Are elves really elves?

By Adam Crawford

Elf

If children, in elves they believe;

Then, beautiful creatures, they must be.

If at the North Pole they spend all their days;

They’re no further than Heaven from me.

And if at this moment in time and space

This elf you’re holding is more than you see

That scarf looks like wings; that bell’s glowing bright;

And a halo it might, could quite just be.

If at the North Pole they reside,

And Heaven’s no further from me,

Then what if this elf is much more.

What if this elf is an angel,

Sent down from Heaven for me?

Why “Trumbo” taught me more about being a Christian

By Adam Crawford

It’s likely that you can learn more about your faith from watching any movie about personal sacrifice. The difference is I’m not usually paying attention, but when Bryan Cranston is on the screen I can’t help but pay attention.

Trumbo is not a movie about Christianity, though there are some undeniable parallels. If you haven’t heard much about this movie then here’s what you need to know: it’s the story of Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood screenwriter during the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Trumbo was among the “Hollywood Ten” targeted by Congress in an attempt to rid the country of communisism. The main reason Trumbo and the Hollywood Ten became famous is because of their refusal to cooperate with Congress. Trumbo and many other writers and actors were blacklisted from Hollywood during this era because the leaders of this country felt they were a danger to the democracy of our country. They felt as if their only purpose was to create movies and push propoganda for the Soviet Union in an attempt to overthrow the United States.

All these years later it seems like such a ridiculous ideal. But at the time the majority of Americans felt this way. The interesting thing about Trumbo, and the movie in particular, is that it made me think about what it would be like to be a Christian during a time or place where Christians were persecuted. Or what it would be like to live in a country where Christians were not welcome or appreciated. Maybe even seen as a threat to the greater good.

While the movie Trumbo may be less about martyrdom and more about one man’s ego and refusal to be silenced by yuppie Hollywood beaurocrats, I think we can learn something from the eccentric charactor portrayed by Cranston.

In the movie (and by all accounts in real life), Dalton Trumbo stands up against Congress and the Hollywood elites because he feels they have no right to judge him based on his political beliefs. He feels his first amendment rights allow him to believe whatever he wishes and that no one can take that away from him. In short: he’s right. In long: that doesn’t ever seem to stop anyone from judging anyone else.

The admirable quality in the movie is Trumbo’s willingness to standup for what he believes in. His willingness to go to jail and take his “punishment” for something he feels he should not be punished. It may be a stretch of a comparison, but while I was watching the movie I couldn’t help but think of John the Baptist. A man who was beheaded because of his faith in God. The man who baptized Jesus.

Being a communist in the time after WWII must have been difficult. As a communist you were a minority of people seen as anti-patriots in a time where America had just defeated one of the most feared enemies in centuries. Patriotism was alive and running rampant. I think it’s probably safe to compare those times to the years just after 9/11. Being a Christian in the time Jesus was walking the Earth was much the same. And like any other belief, the stronger you display your faith, the more people believe you’re a radical.

If you want to know what it’s like to be a Christian in a place where you’re not welcome, or even seen as a threat, watch this video. This video shows a Muslim man trying to get plans for a mosque approved in a small town. He’s at a town hall meeting and all of a sudden someone stands up and accuses him and ALL Muslims of being terrorists. It’s quite shocking to me that anyone can treat another human being this way, but the sad thing is it happens all too often.

Trumbo is a good movie, it’s not great, but it’s worth seeing. The narrative moves too quickly with some characters and too slow with others, but in the end these problems can be overlooked as the film is carried by an incredibly engaging actor in the lead.

Being a follwer of Christ has never been pitched to anyone as being easy. It’s not. It’s difficult to have faith in something you can’t see or touch. It’s difficult to have faith in something that so many people see as a fairy tale. It’s difficult to have faith in something so many people believe is the root of why our world is constantly at war. But it begs the question, maybe our faith is the only thing worth fighting for.

If you haven’t seen Trumbo, go see it. And while you’re sitting in the theater think about whether or not you’d fight as Dalton Trumbo did for your beliefs as he did for his.

Pride Keeps You From Grace

By Adam Crawford

I’ve been reading Donald Miller’s book “Blue Like Jazz. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. It has challenged me in my faith like no other book has (other than the Bible), and it’s also given me several nuggets to think about.

While I’m not quite finished with it I won’t provide you with a full review or breakdown, but what I am going to do is give you something to think about in hopes that you’ll give it a chance. I think, thus far, it’s a must-read for any person who has ever struggled with their faith.

In one of the chapters he talks about God’s grace. He goes deeper into explaining how he always felt as if he was undeserving of God’s grace, not because he didn’t have problems of his own (everyone does), but because he didn’t feel as if his problems were as bad as other people’s. He felt as if other’s were more in need of prayer and God’s love than he was. The beauty of Donald Miller’s writing is that he isn’t afraid to tell you what he’s afraid of. And he isn’t afraid to tell you what he learned from admitting that he’s afraid.

It’s this wonderful, naked, honest narrative of what goes through our heads as we struggle with something, and in particular, faith. I know that I’ve had points in my life where I’ve done the exact same thing. I’ve felt as if I should be praying for someone else’s problems before I pray for my own. It felt wrong to be praying for myself. My problems weren’t that bad. That mindset shifted when my daughter passed away. The problem was that it shifted so far to the other end of the spectrum that I just stopped praying at all.

Not only did I feel like I’d been the recipient of the most painful thing any parent could ever encounter–I didn’t want God’s help. What could he do for me now? She was already gone.

This mindset took a long time to escape. I still have days where I’m climbing out of that hole. But reading that chapter in “Blue Like Jazz” made me realize that not asking for help is not only not what God wants from us, it’s prideful. It’s basically telling God that you don’t need his help in order to get by. It’s like telling Him, “No, I’m fine God, really. I think these people need you more than I do.”

If you’ve never thought about prayer and grace in this light, you might be thinking I’m crazy. Or that I’m misinterpreting it, and that’s fair. But before you decide that is your stance, really think about it.

God loves us. He’s the only being in the universe that loves you unconditionally. When you don’t ask for help from him then you’re telling him you don’t need him. You should always be praying and asking God for forgiveness, guidance, wisdom, courage, and perspective. Your problems are no less significant than anyone else’s, and they definitely aren’t insignificant to your Creator.

God’s grace is unmatched and never ending, never failing. But in order to receive God’s grace, you have to admit that you need it.

Was Jesus A Magician?

By Adam Crawford

For most of my life, I’ve had a fascination with magic. I got my first magic set when I was around five and I practiced for days that seemed like years. But I couldn’t ever seem to get it right. The tricks I was performing in front of a mirror just weren’t as cool as the ones I could see on the tutorial video. It was frustrating.

There’s been somewhat of a resurgence in my fascination with close-up magic in the last few weeks. I’ve always had a couple decent card tricks up my sleeve for those wonderful moments of boredom when you’re with friends or family, but lately, I’ve been learning new ones!

I’ve spent a few hours here and there trying to learn some new tricks and I’ve gotten a couple of decent ones that get pretty good reactions. It’s a lot of fun to see people suspend their belief for a few moments. It doesn’t matter how much of a realist you are, when you watch someone perform a magic trick well, something happens. For just a moment, you feel like a kid again.

All of this learning of tricks lately has got me thinking. We were obsessed with David Copperfield when he made the Statue of Liberty disappear. And before him we were transported to a place where anything was possible when Harry Houdini performed his amazing escape acts. The problem with all of these performers is that given enough time and effort, you could figure out how David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear or how Houdini got himself out of seemingly impossible situations.

What we will never figure out, though, is how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. I don’t mean to say that I don’t know how he did it. He is the Son of God. He is God. But there is no amount of time I could spend studying that would give me the insight into how I could bring someone back from the dead. There’s no amount of scripture I could read, no amount of meditating I could do, no amount of video tutorials I could watch, that would give me the divine power to raise someone from the dead.

In other words, it ain’t happenin’.

The really cool thing is, Jesus didn’t just raise Lazarus from the dead. He made a paralytic walk.

They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get to Jesus because of the crowd, they mae an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was laying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the Paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now there were teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk?’ But I want you to know hat the Son of Man has authority on Earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mand and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” – Mark 2:1-12

This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Not because he makes a man walk again, but because He, as usual, shows the people that the real miracle is forgiveness of sins. We, as humans, don’t deserve such love. We had our chance at salvation in the Garden of Eden and it was stripped away by our disobedience. Yet we are not fascinated by this amazing feat. We are not amazed when someone tells us, “Go to God and repent, for he will forgive you of your sins.”

So, let me ask you, what’s more amazing: making a 350ft statue disappear, or knowing that God will forgive you of your sins?

 

 

 

What if? A Birthday Thought

By Adam Crawford

Today is my birthday. It’s the 27th one I’ve had though I only remember about 22 of them.

As I was sitting around holding my baby boy this morning I started to think about something: what if we aged like Benjamin Button. What if instead of each year we went backward instead of forward. This would provide an odd sensation of knowing when your time was coming to an end.

It would provide an even odder sensation of knowing that you’d have Alzheimer’s at some point for sure, around the time you reached the reverse age of five. You’d have little or no recollection of the rest of your life. It would be as if it hadn’t happened. What would you do with information such as this?

I’ve heard people say that being given a terminal cancer diagnosis has truly taught them what it means to live. That being given a finite shelf life has forced them to treat every day with a different set of emotions – a true sense of purpose for each day if you will. And while I don’t pray to be diagnosed with terminal cancer, that sense of purpose for each day is something I think would certainly change the outcome of each day.

Today is my birthday, it’s not something that seemed to really matter when I woke up. I mean, after you turn 21, what really is another year going to do for you? But then I had the thought. What if today is my last birthday? I’m not trying to be morbid, but it’s a possibility. If it were my last one, would I be proud of the work I’ve done since I arrived on this Earth?

I feel I would be, but could I have done more? Of course.

One can’t change the past, and you can’t change the future because it hasn’t happened yet. You can only change the present. But changing the present will change the potential outcomes of the future. So basically in order to change the future we must change the present.

Last night I stayed up really late working on this website. It had been a good while since I’d spent any time on it at all. The last post was a few days after our son was born. Since then I’ve been rather busy and life just seems to keep rolling on like the Fast and Furious franchise. The cool thing though, is that I’ve spent a good amount of time on it in the last 24 hours because it’s purpose within the grand scheme of my life has shifted once again ever so slightly.

I’m not ready to reveal what the new purpose, or direction my life is headed just yet because there are some things in the works that could point me down one path or another. Either way this website is and will continue to be a large part of it.

If you’ve been a reader of my work on this site for any amount of time you’ll first notice is much more stripped down than it’s ever been. I did this because the writing is the only reason there is a site in the first place. From now on the words on this screen are the most important thing on any of the pages within this site. I’m working hard to convey that message to anyone who stops by.

All of the previous articles from the past 18 months are in the archives which can be found at the bottom of the page. I will continue to make some minor tweaks that you may not even notice over the next few weeks. I’m trying to look at this website as if it’s reverse aging. Like I know what the end date for it is, because if I can do that then I’ll put every ounce of effort into making it the best it can be for you each and every time I log on.

I want to help you make your life better. I want to share my experiences and my beliefs with you so that maybe we can learn and grow together.

So, what if you were reverse aging and you knew when you’d no longer be living the life you know of right now? What would you do?

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