Monday, August 29, 2016

The Jungle Book (2016) The Destructive Path of Revenge

Luke 6:37-38 says “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven."

The Jungle Book is an unbelievable live-action remake of the 1967 animated film about an Indian child named Mowgli. He is abandoned in the jungle as an infant, adopted and raised by wolves, and eventually reunited with humans after an dangerous tiger drives him out of the jungle. It is a bittersweet adventure the whole way, but the remake takes the story to a whole new level.

Though the dangers of the jungle remain, Mowgli also struggles with his own identity. He is an individualistic and inventive human raised in a family that demands unified thinking and teamwork. This discourages and alienates him from the family he loves. He struggles for a way to win his family's acceptance for his approach to living life.

That opportunity comes in the form a tiger called Shere Khan and the most feared animal in the jungle. Shere Khan hates humans, because of a vicious injury that leaves his face scarred. It drives his mind into prejudice. Upon his discovery of Mowgli, his bitterness and rage drives him to destroy the innocent child. If one human is guilty, then all humans are guilty.

He could not be more wrong about Mowgli, because Mowgli is an intelligent, kind, love, and self sacrificing child. Even when his family faces the decision

In his efforts to destroy Mowgli, he becomes a worse monster than the human he claims to despise. He murders the head of Mowgli's family and takes control of the wolf pack. He attacks Mowgli's savior and best friend, Bagheera. Worst of all, he attempts to turn Mowgli's family and friends against him by imposing his prejudice on them. He attempts to spread his hate like a cancer.

Psalms37:8 says "Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm."

Fortunately, he gravely underestimates the unconditional love Mowgli's friends and family give him. They accept him. They value him. They cherish him. They forgive his mistakes. They consider him family. Not because he is human, but because he has a kind heart. They know he has a kind heart.

Meanwhile, Shere Khan's desire for revenge drives him directly into his inevitable downfall. He is so blinded by anger, he fails to see the trap constructed by Mowgli. Instead of heeding his survival instincts and leaping into his own destruction. 

The Jungle Book is a terrific story about the fruits of one's attitude. Mowgli has a kind and giving heart. Therefore, he is blessed with love from friends and family. He also earns the respect of the most revered animals in the jungle. Shere Khan is bitter, violent, and unforgiving. Therefore, he lives a unproductive, lonely life which leads to his own destruction. 

I urge you, friends, to heed this lesson.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Purge - "You must not murder."

Imagine a world where America is the most prosperous in its entire history. Employment and housing is at an all time high. Crime is essentially nonexistent. All is well with the world. What is the cause of this miraculous recovery? At what cost has America achieved this so-called success?

The Purge: One night a year all crime becomes legal. In other words for twelve straight hours people could do whatever they wanted to do without facing any consequences. “The new founding fathers” claim this experience to be soul cleansing when the Bible clearly states otherwise. Granted, people may choose not to participate.

Enter the Sandins: A hard working father, a dedicated house wife, a snooty teenage daughter, and a preteen son with a heart of gold. They plan to spend their Purge nights locked in their house together as they do every night. However, something goes very wrong. By giving an defenseless veteran sanctuary in their home, they unintentionally invite a terrifying threat to their door.

Thus, Mr. Sandin faces a difficult choice. Save his family from danger at the expense of another life, or protect the helpless veteran and risk the safety of those dearest to him. Needless to say he struggles with this choice. In the end he decides to keep his conscience clear. He keeps the veteran and faces danger.

Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right. This new America makes all crime legal for twelve straight hours all in the name of “cleansing” and creating a “better society.” However, the Bible clearing contradicts this way of thinking. When God tells you not to do something, he means NEVER.

For Exodus 20:13 clearly states, “You must not murder.” (NLT)

The Sandins understood that from the beginning by not participating in criminal activity and then by choosing to value life. That defenseless veteran is just as much a human as anyone else. That defenseless veteran is a good man. That defenseless veteran walks away the night’s events alive and grateful for his life. He walks away with three new friends. I can imagine it would be beneficial for them to have a veteran on their side for the upcoming purge.

When you provide generosity to others, the Lord takes care of you. When Charlie provides sanctuary to the veteran, he eventually provides protection for the Sandins. Against all odds, three of the four survive the night. In the end, the only people who succeed in making the world a better place and cleansing their souls were the ones who refuse to take part in illegal activity. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Forgiveness by Matthew West

I love the music of Matthew West, but it fills my heart with joy to see he extends his ministry through writing. His latest book, Forgiveness, is a book for every household. I'm especially happy to see a book that addresses such a widespread problem. I've personally seen the toll that unforgiveness takes on a person. It's a slippery slope that leads to fear, anger, bitterness, isolation, obsession, and manipulation. These things and more turn one into an ugly person, and people don't like to be around it. It's a destructive and lonely path. 

From a logical point of view life seems so much easier after letting go of one's anger and moving on. The hard part is that period between anger and forgiveness. It's one of the hardest things I've ever done. However, my life is much improved because of it. It has restored many of my friendships. 

In Luke 7:47 Jesus says, “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”

Who are we not to forgive others when God is so eager to forgive all of us? We as Christians are called to follow the example of Christ. Forgiveness is the very core of our faith. We have no message without it. We need to show people that we forgive others in order for others to understand the forgiveness that offers to them.

Forgiveness is a collection of inspirational stories about people who suffer terrible tragedies and injustices. Yet, they manage to find the peace that forgiveness brings. These are real stories about real people experiencing real forgiveness. It's exactly what the Christian ministry needs in these times. It's exactly the things I endorse here on Christ In Culture. Forgiveness, acceptance, and love.

I cannot wait to see what Michael West does next.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

How to Raise Selfless Kids in a Self-Centered World

I see selfishness everywhere I go. I see it at work, at the store, even at home. The culture in which we live has a distorted sense of priority. Somewhere along the line, treating people with respect and dignity has taken the back burner. As a Christian who does everything I can to be selfless to other, I find the world around me very disheartening.

A book like this couldn't come at a more perfect time. Here is the bottom line I took from the book: We cannot expect our children to be selfless as long as we live selfish lives. Your children are watching you much closer than you think. The most effective lessons they learn are through example. In order to ensure our children learn to be selfless, we must first become selfless ourselves. “Selfless Kids” can show you how. It’s full of relevant Bible verses and stories to which that most parents can relate. 

Anyone can be a hero.

From the moment I saw the trailer for this Wreck It Ralph, I knew it would be a hit. The idea is completely original, and it honors a nearly forgotten part of my childhood. Seeing this world come to life is a thrill ride. Wreck It Ralph is the villain of a successful arcade game, Fixit Felix Jr. Despite thirty years of work, he feels that there’s something missing. He feels empty.

The Bad-anon opening scene effectively entices the audience to feel sympathy for Ralph. Mostly because his colleagues have allowed his bad guy role to influence the way they treat him. His status as an outcast in his game drives him to escape his world as much as possible, much spent at Tappers, the video game bar. After discovering that he is not invited to the game’s anniversary party, he leaves the game for an entire day desperate to prove that he can be just as good a hero as Felix.

He eventually finds himself in the go-cart game, Sugar Rush, and meets a fellow outcast, Vanellope. Reluctantly, he agrees to help her become a racer not realizing that his actions in helping her are more heroic than the medal he steals from Hero’s Duty. The more he stays in Sugar Rush to help Vanellope, the more corruption he uncovers until he finds the entire game’s existence under threat.

It isn’t until backed against the exit does he find the true hero within. He cannot bring himself to leave Vanellope to die alone. So, he plunges himself back into the game in order to save her and all of Sugar Rush. He makes the decision to commit the ultimate act of heroism – self sacrifice.

I was extremely impressed by the originality behind Wreck it Ralph. It successfully brought to life a whole new world. Its brilliance and simplicity make it fun for all ages. The twist was completely unexpected, and the morals are countless. By far, Wreck It Ralph is one of the best films of 2012.

City of Bones

How much would you be willing to believe in order to save someone you love? How far into the depths of a dark, invisible world would you go?

Sixteen year old Clary Fray lived a life of an ordinary high school student. At least she thought she did until the night her friend, Simon, and she went to a club where she witnesses the “murder” of an invisible boy by more invisible teens. This unleashes a myriad of questions and doubt about her identity by herself, Simon, and the crowd of knife wielding invisible teens.

A normal teen believes the story that her father died before she was born. A normal teen sees her mother’s dearest friend as a friend, even an uncle. A normal teen sees her mother as unreasonable when she breaks a promise in order to go on a meaningless summer vacation. A normal teen doesn’t believe in vampires, werewolves, fairies, or warlocks. Clary is no normal teen. In the weeks to follow a whole new world opens up before her.

The Mortal Instruments Series quickly became one my favorite readings. It serves as a brilliant link between the Bible and mystical creatures. I am ecstatic to see that the story will be hitting the silver screen.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Michael Vey: Rise of the Elgen

Michael Vey’s story continues with the search for his mother, and it leads them on a dangerous journey to Peru where they uncover a much bigger plot than the Electroclan could have imagined. Not only has the evil Dr. Hatch been using their powers for high priced assassinations, but also he has been experimenting in using it to control the energy sources throughout the world.

The Electroclan’s journey to Peru is an action packed, emotional roller coaster that tests the endurance of every teenager in the group. It strengthens them and forces them to go beyond their limits. They find abilities they never thought they had.

Despite Michael’s reluctance the group looks to him for guidance, and he is thrown into the role as group leader. Because he loves his mother he puts on a brave face and leads them straight into battle when they get to Peru.

This is also a story about sacrifice. Reformed assassin Zeus is so powerful that water burns him. He cannot ever take a shower, because is would kill him. None of that matters when the lives of his friends become endangered. In order to save them, he must activate the sprinkler system and risk electrocuting himself in the process.

I always find the selfless act of sacrifice very moving in these kinds of stories. It is a perfect example of the sacrifice made for mankind by Jesus Christ. Not to save our lives, but to save our immortal souls. Without Christ’s salvation we are doomed to face an eternity of death. Christ sacrificed himself because of how much he loves his children; just as the Electroclan loved their families enough to travel to Peru to save Michael’s mother.