Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

hi-res-still-from-noah-movieThere was a touch of Star Wars in the new $150million Darren Aronofsky movie, Noah, that I saw the other day. Early in the movie viewers were introduced to the “Watchers”, strange rock-like robotic monsters that are apparently fallen angels, but seem to be more on the side of good than evil.

If you’re looking for a movie that reflects your Sunday School memories of Noah as a kind old gent who builds a Fisher-Price boat filled with pairs of cute and cuddly animals, you’re in for a shock. But if you’re prepared to hear the messages that Aronofsky weaves through the movie you’ll recognise some Biblical principles.

In an article in The Atlantic, Aronofsky talks about the Noah account as the fourth story in the Bible. “You go from creation to original sin to the first murder and then time jumps to when everything is messed up.  The world is wicked. Wickedness is in all of our thoughts. Violence against man and against the planet.”

The director of “Requiem for a Dream”,  “The Fountain” and “Black Swan” goes on: “And so it was so bad that He decides that He is going to destroy everything and destroy this creation. So what we decided to do was to align Noah with that character arc and give Noah that understanding: He understands what man has done, he wants justice, and, over the course of the film, learns mercy. What’s nice about that is that is how I think Thomas Aquinas defined righteousness: a balance of justice and mercy.”

While the Hollywood version of Noah is radically different from the Biblical version in many of the details, it is significant that both are one in presenting the central themes of justice and mercy. A just God will address the problem of evil, but will provide a means of escape for those who are prepared to accept his offer. If you’d like to explore these themes more, see the Bible version here, and hear me speak on Noah at Maida Vale Baptist Church, 24 Edney Road, High Wycombe, Sunday April 6 at 9.30am.

How often do you read things in the Bible and you wonder why they’re there? Belong

For instance I’ve been preaching through the Old Testament book of Nehemiah at church each Sunday and this morning I got to Nehemiah chapter 11 and 12. These chapters contain a long list of names. What’s the point?

I got to think about why information like this should have been preserved for thousands of years.

Nehemiah had led a process of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and this involved rebuilding a community. When it was all over a lottery was held to determine who should get to live in the newly rebuilt city. One out of every 10 people would get to make the move.

The list of names of the families who would get to live in the city tells me that there was a great deal of order and organisation in the process, which emphasises how important the move was, and how significant each person was to God. It also said to me that at the heart of this significant event in Nehemiah’s time, was the sense of belonging.

Each name that was mentioned in that long, boring list, was important to God, and each person was connected to a family and had a place in their society. As they moved into the city each person, male and female, young and old, had a deep sense that they were returning home to where they belong.

Through Jesus, we too can have that deep sense of belonging … of knowing that our identity, our acceptance, our place in the world is important to God and that through him everything else starts to make sense. I can’t get over how deep Jesus love for me is that he would be prepared to give his life for me. And that in itself assures me that I belong.

So are the long lists of names that we read in the Bible just a boring inclusion in a piece of ancient historical literature? I think they show that throughout history God’s heart is focussed on individuals and that you and I are just as significant and valuable in God’s eyes as Sallu son of Meshullam back in 450BC.



IMG_0119I opened my window this morning and was greeted with the amazing site of a corner of the church car park covered in purple from the flowering Jacaranda tree. Jacarandas are out everywhere you look at the moment, and I think it is a beautiful site. The purple-blue flowers create colour and life and for a few weeks add a different perspective to the local environment.

By the way, did you know that Jacarandas are a native of Brazil?

As beautiful as they are Jacarandas will probably bring complaints from people at times because of the mass of flowers that cover roads, footpaths, gardens and driveways. They get in gutters and stain driveways and are a right pain in the neck.

How we view something like the Jacaranda flowers is probably the way we will view a whole lot of other things in life. You might call it the “glass have full/glass half empty” concept.  Do we look on things around us cause for thanksgiving and praise, or do we only see the problems and the disadvantages.IMG_0120

Reality says that you need to take both into account. It’s important to identify the problem rather than deny it and pretend it doesn’t exist, but then we need to find a way to address it and look for solutions. If we get stuck in our problems they leave us with more than the jacaranda blues.

I love the Psalms in the Bible where the writers often express their fears, complaints, and grudges, but go on to praise God for his goodness and love. The language of praise is incredibly effective in lifting you out of your blues into a new place.

For a few weeks in late Spring and early Summer I figure it’s worth enjoying the Jacarandas … and it’s always worthwhile lifting your spirit in praise.


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