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Greetings! Here’s my final Half Dozen for 2014. Merry Christmas! Enjoy the celebration of the Christ child, coming to earth to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).

  1. The most powerful movie critic

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly is behind the threat of Sony Pictures cancelling its showing of the movie “The Interview.” When I first heard about this, I thought it was a joke. I thought this was some kind of Hitchcock-ian method to market this film.

I don’t really care about this movie. My silly response would be I wish Kim would dislike more movies that have been released. In fact, I thought about a regular feature for this blog column: “Movies I wish Kim Jong Un disapproved.” Two movies that immediately come to mind are “Hudson Hawk” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” Stay tuned to see if this comes to fruition.

Sony’s response is disgraceful. It seems to weaken the popular secular message of standing up to bullies. Trendy Americans are all about “hating haters,” but there doesn’t seem to be much backbone when an international threat comes by way of email.

Here’s what I think Christians can learn from this. Remember always to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29), even in life-threatening situations. I realize this is about a silly movie that has no eternal bearings, but let this be a lesson on what not to do when it comes to threats against following Christ.

  1. Still listening; still praying

I remain troubled by the continuance of the issue of race relations, specifically with the focus on the police and the black community. I cannot add anything to the latest killings of two New York policemen. But I will continue to say it is important to listen and to fervently pray.

Listen to those who are speaking since these horrible murders, and remember those who were only speaking on one side of the issue while remaining quiet with this latest ordeal. The credibility of such leaders should be evaluated. It’s one thing to promote political causes, but it’s another to sincerely desire resolution. Those who want to resolve are the leaders I trust and respect.

Such leaders were involved in an important discussion recently in Memphis. It involved various ethnic church leaders. You can read about it here.

A statement from this piece that personally challenged me is “You need relationships with minorities who don’t need you.” I am praying for God to help me with such relationships, to see how this can genuinely materialize in my own life.

  1. The best movie ever?

This is my first of two topics involving Christian movie critic Phil Boatwright. Last week, he gave his argument for “It’s A Wonderful Life” as the best movie ever made.

When the American Film Institute released its original list of 100 best movies, the Jimmy Stewart flick ranked 11th. “Citizen Kane” was considered the top film on the chart.

I like the point Boatwright is making. He doesn’t consider the technical or artistic aspects but purely on the inspirational message. To his defense, AFI did consider “It’s A Wonderful Life” as the most inspiring film of all time.

After reading his column, I watched this traditional Christmas movie last weekend. And I agree, it is amazing to see how our actions can impact others, especially when such actions turn others to Christ.

  1. Boatwright breaks down ‘Unbroken’

Read this piece by Boatwright. I loved it.

I’ve already addressed this movie, and I’m looking forward to seeing it, hopefully this weekend. I know the movie falls short of telling the full story about Louis Zamperini and how his conversion to Christ is the reason for how he was able to forgive those who tortured him. The more I hear about the movie lacking such content, the more I am disappointed.

But consider this. Even when man falls short, God can still move. If God can use the actions of some of the heinous people ever to live (e.g. Luke 2:1) to fulfill His will, He can use a movie that limits the story of a man whose life changed when he heard the Gospel.

  1. Defending Steven Adams

I am a biased Oklahoma City Thunder fan. There, I said it. So when one of the Thunder players is attacked, I naturally take the side of the Thunder player.

If you have followed the Thunder last season and the beginning of this current one, you may be aware of Steven Adams, the starting center for the Thunder, being involved in a series of opposing players getting ejected. Off the top of my head, I recall five separate incidences happening last year, where an opponent took offense to Adams’ style of play and responded physically to the 7-0 New Zealander.

Last week, a player for the Lakers was the latest to be involved in such confrontation. The Laker player did not care for a screen that Adams set against him and was caught shoving his forearm into Adams’ face and neck. The ejected player responded after the game saying Adams is “sneaky dirty.”

I see no evidence that Adams’ play is dirty. I believe he sets really hard screens and posts up his opponent in a harder manner than what may be expected. I’m sure it’s not fun to feel the forearm of a giant-sized Rugby player being shoved into your ribs, but this does not mean it’s a dirty move. However, most of the known emotional players in the league seem to take offense when Adams’ style of play affects them.

If Adams is such a dirty player, why doesn’t he retaliate when a glaring dirty reaction happens to him? If a player were intentionally trying to make a cheap shot, there usually is some emotion demonstrated after such provoking. Adams just stands there and takes the punch to the face. Again, I am biased, but to me he looks like he genuinely is surprised when there is retaliation.

And I admire Adams for not reacting. I know he is a tough player, but even the toughest athletes will defend themselves. As a Christian, I see this as a great example of turning the other cheek and demonstrating love for your enemies (Matt. 5:38-48).

  1. Favorite Christmas lights

My final DHD note features my final Christmas list. I’m a huge fan of Christmas lights. Here’s a list of my favorites in the Oklahoma City area, past and present:

  1. Downs Family Christmas – this is the best in the region, in my humble opinion. It’s located in the southeast part of Norman, so it’s a bit of a drive from North Oklahoma City, but I think it’s worth it. They were featured on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” last year. Check out their website.
  2. The Markwell Lights – a great drive through this neighborhood near Putnam City West High School. It’s impressive to see all the houses on this block of 2100 N. Markwell Ave. displaying lights synchronized to music.
  3. The house on 19th and Ollie – park in the lot that is cattycornered to this Victorian-styled home and watch the show.
  4. Nichols Hills – after working Thunder home games, I veer away from the congestion on I-235 and have a cheery drive home through this established neighborhood.
  5. Ski Island – this neighborhood no longer does Christmas lights, but I have many memories going through the curvy streets, looking at all the displays.