Why I enjoyed Exodus: Gods and Kings

exodus-poster-1Last week, I went to see Exodus: Gods and Kings. I remember first seeing the trailer for it a few months ago and being instantly intrigued and interested. I rarely ever go see movies in theaters, but I knew I wanted to watch this one. And I’m really glad I did. In fact, I really enjoyed it.

Of course, because Exodus is a retelling of a Bible story and because two other huge films have already been made on the same story (Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments in 1956 and the 1998 DreamWorks film The Prince of Egypt), Exodus has been scrutinized from the very beginning. Especially in the Christian community, people were concerned that director Ridley Scott would take way too many creative liberties with the plot and characters.

Well, Ridley Scott certainly took creative liberties. Even more than the creators of The Ten Commandments and The Prince of Egypt. In fact, Exodus really only followed the main pillars of the Biblical plot: the Israelites in slavery, Moses being called by God to deliver them, the ten plagues, the parting/crossing of the Red Sea. Many of the details were completely different from what we attribute to the real story in the book of Exodus.

But despite all of this, I enjoyed watching the film. I’m really glad I went. Here’s why:

Exodus: Gods and Kings made me think. It presented a story I’ve known all of my life from a completely different perspective. And while this perspective was inaccurate in many respects, it caused me to reconsider my preconceived notions of the Bible that I’ve developed which may not be as true as I once thought they were.

For example, Ridley Scott chose to portray God in the form of an eleven-year-old boy with a very questionable personality. I found this portrayal to be strange and concerning, but it made me deeply consider my view of God. When it comes to Biblical stories like the exodus, I think we tend to see God as a disembodied, deep booming voice without much depth to His character. So seeing God depicted in a totally opposite manner was good for me. It was a good reminder to me that God is so much deeper than we often make Him out to be.

The storyline of Exodus also includes an enormous number of details that are nowhere to be found in the Biblical story. But that made me realize: we don’t know a bunch of the details. In fact, many of the details that we do treat as Biblical fact aren’t that at all. Just as Ridley Scott filled in the holes with his ideas for the plot, so do we Christians. If you go back and read the story in the Bible, you might be surprised to find what isn’t in the story that we all assume is fact. Watching Exodus helped me to think about the human element of the story of the exodus, something I think we often forget. It provided human plot details that may or may not have been true. But either way, it made me think.

exodus-wave-posterSomething I very much appreciated about Exodus was that I never got the impression that this film was an attempt to discredit the Biblical account. Sure, it took a lot of liberties, some of which were not accurate. And yes, it did try to naturalize some of the plagues. And I did disagree with how the parting of the Red Sea was depicted. But through all of that, I never felt as if the creators were attacking the Bible story. In fact, I appreciated and respected the creativity and thought put into the film by Ridley Scott and everyone else.

Ridley Scott is a self-described atheist. But he doesn’t attack the Bible. In fact, throughout the film, despite the inaccuracies, I see respect for the original story. And that is remarkable. I think it’s neat that an “avowed atheist” would create a film of such depth based on the Bible.

After I saw the film, I was asked if I’d recommend it to anyone to see. And I had to stop and think before answering. My answer was this: If you’re looking to watch a Bible story on film, then don’t see Exodus. But if you’re looking to be challenged and to think, then by all means do so. If you enjoy movies of depth that leave you pondering and reflective, then this is the movie for you. And even if you don’t enjoy the story, the cinematography is phenomenal. I almost think it alone was worth my ticket.

I very much enjoyed seeing Exodus: Gods and Kings. It wasn’t what I expected. But it was good. It made me think hard about a lot of elements in the story. So to Ridley Scott, I say well done. I very much respect your work. Thank you for not attacking the Bible, but helping me be intentional about what I do believe.

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A Tangled Journey – Let’s Review

While the Disney movie Tangled is not a perfect movie by a long shot (there are definitely themes I disagree with in the movie), it has provided some neat insights into life. Today’s post concludes my five-part series examining Tangled and our own lives’ stories. In this post, I want to review some of the highlights from my past posts and leave you with some key takeaways.

  1. While “When Will My Life Begin?” is a really fun song, we should view life a little differently. God has placed each of us where we are for a reason. If we are living according to His will, His plan for our lives, then we’re right where He wants us to be right now. The future is always a day away! We shouldn’t life our lives waiting for our life to begin. It’s already started! Live your life in the center of God’s will now. Live it doing what He’s called you to now.
  2. Our dreams should be bigger than just us. Flynn and Rapunzel give us great examples of this. Both of them had dreams that were all about themselves. But they realized that life was bigger than just them. And ultimately each of them were willing to sacrifice themselves for someone else. Our dreams should be the same way. God gives us dreams, and we should fulfill them will all of our heart.
  3. Everyone has a story! The reason stories like Tangled connect and resonate with us so much is because each of us has a story! But our stories are a part of a bigger, grander story – God’s story! Your story matters!
  4. We get a storybook ending! Life can be frustrating at times. But we know the end of the story! At the end, we will spend eternity with our Father That’s a “happily ever after” ending if there ever was one. Live today with confidence in tomorrow!

But here’s the really cool part – each of our stories are still in progress! Live life in the center of God’s will, and you’ll never go wrong. You’ll be writing His perfect story for your life. We can keep the end in sight, knowing what we’re living for.

Just imagine all that we get to accomplish between now and the end of the story! Think of the chapters to fill; the adventures to be had! Go, tell your story!

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Do I Get a Storybook Ending?

happily ever afterThe past couple of weeks, we’ve learning some neat lessons from Disney’s Tangled and discovering how principles from Tangled apply to our own lives’ stories. But what about the ending? I mean, Tangled has a pretty good ending (spoiler alert!). Eugene rescues Rapunzel, Rapunzel saves Eugene, they get married, and they live happily ever after. How much better can it get, right? But what about each of our stories? Do we get a storybook ending?

When I first started thinking about writing this post, my answer to that question was “no.” I had this idea to write about how our stories probably won’t end like a storybook but how we just need to trust in God no matter how the story ends. It was going to be a great post, except for one thing. My premiss was all wrong! We do get a “happily ever after” ending!

Think back for a minute to my last post. In that post, we talked about how each of our stories are just a part of God’s bigger, greater story. And we know that His story has a good ending. So if our stories are a part of that, then our stories also have a good ending. And think about when our story does end. I guess you could say our story ends when our life here on earth ends. So what’s the ending? The ending is going home! And living happily ever after! Literally! How cool is that?

I know it’s easy for me to get so caught up in what’s going on in my story right now that I forget the ending. I forget what I’m living for. I’m not living for ease and comfort. I’m not living for myself. I’m living for Christ and to further His kingdom! My story has a good ending! Regardless of the struggles we have here on earth, regardless of the attacks by Satan, we know how the story ends. The battle is already won! Christ is the victor! We spend eternity with our Father!

So don’t be jealous of those storybook endings like that of Tangled. Just keep your life in the right perspective. Remember what you have to look forward to. Live today with confidence in tomorrow!

HappilyEverAfter

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Everyone Has a Story

After writing my two posts examining themes from Tangled (“When Will My Life Begin” and “What’s Your Dream?“), I started thinking about why Tangled is so neat and why it can be so powerful. And I realized something pretty obvious – it’s the story. We relate to the story, we connect with it. Why? Because each of us has a story. I have a story. You have a story. Everyone has a story.

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Isn’t that neat? God has placed each of us where we are with a purpose in mind. He’s given us a mission, a story. Our lives are stories in progress. Who’s the author? I think we have a tendency to want to write our own story, I know I do. But who started the story? God did. He’s the author of our story! He’s the one who knows each chapter, who knows the storyline, and who knows how it will end.

Viewing my life as a story excites me and helps me understand life a little better. There are ups and downs, good parts and bad parts, in every story. But every piece matters and contributes to making the story what it is. When I’m in the middle of a story, I don’t always understand why a certain scene matters, why this one thing had to happen, but it all comes together in the end. And that’s how life is! When we’re in the middle of something, we can’t always understand why it’s happening, or how it will turn out for good, but, just like a story, everything in our lives is a part of our story that God is writing. Of course, this doesn’t excuse any mistakes we make. When we make bad choices, that affects our story, potentially in a negative way.

The coolest part of this, though, is that our stories aren’t really our own. Our stories are just pieces of an even bigger, grander story – God’s story! Throughout the history (His-story!), God has been telling the story of who He is and His love. All of our stories contribute to His story.

Now it makes more sense why we connect and relate to stories like Tangled. We see our own stories and our own circumstances reflected in the characters, the situations, and the storyline. We love stories because we have stories.

But so what? Why does all of this matter? Because your story is a part of God’s story, your story matters. So tell your story! Live your story! Allow God to use you as He chooses. Let Him write your story. And hear others’ stories. Listen to them! You’ll be amazed at the incredible story God is telling through all of us!

everyone_has_a_story

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