The Real World

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Father Stu, the movie and the man, touched my heart. I will say up front that it is rated R and there is a ton of language – especially the F word. What I loved about this movie, based on a real person (the man on the left in the picture above) played by Mark Wahlberg (the man on the right), is it’s authenticity. I am not going to give away plot points except the one that is in the trailer – Father Stu was a boxer who lived a hard life with alcohol, sex, and a lot of wounds (internal and external). He finds Jesus through a woman he’s attracted to and pursues becoming a priest.

Friends, Jesus didn’t come to save the “pretty people.” He came to save ALL people. The ones you walk by and judge. The ones you roll your eyes at. The ones who make you so mad at their flamboyant lifestyle. Everyone. He came to save everyone. Guess what – you are the same in God’s eyes as the drunk who got a DUI. You are a sinner. He is a sinner. This movie draws home the fact that the “pretty people” are just as in need of Jesus as anyone.

I love authenticity in faith. Someone who isn’t afraid to say “I f’d up and God still loves me.” Be real. Be honest. Don’t be perfect because you will fail. Father Stu touched so many lives while he was on this earth. He understood the “language” of the alcoholic, prisoner, and wounded. He knew how to reach the one who had no hope. We need men like Father Stu in our faith community. They challenge us to see outside of our bubble and reach out to all , not just the ones we are comfortable with. In the movie, the “perfect” priest didn’t engage the prisoners but Father Stu could. We need everyone in God’s kingdom. God wants everyone in His kingdom.

This isn’t a new concept. The world was so mad at Jesus for talking to tax collectors, prostitutes, women in general, and other “low” members of society. He came for all of us.

 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

~Matthew 9:10-13 NIV

We are the sinners. Not just the prisoner. Not just the unethical lawyer. Not just the addict. Not just the adulterer. Not just the thief. Us. We are the sinners He came to save – along with the ones we judge as sinners. It’s all of us. I know many of you won’t like the amount of cursing in this movie. Good. We shouldn’t like it. We shouldn’t partake in it (I unfortunately still do). We need to be willing to interact with those who do. We will see God work in amazing ways. We will give hope to someone who is hopeless.

Friends, our world is lost. We need to be a Father Stu. We need to bring Jesus to the people we relate to. And we need to walk out of our comfort zone and bring Jesus to people we can’t relate to. We need to be so convinced that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Because if we live that out, others will be drawn to Him.

Watch the movie. Share your thoughts in the comments (I rented it on Amazon Prime for like $6). I pre-warned you, it’s got language. Also, Mel Gibson is in it – a man who has made mistakes on the public stage but knows and loves Jesus and is a work in progress. This movie was Mark Wahlberg’s way of getting God’s message to the masses. In my opinion, every believer should see this. It changed me. It can change you. God is in the messy. God is in the uncomfortable. God wants to be known. Let’s bring Him to our world today. It needs it.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

America the Beautiful

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I sang this hymn in worship yesterday. I encourage you to read the words. Pray for America. Enjoy the freedom we have this July 4. We have more than most other countries. Thank God for that. America is far from perfect but we are still allowed to worship God in a church and sing His praises. One freedom I will always be grateful for. Happy 4th of July.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Lyrics: Katharine Lee Bates, 1895
Music: Samuel A. Ward, 1883
Published: 1910 by Oliver Ditson & Co.

Dream Big! Pray Big!