Family Faith Resources: The Master Designer - The Song

 This month the girls joined me in a little family movie night to preview The Master Designer - The Song by Exploration Films  for our Family Faith Resources series.  We loved this movie, and a few weeks after viewing it, the girls are still talking about curious facts, and interesting things they learned from this film.

The Master Designer weaves together history, legend, and science to share the incredible stories of six animals:  bees, wolves, bison, camels, elk, and crickets.  Who knew the role bees played in the Revolutionary War or camels played in the Mexican/American War?  I had no idea why bee hives don't collapse under the weight of honey or why wolves feet don't get frostbite. The beautiful cinematography and unique story lines made this movie a big hit in our house.  

You can view the movie trailer here (dear email readers click the link to see the trailer)

For my older daughter this was a great follow up to seeing God's Not Dead with me last year.  It raises the core question of:  How did our world come to be?  Was it through a random process or intelligent design?

Exploration Films also sent me Redemption of the Commons.  This fiction film follows the story of Victor whose life and business dreams have fallen apart.  Victor returns home to face his past and ask the question - does everyone have a God given purpose. The themes of this film make it more appropriate for an adult audience.  You can click here to watch the trailer.

50 Shades of Grey is not about your tired marriage

I have been bombarded this week by FB posts of friends excited about the 50 Shades of Grey movie.  These married women act as if this movie is nothing more than a boost for their tired marriage.  I rarely blog on anything to do with sex because 1) my mom reads my blog and 2)  my dad reads my blog.  But friends, I'm fired up on this one, so here's your warning - this post contains both sexual content, and curse words, if you're not game to that, stop reading - if you are then read on.

Dear suburban housewives,
50 Shades of Grey is not about your tired marriage.  This movie is about much more important matters - here are three of them:

1.  White rich men living under a different moral code than the rest of us. 

Think that's a bunch of liberal crap?  Okay, let's play a little game.  Let's change the setting of 50 Shades, to a trailer park in the deep south and Christian Grey is actually an African American young man named John.  John works at 7-11 and has a secret room in the back of his trailer.  Sexy?  Or maybe Christian Grey is actually named Jose Ramero and he lives in the projects of any major city.  He manages a McDonalds where he recently started seeing the new young cashier.  He controls which days she wears underwear and which days she doesn't.  Hot?

Make Christian, John, or Jose and my dear suburban housewife you aren't so turned on are you?  You're grossed out, and outraged.  You might actually call the police.  Why?  Because somehow we think when a rich white man controls a woman it's sexy and powerful, when a poor black man does it - its abuse.

50 Shades of Grey is not about spicing up your marriage, it's about giving your approval to the idea that whatever rich white men do with their power is hot, entertaining, and most importantly - okay.  Haven't we had enough Penn State's?  Haven't we had enough stories of local football stars gang raping girls?  I know I have. I am not interested in encouraging the rise of any more Christian Greys.

My friend posted this week that 50 Shades of Grey is 50 steps back for women. Without a doubt it is, but it's also 50 steps back to a time when the actions of rich white men were viewed through a different legal and moral lens than the rest of our society.

2.  It's about teenage girls trying to define love.  

I have two daughters that in a blink of an eye, are going to be out in the world looking for love.  This morning our devotion was from Song of Songs.  It's an awkward breakfast table read.  Using words like lover with a 9 year old makes this momma blush.  But here's the thing -  I am praying one day she finds her Lover, and he calls her, and treats her, like his Beloved.

He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.
~ Beloved (the woman) speaking about her Lover Song of Songs 2:4 

I pray that my girls will find great love in their life.  I pray that they will be treasured, and cherished, and loved, and that they in return will know how to equally, treasure, and cherish, and love their husbands.  I'm not so delusional as to think my daughters are going to develop their thoughts about love, and passion from the Bible.  I know I didn't - I learned it from popular media of the 80's.  
I watched the blockbuster hits of my teenage years and I dreamed of a Westley and and a pink prom dress.  I wanted a love story directed by John Hughes.  As misguided and ill informed as I may have been, my definition of love was molded in large part by Hollywood's choices during my youth.  

Young girls and teenagers will always dream of love.  There's a generation of girls today looking to Hollywood to figure out what that means.   When 50 Shades comes out next week (on freaking Valentine's Day of all days) millions of teenage girls will watch that movie and take in those images and think this is what it means to be loved.  

Just like we dreamed of this: 

They will dream of this (and that pretty much breaks my heart):  

While you might think that this movie is about you learning some new tricks to spice up a stale bedroom, what actually is happening is that a generation of teenage girls is learning that to be controlled, hurt, or hit is to be cared about.  To have your cell phone tracked is to be loved.  That the price of being in a relationship is putting up with the moody whims of an emotionally damaged person. 

I think all the women over the age of 30 who have read this book, or will go see this movie collectively owe an apology to our younger sisters.  We've sold you out for an orgasm, and we're sorry.  

3. It's about teenage boys trying to figure out how to be men:

I can't imagine the awkward pressure placed on teenage boys.  Somehow they have to figure out how to be a man - with all that comes with.  How do I court a girl?  How can I be an awesome lover?  Pair that with the fact that innately all teenagers dream of obtaining power, wealth, and respect.  Teenage boys are looking role models,  and they too are looking to society and media to find their mentors.  (I wish it wasn't that way but it is!)  

Come Feb 14 they can find power, wealth, and the sexiness that women apparently can't say no to - all wrapped up in one package - Christian Grey.  

You see ladies, while you are fantasying about having sex with Christian Grey, teenage boys across America are fantasying about being him.  When you pay your $14 to go see this movie and pack the theaters in the coming weeks - I want you to look down the row at the teenage and college aged young men who are there with their dates.  For many of them there's a length of rope and a gag out waiting in the car.  That's what women like right?  Your presence filling the theaters confirms that for them.  

As if the epidemic of 1 in 4 woman being raped in America isn't bad enough - let's teach a whole new generation of young men who are just trying to figure out what the hell it means to be a man - that control is sexy, and pain is erotic, and gagging and tying up your date in the back of your car is what Valentine's Day now means in America.  

Throw off the Yokes - Mid Life JOY Challenge #1

Each month this year I will be posting a challenge in our Mid Life Joy series.  February brings our first challenge: Throw off the yokes!  Sisters we are not starting this series off easy!

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
~  Jesus Christ to the Galatians in Matthew 11: 29-30

The word yoke has several meanings.  A yoke can be something placed on the neck of cattle used to pull something or work a field.  At the time of Jesus the word yoke was also used to refer to the laws or teachings of a specific rabbi.  When a disciple was chose to follow a rabbi, that disciple would be "taking on the yoke" of his rabbi - he would follow all the extra laws, teachings, and interpretations of that rabbi.   Taking on the yoke of a rabbi was difficult.  Following the Law is hard, really hard, actually it's impossible, now add on top of that the burden of additional laws, and teachings, and interpretations that normally went along with following a rabbi at that time.  It was a very heavy burden.   Yet Jesus calls us to take on His yoke and to learn from Him.  He called his yoke easy.  The comparison was striking.
The rabbis taught
Law + more laws+ personal preferences + personal ways and restrictions = possibly pleasing God. 

Jesus taught
Follow me + nothing = intimacy with God and eternal salvation.  

It's easy to be a bystander to history and desire to shout out to those Galatians - pick Jesus!  Pick Jesus -the rabbis are wrong!  It seems like such a clear choice.  Who would pick the teachings and misery of the yoke of the rabbis?  Who wouldn't pick Jesus?  But fast forward two thousand years and Christian culture today is full of some scary similarities.  In the world of celebrity pastors, best selling authors, and bible study teachers, we are right back in the same position as those Galatians.

Popular Christianity teaches: 
Follow Jesus + Edith Schaeffer + Beth Moore + Jen Hatmaker* = possibly pleasing God and having eternal salvation.

Jesus STILL teaches: 
Follow me + nothing = intimacy with God and eternal salvation.  

Many of us do exactly what the Galatians did - we don't pick Jesus.   We love our media darlings.  They are witty, bright, beautiful, and we want to be just like them, so we pick up their yokes and throw them around our necks.

Jesus + the lastest book + the latest study = ? 

The problem is that those yokes are attached to different agendas that pull and wear on us.  Edith Schaeffer was called to work joyfully at home.  Beth Moore is called to teach the Word.  Jen Hatmaker is called to plant churches, adopt children, and a dizzying list of other wonderful things.  These are the things they have been called to, and they have faithfully shared those personal experiences through books, and classes, and videos.  Christian culture has taken those personal messages and twisted them into modern day rabbi yokes.  Our unprecedented access to information, resources, and people has turned us into a people that take on yoke, after yoke, after yoke.  We mistakenly think the next yoke will bring: happiness, less stress, contentment, holiness, peace...  The list goes on and on, but with each extra set of teachings, each extra set of self imposed expectations, each new list of things we "should do," we get farther and farther from what we are looking for.  We get farther and father from Jesus.

 If you saw an oxen struggling under the weight of multiple heavy yokes you would be outraged at the abuse, wouldn't you?
My dear sisters, can I ask, " how many yokes are you wearing?"  

What burdens have added, and added, and added on to yourself?  Burdens the Lord has never asked you to take on.  Burdens that not only steal your JOY, but are exhausting you, leaving you weary.

This month's challenge is to look at the yokes you have taken on - and throw off all but Christ's. Throw off the yokes that have been wrongly placed on you by people around you, or by you yourself.

How do we do that?

Step 1:  Pray that God would open your eyes to false yokes you have taken on.
Step 2:  In a journal write out all the things that would complete this sentence.

Following Jesus + _______________ = Pleasing God
              For example:  dressing conservatively, leading a bible study, adopting a child, serving at the                                      food bank, homeschooling my kids, going back to work to help us get out of                                          debt,  allowing my mother to move in with us.    Small or large - list it out!                                            Add to your list as you find things coming to mind.  

Step 3:  Study God's word.  I suggest reading slowly through the book of Galatians.  We aren't the first people to deal with some extra yokes.  Study a few verses a day.  Try the SOAP method - journal out the Scripture, your Observations, your Application, and a Prayer.

Step 4:  Pray that God would show you what from your list is not something He has asked of you - but is an extra yoke you have taken on, or the world has given to you.

Step 5: Throw off those yokes! I'll share later this month a tangible way I have done this recently.

This is not an easy challenge, but I believe it is a crucial start to finding JOY in our lives - middle aged or not. :)  Jesus promised His followers something as a result of taking on His yoke (His alone), something I believe we all desire.   We can find it just a little farther up in our passage in verse 28, Jesus says.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."   

I pray His rest on each of you who are weary and burdened.  I will be praying that God speaks clearly to you this month as you take on this challenge.  

* Please note I do not mean to be picking on these particular women, nor I believe it is their set intention to pull woman away from following Christ in any way.  I name them only for their popularity is a variety of segments of Christian culture.