Christian Parallels in The Land Before Time

Up next on Christian Parallels in the movies is “The Land Before Time.” I remember watching this movie as a kid and balling my eyes out every time… Well guys, watching the movie as an adult with my six children… I still cried… maybe even harder.

1574021716953

Movie Recap

The movie opens with the narrator describing a great drought causing the dinosaur herds to be on the move heading towards a great oasis known as The Great Valley. He states that the herds only stop to hatch their young. We see several species of dinosaurs hatching their young, as we are focused in on the “Long Necks” who only have one baby to carry on for their herd. He is our main character, Little Foot.

Little Foot’s mom explains to him the need to get to the Great Valley and how marvelous it will be. He asks her how she knows if she’s ever seen it. To which she responds, somethings you see with your eyes, somethings you see with your heart. Of course, the young dinosaur does not understand, but he will soon.

Soon after this, Little Foot attempts to play with a Triceratops names Cerra. However, her dad interjects telling Cerra that “Three Horns” do not play with “Long Necks.”

Little Foot asks his mom what’s a “Long Neck?” And she basically tells him all species stick to their own kind and do not intermingle.

That evening Little Foot follows a hopper into a pond. Cerra is there too. The two of them play happily until they meet Sharp-Tooth. Little Foot’s mom comes to their rescue, but she is hurt badly. During all this, the ground begins to shake. The narrator claims this to be the continental divide. Cerra is separated from her family. Little Foot is separated from his grandparents.

And Little Foot’s mom is about to die. She reminds him how to get to the Great Valley and encourages him to follow his heart. His heart will lead him.

However, the young dinosaur is struck with grief. He doesn’t even notice his own hunger. Eventually he falls onto another dinosaur, Rooter, and says it’s all her fault. She should have known better than to take on a Sharp Tooth.

The wise dinosaur tells Little Foot that it’s nobody’s fault, not his mom’s, not his. It’s part of the circle of life. But that she is never really gone if you follow what she taught you.

Little Foot is guided by his mom’s voice, “Follow the bright circle past the rock that looks like a Long Neck, past the mountains that burn. I’ll be in your heart, Little Foot. Let your heart be your guide.”

Soon after, Little Foot sees Cerra and is overjoyed to see her. But she is proud and still determined to only talk to Three-Horns.

But through a series of events, Little Foot is brought together with Ducky, a big mouth, Petrie, a flightless flier, and Spike, a newly hatched spiked tail. Together they set off for the Great Valley.

Cerra learns that Sharp Tooth did not die. She is scared to be alone, so she joins the herd.

They are all hungry and tired. But Little Foot pushes them on. Knowing in his heart that are on their way to the Great Valley. But also denying that Sharp Tooth is alive.

Eventually they come to tree with leaves at the top. Little Foot, Ducky, Petrie, and Spike work together to pull those leaves down. Meanwhile, Cerra sits back and laughs at how ridiculous they look. Once they are all feasting, Little Foot invites Cerra to eat. She refuses saying she can get her own food. She rams her horns into a tree trunk. Nothing. She does it again. Nothing. As she goes to do it a third time, Little Foot throws some leaves down for her. She proudly humps and eats her food.

Then they all learn that Sharp Tooth is alive. Cerra decides she wants to go her own way. It is easier. And the rest of the tribe agrees. Little Foot carries on while Cerra leads her companions in the wrong direction.

Trouble is brewing. Little Foot comes in and helps his friends. Together they get out of the mess. However, Cerra is still too proud to admit she was wrong. She goes her own way.

As the herd carries on, they hear Sharp Tooth and decide to get rid of him once and for all. They have a plan for Ducky to be the bait luring Sharp Tooth to the dark area of the lake. Then Little Foot and Spike will push a giant boulder on his head. During this time, Petrie learns to fly. However, Little Foot and Spike are unable to move the boulder. Luckily Cerra return and help them push the rock over the edge, taking out Sharp Tooth and saving Ducky. However, they fear they lost Petrie. But good news, he shows back up.

After all this, Little Foot lies alone hearing his mom’s voice in the clouds. He tells her he tried, but it’s just too hard. She tells him to follow his heart and starts to fade away. Little Foot chases the cloud and finds… The Great Valley!!!

It’s everything they hoped it would be. All the dinosaurs are reunited with their families, but more importantly, they stick together.

Christian Parallels

Let’s start with the obvious. All of these dinosaurs were on the same journey to the Great Valley in the beginning, but they stuck to their own kinds. Prejudice much! Some of those herds were much more vocal and prouder of their kind than others, but all followed the unwritten rule to stick to your own kind. Until the day of the Great Shake. Now families have been separated, and they need each other. No one wants to be alone. No one. Not even the proud Cerra.

This is a great representation of Christianity. We all have the same goal- Heaven! Yet, for some reason we are prejudice against others who worship differently, sin differently, or live differently than we do. It doesn’t make any sense in the movie, and it doesn’t make sense in real life. But it really is just the way it is due to our sin nature. We want to be comfortable, so we stick to what we know.

However, when our world shakes, we are anything but comfortable and willing to look at others in a different light.

I’m just going to throw this out there- I don’t think God wants us to be comfortable. Because when we are comfortable, we miss out on His blessings. It’s when we are uncomfortable, we admit our need for help, our need for a Savior. It’s in those moments we look to God for strength, guidance, and peace.

Throughout the movie we are drawn to the relationship between Little Foot and Cerra. From the beginning there’s a potential friendship blooming. But due to prejudices, it does not easily form. Even once they are traveling together, Cerra hold her values and views. At one point she even leads her companion astray due to her pride. Yet it’s her same pride that causes her to leave her new tribe.

Pride. A sin that everyone struggles with. Pride is a sneaky little lie told by the enemy that you know best. You are the best. You can do whatever you want. Pride is Cerra’s problem in the movie. And if I’m being honest, it’s a sin I struggle with regularly.

Living in America, I can make my own money. I can buy my own food. I can buy my own needs and wants.  While I do recognize my job as a blessing from God and the way he provides for me, it’s easy to think that I did all that.

When I look at other cultures, it’s easy to think my way is the best way. It’s easy to think they should conform to my liking, instead of embracing our differences. Forgetting God made each and everyone one of us in His image, perfectly and wonderfully made…. I prefer easy.

That’s how Cerra convinced the other dinosaurs to go her way. It was easier. Easy is not always the best way. In fact, in this movie, easy was a trap, a distraction to NOT make it to their chosen destination.

Easy will not get you to your chosen location- Heaven. Doing God’s work is not always going to be easy. It will take work. “Do not be conformed by the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of mind… (Romans 12:2)”

Don’t be led into sin by the temptation of easy. Don’t be led away from your values by easy. Embrace the challenge knowing God will never leave you or forsake you.

No one wants to be alone. And thank God He sent Jesus, so we wouldn’t have to be.

After Little Foot’s mom died, she still led the way for him. She was in his heart. She had taught him about faith and after grieving her loss, Little Foot had faith. In this movie, the way Little Foot’s mom speaks to him after her death is similar to how God speaks to His people- in their hearts. Some people do hear the audible voice of God. I am not one of those fortunate people. But He does speak to my heart. He does give me nudges. He leads me in directions I cannot understand. (Point to case writing a blog about “The Land Before Time.”) God speaks to each person differently; it’s not a one size fits all formula- it’s a relationship. But just like Little Foot’s mom appeared at the needed time, so does God. But God is always there. The whole time. We are just not always looking for Him.

Sometimes… ahem.. Often… God appears by sending His people. Much like Little Foot arriving to save his friends or Cerra coming through to push the boulder. God’s people are God’s chosen source of blessings to other Christians.

That little nudge at your heart. That feeling you just can’t shake. That’s probably the Holy Spirit directing to help, encourage, or support a fellow Christian.

No one wants to do this alone. In the movie, a herd of misfits were brought together after a disaster to help each other and keep each other safe. We too have a similar mission. Help our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Love them. Model Christ. And make disciples of all nations.

Alone we are bait for Sharp Tooth… or another common enemy- Satan… Together we are stronger. Together we can reach our chosen location. Despite all prejudices. Lay down your pride. We need you. We can do it together.

Pinocchio: Which Character Are You?

The next movie that was put on my heart for Christian Parallels in the movies is “Pinocchio.”  Now let me start by saying, I had never seen this 1940s Disney classic until this movie was put on my heart. But as I watched it, I quickly saw why God directed me to this movie. 

Movie Recap

The movie opens as Jiminy Cricket is singing a song, “When You Wish Upon a star…” He then goes on to narrate the beginning of our story. 

Geppetto is a skilled woodworker who makes beautiful toys along side of his cat, Figaro, and fish, Cleo. After finishing a beautiful puppet, Pinocchio, Geppetto and his pets go to bed. As the window is opened, Geppeto sees the beautiful wishing star and makes a wish for Pinocchio to be a real boy. 

The Blue Ferry arrives and makes Geppetto’s wish come true. The puppet comes alive, but in order to be a real boy he must prove to be brave, truthful and unselfish. A brand new boy with so many questions and unsure of right from wrong, Pinocchio asks, “What’s a conscience?” 

Jiminy responds, “A conscience is that still small voice that people won’t listen to. ”

Eventually, Jiminy takes on the task of being Pinocchio’s conscience. The Blue Ferry said, “I dub you Pinocchio’s conscience, Lord High Keeper of the Knowledge of Right and Wrong, Counselor in Moments of High Temptation, and Guide Along the Straight and Narrow Path. Arise, Sir Jiminy Cricket.”

When Geppetto awakes he finds Pinocchio to be alive. He is overjoyed and quickly learns the boy has a lot of questions involving the word- why? 

So the next morning, Geppetto sends Pinocchio off to school. He has an apple, a book, and a mission to go to school. However, Jiminy overslept. 

Without his conscience, he is easily led astray by Honest John and Gideon. The two selfish, money-motivated characters convince Pinocchio that he doesn’t really want to go to school, he wants to be an actor. 

When Jiminy does finally arrive on the scene, Pinocchio has already given up the attempt to go to school and decides he does want to be an actor.  Though he listens intently to what Jiminy says, he does not follow his consicence’s advice or recognize that temptation he is giving into. 

He follows the two tempters to Stromboli’s puppet show. He’s a hit. He’s going to be famous. But the second he mentions going home, he is thrown into a cage. Jiminy tries to get him out, but he is unsuccessful. 

Then the Blue Ferry arrives asking Pinocchio why he didn’t go to school. Pinocchio lies, and his nose grows. Each question the Blue Ferry asks is answered with another bigger lie, and Pincocchio’s nose continues to grow. 

She then says, “A lie keeps growing and growing until it’s as plain as the nose on your face.”

Despite the lie, the Blue Ferry rescues Pinocchio and reminds him of his task. 

Meanwhile, Honest John is getting another task to bring naughty boys to “Pleasure Island.”  And once again, Honest John is able to lead Pinocchio astray. 

As these boys enter the island, they are told to have all the fun they want and it’s all free. It’s filled with nothing but temptation and the approval to be as bad as they want. But these boys quickly start to disappear.  We see as they partake in the drinking and smoking, they begin to turn into donkeys. These boys are literally standing in a trap and do not notice until they begin to change. 

With the help of Jiminy, Pinocchio is able to escape, but he has grown donkey ears and a tail. 

Jiminy and Pinocchio run home to find the house empty. Geptto has gone out looking for him and ends up in the belly of a whale known as Monstro. So Jiminy and Pinocchio set out on a quest to the bottom of the ocean to find Monstro. 

Eventually they do find Geppetto and escape the belly of the whale. But they make him very mad in the process. Their raft breaks and all are scurrying for their lives. Geppetto tells Pinocchio to save himself, but in a brave heroic act, he saves Geppetto. 

As all the characters wash up on shore, we see everyone alive, except Pinocchio. 

Then the Blue Ferry arrives and says that Pinocchio has proven himself to be brave, truthful, and unselfish by saving his father’s life. And Jiminy too is awarded a ribbon for being a certified conscience. 

1573499555685

Christian Parallels

 This movie is filled with Christian parallels. In order to be a real boy, Pinocchio must avoid temptation and stay on the straight and narrow path. The thing is, he is a brand new boy, he doesn’t even know what temptation is, let alone how to identify it or avoid it. For the purposes of my train of thoughts, I am going to look at our main characters. 

Pinocchio is a brand new boy. He is given the task to go to school, but tempters come. And he easily falls into their traps. I see Pinocchio as a brand new Christian. He has good intentions. He knows what he is supposed to do. But he doesn’t know how to stand firm, walk the straight and narrow path. He has no idea that he is being led astray until it’s too late. 

Now let’s look at “Honest John.” Honest John is anything but honest. He is self-motivated, greedy, and selfish. He purposely leads Pinocchio astray twice with very similar tactics- lies, half-truths, distractions. And both times he gains from this. Honest John could represent many people led by sin. They don’t really care about others unless there is something in it for them. These people are led by sinful motives and leave destruction everywhere they go.

Now let’s look at Honest John’s companion, Giddeon. He barely talks throughout the entire movie. But because Honest John is not alone, his presence is validation of “truth” to the schemes and lies. Pinocchio gives into Honest John partly because he sees others are doing it too. Gideon represents most people of the world. The people who are just going along with the sin, not confronting it, making it seem normal. 

Honest John and Giddeon are examples of people not only don’t care about other people, but also want them to suffer. People who lie, gossip, cheat, steal, use others… the list goes on. They are everywhere. Temptation is everywhere. 

That is why Pincocchio needed Jiminy. In the movie, Jiminy is named Pinocchio’s conscience, but I see him more as Pinocchio’s mentor. He is the one who is supposed to help him identify temptation. He is the one who is supposed to keep him on the straight and narrow path.   

But the first time Pinocchio is tempted, Jiminy is nowhere to be seen. And when he does finally enter the picture, his advice falls on deaf ears because Pinocchio has already been swayed. 

Then Jiminy is upset that he didn’t listen and he claims he won’t help him anymore. But of course he does. He ends up being the reason he gets off “Pleasure Island” and help him find his way back home. Jiminy is in every scene with Pinocchio and his emotions change regularly as he tries to help a young boy who just doesn’t know the truth. 

Everytime he goes astray, he walks straight into a trap of slavery- to Stromboi, to the donkey’s master… Likewise, everytime a believer is led into temptation, he too is led into slavery of sin.

We must walk alongside of them and help them learn to identify temptation, learn to stand firm in their faith, and learn to stay on the straight and narrow path. Help them learn the freedom that comes from a life aligned with Christ! Because wide is the path that leads to destruction. 

Friends, who are you? 

Are you young Pincoochio who needs people to come alongside of him to know how to avoid temptation?

Are you Jiminy, the mentor, who tries to help your fellow brother or sister in Christ, but gets frustrated quickly when they don’t heed your advice? Yet, still find your way back to that friend time and time again because God knows that friend needs you.

Are you Honest John, who just doesn’t care about anyone but himself, so he uses people to gain? 

Are you Giddeon who though he never bluntly does anything wrong, yet still condones and makes sin normal? 

Are you Geppetto who never stops looking, never stops praying, for his lost child even though it almost cost him his own life?

Are you Figro or Cleo? They may not seem like big characters, but we all need those people in our lives who are there. People we can trust to be present and walk along side of us when the going gets tough. 

Listen, temptation is everywhere. We have to do a better job of coming alongside of fellow Christians and helping them stay on the straight and narrow path! We have to! People like Honest John are everywhere. Temptations like fame and pleasure island are real. We must share the good news of Christ. Walk with new believers and show them how to avoid these traps. Will they mess up? Absolutely! You do too. But that does not mean we stop trying. Keep fighting for those who are not as strong as you are in the faith! 

 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

Learning to Walk- Wear Those Socks and Shoes!!!

My one year old (GASP! I can’t believe he is one…) is trying to walk. This morning he grabbed a hold of the back of my legs and followed me from the kitchen into the living room. It was adorable. But also, a little bit annoying.

You see, for the past month, I have been trying to get him to wear some socks and shoes to help with that whole balance thing that he hasn’t completely figured out. But within minutes, he starts pulling off his socks and working off his shoes.

Kid! If you’d just keep those socks and shoes on…

But he doesn’t get it.

He just wants to walk. And be comfortable… In his own way.

1573421505912

You know there are quite a few similarities to learning to physically walk and learning to walk with God. 

Faith is not something you just catch. It’s something you have to pursue. But here’s the good news, God has been pursuing you since you were created. And he’s not going to make you do it on your own. 

 If you claim to be a Christian, you recognized that, accepted this truth, and were baptized. But it doesn’t stop there. Learning to walk with Christ, is much like learning to walk. 

You don’t really know how, but when you first start the journey, you are eager. You stumble. You fall. But eventually something clicks, you start to figure it out… yet you still fall sometimes… like when you are going too fast or don’t see what’s on the ground in front of you. 

Maybe there are some people who have come along side of you to offer up some assistance, to pray for you, give you advice. Listen to that advice. 

I get it. It’s not really something you want to do… 

I’ve been here too many times to count. I just want to be walking faithfully with God. I want the peace of a life with Him. I want the blessings that come from a life aligned with Christ. I want the mutually beneficial relationships I see other Christians having.

But I don’t want to keep my socks and shoes on. I also want to be comfortable in this world. 

I don’t want to put the time into reading my Bible. I want to sleep in. I’m too busy. I don’t know where to start… All these excuses. But the truth is, it’s uncomfortable. And I want to be comfortable and still reap the benefits.

I want God to answer my prayers, but I don’t like the way it feels. I do all the talking. I just want things to go the way I planned. Since I’m not really in my Bible, I’m not really even sure my will is aligning with God’s…  

My sinful, human nature is selfish and greedy. I see what other Christians have and I want it for myself. When things don’t go my way, I revert to doing it all myself again… I don’t see all the behind the scenes work people who are strong in their faith are putting in. I don’t see their morning devotional time, their on-going prayer life, the sacrifices they make, the things they chose not to do.  

But because of the power of the Holy Spirit, you too can be there. We can all have an amazingly beneficial overflowing relationship with God! But it takes trust. Trust that God is a good God and His ways are the best way. It takes obedience. You cannot simply hear the word, but you also must be a doer of the word. 

Walking with Christ is the greatest blessing ever! But people don’t take full advantage of what that means. Listen- the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is alive in you. You have that power in you! You can have an ongoing prayer life. You can constantly be learning more about your heavenly Father and His will. 

Put on those socks and shoes, so that you can remain steady in your walk. Always growing. Always learning more about God, His character, His plan, and how you are part of that plan! 

Read your Bible. 

Pray. 

Fellowship. 

Mentor.

 Grow. 

Trust Him and His ways.

 Obey His word. 

Follow Jesus’ example.

Walk humbly with your God! 

Christian Parallels in The Lion King

Last week I had the opportunity to share some Christian parallels of the movie “Aladdin” in my blog. It was honestly really neat to see how the messages of the movie fit perfectly into the blog I was currently writing. So, I decided to try this again with another movie.

 

So, this week on Christian Parallels in the Movies, we have “The Lion King!”

Christian parallels in the lion king.jpg

Movie Recap

As the movie opens, we see the beauty of Africa. Land. Water. Sun. Sky. Animals. Lots of animals. Animals of the sky. Animals in the water. Animals of the land. All of these animals are living in harmony as the viewer’s attention is brought to the King (Mufassa), his wife, and new baby cub (Simba). There’s beauty. There’s harmony. There’s peace.

Then, we meet Scar. Scar is Mufassa’s brother and Simba’s uncle. Within his first scene, we learn that Scar is power-hungry, bitter, deceitful, and willing to do whatever it takes to get his way.

Mufassa, however, is a wise king and good father. He takes every opportunity to teach and lead his son. He teaches him the circle of life, the natural order of things. He teaches him to respect and care for all of creation. He also warns his son to stay away from the dark places because their kingdom covers everything the light touches.

Now, Simba is a young cub and naive. His uncle is able to plant a little seed of doubt, so Simba decides to check out that dark shadowy place, finding himself in a lot of trouble. And Mufassa protects him.

Though Mufassa is extremely disappointed, he continues to instill wisdom in his son. He points him to the stars, telling him the great kings of the past live there, and that he is never alone.

Sadly Mufassa’s reign is about to come to an end. His brother is able to carry out a terrible plan and have him killed. Then he is also able to whisper a lie into Simba’s mind, making him think he is responsible for his father’s death. Then his evil uncle tells him to run away and never return.

Simba listens. He runs away. Yet, he carries the weight of the past on his shoulders.

He meets some friends, Timon and Pumbaa, who help him learn a new moto, “Hannakua Matta.” With some new friends by his side, Simba is able to make a new life for himself.

Then one day he reconnects with his childhood best friend, Nala, by pure consequence. Nala tells Simba that Scar let the hyenas take over the Prideland. There’s no food and no water; it’s horrible. Simba can no longer hide! And he is torn. He knows where he should be, but he thinks he can’t go back.

But Rufiki knows the way. Rufiki appears telling Simba he knows his father. He tells Simba to look at his reflection. As Simba looks at his reflection, he is directed to the stars in the sky.

There he sees his dad. Mufasa tells Simba he has forgotten who he is. He is his son and the one true king.

Now, Simba must return home. To a land that Scar is now running. When Simba comes back to Pride Rock, it looks horrible. “We’re going to fight your uncle for that!” his friends ask.

Simba returns, confronts the past, learns the truth, and defeats his uncle. He then takes his rightful place as the king of Pride Rock.

The movie ends exactly as it began. There’s peace, harmony, and beauty as all of the animals are celebrating the birth of a new lion cub.

Christian Parallels

The movie opens with all of creation in harmony under the righteous king, Mufassa. There’s peace. There’s order. It is beautiful. This reminds me of Genesis. In the beginning God created everything, and He created it good! He gave order and purpose to every living creature.

Then Scar entered our scene. In this movie, Scar is our bad guy. He saw all this beauty and only wanted power. He is the representation of evil, like Satan. Scar planted a seed of doubt, just like the serpent planted a seed of doubt in Eve. From that seed of doubt, came sin.

Now, God’s beautiful creation is now fighting sin. And just like in the movie, there are dark places His people should not go. Those dark places are different for each person. But let’s be clear, those places are places where you are going to fall back into a sin that consumes you.

I’d like to skip ahead here and point out the differences in the two kingdoms. When Mufassa, the righteous king ruled, there was beauty, harmony, and peace. When Scar, the greedy, prideful king ruled, there was destruction. Scar paid no attention to the natural order of creation and allowed the hyenas to take over the Prideland.

Likewise, when we allow God, the righteous king, to rule our hearts, there is peace and beauty. However, when allow sin to rule our hearts, there is nothing but destruction. Satan’s goal since the beginning of time, has been to separate creation from God with a little lie… a little sin.

Sin can weigh us down… make us feel unworthy… cause us to run from our purposes… make us doubt everything we have ever been taught. That’s what happened to Simba. Simba didn’t even commit the sin he believed he did. He tried to run from it. But it crippled him.

Simba is able to start a new life separate from his purpose. The life was a good life… but not complete. But then, by pure coincidence, he reconnects with his childhood best friend, who tells him how badly he is needed. This happenstance, was a plan of the writers to bring Simba back and redeem his kingdom.

This is our story too! God is the author of life. He had a plan from the beginning to restore and redeem his creation.

AND He is writing our story too. Trust him with the story. He knows the way. He will lead you!

Much life Rifiki knew the way for Simba. Rafiki shows Simba his reflection which points him to his dad. “Remember who you are. You are my son and the one true king.” He didn’t confront the past. He didn’t clear up the past. He simply reminded him who he was. He has the power to do the right thing because of who he is.

Remember who you are. You are a child of God. It doesn’t matter how far you run from God, He is there. He wants you to be in relationship with Him. Though there are no old kings of the past in the stars, God is there. You are never alone.

But confronting the past will hurt. This movie did not skim over that detail. It actually enhances it by adding the humor of Rafiki hitting Simba on head with his stick. That pain is real, it hurts, but because of who Simba is, he can confront it.

Because of who you area you can too. You have to confront that past. It will hurt. But by doing so, you are confessing your sins and giving them to God. Once you confront that past, you have given God room to move. You have literally broken the chains of sin. You are free to be the person you were created to be.

Remember who you are.

You are not the lie you believe. You are not the sum of things that have or haven’t happened to you.

You are a child of God. Perfectly and wonderfully made. In the image of God Himself. You were designed with a purpose! You have a God who loves you and is always with you! He started a good work in you and He is faithful to carry it out to completion!

There’s more! In the movie, Simba came back and redeemed his kingdom. We too have been redeemed by a righteous King’s son who shed his blood to cover our sins! Because we have a redeemer, we can live in peace and harmony. Yes, sin still exist. Yes, we will be tempted everyday. But because of who we are, children of God and covered by the blood of Christ, we too are made righteous!

A Poison Ivy Wreath

This week we have seen the beautiful colors of fall in St. Louis! As my kids were playing outside, they kept showing me the colorful leaves that they would find. So, I decided we should make an autumn wreath for our front door.

Oh, they had a blast finding all the leaves around the yard. But I specifically wanted them to get the red and orange ones.

Then my girls and I glued them to a cardboard circle. While we waited for the wreath to dry, we all played outside. I noticed a bunch of orange and red leaves on a vine twirling up a tree.

“Hey honey, what is that?” I said pointing to the colorful vine.

“Poison Ivy… or poison oak,” my husband replied.

I did a little gulp… no way… So, I had to verify by checking out Google…

Yep… we just made a beautiful fall wreath out of poison ivy and poison oak… I itched a little bit…

But they were so pretty… yet still just as bad…

It’s like this lie wrapped up in beautiful colors.

It’s that little bit of hope we are looking for but in all the wrong places.

 

a poison ivy wreath

We all fall into this trap… even as Christians…

We know we should find our purpose, our identity, our comfort, our hope… (ok, I can literally put anything here) … We know we should place all that in Jesus.

But we see beautiful colors… then we don’t realize it’s poison.

My family and I just watched the remake of Aladdin.  I honestly loved it. I felt like a kid again. And let me just say, no one else could have played a better Genie than Will Smith!  But what I loved most about this version was that they spelled out the messages of the movie… (maybe they did in the original, but it’s been a while.)

1- You cannot live a lie. It will consume you. The Genie was able to make Aladdin look like a prince on the outside,  BUT what is on the inside is what mattered. And guess what? The princess didn’t like the showy prince; she liked the man inside- Aladdin. 

Appearance changes nothing. No matter what is going on in your life- you are a child of God. Don’t forget that. We live in a fallen world. A world full of sin, hurt, and pain. We can try to pretend we have it all together, but that’s a lie. We don’t. We can’t do this life alone. We weren’t designed to. We must free ourselves from the bondage of slavery to sin by admitting we are sinful and in need of a Savior. 

2- Having more will not make you happy. The Genie told Aladdin over and over again that having more would not make him happy. More money. More power. More _____. It can’t. Happiness doesn’t come from stuff. 

There is only one thing that can truly satisfy- Jesus. We were designed for a relationship with Creator. Yet, we look to all those worldly things- created things- to fill that void.   

3- Having more changes people. As Aladdin got what he wanted in the movie, he wanted more of it. We have the same tendencies. We have success, we want more. We have money, we want more. 

What if… what if we sought more of God? What if we sought to share God with everyone we could?

How great would our world be if we were all filled with Christ! Actions are an overflow of the heart. 

Remember God created everything good, sin corrupted it all.

So, what’s leading your life? What’s consuming your heart?

Where are your treasures? Your family? Your job? Your status? Other people’s opinions? A hobby? 

It looks pretty. It looks harmless. And maybe it is… but maybe, maybe it’s poison.

You don’t have to sit back and pretend that everything is perfect. We all have struggles. We all have problems.   We live in a fallen world. Sin has corrupted everything. Even a beautiful plant. It’s not what it seems. We must stand guard. 

The Bible tells us to guard our hearts above all else because everything we do flows from it. Everything. Where your heart is, there is your treasure. 

Ask yourself,  “Is your treasure heaven?” 

If you cannot honestly answer yes, I understand. We live in a world full of sin and temptation. But that is not a free pass to sin. It is a reason to draw closer to our Creator. 

We have to guard our hearts. We have to recognize that sin wrapped up in pretty colors. There is only one thing that can satisfy that longing in your heart. When you start to feel that emptiness. When you start to reach for that idol to fill that void- stop and pray. Shift your focus to God.  Ask God to see this situation through His eyes. 

Don’t fall into the trap of a beautiful sin. Fall into the arms of your God! 

 

 

 

 

Warning Labels

I stood at the kitchen counter making my children Ramen Noodles for lunch. Normally I make the ones that come in the packages, but I accidentally picked up the cups when shopping.  As I was waiting for the cup in the microwave to finish, I picked up another container and started reading the outside. I was completely taken aback when I read the label, “Do not microwave.”

What!?! Isn’t that the point of these cups? If I’m not supposed to microwave the cup, how am I supposed to make this “easy” meal?

So, I had to pull that cardboard label out of the trashcan and read it. To my surprise, you are supposed to add hot water to the container and wait 3 minutes. Then I read the rest of the warning label:

warning labels 2

Huh! Isn’t this one a no-brainer… of course kids should be sitting down at a table when eating hot soup!

It made me wonder- has this always been the case? Were these Ramen cups designed to consumed in this manner, or is this the result of a legal battle? Either way, one thing is for sure: There is a warning label on something, and I completely disregarded it because I thought I knew better.

I’m not sure if I ever read the directions on Ramen… both in the cup and package… I watched someone make it, mimicked him, and had my cheap meal.

It makes me wonder if I should be paying closer attention to everyday packages. I’ll be honest, this is not something I really want to do, but there is a reason that the label is there.

Warning labels… they are there for a reason. But how often do I overlook them?… especially when it comes to sin…

warning labels

The Bible is filled with warning labels:

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Colossians 3: 5-6 “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.”

Oh and it gets specific too.

Proverbs 6:16-19 “There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,”

1 Corinthians 5:33 “Bad company corrupts good character…”

The warnings are there. The truth is- I know that. I could probably even quote those to you in the moment. But that doesn’t mean that I always apply them.

Maybe, the problem is that I just overlook those warning labels. Maybe… maybe, because I don’t want to see them…Or I’ve always done things a certain way and now its habit. Thus, I don’t really realize it’s wrong.

Confession, I’ve had someone point it out to me and only responded in defensive of my sins, “You don’t know what I’ve been through…” Maybe that’s right, they do not know, but God knows.

For me, though… I grew up knowing what the Bible says, but also watching as the people around me did not actually do what the Bible says… it was like their “church front.” Go to church, pretend to be a good person, then do whatever you want for the rest of the week. So that’s what I thought faith was… This was a really hard habit to break as I began to truly walk with Christ.

This is not how God has called us to live! Yes, you are forgiven, but that’s not a free pass to go on sinning. If you know what you are doing is separating you from God, you have an obligation to change your ways.

We have to live a life worthy of the Gospel. We have to be changed by that good news. The way of the world leads to death. The way of God leads to everlasting life.

If we just accept Jesus and then carry on with our own lives as we wish, we are missing out!  Once we have begun to walk with Christ, we have the Holy Spirit indwelt with us. He is convicting us, leading us, and changing us into the image of God. He will show you those warning labels.

Suddenly things that always seemed ok, now don’t feel right.

That movie you are watching, doesn’t align with your faith. The language bugs you. Their actions bother you. You really don’t want to keep watching it.

That holiday you are celebrating or that tradition you are taking part in, suddenly seems meaningless and maybe even a little bit wrong.

That joke you just heard actually offended you as you realized that joke was made at the expense of a child of God.

Suddenly a conversation speaking negatively of someone has you inspired to call out the gossip or change the conversation completely.

It may not be a literal warning label, but it is a real, honest prompting from the Holy Spirit who is helping you love people the way Jesus did. Once you give your life to Christ, you cannot be the same. You will begin to become a new person and your desires will change to allign with His.

This is the process of sanctification. Embrace it. Live it. Be obedient. When you feel that prompting, listen, evaluate, pray.

 

“No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” 1 John 3:16

 

 

Don’t Stop Growing

It’s finally autumn! I love fall. It’s seriously one of my favorite seasons. Hoodie and jeans weather! Fire-pits and hot apple cider! Pumpkin pie versus apple pie! Seriously, I love this season!

But…Nothing tells you that your children are growing like the start of a new season. I’ve noticed my five-year-old apparently grew four inches this year, as her pants from last year are at her calves now. I’ve also noticed my boys looking a little more mature, a little bit older. But nothing makes you notice how old your baby is like watching him try to walk in pants and shoes!

Make them stop… no, not really. Ok, maybe… put a brick on their heads…  I’m always telling them to stop growing. But then I tell them, never mind keep growing. I really do want them to grow, spread their wings and fly… and also come home to visit mom every once in a while.

Could you actually imagine what life would be like if they did stop growing? I mean what if I had a five-year-old forever. School would get pretty boring. Her drive for excitement would be redundant. Life would eventually get stagnant.

What if I had a one-year old forever? Diapers for life… NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! He’d never learn to talk! He might not ever learn to walk.

Don't stop growing

I love watching them grow. I know each stage is important and the goal is lifelong learners!

I would never actually want to hold my children back from growing. I want them to grow- physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And though, eventually they will stop growing physically, I pray they never stop growing spiritually.

But an honest question- Am I as diligent about my own growth as theirs?

As their mom and teacher, I am often looking for resources and advice to help them grow in faith. I am intentional about finding them biblically sound material. Every morning I make them read their Bibles. Every evening, we make them pray out-loud. I try to find books, television shows, and movies to encourage their faith.

I notice when they seem to know all the answers, but do not understand how to apply it.

My goal with parenting is 100% to have six more souls in heaven.

Do I put this much effort into my spiritual growth? Or am I ok with being five forever?

I’ve heard it said, “If you stop growing, you’re dying.” Now there’s a harsh reality.  If you are not growing in relationship with God, you are dying.

Guys, I have felt both extremes of this… and recently too.

I really think when people come to Christ, they imagine it like a mountain. I’ve reached the top and it’s all downhill from here. Well, that’s not a fair picture… at all. Faith more like a rollercoaster, with twists and turns, scary parts and thrilling parts, slow parts and fast parts.  But the important part of the ride is that we don’t get off. However, equally as important, we don’t push the pause button and refuse to move.

We can’t be stagnant in our relationship with God. We must be diligent about growing.

Think about it- If I let my relationship with my husband go cold, we would be having some serious marital problems. We wouldn’t know each other. We wouldn’t be happy with each other. We would stop caring about the other person’s wellbeing. Relationships take work. And just like any other relationship- we must put forth the effort to grow. We cannot stop growing, because then we are dying.

If you are reading this and wondering whether or not you are growing or dying- let me tell you I’ve been there. Pray! Look up, talk to God. Find a time everyday to spend with Him. It doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning, but that is what tends to work best for many. Open your Bible. Surround yourself with people who will point you to God, pray for you, and help you grow.

If you are reading this and thinking of a friend, family member, or loved one who you fear is not growing, pray for them. Be intentional about cultivating a relationship with them. Be a role-model. The best thing we can do for those who seem lost, is be real. People don’t relate to your perfect social media page; they relate to you when you share real, honest life-moments. We all sin. We all fall short. But because of Jesus Christ whose blood covers us,  we can live in His grace! 

 

“but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 

2 Peter 3:18