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A. Todd Coget
[Courageous Fishers of Men, Citation: Eugene A Maddox, Interlachen, Florida; source: The Perfect Storm]
The movie, The Perfect Storm, well described the dangers of the fishing industry through the eyes of the crew of the fishing boat, the Andrea Gail.
Out of their need to bring home an excellent catch of fish, the captain and crew decide to risk everything and travel as far as the remote but fertile fishing ground called the Flemish Cap. It is an especially dangerous trek during the unpredictably stormy month of October.
On their way back to Gloucester, Massachusetts, the Andrea Gail encounters the "perfect storm" of 1991 and is never heard from again.
While improvements in shipbuilding, navigational technology, weather-reporting and rescue support have made boating safer, fishing has become, if anything, a more lethal occupation, killing more of its workers per capita than any other job in the United States.
"There are many kinds of work that are dangerous, but one of the interesting things about fishing is that it really hasn’t changed much over time," says The Perfect Storm author Sebastian Junger. "It’s been mechanized, of course, but the basic reality of going to sea for months at a stretch is the same as it was 100 years ago. You’re way beyond help from anyone else; you’re on your own. I think that forms a certain kind of character. Not only does everyone know someone who has died at sea but everyone who works in the fishing industry has almost died. Every single fisherman you talk to has almost gotten nailed at one time or another."
It takes courage to be a fisherman. And it takes courage to fish for the souls of people.
The movie industry has made some pretty creative attempts at explaining conflict with god. For those of you that remember the movie “Caddyshack,” there is a scene toward the end of the movie in which a golfing enthusiast priest is playing the round of his life. As he makes his way around the links, the weather turns.
The movie depicts the scene as a battle between this priest in search of nirvana through a golf game and a insensitive and spiteful god that would thwart the priest’s quest for that perfect game. The scene ends with the priest defiantly raising his putter to the violent heavens and being struck down by a well-placed bolt of lighting.
I’m sure many of you have seen the movie “Forrest Gump.” Well, there is a scene in this movie about man’s conflict with god as well. In this movie, the character “Lt. Dan,” who lost both of his legs in a battle in a Vietnamese jungle, and was saved by none other than Forrest Gump, decides its time to have it out with god.
Forrest, by this time, is trying to make it on his own as a shrimp boat captain. Lt. Dan joins Forrest as his first mate. The two men manage only to salvage tires, license plates, and toilet seats from the ocean’s bottom. After several failed attempts, Lt. Dan asks Forrest, “Where’s this god of yours?”
As soon as Lt. Dan asked the question, god arrived in the form of a destructive hurricane. As the storm rages, we find Lt. Dan strapped to the top of the mast, next to an American flag, shaking his fist at god, daring god to try to destroy the boat, and cursing like a sailor. When the storm subsides, Lt. Dan and Forrest’s boat was the only one still afloat. Since no one else could harvest the shrimp, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company became a multi-million dollar industry. A few minutes later in the movie we find Lt. Dan at peace with the world. He had met god face to face, so the filmmaker would have us believe, and won.
Let me share with you one last example, one that I saw recently. The scene is found in the season finale of the popular television show “The West Wing.” President Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen, faces his major conflict with god.
The scene finds President Bartlett alone in the National Cathedral following the funeral of his secretary and long-time friend. The President orders his chief of staff to tell the Secret Service agents outside to secure the perimeter so he won’t be disturbed. After a moment or two of silence, Bartlett does battle with god.
Bartlett begins to curse god for, as he saw it, causing his friend to die in a car accident. He curses god and blames him for the other tragedies that have occurred up to this point, during his presidency. He defiantly lights a cigarette, takes a few puffs, and then tosses the cigarette to the floor, crushing it under his shoe as he gives god a dirty look.
The producers of the show set the scene the way they did in order to try to get the audience to feel sorry for Sheen’s character and respect his independence and defiance of god. It certainly didn’t work for me. In fact, I was so offended by the scene; I doubt I’ll watch the show again.
In all likelihood, and I think I’m on safe ground with this assumption, the producers of the shows I just described have spent little time studying James’ letter. From what we see often times in the media, conflict with god is portrayed as something god desires and causes.
More often than not, we find man as the hero in the conflict and god being the weak, unknowable force. In the media, when man comes to terms with god, it is more often than not due to man’s strength and god’s capitulation, not as a result of man’s submission to God’s will. Hollywood does not see conflict with God the same way James does, or the way we should.
If you go on-line and read the transcript of this portion of this morning’s message, you will see that when I describe these various scenes, I use a little “g” when I make mention of God. The reason is simple. In depicting man’s conflict with God, Hollywood shows quite brazenly that they have no idea who the God of the Bible is.
This morning, as we study God’s Word, we’re going to see what conflict with God looks like from God’s perspective, not man’s.
One of the most disturbing and powerful films I have seen over the
last couple of years is Steven Spielberg’s movie, Saving Private
Ryan. The movie tells the story of an Army captain named John
Miller who having survived the carnage of the D-Day invasion at
Normandy Beach, portrayed in 28 minutes of intense, graphic and
gory detail, is ordered to find a solitary private among thousands of
displaced soldiers. He must return Private James F. Ryan home to
his mother, whose other three sons have just been killed in action.
However, due to some confusion in the invasion, it is not certain
where he is to be found; Private Ryan is a “needle in a stack of
needles”. The soldiers reluctantly set out on their daunting
mission. Almost immediately, they begin questioning the worth of
risking eight men’s lives in order to save one.
Captain Miller rationalises that each life lost in combat is supposed
to save 10 lives. Within that paradigm, how can their current
mission make any sense? The soldiers begin to detest their
mission to save Private Ryan, even hoping to find his name on one
of the dog tags taken from some dead soldiers.
Captain Miller and the small group of men assigned to him
successfully locate Ryan, but then are forced to defend a strategic
bridge against enemy tanks and troops. Captain Miller is fatally
wounded. In his dying moments, he reaches out to Private Ryan,
and with great emotion says, “Earn this! Earn this!”
Many years later as an old man, James Ryan stands in a military
cemetery tearfully looking at the small white cross that stands
where the man who saved his life is buried. He wonders aloud if he
has indeed earned the great gift he received.
Video Illustration: The Movie Rudy
Based on the true story of Rudy Ruettiger, this film is about friendship, courage, and sacrifice. Rudy (Sean Austin) grew up in a small steel town with the dream of someday playing football for Notre Dame. Despite many obstacles, he refused to give up, and his determination inspired his friends and helped him accomplish his goal.
This Clip: Start 1:33:44
When the captain of the football team wants Rudy to take his place in the championship game, his coach tells him to do the right thing by focusing on the game, not the friendship. Believing he is doing the right thing, the capta...
Are You Being Served? was a British sitcom that ran from 1972 to 1985. It was set in the very old-fashioned Grace Brothers department store, owned by Mr. Grace. The program deals with the working life of the staff of the Ladies’ and Gent’s outfitting departments. Captain Peacock is in overall charge on the floor and Mr. Rumbold is the Manager. Gents’ Outfitting is staffed by Mr. Grainger, the flamboyant Mr. Humphries and Mr. Lucas. Ladies’ Outfitting is staffed by witty, plump and multi colored haired Mrs. Slocomb and the typical blonde character Miss Brahms. This sitcom is a humorous look at the workings of a department store. The title comes from the idea that when customers come into Grace Brothers they are asked, “Are you being served?”
When it comes to Christianity are you the one asking, “Are you being served?” Or are you the one to whom the question is asked. Christians should be like these characters in the department store and ask “Are you being served?” Many times Christians believe that they are the customers. As Christians we are not the customers, we are the service workers.
Many ask, "Where can I get the best deal" instead of where can I serve? We are the Mr. Humphries and Mrs. Slocomb’s to the world.
Yes, from time to time, we need to be served but this should not be our mindset. Our first instict as Christians should be to serve not to be served. Jesus said(Mark 10:45 NIV) For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Dr. Bruce Emmert
On a scale of 1 to 10, how optimistic are you about your future? In that great mid-life crisis movie, City Slickers, Billy Crystal’s character Mitch attends career day at his son’s grade school. Mitch is anything but optimistic. His son had told everyone that his dad was a submarine captain, but he really sells advertising. The kids aren’t interested at all in what he does—and neither is he. In classic Baby Boomer angst, Mitch gives the kids something to think about. He tells the kids to
“Value this time in your life, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so quickly. When you’re a teenager, you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, "What happened to my twenties?" Your forties, you grow a little potbelly, you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Your fifties you have a minor surgery. You’ll call it a procedure, but it’s a surgery. Your sixties you have a major surgery, the music is still loud but it doesn’t matter because you can’t hear it anyway. Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale; you start eating dinner at two, lunch around ten, breakfast the night before. And you spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate in soft yogurt and muttering, "how come the kids don’t call?" By your eighties, you’ve had a major stroke, and you end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse who your wife can’t stand but who you call mama. Any questions? (From City Slickers)
On a scale of 1 to 10, he was a 1—he was a man without hope!
Do we sometimes plough on with a project regardless, without any thought or concern for those people that the Lord has already given to us? It’s the Achilles heel of the evangelist, but Paul knows he cannot ignore the needs of his brothers and sisters who are already in Christ. Neither must we (neither must I) ignore them!
In the film ‘We Were Soldiers’ Mel Gibson is the tough battle hardened US Army Captain. He has a mission to complete, a mini great commission! However, before his men leave for Viet Nam he promises them and their families that he will be the first one to step on to enemy territory, and the last to step off it. He cannot promise that they will all return alive, but he promises that all 395 men will return, dead or alive. He has a mission, and he has plans, but he is always looking out for his men.
So too was Paul. He left Troas to search for Titus.
In the movie Peter Pan (with it recent new release) we see the common picture of Wendy the captive of Captain Hook, and like we have grow to expect Peter flies to the rescue, cuts the bonds, wins her liberty and brings her to safety. This is our picture of a Savior, and that is what we want from Christ. It is one thing to be free but another...
Born into a captain’s family who traded at the East India Company, John Newton (July 24, 1725 – December 21, 1807) embarked on sea voyages at the young age of 11. He soon entered the prosperous slave trade until he nearly died on a voyage that would change his life forever. He proclaimed, “Only God’s amazing grace could and would take a rude, profane, slave-trading sailor and transform him into a child of God.” This would influence his famed hymn Amazing Grace, in which he declared he was once blind but now could see. Newton wrote the hymn after converting to Christianity in 1748 and abandoning his participation in the slave trade. In1764 he was ordained in the Church of England.
William Wilberforce first met John Newton when he (Wilberforce) was a child. Newton was the pastor at the church Wilberforce attended. He (Wilberforce) became reacquainted with Newton in his twenties when Wilberforce was on the brink of a career as a British MP (Member of Parliament). Wilberforce’s outspokenness on the abolition issue may well have also led Newton to make his first public confession of guilt over his past involvement in the slave trade. In the Amazing Grace, Wilberforce visits John Newton twice. The first time he asks Newton for advice about whether to leave politics and join the clergy. And, in hopes of using Newton’s testimony as a former slave trader, Wilberforce visits Newton for a second time, now at St. Mary Woolnoth Church in London. Here Wilberforce discovers that his former pastor is indeed blind.
He (Wilberforce) incorporated Newton’s confession into his plea for abolition. The vote to abolish the slave trade throughout the British Empire finally passed in 1807—the same year John Newton died. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the date when the abolition act first passed the vote of Parliament
Not limiting himself to just abolitionist work, Wilberforce dedicated his life to what he called his "two great objects:" abolishing slavery in the British Empire and what he called "the reformation of manners [society]." To this end, he advocated for child labour laws, campaigned for education of the blind and deaf, and founded organizations as diverse as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the National Gallery (of Art). He managed to get written into the chart of the East Indies Trading Company the right of missionary to also go to India. In short, he paved the way for Christian missionary work in India, but also in West African countries such as Sierra Leone.
PEACE IS POSSIBLE
Tomorrow the new Star Trek movie is starting, and the original series of the 60’s taught another important universal truth: A white American Captain served with a Russian navigator, a Japanese helmsman, a Vulcan first officer and he even kissed the black chief communications officer. The universal truth here is: Peace is possible!