(RP Missions) Cyprus Update 2

With the first week of the Cyprus trip now over, the team continues to adjust to the heat and rest in preparation for our next week.

Our second week involves more structure and work, and will be our busiest time during the trip. Continue reading →

Advertisements

Chivalrous until the End?

blog1

Chivalry is dead.

Time and time again, I have heard it said. Probably more times than ever before during these last couple of years. But what are people talking about when they say this? It’s usually referring to a male’s treatment of the opposite sex or the elderly. I don’t disagree with this definition, but in my experience it goes deeper than that. Let’s take a look at what it means to be chivalrous. Men, adjust your bow-tie and tuck in your shirt, because this is something you need to hear. Women, don’t go anywhere, because you have more to do with this topic than you would probably assume.

Defining terms is important, especially if we are to claim their dead nature; but let’s start with the olden ways.

Between 1170 and 1220, chivalry (or the chivalric code) was a code of conduct associated with knighthood in the medieval era. The chivalric code had ten rules that the knights had to strive by:

1. Thou shalt believe all that the church teaches, and shalt observe all its directions.
2. Thou shalt defend the Church.
3. Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and defend the weak.
4. Thou shalt love the country in which thou was born.
5. Thou shalt not recoil before the enemy.
6. Thou shalt make war against the infidel without cessation, and without mercy.
7. Thou shalt preform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God.
8. Thou shalt never lie, and shalt remain faithful to thy pledged word.
9. Thou shalt be generous, and give largesse to everyone.
10. Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil.

Now, there’s nothing about making sure you hold the door open for your lady, but plenty to discuss. First of all, it’s important to realize that an American version of chivalry only includes the third commandment (Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and defend the weak) and possibly the ninth (Thou shalt be generous, and give largesse to everyone). The knights held a very strong emphasis on the church and its protection, as well as being a champion for their home and country. I’m not saying that this doesn’t exist in the United States, but it is certainly not associated with our view of chivalry.

blog2You may also notice a lack of rules specifically pertaining to love, or the opposite sex. This
was a side of chivalry what wasn’t emphasized until the 11th century, but still played a large part in a role of being a knight.

Now, upon reading this list, you may have the same reaction as myself. It’s an impressive and noble list of rules to live by! Why, it shows an honorable stature that respects both the weak and the church. However, you may reject that fact that it still lives on today.

People no longer seek to defend the church, but rather, destroy it. People no longer want to protect the weak, but drive them out of our borders. People love to lie, love to steal, and hate to share the things they have been blessed with. This kind of chivalry is certainly dead.

But hold your horses, because is it really? Let me tell you about the most chivalrous man who ever lived: Jesus Christ.

Look no further, because our savior has fulfilled all of these rules.

Jesus came to further the kingdom, and show the church how they must live.
Jesus came to give the church their salvation!
Jesus came to save the weak, as we were defenseless in our sin.
Jesus loved the country in which he was born: Heaven, the real home for his chosen.
Jesus never gave into the enemy, and was victorious over temptation.
Jesus went to hell and broke down its gates, crushing the serpent without mercy.
Jesus follow his Father’s will perfectly, and fulfilled much of the Word.
Jesus never lied, but rather showed us the truth.
Jesus gave us more than we can ever repay, and was generous beyond comprehension.
Jesus was our champion for what was good and righteous.

Our savior is the perfect embodiment to what chivalry really is. And the best part? Jesus is seated on the right hand of our God and Father.

Jesus is very much alive, so chivalry, in its essence, can never die. *mic drop*

blog6.jpg

This means that men are not the only ones responsible for upholding chivalry. Women are called to be like Christ as well. Ladies, listen well. If you want chivalry to survive, you have to pull your weight alongside us men. I understand that chivalry is just assumed to be a guy thing to do, but we are all called to follow God’s Word. Do this, and you will become chivalrous, no matter your gender.

Unfortunately, we are not our savior. Despite our call to be more and more like him, we constantly disobey. Chivalry can never die because our savior is risen; but it is crippled at best in our sinful world.

Let’s go back to the modern definition of chivalry to really hit this on the head. Jesus’ ministry reached the lives of countless people, including women. Against the cultural norms, Jesus ministered to them and gave them a place at his side. He is still the perfect example, even if we are to talk about the modern definition. But here’s the thing:

Men don’t want to be like Jesus. They don’t want to be chivalrous. They want to be pimp.

Let me clear this up real fast.

PIMP/noun
-a man who controls prostitutes and arranges clients for them, taking part of their earnings in return.

Now don’t ever use that term in a positive way EVER again.

Everyone thinks chivalry is dead due to our lack of conduct, towards the opposite sex, or otherwise. We would rather associate with adulterers and the worst of company, rather than our savior. Control the weak. Abuse them. Violate them. It’s what we want as a nation. I’m not just talking about women, but rather any kind of weakness we can get our hands on.

Proverbs 1:10-19 ESV

“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”— my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird, but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives. Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.”

Friends, guard yourselves from the evil one, for it is chivalry who is dead only within him and his followers, but chivalry lives on in the very life we are called to live as Christians. Do not claim that chivalry is dead without fighting for it yourself. Men, hold that door open for your lady, but know that it doesn’t stop there. Women, don’t complain about a man’s conduct, but rather show him how it’s done.

Live like Christ, friends, and be chivalrous to the end.

Philippians 2:6-11 ESV

Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Celebrating Death in Film

I’m calling it out, and I’m calling it out hard. Right here, right now. We love to see death on our big screen TVs. It’s all the rage, from movies old to new. More extras, more CGI, and more battle scenes. It’s pretty rare in times today to see a movie without some sort of violence in it.

Now, please don’t misunderstand.

Violence has its place in cinema, and the story telling business in general. Death is a powerful tool to show drive, tension, struggle, and the unfortunate horrors of this world. War is something we can sympathize with, one way or another. The fight between good and evil, and the ethics involved with that, is a genuinely important tool for movies to take hold of. However, violence for violence sake (or calling it “cool”) is a misuse of that tool. A grave misuse.

To be thorough, here are three examples that have been on my mind for a while now:

  • Shock Value

It has it’s place, but again, shock value for shock value’s sake is a gross and ugly sight to behold. It should have a purpose in the story, not make up the meat of it.

Again, I’m calling it out hard here.

*takes a deep breath*

Jurassic World  is a perfect example of this.

Please, really think about it. It’s shock value through dinosaur-driven violence can be both cheap and infuriating to watch. The main characters remain unscathed, yet any and every extra in the film is butchered for the sake of either shocking the audience through horrific means, or to show just how ‘cool’ these dinosaurs can be. And in the end, the dinosaurs are shown to be sympathetic, heroic, and even noble in some scenes. For every shocking slaughter scene, there is another that celebrates the fictional, focus group gold, death machines.

I understand that this is a popular film, but here’s the truth: Shock value will numb you to the appropriate response to something as unnatural as death.

Blog Death

Death is alien towards creation; that’s why violence is so shocking to our system. We aren’t meant to experience these kinds of things. However, thanks to the Fall, it’s something we now can’t imagine life without.

Celebrating it is accepting it. Accepting it is allowing your fallen nature to be appeased. And that feels good, doesn’t it? It feels great to experience the shock of seeing someone being ripped apart, swallowed hole, or murdered.

Again, these things have their place in film, but they had better have a darned good reason aside from ‘it will bring the crowds in’ or thinking that somehow it will look really impressive.

Exodus 20:13 (ESV)

You shall not murder.

God places a commandment against the celebration of death. Murder is a reality we live in. Murder needs to be talked about, and shown through film. But the last thing murder needs to be is celebrated through cheap shock value. It deserves more respect than that, and so does the audience of these films.

  • Self Empowerment

Vengeance. Revenge. It’s very satisfying to see the main antagonist go through a power struggle and then come out on top.

Enter in “The Lone Ranger” (2013). I have to be honest, I really didn’t enjoy this film for a number of reasons, but one particular scene made me especially uncomfortable. After some gritty action on a train, the character Latham Cole drowns. He is buried beneath silver ore after the train plunges off the bridge and into the river below, all while the happy Lone Ranger theme is playing.

Blog death2

Now, Latham Cole was a dastardly fellow and a bad guy. We should be grinning from ear to ear when we’re shown his horrific death, right? That’s justice, after all.

Perhaps, but this is done wrong in so many different ways.

Romans 12:19 (ESV)

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

We should get no pleasure in watching our antagonist slaughter those who have wronged them. People make mistakes, and anger is blinding, but I’m talking about a reaction from you, the audience. Vengeance is the Lord’s, and having been wronged is no excuse for us to celebrate in the slaughter of the sinful.

Revenge belongs in movies. It’s a powerful tool for plot and tension, just like murder. But just like murder, it should not be celebrated. That only feeds our dead nature.

  • A Subconscious need for the Desecration of God’s Creation

The zombie fad. I’m just going to go out and say it.

Now again, please don’t misunderstand! Zombies can be a great tool for story!

However, the zombie fad that has taken over my generation is simply disconcerting. When arriving for my freshmen year of college, our initiation speech was zombie themed.

“You guys love zombies, right? So we’ve made a list of zombie related college facts!”

Or something like that. To be honest, they had already lost my attention at that point. But it caused me to ask the question: Why does my generation love zombies so much? And what drives us to want more of the genre?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

I’m sorry to say that our sinful nature just might get a kick out of it. Our bodies are sacred, and are to be treated with respect. What does that say then, when we decide to show an audience a mass of walking corpses? I think zombies give a unique kind of shock value that can be great for story telling, but there comes a point to where our generation just loves the death.

blog death3.jpg

We feel the deadness on the inside, so seeing it on the big screen just helps us give in to it. More blood, more guts, more terror, more anguish. Let’s just all embrace what we are without salvation. It’s not satisfying though, which is why the zombie fad will die out some day. It will be replaced with something that has an equal amount of constantly wasted potential.

This is something that I believe Christians should put a considerable amount of effort in to understand.

The next time you watch a movie, study your emotions. Think about what the desired emotion was from the director, and think about what you actually felt. Try and discover why you felt that way, because the answer isn’t always God honoring.

Ask yourself the hard questions, and see sin where it lies in wait. The devil is always wanting a door in. Always wanting another numbing agent to use. The sad part is that we supply those in abundance.

They are not more powerful than truth, however. No matter what kind of weapon sin manifests itself as, it will never win over God’s Word.

Watch movies, but do so with a Christ-like attitude. Seek for understanding, because there is always more going on than you would ever believe.

Romans 6:23 (ESV)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Singing Psalms in the Dark

BLOG POST 2 (2)

 

Believe it or not, in the summer of 2013, a few high school juniors gathered together during their free time of a church retreat to sing Psalms. We were going through favorites and having a great time. I do not recall what we were singing at the time, but in the middle of the Psalm, the lights suddenly went out. The only source of light left was from the windows in the back of the room, which did not provide much thanks to the cloudy sky.

Unable to see our Psalters, you would think that we would just stop singing. Whatever we were singing, however, was one that most of us were familiar with. Some of us rushed over to the pale light from the windows, some of us pulled out phones to shed some light on the now darkened Psalters, and others just continued singing from memory. The singing degraded in quality quite a bit. Most stumbled over words, and a few parts were abandoned for the melody’s sake to keep it alive. None of us, however, stopped singing completely.

We finished the Psalm. Right after, of course, we all had a good laugh and tried to find some of the adults so that we could fix the problem; but none of us were willing to quit in the middle. This was three years ago, so the memory is a little hazy, but I definitely remember more Psalm singing, even before we fixed the lights.

I learned a lot of things during that summer, but here’s one of the most important lessons:

Sometimes, the lights go out.

There will come a time when life will come crashing down on your head, and everything bright and good in the world will suddenly seem to disappear. The lights are going to out and you’re going to be left with only what remains stored up in your heart.

This is why the Word of the Lord is so important in our lives.

 

Psalm 119:11 (ESV)

I have stored up your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.

The ones who continued to sing the strongest were those who had the Psalm memorized. They kept it alive. If it was up to those who were scrambling to the dim lit window, it just might have died out. God’s Word is your weapon. When the lights go out, you want to have it with you, one way or another. The best way is to memorize.

Memorization has never been something I’ve been good at. It might not be yours either, but this is why it is so important to be in the Word every day. It’s hard. It requires time and patience to keep consistent in reading your Bible, but it will be an invaluable practice when times continue to get darker and darker.

 

Romans 10:8-9 (ESV)

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

When the lights go out, you will have a choice of loyalty. We all could have just as easily stopped singing and went about our business. Even those who did not know it by heart, however, rushed to whatever light source they could. You need the Word of God when times are dark, because when it is near you, you know where your hope comes from.

It is really that powerful, though? It’s just words in a book, right?

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews makes it clear. The Word of the Lord is more than just a book of words. It is a consistent, sovereign truth that is more powerful than we can ever understand. It cuts through our false identities and shows us our hearts, which is what our God judges us and knows us from.

This is something that we cannot ignore. If we do, then we will be lost in the dark without any idea of how we are to act or who to trust. Whether you sing it out, or recite it in the deepest parts of your soul, you need to keep to what God has so readily given us.

Darkness can be many things in life. It could be depression, persecution, temptation, loss of a friend or family member, and more. It’s when the darkness approaches that you learn where your real source of light comes from. God allows the dark because it helps us realize where our hope is, and if we are following his path, or our own.

Not facing darkness right now? Life pretty good? Then learn the scriptures. Everyone faces the darkness of sin. It is inescapable, but not unable to be defeated. You have to fight when the dark approaches, and your weapon is the Word.

 

Psalm 119:105 (ESV)

Your word is a lamp to my feet
    and a light to my path.