Tag Archives: Disney

Princes and Princesses

Read Psalm 31:19-24

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT)

Cinderella-2015-film-reviewBack in March, my family and I went to see Disney’s long awaited live-action film adaptation of Cinderella. As can be expected with anything Disney, it was simply magical. The film was very true to the spirit of their original animated classic; however, they updated it with more background and more context which led the audience to better understanding of who girl was and how she got the name “Cinderella”. Lily James was brilliant as this rags-to-riches princess and the entire cast added depth to their characters.

Since most people have seen the original Cinderella, I cannot really spoil the story since the film follows the same basic plot. This film centers on a girl named Ella. She was pretty well off and she lived in a home with her father and her mother. It was a happy life and she was a happy child but, as is always the case, happiness is fleeting and soon that happiness came to a bitter end. Ella’s mother fell ill and the first of many dark shadows was cast over her life. In her dying moments, her mother looked up at her and uttered these words, “Have courage and be kind.” With that, her mother breathed her last.

Those words inspire and define Ella throughout her life; however, they would become more and more challenging to live by. Her father ends up meeting another woman, one who is looking to be upwardly mobile, and this woman has two daughters of her own. They are cruel, prissy, and spiteful like their mother, and they treat Ella poorly. What’s worse, her father never returns home and dies while out on a business trip. Ella’s world comes crashing down around her and it seems like the darkness has finally won. Her wicked step-mother and step-sisters enslave her and make her live in the attic. They mock her and abuse her. It is because she looked dirty as a result of being made to literally do all of the dirty work, that she got named “Cinder” Ella…hence the name, Cinderella.

But this Cinderella does not give up hope…ever. Nor does she let her step-mother and her step-sisters change who she is. Rather, she keeps on remembering her mom’s last words, “Have courage and be kind.” While she does learn to stand up to her abusers, and she does eventually find away to leave them and their abuse (as the abused should never, ever, put up or stay with an abuser), she never stops having compassion on them. She loves them even though she doesn’t like them. She never let’s them control who she is. While she didn’t have control over anything else, she had control over who she was and who her mother (aka God) called her to be.

I would say that in her death, Ella’s mother parted the greatest gift to her child: LOVE. It is true that it takes courage to love and to be kind. Ella had that courage, and like Ella God is calling us to have the courage it takes to LOVE and to be kind. If you are abused or in an abusive relationship have the courage to do what it takes to get out of that relationship, seek help from anyone who will give it, even if that means going to the authorities if need be. Have courage and be kind and love yourself. God does not want you to be abused. Even for those of us who are not abused, we all have circumstances in our lives that can easily alter our call to have courage and be kind. Don’t let the dark days of life snuff the bright, bold and warm days of LIVING. God calls us all to have courage, to be kind, and to LOVE. Like Cinderella, we may have cinder and soot on the outside of us; however, within us are the princes and princesses of God’s glorious kingdom.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia

PRAYER
Lord, I want to utilize the courage you have given me in order to be kind and to love. Guide me in this, I pray. Amen.

Evil Begotten

Read Romans 12:9-21

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

Maleficent2Boy do my wife and daughters know how to make me feel special. For Father’s day, following church and fellowship, they treated me out to see: Disney’s “Maleficent”, which stars Angelina Jolie in the title role. What a spectacular film to get to see and it actually exceeded my expectations, which were quite high, in ways I never foresaw.

While I am not going to ruin the film with spoilers, I will address a theme that is predominant in the film in a way that does not give away anymore of the plot than the trailers and/or previews give. The movie starts off with a young fairy named Maleficent, who was actually anything but Maleficent. She was kind-hearted, thoughtful and filled with the love of life. But all of that changes after her heart, her trust and her hope are broken because of the evil deeds of a greedy and vengeful king.

The evil that was perpetrated against her land, and the evil that was perpetrated against her and her kind, caused her to grow angry and resentful. It drove her to hate the king and all humans for what they had done toward her. It spiraled her downward into becoming a hellish, shadowing, and vengeful queen seeking to bring curses against the ones who sought to destroy her. Evil had begotten evil.

For those of you who have seen the original Walt Disney classic, Sleeping Beauty, you know what becomes of Maleficent and what the evil begotten above did to her. Evil never stays in one place and it found it’s way into the life of an innocent girl named Aurora, who was to be princess of the land. Because of Maleficent’s evil curse, this princess was doomed to be in a “sleep like death”, which could only be broken by “true love’s kiss.” What a sad and tragic story indeed. Where does the evil end?

Some of you might be screaming, “Time out! Why is it that this world wants you to sympathize with the villains? Who cares why Maleficent did what she did?!?! It was wrong and there is no excuse for it!” That is true, there is not excuse for the evil that Maleficent perpetrated on others; however, the world is not so black and white. It is easy when we look at the Maleficents of the world and point the finger, but not so easy when we are forced to look in the mirror at ourselves. How has evil affected you? How have you let the hurts you’ve endured and the challenges that you have faced to effect you? Have you ever lashed out at others because you yourself were hurt and/or vulnerable?

For each of us, the answer to these questions and others like them will be different. Each of us carries around our own set of baggage. Each of us have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and have been a participant in sin, and even evil, whether we realize it or not. The point of this is not to shame you or make you feel guilty, but to humbly liberate you from the judgmentalism we so often get trapped in.

Sitting in the judgment seat of God (as Maleficent ended up doing), is not the way to stop evil in its tracks; rather, the best way to stop evil is to simply choose not to participate in it and to counter act it with our love and compassion. We have the choice to repent of our own participation in evil, to reject its pull on our lives, and to rise up out of it with the strong wings of God’s grace. Though we have all suffered, one way or the other, as a result of evil…we can choose not follow suit. So, say NO to evil and YES to the “true love” that God is willing to fill you with.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. – Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 5:44-45

PRAYER

Lord, pull me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Fill me with your forgiveness so that I may forgive. Amen.

 

Rise to the Challenge

Read Proverbs 2:6-8

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“The righteous walk in integrity—happy are the children who follow them!” (Proverbs 20:7)

selena-gomezAnyone who knows my family knows that we are HUGE Disney fans. Every year we go to Walt Disney World, or one of the many Disney Vacation Club resorts. We love Disney movies and frequent the Disney stores, both in the malls and online. We LOVE DISNEY!!! One of my kids favorite channels is the Disney Channel and, as a parent, I couldn’t be happier because I at least know that the Disney channel shows age appropriate content.

Both of my daughters used to love the TV series “Hannah Montana.” They loved how Hannah could be a “rock star” and maintain a normal life. Miley Cyrus played the larger-than-life character in a way that made young girls the world over aspire to be just like her, to be a little wild and yet maintain the integrity of who they are as simple, everyday people. What an awesome thing to be able to, as the phrase goes, “have their cake and eat it to.”

But anyone who has been following the news lately knows that Miley Cyrus hasn’t quite the handle on that balance in real life. The wilder she gets, the more and more she seems to be losing the integrity that her on-screen alter-ego was able to keep. The reality is, no doubt, that she is being advised by people to “shake off” that “good girl” image so that she can move into the realm of being accepted by adults. Whoa! Pause and think about that? What does that say about us adults in terms of what we expect out of our entertainers?

Yet, not all young stars are taking that advice. Another Disney star, Selena Gomez, has been very firm in remaining true to who she is. It isn’t about being a “good girl” but about maintaining her own integrity. In a recent concert, she told her fans that the only way to be cool is to have class. AMEN!!! And she recently told Teen Vogue that she will “always be the girl you want to take home to your parents, not for the night.”

Thank God for young people like Selena who are showing our young ones that there is more to life than celebrity, popularity, sexuality and money. There’s a little word called, “integrity” that should trump all other things. But this isn’t just about young boys and girls. Everyone should come to embrace “integrity.” In this world, it seems that it is a word that is abandoned by many people. We are living and participating in a world of instant gratification, a world centered around “me”, and many of us get sucked up into it.

So the challenge for us today is for us to probe deep into our lives and see where we have integrity and where we don’t. Where are we seeking instant gratification at the cost of our integrity? Where we are centering life around ourselves rather than around God and God’s purpose of us? God is challenging each of us to remain true to who God has created us to be. God is challenging us to maintain integrity and to live a life that bears witness to hope as opposed to despair, healing as opposed to destruction, and wholeness as opposed to being incomplete. Will you rise to this challenge?

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“A life lived with integrity—even if it lacks the trappings of fame and fortune—is a shining star in whose light others may follow in the years to come.” – Denis Waitley

PRAYER
Lord, thank you for making me a person of integrity. Guide me in my life so that I may bear witness to your hope, healing and wholeness. Amen.

 

Go with the Flow

Read Philippians 4:4-9

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Imacon Color ScannerMy family and I just recently went on a vacation down to South Carolina. The first four days of our vacation were spent at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort. One of the things my wife, daughters and I did was go on a two hour kayaking tour of the bay. We all have been kayaking before and we thought that it would be a relaxing way to spend the last morning of our stay at Hilton Head. As we got into our double kayaks, paired up with our children, we quickly realized that the kayaking tour was not going to be a “relaxing”, lazy river experience. The winds had kicked up and the current became rather strong.

At one point, my youngest daughter and I started to get pulled in the opposite direction from the way that the group was going.  I started to paddle harder and harder, but it was to no avail. The current was simply to strong. My arms got tired and I became panicked and concerned that we were in a hopeless situation. No matter how hard my daughter and I rowed, we just could not get our kayak to turn around and head in the right direction.

Finally, a light went off in my head. I realized that the whole time we were trying to row against the current. We were trying to rely on our own strength to turn ourselves around and row upstream.  Yet, the forces of nature were simply too powerful for my arms and the arms of a 9 year old to row against.  But what if I began to row with the current, what if I let go my desire to go against the current, what if I stopped fighting so hard to do what was ultimately impossible?

“Row right, row right,” I called out to my youngest daughter! The second she heard me she caught on to what I was trying to do and began to row with the current in synch with me.  As we began to pick up speed, I plunged my paddle into the water on the left side of the kayak and began to feel the vessel turn around. “Shallow ro, shallow row,” I called out! With those words, my daughter began to row quickly on both sides using the double paddle. As she rowed the kayak picked up momentum, turned and before we knew it, we were paddling quickly upstream. With in a moment or two, we caught up to the group and, shortly after, were able to see a pod of dolphins swim gracefully by us only a few feet away.

What this experience taught both my daughter and I is that, often times, we find ourselves caught in a current. Rather, than letting go of our fears and going with the flow, we often find ourselves fighting the current. At best, we find ourselves paddling in place and never going anywhere. At worst, we find ourselves exhausted, lost and hopeless.

If you find yourself in such a situation, if you find yourself rowing against the stream, if you find yourself fighting the current, today’s challenge for you is to let go. Allow yourself to go with the flow and to gain momentum. Remember, you do not have the strength alone to fight the tide. But if you let go of your fears and go with the flow, through the grace of God, you can build moment enough to turn yourself around and paddle to where God is calling you to be. With God, there is no such thing as hopeless. Remember that, let go, and let God take you to those rewarding, refreshing waters.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Don’t stand about on the edge of life afraid to venture in. go with the flow of circumstances. Follow the voice within.” – Unknown

PRAYER

Lord, help me to realize that I have little control over the circumstances in my life; however, I do have the choice to hand my desire for control over to you. Guide my life in the direction you see fit and lead me to where it is you are calling me. Amen.