Christ, the Church & The Lego Movie

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Yesterday, I took my 4 daughters, along with 10 other  kids, to see The Lego Movie. Despite that it was dubbed in Spanish, I literally laughed the entire time. I woke up this morning feeling like Emmet. Even that cute yet annoying tune buzzed through my brain: “Everything is awesome!” (If you watched it, don’t lie – you had the same experience!)

WARNING: Spoilers Ahead!

[If you haven’t seen the movie yet, come back latter to read this entry.]

OK, I’m a pastor, and I admit that the entire meta-narrative isn’t exactly a consistent Biblical worldview (i.e. the prophesy is true – there is a chosen one!). But I’m fine with it, because this movie is told from a kid’s perspective. Just as if I would be gracious to my 6 year-old’s imaginary world of My Little Ponies & Littlest Pet Shop, so I will not point out all the gaps. Rather, let me share with you several awesome themes of redemption that I found:

1. We all have a special role to play on God’s team

What is refreshing about The Lego Movie is that it does not just celebrate the repetitive theme that “everyone is special” but places our specialness in a community context. The second line to the theme song (“…everything is cool when you’re part of a team”) actually interprets what the movie means by awesome.  As Cuidon of Christianity Today says: “The Lego Movie proposes that our different roles in the larger story make each of us totally necessary and special, even if we don’t all look and act the same.” One can easily see how the all the members of a local church are very special because all are very needed to make disciples and be salt and light in the world.

2. We all have a creative role to play on God’s team

The Lego Movie also connects our collective awesomeness to our creativity. I agree with Gray Ewing, that we are all builders that image the Master Architects creativity in making a better world. “In creation,” Ewing states, “God has basically given us a bunch of colorful blocks and told us to go play with them in meaningful ways.” Yes, we do have dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:28), but not in an oppressive way like President Business, but in a caring way like Emmet and his motley crew of master builders. We make the world more awesome through innovation, creativity, and many times through improvisation.

[Side note: Richard Bauckham does a brilliant job in his book The Bible & Ecology, of making a biblical case that the cultural mandate is a call for creative care of the earth, rather than cruel exploitation of the earth as some Christians in the past have interpreted.]

3. We all have to follow the rules on God’s team

A major turning point in the movie is when Emmet improvises a speech to the other master builders. He tells them how they can enter the unscalable, impenetrable Office Building. It will not be by building a bat mobile, a pirate ship, or a rainbow train. Rather, Emmet surprises them all and says that following instructions is the most subversive thing they can do! “No one will expect it!” Another thing I loved about The Lego Movie is that they don’t portray rule following as boring and dumb, but rather as the most counter-cultural strategy against President Business. To be on an effective team, yes, we have to follow the rules, especially the rules our Master Builder tells us in the blue prints of Scripture.

4. Even the most unlikely people are chosen to be on God’s team

Right when President Business is about to glue Emmet, all seems to be lost! Yet Emmet improvises again (something he seems to be growing in) and says he has a secret weapon. This spikes President Business’ curiosity and asks, “What is it?” “Our hands,” replies Emmet (If the dialogue isn’t exactly right, I did watch it in Spanish!). What Emmet says next is the most surprising moment of the movie, he tells the undeserving, cruel President Business that he too is special, that he is the chosen one, and the most gifted master builder he knows! Although Morgan Freeman (Vitruvius) already said that had made up prophecy about the chosen-one, what Emmet says still communicates a powerful point: electing love changes even our enemies’ hearts. Emmet chose to love the villain. As Emmet lavishes his love on President Business, his perpetual angry face melts away into wonder.

Perhaps when President Business becomes part of the team is the most powerful gospel moment in the movie. The good news is that the Divine Architect is real and His prophecy is true. God does have a Chosen One and He is the real hero of the story.  His death on the cross looked more idiotic and unpractical than Emmet’s double-decker couch (which interestingly saves them all). The cross was foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the Jews. We too are like President Business, and Jesus’ counter-intuitive act of love melts our hearts. “While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10).

Christians, lets me honest. Look around. Not only are many of us as bizarre as Uni-Kitty, as simple as Emmet, as narcissistic as Batman, but we are also as mean as President Business. We do not deserve to be on the team. And that is precisely what makes election so beautiful, so touching. Although we are the most unlikely people to be on God’s team, He has chosen us to do some awesome things. So let’s keep extending the hand like Emmet and work together as God’s unlikely team, because we know that one day everything will be completely awesome!

What did I miss? What other themes did you you see?

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Most Listened to Music of 2013

Continuing this mini-series of “best-of 2013”, here is our family’s favorite, most-listened to music of this past year.

Allen’s Favorite Music

 

1. Gungor

When I first heard Gungor, it was love and first listen! They are most known for their song Beautiful Things, which we used for our family update. Gungor is made up of eclectic styles, beautiful melodies, and thoughtful Christian lyrics. Most morning I wake up to Brother Moongive it a listen:

2. Bastille

I recently stumbled upon the Britt band, Bastille. I love their 80 electric sound with Queen-like harmonies and Muse-like melody lines. There is not a bad track on their new album, Bad Blood. I look forward to listening to the tribal song, Pompeii, on Easter Island!

3. Liquid Mind

Since my study is at my house, I’m always looking for ways to cancel the noise of squealing girls playing in the rooms. However, I can’t just listen to any music with rhythm, lyrics, or dynamics. That’s why Liquid Mind perfectly fits the bill: peaceful, ambient, rhythmless sounds that helps me focus while studying.

Sandi’s Favorite Songs

1. Little Talks by Of Monsters & Men

2. I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons

3. Un Día de Sol by Los Claxons

A poppy song that was free on iTunes this past year. Click on the album cover below to here this fun song.

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Kids Favorites Music

1. Cimorelli

Last year we discovered a 6 sister singing group called, Cimorelli. Our 4 daughters can identify and love singing their songs. Here is one of their favorites, Made in America.

2. The Trinity Band

Our friend from the Netherlands, Albert den Oudsten, introduced us to a Dutch Christian group called The Trinity Band. What is unique about these guys, is that several of the brothers grew up in Peru and learned many of the same songs we sing in church. Here is their funnest song, Fiesta Celestial (Heavenly Party) – our favorite song for camp this year.

3. Britt Nicole

Our girls have also enjoyed Britt Nicole. Here is her most popular track, Gold.

What are some of your favorite music groups and songs from 2013?

Most Listened to Podcasts of 2013

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I’m such an auditory learner! I can remember exact times and places when I listened to transformative talks and sermons. I remember the cadence, timbre, and rhythm of each speaker’s voice. Now that Podcast streams, this app has become my primary way to listen to audio. I use to have to scrounge the internet looking for good sermons and audio files, download them to my computer, drag the files to iTunes, then sync my devices. All I have to do now is simply stream.

Like my top books of 2013, I’ve reviewed using the same categories of head, heart, & hands.

Head

  • 14f37aadd69661321bd67e9e19dbf7a0Usually every Saturday morning, while I’m making pancakes for the family, I listen Ed Stetzer’s weekly podcast The Exchange. My favorite episodes was the State of the North American Church, where Ed explains that though the Western Church is not dying but loosing nominal Christians – which is a good thing. He also suggest that if America wants to get a glimpse of the future of American Christianity, the North West (Seattle, Portland) is about 10-15 years ahead of the central and southern States.
  • This is not exactly a podcast, but audio files I found on the internet. Ijamessmalln 2013 I discovered James K. A. Smith, professor of philosophy at Calvin College. I saw in blogsphere that many were discussing his recent books series Desiring the Kingdom Imagining the Kingdomso I googled him and found several online talks. I found his New College Lectures at University of New South Wales, Australia and Winter Conference talks at Redeemer Church in Knoxville, TN. I  listened to these lectures many times over. Prof. Jamey’s works has profound implications not only for worship but also for how we make disciples in the normal rhythms of life (liturgies). I hope to connect the dots more in a future blog post.

Heart

Living in Peru, I am not around much good preaching in English. So I water my soul via preaching podcasts. Here are my top two:

  • RICHIESESSIONSforsign-thumb190x190Since our days in RTS Jackson, I have witnessed phenomenal growth Richie Sessions’ preaching. He is Senior Minister of IPC Memphis; the church that we are eternally grateful for allowing our family to live in their mission house during our 2010 Furlough Year. Not only is Richie a clear communicator and passionate lover of Christ, he preaches with unction – that tangible presence of the Spirit. Check out IPC’s sermon podcast.
  • 2bb3158dfff313718c9d4c2f0b00d6eeWhile living in Memphis, I met an amazing church planter, Jonathan Macintosh. He moved to Memphis the same time we arrived the River City. Sandi burns through Jonathan’s sermons while on the treadmill. What I like about Jonathan is that he is culturally relevant as well as gospel-centered. His sermons are not only entertaining, but thoughtful and convicting. Check out his podcast here.

Hands

This past year I have tapped into several great leadership podcasts. Here, I’ll mention my top three.

  • 8449Andy Stanley’s leadership podcasts is also one of my new standards. Although I do not follow Andy in much of his attractional megachurch event model, he is very gifted and seasoned leader. His principles are transferable beyond church leadership. I’ve listened to his recent episodes on the Power of Teams several times. The main draw back is that he only broadcasts once a month.
  • rainer-on-leadership-logo-300-300x300Finally, Thom Rainer has afforded some great information for church leaders at his podcast. As president of LifeWay Christian Resources, he and Stetzer have access to the most up-to-date ecclesiastical stats for the evangelical church in America. Most of his podcast is the application of their research. For example, I put into practice immediately several of his points from his episode, The Main Reason People Leave the Church.

What are some of your favorite podcasts? Please let me know in the comment section.