The Lone Ranger

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Brought to you by the team who created Pirates of the Caribbean who wanted so badly to recreate their success with Pirates that they tried to create a near carbon copy concept in the realm of the Wild West. Pirates were fun films. The first one was such a surprise but was really good. The second two were examples of the law of diminishing returns. The story got weirder to build hype but not better. The second movies relied more on special effects to cover up lazy/ mildly incompetent writing. We aren’t here to talk about Pirates. We are here to talk about the Lone Ranger. A film so poorly conceived that if my time was a train, this movie is the Jesse James that robbed me of it. The main character is a moron. Not a cute funny moron like the lovable Kramer from Seinfeld. He is so stupid you kinda hate him. It’s practically criminal, how stupid this guy is. If dumb was a crime…wait…why is dumb not a crime? We live in America!

Depp acts hard. Poor guy tries to hold things together. He doesn’t really bring anything new to this character. He is Johhny Depp. I am rather taken with Depp when he hits the right part. His unusual antics are often refreshing. Here they felt drab…dull…even boring. The comic timing just doesn’t work. Certain spots could be funny if you really, really, really, just forced yourself to laugh and didn’t use 79% of your brain’s function.
The movie could have been a really hard hitting action/drama but the comedy ruined that. Too much silly action, ridiculous scenes with people doing things no one would really ever do, and silly dialogue that swings for the fence but forgets to wait for the pitcher to throw the ball. It’s sad. Action/Drama/Comedy is not an easy trio. You have to pretty well master all three to use them together effectively.

Lone Ranger fails. From start to finish. You don’t really care about the characters. You don’t really laugh because the funny just doesn’t work. The action scenes are sometimes cool but often unnecessarily ridiculous to a point of almost laughable absurdity…which is sadly the funnies part of the film…how bad the action efforts were.

One of the worst movies I have seen this year.

I watched this movie on a plane, which usually adds to the perceived quality because you have a captive audience. However, even on a plane with nothing else to do I found this movie wildly disappointing. I have read reviews of people who thought this movie was great. It was so bad I am having a hard time not questioning their sanity. Nothing in this movie works. Gore Verbinski is dead to me. I am going to check for these writers as well. I am now convinced they are determined to make garbage that looks good in previews out of some conspiracy to steal 2-3 hours of our lives one movie at a time.

I would give the Lone Ranger a GENEROUS 3 out of 10 stars. 1 of those stars is probably a result of watching it on a plane. 1 of those is sentimental because I loved the Lone Ranger as a kid.

Leadership

There are no spectators in the kingdom of God. If you a Christian you are a follower of Jesus. If you follow Jesus eventually, you are going to become a leader of men. If you are alive you are a leader. That’s how the kingdom of God works. We don’t recruit people to become Christians so we can fill the seats. We bring them in so we can build them up and send them out. This place isn’t just a safe haven. It’s boot camp. In 1 Peter 5 Peter addresses the leaders in the church and challenges them to shepherd their flocks.

You may not feel like a leader. The whole idea may make you feel uncomfortable.Maybe you don’t have a lot of people following you. Your life is an example to someone. You may not lead at work or at school. If you have kids, you lead them. Guys, you should be leading your wives. Wives you should be leading younger women to help them grow and mature into Godly women. You don’t have a manager or a CEO to be a leader. You just have to have people who see what you do. So unless you live in a cave on an island completely devoid of other people you have the potential to set an example. That’s all leadership is really, setting an example that inspires others to follow. At some point eople are going to follow you. When they do, will they imitate your sin or will they imitate your savior? How are you shepherding the people in your life to a closer relationship with Jesus?

In the Kingdom of God if you are alive you are a leader. Time to step up. Biblical leaders are not big boss men. They are shepherds following the example of Jesus, who gave up His life for His sheep. If you aren’t a shepherd you need to become one.

This is of special significance to Peter. In the final hours of Jesus’s life Peter denied Jesus. He swore a vow to never forsake Jesus. Then he turned around and swore he never knew Jesus to save his own skin. After Jesus rose from the dead He came to Peter. He asked Peter “do you love me?” When Peter said yes Jesus replied, “then feed my sheep.” Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. And three times He told Peter to feed His sheep. Jesus restored Peter to his place with this commission: feed my sheep. So when Peter talks about a shepherd, it’s an image that holds great power for him. What says to Peter He says to us, “do you love me?” then “feed my sheep.”

Noah

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Got to love it when an “atheist” makes a movie about a Bible story. Or then again, maybe you don’t. What surprises me is that Christians are surprised that Hollywood would make a movie about the Bible that does not follow it word for word. Really? You didn’t see that coming?

Love it or hate it. That’s the divide. I’ve heard more rants than I care to about this movie so I thought it time to speak my mind.

1. HOLLYWOOD MADE A MOVIE ABOUT THE BIBLE! Shut up and take the win people. What this tells us is that our Holy book is so interesting and captivating that even people who don’t believe what it teaches will spend millions of dollars to tell stories from it.

2. Artistic licence. If you don’t know what that means you are probably one of the people who is upset and angry about the making of the movie. When bringing a story to life in which you don’t know EVERY detail you have to take some license to make the story more engaging/exciting. We shouldn’t be surprised that Hollywood didn’t want to create a visual sermon to go alongside our Bible school materials.

3. Who cares who made it? The fact that hollywood made it means there is a chance it could actually be a good movie and not some novel message wrapped in bad acting with an unrealistic story. We don’t need more Facing the Giants or Fireproof movies. I’m not knocking them….they tell nice stories. They lack the authentic feel that relates to people outside the hyper conservative church group. I can count on one hand the number of non-Christian people I know who would even sit down to watch those movies. They are nice sure, but they are basically sermons in movie form. Noah gives us high production. That’s something worth appreciating.

Bottom Line: I don’t care if you loved the movie or hated it. Hollywood has just handed you a conversation starter on a silver platter. You couldn’t ask for a sweeter set up. Don’t rage against it like a bunch of angry rhinos. The reason non-Christians don’t like us much is that we are hypocrites. We talk about love more than Nicolas Sparks. We just don’t show it. Especially when it comes to people who are “non-Christian”. The sheer hate that we generate towards each other and towards those outside our faith is a palpable contradiction to the love we claim to profess.

So don’t get angry about movies like Noah. Don’t complain about it. Use it. Use the opportunity to talk with people about the Bible. Guess what, right now, thanks to the supposed atheist director most people are something they haven’t been in decades: interested. You couldn’t ask for a better platform to tell people about Jesus without coming across as an angry Bible thumper. So even if you didn’t like the movie, use the platform that it gave you. Appreciate the gift and quit complaining that it wasn’t good enough. If you want to see a Bible movie that is straight Bible no embellishment, raise $100 million and make it yourself. Guess what, conservative Christians who see things a little different will angry blog you as well.

Complaining is useless. So stop doing it. Look for opportunities. When one comes along, don’t whine about it. Use it.

Heart Issues

It’s a heart issue. That’s what we say. With good reason, heart issues are important. Jesus makes that very clear all throughout His ministry. His issue with the religious leaders is that the look right but their heart isn’t in the right place. Jesus calls this hypocrisy.

In the church we throw this phrase around like beads at Mardi Gras. Sometimes because it’s true and it is important for us to remember that our motive matters. Action doesn’t make it right. We are told to speak the truth in love. Which means that our motivation is as important as our behavior. Doing the right thing for the wrong reason or with the wrong heart is wrong.

Here is my issue. Sometimes we are too flippant with the use of the phrase. Motives matter, I’m not denying that. Sometimes we come out with this statement assuming that in our imperfect, limited, human life we are capable of understanding the heart behind another person’s actions. There is a degree to which we can and should for the sake of growth. We should attempt to look behind the veil of a person’s behavior to see where their heart truly lies.

However, we must be cautious in our assessment. We can address that motive matters but it is difficult to declare what is in the heart of another person. Our focus on motivation sometimes makes us over zealous in our assessment of the motives of others. We are not heart police. We can teach that the heart matters. We can challenge people to check their hearts. Who are we to decide/judge if a person’s heart is in the right place? Can we tap into the omniscience of God? Can we see past the flesh of another being to TRULY and ACCURATELY test and understand why they do something?

If we can’t answer yes to those questions then maybe we shouldn’t worry so much about the heart of the people around us and we should focus more on making sure our heart is and remains in the right place.

Let’s assume a “judge not lest you be judged” posture in our assessment of the motives of others at least as much as it applies to us. Nothing wrong with question motives. When you or your heart/feelings are involved just assume you are too emotionally compromised to be able to assess the heart of someone else. When YOU are involved. YOU can’t truly see the motives of another person because they are tinted by how their behavior affects you.

Try this: rather than worrying about the heart of another focus on how to love them better. If we all worried less about justice and focused more on just loving people not only would there be more justice the world would be a better place.

When a given a choice to worry about another’s intentions or to love. Choose love. In fact, when given a choice between love and anything else, choose love.

Short Story #1- Lady Rebellion

Disclaimer: These are in rough draft form. Just getting ideas out there and playing with them. Please forgive grammatical errors and imperfections. I am using this to decide which stories to further develop and polish. I’m looking for some feedback on each. If you can take time to read it and let me know what you think (what you like, dislike, how are the characters, how is the story, how is the pacing, ect.) Here is the first one:

Lady Lareniza couldn’t believe it. She was a lady. Guards weren’t supposed to touch her. The two brutes on either side of her didn’t seem to know that. They grasped each of her arms so firmly it hurt. She choked down a gasp not wanting to give them the satisfaction of knowing they were causing her pain. The whole situation was outrageous. She had come to Brendale seeking aid from the council. Now council guards were dragging her around as if she was some sort of criminal.
If only she had listened. She could avoided all of this if she had just listened. The Ra’Taran were known for the guile. Her advisors had warned her about Garen. Then they had warned her that calling a public summit to meet with the council of the free kingdoms was dangerous. She knew they were right. It was too dangerous not to go. Her people were dying. Villages under her control were being burned, their inhabitants killed or worse. She couldn’t sit back and do nothing while her kingdom was torn down around her and her people suffered. Lady Larenzia was resolute in her decision. Danger would not deter her. Nothing could stop her from getting aid from the council. None could deny her right to it.
The Merdanian armies had strong allies. They had come to the aid of the neighbors on numerous occasions. Merdania was a large kingdom and a strong one. Though recently it suffered many losses preventing an invasion from the Thanese empire. The Merdanians had held off the invasion almost single-handedly protecting the other kingdoms of the realm from the threat. Every member of the council was in her debt and they knew it. She would stand before them, make her case, and they would aid her.
The doors to the throne room opened. Lady Larenzia’s heart sank. Sitting on the throne, in the seat belonging to the Mediator, was Lord Garen. Garen was the reason she was here. He was the king of Ra’Tara. His soldiers were pillaging and raping their way through her kingdom. Garen had come to her for aid during the Thanese invasion. He had begged her to step protect his people claiming his military was out of commission and they were defenseless.
She rose to their defense without question. Her advisors warned her that it was not a good idea to get involved but she didn’t listen. The idea of letting innocent people die did not sit well with her. She said it was their duty to humanity to defend those who could defend themselves. Once the invasion was over and the Merdanian army weakened and exhausted from battle, the Ra’tarans invaded. She had protected them and Lord Garen thanked her by killing her people and stealing her land.
The guards shoved Larenzia into the room so hard she nearly stumbled to the floor. Her long dress rustled and nearly tripped her up. Catching herself she stood up straight, like a lady should, and adjusted her dress attempting to iron out any wrinkles with the palms of her hands. She held her head high and looked around the room at the faces of the council members.
Though it disturbed her to see Garen sitting at the head of the council when she made her case the other members would listen. They would have no choice but to demand Garen stop his attack and make reparations for his actions. She would accept no less than imprisonment for life.
Lord Garen gave her a conniving smile, “Lady Larenzia, bold of you to come.”

What sort of game was he playing at? She had requested this summit. Of course she would be here. She glared at Garen a fire raging in her eyes.

“My Lords and Ladies,” Larenzia began forcing a smile and gesturing opening in a sign of friendship. “I am asked you here to hear…”

“You have asked them here?” Garen interrupted, “Your highness, it was I who called the summit.”

Lady Larenzia was shocked silent. It wasn’t true. She had sent a messenger to each of the council members a month ago requesting the summit meeting be held. She looked around the room. How could they all believe such an outrageous lie? No one questioned Lord Garen’s statement. Were they all in this together? How could they be? No. She was being paranoid. He was trying to get at her, throw her off. It was working. She wouldn’t let him stop her so easily. She started again.

“My Lords and Ladies, I am here to…”

“Confess?” Lord Garen interrupted again. “It seems a bit late Your Highness. I have already informed the council of your aggression, of how you used a faked Thanese invasion to cover up war crimes against my people.”

“Faked,” Lady Larenzia gasped. This whole situation was appalling. “You think I faked an invasion? You think my soldiers who gave their lives protecting your lands faked it? This is…”

“It’s an outrage,” Garen interrupted again. “It’s an outrage that you could even stand before this council after what you have done. Play the innocent Lady all you want dear lady,” Garen’s voice grew cold. She could hear his disdain for her. A disdain she had given him no reason to have. “My people have suffered for your greed long enough. This council will not entertain your lies. The truth has been made clear. You hoped to take my land from me, murder my people, and blame it all on a Thanese invasion. Now you come here, trying to play the victim, seeking support from this council. You are truly depraved.” Garen turned his attention back to the council members. “My good people, you have heard the stories first hand. Seen the eyewitnesses to the Lady’s cruelty. It is time to cast a verdict. What say you?”
This couldn’t be happening. This wasn’t happening. Lady Larenzia couldn’t believe it. Lord Garen offered them nothing but lies and the council, her friends wouldn’t even hear her out. This was all a bad dream, a nightmare. Her mind was playing tricks on her. That was it. She was nervous about the summit and so her mind devised this worst-case scenario. She would wake soon and feel much better.

“Stop,” she demanded. “Who are you to cast judgment on me? You have no evidence to support to support your claims! It was you who…”

“Guards,” he interrupted her again. “Bring in the family.”

Two soldiers stepped out of the room. A moment later they appeared again escorting a young woman and three small children. They were covered in dried dirt. The young woman had cuts and bruises on her face that hadn’t healed yet. One, on her left cheek was sure to leave a scar. Larenzia recognized them immediately. This was one of the families that had escaped. They weren’t from Ra’tara. These were her people. They had come to her after Garen’s men destroyed their village.

“These are my people,” she protested.

“I’m sure you see them that way. That’s the problem your Royal Highness. These people are Ra’taran. Just because your army is bigger then ours, and your nation wealthier, doesn’t give you the right to our lands or our people. They are Ra’taran.”

“This is absurd. They are not your people,” Larenzia looked to the family. “Tell them, tell them who did this. It’s ok, I have my soldiers outside, you will be protected.”

A sinister grin appeared on Lord Garen’s face. Lady Larenzia’s eyes grew wide. She realized too late what was happening.

It was the young mother who spoke. Her voice was quiet, filled with pain and sorrow. She had been crying. “You did.” The woman’s quiet words echoed throughout the room. To Larenzia they were louder than any sound she had ever heard. She pointed her finger accusingly at the lady. “Merdanian soldiers came to our village. The said we were to swear allegiance to Lady Larenzia or we would be hanged. My husband tried to explain to them that there was some kind of misunderstanding, that we were allies of Merdania but that this was Ra’taran land. The soldiers hit him. They took turns beating him. They made us watch as they whipped him. They whipped him and he screamed. He screamed until he couldn’t scream anymore. They whipped him until he was dead.” She stifled back a tear. The young girl was quiet the actress. Her story was true. Her husband had been flogged to death. But she had switched the characters. It wasn’t Merdanians who had attacked her village. It was Ra’tarans. Why would she lie? Why would she help the people who killed her husband and destroyed her village? It didn’t make any sense.

“Do you have any proof of this,” Garen asked his voice sounding soft and caring.

The young woman nodded. She extended her arm and opened her hand, which had been clutched into a tight ball. In her hand was a small piece of blue fabric. It was torn and dirty but the symbol of a lion could be clearly seen. It was the Medanian crest. Undoubtedly the crest had been taken from one of the soldiers that the Ra’tarans had killed. It would have been easy enough to fake but from the faces of the council members Larenzia could see that this might as well have been a confession note. Garen had played this lie perfectly. His story was crafted down to the finest detail. He was in control and he was steering everything his way.

“Should I call other witnesses your Highness? I assure you, there are many more stories like that one.”

It didn’t matter. Even if every other person was a paid actor he had made his case. He brought this family out to show Lady Larenzia that he won. The fight was over before she even got here. She never stood a chance. She wanted to hang her head. She wanted to fall to the floor and weep. Her people were going to suffer and she couldn’t stop it. She had been warned about Garen. She was told not to trust him, that he would betray her. She hadn’t listened. His cool smiles and soft green eyes had lured her into a misguided trust. She had believed in him. He had proved himself to be every bit the serpent she was warned about.
Lady Larenzia could protest. She could fight it but she could already see she had lost. She couldn’t believe her own people would sell her out. They had betrayed her to the very man responsible for their suffering. What had told them? What did he promise them to get them to talk? She desperately wanted to know. Even if it didn’t change anything she wanted to know why. It was all she could do to keep from screaming the question out.
She sealed her lips. Garen had thought of everything. He had anticipated her every move. She would not give him the added satisfaction of watching her squirm helpless as a worm on a hook. She was a lady. She would act like one. Her army may have suffered great losses to the Thanan but they could still resist the Ra’tarians. If it was a war Garen wanted she would give it to him. She had a legion of soldiers with her. She would return to Merdania and prepare for war.
Garen looked to the other council members. Each gave a slow, single nod of the head. He smiled wickedly and looked to the lady.

“Lady Larenzia, you have betrayed the decree of peace put into effect by your father. You have committed crimes against humanity killing innocent people to steal a land that wasn’t yours. The council finds you guilty,” Garen paused savoring every word. After a long moment he continued, “of treason. The penalty for which is death.”

Lady Larenzia found her calm, regal composure impossible to keep. She lunged forward screaming, “I’ll not be judged by you! I have protected these lands. I have defended your kingdoms. If it’s a war you want Garen, it’s a war you will get. I’ll show you…” She turned to storm out. If she could just get to her soldiers, everything would be ok. She would find a way to expose Garen’s lies. He would pay for his mistake. All she had to do was reach her soldiers.
She turned suddenly and ran. She knew it would only make her look guilty. The council was already convinced she was. If she remained here it was over. They would kill her and the truth would be forever lost. So she ran. She was out the door before anyone could stop her. Over her shoulder she heard Garen shout for the guards and the loud thunder of boots clamoring after her.
She made it down several hallway and was approaching the courtyard where her army waited. Once she reached them she would be safe. It would all be over soon. She threw her body into the large wooden door in front of her. It flung open creaking loudly as if in complaint.
Once again Larenzia felt her heart sink into the pit of her stomach. Her army was outnumbered and surrounded. They didn’t have a chance. She couldn’t move at the sight before her.

“Nooooooo!” She screamed falling to her knees. Her eyes welled up with tears as they began to stream down her cheeks. Her hands ran to her hair clutching her head. She screamed and wailed as if denial would change something. She didn’t hear the guards stop behind her. She didn’t hear Garen approach.

“Still think you can escape my lady?” Garen asked.

“Please,” she started desperately. “Leave my people out of this. You don’t have to hurt them. You have me, let them go. If you have any de…”

“You brought an army of armed soldiers into the holy city of Brendale. You cannot be so naïve as to believe that would go without consequences.”

“Please, they are my escort. They were not here to attack you.”

Garen paced back and forth in front of her, “Perhaps I believe you. I may even be willing to spare your men. If what you say is true, tell them to drop their weapons.”

Larenzia eyed Garen suspiciously. Was this another one of his tricks? Whatever it was it was a chance, perhaps the only chance she had to save her men. Something in her gut warned her.

“If they are here peacefully as you claim, then it shouldn’t be a problem. Tell them to drop their weapons and I will spare their lives.”

Larenzia nodded. She stood up and ironed her dress again with her palms. The Brendale guards parted for her so she could step into the courtyard and address her men. The commander, a man named Quin Falsed stepped forward bowing to her respectfully. His hand never left the hilt of his sword.

“M’lady are you…”

“Commander,” she interrupted trying to muster her most authoritative tone, “order your men to drop their weapons.”

Quin seemed surprised by the order, “That’s not wise M’lady, shouldn’t we…”

“Commander!” She practically screamed at him. “Tell your men to drop their weapons.”

Quin seemed to consider the order for a moment. Finally he turned and gave a single gesture to the army of Merdania. Swords and spears crashed and clamored on the stone floor as each soldier obediently removed their weapons.
The Brendale guards swooped in like carrion birds on a dead rabbit. Larenzia barely stepped out of the courtyard before soldiers had collected all the weapons and removed them.

Garen smiled, “Thank you Lady Larenzia. You’re compliance is appreciated.” He turned his gaze to one of the guards behind her. “Kill them all.”

Larenzia felt her legs give out from under her. She collapsed to the ground. She wanted to save her men. She had just sealed their fate. She had failed. She was supposed to protect her people. She failed them. Her family had ruled Merdania for a thousand years. She had lost it in less than ten. Garen said something to her but she didn’t hear it. She didn’t hear anything but the desperate cries of her men as they fought hopelessly for their lives.
She could see them struggling valiantly. They were unarmed, thanks to her, and outnumbered almost ten to one. Some of her men had weapons, taken by overpowering their assailants. They fought back. They fought with a furious courage that filled Larenzia with both pride and despair. These men deserved better. They were noble warrior, men of honor. They did not deserve to be put down like wild beasts.

“Lady Larenzia, how far you have fallen,” Garen’s voice was smooth, almost inviting. The twisted monster was enjoying this.

“Please,” she cried out desperately. She no longer cared about her composure. She wanted her soldiers to be spared. She would give him anything, whatever satisfaction he wanted, she would give it. She was prepared to confess to the lie he had fabricated if only he would spare her men. “Please, you win. You have me. Let them go.”

“And deny you the privilege of watching me ascend to your throne? No, no, no. My lady, I am not so cruel as to take from you the opportunity to witness my greatness. I have defeated you completely. I will take your kingdom without losing a single soldier and the council will thank me for doing so.” Garen smiled his sinister smile. “You have lost even with your rich, fertile lands, and your mighty armies. You could stand against the empire of the Thanese but are toppled by a single man. I am going to enjoy being king of Merdania.”

“My people will never accept you!” She tried to stand. She wanted to kill him. Everything she was, everything she had drove her to lash out. Her hand came up in a fury. She swung it at Garen’s face. He caught it with ease squeezing tightly against her wrist. His grip sent a jolt of pain down her arm. She didn’t squirm. She didn’t wince. If he wouldn’t spare her men she would give him nothing else to enjoy.
Garen lifted her to her feet. Two guards grabbed her and held her arms behind her back. They held her there forcing her to stare at the courtyard. She watched her soldiers die. With every passing moment she saw her army wither away. When there was only a small remnant remaining Garen leaned in close and whispered in her ear.

“It’s over,” he said.

“You won’t get away with this Garen!” It sounded ridiculous. She knew it. He knew it.

“Your Highness, I already have,” he responded smugly. “You’ve had a long day. Why don’t I show you to your room. I took the liberty of preparing a cell for you.”
The guards led her down a series of hallways and stairs. They passed the chambers and the kitchen and descended down a few more flights of stairs. She knew where they were going. This was the way to the dungeon. She shivered. She didn’t care for the dark. Ever since she was a little girl it had frightened her. She was ok if other people were around but the idea of being alone in a dark prison sent shivers through her body.

“Please, Garen, I helped you. I fought the Thanese for you. You don’t have to do this.”

He said nothing. He just smiled. She hated herself for trying but she couldn’t stop herself either. The thought of being locked alone in a dark dungeon was too much to bear.

“Please, you win. I wont fight you. Just don’t leave me in a dungeon by myself.”

Garen’s smiled widened. There was a bright sparkle in his eye. “Your Highness, I wouldn’t dream of leaving you alone in a dark dungeon. I’m not a monster.” She felt relief though his tone told her she shouldn’t. “I couldn’t bear the thought of you being lonely. As I said, I took the liberty of preparing a cell for you. It is filled with men. They are all violent criminals. Many of them are convicted rapists. None of them have seen a woman for months. They should be rather enthusiastic company. Something tells me that despite the chill, you wont be cold.”
Larenzia’s feet became planks. Her knees refused to bend. She could see the cell door. The room was dark but in the torchlight she could see the shadowed faces of at least a dozen men. She wanted to scream but knew she couldn’t. Any fear or weakness she showed now would only make things worse for her later. A single tear ran a down her cheek as she tried to seize control of her expression. She forced herself to step forward walking into the cell without the assistance of the guards.

“Take good care of this one lads,” Garen instructed.

“We will sir, treat her like a lady sir,” one of the men said from the shadows.

The iron door to the cell screeched as it closed. With a loud slam and the click of a key the door was locked behind her. Lady Larenzia sighed, preparing herself for what was coming.

Copyright © Tyler Edwards 2014.

Authority

Gender roles are not popular. The idea that a man might be in charge of his household comes across in our culture as archaic, misogynistic, and sexist. The concept of these roles has been ABUSED in the church. Sad truth is some men are cowards. They don’t know how to earn respect so they demand it blindly. They use their “authority to control/subjugate their wives.

Just because something has been abused doesn’t mean it’s wrong. God designed marriage. No matter how many guys abuse authority God still gives it to the men. Guys, God has placed you in charge. You are responsible for how you use that authority. God didn’t put you in charge so you can enslave or subjugate your wife and kids. You are not better than your wife. You are not more important than your wife. You are given authority so that you can love, protect, and take responsibility.

In Matthew 20:25 Jesus talks to His disciples and He tells them the rulers of gentiles use their authority to dominate. Not with us, we are to lead by serving. Those in authority use that authority to care for those under it. Godly authority is not about commanding it’s about serving. The reason God gives you authority over your wife is so that you can serve her effectively. You are in charge so you can lift her up. Godly authority isn’t about being in charge. Jesus says: “I didn’t come to be served but to serve”. The highest authority there is didn’t come to boss us around but to love us and to serve us. Jesus is the standard. He sets the example for us to follow. Jesus has all the authority. He doesn’t demean us, He uses that authority to elevate us. He serves us. He cares for us. He lifts us up. You don’t hear Jesus demanding that we submit. So you don’t.

Men lead by serving their wife. Wives are told to submit. Not a popular word, but a beautiful one when understood correctly. The purpose of submission in marriage is not for you to become a slave but for you to choose to serve your husband instead of yourself. In so doing you fight to meet his needs freeing him up to fight for yours. Instead of having a marriage with two people fighting each other to get what they want you get two people fighting for each other each trying to give the other what they want. This attitude transforms your marriage from two selfish people battling over who is more selfish into two selfless people competing to see who can love the other person more. When you decide to fight for your spouse instead of against them and they do the same, everyone’s needs get met and no one has to focus on themself. That’s the beauty of God’s design for marriage. It gives you what you need and teaches you how to be loving and selfless at the same time.

God gives authority. From that authority He expects men to lead their families selflessly, lovingly, and sacrificially. Jesus died for those under His authority. He lived His life loving us and treating us as if we mattered. He gave everything for us. That is what authority should look like.

Ice

So we thought we left the cold weather when we moved to the southeast. Apparently that was an incorrect hypothesis. This marks the second week this winter where we are basically iced in the house. I appreciate my laptop and home office much more now as they allow me to continue to be effective getting things done. It’s a bit of a drag but what can you do. I know some people actually like the cold. I can’t really fathom why but I suppose we are all different.

One of the things that I notice with “ice days” during this second round of the Icepocalypse is that they are great opportunities to focus. Life is so busy. We have so much crap going on all the time. It’s almost nice to be forced to sit back and do nothing. Psalms 46 tells us to “be still”. I’m not good at that. Most people aren’t. So it’s pretty nice to have the opportunity to be still from time to time.

Here’s to silver linings.

Dexter

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This show had me at it’s premise. A serial killer who hunts and kills other killers. A man who battles an inner darkness by killing those who commit evil deeds. That’s a million dollar pitch if I’ve ever heard one. Not only does the show have a good hook, it’s got all kinds of book to back it up. The writers weave good story and well crafted lines and dialogue into an engaging and evolving experience that doesn’t really ever seem to get dull.

I will say this: the show is MATURE. Semi-regular scenes to fast forward, turn away from. If you have an issue with graphic violence, language, or sexuality this show is not for you. This is not a show that promotes strong Christian values. If that causes a problem for you, just smile and move on to the next show.

As someone who is a glutton for good writing and good stories I have to say I enjoy it, even if I wholeheartedly do not recommend some of it’s content. If you can get past the content you will find a gripping story with compelling writing. If you are sensitive to certain issues best to just stay away.

Some of the themes here are so powerful: light and darkness, good and evil, right and wrong, battling inner desire. The show is a well produced illustration (even if unintentional) of the lure of sin and the grip it can hold on our lives. How we can battle against it and fail again and again. How a code of behavior can keep our darkness in check but does not allow us to overcome it.

Dexter is one of the deeper characters I have seen on television. The writers do a good job of growing him season by season without really changing the core of who he is. I haven’t watched the last two seasons yet, but I am Netflixing my way there.

If I could remove some of the language and all of the sexual aspects of the show it would be a 10 out of 10. With those factors in there 8.5/10.

Unanswered Prayer

Praying

Prayer is one of the primary vehicles of communication we have with God. Sadly it is often reduced to little more than a pre-meal blessing or a divine wish list of things an all-powerful creator, king God can do for us. We pray when we want something. We pray when we need something. We pray when it’s convenient for us. Our prayer isn’t a lifestyle. It rarely boils up out of who we are.

What strikes me is the vast number of “lifetime Christians” I’ve met over the years who are so uncomfortable praying that they can’t even bless a holiday meal when they are surrounded by family. I don’t mean to criticize them and my point is not that they are “bad Christians” but if you knew a couple that had been married for twenty years and the husband was uncomfortable talking to his wife when there were other people around, wouldn’t you start to wonder what was going on?

Prayer is not a public speech. It is not some magical incantation that requires us to craft each line perfectly. Prayer is a conversation. It’s time we take to focus our hearts and minds on God and to see His will and direction for our lives. Prayer is simply talking to God. You don’t need a formula. Talk to Him. Act like He can hear you.

In regards to prayer we have certainly all heard, and likely all said something about unanswered prayers. We throw that term around like it makes sense, like it’s a real thing. Recently I started thinking about it and something snapped. I don’t know what it was but I found the phrase appalling. It seems harmless. In fact, I’m certain most of the time people use it they do so without any negative intent or without any real recognition of what they are saying.

Unanswered prayers don’t exist. If they did it would mean that God heard our call and decided to ignore it. He just hit mute on His prayer phone and let our prayers go to voicemail. A voicemail He had no intention of answering. That is a reality I cannot and do not accept.

Now just because you pray doesn’t mean God is going to respond directly. Just because you ask Him for something does not obligate Him to give it to you or to give it to you in the way you asked or expected. God doesn’t work for you. He’s not the I Dream of Genie lady  just sitting around waiting to give us what we pray for. 

What bothered me about the phrase “unanswered prayer” is that it implies that if God doesn’t do what we want Him to, that meansHe didn’t answer. Couldn’t it just be that His answer was a “NO” or maybe not even a no, maybe just a “wait”. There are even more options. It could be a “yes, but it’s not going to happen like you expect.” 

What God does is not dependent on what we see. Sometimes it’s not until you look back years later that you see how God answered your prayer. The problem is not God ignoring you. The problem is we all have such limited vision that we are incapable of seeing the breathe of what He is doing andhow He is working. Imagine standing on top of a great mountain so high you could see hundreds of miles away but you could see only through a small hole in a sack placed over your head. That’s our vision. No matter how much we turn and look we cannot see everything. Truth is we are missing more than we are seeing.

God answers prayer. That’s what He does. That’s who He is. You don’t call on God without Him answering. That doesn’t mean you will get what you want. It doesn’t mean He is going to do as you say. The fact that nothing in your life seems to change even after you pray it does is not an indication your prayer was unanswered. It is an indication that God’s answer is not what you want or will present itself in a manner you don’t expect.

Stop saying “unanswered prayer” such a thing does not exist. If we start seeing that perhaps we can grow to realize that God is sovereign. He is in control. He has a will and that will isn’t subject to us. God does what He wants, when He wants, how He wants. As creator-king of the universe He has that right. What’s amazing is that He takes time to listen to our prayers, to hear our concerns, and to act upon them. Maybe not in the way or to the degree we want but He acts.

Maturing

Life is about growing and maturing. When you are born you are helpless. You cant feed yourself. You cant clothe yourself. You can’t take care of yourself. You need someone else for everything. Babies don’t do anything. They just eat, cry, crap, sleep, repeat. As a baby grows it learns. The young boy or girl starts leaning how to talk and how to walk. As they grow they learn to become more and more independent. Eventually they learn to stop crapping themselves and become potty trained. They learn to eat for themselves. They learn to clothe themselves. They learn to take care of themselves. The natural process of life goes from complete and total dependence and grows into independence. Eventually the child becomes a teenager, thinks they know everything, moves away from home, realizes they don’t know everything, and then becomes and adult. Eventually, that child who was once completely dependent on someone else grows to a point where they have someone else completely dependent on them. This is cycle of life.

Spiritual life however is very different. We come to Jesus in a state of complete independence. We think we are good. We think we can take care of ourselves. We think we can fix ourselves. Finally we realize we cant and we surrender our lives to Jesus and we are baptized and born again into new life with Him. Even still our tendency is to rely on ourselves. We trust in ourselves. We try to do life ourselves. Physical maturity moves from total dependence to total independence. Spiritual maturity is the process of growing for independence to total dependence on Christ. As you mature in your relationship with God you realize how much you need Him for everything. You don’t want to do anything without Him.

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