Wonder – Movie Discussion


Maybe if we knew what everyone was thinking we’d know they’re not so ordinary and we all deserve a standing ovation once in our lives. – Auggie

Wonder is a one of those rare, truly-good-for-the-whole-family movies. Not only is it clean and fun and touching, it’s also inspiring and convicting. One of those movies that will encourage you to grow as a person. If some movies are like eating dessert, they taste good but offer no real nutritional value for your soul, and others are like eating vegetables, they may be good and healthy for your soul but aren’t quite as delicious going down…this one is like eating a fabulous piece of cake, and then finding out it’s actually chock-full of vegetables and protein and things that will benefit your soul. That’s a rare find! And on top of that, for those of us literary types, it’s actually a brilliantly-crafted, well-written story.

It’s the story of Auggie Pullman, a young boy whose birth defects accounted for countless surgeries and much physical deformity in his face. Previously homeschooled, he is forced to finally brave public school as he enters the fifth-grade (as if middle school isn’t hard enough on any kid!). He suffers betrayal and meanness and gossip—all amplified by both his physical deformities and his insecurities. And yet, as his sister Via points out, “School sucks and people change. So, if you want to be a normal kid, then those are the rules,” indicating that his experiences in Jr. High aren’t about him being different, they are actually just a part of his being normal—a thing he longs for. Her solution for this, besides simply accepting these things as a normal course of life? Embrace family. “So… we are each other’s best friends,” she says.

This is part of the movie’s genius. We see how unkind the world is to Auggie, and yet, his experience, though heightened, is still very normal. It puts things in perspective. It shows us how extraordinary and yet how normal we ALL are, and our experiences ALL are. This is the point Auggie comes to at the end of the movie as he not only survived fifth-grade, but thrived in it. “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle and if you really want to see who people are, all you have to do is look,” he says. “Maybe if we knew what everyone was thinking we’d know they’re not so ordinary and we all deserve a standing ovation once in our lives.” It’s almost oxymoronic to say that everyone is extraordinary, because extraordinary sort of precludes the possibility of everyone—it’s extra, beyond, not normal. And yet, we can all be extraordinary, not normal, in different ways. We are heroic as we fight our own unique battles. Everyone fights them, which makes it common, but the battles themselves are unique, which makes us extraordinary.

This is another part of the movie’s genius—and I dare say the most significant: it doesn’t just showcase Auggie’s struggles (and his greatness); it shares several character’s private battles (and their greatness). It’s brilliant. It may revolve around Auggie’s story, but it doesn’t only tell Auggie’s story. As the earth rotates around the sun, different parts of the earth are highlighted, exposed, displayed for all to see. It’s a metaphor Via uses to describe her family— “Auggie is the sun. My mom and dad and me are the planets orbiting the sun.” Her point is that everything in her family is always all about Auggie. (And this is hurtful to her as she never feels like she is the center of her parent’s attention.) What she misses, however, is that as her family, and the story as a whole, rotates around him, the light of Auggie and his struggles is what illuminates her and the other people in the story. Her beautiful character is revealed by him.

It is how the story functions. He is the center, but we don’t only get his point of view. As the story rotates through its orbit, various characters are highlighted and we get to see and hear things from their point of view. Yes, it is all in the light of Auggie, but that’s because he is the light that is highlighting their struggle. We see how Via struggles because she thinks her family cannot handle one more thing on their plate. She feels like an only child, abandoned by her parents, and yet—she fully understands that Auggie needs them. Via’s best friend is jealous of Via’s loving family. Auggie’s friend Jack Will struggles with wanting to be friends with Auggie, but also wanting to be cool with the “cool kids”. And so it goes. Everyone is fighting their own difficult battle. They make mistakes. They do cruel things even, and yet, when their story is illuminated, we see why and we are moved with compassion. It makes our rejoicing over their course corrections later even greater.

The writers could have accomplished this in other ways, I’m sure, but the beauty of this movie is that both the message and the means of learning that message are instructive. They don’t simply point out that everyone has their own struggles. They don’t just tell us to be compassionate and forgiving towards others. Instead they go beyond the message and give us a method to get there. As they take time in the story away from Auggie’s journey to hear what’s going on with everyone else, they are teaching us by example to be less self-centered. They are teaching us to pause and watch and listen to those around us. They are teaching us that everyone has their own perspective, their own way that they are being affected by your collective experience. You may be going through the same circumstances, but you will experience them differently, be affected by them uniquely.

Most stories have a third-person point of view (often an omniscient narrator). Many have a first-person point of view (like the way you see your life—it’s through one person’s perspective). Not a lot of stories have a multiple first-person point of view (Hoodwinked is another example). Wonder chose the latter because it isn’t just telling Auggie’s story; it’s telling us that every person’s story is worth telling and worth a standing ovation at some point.

Near the story’s end, Via is in a play and her monologue gives insight into another nugget we are supposed to take away from the story. She laments, “All that was going on and we never noticed??? … Oh earth, you’re too wonderful for anyone to realize you.” There is so much going on in the world around us and in people’s lives all around us…and we never notice. When we do have a moment of clarity and insight, when we do see the heroic struggles within each other, when we do see the beautiful tapestry God is creating, we are compelled to say with Via, “It’s too wonderful for anyone to realize.”

And then the story circles back to its center, to Auggie—the boy whose deformities and struggles and beautiful wit and character and brilliance and kindness shone a light on all those around him, highlighting and bringing clarity to their own stories. At his fifth-grade graduation his principal, Mr. Tushman, quoted Henry Ward Beecher and said, “Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a man above his fellows for his own solitary glory. He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own.” I’m here to award the Henry Ward Beecher award to the student whose great strength has carried up the most hearts.” And he awarded it to Auggie.

Auggie’s story wasn’t just about himself. He had the wonderful ability to see other people, to see things from their perspective and put himself in their shoes.  He said, “If Chewbacca went to school here, I’d probably stare, too. [Aside to Chewy, imagining him there:] Hey, I’m sorry if my staring made you uncomfortable.” This is how he is able to forgive meanness in others—he imagines being in their shoes. Mr. Tushman told the school bully, “Auggie can’t change the way he looks, but maybe we can change the way we see.” And at graduation, he said that Auggie “carried up the most hearts”—Auggie did that by changing the way people saw, and that started with changing the way HE saw.

The messages in this movie apply to everyone—it’s about being the best sort of human imaginable. I haven’t brought Christianity into the article yet, but it’s there. Jesus came to teach us all how to be the best sort of human imaginable. It’s just that sometimes, we’ve made Christianity about something other than being fully and best human. We’ve made it about rules and religion and snobbery. But with Auggie, there’s nothing snobbish…and he is very much like Christ. He forgives his enemies and is kind to those who persecute him. He lifts up those around him and makes them better people… I could go on, but isn’t that exactly who Christ was? Someone who carried up the most hearts by the attraction of his own? God may not be mentioned in the movie, but there are books in the Bible where He isn’t mentioned either. Just because His name isn’t spoken, doesn’t mean He isn’t still throughout the story. He is all in it for those who care to look for Him.

Questions for Discussion:

  • How did hearing other people’s stories and points of view change your perspective of them in the movie? Would it change things if you could do this in your own life—learn to see other people’s points of view? How could you do that?
  • In what ways did Auggie “carry up the most hearts”?
  • In what ways is Auggie like Jesus?
  • What does it mean that, “Maybe if we knew what everyone was thinking we’d know they’re not so ordinary and we all deserve a standing ovation once in our lives”?

Click here to read quotes from Wonder.

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The Star – Movie Discussion

the star long.png

The Star follows the familiar advent story except it does so through a different (and fun but fictional) perspective—that of the donkey who carried the pregnant Mary on his back into Jerusalem. Here are 10 lessons (with discussion questions) we can take away from the story.

  1. Accepting God’s Plan—Mary (especially) had to be willing to yield to God’s unusual plan for her life. She had to choose to surrender and yield her life if she was to become the mother of Jesus. Yielding isn’t easy. It isn’t always pretty. But it is worth it. What things have you had to accept from God’s hand that weren’t easy, but worth it? Is there anything God is asking you to surrender to Him now?
  2. God’s Plan isn’t always easy—Mary and Joseph struggled. They had to take a long journey while she was very pregnant. There was no place for her to have her baby. (Just to name a few of the difficult circumstances they faced after they said yes to God’s will. Saying yes to God isn’t any guarantee that things will therefore be easy or simple. It simply means that even your struggles are in the center of God’s will. The movie makes this very clear—listen to their discussion: Joseph: Just because God has a plan doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, and that scares me. Mary: This IS hard. We don’t always think about how Mary and Joseph must have struggled, so I loved this raw honesty. What examples can you think of in the Bible where God’s plan wasn’t easy…in fact, it was scary…for those who followed it? How does this help, challenge or encourage you?
  3. Even the rocks cry out…why wouldn’t we expect the animals to know?! Without a doubt there is a lot of anthropomorphism going on in this movie, but on the other hand, the Bible makes it clear that the earth itself recognized its maker when He came, so it is such a stretch to believe that animals would as well? Well, to be fair, they were a bit like us—they saw the star and knew it was something important, but they didn’t know the baby Jesus was a King until they were told. Still, it’s an interesting question to me, how much revelation did the animals in the stable have? There’s that song, Mary, did you know? But I wonder, Donkeys and sheep, did you know?
  4. Joseph and Mary were very much human…and he struggled with fear of not being able to provide. The movie shows the real humanity of Jesus’ parents. Joseph was a man, a husband, a father…who struggled with the things men, husbands and fathers struggle with—things like not being able to provide for his wife and family. It’s easy to see the cozy nativity scenes with their glowing halo of warming light and see it with such a nostalgic sweetness. It’s good to be reminded (just a little, it is a cute little kid’s movie, after all) of the gritty reality of them and their lives at that time. Did you think about Mary and Joseph and their lives differently because of this movie?
  5. Our examples inspire others…even though we may not know it. Mary was a woman of prayer and her example impacted others. When Bo (the donkey) was in a bind, he imitated Mary and tried prayer. “I could try praying. Um…let’s see… how did Mary do this?” That’s the thing about influence though, we rarely are aware of it. We don’t know who is watching us, who is taking note, or when they might just be desperate enough to follow our example. Bo wasn’t asking Mary to teach him about prayer. He never told her he noticed her praying. He probably wasn’t even all that interested at the time. But a time did come when he was interested, a time of desperation, and she wasn’t there to know about it, but her example inspired and instructed him. Whose example have you followed, been inspired or helped by? Did they know about it? Do you work to live a good example for others to follow?
  6. Our “little” offering may be exactly what is needed. When Mary and Joseph found the stable, one of the animals said, “It’s not much, but there’s plenty of light!” It was a poor offering, and yet, after finding the town hotels all filled up, it was a glorious offering. The animals had no idea how beautiful that little stable was because they had no idea how desperate Mary and Joseph were. Don’t let the smallness of what you have to offer shame you into withholding what you have. Offer it. You never know how beautiful your little gift may be to the one its given to. What do you have to give? Have you ever been ashamed that what you had to give wasn’t enough?
  7. We should have mercy on our enemies. An evil man and his two dogs were in pursuit of Bo throughout the movie. In the end, Bo was in a position to let them die, or save their lives. In the spirit of Jesus (who he hadn’t even met yet), Bo chose the latter. He chose to love his enemies and do good to those who persecuted him. That beautiful act of mercy opened the dogs’ hearts to change. They followed Bo to see the baby Jesus and again, there was a defining moment. The other animals, Bo’s friends, were scared to see their enemies and persecutors come into the sacred space. They easily could have acted in fear and kicked out the bad dogs, but instead they gave grace and welcomed them in to the place of worship, into Jesus’ presence. The story line of these two bad dogs had to be my favorite part of the movie. This was such a pivotal time in their lives—that time when they either decided they were bad dogs who could never change, or when they decided they could change and be good. And a large part of that decision had to do with how the “good” animals chose to respond to them. Would they only see them as evil, or would they allow them to change and be good? Would they welcome them into their circle of love and worship? (This is SO much like the story of Saul’s conversion to Paul and welcome into the body of believers after he had been on a mission to kill them.) It’s hard. It is hard to love our enemies. It’s hard to let go of fear and choose grace, mercy and trust. It’s hard to let someone questionable into our safe space and place of worship—but how we treat them often determines who they become. It’s the way of Jesus, to speak life, even into things that are void, empty, chaotic, dead… It was his very first act in Genesis 1, and one He has continued throughout all of time, and we are supposed to be like Jesus in this. Bo and his animal friends are a great example for all ages! Do you have any “enemies” that you can show mercy to? Have you ever shown mercy, grace, forgiveness and/or acceptance to someone who was an enemy, or at least, not a very good person? Or has anyone ever done that for you? How do you think things would have turned out if the animals hadn’t welcomed the bad dogs to the manger?
  8. Freedom brings choice. Once they were free from slavery to a bad master, the bad dogs had to make a choice, were they going to be bad dogs or try to change? As mentioned, a huge part of that process was that the other animals welcomed them and showed them that they could be good. The other huge part of that process is that the bad dogs themselves had to decide to change, or at least, they had to decide they wanted to. At first, they felt they didn’t have a choice. “We’re bad dogs,” they said. But Bo reminded them, “You don’t have to be. You’re free now.” (Their evil master was dead, so they weren’t slaves to sin anymore—it’s such a cool presentation of the gospel!) So one of them asks the other, “Thaddeus, are we good dogs now?” (Like he wonders if it can be that simple.) Thaddeus answers him, “We have to try.” He understands that it may be a difficult process to change your way of being, but he also sees that they have a choice and that it’s worth the fight. They were slaves to sin and their evil master before, but with their freedom they had choice. They weren’t forced to be good, goodness is a choice. Jesus never forces us to follow Him.
  9. Often we don’t know the importance and/or magnitude of things in our lives until they’ve passed. Bo carried the pregnant Mary on his back, but he didn’t know till after the fact that her baby would be King. Bo carried Mary with a willing, joyful heart, but just imagine if he’d grumbled and complained at the task the whole way. How ashamed would he have been when he found out that he’d been carrying the savior?! The lesson here is, no matter the burden you are carrying, always assume you’ve got a king on your back. Hebrews 13:2 mentions a similar idea, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” I think this is why we are told in the Bible to do EVERYTHING we do as unto the Lord. Because we never know just how significant it may be. Have you ever been surprised to find out that something you did turned out to be a way bigger deal than you knew at the time? How can Bo’s example encourage you to do everything you do as unto the Lord?
  10. Every knee will bow in the presence of Jesus. The movie ends with one of the wise men telling the group in the stable that the baby Jesus was the King. They were all there, all had seen the baby, but not all had fully known who he was until someone revealed the truth. When that happened, everyone—kings, shepherds, animals and even the bad dogs—all knel before the baby Jesus. This is our role as Christians. We are surrounded by people who may have seen Jesus, may know something about Him, but who don’t actually realize that He is King. Our job is to live lives that reveal the Kingship of Jesus (as we also tell people who He is). As we do so, the people around us will kneel, because in His presence, every knee will bow. Do you know people who know about Jesus but haven’t recognized Him as King, haven’t knelt in His presence? How can you be like that wise man who helps others recognize that Jesus is King?  

Click here to read quotes from The Star.Click here to read quotes from The Star.

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Marshall – Movie


The Lord commanded Moses to solicit his brother’s help.

While Marshall is the story of Thurgood Marshall and his beginnings with the NAACP in a career-defining case, it’s the story of his reluctant recruit, Sam Friedman, that I found particularly compelling and instructive.

Friedman was not a trial lawyer, nor did he have any desire to be. He didn’t ask to be involved, didn’t want to help. He was practically forced into helping Thurgood Marshall, and only agreed because he simply had to get Marshall in the door, and then he’d be done with it all. Or so they all thought. The judge, however, refused to let Marshall speak in court, and required Friedman to try the case. Suddenly, he was roped into something he hadn’t wanted to be part of, something inflammatory that he couldn’t hide from. Something he would certainly be persecuted for (later he was in fact beaten up for his involvement).

As Friedman and Marshall were discussing his involvement, Sam asked incredulously, “You want me to try this case?” Marshall replied, “No. I need you to try this case. The Lord commanded Moses to solicit his brother’s help. He shall be your mouth and you shall be his god.” Friedman was Jewish, so the reference was meaningful. The Bible is full of reluctant recruits. Moses himself was a bit reluctant, if you’ll recall. God is often calling us to something greater than we really want to be a part of—often because we know that His higher call will require us to grow, to change, to work, to suffer. There are the Marshall’s of the world who volunteer, who want that higher calling, who feel an inner compulsion to it.   But I think the majority of us are more like Friedman. We are reluctant, so God eases us in with something a little benign, until we find that we are stuck and compelled to move forward. You might even feel you’ve been tricked into it.

Along the way, however, something began to change in Sam. He didn’t want to get involved, but once he was, even a beating couldn’t sway him. Along the way he became a believer, a crusader. Along the way he realized it felt good to make a difference in the world, to work for something that mattered in the world. Some things you just don’t know until you experience it. This is why God sometimes “tricks” us into things. He knows that once we get a taste of something better, we’ll prefer it.

Marshall saw the change in Friedman. He told him, “I need an army of lawyers like you, Sam. An army of lawyers who don’t even know they want to make a difference… Who I can train.” Once Sam was trained, that reluctant Sam who was literally forced into service, he never left. He became an advocate for civil rights. THIS is discipleship. It’s taking people who don’t even know there’s a higher calling for their lives, and training them. It’s giving people a taste of not just living for comfort and for themselves, but living for a purpose, for the service of God and His Kingdom. It’s bringing in an army of people who will fight against the darkness in the name of the Christ. People who will “loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, …set the oppressed free and break every yoke… Share your food with the hungry and … provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, … clothe them, and not … turn away from your own flesh and blood” (Isaiah 58:6-7).

Questions for Discussion:

  • Have you ever been forced into something you didn’t want to do, and then found you liked it?
  • How did Marshall “disciple” Friedman?
  • Marshall may be the bigger name, but how important was Sam Friedman to Marshall’s success? How does this make you feel about your role in the world?
  • We don’t necessarily want to be pushy, but is there anyone in your world that you feel you should nudge into something deeper and richer and better? Someone you should be discipling?

Click here to read quotes from Marshall.

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Thor: Ragnarok


This latest Thor movie is a ton of fun and lighthearted laughs (but thankfully not the raunchy kind that are so popular today). It was really delightful! It also covers a lot of ground, especially in regards to topics for conversation. Leaving aside the massive topic of the character and nature of God (because Odin and Thor are supposed to be gods, but aren’t like GOD at all… they are more like super-powered humans), I’ve mentioned just a few below.

  1. Families are complicated.
    All three kids have “daddy issues” with Odin. Hela and Loki both want the power and blessing that was passed to Thor (though, he had to go through a lot to be worthy of it before he got it). Hela was a complete secret to the boys. Loki is a trickster and schemer and you never really know if he can be trusted—but Thor continues to hope for the best. He always loved his brother. There is a lot of pain and drama to explore in this crazy family which, frankly, is strikingly similar to the family dramas that played out in the Old Testament kings and patriarchs and their offspring. (For example, Loki bears some resemblance to Jacob, another trickster.) Too much to unpack here, so let’s summarize a few key things:

    • Families are nearly all complicated.
    • It doesn’t matter what you come from or who your parents or siblings are, you still get to choose who you will be. They don’t have to define you.
    • Jesus says to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). This applies to (some members) our family too. This is how Thor treated Loki – always innocently hoping for the best, but wisely, shrewdly, preparing for the worst.
    • Malachi 4:6, it’s God’s plan to repair the relationships between children and fathers. “And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.”
    • Sometimes you will discover hidden secrets in your family that will threaten all you thought you knew. You can survive that. It may seem to negate what was true to you before, but things aren’t always black and white, all or nothing. Often, if not most always, things are both/and. The wonderful thing is that there are no skeletons in God’s closet. You will keep learning more about Him, because He is infinite, but His character is perfect and consistent. So no matter how you might be shaken in your earthly family, you need not be shaken with your Heavenly Father.
    • You and your siblings will probably not have the same experience of your parents. You may even have seemingly opposite experiences and opinions of them. And in reality, in many ways, you did grow up with different parents than they did because people grow and change. They aren’t the same people with you as they were with your older or younger sibling because they’ve had a different amount of experience. Add to that, the differences in your personalities brings out different dynamics in them. And finally, changes in external circumstances bear great influence on you all as well. Understanding this can help you have grace when other people have different perspectives. Again, both can be true.
  2. Respecting our neighbor’s freedom isn’t the same as not getting involved. Loki says they should respect a neighboring country’s freedom and not get involved. But Thor questions that. He asks if Loki really means they respect their “freedom to be slaughtered,” because that’s what was happening. Sometimes we use “respect” as an excuse to protect our own selves, and/or to defend our complacency.
  3. Heroes run toward their problems. It is tempting to run away, or to just check out and not face hard things. We numb ourselves with substances, with entertainment, with work, with all sorts of things…anything to just hide from our problems. But that’s not what heroes do. It’s also not what Christ would do—at any point He could have numbed or even escaped His suffering all together. He didn’t have to come to earth. He didn’t have to suffer the cross. But He did, in full force. And He tells us to pick up our cross and follow Him. Our goal on earth shouldn’t be to avoid suffering, but to suffer well when the time comes.
  4. You can see without seeing. Jesus said that to the Pharisees. Odin said it to Thor. “Even when you have two eyes, you see only half the picture.” As Thor lost his eye, and his hammer, that’s when he began to see more truly. Kind of like Saul/Paul who was blinded for 3 days, and learned to see the truth of Jesus and the scriptures for the first time. Sometimes we only gain something when we lose it.
  5. We can mistake a tool for a source. Thor assumed his hammer was the source of his strength. Therefore, when it was gone, he felt helpless. Like his sight, though, it was when he lost his hammer (which had become a crutch) that he found his true strength. Odin helped him understand. “Are you the God of Thunder or the God of Hammer? That hammer was to help you focus your strength.” It was not the source of his strength. It did not magnify his strength. In fact, his strength was too great for him to handle in his immaturity, so the hammer was there to channel and focus it. Rather than amplify his strength, it more nearly muted it. By this point, however, Thor had the maturity and strength to handle his power without the hammer…he just had to learn that his tool was merely a tool and not his source.
    The Christian life is filled with this same temptation. This is why God nearly always changes things up on us. Just look at how He did miracles in the Old Testament and you’ll see—His battle plan and the tools He uses for victory and miracles…they change every time. Why? Because we people are quick to make a tool into a source and therefore into an idol. God wants us to continually see HIM as the source, our only source. HE is the way, the truth and the life.   HE is the one, true, all-powerful, all-knowing, everlasting God. So He will allow the things we trust in, the things we love, the things we put our hope in to be taken from us again and again—not to be cruel, but so that we would learn to seek them first in HIS arms. When we do, we often discover, as Thor did, that those things were crutches that we needed for a time, but that they were holding us back and slowing us down (as crutches will once their purpose is served). That thing we thought was the source of our strength was only a tool. Our true source lives within us and has unlimited power if we will go to HIM for it, instead of relying on external tools. (Reminder, God has given us ALL things that we need for life and godliness, 2 Peter 1:3.)

Questions for Discussion:

  • Who do you relate to most in Thor’s crazy family, and why?
  • Can you think of any Biblical families that have similar dynamics to some of these in Thor: Ragnarok?
  • Have you ever mistaken a tool for a source?
  • Thor lost an eye but gained sight. Lost his hammer and gained power. Have you ever lost something, but because of that found it in even greater measure?
  • What method of escapism is your go to? (Substances, Netflix/entertainment, shopping, sports, busyness, etc.) How do you fight that temptation?

Click here to read quotes from Thor: Ragnarok.

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Be Strong and Courageous

Deuteronomy 31:6, as God clearly intended it!  🙂  Enjoy!

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Same Kind of Different as Me – Movie Discussion


Same Kind of Different As Me is based on the wonderful book/inspiring true story by the same name. It’s worth both reading AND seeing. (Don’t miss their second book, What Difference Do It Make, either!) It’s the life-stories of two very different men, a wealthy (white) art dealer and a homeless (black) man, and how their paths crossed and they became friends. It was a friendship that changed both of their lives for the better, and ultimately the city and the world in some measure. Their story is provocative and inspiring and full of opportunities for you to have some deep discussions with your friends, Christian or not.

Here are just a few (11) of the beautiful lessons and take-aways from this movie.

    1. Vision changes things. Deb had a vision of the poor part of the city being transformed. She saw flower boxes and beauty. A place where the poor people in that part of the city knew that they mattered just as much as the rich people on the other side of the tunnel. Her vision changed everything. The Bible says that people perish without a vision. Not many people had a vision for that part of town… Deb’s vision changed everything.
    2. Ron began the movie saying, “This [city] is my home…and it’s broke.” Ownership/Possession changes our response to things. When we feel something is OURS, we care about fixing what’s broke. We don’t have that same feeling about something that isn’t ours. Just think how different it is when we rent an apartment, vs. own a home—our response to what’s broken greatly changes with our level of ownership. When we begin to see our neighborhood, our town, our city, our state, our nation, our world as ours… however far that sense of ownership and possession goes… we begin to get involved, deeply involved, in fixing the things that are broken in it. So, how far does your sense of ownership extend?
    3. Most homeless people weren’t always homeless. As Ron and Debbie got involved with the homeless, they began to hear their stories. Stories about where they came from and how they ended up homeless. Sometimes it’s surprising to hear what someone was in their “former” life—people with impressive back grounds who fell on hard times/tragic circumstances. Other times, you have to think, if I’d come from that childhood or background, I’d probably be homeless, too. The more we learn about each other, the harder it is to throw stones.
    4. Friendship is a thing to commit to, not a thing to take lightly. Denver didn’t just jump into a friendship with Ron. He had to think about it, because for him friendship is a commitment for life. He doesn’t do “catch and release” friendships. We assume everyone treats friendship the way we do, but sometimes it’s good to have that conversation, to ask someone what friendship means to them. We might find their definition of friendship is more serious or more casual than ours. In either case, we, as Christians, are called to be the kind of friends Denver was. Jesus calls us to love our enemies, how much more our friends?
    5. Sometimes we don’t understand someone’s response to us because we don’t know their history. Denver was extremely cautious about a relationship with Ron and Debbie. They later found out that he had suffered great racial injustice and persecution in his youth and because of that, had sworn never to even talk to a white person again, especially a white woman. Once we know someone’s story, their responses make a lot more sense.
    6. “While the journey of the homeless can often begin in a hopeless place, [it doesn’t have to end there].” There is hope for the homeless, but we may have to be the ones who see it for them first. Denver certainly didn’t have much hope for change. Debbie brought that to him and to Ron… Both men began to see the possibility of change for Denver (and the whole homeless community) because of her vision.
    7. Often the most important thing we can do for the homeless is to let them know they aren’t invisible, that they matter. Denver told Ron, “When you give a plate of food or $1 to a homeless man, what do you think you’re doing? Helping?! No. A plate of food don’t change nothing. You’re telling him you see him. He’s not invisible.” And that is a far bigger deal than most of us can imagine.
    8. When you choose to see someone’s heart instead of their actions (past or present), you are speaking life into them, telling them they are more than what they do. After Denver confessed his past sins to Debbie and Ron, she simply said, “You’re not a bad man. You have the strongest heart.   And I’m glad we’re friends.” She spoke to all that was good in him and let go of the bad he had done. She saw his heart (not his actions) and that gave him permission to see his heart (and forgive his actions), too. Jesus did the same when he told Peter, right after Peter had denied him three times, “You are a rock, and on this rock I’ll build my church.” He didn’t focus on Peter’s actions, but on his heart, and that brought life to Peter.
    9. We don’t like being reminded of how privileged we are, because that makes us humble and accountable…and uncomfortable. A man at Ron’s country club confronted Ron about Denver being there. “We come here to get away from the world and I’m not sure how good it is to be reminded of how fortunate we are.” This is the sad reality. We feel entitled to our riches and we don’t want anything to lessen our enjoyment of them. When we come face to face with people who have needs, we have this nagging sense that maybe we should do something. Maybe our riches are just for us…maybe we have a responsibility to share them. As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way” (2 Corinthians 9:11, emphasis added). We have been blessed so that we can be a blessing to others. We are to steward all God has given us, not to simply possess it—and part of us deep down inside knows that, but chafes at it.
    10. Sometimes you just gotta bless the hell out of people. Ron’s Dad was challenging, to put it gently, and Ron was angry with him. Denver told him to just bless him. “Your daddy got a good man inside of him,” he said. “Bless him.” Later, Ron told Denver, “You were right about my dad. There was a good man inside my dad. I just had to do a lot of digging.” To which, Denver dryly replied, “Sometimes you just gotta bless the hell out of people. Your daddy had a lot of hell in him.” Similar to Jesus who said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44), or Paul who wrote, “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse,” (Romans 12:14). Bless the hell out of people!
    11. God is the original recycler; He turns trash into treasure. This story is all about how God turned what the world considered trash, in a marriage, in a man, in a people group, in a part of town… and turned it into treasure. This is who God is. Note how when Jesus came, he announced to everyone that this is who He is. He started to read from the famous “beauty for ashes” passage in Isaiah and said essentially, “That’s who I am and the business I’m in… recycling and upcycling.”


The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[f]

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18-21)

Questions for Discussion:

  • What is your response to the homeless around you? Honestly?
  • Have you ever talked with a homeless person and heard their story?
  • When someone shares their past sins with you, do you see their heart (and who God has made them to be) or do you see their actions (and who they have been)?
  • Are you a catch-and-release kind of friend or a committed, keep-it-forever kind of friend? Have you ever had someone catch and release you as a friend? How did that feel?
  • If God is truly in the recycling/upcycling business with people, then how does that change the way you see yourself? Other people? Is there anyone in particular that you might see differently under that perspective?
  • Who do you know that might struggle with feeling invisible? How can you let them know that you see them, and that God sees them? The homeless and the elderly are two significant people groups that often feel invisible. Who else?
  • Who do you know that might need you to “bless the hell out of them”? How hard is that to do? How might you begin to do it?

Click here to read quotes from Same Kind of Different as Me.

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Victoria and Abdul – Movie Discussion

victoria and abdul

Victoria and Abdul is the somewhat true story of the friendship between Queen Victoria and a commoner from India, who became her closest friend and advisor…and in many respects was as a son to her. It was touching and humorous and even at times biting (and appropriately so).  It had a lot to say about things like prejudice and greed and entitlement and ignorance and imperialism… and did it with subtlety and directness, humor and sarcasm and yet managed to do so with gentleness and even grace. It was well done. Instead of railing against what was wrong with the world or the people in it, the movie focuses on a better way of doing things. Let me explain.

Victoria’s staff and her children were furious at her attachment to and elevation of Abdul. They were mad because he was common (they were snobs). They were mad because he was Indian (they were racist). And finally, they were mad because he wasn’t them (they were entitled). It would have been easy to make a movie that was bitter in tone, that focused on all that was wrong and unfair in their treatment of both Victoria and Abdul. And while the movie does reveal some of those things (as it has to for the sake of the story), like how the staff tried to sabotage Abdul, and how they threatened to commit Victoria to an insane asylum because of Abdul, it doesn’t focus on their wrongs.

Instead, the focus of the movie is the good and the beautiful—in Abdul himself, and in the relationship between himself and Victoria. They couldn’t change the opinions of the people around them, but they could live by example. They could live better. They could give grace. Abdul set the example in this. He told Victoria that we are on this earth for a greater purpose—to be servants. This is how he lived his life. He didn’t strive for position or power; he only aspired to serve. He served her with his whole heart, and he won hers in the process. Even when she advised him to go home because she knew it wasn’t safe for him in the palace anymore (because of her son and her staff), he didn’t try to defend or protect himself. He continued to choose a life of service to her. “This is my home…. I am your servant. As long as I shall live, I will always be by your side.”

This is the Christian life, or what it should be, anyway. That we don’t try to protect our lives, but rather we give them wholly in service to the Lord. Even when it seems unsafe, we vow that we will never leave His side or His service. We also don’t try to defend ourselves. We may be falsely accused, and misunderstood, but what does it matter if only God knows the truth? Victoria defended Abdul—he never defended himself. God will defend us. He is our advocate. And frankly, His is the only opinion that matters. What is it to us if the world misjudges us or has a low opinion of us, so long as we are good with Him?

In regards to his enemies, Abdul was gracious and forgiving, never repaying the evil they did him. In this way he also models the way of Christ. Mind you, he was not a Christian; he was Muslim. Nevertheless, even non-Christians may, at times, show us what it is to be like Christ in one way or another. See what the Bible says about this:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[b]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:17-21

And again, we read:

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,

“Whoever would love life
and see good days must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”[a]

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats[b]; do not be frightened.” (1 Peter 3:9-14)

The reality is that in the end, Abdul did suffer for his friendship with Victoria. On top of a lifetime of insults and injury, when she died, he and his wife were instantly and mercilessly kicked out of their house and everything that she had given him was burned. It was mean spirited and cruel. Nevertheless, he was blessed. He was blessed to have known and loved her, and to have been loved by her.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Why do you think people were so jealous of and hateful towards Abdul?
  • Have you ever been in Abdul’s shoes? Have you ever been surrounded by people who were jealous of you or hateful towards you for no good reason? How did you respond?
  • Have you ever been Berti’s shoes (Victoria’s son)—and had someone come into your life that seemed to steal your place? Have you ever been really jealous of someone?
  • How did Abdul model the life of Jesus (even though he wasn’t Christian)?
  • Have you ever tried to return evil with good? To bless those who persecute you? How hard was it? What was the result?
  • How do you feel about the statement that “even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed”?
  • Is it easy or hard to let God be your defender (versus defending yourself)?
  • Can you imagine getting the point where the only relationship that really matters to you is your relationship with God—such that you didn’t care what everyone/anyone else thinks, so long as you know you are good with God? On a scale of 1 to 10, how close are you to that being a reality?

Click here to read quotes from Victoria and Abdul.

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If you get a chance, see Mully!!!  The true story of a man who was abandoned by his family, rejected by his village, homeless, a beggar and sometimes thief who wanted to commit suicide…but who, after accepting Jesus (because one young man invited him to prayer and fellowship), became one of the wealthiest men in Kenya. That, however, is not his story. The real story is how he gave up his businesses and his money in obedience to the Lord and instead began to care for orphans, taking them into his home.

It’s one thing for a man to give up his money and privilege in pursuit of Jesus—that alone is unusual and arresting, but it’s another when he does so at the cost of his own family. The documentary includes his children and his wife who are very candid about their less than supportive responses to their dad’s madness. He wasn’t just changing his life, he was changing ALL their lives, and they didn’t like it. God hadn’t called them to do those things, as far they knew anyway. Why couldn’t Mully follow God and leave them out of it? Provide for their lives as normal and only give to the street kids from his personal surplus?

He took in child after child. Hundreds of children, actually. “I never said there’s no space for a child,” He explains. He would scan the streets at night, find the orphans and take them into his home telling them “these are your brothers and sisters now,” and to call him “Dad.”

Now all of his own children work with him and are fully on board. It took a while for them to get it, to catch the vision, and for God to work on their hearts, but it happened. Such a beautiful message—that our job is to follow Jesus, even at times when our loved ones don’t understand and aren’t on board. If we are obedient to God, He will deal with the rest…but we may have to wait a while.

There were two illustrations, if you will, that were particularly powerful.

Water from a Rock

Mully had moved his family (in the hundreds) out to some land in the country. When they got there there was no structure, no water, nothing but land. The kids built it all by hand. But the water—they had to truck in water EVERY day from miles away. This was sufficient (if inconvenient) until the drought hit. They needed water and there was none to be had. Much like the Israelites in Numbers 20, they began to complain about their need for water. They’d already dug for water many times and found nothing, but Mully had a vision that there was water on the land, and exactly where to dig for it. The boys were less than enthusiastic, but they dug … until they hit a rock.

Boys: We’ve dug. [It’s] your vision. And we have a rock. So, what do we do? Mully: I was shown a vision and there’s water there, so keep digging. Boys: We hit the rock and it was an explosion [of water].

Just like Moses. God told him to “hit the rock” with his staff and “tell the rock…to yield its water” (Numbers 20:8). We think rocks don’t have water, but notice the language! God didn’t say he’d miraculously put water in it, or water would come from under it…he said tell the rock to yield “its” water. That amazes me. There is no situation so hard or so dry in our lives that God can’t tell it to yield its water for us. With Mully as with Abraham, the rock’s water was enough for a nation, not just a person. Abundance. They’ve never lacked for water since. But here’s the thing—Mully trusted the vision God gave him. He trusted in the faithfulness and goodness and power of God and he acted. He dug. He dug even when it seemed impossible. The boys lost hope when they hit a rock. Mully pressed on. There’s a lesson in that for you and me!

Changing the Climate

“In Kenya,” Mully said, “everyone, even the government, depends on donations from the Western world. We have got to change that… A beggar has no choices. … [So,] How can we build a project that will be self-sustaining?” He started hydroponics and is growing enough food that they were able to feed an additional 4,000 refugee children every single day for a year. Amazing! Along with that, they have been growing trees.

He began to realize that he could plant tree to change their climate. Part of Kenya’s problem was the climate. They needed more rain. Did you know you can CHANGE THE CLIMATE??? I didn’t know that. Apparently, you can. More trees equal a micro climate and that can mean more rainfall, in that micro-climate. He has created their own rainforest of sorts!

Here is the thing—we can change the climate around us. We are not victims of it, but creators—if we choose to be. When we go in to a hard, dry, hot place (I’m talking metaphorically here… but you’ve been in places like that—where tempers are hot and hearts are hard and there’s no love raining down)—we can plant trees. We can plant seeds of love that begin to grow. We can plant so that we reap a harvest of righteousness. Those are things which change a climate.

Mully is changing the literal climate, but he’s also changing the spiritual, emotional and political climate of Kenya. The church at one time kicked him out because they saw those kids as bad people. Now they welcome Mully and all his children. The religious climate changed. Educationally, things are changing. The schools at Mully family facilities are the best in the nation. And they are raising up a generation of kids who will impact the nation, changing the politics and education and legal systems, etc. In the last 27 years, over 12,000 kids have been successfully reinstated. Once orphaned, homeless and destitute, they now have a family, a man they call Dad, and a home that provides love, education, shelter, security, Biblical training. Mully is changing the climate of Kenya, but the ripple effects will be a blessing to the world.

For more information OR to help support Mully’s family go to:

Mullychildrensfamily.org              (https://mcfus.org/)

To read quotes from Mully, click here.

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LEGO Ninjago – Movie Discussion

Like the first LEGO movie, Ninjago returns to theme of fathers and sons. In the first movie, the son portrays his father as evil because they don’t know how to see eye to eye, but they are both good people who need to learn how to connect. In this movie, they take that idea to the extreme and Lloyd’s dad really is evil—the kind of evil that “levels cities and kills innocent people.”   Lloyd is persecuted everywhere he goes because people assume he is like his father, and that somehow his father’s actions are his fault. (Which, how many kids do feel that their parents’ actions are somehow their fault? It’s a good opportunity for discussion about what we are actually responsible for in this life.) People do not know that he is the green ninja, the savior of the city or that he objects to his father’s actions. They also don’t realize that he is like any other boy, still longing for a relationship with his father.

As the story progresses, Lloyd and Garmadon (his father) end up on a journey together to “the temple of fragile foundations,” aka Garmadon’s childhood home (that was pretty brilliant). They get to know each other for the first time. And as that happens, they begin to like each other and enjoy each other. Garmadon gets to be a father for the first time in his life, teaching Lloyd to throw and catch, for example…something he has been missing in his life. Lloyd gets to have a father, to be validated by one and to know where he came from…things he has been missing in his life.

Garmadon kind of misses the point, however, and thinks he can hold on to that joy by making Lloyd his #1 general. “I’ve realized, we don’t need to fight each other when we can fight alongside each other!” That’s not an all bad idea. The world is full of battles we will need to fight, and definitely better if we’re fighting alongside our loved ones than they become the battle and we fight with them. We need to know our loved ones are on our side, fighting alongside us. The problem, however, is when we reduce those loved ones to teammates or fellow soldiers, or co-workers… when they should be SO much more. Lloyd saw that immediately. He didn’t want to be Garmadon’s general #1. He wanted to be Garmadon’s son. Garmadon fired his #1 generals any time they disappointed him. They were disposable. Garmadon was excited to find a better version of a general, but Lloyd didn’t want to be disposable. He wanted sonship. Unconditional love. Permanent relationship. No matter what.

Lloyd is a remarkable character. He was able to fight against his dad and yet, all the while keep trying to reach his dad. He gave remarkable grace. Not only to his evil father, but also to the world around him that continued to judge him. It is hard to be the son of an evil man. It is hard not to let your father define you, or to be defined by the people who judge you. It’s hard to give grace when people hurt you and misjudge you. It’s hard to open up your heart to someone who has repeatedly rejected you. But Lloyd, as so many children do, chose love and hope over and over again.

Lloyd works alongside a group of ninjas who each have a special power—earth, fire, water, etc. Lloyd’s special power is green. Cryptic, unimpressive and disappointing to his thinking. His teacher tells him that he has to “play the part that only the son of Garmadon can play.” Also cryptic, until the time came. Then he realized that his power is the power of life. He realizes that he has the power to hold people together, to connect. What they don’t say but is also very true, he has the power of forgiveness and love—which is part of life. He sees the good in people. Listen to what he tells his father in the end:

I know it, I know it. You didn’t want to destroy everything. When people look at you, they see a monster, but I know that you just feel scared and alone and I know how that feels – to be judged unfairly. So I just want to say that I forgive you and I’m sorry when I said I wish you weren’t my father. I didn’t really mean it. What I should’ve said is I wish we didn’t fight all the time. I wish you could’ve been there… seen what I’ve gone through… I just, I need my dad.

For Lloyd, this works out well. But in real life, let’s be honest, not every evil father is going to change into someone good. Some people have fathers (or sons) who are dead. Not everyone gets to fix that father/son relationship. But here’s what we can learn from Lego.

  1. We need to try. We need to do what we can to be at peace with others, especially our family. The Bible says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)
  2. As much as we may want peace with others, sometimes it is out of our control. Lloyd kept reaching out to his father, but didn’t take responsibility for things that were out of his control. He also didn’t compromise his beliefs or standards in order to have a relationship with his dad. If you look at Romans 12:18 again, it only holds you accountable for yourself. “As far as it depends on you.”
  3. God provides fathers for the fatherless. For the years Lloyd’s father was absent, he had an uncle who fathered him and taught him and stood in the gap. Sometimes we need to be thankful for what we do have, rather than only seeing what we don’t have.
  4. You can both love someone and oppose their bad deeds. Lloyd continued to love his dad all the while he was fighting to stop him from destroying the city. Jesus opposed our sin, all the while he was dying for us to pay for it. Love doesn’t always mean acceptance.
  5. When people are angry, hostile and destructive, it’s often a sign that they are scared and alone and hurting. Sometimes, rather than being called out on their sins, what they really need is for someone to acknowledge their pain, speak to the good in them, and apologize for the ways in which they’ve hurt them. Paul writes in Romans 2:4 that “it’s the kindness of God that leads us to repentance.” We are so tempted to think that we need to show someone their faults, but in reality, most of us know our faults. What we need is kindness to break us and lead us to repentance. Is there anything quite as devastating as receiving kindness and tenderness when you know you deserve a lashing?
  6. We need to be careful not to judge someone by their parents.
  7. With family, it’s not enough to be coworkers or partners, we need to be family. LOVED ones. We want a different and deeper relationship with them that what the rest of the world has. We want unconditional love. Permanent relationship. No matter what. We don’t want something that is based on performance. THIS is the relationship God wants us to have with him. He doesn’t want us to try to perform or earn anything with him. We are sons and daughters and that is different than being servants.
  8. Our homes give us a foundation for life, and that foundation may indeed be fragile, but we have another Father and another home we can call our own—and they are the ultimate stability.
  9. Sons may not be able to have a relationship with their fathers. And fathers may not be able to connect with their sons. BUT – our triune Godhead has both a father AND a son, so fathers can have a relationship with THE son, and sons with THE Father. What a sweet, tender mercy that is!

Click here to read quotes from LEGO Ninjago.

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Posture has Purpose

I went to a new doctor[1] yesterday. I’ve had back and neck problems all my life. Structurally my back is good, but I’m in constant pain—something I’ve just learned to ignore and live with, sadly. To a point, anyway. And then I give in and go see someone, hoping for some relief and that I can get back to an acceptable pain level. (Which really is kind of twisted thinking, but…that’s the truth of it all.)

One thing I have learned to do with my health issues is to begin to ask the Lord to speak to me through them. To let them be parables of His Kingdom. God’s SO amazing like that—everything He has created teaches us, speaks to us, reveals to us things about His nature and His Kingdom, if only we have ears to hear and eyes to see.

As the new doctor was telling me his perspective on things, I was wanting to grab a video camera and let it roll… because he was preaching a sermon on many deeper levels than he actually intended. (He just posted some videos to his Instagram account:  primalwalk !)

He has a passion for posture, and for helping people walk with the right posture. I thought my posture was pretty OK. I’m an athlete and I’m strong and I keep my shoulders back… I thought I was pretty good. Wrong. He began to show me how, because I walk incorrectly, my posture is affected negatively. Because my posture is wrong, my body is having to compensate and those compensations are why I have pain and inflexibility.

It was like magic. He started explaining how being on my heels was wrong. I should be on my toes.   He started explaining history and how our walk and our posture has shifted in the past hundred years. (It was a little like when Jesus would teach and suddenly people would see all the Bible, all of time, through a new lens.) It was fascinating, but what really sold me was when he had me demonstrate. He would have me hold my arm out to the side and try to resist him pushing it down. When I was on my heels, my resistance was minimal. When I was on my toes, my strength was multiplied, miraculously, it would seem. I like strength, so that really spoke to me.

Of course, he could explain the reasons why. He explained how being on our toes activates our connective tissues and strengthens them. He had me do some things with a kettle ball. The higher I got on my toes, the stronger I became. Craziness! So now, I’m changing my walk. I’m learning how to walk on my toes, rather than on my heels. It’s a little awkward, and even exhausting. I’m using my muscles in a way that is new to me. I’m literally having to think about how I walk, which, as my Dr. pointed out, is good, because it means I’m living in the present, rather thinking about all sorts of things that aren’t doing me any good. AND, it means I’m not walking with my head in my screen. My walk is now exercising my muscles, strengthening my body at a new level. Instead of making time to go to the gym for a work out, suddenly working out is a part of everything I do. And everything I do (or much more so, anyway) is working towards strengthening my body.

Hopefully one day I can get him to do a video and share more—because it really is profound on so many levels. But for now, I want to focus on some applications.

  1. Posture has purpose. He is right about that. I remember reading in C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters a passage about the connection between our minds and our bodies—the psychosomatic union. A demon is teaching his young nephew how to be a good guardian demon, and gives him this advice: “At the very least, they can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls.” One of Satan’s big lies to us is to tell us that posture doesn’t matter. It does. How we posture our bodies before the Lord will affect how our souls are postured before the Lord. This is where the Catholics and Charismatics have an edge on Evangelicals as a whole – they practice an intentional posturing of their bodies in prayer and worship. It’s awkward for me to raise my hands in worship—I’m not a very demonstrative sort. And it’s annoying (and even painful) at times for me to kneel in prayer, when I would much rather pray from the comforts of my bed. But when I do, when I risk feeling exposed and give up feeling comfortable, I find that my prayers and my worship have a different timbre, a different strength.
  2. Your strength is affected by your posture. Just as a change in physical posture affects physical strength, a change in spiritual posture affects our spiritual strength. God calls us to be humble, dependent, yielded and surrendered. It is in that position of seeming weakness in which His strength is perfected.I love what Deuteronomy 30 says:See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
    If we want to be strong, we must learn to have the right posture before the Lord.
  3. If we are feeling weak, the solution is not necessarily working out and getting stronger. That has been my solution for too long—when I was feeling weak, I increased my workouts. Seems logical. But strength wasn’t my problem—posture was. So to try to get stronger in the wrong posture was causing more pain. In order to sustain the physical demands I placed on my body without the right posture, my body had to put some artificial supports in place. Those supports may have sufficed as a temporary fix, but they have had long-term negative consequences…and are excruciatingly painful to remove. You see, it’s not good to fix a problem with a wrong solution.When we are feeling weak in life, our tendency (maybe more so in the Western world) is to get stronger. We focus on self-help through books (which aren’t all bad…don’t hear me wrong) and seminars and motivational quotes. We work harder. We push through. We pride ourselves on pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. And frankly, it may work for a time. We may fix the problem of our weakness—at least for a while. The problem is, we are doing so in the wrong posture and that means we are filling our lives with temporary supports to sustain the added strain of our efforts and those temporary supports are doing us more harm than good. They make us inflexible. They make us proud. They make is independent and often isolated. And those supports are painful to remove because our souls were never intended to be supported by such.The Bible says that God has already “given us ALL things we need for life and godliness…through His promises” (2 Peter 1:3-11, emphasis added). So, when we are feeling we that something is lacking, the solution isn’t to go creating it, but to discover it. We need to go back to our posture and correct that. We don’t need to work out more; we don’t need to add anything, we need to correct what’s broken, fix what we’re doing wrong. We need to repent. We need to humble ourselves before the Lord and pray and wait on Him. The Bible says it this way, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and then all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, emphasis added). In other words, when you feel something is missing, the solution isn’t to go and get it for yourself, but to reexamine your posture and pursuits. When your posture is right, when you are seeking the right things, everything else will come into alignment and into being.
  4. Posture comes through learning how to walk, rightly. In order to correct my posture, I have to learn how to walk well, correctly. When I do that, my posture will correct itself in every area of my life. Posture IS walking. Walking IS posture. Have you ever notice Psalm 1? It starts with walking.

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

Everything starts with how we walk. The Bible is full of verses about walking… here are just a few:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
  • Deuteronomy 5:33 “You shall walk in all the ways that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.”
  • Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
  • Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
  • Psalm 119:133 “Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.”
  • Colossians 2:6 “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.”
    Romans 13:13 “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.”
  • Galatians 5:16 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

5.  Correct posture strengthens us. I already mentioned that our strength is affected by our posture, but it’s more than that, too. The good doctor was explaining that not only is there an immediate change in my strength when my posture is correct, but there is also an on-going strengthening that happens when I practice good posture. My connective tissues will be activated and strengthened by my good posture. Conversely, they will be weakened and diminished by bad posture. Not only are we stronger when our posture is correct, but we are also strengthened, ongoing. The more we practice right posture before the Lord, the easier it gets to maintain, the stronger we get, the more natural it is. Perhaps this is part of the reason why the Bible says, “Resist the devil and he will flee” (James 4:7). The more we resist, (which is part of a right spiritual posture), the stronger we get until he is actually scared of our strength and runs from us.

6.       Correct posture takes exercise from a some-time thing to an all-time thing. Exercise was something I did at a specific time in the day at the gym, just like for many people, their relationship with God is something they do on Sundays at church.  He explained explained, however, that when your posture is correct, exercise becomes an ongoing act. It’s no longer something you do at a time and place but something you are always doing everywhere you go.

This is what God had in mind for our relationship with Him. He didn’t intend it to be something we did on Sundays or in a Bible study, but rather a way of living. It’s who we are, all the time, everywhere. When we focus on having a right walk with the Lord throughout the day, in every step we take, we are exercising our faith ALL the time. We begin to think about God when we are in the store, in a conversation, at the movies, etc. We become like Jesus who said that “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. (John 5:19-20). And again, “For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” (John 12:49-50). We get to the point that exercising our faith, walking with the Father, becomes such a pervasive, all-encompassing, on-going action that we literally don’t do anything but that it’s in sync with God’s heart and will.

7.  Until good posture becomes a habit, (and even then), it’s good to surround yourself with reminders. Patients were complaining that they kept forgetting to walk on their toes. They kept slipping into bad, lazy habits. So the doctor created a wristband as a daily reminder.  God told his people to do the same. They were to write the law on their doors, so that they would see it going out and coming in. They were to memorize it. They were to incorporate reminders into their dress and even their hair…everything around them was to be a reminder of the posture they were supposed to walk in. We would do well to follow suit, to surround ourselves with triggers and reminders lest we get lazy or forget.

8.  Correct posture takes work. I would love to say this all comes naturally, but it doesn’t. This is why we need reminders. The doctor told me of countless patients who do really well at first. They are thinking about it, changing things, focused…and they see a lot of improvement. But then, after a while, they start to forget. They think they’re doing good in that area (and they are) so they relax their focus, assuming it’s automatic now. That’s when their problems start to resurface and they find themselves back in the doctor’s office, needing a tune up. Needing to sharpen their focus, to get back on their toes.

We are no different spiritually. It’s not easy to keep humble before the Lord. It’s not easy to stay on your knees, to keep from sin, to have a righteous heart. But we make some progress at it through disciplines of the faith, through prayer and the Holy Spirit’s help and we start to feel better about ourselves. We start to be healthy. And that’s when we’re tempted to relax. We aren’t feeling the pain of bad posture anymore, so we think we’ve arrived…until, a little while down the road, we notice some familiar pain coming back into our walk and our life. This is why Paul writes to the Corinthians “be careful if you think you are standing firm, lest you should fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). We are most in danger when we think we’re good…because that’s when we get lazy, when we stop thinking about our posture. So a little pain comes back into our life and then we go back to the Great Physician and he reminds us the importance of our posture, and shows us where we have gotten off.

[1] Actually, he’s not technically a “doctor”. He’s an acupuncturist. I still call him a Dr.

If you would like to contact Greg Shim, the “doctor” I have mentioned, you may reach him at:  www.primalwalk.com or 720-201-8063.  Additionally, he has some videos on his “primalwalk” Instagram account that will explain more about the way to walk.  You may purchase his book via his website.



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