Frozen: True Love

frozen When I was a kid watching Disney films was a real treat. I grew up with the magic of Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Jungle Book. Singing along and enjoying the classic boy meets girl story. I have written before about how Disney gets the heart of the universal story that we all ache for.

A prince rescuing a princess.

*Spoilers Alert

But the other day I watched the film Frozen, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Unlike most other Disney films, Frozen captured more of the Gospel story then ever before.

Salvation plays a big part in the stories we tell. Go to the movies and you will find the story is telling you that salvation is necessary – to be rescued, to be taken from poverty, ugliness, captivity into riches, beauty and freedom. And there is always a saviour, whether that is prince charming or some inner person/ courage in your heart that you just have to find. With salvation, true love is not far behind.

For Disney, salvation is true love. And that true love must be shown as a kiss.

  • trueloveskissAriel’s salvation from being captured in the prison of silence was broken by a true love’s kiss.
  • Snow white is awoken and saved from eternal sleep by true love’s kiss.
  • In Beauty and the Beast, the beast is free from eternal hairiness by true love’s kiss.

Disney is right, only true love can save. Love does indeed win.

However it is not through a kiss that true love is shown:

…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Romans 5:8,10)

True love is sacrifice. It is through death and giving up ones life for another. The bible tells us that in order for us to be rescued, Christ stooped down and died for us (while we hated him), saving us and reconciling us to His Father.

Death is far more powerful than a kiss and it brings a better salvation. 

In the film Frozen, Disney shows this reality. Salvation doesn’t come through a True Love’s kiss but through a True Love’s sacrifice.

Elsa has magical powers (she can freeze people) and it causes relationships to break, she feels guilty and she runs away ashamed. She wraps herself in her own castle of ice and tries to hide, pushing everyone away.

Her sister Anna pursues her. She doesn’t give up.

This is a Hosea moment.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
    and bring her into the wilderness,
    and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:14)

Anna pursues and woos her.

Later on there comes a moment where Elsa has to die, but Anna steps out and takes her place. Anna sacrifices herself for Elsa and Elsa is saved because of the death of another has taken her place.

Then Anna is resurrected, showing the strength and power of her love.

As with anything, of course it isn’t a perfect representation of the Gospel – but it is a glimpse and a better glimpse then a kiss.

This film would be a good one to explain what true love really is, the cost of true freedom and the love that Christ has for us.

Dexter and the Problem of Evil

dexterIn the TV show Dexter, the main character is a unique man, by day he works for the police as a blood spatter analyst and by night he is a serial killer.

You can’t help but like Dexter. He is quirky and odd, but strangely loveable too. It sounds odd saying that – can a serial killer like this be loveable?

Dexter isn’t like other serial killers, he only kills those who are criminals of the most terrible crimes and who have slipped through the net of the justice system. He takes justice upon himself and channels his killer tendencies towards a good purpose.

Now I have only seen a couple of episode of the first season, so I don’t know the unfolding story completely or where Dexter will end up on this journey. But those first few episodes opened up for me a whole host of questions. Questions, I hope, people are asking when they watch this show. Questions like:

1. What is good and evil?
2. How do we decide who is good and evil?
3. Is Dexter doing the right thing? Is he any different to the people he is killing?
4. What is justice?

When you watch this show, you can’t help but feel that Dexter is doing the right thing. He is ridding the world of murderers, rapists and pedophiles etc and that surely is a good thing?

But is it right that one man should carry out this justice? What about accountability?

What happens if he goes too far?

What happens if those lines of who is good and evil become blurred? As we look into the depths of our hearts, none of us are perfect. Jesus says that even when we are angry with our brother or sister then we are liable for judgement as if we had committed murder. (Matthew 5:21-22)…

THLSTSPPR-SPTI-EPS-1This is shown more clearly in the film The Last Supper directed by Stacy Title, the scene is set around a dinner table where a group of friends enjoy company, food and good wine. This group of university graduates begin to invite controversial people round for dinner, knowing that their ideas and thoughts are quite radical and perhaps very wrong.

Over the course of the film the wine begins to taste strange and the company doesn’t seem fun anymore.

They pose the question: If you went back in time and met Hitler when he was an artist, before he did all those terrible things – would you kill him?

On this basis, these students took the liberty to kill off those guests who have radical and harmful ideas in order to save man kind. They felt like they were killing off the next generation of Hitlers.

But then it gets out of hand. Suddenly they were killing people that they simply disagreed with. From religious ideas to political ones, they were finding they were burying people in the backyard before they even got to the dinner table!

Soon their conscience played against them and they couldn’t shake off the feeling that perhaps, what they were doing, was wrong…

Dexter-Morgan

Like Dexter, it raises a load of questions about what Justice truly is and what evil is? What is right and wrong? Is it just the act that is wrong which Dexter deals with, or is it the thoughts that are wrong which the University students deal with?

 

Jesus has an answer and he says that the problem is even deeper than actions and thoughts:

 

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
(Mark 7:20-23 ESV)

 

The problem is our hearts. This list from Jesus doesn’t excuse anyone. Everyone has a human heart like this.

Suddenly I sit at that table and I know I am not pure and cannot judge other people – for my heart is evil. And I think that’s what these students suddenly come to realise in the film, they saw that they themselves have an evil heart with wrong thoughts – they were no better than those they were killing. And in the end they turn upon each other.

But there is hope. The Gospel offers hope. On the one hand Jesus says the problem is our hearts, but on the other hand he offers us a renewed heart and salvation.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. [Ezekiel 36:26]

Jesus is the only one that can deal with evil and deal with it in a way that gets to the root of the problem. It still brings up loads of questions, but as we watch Dexter I perhaps want to ask myself this question; what about the evil in my heart?

The Man Upstairs in the Lego Movie

the_lego_movieLast week my husband and I went to the cinema and watched the Lego movie. And everything was awesome…

To be honest it ticked all of my inner geek boxes. With references from star trek, wars, gate and lord of the rings to super heroes and super nobodies. On the whole, I enjoyed it very much.

*Some spoiler alerts ahead*

But I was equally interested about the portrayal of the “man upstairs”. The one who gives the rules and enters into the Lego world as President Business. There are two types of people in the Lego world, the ones who follow President Business and live under his rules. They are boring, uncreative, unimaginative and stuck.Then there are other Lego people who don’t follow the rules and they are creative, wonderful and superheroes trying to escape and be free from the rules of president Business.

We meet Emmett. He is a rule keeper, who follows the instructions very closely and lives life in the system. It isn’t until he meets some super creative people, that at some point in the movie he realises that he needs to stop following the instructions and start believing in himself.

As Mariah Carey belts out:

“Who knows what miracles
You can achieve
When you believe
Somehow you will
You will when you believe”

Emmett just needs to believe in himself. And the man upstairs needs to recognise that people need creative freedom and not rules. And he doesn’t have to be such a control freak!

PresidentBusinessThe temptation at this point, for the Christian, is to try to defend this rule giving God. Saying, even though this rule giving God gives out instructions – they are for our good and they don’t trample on our creativity but they free us…

Except we know that being a Christian isn’t about keeping rules or even following instructions. If we do, we enslave ourselves and become a curse. (Galatians 3:10).The rules don’t free us or enable us to have creativity. Instead they bind us and stick us to the floor so we can’t move for fear of displeasing this rule giving god. The rules (law) given to the Israelites were good instructions but they were never going to free or save them. Furthermore those laws were for a specific time, people and purpose.

We are right to reject President Business and the man upstairs with his rule book. And the Lego movie is right – following rules and instructions to find purpose and meaning in life will just destroy us. And so Emmett needs to be free from the rule-giving man upstairs. But how?

Well the problem is, Emmett believes the lie that he needs to look inside himself to find the truth. That somewhere in his inner being, he just needs to believe in himself. (Queue Mariah Carey).

The mantra in our society is to believe in yourself. To look within and find meaning, truth and hope.That if you are a boring nobody, you just need more belief so you can be a somebody.

coffeeandlegomovieBut the reality is, there is nothing in you that can help you. You can’t help yourself. Our hearts are corrupt and following after desires that aren’t good for us.

Instead the answer is outside of ourselves. To someone who gives life, who bore the curse of the law so you don’t have to, who accepts you even if you are an ordinary person or a superhero.

True Freedom and life is only ever found in Jesus.

This is true for Emmett and for us. It cannot be found in following the instructions nor can it be found inside of ourselves.

The man upstairs, our Father, is not standing there with a glue gun ready to paralyse us under his instructions. Instead he is a Father who sends his Son into the world, to give us life and freedom because he knows that we can’t keep the rules and we can’t find freedom within ourselves and we can’t solve this mess we are in, only he can. The man upstairs, is nothing like the one in Lego Movie, he is far better.

Second Chances and Time Travel

AboutTime_SocialImagine if you could have a second chance at life? A chance to go back and change the mistakes you made or the path you chose. Would you do it? Would there be things you would want to change which may change the outcome of your life now?

*A couple of spoilers in this post

In the movie “About Time“, 21-year-old Tim finds out that he could do exactly that. He could choose any part of his own history and travel back to that very moment and have a second chance of what was to follow. He is a time traveller.

It sounds quite appealing to me. As I am sure we have all had moments that we would have liked to of changed, awkward situations, decisions we have made that we wished we hadn’t. We all like the idea of second chances. An opportunity to do things again, to have another go at life.

Tim travels back to moments which would allow him to eventually get a girlfriend. With some bumps on the way, we find ourselves in humourous moments where he makes lots of mistakes but then goes back and changes them. He also finds out that there are some things he can’t change.

TardisBut do you have to be a time traveller to experience second chances?
Are second chances only a reality for Tim in About Time or Dr Who?

In the film Another Earth, Rhoda does something that changes the course of her life forever. She makes a huge mistake which destroys her life and the life of a young family. Just before that point, another planet is seen in the sky, which is the exact replica of earth – with the same people and same events that have happened before. It’s a mirror image. Except on that planet the course of history changes when it comes into view on the current earth, which means Rhoda on this new planet has made a different choice that day and therefore there was a different outcome.

Lives not destroyed. A second chance.

As the news commentator says:

“But maybe the most mysterious of all is neither the small nor the large: it’s us, up close. Could we even recognize ourselves, and if we did, would we know ourselves? What would we say to ourselves? What would we learn from ourselves? What would we really like to see if we could stand outside ourselves and look at us?”

Rhoda longs for a second chance. Could she really find it by looking at herself another_earth_09and find peace in knowing that her other self-made a better decision? I think Rhoda realises that her second chance doesn’t come from looking at her alternative self, but instead she needs forgiveness for what she has done. It is only when the Janitor writes on her hand “Forgiven” that she finds true peace.

I think Another Earth illustrates the overwhelming need of grace that humanity craves. Second chances are about forgiveness not about time travel.

We may wish for time travel, to have a second chance to change our lives and we may long to see what that life would look like if everything had been different. But that never solves the heart problem. It may cover up the mistakes we made and we may appear glossy or it spirals us unto a depression of “what if’s”.

The level of our problem plunges deeper into our hearts that go beyond the choices we make.

Another_Earth_07And time travel isn’t real, but grace is. Second chances are a reality we all can have.

Outside of ourselves is a God who became human to give all of us a second chance. He beckons us all to start afresh and to receive true forgiveness that dives into the inner most depths of our hearts and cleans out all the mess. Time Travel cannot do that, neither can anything else in this world.

And what does that look like?

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. – Ezekiel 36:26

New heart and a new spirit. That heart riddled with guilt and yearning for a second chance, gets replaced with a new heart, a new life, a new spirit and a second chance. And this gospel spills out over every mistake we make or will make. This is the beauty of the cross, the mountain of second chances.

It doesn’t mean we forget what we have done, but we are forgiven and we can learn from our mistakes instead of covering them up. The good news is that our second chance doesn’t come through wishful thinking about time travel, but it comes through Jesus Christ.

Come to him and find a new heart and forgiveness that will quench your thirst. Then you can truly enjoy your day, without any worries.

“The truth is I now don’t travel back at all, not even for the day, I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.” – About Time

Collection of Webs 2013

I thought as we are coming to the end of 2013 I would do a special Collection of Webs with a round up of films, books, and blogs that I have enjoyed this year. I would love it if you also let me know what your favourites were in 2013!

Lets start with…

Books

Here are my top 3 christian books of the year and then top 3 fiction books of the year.

Top 5 Christian Books:

1. Desiring the Kingdom
PrintThis is a fantastic book about worship and how humans worship. There are so many insights into how people are lovers before they are thinkers. That our heart drives our motives and actions. Every time I read this I had to keep putting it down and spend an hour thinking over what I had just read!

 

2. Serving without Sinking

servingwithoutsinking

This is a book that I would recommend every Christian to read. It’s very challenging and gets to the heart of our motives of why we do or don’t serve. This book brings us back to who Jesus is and how to have our joy in Him.

 

 

3. Of gaming and God

GamingandGod

I read this book because I was doing a seminar at a Christian Conference about Christians playing Video games. This is probably the best book I have read on how to approach video gaming in a godly way rather than a “It’s all a waste of time”. I enjoyed reading this and if you are a gamer and a Christian then this is a book you should certainly read!

 

Top 3 fiction books

1. The Silmarillion

Silmarillion

This is quite a heavy book to read, so if you pick it up thinking you are going to read something like Lord of the Rings then think again. Instead this book gives a back story of Middle Earth and its a wonderful picture of creation, the fall and redemption. Tolkien is a brilliant writer and I love how the story all weaves into one.


2.Life of Pi

download

This is a wonderful creative story based around a boy in a shipwreck and his imagination. I thought it was rather clever and an enjoyable read, plus the twist at the end was rather good!

 

3. Cloud Atlas

download (1)

I really enjoyed this book, although it was rather strange especially in the middle of the book! But the way the story weaved together and worked itself out was brilliant!! The film is also very good.

 

Here are my top 3 favourite films that I have seen this year:

1. Seeking a friend for the end of the world – This was a film that had a mixture of laughter and tears for us as we watched this. I thought the very idea of this was brilliant. The end of the world is coming and at the very center of this is a story about two people becoming friends and needing each other. I really enjoyed it!

2. Now you see me – A film about illusionists, deception and a bit of magic. With twists, turns and action this film was rather fun to watch. I loved the twist at the end!!

3. Zero Dark Thirty – I think this film was based on a true story? A rather moving film with heart wrenching scenes throughout. I thought the film was well made and would certainly recommend it!

Blogs worth visiting:

There are loads of blogs/websites/articles out there but here are some ones that I have enjoyed this year to put on your list:

1. GameChurch – A Website and blog full or articles and reviews written by Christians about video games.

2. Feminist Frequency – A website of videos and articles about how women are portrayed in video games. A very interesting read!

3.Ted Turnau’s blog and website on how Christians are to engage with pop culture.

4. Claire Bruff’s fantastic website with her own music on there. She is a lady from my church and she has an amazing voice! Certainly worth listening to!

Well that is my list for the year!! I hope you enjoyed it and please do comment or add your list on your blog or comment below!

Happy New Year.

A Fairy Tale Ending

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/I really like fairy tale endings. The happy ever after. The smiles and the giggles and the sunset.

When I watch films I really yearn for a happy ending. But I feel guilty about that. The way films suck you in and you find yourself wanting the unhappy loser to find all happiness in the world, but at a great cost.

For example: when you have two people married to each other who have fallen out of love and then the handsome guy comes in and the wife falls for him. We yearn for her to find happiness. We don’t want her to be miserable and stuck in that relationship. We want her to have an Eat, Pray, Love experience. To leave and find herself and be happy.

This is because we don’t want to be stuck in misery. We don’t want to be in a rut of routine. We want a happy ending.

These films reflect something of our hearts desires. But the means are not always great. When I think about it I don’t really want that couple to get divorced or for that girl to change everything about her to find happiness in popularity. But I also don’t want to watch a story with a sad ending. An ending of despair and unrepair. It feels incomplete. It feels like a stain upon my soul. I want more.

So then adverts try to convince us that they hold the happy ending. They say that the happy ending is smelling nice, looking good, having an amazing sports car, being popular and drinking coca cola. A small part of us buys into that lie. We think these things will give us a happy ending.

I yearn, I drink and a part of me dies.

I think we are meant to yearn for happy endings. There is something in our fabric that makes our heart groan for completion. There is something that we love about the happy ever after in fairy tales. The struggle, the cliff hangers only to be resolved in a wedding and then a happy life after.

I think we all want that. We kid ourselves when we say we don’t. Probably because life is really hard at the moment and the reality is really painful. We can sometimes think: this is my lot, this is all life is.

But that isn’t true. I think our hearts are decietful at times, but they tell us something.
Out of the heart the mouth speaks.
In our hearts we want eternity to be a joyful fairytale wedding. If you’re a guy reading this, you may think that isn’t what you want. But would you want the alternative as eternal loneliness, boredom and sadness…? No one craves for that. In fact we do all we can to avoid it. Even with things that give us only a momentary relief.

wedding cakeThe Gospel is a bit like a fairy tale ending. Not that its fake. But it offers a happy ending. There is a wedding and a feast and beautiful bride and a smiling bridegroom. The wicked witch dies and all those who love the groom get to have a happy ending. I think we are all designed to crave this.

We want bad guys to lose and we want the good guys to win and be happy. We want evil destroyed and we want love to win. We want Spock to defeat Kahn and then get the girl after. We want Neo to beat the matrix (or Mr Smith) and bring peace to Zion. We want Will Smith in the pursuit of happiness to fight against poverty and get the job he desires. We want Frodo to destroy the ring and bring peace to middle earth.

No one wants evil to triumph. We want love to win.

Love does win in the Gospel. Death gets the sting taken out of it. Jesus triumphs through his suffering and blood on the cross. Then he invites us into the happy ending – to be part of that story. Its crazy cos we are all destined for the unhappy ending. But Jesus says we can be the bride, enjoy eternal happiness and we get to meet his dad, who is great. And there is NO evil stepmother.

My heart yearns for this. I was made for a fairy tale ending. But it can only come through and in Jesus. Lets share that story!

“Bilbo: Have you thought of an ending?
Frodo: Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant.
Bilbo: Oh, that won’t do! Books ought to have good endings. How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after?
Frodo: It will do well, if it ever came to that.
SamL Ah! And where will they live? That’s what I often wonder.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Collection of Webs: February

Here is a monthly collection of webs where I share with you what I have been reading on blogs, articles, books and what I have been watching or listening to.

Blogs Posts from friends:

Elli posts on Defining Terms and she remarks: “So, here’s the deal. I’m giving myself a new label, one that to some is going to sound the epitome of oxymoronic, but I don’t care. I’m a Complementarian Feminist.”

The Importance of Adam written by Glen: “You might ask, “What on earth should we say to our scientifically minded friends who laugh at an historic Adam?”  Well I’d simply ask them about their belief in Christ. With 1 Corinthians 15 open I’ll say, “Here’s the bible’s logic: if Christ rose, Adam fell. Let’s ask whether Christ rose…”

Matt Herring has posted some fantastic photo’s up from the street. He is a really good photographer, so please do check the rest of his blog out!

Tanya writes about how she became a feminist: “A feminist is someone who believes in the equal worth of women and men and also sees a world where women aren’t valued equally. I have always been the former; now I am becoming the latter.”

Blog Posts Out There:

3 reasons I’ll be reading Rob Bell’s new book: A rather interesting article from the Gospel Coalition:” I expect Rob’s book will prod me toward better and more beautiful ways of presenting the truth.”

Are you worshipping the idol of open options?: As I stood in line, I actually started to think, Maybe I want 140-degree coffee too. Maybe, I thought to myself, my choice of milk temperature up to this point has been catastrophically naive. Suddenly, his choices made me unhappier about my own. I began to covet. I wasn’t sure what I wanted anymore. I became anxious and indecisive. I wasn’t sure I was ready to commit—either to my kind of coffee or to his. Was this really freedom of choice, or slavery to it?

Books:

I finished reading Game of Thrones book 3 part 1, which was very enjoyable. I am now reading Miranda’s book: Is It just me? I love it. It’s so funny and so Miranda!

I have also read a booklet on how to deliver a TED talk to help me shape my own talks and ministry. It’s a good little book with helpful ideas. Bish wrote a review here.

Watching:

Been watching a bit of Black Mirror on channel 4. It’s quite Sci-fi and dark, but very interesting to watch. I hope to write some reviews of that soon.

Watching TED talks has been a lot of fun, some inspiring stuff on there.

Posts on my blog:

1. Out of the Heart and onto the blog

2. The Glory of God

3. Guest Post on God and Suffering

4. The Spirit of Sonship

Well that’s me. What have you enjoyed this month?