God’s Not Dead – This Should NOT be Headline news!

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The movie, GOD’S NOT DEAD by Pure Flix Entertainment featuring  Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) and Shane Harper (Spencer in Disney’s Good Luck Charlie), Dean Cain (Superman) and David A.R. White (Jerusalem Countdown) with special appearances by Christian super-band, Newsboys who perform — God’s Not Dead , Willie and Korie of the Duck Dynasty (which I do not watch)  opened today in theaters across America. There are plans to screen the movie in other parts of the world too.

The movie synopsis stems from the book by Dr. Rice Broocks  a highly respected senior minister and founder of  Every Nation  family of churches, which according to the website, “currently includes more than 1,000 churches in more than 60 countries …  is on hundreds of college campuses ….focusing on equipping college students around the world to defend their faith.” He also developed the 10 questions conversation – The God Test.

The book presents Nine (9) basic proofs of God’s existence and includes stories of the journey of faith, doubt, disbelief from people ranging from an atheist Harvard Professor to campus students having to defend His existence intellectually. The reality is that while God is evident to Christians, the rest of the human population could be completely oblivious or worse indifferent.

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The book tackles the arguments of atheists such as Dawkins, Harris, Krauss, Mahrer and explores the direct  impact that the teachings of Darwin and Nietzsche have, especially on the highly intellectual communities and shapes the minds our children and young adults. (Parents need to pay attention…our children have to learn to defend their faith.)

Why is this important and Who needs this?

  • The Seekers – those wondering, what if God REALLY exists? It’s not a sappy movie, but a serious INTELLECTUAL, CEREBRAL discourse around the question that plagues our hearts.
  •  The Hungry – people feeling empty and searching for more in life. C.S.Lewis said, “If you are hungry, that points to the existence of food.”
  • Christians  who have always wanted a non-preachy way to articulate and express their faith. The Spirit convicts the heart, we cannot do His job, but we can offer plain intellectual and logical answers to questions about our faith and belief in the Lord.
  • Parents who want to fortify their children with information that is powerful in the face of dogmatic philosophies that run rampant in colleges and schools.
  • Anyone who is still alive, breathing and just for Pete’s sake, wants to know the straight forward truth
Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 2.04.54 PMI entered college as a Christian, got carried away, flunked a few (OK, a lot) of courses, got angry with God for “failing” me and basically ignored Him for a good chuck of my early adult years. That decision cost me dearly.
Without a solid foundation and core understanding of WHY we believe, by the time we get through college, most us will suffer a crisis of faith.

Here are some questions from the Dr Broocks’ book to ponder as you head into the theater or order the book:

  1.  Why would you believe that there is nothing rather than something?
  2.  Where did life come from? Evolution doesn’t explain where the first self replicating mutation came from.
  3. Where did our unseen conscience come from? Across cultures, nations and creed, why are we moral, how do we innately and universally know right from wrong?
  4. Who can you trust? A being who demands sacrifices from you or one who became the sacrifice?

Sites like RatioChristi and PoachedEgg provide apologetic resources that shakes us out of our comfort zone, so that we learn to give logical reasons for our faith.  Some one said, “We are not salt-shakers but real change agents when we engage our world.”

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So get out there, get some organic popcorn (*wink*), grab a friend, your child or loved one, pay for a stranger to go see the movie and  if you stumbled on this post after it’s gone from theaters, please get the DVD and read the book. In the indelible lyrics of the Newsboys, “Our God’s not dead, He is surely alive!” (And this should NOT be headline news.)

*All image credits from God’snotdead.org site.

Prompt: How far would you go…to defend your belief in God?

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A Rude Awakening to Gratitude.

Credit: Pixabay Commons

Credit: Pixabay Commons

At 6.25 am today, between trying to hitch a ride to the library from an old friend who turned out to be a snitch and trying to catch the giant baby, Beyoncé dropped on its head, I was rudely awakened by the after-shock of the 4.4 magnitude earthquake that hit Westwood CA  and  sent shock waves through San Fernando Valley, Orange county and Santa Barbara.

Is it bad that my first thought was about my laptop? Anyway, as the shaking continued, I mentally checked for noise from my son’s room, the pantry and prescription medication levels for the family because this is Northridge. Apartment managers, realtors and agents don’t advertise the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, which was a 6.7 magnitude with strong ground motion felt as far away as Las Vegas, Nevada, about 220 miles (360 km) from the epicenter of Reseda and had a death toll of 57, with more than 5,000 injured.

That earthquake-caused property damage estimated at over $20 billion, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history, affecting everything from television, movie, music productions, schools and universities, homes and hospitals and came with an outbreak of  coccidioidomycosis (Valley fever). In all my research before moving to Northridge, I totally missed this crucial piece of information or maybe it was hidden from me.

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Google Image: Northridge

Hidden, I believe because if I had known, I would not have moved to Northridge. But then I would have missed the blessings and special grace I have found in this city. The friends, the neighborhood, the Rite Aid pharmacy that gives us  advance medication when the insurance company is acting constipated, the Ralph’s Deli that’s a quick walk away, where every Tuesday, we line up for the freshly baked  sweet wheat & oat boule, a dark hearty loaf with a slightly sweet chewy crust and soft interior, rolled in oats…yum! What’s a neighborhood without Starbucks? Well, just around my street corner, we’ve got two!

In this neighborhood, my son’s education could not have been in better hands, he blossomed in Stagg St. Elementary and now is in Holmes M.S. one of the best middle schools in California. Everything I need, except a next-door-library (which explains the hitch-hike in my dream)  is close-by.

Here is a checklist of earthquake survival tips from the Red Cross.

  • Develop and practice your family disaster plan.
  • Stock up non-perishable goods and have an emergency preparedness kit.
  • Get someone in the family trained in First Aid and CPR/AED.
  • Most importantly, don’t forget to learn the Drop, Cover and Hold On technique.

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It’s been quiet in California and this earthquake was just a rude awakening, to appreciate what we have, a home, family and the promise of God’s care and protection. As my building did a little rumba this morning, I prayed, ” Jesus… please keep us save where You have planted us.”

I am thankful that no-one got hurt and I went about my day…deeply conscious of grace, knowing that in any moment,  life as we know it, can change.

…He has made from one blood, every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings. Act 17:26.

Define Normal with Arms Open Wide

Define NormalI stood at the cashier’s counter waiting to pay for a steel-gray and orange patterned Under-Armor sneakers for my son.
Sean stood fidgeting  beside me, playing Super Mario cart on his red Nintendo DS-XL. He struggles with the racing games and does better with the logical games, where he uncannily unlocks secret tunnels, levels and special powers.

I was expecting his usual eighth place in this race (Ok, that would be the last place) when he suddenly chuckled unreservedly loud, and announced to the universe, “I won!”
At first it didn’t register, because I was waiting for my card status on the panel to announce that my further descent into debt had been approved by the goddess of wants – Visa.

“I won…I won, Mom!” He announced  again, excited and waving the large red screen in the air, startling the cashier and her colleague who just ducked behind the check-out counter, presumably returning from his break.

“…the war came to me in my dreams and showed me its sole purpose: to go on, only to go on.” Kevin Powers.

“He is really excited,” the young woman in skinny brown jeans remarked quietly, puzzled.
Well, You have no idea, I thought, as I turned to acknowledge my son’s victory over Mario, Toad, Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser and the members of the Mushroom Kingdom. In my peripheral vision, I caught the same looks from the other customers on the line behind me.

I felt sorry for everyone else trying to wrap their heads around the fact that his speech sounded like he held two ounces of water in his mouth which meant the words sounded like they rolled over waves and that he was still dangerously waving that extra-large red screen over his head. I knew he wasn’t acting out, he was just too excited to contain himself and wanted to share his joy.

When people first see Sean, they always tells me, “He seems normal.” And my response usually is, “What do you mean normal?” How does one fully and without bias define normal?

“All pain is the same. Only the details are different.”  Kevin Powers.

For me normal is having a boy who has never told a lie, who is a maths genius and can calculate complex equations off the top of his head. A big boy who waits, beaming with arms always open wide – even in middle school – for a hug from his mom!

Does he have struggles? Yes, but he is a fighter and his heart is so pure and remains loving regardless. Somehow I think he already knows he’ll win. His progress in school has given so much hope to his teachers, that they have opened their arms and minds to accept that no matter the diagnosis, learning is not impossible.

He is my life’s guru, teaching me to be patient with whatever life presents. His light doesn’t need much help, it just shines!

Arms open wide - Define Normal

My Sean..always loving and ready with arms open wide.

We are all distinctly defined by circumstances and experiences. The cumulative or acquired set of values make up our life and that’s where we draw from and how we project our judgements and definitions of normalcy on others.

All around us, when we see all kinds of expressions and different flavors of the divine – we are often tempted to judge or super-impose the elements from our own cultural buckets. Instead we can choose to be open to experience new things, share someone’s pain or joy and strengthen each other with kindness and gratitude, knowing that we are all witnesses to grace.

Let’s keep our eyes and hearts open to fully embrace life’s rich experiences.

With arms open wide,

Ama.

Don’t take the Mark When You Wake Up

Don't take the mark

Are you counting on your good deeds? Don’t hold your breath!

If God is the Guy up there, Dude and not Father, or you don’t believe or care that He exists or you think Jesus was a good man or prophet and a curse word to make a point,  you are not alone. It’s hard to walk the faith path. We are so visual and tactile by nature that we want to see to believe. We limit ourselves when we are awake but when we sleep we still dream.

There is something about that – the dreaming I mean. It’s a reminder that we are infinite. Here are some facts about how unique and special creation is : Even with advanced technology, man can’t make common dirt. No two snow flakes are EVER the same, there are over 4000 varieties  of the common potatoes and more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples. You are thinking…snowflakes and food – where is this going?

Snow – for at least 21 centuries, water vapor frozen into ice crystals has fallen on us in light white exquisite flakes which we don’t mind, then it turns into this hard white layer on trees and the ground, a potentially hazardous element that can cause frostbite, falls and car skids.  Still no two flakes are alike in 21 centuries – we are like snow flakes, no two people are exactly alike and it’s for one reason. LOVE.

I know Darwin thinks we evolved from a some strange creäture, who probably one that had a tail – half man and monkey, but a loving God, wasn’t confused or unsure about what we would be. Hence the saying , that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. With eyes closed and laying still, we dream.  We exist in a form that does not require physical eyes, we experience a world that doesn’t need us to move a limb. Heck, we even fly, dive into ocean depths  and experience emotions in a completely different dimension! Well, at least I do…

Don't Take the MarkTo really know who you are, is to be either loved or a fool. There is no straddling the fence. It’s like being your parent’s child. You’re either that or not. Don’t be cold in your heart towards Him. You can ask out loud for clarity if you are confused about God’s existence. He’ll find a way to get to you.

But if you chose to remain relentless in your denial of His existence … You’ll be left behind as grace departs and the savage beast ravages the earth for the remnants, like a scavenger, more determined to drag as many souls to his putrid pit of hell. Each soul a piece of the God-heart and displayed as trophies.

There’s still hope even when chaos erupts, if you keep the only part of you that matters – your soul. If you must, starve to death, get beheaded…find a way to leave without pledging your alliance in the attempt to ease your suffering. Desperate, you’ll feel cornered ….but please no matter what, DON’T take the Mark!

God is Love, Ama.