The Thinking Christian Woman

Happy Easter from the Haunted Mansion

 Taking Disney Captive to Christ  Comments Off on Happy Easter from the Haunted Mansion
Apr 142017
 

Taking Disney Captive to Christ – No. 7

At first glance, it may seem that Disneyland offers only egg hunts and bunnies in recognition of the Easter season, but a closer examination reveals a celebration of the real meaning of Easter, of the highest order, in the most unlikely location…the Haunted Mansion queue.

After entering the gates, and zig-zagging the immaculate front yard, guests enter an area to the left of the Mansion that features a crypt with several pun-filled burial markers like “Trudy Departed” and “U.R. Gone.”

Among those markers are startlingly-clear declarations of the heart of Easter. Someone on the Mansion design team must have had a lot of fun coming up with these God-honoring name puns.

On the third day after Jesus died, His followers discovered that His body was gone. His tomb was empty. “And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” Mark 16:6-7


Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you’…” John 14:27-28.

 

Empty Tomb and I’ll Be Back…the essence of Easter in a nutshell!

Waytago Disneyland!

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The Guy on the Other Side

 prayer, relationship with God  Comments Off on The Guy on the Other Side
Jan 232017
 

Recently I’ve been noticing what I focus on when I talk to God – help in a difficult situation, relief from stress,  better ideas about how to handle a problem, something I need, getting someone to change, etc.

It suddenly came to me while listening to all of the great prayers during the 45th U.S. presidential inauguration…there’s a Guy on the other side of those prayers.

When I pray, the Guy-on-the-Other-Side is listening intently to my every word, because He’s in love with me! He wants to be with me, talk with me, exchange ideas and feelings, draw me into a deeper friendship with Him…relationship stuff.

I need that. I get lonely and emotionally needy and people can only do so much. Expecting or requiring them to do more than they can do leads to frustration. Expecting or requiring people to do what God wants to be doing in my life is a kind of idolatry and leads to worse things than frustration.

This change of prayer focus – from results to relationship – is liberating, empowering and full of hope. I’m excited to see where this leads us!

Thank You Jesus, for giving me access to a relationship with the Guy-on-the-Other-Side!

 

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Mar 192015
 

Taking Disney Captive to Christ – No. 6

Swarovski Cinderella slippersIn 1697, Charles Perrault wrote a French once-upon-a-time called Cendrillon, based on a well-known oral tradition in which a young girl, who is as good and kind as she is lovely, endures severe hardship and heartache before her long dark storm of injustice clears and her rainbow comes shining through.

Cendrillon’s inner strength of character will not be overcome by the evil around her. Even when she finally has the power of revenge over those who have cruelly mistreated her, she chooses rather to forgive them.

Nearly 300 years later, in 1950, Walt Disney released an animated version that many view as the iconic retelling of that beloved tale.

Now, 65 years later, Disney Studios offers us a new Cinderella. My brother Donn (who attended USC film school with George Lucas, and appeared in one of Lucas’ student films) describes it as, “A stunningly beautiful live-action update that remains surprisingly faithful to the original, with just enough changed to keep it interesting!”

Uncle Walt (Disney) would be pleased!

Cinderella’s strength and resolve come from her commitment to honor her parents (Exodus 20:12), particularly her mother, who said, “I want to tell you a secret that will see you through all the trials that life can offer: Have courage, and be kind.”

MovieGuide reports that one of Cinderella’s producers, Allison Shearmur, who also worked on The Hunger Games, said Disney was keen to present a “strong and contemporary” heroine for girls around the world. “Ken [director Kenneth Branagh, who also directed Thor in 2011] had a very clear point of view of what was important to him,” Shearmur added. “I remember the first time we met with him, he said,

“Let’s make a story about kindness as a super power.’”

The Thinking Christian Woman knows that kindness IS a superpower. Kindness is not only one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) but the law of kindness is to rule the tongue of every virtuous woman (Proverb 31:26). And for the princes, “What is desired in a man is kindness, and a poor man is better than a liar.” (Proverb 19:22)

Cinderella 2015 is as right as Maleficent 2014 was wrong. Cinderella is a principled heroine that girls, and women of all ages, can look up to and emulate in many ways. MovieGuide critic Diana Tyler, in her, “Cinderella has a message for girls that might shock you,” likens Cinderella to Old Testament heroine’s Ruth and Esther.

Cinderella has been in theatres less than a week, so no plot spoilers, but, if you enjoyed the 1950 animated version, please stay through all of the credits. You will not be disappointed!

transformation

© 2015 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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Mar 172015
 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Many will celebrate this festive day by wearing green, decorating with 4-leaf clovers and leprechauns, and maybe even a good bit of drinking, but is that all there is to be known and celebrated today?

Who is St. Patrick?

Patrick was born to a wealthy Roman/British family. At 16, Irish raiders dragged him off to serve 6 years as a slave in Ireland. Patrick found God while a slave, and in prayer, God told him to flee for freedom. After becoming a priest in what would later become England, Patrick responded to God’s leading to return to Ireland and share the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. It is said that Patrick often used the 3-leaf clover to help explain the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Patrick died on March 17, 461, and is buried in the homeland of his servant’s heart – Ireland.

A reason to celebrate

Patrick became Ireland’s patron saint because of his love for the Irish people. Patrick’s heroic obedience to God’s call, and his courageous self-sacrifice to return to the land of his captivity, brought the penetrating light of God’s love and truth to clear the spiritual fog engulfing Ireland. Heroism, courage, self-sacrifice, love and truth – all good reasons to celebrate!

So, even though this has become a day for dyeing the Chicago River green, drinking green beer (perhaps to excess), and laughing at the antics of leprechauns, YOU know the real meaning of this day, and YOU can celebrate better than ever based on that deeper, richer, more fulfilling knowledge.

As the Good Book says, “…add to your faith, virtue, to virtue knowledge…” (2 Peter 1:5)

Better than a pot ‘o gold!

Folklore spins a tale about leprechauns secreting away a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. Folklore also says that if you catch a leprechaun, it can grant three wishes in exchange for release. But are leprechauns really as silly, playful and harmless as portrayed in our common culture?

First of all, leprechauns are not real, they are not part of God’s creation. Secondly, leprechauns were understood to be the offspring of evil spirits (demons) and mischievous fairies. Current depictions of leprechauns are based on derogatory 19th century stereotypes of Irishmen.

As a college literature major, I learned that fairies, elves, trolls, genies, etc. were invented in literature to represent actual spiritual beings. Those that do good represent the angels who remain loyal to God. Those that do evil or mischief represent the fallen angels whose aim is to destroy mankind. What do you think? Were leprechauns invented to represent benevolent spiritual beings? And if not, do we really want to populate our homes, cubicles, or even church fellowship halls with them?

The Good Book says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…”      (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

As we think about St. Patrick today, we don’t have to settle for drowning our sorrows, or hoping for leprechaun wishes or their gold. As the warm light of God’s uncommon love and truth burn away the spiritual fog perpetrated by common culture, we can celebrate this fun day with knowledge and wisdom and genuine faith, all of which are much more valuable than gold! (Psalm 19, 1 Peter 1:7)

And if there is sadness, heaviness, worry on this day, the Thinking Christian Woman can take it to God in prayer (James 5:13), and throw it over onto Him, because He cares for her (1 Peter 5:7). And as for wishes, I believe God when He says in Psalm 37 verse 4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

I won’t settle for anything less! How about you?

 

© 2015 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

 

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The Bethlehem Report

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on The Bethlehem Report
Dec 252014
 

Manger scene

What if Jesus was being born in 2014?

How might the news media cover events surrounding His unusual birth?

San Diego’s news radio team (KOGO, AM 600) gave its answer on Christmas Eve in a radio drama (remember Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds”?) called “The Bethlehem Report.”

With breaking news about a bright light in the Middle-East (even Late Night’s Art Bell weighs in), litigious scandal about a pregnant woman in labor turned away from a local inn, and possible police action in case of an insurrection over an alleged newborn king, The Bethlehem Report renders a well-known tale of antiquity as contemporary as today’s news.

When Christmas quiets down for you, why not find a comfy spot and click on the link to hear an archived copy of the 53-minute broadcast. I was blown away that such a godly program would be produced by the news radio station of America’s 8th largest city. Please leave a comment with your thoughts.

Merry Christmas!

 

© 2014 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oct 212014
 

babyFifty-nine years ago today, baby “Wayne” (as his family called him) was born in Reid Memorial Hospital, Richmond, Indiana, home of the Purdue Boilermakers, due east of Indianapolis near the Ohio border.

 

It’s a rare and wonderful experience to meet and interact with a “famous” person, without knowing who they are. That’s how I met Wayne, forty years later, in March of 1995, in the Navajo Nation near Window Rock, Arizona, 1995 - Window Rock AZ 2during a week-long stay at Hilltop Christian School on the reservation with my mother and father, Christian author and film maker, Ken Anderson. Our purpose: to collaborate with local Navajo believers on an exploratory Teen Missions video script with the working title, “Forgiveness.”

 

I was alone at the guest house one morning when he burst in like a prairie twister, looking for someone who wasn’t there. We talked briefly. He looked scruffy, wearing only a white t-shirt and tattered denim shorts (even though it was snowing outside). He seemed uncomfortable, nervous, distracted, and out of place. I had no idea who he was.scruffy

 

Over time, I learned he was a fellow Hoosier, just two years older than I, and, more significantly, that he was Richard Wayne Mullins, better known as Rich Mullins, the extremely gifted musician through whom God had produced such classics as Sing Your Praise to the Lord (Amy Grant’s first hit), Awesome God, and Step by Step (Sometimes by Step).

 

hoganWhat I didn’t know, was that Rich was actually living in a hogan on the reservation. Though nearly 40, he was about to graduate from Friends University with a degree he pursued just to officially qualify to teach music education to the native children at Hilltop.

 

One evening, I sat on the living room floor at a small youth group gathering as Rich talked about writing Awesome God, and Step by Step (with Beaker), then played guitar and led us in those, and other, worship songs.

 

I noticed him several times that week, working on various service projects around the compound with college students who had come to minister on spring break.

 

The last night of our stay, Rich generously played piano and shared from his heart for about a hundred people in the school auditorium. It was my first exposure to the more innovative spiritual insights and incisive music and lyrics of this agitated, eccentric, poet-prophet. Rich seemed ill-suited in his own skin and misplaced on the planet. I found his spiritual transparency and musical talent alarming and magnetic. As a delightfully childlike treat, he divided us into sections and taught us to “make rain” using just our hands to produce simple sound effects, which, when combined, did sound remarkably like rain.

Though his music made millions, Rich gave everything away to Christian ministries and the poor, except for an allowance equal to the average American salary. Following in the bare footsteps of St. Francis, he literally accepted the same invitation Jesus gave to the rich young ruler in Luke 12:15-21, to give up everything and become rich toward God.

closeness quote

When I learned of his death in a traffic accident two and a half years later, my first reaction was relief. It seemed he didn’t really want to be here anyway, and now he was released to explore the boundless love of God unfettered by earth’s limitations.

Once when a friend told him that the friend’s grandmother had just died, Rich simply replied, “Good for her.”

 

In his own words, from the song “Elijah”:

 When I leave I want to go out like Elijah
With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire
And when I look back on the stars
It’ll be like a candlelight in Central Park
And it won’t break my heart to say goodbye

 

Be sure to check out Ragamuffin, the 2014 movie on the life of Rich Mullins. As of this posting, it can be found on Netflix, Amazon, and Google Play. Also, here’s most of a Wheaton College chapel concert at my alma mater, just 5 months before he died.

© 2014 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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The Star-Spangled Bicentennial

 freedom, patriotic  Comments Off on The Star-Spangled Bicentennial
Sep 142014
 

Star Spangled Banner 1200 years ago today, a young lawyer wrote a love poem to a patchwork of colored wool and cotton. Could he have imagined that his poem would be sung by millions and ultimately, become the anthem of our nation?

In 1814 the United States of America was engaged in the Second War of Independence – the War of 1812 – fought over promises made, but not kept, by the British after the Revolutionary War. As part of that conflict, on August 24th, 1814, the British invaded Washington DC and burned the White House, the Capitol Building and the Library of Congress.

One week later, Francis Scott Key, a 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, rowed out in a little boat to a British Naval vessel anchored off Baltimore to negotiate the release of Dr. William Beanes who had been captured during the Washington raid. The two were detained on ship for over a week to keep them from warning the Americans of the planned attack on strategic Fort McHenry.

For 25 horrific hours, 16 British warships relentlessly bombed the fort, stopping only when ammunition finally ran out. Key and Beanes paced the deck all night. At dawn on September 14, 1814, exactly 200 years ago today, they strained through the mist and smoke to answer the question burning in their hearts, “Is our flag still there?”

The stirring sight of that grand symbol of victory and freedom marked a turning point in the war (just 3 months later, the British signed a peace agreement), and inspired Key to scribble the first verse of his love poem on the back of a letter.

The 36 x 40 foot garrison flag Key saw by the dawn’s early light was sewn in the summer of 1813 under the direction of widow Mary Pinckersgill by 4 teenage girls: her daughter, two nieces, and an African American indentured girl. The commander of Ft. McHenry commissioned the flag, knowing that his fort, guarding Baltimore harbor, would be a likely British target.

Despite most myths about Old Glory – including the famous tale of Betsy Ross – which arose many years after the first war of independence, the American flag did not play a major role in the Revolutionary War. The American flag was created primarily to identify ships and forts. Revolutionary patriots used other symbols—the eagle, Lady Liberty, George Washington— to define their national identity. The War of 1812 inspired a fresh wave of patriotism in the hearts of a generation too young to remember the Revolution which occurred 30 years earlier. Key’s declaration that “our flag was still there,” fused the physical symbol of the nation with universal feelings of patriotism, courage, resilience, national identity, unity, and pride. And by giving it a name—the Star-Spangled Banner—he transformed the official emblem into something tangible that Americans could rally around.

Congress made “The Star-Spangled Banner” our official national anthem on March 3, 1931 – 116 years after it was written.

New York stockbroker Eben Appleton inherited the original Star-Spangled Banner upon his mother’s death in 1878. The publicity it received in the 1870s had transformed it into a national treasure. Appleton freely lent it out for patriotic occasions. The flag’s deteriorating condition eventually led him to keep it in a safe-deposit vault in New York. In 1912 he gave the Star-Spangled Banner to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History (check out the interactive flag feature at this site) with the wish that it would always be on public view. A previous post, His Star-Spangled Banner Over Us is Love, highlighted some of the stirring, godly content of our national anthem.

Young Francis Scott Key probably didn’t aspire to write our national anthem, he was simply responding to life as God presented it to him. Each day, the Thinking Christian Woman can ask herself, “What can I do today for Christ and His kingdom that will bless others and stand the test of time and eternity?”

© 2014 Melody K. Anderson All Rights Reserved

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Sep 102014
 

Bookcases for the attic - smaller

Pictured two bookcases for the newly-finished attic to hold journals and such. Not important enough to spend money on, but a want none-the-less, so I asked the Lord to provide them in a way that would glorify and please Him, if it was His will for me to have them. (remembering back to things like the gardening table in Convicting Blessings – a webfession)

Within a week, I was driving down the alley and saw one perfect bookcase in one block, then two more about a half block on down, and finally a fourth! Came back later with the wagon and picked up the best two. “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

The thinking Christian woman knows that the Lord doesn’t always answer with a “Yes.” He always answers, but sometimes the answer is “No,” and sometimes “Not now.”

This time, it was as if He was saying, “Take your pick my love, or take all of them! I came to give you abundant life!”

I am giving Him glory for being such a sweet, attentive, and faithful friend, and for giving me more-than-enough (abundant) bookcases!

There’s NO God like Jehova!

 

© 2014 Melody K. Anderson All Rights Reserved

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Jul 182014
 

By guest blogger Sara Clarke

stop sign

Yes, I texted at a stop sign, letting family know I was heading home.

“Driving. Stop sigh. Home soon.”

Autocorrect pointed the way to a godly pause built into every commute. I don’t have to continually carry cares. Every red octagon can be a reminder to stop, sigh, and cast all of my cares on Him because He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).

The Thinking Christian Woman can use these common visuals as opportunities to breathe (sigh) her cares to her Lord, who loves her so!

© 2014 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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Maleficent – Not the story you’ve been told

 discernment, righteousness, Taking Disney Captive to Christ, victory, vigilance  Comments Off on Maleficent – Not the story you’ve been told
Jun 212014
 

Taking Disney Captive to Christ – No. 5

Maleficent opened in theaters three weekends ago as a tantalizing twist on a timeless tale; innovative, visually stunning, well-acted, provocative…and dangerously wrong!

Maleficent wings

(spoiler-alert! this article reveals plot details)

As a Literature major at Wheaton College in Chicago, I studied Folk Literature under Gary Rundquist, and learned that “The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood” is a centuries-old fairy tale in which an evil and envious fairy named Maleficent curses the infant Princess Aurora, sentencing her to die by finger prick on her 16th birthday. Good fairy Merryweather ameliorates, but cannot undo, the curse; Aurora will not die, but only sleep for 100 years, or until awakened by true love’s kiss. The whole kingdom will sleep as well to spare them the agony of her absence.

Before we go forward, let’s be clear on a fundamental literary reality:  fiction does not always equal falsehood, and non-fiction does not always equal truth.

Though fictitious, the main purpose of fairy tales is to convey universal moral truths in an entertaining and memorable fashion. A fairy tale consists of a simple narrative dealing with supernatural beings, told for the amusement (mostly) of children (but also for adults).

Throughout the ages, names have been extremely important in fairy tales, as they are in the Bible. “Maleficent” means, “being, and wanting to do, evil; harmfully malicious.” This is her name. This is who she is. She is not a human woman. She is an evil fairy; a supernatural character.

In Disney’s latest iteration, Maleficent starts out pure and innocent, then becomes evil because of mistreatment, only to redeem herself and become good again. But there is no truth in that tale! Supernatural characters, such as fairies and trolls are literary representations of the very real spiritual powers and principalities at work in our world. Some are good. Some are evil. But none are both beneficent and maleficent.

In the works of J.R.R. Tolkein (ie. the Lord of the Rings trilogy), all supernatural characters are either good or bad, while human characters are both good and bad – in keeping with clear Bible teaching.

The only supernatural beings who ever supposedly started out good and chose to become evil are the pridefully rebellious archangel Lucifer (better known as Satan or the Devil) and those angels who followed him in the fall (demons). “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:9) As harsh as it might seem from our limited earthly perspective, there’s no going back, no redemption, for them.

Fairy tales have always been malleable; stamped with a timeless literary admonition “Bend, but do not break.” Most of the fairy tales we know – Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, etc. – have existed in a variety of forms, some much more violent than their modern counterparts, while retaining a central moral message.

Disney’s uplifting and powerful 1959 animated classic got it right; clearly portraying that virtue, truth, and righteousness will overcome the forces of evil.

Prince Phillip (the Christ figure in the story because he puts his life on the line for Princess Aurora and the whole cursed kingdom – greater love has no man…) Prince Phillip sword and shieldis outfitted for the deadly battle by the good fairy Flora, who says, “Wait, Prince Phillip. The road to true love may be barred by still many more dangers, which you alone will have to face. So arm thyself with this enchanted Shield of Virtue, and this mighty Sword of Truth, for these weapons of righteousness will triumph over evil. Now come, we must hurry.” (His shield clearly bears a cross)

During their fight, Maleficent further reveals her true nature by invoking the powers of hell and transforming into a gigantic, fire-breathing dragon. This same creature appears nightly on the Rivers of America at Disneyland during the Fantasmic show. It is a frightening sight. Here’s how the scene plays in the 1959 animated feature:

[Prince Phillip cuts through the forest of thorns and rides toward King Stefan’s castle]
Maleficent: No! It cannot be!

dragon fire[transforms herself into a whirlwind and appears in front of Phillip, blocking his path]
Maleficent: Now, shall you deal with ME, O Prince – and all the powers of HELL!
[laughing, she transforms herself into a huge dragon; Phillip charges]

shield of virtuePrince Phillip defeats the dragon with his weapons of righteousness (see Ephesians 6), and, having proven his selfless love, overcomes the curse and awakens (resurrects) the princess and the kingdom.

In the 2014 retelling, Maleficent does not turn into a dragon, but rather orders her crow to play that part (perpetuating the charade that she is good deep down inside). In 2014, Prince Phillip is superfluous, not fighting for Aurora, and not wanting to kiss her because he just met her (a good point to make, but out of context with the deeper meanings of the classic story). Once he does kiss her, she remains asleep. Apparently there is no such thing as true love to break the spell. But wait, the much-maligned Maleficent’s matronly forehead kiss does wake Aurora! And so, the one who suffered so, and whose evil is therefore justified, the one who cursed Aurora to death in the first place in a fit of rage, becomes the blessed one who resurrects her. Isn’t that nice?

The End. Clap-clap-clap.

Trailers for the film tease audiences with, “you know the tale; now find out the truth.” One can almost hear the hisses in Eden, “Did God really say…?” (see Genesis 3)

Maleficent 2014 is dangerously wrong because it is beautiful, heart-wrenching, compelling, and as such, deadens our discernment to the reality that maleficent supernatural beings will always seek our harm, are never to be trusted, given hospitality, or even pitied, but rather are to be called what they are and opposed to the death with weapons of righteousness.the dragonThe Thinking Christian Woman is not ignorant of the Serpent’s (Dragon’s) disguises and devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). The Thinking Christian Woman knows that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

Maleficent 2014 opens with the tantalizing words, “this isn’t the story you’ve been told.” What it never admits is that we have not been told this story because it has no lasting value, no central truth, no life-giving lesson.

Maleficent 2014 attempts to exalt itself against the knowledge of God. The goal of this article is to bring it captive to the obedience of Christ.

Christ on throne

Maleficent looking up

 

 

 

 

Whether you have seen the movie or not, I would be interested in your thoughts. Please feel free to leave a comment.

 

© 2014 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

 

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