Star Wars: The Prequels

I was perusing through some Star Wars fan sites I enjoy (most of the time) and came across another hate filled post about George Lucas’s fourth film in the Star Wars franchise; Episode 1, The Phantom Menace. It’s always been interesting to me how people feel the need to tell the world how much they dislike this particular film. The hatred and actual venom poured out towards Ahmed Best and Jake Lloyd for their portrayals of Jar Jar Binks and little Anakin Skywalker are both totally uncalled for and show how much these people really are losers in life. And like my mother taught me, “If you can’t say something good, then don’t say anything at all.”

That 70’s Show
Season 1 Episode 20
A New Hope

I started loving Star Wars back in 1977 when the movie first came out. I was very much like Eric Forman in That 70’s Show when he saw Star Wars for the first time. Mouth agape, heart beat rising and bated breath. Once the movie was over I couldn’t wait to see it again, and again. I’m sure I am somewhere in the neighborhood of having seen the original Star Wars movie of a thousand times or more. And it never gets old to me, and I know it never will. This is why I am so shocked every time I hear people complain about these movies.

The thing about The Phantom Menace was it showed us one of the most hated villains of all time while he is just an innocent little child. We knew (spoiler alert) going in that this kid would turn out to be the father of Luke Skywalker and turn the universe upside down, leaving a wake of destruction unlike anything seen before. I think people were hoping George would show us someone unlikeable, or intrinsically evil from the beginning. I thank God he didn’t. Anakin needs to be sweet, and willing to help, this is one of the things about his character which makes his fall so much greater in later movies.

George Lucas has said in more interviews than I can remember how he made these movies for kids. Why do people get so upset with characters like Jar Jar Binks, R2D2 & C3PO? What is wrong with a little comic relief? You have to remember when he released his movie back in 1977, the movies being shown at that time were gritty, dark and truthfully not a whole lot of fun. He wanted to bring back the types of movies he remembered from his childhood; ones that had adventure, suspense, and a little comedy in them. And I believe with the Star Wars movies he did just that; gave us movies we could enjoy and would stimulate our imaginations.

One of the fondest memories I have with my kids around this time was the Podracer game on our Nintendo, all four of us could race and we would laugh and taunt each other throughout the evenings. “Poodoo!” was one of our favorite phrases. Also my son Micah had a Jar Jar mask he would wear and walk around the house in that Jar Jar lope saying, “Meesa called Jar Jar Binks, whosa are yousa?”

Count Dooku x2 vs Yoda - Battles - Comic Vine

I thank God George made these movies for kids to enjoy, because some of my best bonding times as a parent with my kids was around these movies. One funny little story, when they released Episode 2, Attack of the Clones in 3D, I took all three of my kids to see it. I told my youngest son Noah, “This is going to be so cool, Yoda is going to be 30 feet tall!” What I meant was the screen is three stories tall so it was going to be huge. When we were walking out of the theater, I asked him what he thought about the movie, and he said, “Yoda was the same.” I said, “What buddy?” and his reply was, “Dad, Yoda wasn’t a giant, he was the same size.” It was at this point I realized he had misunderstood what I’d said early and thought George changed Yoda from three feet tall to thirty. Ah the mind of a child, truly wonderful it is.

I wish people everywhere could let go of their fear, and just get along. It’s like Yoda told a teenage Anakin, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” And not to put a political spin on this, but isn’t this what we are seeing now? Fear leading to anger, anger leading to hate and hate leading to suffering? We need to forsake the dark side of the force as a society and follow the light side of the force; putting our own selfish ambitions aside, and as a true jedi look out for the needs of the many.

Well, there’s that, for the Kingdom and the King, shalom.

Problems Are Only Opportunities In Work Clothes

I had a thought this morning on the way to work, and it involved situations where I tend to get aggravated or irritated in life. What occurred to me, was in these times what really causes these flare up of my temperament is me becoming inconvenienced. It rarely is the actual situation I get upset with, but having my life altered to a reality I had not previously considered happening.

To say we humans are creatures of habit is an understatement to be sure. We like to have things the same; day in and day out. We live for the opportunities of being able to enjoy moments and have them play out the way we think they should in our heads. And anything which causes a disruption is looked upon as evil and something to be conquered rather than lived through.

Now to say at 56 I am just now beginning to understand this could be deemed embarrassing, or it could be looked upon as if the remainder of my life is about to become even better than I could ever imagine. You know if I’m going to go one way, why not go the way of positivity instead of negativity, huh?

When something disrupts my preconceived notion of what I think should be happening, what should my response be? I’ll tell you what it usually is, chaos. In any given situation in my past, my self talk might go something like this, “Well great! Now I’ve got to go and do such and so. Why is it ‘they’ can’t do this for themselves? Why am I always called upon to do these stupid tasks?” When in reality, perhaps I should look at it as, “WOW! They really trust me to get the job done.”

Being inconvenienced in life is a given. After all, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But be of good cheer, for I (Jesus) have overcome the world.” John 16:33. We are called to be problem solvers, not problem explainers.

Recently I have begun listening to a complaint once, then looking for a solution from the person bringing the complaint to me. If they’re either unable or unwilling to devise a solution, and instead continue to complain about the situation, I extricate myself from the conversation. After all, if all we ever do is bitch about problems without finding answers for them, what use are we really?

Complaining about things is easy, it’s actually the default setting in humans. Just like any piece of equipment, the default settings are there to get the system up and running, but default settings aren’t written in stone, you can customize them to whatever you need them to be. Just like I can customize my remote control for instance, I can customize my responses to those things which cause the disruptions in my life. And when I change the way I see things, and begin looking for solutions instead of just griping, then this is when my life begins to be fuller and richer, and as in work, I begin to see the benefits of being a problem solver and not just a problem griper.

Let’s get out there today and be the answer to the problems of the world. In finding solutions to other people’s problems, we actually find our lives becoming more fulfilled.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

Freedom, What’s That?

I’m truly amazed to see the world, in the state it is currently experiencing. People I thought I knew, taking sides against things I believe. Mind you, I’ve never thought for a moment everyone would think the way I do, but right now I’m seeing people who I thought shared the same ideology with me standing on the other side of the issue.

If you would have told me even a year ago we would be seeing mandated face coverings in order to enter a store to buy groceries, I would have said, “Not in America. We’re not a third world dictatorship.” But here we are. The largest chain store in America, Walmart & Sam’s Club posted they would start mandating face masks to be worn by customers shopping in their stores, starting on July 20th. Turning them away if they are unwilling to comply.

Now I have just enough of a “Don’t tell me!” attitude, that truthfully I will not shop at Walmart or Sam’s Club once this starts. I will find other ways to supply my family with food. I jokingly stated yesterday how I thought maybe Bible scholars had gotten it wrong, and the “mark of the beast” talked about in Scripture could be face masks instead of a microchip in the hand or forehead. After all without a face mask you will be unable to buy food. Could it be?

The one thing I know is this, I have seen our personal liberties slowly erode away since COVID-19 hit the scene. I don’t think for a moment it isn’t real, there have been too many cases to say otherwise, but the last I heard the survivor rate was something like 99%. To hear the news media and the social media experts tell it, we are only one step away from death to us all however.

“So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause.” is what Senator Amidala said in Star Wars: The Clone Wars at the creation of the Galactic Empire. The people were all afraid, so they allowed their enemy (Palpatine) to take away their liberty with the lie of bettering society. I can’t help but think we are dangerously close to this now too in our own society.

My biggest concern about this mask issue, is not the mask, it’s allowing our liberties to be given away; little by little. I have no problem with you wearing a mask if this is what you have decided to do, I have a BIG problem when it is being used by government to control people. And don’t think for a minute that’s not what is going on. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our freedoms here in America, what’s next? Gun control, mandatory inoculations, a one-child birth policy, food lines?

You can call me old fashioned, a Neanderthal, or just plain stupid, but mark my words, there is more coming down the pike, so don’t be surprised when more of your freedoms and liberties are taken away, little by little. And when they are, don’t gripe about it, because remember how many were for it.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

What Are You Thinking?

We’re living in some strange times right now aren’t we? Who would’ve ever thought we’d be holed up in our homes, working to reduce an infection caused by a microscopic enemy which is unable to be seen with the naked eye. We are inundated with more information than at any other time in human history, and have access to what is happening around the world with the click of a button. And yet with all of this technology at our fingertips, we are probably worse off than any other time in history.

One of the best things a person can do for themselves and those around them is to stay positive and upbeat. It’s not one of the easiest things to do either, because it seems we have been conditioned to default to negative thoughts instead of positive. In the Bible it says it this way:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Philippians 4:8

Ask yourself, am I thinking about things in a positive or negative way? When someone gives you a report about what’s happening in the world, what do your thoughts run to; positive or negative? Proverbs 23:7a says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he…” What we think is one of the few things we actually have control over in life too.

I heard a lady say one time, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, I believe what I believe.” It’s sad but true, a lot of people’s lives are destroyed because of what they believe and not what is actually happening to them. If our enemy, the devil, can get you to believe the worst, then the worst is what you will have. But, if you will choose to believe the best, the best is what will happen in your life.

Call it what you like; positive energy, karma, or faith, the truth of God’s Word is whatever you focus on is what you will attract. When you believe something and speak it out of your mouth, this is what controls your destiny. And the coolest thing about this is the fact you are in control of what you think. John Eldredge said it this way in his book The Sacred Romance;

“Power can do everything but the most important thing; it cannot control love…in a concentration camp, the guards possess an almost unlimited power. By applying force, they can make you renounce your God, curse your family, work without pay, eat human excrement, kill and then bury your closest friend or even your own mother. All this is within their power. Only one thing is not; they cannot force you to love them.”

I would say there is a second thing, and that is they cannot make you change what you think. They can apply all kinds of pressure to make you change your mind, but ultimately what you think is yours and yours alone. What do you think the devil was trying to do to Jesus when He went to the wilderness for forty days and nights? He was trying to change what Jesus thought and knew to be true. Look the story up, you’ll find it in Matthew 4:1 -11 / Luke 4:1 – 14.

The thing I love the most about this particular story about Jesus is He didn’t answer the devil’s questions by saying, “Because I’m God dummy.” Every time He said, “It is written.” and then He would quote the passage to answer the temptations. What I love the most about following Jesus, is when we see He do things in the Bible, He did them as a man, and not as God. I like this, because He was showing me how I need to walk this out. Praise God, if I will live by the examples Jesus showed, my life can be victorious on a daily basis, and so can yours.

This is why I preach to anyone who will listen of the importance of knowing the Bible for yourself. You don’t know what is true if you never stick your nose in the Bible. Your victory over life is based directly on what you believe, and what you believe is based directly on what you are thinking. So if your life is not what you would like it to be, change what you are believing, and to do that you have to change what you are thinking. Taking Philippians 4:8 to heart is the best place to start. Also, I would recommend limiting the amount of time you spend watching news reports on what is going on around the world. If you’re going to watch news for thirty minutes, then also read your Bible for the same amount of time. Combat the negative news with the Good News of God’s Word.

For the Kingdom and the King, Shalom!

Here’s What I Think

There comes a time in every man’s life where he has to say what is on his mind, and today is that day. I’ve been known as an opinionated man for most of my life, always sharing my thoughts with anyone willing to listen; sometimes to my chagrin. After fifty-four trips around the sun, I have learned to choose when to speak my mind and when to hold back those thoughts. Today I will not hold back my thoughts about marriage and the role men have in this gift given to us by God. This is what drives me to my keyboard; to talk about what men are doing to destroy their marriages.

Selfishness is the chief cause of marriage failure today. When one or both partners are doing only what is best for them and not for their spouse, calamity will not be very far behind. It aggravates, no, let me say it pisses me off when a marriage fails because the husband was unwilling to do whatever it took to make his bride the center of his world. As the father of a daughter who faced divorce last year, it has only strengthened these thoughts in my heart of hearts. And before you say it’s not always the man who leaves, I’ll agree with you and say women leave too, but why would she want to leave if her man was doing everything he could to make the marriage work?

I really believe a man should be loving his wife like Christ loved the church, this is what it takes to make his marriage last. But what does it mean to love your wife as Christ loved the church? To answer this let’s look at the whole passage of Scripture. It’s found in Ephesian 5:25 and says,

“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her.”

He gave up His life for her. And this sir, is what you should be doing for your bride; giving up your life for her. In doing this, your marriage will become stronger. In my life, I find myself doing things I don’t necessarily want to do, but I know by doing them it makes my bride’s life better and this brings me great joy. This doesn’t mean a man should never have time for himself, because husbands and wives should spend time alone and with friends, this helps make your marriage healthy too. But your first thought should always be about your wife and her well-being over your own.

When my daughter told me her husband of two years had packed his bags, took his game system and left town, I was devastated for her. This was the man who had taken me out for coffee to ask for her hand in marriage, the one who told me all the things he was planning for their life together and what he wanted to do to make her happy. Now she was telling me the one who had promised to take over from me and care for my little girl had just up and left? I guess the old saying, ” You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?” really is true.

Come on men, wake up! Take the reigns of your life, take some responsibility for your marriage and do whatever it takes to love your bride like Christ loved His before it is too late. We have no one to blame but ourselves if we let our marriages fail.

Life May Not Be Fair, But It Can Be Good

“It’s just not fair!” the boy cried, “Why is this so hard?”
The father stood there in silent anguish wishing he could remove the pain he heard between the sobs. However, he knew the truth and knew no words he could convey to his child would help.

“I do what’s right and good father, and what do I get for it? Nothing!” Balling up his fists, the young man began pounding the pillow under his head. “They’re all out to get me! That’s what this is, they want me to fail!”

Laying his hand gently on the boy’s head, tears forming at the corner of his eyes, he said a silent prayer willing some of his own strength towards his upset child. Tensing up at the touch, he flopped over onto his back and pulling his head away from the hand screamed, “Aren’t you going to say anything? Aren’t you going to do anything? Why are you taking their side? Why do you hate me?”

With compassion in his eyes, the father said, “Son I love you more than anything. I have given everything for you. One day I hope you realize how much I sacrificed in order for you to have the life I want you to have.”

“Whatever! Get out, just leave me alone!”

Looking over his shoulder as he left the boy’s room he said, “Son, I do love you.”
How many times have you been the young boy in this story? Have you ever screamed at God about life not being fair? The truth of the matter is this; life isn’t fair, and it never has been. Since the Garden of Eden and the fall of man, life on this planet has been hard . Yet for some odd reason, Christians feel they are entitled to an easy life once they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. And nothing could be further from the truth.

In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In this life you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Jesus said this to his disciples, not to the sinners of the world. If he tells us we’re going to have trouble, then why do we act so surprised when it shows up? Could it be because in our efforts to add numbers to our churches we fail to tell them the whole truth? Are we guilty of painting this rosy picture of life as a Christian and in the process set up people for failure?

Being a Christian doesn’t mean living a carefree, easy existence. It means bringing the light of the Gospel to people in dark places. People are watching us; they face the same challenges we do, and notice when we overcome them. I’ve been asked numerous times, “How did you do it when things got hard?” And my answer is always the same, through the Word of God. The Bible is the solid foundation upon which I stand. This doesn’t mean I always understand how, but I don’t really have to understand how God works, just that He does.

Having a good working knowledge of God’s Word will help lead, guide and direct you when life gets difficult. It’s like having a bank account; if you want to use your debit card to buy things, then you have to have made some deposits into your account. You wouldn’t whine and complain to the bank about not being able to buy things, if you had never made a deposit at the bank. Then why do you complain to God about how tough things are when you never put anything into your “spiritual” account?

Listen, life is going to be tough, get used to this fact. But no matter how tough it gets, you can overcome everything life throws at you with the Word of God. But you will have to make an investment by reading your Bible every day and doing what you read in it. With the Word of God firmly rooted in your heart, you will be able to face the challenges of life and overcome whatever it throws at you.

If I Can Do It, You Can Too!

Do you ever wonder if you actually have what it takes to (fill in the blank)? I know I do, scared-boy1and it’s happened more than I’d care to admit in my fifty-plus years. At times I feel like I’m just a scared little boy hoping his mommy or daddy will come to his rescue. Feeling this way drives me nuts, especially when I’m called upon to either; one, know what to do, or two, need to have the right words to say in any given situation. But I’ve learned whenever I’m feeling inadequate or stress is trying to eat me up, to turn to the truth of God’s Word and things always turn out for my good.

Now don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I didn’t say my problems magically disappear leaving me with nothing but sunshine and rainbows. No. Often I find myself in a maelstrom, my emotions swirling in numerous directions all at once. It’s in these times I remind myself of the words Jesus said in John 16:33.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

What I’ve learned is, if I stay “in Jesus”, then I too will overcome the world. Notice He didn’t promise to take the problem away, He said you would just overcome it. Sometimes we have to go through the challenges of life in order to find the victory on the other side.

At the time of this writing, I am almost fifty-four years old. And in all those years I’ve had plenty of opportunities to live out this overcoming type of life; some of the storms I’ve been in were easier to weather than others, but regardless of their intensity God has always seen me through and been faithful to His Word. I won’t say those times were comfortable, because they weren’t, but they were useful in making me the man I am today.

I can honestly say without God’s Word to guide me through this life, I wouldn’t have made it through many of the things I’ve been forced to endure. The truth is, I want to share my life and experiences with you in an effort to help you see how you can overcome in life too. God is no respecter of persons, meaning simply, He doesn’t like one person more than another, and what He has done for me, He will do for you too. But let me say it doesn’t just happen because we want it to, we have to do the work so to speak. What I mean is God’s Word works, but only for the person who is actively seeking God and being what the Bible calls a “doer of the Word”.

This life is yours, if you want it. But you have to be willing to follow what God says in His Word. And you can do it too, all you have to do is begin reading the book. And in this day and age, reading God’s Word is easier than ever. With the current technology, you can have at your fingertips (literally) more translations of the Bible than ever before. Youversion phoneDownload the YouVersion app here for your smart phone and you will be amazed at how many versions you will have access to; everything from the easy to read translation to the hardcore study bible scholars prefer. And even if you really don’t like to read, there are several translations which have audio included and they will read it to you.

The bottom line here, or the take away if you will, is if you want the life Jesus talked about in John 16:33 you are going to have to put in the time and effort to learn what His Word says. The Bible is like an instruction manual, it tells us how our lives should be lived. Sure we can figure out some of this life without the manual, but if we want to truly experience all the benefits, we will need a little more instruction. Join me in the coming weeks as we take this journey together and I share how I’ve overcome some of the biggest obstacles in my life, with the help of God and His Word. And in the process it is my hope you will find out that you can do it too!

Living in a story much larger than my own…

Who Changes Your Mind?

“I should’ve done more!”  “I could’ve done more!” “What could I have done to make them change?”  “I should’ve said more!”  “I should’ve loved more!”  

These are all thoughts which have run through my mind at one time or another when it came to situations I’ve had in my relationships with people. These thoughts usually come during a time where things aren’t going the way I think they should, or had hoped they would. For many years I tried, (unsuccessfully I might add) to get people around me to see the error of their ways by trying to get them to live by my convictions. It took several years, and many arguments for me to realize the impossibility of this.

I really came to understand this when people would try to get me to make changes in my own life by telling me what I needed to do. I found it very aggravating when they didn’t agree with things I felt were okay in my life, and would try to force me to change. They were never able to get me to see their convictions as my own, and consequently I came to the realization I couldn’t change anyone else’s convictions either. This was one of the most freeing in days of my life too. It meant I no longer had to try and police the lives of those around me, and was finally able to focus on my life and what I was doing.

In James 4:17 it says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” Look closer at what it says here, it is sin to know what YOU ought to do and then not do it. James is not telling us to pay attention to what others are doing, he is telling us to focus on what we ought to be doing. This is where I was missing it, and where so many other people miss it too. God never called anyone to point out the mistakes or missteps of others. He called us to follow Him and to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) In plain english this means God wants you to focus on your own walk with Him and not so much the walk of others.

I don’t mean God wants you to ignore the lives of the people around you. He wants you to be a positive influence on everyone you meet, He just doesn’t need you pointing out everything they do wrong. One of the things I’ve learned in 53 years is I already know when I’m doing something wrong and really don’t need it pointed out. Most of the time, I’m already beating myself up about it anyway. The thing which helps me the most, is seeing someone live out what I’m struggling with in a positive way. When I see someone else overcoming whatever thing I’m struggling with, then I know there is hope for me as well.

Truthfully when someone points out what I’m doing wrong and tells me about it, I just want to scream, “Don’t tell me!” like Arthur Spooner from the sitcom King of Queens. I’m sure it’s the same with you too, none of us like to be told what to do. I’ve found out if I’ll spend more time on what I’m supposed to be doing in my life and stop telling others what to do with theirs, things become much simpler. And as the old acronym K.I.S.S. says; “Keep It Simple Stupid”.

Let’s stop pointing out the things other people can do to change their lives, and work on our own. Because I believe when we get our house in order and follow the Lord the way He wants us to, it will cause those around us to do what it is says in 1 Peter 3:15;

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Living for Jesus with an honest and transparent life…

Seven Years

Seven years or 84 months or 364 weeks or 2,555 days or 61,320 hours or 3,679,200 minutes or 220,752,000 seconds.  However you want to track the passage of time, this is how long it has been since my youngest son Noah was lost to me due to suicide. I’ve written about this before; usually at this time of year when I am forced to relive the events which happened on that day. But this year I want to write something a little different.

It was back in the first part of March I was thinking about Noah and I began to ask myself what day he died on. It took me quite a while to remember, actually having to go back through my Facebook account looking for posts from when it first happened. After figuring it out, I felt like quite a failure as a parent. After all, how could a good parent forget the actual day they lost one of their children? It wasn’t until a few days ago when my bride said something to the fact about today being the seventh anniversary and it had crept up on her, I began to think perhaps we had both turned a corner.

When I say turned a corner, I don’t mean either of us has forgotten the day or Noah, but that we have just traveled farther down the road of life. And the more distance you put between yourself and the horrible things which have happened, the easier it becomes for them to take up less space in your every day thoughts. The passage of time is a good thing.

Something I’ve learned in the past seven years is there are no guarantees in life; things have a way of just happening to people; both good and bad. We try to rationalize it when something horrible happens, but there is no making sense of it. We live in a fallen world, in which bad things happen. Another thing I’ve learned is God never changes; He is the same yesterday, today and forever. I know it sounds trite, but regardless, it is the truth. And when crap hits the fan, you have to hold on to what is true if you ever want to have hope of making it further down the road of life.

For me, today marks another year off the calendar and a few more miles along the path I’ve been forced to walk these past seven years. Would I rather not be on this particular journey? Absolutely. I’d love to have my 20 year old son here with me and my family enjoying the life he should be living, but instead I’m living another reality; the one where he is no longer here with me. It’s not my choice, but I will journey on regardless.

The passage of time is a good thing, believe me when I say it. Though it may not look like it when you are in the middle of whatever you are going through, I promise it will get easier the further away from whatever is challenging you. Just do what my family and I have done for the past seven years; breathe, take a step and repeat. Just keep moving forward.