One Thing I Learned About Mary Poppins…
Interesting that Ron Dunn would be leading a deep dive into the 10 Commandments at One Th1ng the same week I watched “Saving Mr. Banks”. I just might not have seen the connection between this movie and the second commandment, had God not juxtaposed these two events so closely.
No big spoiler here – if you’ve read the title of the movie, you know “Saving Mr. Banks” is a statement of identity for Mary Poppins. It’s what she was created to do: save Mr. Banks. The movie covers two stories in parallel: the childhood of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers and the 1960s collaboration between Walt Disney Studios that gave birth to the big screen film. So, what does this have to do with the Ten Commandments, much less you and I?
Thanks, for asking. Let me dive into the “you and I” part first and the Commandment part should become pretty obvious along the roadside.[Spoiler?] As Travers’ father’s alcoholism began to take its toll on her father’s health and her mother began to break down under the stress, her aunt enters the picture – on whom she’d later base the beloved Poppins. But, this Mary Poppins – to save the family from utter destruction. But, while this Poppins could offer help to Travers’ beleaguered mother and siblings and limited care to her dying father, she couldn’t save her father from the damage already done. The story left me wondering how much of our adult lives we often spend trying to right childhood wrongs. Travers, who loved her father’s whimsical imaginations, apparently shut her self off from all childhood fun, save that which she wrote about in her books.
Mary Poppins was sent to save Mr. Banks since her own aunt could not save her own dad. In other words, Travers created for herself a savior who would make all things right that she could not…
I know, that’s a little heavy for Monday Morning Momentum, isn’t it?
Not for the Christian. For those who are in Christ, we understand God as the loving father far better than Travers’ faulty dad. Our Sovereign Father doesn’t have an alcohol problem or a bad temper at work, and He appreciates whimsy far more than even Colin Firth can revel in. Because He loves us now, and Israel long before us, He gave the command to worship no rival gods. The second commandment warns us not to even dream up our own physical representation of Him, because such things always fall short, and will consequently leave us only temporarily fulfilled and unsaved from our greatest need. The Disney story shows Travers reaching a final, cathartic salvation when she sees her father figure, Mr. Banks, alive and well and frolicking with his children – eventually flying kites they repaired with money her own father would have made her invest.
Who Made Your God?
Though she may have experienced temporal justice, without a true Savior, she’d never truly know the good of a perfect and loving Heavenly Father.
Do not act like the other nations…Their ways are futile and foolish.
They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol.
They decorate it with gold and silver
and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails
so it won’t fall over… such gods,
for they can neither harm you nor do you any good. (Jer. 10:2-3,5)
If Travers spent much of her adult life writing, forming a savior decorated with earthly wisdom, silvery songs, and fancy on pages her typewriter hit like hammer and nails, she’d have created a god that could only save her from the wrongs of her childhood. Easy mistake: even the disciples often mistook Jesus as one who would merely save them from the oppression of Rome and earthly princes. They would scatter at His death because they missed the fact that He died to save them, save Travers, save all of us, from something far greater – a future eternity separated from God. Ironic that Mary Poppins would be so famous for quoting that “some people cannot see past the tip of their own nose…” Her man-made idol’s power went only so far.
The Good News:
In Christ, you have a Savior – capital “s” – who does not promise you mere temporal justice. Things done to you or not done for you in childhood may not be reconciled this side of heaven. But, one day, He will wipe away every tear from our eyes and we will reign with Him in glory. Wrong will be made right. The wicked will be cast off. And, those who are cleansed by the atoning work of Christ will not gloat over this, rather rest in the peace and joy that only a Savior created by God can promise.
So, Lemme Askya
Is there anything – a situation, a relationship, a deal, an ideal – that you’ve created in your life to fix what didn’t happen or didn’t happen as well as you wished in childhood? Any temporal problem you’re striving and striving to save yourself from while God is calling you to set your eyes on the greater problem of eternal salvation? Do as Moses did – crush the idol to powder and feed it to the Israelites… Okay, maybe not the second part. But, repentance for this is simple – “Lord, I’ve bowed down to a god that can scarcely save me from my own past. I want a God who can save me from my future.”
John Woodall & his wife, Deborah
John is director of Groups for
North Point Community Church
and like me, a member of the
“I Married UP” club. Much love, John
Note: Today, I wanted to pass on a note from John Woodall to the men who often gather at the Cabernet Restaurant on Friday mornings from 7AM to 7:55. If you’ve never attended ONE TH1NG, this would be a great week to check in. It’s a come-as-you-are-when-you-can-we’ll-fill-you-in-as-we-go kind of conversational environment designed to spur men on to walk with God.
If there’s a guy out there who knows a thing or two about walking with God (and walking with men who walk with God), John Woodall is that guy. Everytime John and I connect, he throws out a question that challenges me as a man and always makes me think, pray, and search the scriptures. That’s the kind of guy every man needs in his life, wouldn’t you agree?
Get up, get out, and get there this Friday.
We can’t ignore it, so we go on a quest to remove it …or at least try to fix it.
Men try many different things to numb, deny,run from and cope with the Ache…as if it is a problem to be solved.
This “Ache” is in the soul of man and shows up in different times and seasons.
Last week we looked at a number of seasons:
- 0-10 there is the ache of Unmet Needs
- In our teens there is the ache of Rejection
- In our 20’s, men ask, “What ache?”
- 30’s bring the ache of Disappointments
- The 40’s is a season of Disillusionments
- 50-60’s men experience Dissatisfaction and
- In our 70-80’s men just ache.
I have been on a 58-year quest to remove this ache only to discover a very important insight…
What we really need is a Direction Correction.
Join us Friday morning as we unpack well-grounded strategies to deal with the aches in every season of life.
Make an extra effort to invite or pick up and bring another man…. I guarantee some very lively conversations and direction based on truth.
See you early!
– John Woodall
My Achy, Breaky Heart When I look up at this massive universe and see how big it is I’ve often wondered, “Why?”, “What’s the purpose?”, “Why am I here?” “Does my life even matter?”
On the one hand there is incredible beauty and on the other incredulous evil.
Recently, I found myself asking, “How do I deal with the pain of disappointment, disillusionment and a messed up world?
It hurts. It aches.
Most of our lives are filled with more good things than we would have ever imagined including love and joy and peace; yet right next to it, we struggle with anger, greed, jealousy and lust.
It is a struggle. It’s a daily battle and we ache.
Men today have many options to navigate the ache.
Often, we choose to medicate with busyness, money, medication or an unsustainable pace. Still the ache lingers.
Too many walk around as Medicated Men.
There is a better way…a more manly way…and it carries God’s seal of approval.
Join us at the tables this Friday as we discover how to deal with the aches of this life.
– John Woodall
What’s Got Your Eye?
This year, as our church-wide fast began, I felt compelled to dig into Psalm 119. Glad I did.
“Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.
It’s All About Value
Free Chapel embarks on a corporate, 3-day “water only” followed by 18 days of “Daniel Fast“. I never truly realize how valuable something is to me until I don’t have it. You? Yeah, I value water. MAN, I value food! Unfortunately, I have an addiction – refined sugar. That’s one food I value above all others. I’ll eat refined sugar products – desserts, cereals, candy, desserts to a gluttonous level – often to control my mood rather than for my stomach. Sugar is nowhere on the Ten Commandments, but abuse of any substance is idolatry and begs the question: “why would anyone want to delight in anything less than Jesus?” For me, it’s a rival god, it’s nutritionally worthless and it’s killing me and my potential with my own fork/spoon/hand.
Not everyone struggles with food addictions, but we all struggle with something. In the past, I’ve tried to manage my refined sugar addiction by behavior modification: “don’t”, much like I used to try to manage my addiction to pornography. Knowing that, Lord willing, this year I will celebrate 12 years clean from pornography, I understand that defeating that demon wasn’t about behavior modification, it was about hating the sin and surrender to Christ… oh, and a supernatural act of the Spirit, no?
When we come into alignment with what God values, we begin to love what He loves and hate what He hates. Selfish ambition is gradually replaced with God-ambition. When it comes to food, I need a double dose of love for God and a dose of hate for what is worthless. What’s your rival god? What are you using to fill that familiar empty feeling? What do you occasionally value more than God and His plan for your life?
Filling in the Blank
|John Woodall will kick
off a transformational
ONE TH1NG this Friday.
We all have a blank spot in us, an ache, a God-sized hole in our hearts that we try to fill in with lesser solutions: accomplishment, material gain(s), sex, drugs, etc, things that at the judgment seat of Christ will be exposed for their true value – worthless. Side note: If you’re a man in the Alpharetta/Cumming area, you don’t want to miss John Woodall at ONE TH1NG this Friday morning at the Cabernet Restaurant at 7AM. He’ll be talking about the ache – an ache that in a Genesis 3 world, refuses to be healed until Christ returns.
In the meantime, the Psalmist points out the relationship between life and things: it is the nature of worthless things to suck the life out of us rather than to preserve our life. And yet, we chase after this stuff, often to the exclusion of the life giving plan that the life giving God has for us. Selfish ambition always finds us knocking on the door of stuff that is utterly worthless in God’s eyes. “Can you please fill in my blank?”
In fasting, I am constantly reminded that I am blessed with opportunities to clean out the clutter that clogs my heart – literally and figuratively. The challenge is keeping it out. Behavior mod is a short road leading back to square one. Only a transformed mind and surrendered heart will do.
Experience True Life
Today, I encourage you to give up food or something incredibly valuable for more than 48 hours. You know your idols and rival gods. Pick one, but try food first. Then, pray as the psalmist did that God will help you keep your eyes and heart delighted in Him and away from things that are ultimately worthless in His economy.
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ bless you, sanctify you, and transform you into the image of Christ you were designed to be from the start.
In 1986, garbage was piling up on the streets of Philadelphia. The sanitation department was on strike. Joseph Paolino and Sons moved opportunistically securing a contract with the city that involved collecting, burning, incinerating and then removing the ash.
How? The ashes were piled on a freighter called The Pelicano with a disposal trip planned to a third word country. One problem. Joseph and Sons did not properly segregate the trash before feeding the incinerator.
Everything from orange peels and plastic to aluminum, copper, car batteries and light bulbs were blended together and in the end formed 28 million tons of toxic ash. Haiti, Honduras, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic… port after port turned them away. The Pelicano became the most unwanted ship in the world and for two years it went from point to port, refueling, but leaving with it’s garbage.
Can you relate? For 15 years I was the Pelicano…docking and refueling at church on Sundays and in a men’s group on Fridays, gaining some energy, but still leaving with my toxic garbage.
In Matthew 11:25 Jesus is getting ready to tell us how to get rid of our garbage…
He had just talked about the people and cities that would not repent. Now he thanks God that it is His plan to withhold the answer to those who consider themselves knowledgeable and wise, but reveals truth and reserves relationship for the childlike… a contrast to those who want to act independently of God and those who depend on the Father.
After this prayer of thanks, Jesus lays One Thing out: Come unto me all you who are weak and heavy laden…those carrying garbage around for years…and I will give you rest.
So what if Jesus had changed it up just a bit?… What if he said…and I will sell you rest. Would this be on your gift giving and gift getting list this Christmas?
How much would you pay?… Seriously…think about it!
The great news…it is free!
If you have been carrying a heavy load of trash, it’s time to lay it down.
As we are nearing December 24th and 25th…Christmas, It’s time…
Identify your garbage. All the trash that you no longer want to haul around.
Come to Jesus… lay it before Him, acknowledge…repent
Invest some necessary time around the closing verses of Matthew 11…
This Christmas I will precede our family gift-giving time by placing one wrapped package upfront and center….
Inside the package will be four wooden letters… R-E-S-T. …The perfect gift that Jesus is willing to freely give….
The heart of Christmas.
Men…somehow, in some way take the lead this Christmas and in a few memorable moments, with your family, from your personal experience, luxuriate this opportunity and share some dimension of what it means to “Come.”
One on one with Jesus, it’s time to discover rest.
– Ron Dunn