Bonus Sermon Content: After Earth

after earth poster

After Earth is a film about rescue.

A son (played by Jaden Smith, The Karate Kid) must race across a hostile Earth, after the ecological endgame, to retrieve a device that will save his father (Will Smith, awe…), and himself. In order to accomplish this, he must understand fear, what it is, what it isn’t and most importantly: How to master it.

Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Now do not misunderstand me: Danger is very real, but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story, and that day mine changed.

After Earth is a very subdued film for a Blockbuster. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, the narrative balances the cool silence of space with the erratic dissonance of an earth that has turned against its human inhabitants.

The net has no shortage of interviews between the father and son team. Here’s a brief one:

Some review have led readers to believe that this summer blockbuster is an ode to Scientology. David Gibson’s article, “Is Scientology Unwatchable?” makes the claim.

“The news is not good for the new movie “After Earth,” which means the news is not good for Sony Pictures, or Will Smith … or, it seems, Scientology, whose sci-fi inflected religious system inspired what was to be a summer blockbuster. Now it’s looking like a summer bust.”

His article references a rather opaque interview with the film stars that hems its way through Scientology ‘like’ conversation, and then on to family business. You can read that article here.

After having such a promising start, director M. Night Shymamalan hasn’t had a hit film in quite a stretch. Fast Company interviewed the director and what the readers get is lesson in…humility.

You can hear the sermon here.

After Earth Website
After Earth on Facebook

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Sometimes I Don’t Blog It…Because I’m Afraid

Writing blog posts is difficult for me.
I worry about things too much.
In fact, sometimes I’m afraid to write about what I want to write about.

I’m afraid of what you will think if I’m honest.
I’m afraid of what you will think if I’m not.

I’m worried about what you will think if I share too much.
The same for if I share too little.

I’m just as afraid that too many people will read it,
as I am that no one will.

Because…I’m afraid that no one cares.
“No one cares what you think!”
Aren’t we all? A little bit?

But that’s not the real fear…
The thing behind the fear is actually that you will figure out that,
well, that you will figure out that I’m…me.

And that’s all I’ll ever be.

If you’ve never heard of Steven Pressfield, it’s time to learn, Grasshopper.
Pressfield is creative motivation on steroids.
In his book, Turning Pro, he writes:

turning pro steven pressfield

“Turning Pro” is just another way to say, “Man Up, Cowboy!”

When no one cares what you think, Turn Pro.
So, might as well Turn Pro and be honest.
Man Up, Cowboy!

So what if someone doesn’t like it?
Turn Pro and it’s a guarantee.

don miller tweet

Share what you share.
Say what you are thinking.
Talk about what how you feel when you look at the world around you.
Turn Pro!

Allow people to find out that you are you.

It’s about being yourself.
Be you.
I’ll be me.
It might be rough around the edges,
but hey…that’s how this life thing rolls.

Thanks for letting me talk to myself in public.
I feel better.
Saying it out loud like that.
Man, I really went to town on me.

In what way(s) do you need to “Turn Pro”?
Leave a comment.
C’mon…don’t leave me hangin’

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Smart Leadership #1: Thought Capitol

thinking about U! II by Joachim G.  Pinkawa (Jo-PinX) on
thinking about U! II by Joachim G. Pinkawa

Have you ever noticed how you can be doing one thing and thinking about another?
You’re probably doing it right now.

What are you thinking about right now?
What do you spend the better part of your thoughts on?
Is it “what to watch on TV?”
Is it the last movie you saw?
Is it “what am I going to ear for lunch?”

Or is it deeper than that?

Like money?
Do you spend your time thinking about the fact that you don’t have enough?
Do you spend your time thinking about how to spend it?
Do you spend your time thinking about how you’re going to get it?

How about love?
The fact that it’s gone wrong?
The fact that you have too much?
Or you don’t have enough?

How about fear?
Is fear running the world inside your head?
Are the things that you fear paralyzing you?

Imagine the mind as a bank account with a thou$and thought$ bundled on a table (Thought Capitol). Those thou$and thought$ are all the thoughts you have to $pend in a given day. Any employer would love to think that 60%-70% of the thou$and gets spent on the job: thinking through daily work, meetings, goals, innovation, etc.

But Thought Capital isn’t (necessarily) spent that way.

Thought Capitol goes where it is needed most.

If an employee is underpaid, their on the job “thought capitol” is spent on how to make more money. If there is a firestorm in their heart, their love life might siphon the lion share. If there is a crisis or emergency or long standing deteriorating circumstance, thought capitol isn’t moving in the right direction, organizationally speaking.

It’s easy to understand that thought capitol controls productivity in any given area. If the mind is checked out, the best you might get is ‘auto pilot.’

Rush hour by Mathijs van den Bosch (MathijsvandenBosch) on
Rush hour by Mathijs van den Bosch

There’s good news, though. Leaders have a lot to do with where thoughts get spent. Leaders have the privileged ability to listen, to ask questions, to offer help and suggestion. Depending, you might have a good deal of experience in the area of distraction. Just knowing someone cares goes a long way to get the brain’s economy flowing in the right direction. Listening to someone’s problem might take some of your time, but the focus help restore to them will be worth it.

Sometimes…leading is listening.

Listening is whole lot better than paying someone to think about getting another job.
Or paying someone to sulk in the doldrums of rotten romance.
Or paying someone to sit, utterly paralyzed by anxiety.
We are people.
We all deal with stuff we need help with.

And it’s easy to push this off onto the people that work for us, so there’s an even better question to be asked:

As a leader, how do you spend your thought capitol?

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How to Fear (Not) God

There’s a ton of things to be afraid of.
Let’s just be honest.
My daughter’s afraid of spiders…well, bugs, actually.
Some of my friends fear death, but they’re actually more afraid
I’ll call them up on stage and make them preach.

Some people fear clowns, and let’s face it: Legit Fear.

Parents fear something will happen to their children.
Children fear something will happen to their parents.

And then there are the deeper fears.
The fears we fear other people will find out about.
The fears that shape us and control us.

I fear insignificance.
That I won’t even be a blip on the historical horizon.
That I won’t make in impact.

Loss of control

Sometimes we can fear these things more than we fear God.
We believe these things can ruin our live more than we think God can transform them.
We are enslaved by fear more than we are seduced by grace.

What do you fear more than God?

I’d really like to know.

Late edition: My friend Kris from the Pungoverse dialed in this response for his podcast, Route 9. Kris is a friend from high school, wicked astute and sports legit credentials from Apple (sorry bro, had to brag).


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faster vengeance and slower justice

Thinking about fear as a motive for vengeance, today. It’s been on my mind quite a bit, actually. Lots of vengeance going on lately. Fear makes vengeance make sense. It makes vengeance rational, beyond a spiritual rationale. Vengeance becomes necessary when we fear that justice won’t be done. And justice is important. Justice belongs to all humanity. It is withheld by evil, true, but heaped upon the earth by good.

Fear demands revenge.
Faith awaits justice.
Fear believes that no one will hear the cry of the oppressed.
Faith believes that God will…if not in this life temporally, then beyond it eternally.

Recently, I watched the movie Faster. Make no mistake, this is a movie about vengeance. And quite honestly, when you watch it, it’s simple to make the mental adjustment necessary to completely buy into it. When a wrong has been done. It begs to be righted. Faster is movie about a man who has suffered a kind of wrong that needs to be avenged. There is a need for justice to be served…

And so pursues it…hunting the men who killed his brother in cold blood and left him for dead.
It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of Dwayne Johnson.

In the letter to the Hebrews, there is another idea at work. In a passionate sermon on perseverance, the ability to go on despite injustice, the writer proclaims:

“Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us.

For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.”
He also said, “The LORD will judge his own people.

It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb 10:29-31)

Um…that’s a scary statement. It’s a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. I think what the author of Hebrews is trying to communicate is that it’s OK to trust that God will right injustice. And when God does this thing, it will look different than we expect it will (Isa 55:8). It doesn’t look like toting a .44 magnum and performing the God like task of taking life. God’s judgment will not appear very human at all. Eugene Peterson writes that judgment looks like:

The biblical word judgment means “the decisive word by which God straightens things out and puts things right.” Thrones of judgment are the places that that word is announced. Judgment is not a word about things, describing them; it is a word which does things, putting love in motion, applying mercy, nullifying wrong, ordering goodness. This word of God is everywhere in worship.
Eugene Peterson, “A Long Obedience In The Same Direction“

I remember seeing, on the day Osama Bin Laden was killed, the New York Times headline that read, “Bin Laden Killed By US Forces In Pakistan, Obama Says, Declaring Justice Has Been Done.” How would the writer of Hebrews respond to that statement? Possibly, simply by restating something like this, “…Declaring Revenge Has Been Done.”

In the Hebrews passage, the Greek word for ‘terrible’ is a derivative of the word for ‘fear’. I think that what makes the hand of God, the hand that dispenses justice so fearful, is that it’s terrible for everyone. Righting wrong with divine love, cosmic mercy and unfathomable goodness isn’t what victims cry out for. It’s not what evil condones and doesn’t sound all that much worth waiting for. What if judgment looks like reconciliation? [For those who need there to be punishment, don't worry. In cases where reconciliation happens somebody's going to hate it!] But that’s the business of God…pouring justice upon the needy, avenging evils, vanquishing the enemies of the righteous.

Perhaps, humanity would be satisfied and give up our desire for vengeance, if Jesus would just do it all a bit…FASTER.

What say ye?

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shoveling lava into your brain

Reading Watchmen Nee is like shoveling lava into your brain through your nose. I can read a whole paragraph of his writing before I have to reassess my whole approach to The Way (Acts 9:2-3). There is something so visceral and austere, if you will, about the way he describes the life of faith…of Christian faith. I respond to it in little bites, Neelets.

Today, our prayer reading came from a compiled Nee quote out of the NLT Mosaic Bible (this is a fantastic Bible and meditation material). Before I read it, funny enough, we were talking about a Presbyterian’s inclination to place thinking and analysis over experience and understanding. Thought I’d share:

This matter of the…Trinity of the Godhead is one which we cannot use our mind to comprehend. When the Lord was in the flesh, He told the disciples clearly that at that time He could not speak much with them, for they could not bear it; but when the Spirit of reality would come, He would lead them into all reality (John 16:12-13)…He could not come into them. He could only be outside of them. He had already told them much and if He were to tell the more, their mind would not be able to comprehend. But when He would rise from the dead…the Spirit entered into them, He would then be in them and bring them into all reality to enjoy the Triune God. We cannot…simply use our mind to understand the mystery of the Father, Son and Spirit; The conclusion of mental analyses is certainly that the Father is one, the Son is one and the Spirit also is one; thus the Father, Son and Spirit are three Gods! This is the reasoned judgment of your mind. But if you check with your own experience, you will declare that the Lord who dwells in you is surely one…If you follow your mental understanding you will be puzzled, but by your own experience you are clear that the Father, the Son and the Spirit are the three persons of the one God.

Proverb 1:7 makes a similar affirmation, “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

Fear is experiential; it is rooted in memory and imagination

It is thinking and analysis that move a person beyond fear; as in, “take some deep breaths.”
It is possible that thinking and analysis can move a person beyond Fear of the Lord.
And so oftentimes, it does.

If you were to put Fear of the Lord on your emotional spectrum, where would it fall? Right next to zombies and vampires? Feathers and ladybugs? Can your mind ascribe fear that is appropriate a cosmic, life-giving, soul affirming deity? Probably not. Like Nee writes, experience informs the way we relate to Christ. We can’t begin to fear him, to live in constant awe and heart stopping reverence, if we try to think our way into it.

This is why we need to experience the Lord.
To imagine.
To remember.
To confront him in Scripture and in community.
To be confronted by him in all his fullness.

Luke tells this great story in Acts about a man named Saul who encountered Jesus on the open road. He was confronted, confounded, blinded and converted with a panicked heart. It took the full reality (as Nee puts it) of Jesus to shake him from the grip of a false reality in order to experience a more real one.

Think on these things (2 Tim 2:7)

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