Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Facing the Giants

Yesterday at (our campus fellowship group), we watched the movie Facing the Giants. You can read the synopsis and watch the trailer here. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. In general, I try to stay away from Christian movies, because they always seem to reek of poor acting, over-the-top and in-your-face Bible beating, and cheesiness. Contrary to my expectations, Facing the Giants was a very well-done Christian movie. It was made by a church in Georgia without access to big budgets and sets that Hollywood has, and they did everything (acting, script, sound, filming, etc.) themselves. So on that note, the few predictable and poorly delivered lines can be forgiven. It was also, very clearly, a Christian movie about a Christian high school football team. However, it wasn't a poorly veiled attempt to drag people into the movie theaters and present the Gospel to them. It was an honest portrayal of an average Christian man's life and walk with God. Yes, it did quote scripture. Yes, they prayed a lot. But that was the whole point of the movie. And finally, even on the "cheese" level it was pretty acceptable. (My favorite cheesy line came at the very end of the movie when the wife tells her husband that he's finally made it to "the team --- the daddy team." Yikes.)

However, my biggest problem with the movie was that in the end, everything turned out perfect. They found the dead rat. The coach got a new truck. The soccer player - turned football player finally learns how to kick a field goal. The surly, nonbelieving teammate gives his life to Jesus and restores his relationship with his father. The wife finally gets pregnant. And, the team wins the championship against ridiculous odds. Thus, the moral of the story is, pray to God and he will give you everything your heart desires. What?!?!? I would have been happy if at least one of the story lines hadn't turned out perfectly. But then, later as I was discussing it with a friend, she pointed out to me that happy endings are the whole reason Hollywood exists. Take any random non-christian movie, and you will find the same thing -- everything turns out great in the end. We are so inoculated with the glitter and 'perfection' of Hollywood, it's no wonder we have such a hard time understanding why real life is so hard.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Thoughts on Prayer

I've been reading a book by Phillip Yancey called Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference? It's a really great exploration of why we pray, and some of the difficulties of prayer, etc. I've begun to realize, though, that reading about prayer only increases my intellectual knowledge about the subject. Improving my prayer life and activity requires something more than research.
I want to become a better pray-er. I read accounts of the great prayer warriors from Christian history, and hear my co-workers talk about prayer groups and meetings, but it just leaves me feeling inadequate and wanting more. I live a good life, serving my God, but that is no substitute for a relationship with Him.
I think my struggles with praying stem from the overarching problem of discipline that lately has kept surfacing in my life. Basically - I don't have discipline, and I need it. To be a better friend, to be a better campus minister, to e a better Christian, to be a better support-raiser, to be a better child of God.
The thing I read most recently in the book that has stuck with me is that when we pray, our minds wander and we get distracted because we aren't really praying for what we want. When we really want something, it's easier to focus our prayer on it than when we are praying for peace in Darfur. But then again, the more we pray, the more our wants and desires will reflect what God is desiring for His people.
I've been giving a lot of advice to people recently to be praying for their struggles, mostly because I don't know what else to say to them. But if I'm not following my own advice, what kind of advice is it?
And with that, I think I'll close this out... and go pray.