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Lack of Evidence is not the Problem

After having the privilege of reviewing the movie God’s Not Dead 2, I was struck one vital parallel between the two movies that was not explored in the sequel. Both “antagonists” – those portrayed as attacking Christianity – experienced deep personal tragedy. Those this was explored very basically in the original God’s Not Dead movie when philosophy professor Jeffrey Radisson (Kevin Sorbo) explained the reason he did not, or could not, believe in a Supreme Deity. The passing of Brooke Thawley’s (Hayley Orrantia) brother – and obviously her parent’s only son – is superficially noted in the sequel. Yet I would contend, this sudden human tragedy is a significant factor, not only in Brooke’s spiritual seeking, but her parents’ anger against God and the cause of beginning the legal challenge.

Gods Not Dead prof.png

Rather than get frustrated, angry, or exasperated with those professing atheism and arguing against faith and/or God, Christians need to understand the lack of evidence and rational arguments for God are not really the reason for lack of faith. They are simply an excuse.

As the God’s Not Dead movies hint, atheism is often an emotional response to a deep sense of loss and injustice. A loved one who is not healed. A relationship that is lost or broken, possibly on “spiritual”grounds. Mistreatment or abuse at the hands of a trusted person, possibly again spiritually “justified.” As a person of faith, I must spend time listening to a person’s story (not peppering them with proofs) to hear their real “argument” against God.

Furtgods not dead 2 courtroomhermore, the Christian must constantly realize the devil intentionally blinds the eyes of individuals so they cannot see the evidence for God’s existence. He may use multiple tactics to distract or dissuade a person from seeing the plethora of indications our world did not come to be or continues to exist randomly or by chance. As people of faith, our primary task is to be pray God would remove their blindness and open their eyes to the truths around them and give them faith to believe. While the Enemy is defeated, he is not yet dead either.

Likewise, Christians need to avoid trite or patronizing answers to individual’s real pain. There may not be a good answer as to why God did not heal Jeffrey Radisson’s grandmother (as in the original God’s Not Dead). There are biblical truths that apply to every situation, but they are not necessarily a good answer(s) to the question being asked or the pain being felt. They remain true, and at some point the individual may come to accept them, yet the Christian’s task is to demonstrate the compassion of Christ to another person remains the same.

Benefits of being a Disabled Dad

Do you know some “hovering” parents? Parents who are constantly watching over their children, making sure nothing ever goes wrong, that their child’s feelings are never hurt, they are never spoken to harshly or criticized? Some researchers have suggested there is a whole generation of children who have grown up with “hovering” parents.

Being a disabled dad, is I cannot be a hovering parent, even if I want to be (and I’m enough of a “control freak” I can see myself doing this, unwittingly!) Physically, I would run to rescue when I see my falling child… but I couldn’t catch them, even if I could somehow get there fast enough. I would love to stand beside my child as they learn to ride a bicycle and keep them steady, but I can’t walk that far or hold them or their bicycle steady.

Steve Anna WheelchairHowever, another benefit of being a disabled dad is my kids have the coolest ride in town and everyone knows who is travelling. Admittedly, this is partly because we live in small town, Alberta, but not many kids get to drive around town on the back of a power wheelchair. Likewise, we get good parking at most places because of my handi-sign and when we go to some places, the wheelchair line often gets priority.

Some other benefits of being a disabled dad include…

Because I cannot do many physical things with/for them, they have learned at an early age to help their siblings or other friends – whether in the back yard on the swing, or in the swimming pool pushing other children in a “boat.” Usually a parent will give you an under-duck or push your “boat” in the swimming pool. But since my oldest has to do that for his siblings instead of dad, he has learned to help others. They did not learn this because we were trying to teach them to help others – though that is an attitude and skill we try to teach – but because helping was the only option to doing nothing.

Similarly, as they get older, they are learning more responsibility, doing some things that usually adults do around the home (ie. mowing the lawn, helping carry various items up & down stairs, etc).

Our children have learned to play independently or play with acquaintances, rather than rely on an adult to always have someone to play with. We enjoy playing board games or card games indoors, but outside events are almost always with dad watching. And while its frustrating for me, it has helped them to learn to play with others or creatively alone.

These are life skills most parents want to teach their children. Having a disabled dad, dad maybe helped them learn them a bit faster, or at least in a different manner than others. So while being a disabled dad does have its frustrations & dangers, it also has its benefits!

Movie Review – God’s Not Dead 2

Gods Not Dead 2 coverAfter being intrigued by the original God`s Not Dead movie, yet disappointed in the sudden and uncreative resolution to the tension, I was nervous to watch and review God`s Not Dead 2.

High school history teacher Grace Wesley’s (Melissa Joan Hart) response to a student’s (Hayley Orrantia) question about Jesus lands her in big trouble, leading to an epic court case that the student’s parents believe should cost Wesley the career she loves, and decide once for all that any talk of faith should be expunged from the classroom and the public square. Unlike the original, the sequel did not disappoint.

Each character played well, from the arrogant counsel for the plaintiff (Pete Kane) to the inexperienced yet thoughtful lawyer (John Metcalfe) for the defendant. Keeping my attention throughout, the movie presented the increasing dilemma of a Christian`s ability to speak in the public square without going over the top in fear-mongering. With cameos by Lee Strobel (author of The Case for Christ) and Jim Warner Wallace (author of Cold Case Christianity), God’s Not Dead 2 offered a compelling argument for an individual being able to speak of their faith as a constitutional right. The fact that a few story lines and characters from the first movie continued through into this sequel was also beneficial.

I would highly recommend the movie to any person of faith, not just Christians, concerned about the freedom of religious expression. The writers do a commendable job demonstrating the real issues being challenged in Western contexts in the 21st century and contrasting them to other global realities relating to faith.

Movie has been provided courtesy of Sony Home Entertainment Canada and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Dangers of being a disabled dad

So what are the dangers of being a disabled dad? That your kids could injure/harm you more than you already are? Possibly but that’s not really something I’m concerned about. As our children are growing up, I have come to realize I can easily use my disability to prevent me from being the father my children need me to be. Here are some dangers I find I need to watch out for regularly.

“I can’t” when really “I don’t want to.”
There are various activities I cannot do with my children. I cannot ride a bicycle with  my children, go for a run, or play a soccer/hockey game with them. They are now all at the age where they can understand this reality and (sort of) why. However, when they want to go on a bike rike, I can go to the same place with them on my wheelchair. When they want to play catch, I can do that with them or watch them jump on the trampoline. There are times I am tempted to say, “Sorry, daddy can’t do that” when the truth is daddy just doesn’t want to do that.

“I can’t participate in the whole event, so what’s the point?”

Related to this is the option of not attending a whole event when my disability will prevent me from participating fully. For example, my daughter’s grade 1 teacher recently hosted a “Scavenger Hunt” for all the dads and their grade 1 children. I could not walk around the schoolyard searching the various items. Yet, I could cover the home base and help read the list while others searched. However, if I had decided not to attend the event at all simply because part of it was “beyond” me, my daughter would have been the only child without a father present at this special activity. To see her face light up when I arrived (as did all the other children when their dads arrived) was incredible! Even if I had just sat there for an hour, she would have been thrilled that I came. Don’t use disability as an excuse for absence.

Nonetheless, there are activities I cannot do because of my physical limitations.

I have to humbly – or grudgingly – allow someone else to help my child in the activity. As a parent, it is important not to let my personal issue/frustration become an additional concern for them. I need to put my personal pride aside and allow others to help and bless my children physically.

Interestingly, especially as children grow into young adults, other adults –  whether teachers, coaches, or whoever – will give input into their teenager’s life. As parents, we want these to be adults who hold corresponding values to those you are trying to nurture. In reality, I just get a head-start.

At the end you come up with two questions to ask yourself:

  • Will I be selfish – with my time, energy, desires – or will I put my children first?
  • Will I be proud and macho or will I ask for help when I need it?

In reality, these dangers really boil down to choices all dads need to make each day, whether able-bodied are not.

There are also benefits to being a dad with a disability. But that’s a topic for another post…

 

Book Review: Minecrafters Bible

NIrV Minecrafters BibleI have an 8 year old son so when the chance to came to review the NIrV Minecraft Bible, it was a no brainer. Although we had recently purchased a new Bible for him, the chance to combine MineCrafters and the Bible was too good to pass up.

The NIrV is simply the New International Readers Version, a translation with easier words for younger readers to comprehend and translated with a simple sentence structure. For those out there looking for serious exegetical study of the text, this would admittedly not be a choice.

However, the Bible teacher is not the intended audience. Rather in getting a young person actively reading the Bible as a habit and understanding the message of the text, this version accomplishes its goals. Key verses are translated into less theological language, yet their intent and meaning is not softened. The addition of full color minecraft-like pages spread consistently throughout with a devotional like thought and activity on each page is a creative bonus.

I say “minecraft-like” because on the back cover it clearly states “This Bible is not authorized, sponsored, endorsed or licensed by Mojang AB, Microsoft Corp or any other person or entity owning or controlling any rights to the Minecraft name, trademarks or copyrights.” Nonetheless, my son was impressed with the full-color pages and the realistic looking Minecraft images and characters.

While the Scriptures certainly contain enough exciting within them without additional attractions, I am happy to recommend this Bible to camps as a prize/gift for campers or for parents to purchase for their child because it is a good translation that is at a readable level for elementary school children.

The publisher has provided the reviewer with a complimentary copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers.

Yes! You did Hire the Spouse

As a Calgary Flames fan, I was excited about the signing of Troy Brouwer on Friday July 1. As a person involved in leadership with non-profit organizations and churches, I was even more interested in the comments Brouwer made about the influences leading up to Calgary being his choice.flames-brad-treliving-shakes-hands-with-newly-acquired-troy

See the video here (especially just after the two minute mark). Essentially, Brouwer credits General Manager Brad Treleving’s wife for phoning his wife as one of the factors (along with others) demonstrating how seriously they pursued him to join the Flames.

From a human resources angle, I understand the inappropriateness of asking about a spouse’s perspective of a potential employee coming on board. Yet if a spouse detests or resents their partner’s job, whether in for-profit or not-for-profit work can attest, his/her long-term employment at the company is dubious. By contrast, as the Treliving and Brouwer negotiation shows, a spouse can be your best advocate for the workplace. Unfortunately, since an employer cannot formally ask about the spouses’ perspective on the opportunity under discussion, usually an organization only finds out after the fact the good person they have hired is married to adversary, not an ally.

Note: This applies to both genders. An organization could hire a woman for an excellent and significant role (eg. VP of Finance), only to discover as the work is thriving that she is moving with her spouse because the company transferred him.

I am confident that when the Flames hired Brad Treliving as their GM, they did not ask about his wife’s role in the organization or what she thought about him taking the job. Yet because of her husband’s position, her voice was a factor in the Flames’ ability to sign Troy Brouwer as a free agent. Without breaking human resources requirements, it is imperative that organizations find out about an potential employee’s spouse and their attitude toward the role being considered. Because the reality is, whether the person is on the payroll, you are hiring the spouse too!

Hymns not made for Social Media

Got time for a little humour on a Sunday afternoon?

One of the purposes of posting a status update or tweet is to not only get “likes” but also some “shares” or “retweets.” And let’s be honest, there is a measure of pride when a social media posting is well-received and/or passed on to others. However, there are a few hymns that were clearly not made for social media and the human boasting that is so much a part of our social media culture. For example…

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
Even if this song has challenged you on a Sunday morning, it is a little awkward to enjoy watching the popularity of your post/tweet in a song with the words “I will not boast in anything, no gifts, no power, no wisdom. But I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.”

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
While you may indeed be grateful for all Christ accomplished at Calvary, one should be a little uneasy when people agree by “like” your post when the song says, “Forbid it Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God.”

Be Thou My Vision
While the focus or even the intention of reminding others Who is most important in this world is admirable, the line “Riches I heed not, nor man`s empty praise” makes it a little uncomfortable to rejoice if other people “like” the post.

Feel free to suggest another not-made-for-social-media hymn if you know one.

PS The above comments notwithstanding, I will be grateful for any likes, shares, or retweets, recognizing the truth of the above lyrics.

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