Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Media Post 2


Into the Wild – this movie is worth watching for the soundtrack and scenery alone, but the story is awesome to. It’s the story of Christopher McCandless, a college graduate who decides to leave his life of privilege and move to Alaska to live off the land. This movie has strong themes of identity and community and forgiveness. Emile Hirsch (who plays Speed Racer this summer) does an excellent acting job, portraying Christopher as a gentle and earnest young man trying to find his way.

Once – driven by the soundtrack, Once is a simple story of a street musician in Ireland and his rediscovery of his musical passion and focus. The music in this is amazing, and the storyline is very good, sweet, and has a bittersweet ending. One of our favorites.

Beyond the Gates – I think that this is a more powerful account of the Rwandan genocide than Hotel Rwanda. Set at a Catholic school right as the coup happens, this movie is sad, chilling, and makes you say again, “What in the world was I doing while all of this was going down?” Well acted, it is a powerful retelling of a true story.

The Tuskegee Airmen – the story of America’s first black military airmen, World War II fighter pilots from Tuskegee airforce base. It had an all-star cast (Lawrence Fishburn, Cuba Gooding Junior, Malcolm Jamaal Warner, John Lithgow), but I would say that the writing could have been better. The story is really hard to watch at points, but inspiring by the end.

Enchanted – OK, so enough with all the heavy stuff. As parents of two princesses in training, Diane and I really enjoyed Disney’s ability to laugh some at their own cottage industry of animated princesses. In this, an animated princess is banished to Manhattan by her evil stepmother, and the result is a very funny movie, thought it is too scary for Eliza to see yet.

Dan in Real Life – I still can’t get used to seeing Steve Carrell as anyone other than Michael Scott (unless it’s as Brick in Anchorman), but in this movie he does a pretty good job of seeming like an every day dad. The movie was funny, the plot certainly had some twists, and I thought that Dane Cook did a super acting job. I’m glad I saw it, but I probably wouldn’t care to own it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Media update for those who might need some inspiration

Thought I might make a few posts about what I've been reading, watching, and listening to in case some of you are bored with your life in those categories (and taking the off chance that you might be impressed with me for something that I have read, because, really isn't that why we read anyway?), or in case you want to share with me things you've been enjoying. Before that, as a P.S. I wanted to say that Eliza ended up getting into the Spanish Immersion program at Jones School after all. We're very excited

The Dirty Beggar Inside My Head, The Fingerless Lady Inside My Head, The Old Man Inside My Head -
this is part of the Thoughts in My Head series by Don Everts (IV Press). Each book is very short (60 pages or so), and it’s an interesting way to do apologetics. Don writes about his ideas as though they were characters having a dialogue, and so when he writes about The Old Man, it is representative of the idea that Scripture is true, good, and worthy to be listened to in our lives. The Old Man gets mocked by ideas like Youthful Cynicism, and dialogues for the veracity of Scripture. These books are easy to read and appear to be a thoughtful way to engage a story-geared generation of students.

Christ the Lord: Out of Egyptformer horror write Anne Rice (Interview with a Vampire, The Vampire Lestat) has returned to the Church with a renewed faith in Jesus Christ, and she has begun writing a series of books written from the first-person of Jesus. This book begins with His family leaving Egypt and returning to Nazareth when Jesus was about 10 years old. A very engaging and easy read, this book does an excellent job of setting the political and religious turmoil that existed in a Roman-occupied and controlled Israel. It also helps you remember that Jesus was a Jew, practicing the Law and sacrifices commanded by God. Seeing those practices in a new light brings more appreciation for the Old Testament and her take on Jesus learning and understanding who He was is very interesting. She writes from the perspective that He didn’t understand from the start that He was God’s son, that He struggled to piece that truth together, and in time, His parents revealed all the things about His conception and birth. This book also really gives an idea of the kind of man and father that Joseph might have been, though Scripture is largely silent on his life. An excellent read, and her story of her return to faith and the historicity of Christianity at the end is worth picking the book up.

How to Worship Jesus Christ – Joseph S Carroll has a passion to see Christians return to that which is essential in relationship with Jesus, which is worshipping God for who He is and not for what He does for us. This small book is a powerful and practical call to do just that. “How to” is not entirely accurate, because this is more a motivational book than instructional. This book really encouraged me to spend regular (almost daily) time simply worshipping God for who He is, worshipping and praising Him, and it has been really interesting to see the correlation between worship and dependence – to worship God is to be submitted to Him and His control, which requires dependence and abiding, things I have been learning about for some time now.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire – What if the Wicked Witch of the West wasn’t so bad after all, a political revolutionary? What if her desire for Dorothy’s ruby slippers was that she might keep the shoes from the Wizard, who was trying to rule Oz with an iron fist? What if she merely had the misfortune of being born green, yet managed to have friend and even room with Glinda the good witch at boarding school? What if all she wanted was forgiveness? Gregory Maguire’s very interesting take on the land of Oz makes for a fun read with some interesting commentary on politics, religion, and not judging books by their cover. A really good read.

Currently reading: Francis of Assisi: A Revolutionary Life by Adrian House

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What's your name?

In my talk at Virginia Tech, I told students that just as God renamed Jacob, from Grabber (his name means "he grabs the heel") to God-Grabber ("he who wrestles with God"), He also wants to rename us. God gives us general names that are true for all Christians (Accepted, Beloved, Free, Son) and also, I believe, a specific name just for us. My name is Chosen (changed from Shame), and Diane has been given the name Fearless. Another friend of mine has been given the name Peace in place of the name Unwanted. So I wondered if any of you faithful readers might want to share if God has given you a new name as a reminder of His work in your life?

Monday, April 21, 2008

A holy moment

There are times with the Lord that I wish I could just bottle, times where heaven seemed at my fingertips. Last Friday at Virginia Tech was one of those times. I had the chance to speak at a join meeting between their IV chapter and a Korean Christian Fellowship, and also speaking was a YWAM missionary stationed in South Africa named Rich Hodges. I'd been asked to speak on identity in Christ, and the Lord laid on my heart to share Jacob's story from Genesis and talk about how God wanted to rename each one of us, setting us free from old names that we had embraced. Our identity is found in Christ alone, and He is renaming us as His new creations, replacing words like Shame, Liar, and Lustful with Holy, Accepted, and Truthful.

The Lord led Rich to scrap his original message and continue on the theme of identity, urging students to embrace their identity in Jesus as priests of God.
1 Peter 2:9-10 (The Message) -
But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

And I believe that this word on identity was just what those students (and I) needed, because what followed was a time of worship unlike any other I have been a part of. Not because it was loud or crazy, but because there was a freedom and a love for Christ in the room that was unreal. I marveled at God's goodness to me in the gospel, and also how He could put a 32-year-old guy from Greensboro and a 51-year-old guy from South Africa, who had never met before, and put our messages together cohesively to exhort and encourage college students in Virginia. I had an amazing time pouring out my heart to the Lord, and it was a small taste of heaven. I can understand how David could say, "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere." That's just how good the Lord God is.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Hi, my name is Marshall, and I am a recovering Israelite

I've been reading through the Old Testament (am in Deuteronomy right now) and have really enjoyed watching God work to call and save the Israelites as His people, preparing the way for the nations to know Him. But, like most people who read the Israelites' story, I get a bit frustrated with them when they go off course. God makes some unbelievable promises to them, (things like they will always have abundance, they will always be healthy, their children will be healthy and happy, they won't have to fear any other nation), and their only job is to listen to His words and obey His laws. And really, as I have read the laws thus far, they don't seem that complicated to me. Sure, there are some sacrifices and feasts that can be sort of tricky, but the priests were there to help you navigate them. Jesus summed up all of the laws as love God and love your neighbor. And the Lord tells them that He loves them, that the laws are for their good, and that they are His treasured possession. Their response? Worship and thanks for a short period of time, and then, inevitably, they begin to do things their way. God's way isn't fast enough or good enough or certain enough, so they rely on their own intuition and logic and generally make a big mess of things.

Well, it's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback and pick apart the Israelites, but when it all comes down to it, my heart is not far from theirs at times. Take my whining yesterday about the whole magnet school thing. Because I did not get what I wanted when I wanted it, I immediately thought that God was a) against me b) didn't like me c) wasn't taking good care of me and my family d) insert favorite lie here. And so I decided to be angry.

But the Lord has given me every good thing in Christ. I have provision upon provision, from spiritual provision in Christ (His very life and adoption to Sonship) to provision of wonderful family and friends. My family and I have all that we need and most of what we want materially (not sure that having so many wants is a good thing, but that's for another post), and my children are happy, healthy, and loving kids. I get to go to work every day with people that I love at a job that I enjoy, and I come home to a loving wife and a wonderful house. Surely my God has been good to me in all things, yet like the Israelites, I want my own way.

The way out of this? It's to remember. Remember who I am in Christ. Remember who God is and what He says to me about His love. Remember that in all things God is working to reveal Christ in me and to show others His love. Remember that God is God, and I am not. Time again in the Old Testament, God calls His people to remember, and when they do, they have a right response of worship and obedience. That is what I want, day by day.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Dealing with disappointment

Today we found out that Eliza did not get into the Spanish immersion magnet school that we had applied for, while her best friend did get in. In the grand scheme of life, this is not a big deal, but to us it had become very important and something we really desired.

I know that we are not promised that life would ever be fair, but this has been a really frustrating thing for me today. I think that in my heart I believe that God "owes" us this (and other things, probably) because of what we do for Him. I make mental lists of the things that we do for the Lord, the ways that Diane and I serve Him and sacrifice to make Him known, and I guess that deep down there are places in my heart that feel like the least He could do for us is (insert thing you want here).

I want to be justified in my anger, to say, "It's not fair. Can't we just catch a break here? We don't ask for much. Why does Eliza's friend get in and we don't?" The lie comes, "Does God like that other family better?" I wonder if God is just trying to teach us the lesson that our obedience doesn't guarantee blessing, correcting us for subtly getting off track?

I wasn't convinced that I wanted Eliza to go to this school when the process began, thinking that she should go to the school that we are districted for, since those are the families we moved here to reach out to, and I gave a very spiritual answer when asked about it. "We'll just apply for it and if she gets it, then that is good and if she doesn't, we trust that the Lord wants her to go to Peck." But that was before I really wanted her to get in and learn Spanish. It's one thing to sound spiritual when your heart isn't in it. It's another when He doesn't give you something that you want.

And so I know that in this moment I feel whiny and jealous, definitely not a faithful or Spirit-led response. But I also know that the Lord is patient with me, and that He gives me some time to be disappointed, and also gently calls me by His Spirit to remember what is true, to trust Him with my children, and to believe that He really does love me and my family as much as anyone else.

And this news, while disappointing, is a part of that love for us. We trust God, that His heart towards us is good and loving and that His plans for our family far surpass and exceed those that we could ever dream. And yes, I think that He is using this small thing to remind me and my family of a bigger picture, and to remind us that our obedience does not come so that He gives us something, but rather because He has given us everything already in Christ. No matter how I feel, that is the truth.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


Well, this season has ended just like most basketball seasons do, with my team not cutting down the nets at the end. For the first time in 24 years, I will not be able to have my end-of-season ritual of shooting baskets in the dark, as Diane is out of town on a women's retreat with our church. I really wish that I could get some of this taste out of my mouth by shooting ball in the rain, but maybe I will commandeer Jacob's nerf hoop before bed.

Watching the Heels be down by 28 points was like watching a team I have never seen. Watching them come back to within 4 points was amazing. And I honestly believe we were about an inch from winning the game, as Danny Green's 3-pointer went in and out with the Heels down 58-53. If that goes, it's a two-point game and I think Kansas folds. They showed a replay, and Roy Williams says, "If that three goes, it would have been a lot of fun." It didn't go, and the Heels momentum and legs gave out. While I am glad to not have been embarrassed as badly as it looked like it was going to be, losing still puts me in a funk. So, let's remember that a 36-3 season is nowhere close to failure, and along the way we saw:
Tyler Hansbrough win virtually every National Player of the Year Award.
A 16-point comeback against Clemson at home.
An amazing buzzer-beater at Clemson.
Beating Dook for the third straight year in Cameron.
Winning the ACC regular season and tournament titles.
Tying UCLA for a record 17 Final Four appearances.
36 wins.
This has been the year that my kids got into the Heels, and games became events around the house, with Psalter and Eliza sitting beside me on the couch yelling, "De-fense! De-fense!" and "Tar!" "Heels!" "Tar!" "Heels!" And Jacob saying "Dot-heels."

And now it's 8 long months until we get to do it again. I hate the wait until October. My one comfort right now is that maybe Tyler will not want to leave Caroline with this terrible taste in his mouth.

And I now officially hate Final Fours in San Antonio (see UNC, 1998)