I SAW NOAH: the good, the bad, and the ugly rock people

I saw Noah, or at least, I saw a movie about a guy named Noah, who had a big boat and floated along during a flood. Outside of that, I’m not sure what I saw.

If you watch Noah hoping for a sound, biblical lesson on the story of God’s worldwide flood and supplemental replanting of humanity, you will hate it. But, if you go knowing that this is HOLLYWOOD’S TAKE on a Bible story, you might not mind it so much. I jotted down a few thoughts during the movie. Here’s what a walked away with, all in question form, because they made me scratch my head…

1) Noah was a vegetarian?

Meh, I like meat, so I wasn’t too fond of this hit right off the bat. And I don’t recall this in the Biblical account. but it let me know right away that they wouldn’t be sticking to the Genesis account. But we can roll with the punches. I know they’ll be throwing a lot of strange ideas into the mix.

2) Rock People?

Everyone has bemoaned the Rock people, but I didn’t mind them so much. They seem to be the writer’s interpretation of the Nephilim, and you can just about make up anything you want when it comes to the Nephilim. I’ve always assumed the Nephilim to be more fraggle-esque than rock-monsterish, but that’s just me. The Rock People made me think of Luke 19:40 when Jesus said, “’I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’” I figured portraying the Nephilim as Rock People was implying that people refused to worship the One True God, even if they did look a bit ridiculous.

3) God’s the bad guy and fallen angels are the good guys?

In the storyline, the rock people were spirits trapped on earth because they came to help humans against God’s will. For this reason, God (or “the Creator” as He is called throughout the movie—the term “God” is never used) seemed to be made into a force that was against humans, not for them. These fallen angels were painted as helpers, while God was the bad guy.

4) The flood saves creation, not humanity?

Many had noted in the reviews I read prior to seeing the movie that it had a very loud save-the-earth message. It wasn’t as loud as I expected it to be, but it was certainly prevalent. Noah seemed to believe that God had him build a boat and save the animals because God wanted to save His creation, not humanity. In fact, the story implied that God didn’t care if humans survived at all, as long as creation continued to thrive. This was a major move away from the Biblical account that got under my skin more than other aspects of the movie.

5) God is eerily absent?

As mentioned, the term “God” isn’t used in the movie. God never speaks, never shows up, and it appeared that God didn’t even close the door of the Ark, as the Biblical account makes clear. They made a concerted effort to show humans opening and closing the door several times on their own, without the need for God’s intervention. At first glance, this didn’t bother me, because this is how God so often seems to work even in my life. I see hints of Him. I see the miraculous now and then, but I’ve never seen God come down and shut my door or literally show up on my doorstep.

I see evidence of Him and of His miracle-working power, but I don’t see Him. I’ve seen enough to make me believe without a doubt, but it’s still a stained and shadowy glimpse of God. But after pondering the movie for awhile, it does bother me. The writer made a concerted effort to show God as EXTREMELY disconnected from humanity, and as caring very little for humans at all. In the movie, God is more worried about vegetables than about human life, and I thoroughly disagree with this take.

All that said, I didn’t expect an account that I agreed with. So I got what I paid for.

On the other hand, here’s a few positive things I noticed:

1) It was a very clean movie

There was a LOT of violence and death, which is to be expected when the entire global population is killed in an instant, but the movie itself was very clean, particularly for a Hollywood blockbuster. So it was fairly family friendly, especially for children at least over 10 or 11.

2) It makes you think

It bugs me how little we Christians actually think about our faith and our beliefs. This movie will force you to process what you believe about God, and how you feel about the story of Him wiping out nearly all of humanity at once. It also makes these great Biblical characters come to life, and makes them human, which they were.

3) It will drive you to your Bible

A friend read an article that stated biblegateway.com’s traffic had tripled since Noah was released. Seeing the movie will make you want to go back to the Biblical account and see what it actually says, and that could never be a bad thing. There’s no such things as “too much Bible.”


As a Biblical account of Noah, I give the movie a flat out F. Other than a big boat, a flood, and a guy named Noah, the most Biblically sound part of the movie was when they showed Noah getting drunk in a cave. Outside of that, it was all Hollywood-contrived storylines.

As an almost-family-friendly Blockbuster movie, I’d give it a B-. Since they took so much liberty with the story, they could have done a few more interesting things with it. It felt sort of blah for a blockbuster.

So, if you can stomach the off-Bible message, I would suggest seeing it, because if nothing else, it will make you consider your beliefs a bit more thoroughly, which I hope we all do from time to time.



I had my first live television interview recently, and despite those pesky Teletubbies, I lived to write about it.

After Charisma House picked up my book, I saw a list of things they planned on doing to promote it. On the list, I noticed “Television Interviews.”

Commence Panic Attack One.

To stop the madness, I had to bury that memory deep into the recesses of my mind. So I carefully stuffed it right next to the place where I bury all my Teletubbies nightmares.

Fast forward a few months. I receive an email from my publicist informing me that The Harvest Show out of South Bend, Indiana would like to have me on for a LIVE interview about my book! The evil, deeply buried memory of that promo page immediately came to mind, and suddenly I wished I hadn’t buried it so deeply, because now I had to deal with the reality of such an appearance.

Commence Panic Attack Two.

Thankfully the Teletubby nightmares remained at bay during the madness. God knew this would have simply been too much for my fragile soul to handle all at once.

Then came travel-to-South-Bend day. My wife was tagging along, and our flight was supposed to leave out of our local airport, connect in Atlanta, and lead on to the Promised Land at the Home of the Fighting Irish late that night. But our local flight was delayed several hours.

Commence Panic Attack Three.

After scouring the Internet and waiting on hold for what seemed like an eternity, we finally were able to rebook the flight, but now had to drive 2 ½ hours to Atlanta to catch the connection. It was a pain, but we made it to our hotel under the shadow of Notre Dame, and slid into bed before midnight praying the Teletubby nightmares would remain buried through the night.

We got up early to have breakfast and do all the things one does in the morning before a live television interview–trim ear hair, trim nose hair, pop zits, marvel about how much fatter one looks an hour before television, pray God would miraculously remove 10 pounds before taping begins, double check ear and nose hair, wonder if they’ll apply stage makeup before the show, pee till you’re dehydrated and hope you don’t have to go during the interview, triple check nose and ear hair, etc, etc, etc.

Upon arrival at the station, we were ushered into the Green Room where we met the other guest (also an author) and waited for our makeup (a phrase I thankfully don’t use very often).

Harvest Show 4We watched the show from stage left as it took place. I was on during the second half. I put on the smile, shined the pearly off-whites, and tried to answer questions as best I could. Then, just like that, it was over.

Harvest Show 1As we were readying ourselves to leave, they asked if I could stick around for an encore interview that would be aired at a later date, so I must not have done all that bad. I left the experience and began to breathe easy again, knowing I had survived the ordeal and would live to tell about it.

But the next day, the first email I saw was a request for another television show out of Atlanta. I guess this sort of thing has a snowball effect.

Commence Panic Attack Four.

I should admit that the interview wasn’t perfect. I had a major flub. At one point I began to share a favorite quote of mine on faith and when I went to spit it out, there was nothing there!

I can only assume one of the Teletubbies got loose and stole it. My money’s on Tinky Winky. He’s always the instigator.

If you’re interested in seeing the interview, you can watch it by clicking here. I’m on at about the 36 minute mark.


Allison-Brown-pregnant-stickMy wife recently tried to prank me with a positive pregnancy test. She failed epically, but her attempt was priceless.

I’m not sure when the wifey had this brilliant idea, but she decided to show me a positive pregnancy test for April Fool’s Day. After pondering how she might pull this off, she decided to pull her pregnant friend into the ill-advised prank.

A few weeks ago—DURING CHURCH SERVICE—my wife brought a pee stick and left it in her coat. Whilst everyone else was partaking in the worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, her preggo friend snuck out to the coat rack, took the pee stick, and headed to the bathroom. She then did her business—DURING CHURCH SERVICE—and returned the stick to said coat. She reentered the worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as if nothing had happened. And I found out this morning she didn’t even tell her husband what she had done for my wifey.

Wives can be so diabolical, especially during church service.

Wifey took the positive pee stick home, but realized after a few days it was no longer showing positive. I must assume that most of us have no idea these things have a shelf life, because no one in their right mind would wait two weeks to show their husband a positive test, right?

So, now that the fake-prank-positive-test no longer showed a fake-prank-positive, she had to return to the drawing board. Wifey and the Preggo returned to their underground evil bunker lair to cunningly revise their wicked plan. What they came up with was even more diabolical, and shockingly, 100 times more disturbing. This is where the story takes a really, really ugly turn.

WARNING: what you are about to read is unfortunately 100% true (NOTE: after Wifey read this, she claimed I had a few details wrong, but once you’ve read the following, you won’t trust her either).

At some point, Preggo peed in a bag. She then placed the pee bag in a second bag for leakage protection. And it had HAZARDOUS marked all over the plastic. They then proceeded to do another bait and switch last Sunday—DURING CHURCH SERVICE—yet again. They used the old put-your-bag-of-pee-into-your-friends-coat-during-church-service-trick. And apparently they pulled it off to perfection.

Wives can be so diabolical, especially during church service.

After worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had finished, Wifey brought the hazardous pee bag home and hid it in the darren-has-no-clue-where-this-is-spot (which I need to find immediately). Then, as a precursor to her evil set up, Wifey began complaining about her stomach for a few days, saying she was feeling sick—nauseated, even.

The morning-o-diabolicalness, as we were getting dressed, Wifey walked into the bathroom and I heard her lock the door. I noticed this because it seemed a bit unusual. She doesn’t normally lock the door. But again, I breezed over it like any loving, thoughtful, caring, intelligent, handsome, and abundantly clever husband would do. I then headed out to the kitchen for my morning cup-o-joe.

Whilst preparing my morning cup-o-joe from our Keurig (which I love, btw), Wifey came out in a panic. Her face looked heavy. Her words were dropping like 20 pound weights. She muttered, “I know why I’ve been feeling so bad lately.” She then put the fake-prank-positive-pee-stick down in front of me.

She had gone all out. It wasn’t a line test—it was a digital test, the kind that simply and literally spells it out for you. So there in front of me next to our Keurig (love) lay the fake-prank-positive-pee-stick, and all I saw was the word, “PREGNANT.”

Wifey’s eyes showed a hint of sheer panic. She looked at me and said, “WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?!?!”

Turning back toward the Keurig (love), I paused for a moment. I put both hands on the counter and leaned forward. My wheels were turning. The conversation in my head went something like this:

Ummm, is this real? This can’t be real. We’ve taken a thousand precautions, including SURGERY, to keep this from happening. She was only sick for one night…

I looked up from the Keurig (love) for a moment, and looked into her eyes again. The look of panic on her face seemed a little contrived.

I’m not buying this. Do they sell fake-prank-pregnancy tests? They must, I’m certain this isn’t real. WAIT A MINUTE…WHAT DAY IS THIS?

I thought back to my computer screen from the day before and I saw the date in my head, “March 31.”

So, today is April 1. That means it’s April Fool’s Day.

I turned back to the Keurig (love), threw the stick to the back of the counter and said simply, “Baby, it’s April 1st.” And that was the end of it.

After punching me in the back, she then proceeded to tell me these HIGHLY disturbing details that I’ve now shared with you. I almost feel bad for not falling for it, considering all she—and her preggo friend—went through to make it happen. But as I continue to think about it, I realize I don’t feel all that bad.

But what I do feel really bad about is the fact that for about 15 years now, I had no idea my wife could be so rabid-rabies-raccoon-crazy.



Dice JesusI was recently asked a few questions about what it means to follow Jesus. I spent several days mulling over my response. This is what I came up with…

When you say to spend a lot of time trying to know Jesus, what does that mean to you personally?

The first, and perhaps most important, thing knowing Jesus means to me is that I BELIEVE. I truly believe Jesus is who he said he was—the son of God. And then, I believe all the craziness behind the story of Jesus, ya know, that bad-B movie storyline we Christians call the Gospel story. It entails a virgin birth, a sinless life, a criminal’s death, a resurrection (ahhh zombies!) and an ascension back into heaven. And I believe every word. So, when I say I know Jesus, it first means I believe in Jesus as the resurrected Son of God.

A lot of Christians kinda stop there. They say this is the key to what they call “being saved.” These Christians want you to repeat a prayer saying you believe all this stuff and ask for forgiveness of all your sins. Then they say you’ve punched your ticket into heaven. But I’m not sure I buy it, exactly. I think once you truly begin to believe, there’s a process of knowing Jesus that must continue.

So why do I need to know him more?

Two words: Abundant Life.

Many play on people’s fear of the unknown by saying that if you die and don’t follow or believe in Jesus, you’ll go to hell. While playing on such fears is an effective method to get a response, I think there’s a much better answer.

I believe Jesus offers abundant life, eternally yes, but also right now. I can honestly say my life is FANTASTIC! Not because everything’s perfect, or because I’m super lucky, or because I’m ridiculously good looking, or because Duckbilled Platypuses do actually exist, or because my kids are perfect (b/c none of those things are true, except the platypus part, for which we’re all grateful) but it’s fantastic because I follow Jesus.

My life isn’t perfect by any means. My dad died when I was 26 from cancer. My son has a seizure disorder and he takes medicine twice a day. And we’ve been digging ourselves out of our Godzilla-sized medical debt for years now. So following Jesus doesn’t mean my life is perfect. But it means I can have peace even in the midst of imperfection.

When bad things happen, my faith is my shield and shelter. I trust God’s plan. I trust he knows what he’s doing even when I have no freakin’ clue. This faith and trust become a shelter in the midst of life’s storms. Jesus gives me peace, and therefore I can have an awesome life even when life isn’t so awesome.

And what should I do with it once I know it?

So, I believe in Jesus, but what am I doing to make that belief a reality? For instance, if I say my wife is the best cook in the world, but I refuse to ever eat her food, do I truly believe what I claim to believe? Simple analogy, but it works for me. So I say Jesus is the resurrected Son of God, but what am I doing to prove it? This is where the Bible comes in for me.

In the Bible, Jesus called certain people (the twelve Disciples) to be an everyday part of his life. When he called these people, he always said the same two words, “FOLLOW ME.” These twelve disciples had to leave their normal, everyday monotony and become a part of Jesus’ life.

So when I say I’m a disciple of Jesus, these two words, “Follow Me”, encompass my entire identity. I am a follower of Jesus. It’s not just a simple prayer. It’s not merely a belief. It’s an everyday responsibility that leads me to know Jesus and to know more about Jesus. My belief leads me to action.

For me, the Bible is where I find all I know about Jesus and God (well, I guess I’ve learned some from simple experience, as well). It’s where I can read what Jesus taught, how Jesus lived, and who Jesus was/is. There I can find and gain some understanding into what it means to truly be a follower of Jesus, i.e., a Christian.

But that’s not all—the Bible certainly helps me know Jesus, but the best part of the whole thing is, I don’t just read Jesus’ words spoken thousands of years ago, but I can talk to him even now. Since I believe he is actually living, and since I believe he also created the world (and me), I spend time in prayer, talking to Jesus.

I tell him all my needs and let him know that I really, really want to be better than I am right now. I spend time asking for forgiveness for the moments I’ve acted selfishly and out of line with his purpose for my life. I pray for my friends who are hurting or in need. I spend time asking my questions and letting Jesus know that I’m listening if he ever wants to speak.

It hasn’t happened all that much, but I can honestly say I’ve heard his voice a handful of times. And when I have, it’s always been a life altering, unforgettable, stop-me-dead-in-my-tracks kind of moment that changes my emotions and way of thinking. I love hearing his voice.

And of course, knowing Jesus means participating in all the so called spiritual disciplines such as prayer, fasting, bible reading, worship, etc. This is what I believe separates the weak Christians from the strong ones. Those who do these things regularly are often much more unshakeable in their faith than those who don’t.

And is there anything else I should know?

When I say I know Jesus, it also means that I’ve accepted the fact that…he knows me. He knows I’m a failure. He knows I’m weak. He knows I’m flawed. But I’ve realized that he loves me anyway, in spite of my selfishness, my sins, and my pride.

He loves me in spite of the fact that I seem to come up short of his perfect plan so often. Although Jesus knows how ridiculously stupid I tend to be, he treats me as if I’m his most beloved creation…because I am. And so are you.

When I say I know Jesus, it means I am free…free in every sense of the word. I’m free mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’m free because I’ve realized a couple things: 1) I am a sinner (to the worst degree), 2) I am forgiven. This is a hugely freeing realization. I don’t have to carry the weight of my past mistakes and failures. The punishment that I deserve from God was placed squarely on the shoulders of Jesus as he hung on the cross. So rather than the punishment I so clearly deserve, I receive forgiveness which I so clearly don’t deserve, and what could ever be more freeing than THAT?

Now, before I end up writing an entire book, let me try to sum this all up.

I believe I am a sinner. I believe Jesus, the Son of God, died and rose again and in so doing took the punishment I deserved on himself. And by believing this, and letting my actions continually prove my beliefs, I follow Jesus.

For this reason, I am a Christian.

That’s what I believe, and that’s what it means when I say I’m a follower of Jesus. The main question for me is always, “Do I want to live this crazy life without Jesus, or do I want to live it with Jesus?” He’s helped me through so many difficult moments, my answer is easy.

I’m rolling the dice with Him.

My First Live Radio Interview

I’ve come to realize recently that only two things truly freak me out. They are 1) the big hairy muppets with wide eyes that appear to be cut directly from satan’s body hair, and 2) live interviews.

I’ve been a minister/preacher/teacher/public speaker for 16 years now. But those things are typically done by monologue. I can prepare my notes, speak my peace (or is it “speak my piece?”), and then shut up. When I teach I always encourage dialogue, but I’m still in control of the conversation. Live interviews scare the snotties out of me for multiple reasons:

1) I’m not in control, and I’m a control freak
2) I have no clue what might be asked, so I can’t overly prepare my answers
3) I’m not in control, and I’m a control freak
4) When it’s live, I can’t take back anything I’ve said
5) I’m not in control, and I’m a control freak

There’s an entire chapter in my book about how often I stick my foot in my mouth. I was raised in a home of 4 boys, and no girls. It was the kind of setting where anything goes. My high school social group lived by the motto “if it’s funny, say it.” These childhood influences have led me to many highly embarrassing moments that have left me picking toe jam out of my teeth.

Thankfully over the years I’ve begun to develop a sarcasm filter. But filters have to be renewed every so often. Every time I replace the air filter for my furnace I see ungodly things and wonder how we breathe at all, then I wonder if our children should be taken from us because I’m a horrible parent who lets them breathe air filtered through something that I wouldn’t let the dog sit on (if we had one). Of course if we did, I’m sure I’d forget to feed him and he’d die an untimely death while breathing air filtered through a 9 year old, dust-mite-covered square-o-muck.

And sometimes my sarcasm filter gets just as mucky. So the sarcasm doesn’t always get filtered as it should.

This is why live interviews scare the muppet out of me.

So, I had my first live one this week. Thankfully, my sarcasm filter was fresh, new, and in full effect. My heart was beating out of my chest as I held the phone to my ear listening to the commercials, waiting for the interview to begin. I thought you’d get a little prep time for these things, but you don’t. They call, ask you how to pronounce your name, and you’re off to the races. But the interviewer, Bob Dutko, made me feel comfortable, and as soon as I opened my mouth my nerves calmed.

Apparently I’m more comfortable with talking than I care to admit.

I just booked three more live interviews for next month (one is even a video by skype) so stay tuned to hear if my sarcasm filter continues to function properly. If it doesn’t, this might be a train wreck waiting to happen. We pray God will let the sarcasm filter continue to function for Darren much like the bush continued to burn for Moses.

If you’d like to hear the interview, you can below. My publisher sent me a whole page of rules about such interviews, and one of them stated that I’m supposed to match the tone of the interviewer. For that reason, I didn’t get to be all that funny, but it felt pretty good.

Although, I always fear that people who read my stuff and then meet me will say, “He’s way funnier on paper,” and that’s probably true. It seems the sarcasm filter works on spoken words, but not on written words.


An Awesome Amazon Review From “Anchovies”

Someone named “Anchovies” posted a review on Amazon for my book “Dear God We Need To Talk.” It was so fantastically humbling I thought I’d share it here on my blog…

The Christmas tree lot is a fitting place to open the first chapter in Dear God We Need to Talk, because author Darren Schalk has one goal in life. He wants to win an argument with his wife. Or with God. Whichever comes first.

Dear God We Need to Talk is a book about one man’s relationship with God, yet it is also a story about the reader’s relationship with God. Schalk is keen to encourage and engage his readers to consider their own relationships not just with God, but with dysfunctional family, Christmas trees, funnel cakes, messy houses, and life. Remember, funnel cake is not necessarily a sin. Just an overindulgence. (Okay, we all know it’s a sin.)

Schalk isn’t the kind of guy to bring Jesus to your door with stern pamphlets and prayers. Instead he brings Jesus through funny, neurotic, and disarming stories that will be amusing and charming to even the most irreverent of readers.

Schalk also does the heavy lifting in his writing, both in his honesty and his faith. He doesn’t shy away from tough subjects. He can’t. He’s lived through them just like the rest of us. He always finds God at the end, even if God has had to pull him through kicking, screaming, and arguing. And that’s okay. Questions are okay. Dear God We Need to Talk is a breath of fresh air in a genre that can be known for its stuffiness.

Schalk’s exploration and questions of life and God are at once open-minded, smart, and grounding. This is an enjoyable read and ultimately an inspiring one. You find his stories funny, his candor refreshing, and you might just find yourself talking with God, too.

Thank you “Anchovies” for this humbling review!


So, I had all these plans for how I would go about this whole book release thing. I don’t think even one of them has panned out. The last two weeks have been an absolute whirlwind of interviews, video recordings, and late nights on the computer.

I have a friend who was published by Tyndale about a year ago, and he told me that he felt immense pressure to market his book and make it go. He hinted that a whirlwind was coming. I’m now experiencing this whirlwind. Add all this book stuff to the endless list of edits that need to be done yesterday for my 9-5 job, and it can be a bit overwhelming.

But I shouldn’t sound as if I’m too downtrodden. I set a goal a few years back to be published by the time I was 35. That goal was achieved this week. And that feels amazing!

I gave my first national radio interview this morning. It felt alright, but I’m sure I can do better. I have another one next week, maybe I’ll be a bit more calm. I like radio interviews. They can be done from home, which means I can sit on my couch and relax while talking. I don’t even have to wear pants if I don’t want to. (But I DID have pants on today, fyi.)

If you’d like, you can listen to it here.

I shared a bit about my journey with my co-workers this week in our chapel service, and I realized as I spoke that there’s nothing better than knowing you’re in God’s perfect will for your life, even when things get hectic. So I’m trying to rest easy even in the midst of the whirlwind, because I know I’m right where God wants me to be.

Wherever you find yourself today, I hope you feel the same way. If you don’t, you can. God has a calling and a purpose for us all. I know I’m called to preach and teach—words are my calling. And I never feel more fulfilled than when God uses me in those giftings. So what has God gifted you to do? Are you using your giftings regularly?

If not, I would encourage you to take a few steps toward your own spiritual goals. There’s no greater feeling than when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re right where God wants you to be.

Even if it’s in the middle of a whirlwind.

Why Millennials Shouldn’t Leave Church

My post today appears on www.charismamag.com. Here’s a preview:

I recently turned 35. I was raised on Saturday morning cartoons (DuckTalesShirt Tales, lots of stuff with tales), cordless phones with extendable four-foot antennae, and Pop Rocks and Coke (they don’t kill you!). While I undoubtedly have a place in Generation X, I often share similar views with the millennials, particularly when it comes to all the church stuff. And it grieves me that so many of us have walked away from church.

Everybody has a different response and reason why our generation and those after us are leaving. They typically point to what’s wrong with the church. It’s not enough Jesus. It’s too much Jesus. It’s not enough holiness. It’s too much holiness. It’s not enough justice. It’s too much justice.

I get the concerns with church in general. But I’d like to offer the flip side of this coin: If the church isn’t what we want it to be, it’s not all the church’s fault. At least part of it is our fault. We can’t talk about the church as if it’s some abstract entity disconnected from us. We are the church…. (to read the rest of the article, click here, or simply head over to charismamag.com).

NEWSFLASH: 2-12-14


1) It’s still snowing…everywhere
2) Fashion Week says bathrobes are the new coats
3) Massachusetts HS bans yoga pants (but can they wear bathrobes?)

They’ve remade it, complete with rapping. This is excellent b/c every time I heard it back in the day I immediately thought to myself, “If this song broke into rap at some point, it would be epic.”