SOZO means to save.

If you have been reading my post you know that I work at Spaghetti Works. I have toiled bravely and have made enough Alfredo for a lifetime. I have burns and lines under my eyes to show for it. Sometimes I was depressed over it because it simply brings me no joy to go to work. This is about to change. If you are Mr. Peterson I realized if I am making a special post Monday then this should be shared first.

GAMe ministries in Omaha (check them out) is taking their coffee shop full time. On the same night I returned from work in tears with an unsureness of how much longer I could withstand my job. I didn’t even know if I was going to GAMe that night. All my roommates were but I had stepped into my depression and I wasn’t keen on leaving. But my roommate was patient and waited for me to come around even though it made her late.  The first cantonment was a new one. Not one about volleyball on Thursday.  They needed someone to be the other person for SOZO. They needed someone who loved Jesus, coffee and music. Those happen to be my favorite things in the world. You are only missing books and clothes on that list really.  This was the ministry job I had been praying for.  My roommate next to me elbowed me in the side. Her elbow said “Do it. ” After small group time I expressed interest. I have no real skills in making coffee, only drinking it, so I was nervous.

But then God made it crazy evident this was his plan for me all along. Chad brought me to the person managing the group. He asked me if I knew David. I almost laughed. Did I know him? I was was a bridesmaid in his wedding. He reassured me that coffee could be taught, he wanted a ministry major who would be a talker to be behind the SOZO bar. That was me. They wanted someone just like me.  This job had a bit of a risk to it. We have 3 months to make the cost worth it before we run out of funding.  I was in the perfect mood for risking all I had for ministry. I had gone to college for 4 years to do so. I now had a chance to be part of GAMe expanding. There is so much darkness in the old market and I get to work at a lighthouse within it.

So excited to met people, make coffee, dress like your typical ‘too cool’ barista  and let Jesus use my new exciting position as he desired. I am already so happy to be looking for bands to play, for furniture to fill the place and mastering  frothing milk.

If you are in Omaha we open September 5, 2014. Please come see me. Remember to thank God in your prayers for me. He is being faithful to me and my actions to chase Him and my willingness to wait on Him. He is ALWAYS worth waiting for. SOZO means to save and it has saved me in a cool way already. It took me out of my wanderings and made my purpose clear.

God’s Not Dead

The following is an opinion post. That means it is my opinion. Meaning I am not claiming this as fact and that I accept if you disagree with me. This is my opinion on the wildly popular Christian-flick God’s Not Dead. The movie about a boy who takes on his atheist professor that makes his class all write “God is Dead” on a slip of paper and turn it in for their first philosophy assignment. This story is inspired by a crazy amount of actual cases. I will now review all 6 plots in the God’s Not Dead Movie individually. The movie currently holds a 16 out of 100 review by critics and has the lowest rating possible on Rotten Tomatoes. I want Jesus to be the primary voice in Hollywood but this proves that we are not doing it correctly. Only we want to watch our movies. Hopefully that is worth the cost.

1. Main Plot? Josh Wheaten vs. his Philosophy teacher.

This is the plot the movie was named after. It is about a boy with inspiring faith in a non-religious college setting. He admirably refuses to write that God is dead. That is because God is most surely alive! And the movie uses the plot well to hash out Matthew 10:33 “But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”  Professor Raddison gives Josh a chance in class to logically prove that there is a creator. Which is an impossible task. As Josh points out, we can’t prove God exist. But we can’t prove he doesn’t either. In the first one he talks about creation. His girlfriend of six years (he’s a freshman so they have been together since 8th grade, surely she must be a winner) tells him not to and seems to be very controlling of his life. We are never given a real reason to care about her. The professor asks him a question after the first session about a self creating universe that makes him look stupid in front of his peers. His girlfriend (you know, controlling whats her name.) dumps him over it. Josh doesn’t seem to care so neither do we. Good riddance in fact! No room for girlfriends who say curse God and die in my propaganda. Nope, nope. Considering this movie is made for believers this isn’t really propaganda by my book.  If it is propaganda it’s one I agree with. Jesus’ name ought to be screamed and sung of on every corner in this world by those who love him. If Jesus is who he says he is, then we ought to be making thousands of movies about it!!! Even if we may not be the best script writers.

In the second session Josh comes out on top using the professors assigned reading against him. His presentations are impressive considering his time available and his lack in experience on the topic but  for a movie were acceptable. Raddison confronts him after the second presentation and threatens him. Atheist are the villains in these stories and he tries to make a good one with angry threats every now and then. All of the non Christians in the movie are flat characters who all hate God and people. When Raddison confronts Josh after the second session he quotes scripture and makes Josh realize that Raddison used to be a Christian. He finds out that
Raddison has a heart issue, not a head issue. The problem of pain is his problem. God didn’t save his mom when he was younger and he became a God hating atheist after that.

The third session is an outright debate between Josh and his professor and they both yell a lot. Essentially Josh gets Raddison to admit he hates God. And because you can’t hate someone who doesn’t exist all his classmates stand up and declare Josh the winner. Hazzah Jesus! Most importantly this gains Josh the friendship of a chinese kid in class. Martin is the face of the kids in the class he is fighting for. His father is still in the People’s Republic of China where Chritians suffer from persecution. But this is barely in the story and should have been cut. We only know he may have gotten his father arrested. There was no development. It was just squeezed in. Confusing our already distracted plot.

Lesson from Josh: Fight for the faith. It’s worth it.

2. Angry Reporter Lady

This character is introduced on her way to an interview with Duck Dynasty. I think her name is Amy. This poor girl could never exist in real life, or I hope not. She is the Christian picture of the far left. She is only portrayed as hating hunting, Christians, music and is not very good at interviews. She is not given a single likable trait… except cancer. That is harsh. And of course when she gets cancer her boyfriend dumps her. He is made to look even worse than her! He belongs in a cartoon on the Disney channel, not a movie that discusses real hard issues. Voldemort was more of a believable character than him. At least Voldemort had a background story. Amy’s story makes us feel sorry for her and reminds us that we are better of with having the hope of Christ. I think her story should also have been left out of this story because it was so poorly developed. It ends with her going after newsboys and confessing that she is dying them and all of them praying for her. I don’t doubt the witness of Newsboys but it was a wave of the wand ending for a woman who never even met the main character of the movie.

Lesson learned from this plot: Jesus gives us hope in the darkest times and loves us no matter what.

3. Professor and Girlfriend

Raddison apparently starting dating one of his brilliant students in his class. She is a christian and he spends all of his screen time with her mocking her. This is why we don’t date atheist ladies. She dumps him and that is really the end of her story. Because dating for conversion is bad! No wonder this went bad, a kind-hearted pretty christian and an old nasty atheist would never work. Duh! Not without a 3rd dimension for either of them. I am upset we were bothering with her instead of learning about how our main character became a christian or how he is coping with being dumped. Maybe a few scenes of him studying and falling asleep in other classes, maybe a couple of peers whispering about him in the cafeteria. Not being invited to study groups, his parents making a plea with the professor about his for their foolish son. I would rather have had them develop him and his endeavor. She dumps him and he dies in a crash. The end.

Lesson: Don’t date to convert.

4. The Muslim-girl gone christian.

We meet her looking at Josh and controlling whats her face. She overhears them and it was apparently very impacted by it. She had apparently somehow accepted Christ as her savior. Who knows why or how. All we know is that she was thrown out off her home for being a Christian. We never find out what happens to her after that. We see the pithy preacher give her some encouragement and a verse and she got a reassuring pat on the leg. I assume they did more than that but it isn’t said. I had no reason to assume it. But we should assume the best of them so I will say that the pastor probably also addressed her homeless situation. I think maybe also she ends up as Josh’s girlfriend? This was a separate movie idea. They should make her her own movie. Why was her father so  devout? How did 1 Corinthians get on her ipod? Why did her brother go in her room? Why didn’t her screen time out? Was her dad trying to strangle her at the end or being remorseful?  This story was never finished. It was barely started. However it’s lesson went along best with the main plot.

Lesson: Do not be afraid to stand in faith, even if you stand alone.

5.  Old woman and children.

This old woman with dementia was the best actor and had the best lines. She also connected the professors girlfriend and reporter lady’s evil boyfriend into the plot because they were her children. She again was unneeded and had nothing to do with the main plot but I like her and she is a good character. Even if her son is an underdeveloped mini-Satan.

Lesson: Living a life of faith is worth it. No matter where you end up.

6. The pithy pastor.

A lot of these people have the same pastor. He is first met meeting a missionary that has ‘really’ been in the trenches.. They want a rental car to go ride roller coasters… I guess. It’s said once. But their car breaks and won’t start and neither will the two rental cars they are given by a dealer who would rather be an actor, and with cars like his, maybe he should be. Because of this they are at a scene that was sudden and dark. The professor (mostly from plot one) reads a letter from his mother and runs to the newsboys concert. He is hit by a driver and the missionary declares he has moments to live. He accepts Jesus through the pithy pastor and all it well. I think this would have been more powerful in message if he had just died. Life is like that and we should not look to our deathbeds as the time to accept Christ. In the end nothing that Josh said mattered. The fear of death and his mother’s letter changed his heart. Which thinking about it, is correct. Only God can change any heart to Him. Thank goodness it is up to him.

Lesson: What you are doing where you are matters.

In the end God’s Not Dead was more of a theme than a story. But, it was probably someone’s best attempt at glorifying God and is a step towards the Christian culture being in the forefront of thematic story telling in the United States. We will learn to fix mistakes and we will grow. Practice usually improves us. Also the Word of God never returns void and the movie touched on many real issues faith sometimes requires of us. It holds many valuable lessons and even if I don’t like how many stories they crammed into two hours, I liked all the lessons. So watch it, look at what you can learn from it. Agree or disagree with me. I don’t really care. I just hope that in spite of underdeveloped characters and incomplete plots we can focus on what is good in the movie and encourage Christians to keep going and to keep making films. We are likely doing more good than bad.

Communion Day Prayer

Bless my Lutheran roots. I forget sometimes the magic that tradition has over me. Oh, how Holy the table was for me today. I love communion. It is the perfect reminder of the broken flesh and shed blood. It called me into needed reflection. I want to share the psalm like confession I wrote today.

I have called on you and found you distant.

Yet in my seeking I have not set time aside for you.

Yet, O LORD, when I seek You,  You are there.

Your love and mercy abundantly shimmers in all the cracks of existence.

Radiantly You are on display.But I must look.

Do not let me be content with blindness.

Let me be disciplined to go after You.

May my faithfulness to You be as Yours to me.

Let me know You in my seeking.

Give me quiet, still, moments to reflect on Your ways.

Let me take in Your Holy Word.

Never let me flee or be stagnant.

Do not let my thoughts linger on this world.

For You are man’s strength.

You are hope and life.

You reign forever.

If you know me, encourage quiet time. It is hard to make routines sometimes.

I Count it All as Loss Anyways. Welcome to Adulthood.

So, my anthem for entering the real world is Paramore’s new hit Ain’t It Fun.  One of the best lines is “what are you going to do when the world don’t open around you?” And I think I have an answer. The song says in the real world that ain’t it fun that I can’t count on no one? Well that is never true. Even in the real world I am never alone. And what am I going to do? I am going to have joy, peace and love.

My God is with me. I have Him and His body of believers. That being said, I like the song because right now one of my goals in life is to get to the point that I can take care of myself financially. Right now my parents still pay my phone bill and for my car insurance and. I have everything else (mostly) down. But my savings is low in the face of unexpected expenses.  Everything breaks down. You know the drill. Everyday is an adventure. Car, fridge, AC, utilities, glasses, hospitals. So many things that take so much money.  If you are an adult you know the kind of things I am talking about. Something is always needing replaced or updated.  Maybe you are super used to it by now. I am new to it.  The trick to facing them is joy. Joy in my unforeseen expenses.  Even when they all come at once.

Yeah, we might be broke for awhile. But that’s the real world. The world doesn’t revolve around us. But there are so many people that will guide and assist us. Not because we are special but because they have love.  I am so blessed by all of them. My father, my roommates and my landlord. My boyfriend, my family, my friends. I have them to stand with me. I will doubtfully not feel the full impact of any of those cost. One day I will.  But even if I did not. Even if I manage to lose my water, car and food… so what?

I keep thinking of Philippians 3:8. 

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. 

All I have is worth nothing. Hard to be upset when I keep that in mind. I have all the riches that are beyond the world. So what if I lose some worldly riches? I hope that I can hold onto that as I continue to have that all surpassing peace as I continue to live in the adult world and face all it’s cost.

Stay strong adult friends. It’s a rough life with the best reward.

Ain’t it Fun by Paramore  (Click to listen)

The Pain of Sacrifice.

O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
All who gather here by grace draw near and bless
Your name

Wonderful Cross

I think passionate Christians speak a bit too joyfully of giving their all in all. We romanticize the Christ likeness of it and never speak of how hard and how painful it is. True sacrifice requires something of you. It isn’t fun. We do what is right and sometime its at a cost. I think that is why good Friday is so good. We remember that Christ’s sacrifice was hard and it hurt and that He had to be exasperated from his father. Sometimes we confuse being kind with being sacrificial. We tithe, we give to the poor some, we help a friend move. We pat ourselves on the back and move on feeling better about ourselves. Being sacrificial makes us holier and makes us more like Jesus. But it isn’t necessarily supposed to make us feel happy. If it makes us feel better was it really a sacrifice?  I had to make one recently. It had the potential to make my life much harder and I hated every minute of knowing what I was about to do. It was the right thing to do. I am glad I did it.  It sucked. Just like a sacrifice is supposed to. Remember Isaac? Remember that trip he took with his father that one day? Sacrifice feels how Abraham must have felt before we do it. But, O, how it is worth it! How we rejoice in our submission and obedience to our Father. How abundant is our call to come and die. How precious Jesus and how wonderful His cross.