize or deter the group from the vision and instead equip people to care and mentor them.

12. Prefer frequent shorter stops over longer, less frequent stops. When you have a group of mixed fitness, interest levels, and stamina, it is best to make stops short and frequent, so as to maintain the group’s attention.

Church: Short rests are fine. Burn out ends vision. Avoid long breaks because it breed complacency and makes people selfish and give up on the vision

13. Children are amazingly observant – and they usually are more interested in animals than plants and other non-moving things, so if they’re along, focus on their interests too!

Church: Jesus said let the children come to me and we are to have the heart and faith of a child. We need to watch them and listen to them along the way because they see and feel things in ways we never will.

14. Allow time for photo-taking. Depending on the length of the walk, drink and refreshment breaks will also need to be considered. Find clean, dry, sturdy logs, mossy or grass patches, etc. to sit on for a rest where needed.

Church: Take time to breathe. Go out with your wife. Play and enjoy life. Take a rest and get away from the noise. Getting burned out kills vision and drive

15. When the tour is completed, ask people what their favorite part was and note that for your next field outing.

Church: When tasks are done; when vision is complete; when God brings visions and victories… talk about them; document them; take pictures so you can learn and always have a reminder of God’s faithfulness

16. Finish with a stirring message that recaps the experience. Ensure that it includes conservation messages that draw on what the group has seen, so that their experience informs them about the future opportunities for stewardship that they might be able to participate in directly too.

Church: With every journey make sure to lead people in a way that teaches that each “hike” is a trip towards the larger vision of caring for people and leading them to Christ.