"Saving Mr. Banks" is Really About Healing the Wounded Heart

A movie about the making of a movie based on a book had just opened in theaters. For those unfamiliar with Disney lore, it is the account of Walt Disney's twenty-year odyssey to secure film rights from author P.L. Travers for the character and stories of Mary Poppins.

"Saving Mr. Banks" is  an interesting film, in that 99 percent of the audience knows that eventually "Mary Poppins" was made and was a tremendous hit. Words that never existed before like "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" entered the lexicon of many American children and images of Dick Van Dyke dancing with penguins somehow seem natural.

<SPOILER ALERT>

Saving-Mr-Banks-Movie-Poster2I just put "spoiler alert" there because other articles and blogs do that when speaking about a film that is currently in the theaters. However, I always read below the "spoiler alert" banner anyway. In this case, since everyone knows "Mary Poppins" was eventually filmed by Disney, there really aren't that many spoilers.

Since I don't recall ever watching "Mary Poppins" in its entirety, the title of this film "Saving Mr. Banks" didn't quite reveal much to me. I did some reviewing and soon found that Mr. Banks is the father in the Mary Poppins book and film. I think I used to know that, but had forgotten. Therefore, once I discovered who Banks was, the title made sense. . .somewhat.

This film goes back to Travers' childhood in Australia when she, her siblings and parents were struggling to make ends meet. Her father had a successful job with the bank there, but due to his bouts with alcoholism, and subsequent outburts and inability to function well at work, he was demoted. This seems to have pushed him even farther toward his addictive behaviors. Travers, as a little girl, obviously adores her father as he does her. The flashback sequences are done well and give the audience a sense of what may be going on in Travers' head as she so adamantly fights Disney for things regarding Mary Poppins and the Banks family that seem irrelevant. 

A WOUNDED HEART

As the story unfolds, it is clear that P.L. Travers carries a deep wound in her heart. Like all of us, we have wounds. These wounds are most often inflicted, willingly or unwillingly, by our earthly fathers. It's part of our human story. 

John and Stasi Eldredge speak of this clearly in their respective books, Wild at Heart and Captivating.

John says it this way regarding men and their heart wounds:

Every man carries a wound. I have never met a man without one. No matter how good your life may have seemed to you, you live in a broken world full of broken people. Your mother and father, no matter how wonderful, couldn't have been perfect. She is a daughter of Eve, and he a son of Adam. So there is no crossing through this country without taking a wound. (Wild at Heart, 71.)

Stasi reveals this about daughters with wounded hearts:

The vows we make as children are understandable - and very, very damaging. They shut our hearts down. They are essentially a deep-seated agreement with the messages of our wounds. They act as an agreement with the verdict on us. "Fine. If that's how it is, then that's how it is. I'll live my life in the following way. . ." (Captivating, 71.)

"Saving Mr. Banks" is an entertaining film and while some I know have commented and Tweeted that "It's a cute film" it is much more than that. Unknowingly, the filmmakers and actors have portrayed that which is evident in the hearts of all people. We all carry a wound. Most often it is inflicted by those we love the most. What we do with that wound determines much. 

HEALING THE WOUND

Even non-believers desire healing. Their lack of acknowledgement of a Healer leaves them seeking throughout their lives and settling for temporary relief. Unfortunately, even some Christ-followers lack the courage and faith to invite God into the deepest parts of the wound. Consequently, those who claim and do follow Christ, remain the walking wounded, never fully free. Forgiveness is key and yet, not a surface-level, superficial forgiveness that never goes to the depth of the wound. The forgiveness that God offers us is that which He leads us to offer others - a forgiveness that says "What you did hurt, in fact it still hurts, but I choose to not hold it against you." That is the beginning of healing and sets the captive free.

"Forgiveness, Mrs. Travers," says Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. "It's what I learned from your books."

IT'S NOT REALLY ABOUT SAVING MR. BANKS

It may seem that making Mr. Banks into a likeable, affable character was truly Mrs. Travers' goal, but in actuality, it wasn't Mr. Banks that needed to be saved, but Mrs. Travers. 

WHAT YOU TAKE WITH YOU AS YOU LEAVE THE THEATER

We all carry wounds and what we do with them is vital. "A cute movie?" - perhaps, but maybe, just maybe, God can use this story to remind each of us that He alone can rescue us and He alone can set us free.

 

______________________

Here's a good review on "Saving Mr. Banks" from Focus on the Family's Plugged In site.

 


All the "Borrowed Christmas" Commercials with the Kids

I had a great time making these parody commercials modeled after the famous AT&T ones with some of the kids from our church. We showed some during worship services and on Christmas Eve. Others were posted to Facebook. Here are all thirteen videos featuring Ansley, Drew, Anna and Eli.

#1 - What's better, birthdays or Christmas?

 

 

#2 - What's a better present, a Batman or a Barbie?

 

 

#3 - What's better at Christmas, going to the beach or somewhere there's snow?

 

 

#4 - What's the best Christmas gift you ever received?

 

 

#5 - Do I make a better Batman or Robin?

 

 

#6 - What's better, cookies or candy canes?

 

 

#7 - Who are the characters in a nativity scene?

 

 

#8 - Is this annoying?

 

 

#9 - Do you put your feet on the tables at home?

 

 

#10 - If you were buying a Christmas gift for your mom and dad, what would you buy? (Does your dad want to be like me?)

 

 

#11 - If you could go anywhere to have fun, where would you go?

 

 

#12 - Why do people go to church at Christmas?

 

 

#13 - So, what do you want for Christmas?

 

Borrowed christmas


Jesus Loves Porn Stars - "Brittni's Rescue"

As a part of our "Redemption Stories" series, I'll be highlighting some pretty incredible stories over the next few days. 

Over the past couple of decades porn has become normalized and mainstream in our culture. The advent of the internet has perhaps been the greatest element in this surge. The adult industry annually rakes in billions of dollars. The math is fuzzy and totals vary based upon the group reporting, but it is universally agreed that the adult industry is a lucrative one. 

The glamour, money, parties and all that is promoted as "good" in the porn industry tend to be straw houses that dissolve over time. 

Churches and ministries developed over the years focusing on reaching and ministering to those in the industry. For many, mostly women, feeling trapped in the industry left them hopeless and helpless. Rest assured, God is not blind and His love never changes. He has been drawing these individuals to Himself (just like He's done for me and others.)

What happens when a porn star comes to Jesus?

This is happening. For years, the two-dimensional images of beautiful women in magazines and film were objectified to such a degree that the concept of eternity and personal salvation were far (very far) from the minds of those viewing such images. Since the objectifying of women (and men) is ultimately a practice in self-love and narcissism, eternal matters seem foreign to the subject.

But. . .Jesus loves porn stars and He is drawing many to Himself.

Jesus loves porn stars just like he loves every other depraved and sinful human being on the planet. 

Our friend Crissy Moran will be at First Baptist next Sunday morning to share her personal story of redemption and rescue. I've blogged about her journey previously and we will get to hear from her directly this weekend.

However, Crissy is not the only person to leave the adult industry behind after meeting Christ. Recently, Brittni's story made headlines.

This is what happens when a porn star finds God. . .

Brittni Ruiz was 18 when she started working in porn. She was going to college and working as a dancer when producers from a porn company approached her and asked if she wanted to do “romance movies.” She knew exactly what they were referring to, but wanted to find out more.

“The next day, they put me in hair and makeup,” she says. “They had me do a scene. They were telling me how much money I’d make … I didn’t even think about the consequences.”

She became Jenna Presley. She performed in hundreds of films, was named one of Maxim magazine’s top 12 female performers in porn, and placed second in Jenna Jameson’s American Sex Star on Playboy TV. She once raked in $13,000 for an eight-hour gig in Tokyo.

Ruiz had been working in the adult industry for four years when she first saw people passing out Bibles at an adult convention, the Exxxotica Expo, in New Jersey. She described the convention as a trade show that’s “like Comic-Con, but a different crowd.”

She’d spend hours in heels signing autographs and taking pictures with fans who’d often ask her to pose provocatively. It was tiring and draining, and fans could be “too comfortable” with her, she explained, but ultimately, “we would sell our product.”

The people passing out Bibles were from the XXXchurch, sometimes known at the expos as the “Jesus loves porn stars” people because of the banners, Bibles, and T-shirts at their booth with the slogan written across the front.

The gimmick factor certainly caught peoples’ attention, but adult conventions aren’t the easiest place to save souls. Still, Ruiz was impressed. “There’s just something about them. It sets them apart from every person,” she says.

Their Bibles aren’t like typical Bibles. One of their latest editions doesn’t have the word “Bible” anywhere on the front and is a New English Translation of the Book of John with a mustached man in aviators on the cover.

“Does Jesus really love porn stars?” the opening page asks. “Absolutely. Now, that may go against what you thought about Jesus, but it’s true. You see Jesus loves porn stars as much as he loves pastors, soccer moms, liars, thieves and prostitutes. In his eyes, we are all the same.”

“It’s fun; it’s provocative,” says Craig Gross, founder of XXXchurch. “You stop in your tracks … and then you have all these Bibles in front of you.”

Several years after encountering XXXchurch, things changed for Ruiz when a friend invited her to a church in San Diego. “I was invited to church and I felt the love of God,” she says. She brought a Bible with her on a flight from San Diego to Las Vegas, where she was going to shoot another film, started reading, and she knew it was time to leave. “I knew it was my last scene,” she says.

When she told the director in Las Vegas she was done, “He didn’t believe me,” she says, but, “here I am seven months later with a completely turned heart and have not looked back.”

Ruiz changed her phone number, deleted her Twitter account with more than 80,000 followers, and didn’t tell anyone where she was going. Not a single person from the industry ever called her or reached out to see what happened, she says. “Funny thing is, a lot of those men and women knew my real name and could have sought me out on Facebook, but they didn’t.”

From Hunter Schwarz of BuzzFeed. Read the rest of the article here.

Porn star brittni copy
What a great reminder that everyone. . .EVERYONE. . .stands on level ground at the foot of the cross. In other words, no one is too far gone. 

Brittni's story, Crissy's story, others XXXChurch has reached, my story and your story are the same at this point. We all need the rescue. 

Interesting isn't it how the industry gave Brittni a new name. When she came to Christ, she reclaimed her true name. 

The name matters.

Here's Brittni's story from an interview with XXXChurch:

 


Time for a Reboot?

Sometimes, it's just better to reboot.

SpidermenThis summer the film "The Amazing Spider-Man" opens starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. The trailer has been out for months and it appears the film will be good. At a minimum, it will make millions on merchandising. However, it appears this film is confusing for some fans.

For those who watched and were fans of the previous Spider-Man films with Tobey Maguire as the web slinger, this film is creating some questions, especially for the casual fan. Questions such as:

  • Is this a prequel?
  • What happened to Mary Jane?
  • How does this fit into the other three movies?
  • What about Harry Osborn?

The same type of questions were asked by movie fans when "X-Men: First Class" came out. Most fanboys are so frustrated with all X-Men sequels and spin-offs since X-2, they're hoping for another reboot.

I'm sure similar questions and frustrations will come when "Man of Steel" opens in 2013. The new Superman film is the latest attempt to reclaim some of the excitement of the original "Superman: The Movie" starring Christopher Reeve.

It's just a matter of time before most of the superhero movies being made will be rebooted. There are varied reasons for rebotting such as poor initial outing (anyone remember Hulk?) or weak writing (Fantastic Four), or less than stellar sequels (Batman & Robin). Most often, the decisions to reboot have to do with money. Go figure. In the case of some, it's related to ownership of the characters and the forfeiture of such if new projects were to cease. 

Sometimes, the reboot is a great idea. In the best case scenerio, the reboot doesn't take away from the original at all.

Take the Batman series for example. I'm not referencing the campy Batman film starring Adam West of the 1960s, but the Michael Keaton/Tim Burton film of 1989. While at the time, many were wondering if this Burton vehicle would be watchable, mainly because of the Keaton casting at the Caped Crusader, the box office results were incredible. It's artistic noir take was a hit and Jack Nicholson's Joker stole the show. The first sequel "Batman Returns" was successful as well. The remaining ones were. . .well, not up to par, but when Christopher Nolan rebooted the stories with "Batman Begins" in 2005, it proved that rebooting popular franchises, when done well, are worth the effort.

SO WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH CHURCH?

I tend to see everything through the lens of the church. That even includes superhero movies. Maybe that's a holdover from my childhood love of comic books.

Nevertheless, as I see how the film studios continue to reboot classic characters and stories, I begin asking questions about rebooting and new beginnings as it relates to the local church.

Businesses understand the need for change. Those who do not, soon find themselves fighting for survival and market share. 

Change is not an option when it comes to the message. The Gospel is the message and not up for change. The methods of sharing this message, however, have changed numerous times throughout the years.

The way churches are organized, staffed, scheduled, etc. often have more to do with tradition and historical expectations rather than biblical instruction or cultural impact. Consequently, we hire pastors to fill positions based upon task or people group. We staff small groups based on a structure that has worked well for years. In some cases we continue to replicate a strategy that was successful decades ago.

I have heard church strategists and godly missional thinkers speak on this for years. It's strange. I go to conferences where "Change the methods but not the message" is proclaimed and the crowd says "AMEN!" but when back home, nothing happens.

We continue to just do what has been done for years, even when the results (i.e. salvations, community impact, mission engagement) show that it's time to reevaluate.  

And the world we have been called to reach for the Gospel continues to be unreached.

I heard one leader say (I think it was Ed Stetzer) that most Baptist churches are perfectly structured to reach the culture of the 1950s. Wow!

We wonder why churches are not as effective in impacting our communities for the Gospel.

We are perfectly organized to get the results we are getting.

Maybe it's time for a reboot. Not a reboot of the message. Never. But a reboot of the things that we have added and created over the decades that may be keeping the message from being communicated and the mission field from being engaged.

Have you ever noticed how churches tend to add more and more things that are seemingly "good ideas" and over time become so fully calendared with "events" and "good things" that sometimes the "God things" aren't being done.

More is not always better. Just look at those superhero movies. In the original Batman and Spider-Man series of films the writers kept adding more and more characters. By the end run, there were so many costumed people on the screen, the story was muddied. Of course, I said more is not always better. Sometimes more works well ("The Avengers") but it's rare.

Rather than just hire staff for functions that have existed for decades, maybe it's time to relook at how we're organized to impact and engage the culture for the sake of Gospel and staff accordingly?

Rather than just fill a calendar with events that are "just like last year's" we need to look once again at how and when we do things through the church.

It's not so much that we need something new. In fact, there's nothing new under the sun anyway, so it's not about new.

It's about the Gospel. 

It's a constant challenge, but I'm just wondering. . .is it time for a reboot?


You Need to Go See "October Baby"

Last Sunday evening our church members and friends gathered together at the local AMC Theater in Orange Park Mall for the opening weekend showing of a new movie. The theaters were packed this past weekend due to the opening of a new film based on a best selling book. The Hunger Games was expected to be big, and it did not disappoint. The adventure of Katniss and friends (and enemies) brought throngs of fans to theaters, to the tune of $155 million at the domestic box office and $59.3 million internationally. It shattered box office records in the process.

OctoberBaby_PosterHowever, that was not the film we saw. We purchased all the tickets for one showing of the new, independent film October Baby.

October Baby is released by Provident Films and distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films. These names have been associated with other faith-based films in the past, so you may recognize them. While opening in just 390 theaters nationwide, October Baby finished number 3 in per-screen average and number 8 overall. The crowd in our theater, consisting of church members and friends as well as volunteers at First Coast Women's Services and leaders and teenagers from the Florida Baptist Children's Home in Jacksonville, was greatly moved.

I heard over and again from the attendees how moving and well-done the film was. Some said "It wasn't what I expected, but it was so good. I'll have to get the DVD when it comes out." Not sure what was expected, but glad it exceeded those expectations.

My family loved the film and we talked about it all the way home from the theater. 

However, October Baby is controversial. It's controversial because of the serious subject matter it confronts head on.

That, I believe, is why so many reviewers in the media seem to be slamming the film. They say it's because of the acting or the storylines, but believe me, I've seen reviewers give rave reviews for mainstream films with decidedly non-Christian messages that have weaker acting and storylines full of holes. I guess it's hard to be impartial.

In truth, that is true for me as well. Because I agree wholeheartedly with the message of the film, I may be giving it "more stars" than it deserves. Honestly, there are some holes and some disappearing supporting cast once the story goes deeper into the message (i.e. Jason's girlfriend and Bmac and the guys.)

I've noticed that most professional reviewers from news agencies are panning the film, while the majority of "regular people" who have seen the film are giving it high ratings. 

While ratings by reviewers and money made by the film matter, what really is telling regarding the film is what those who have seen it are saying. Especially those who can relate to the characters portrayed. Here are some samples:

For Michael Catt, Pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia (the church behind "Facing the Giants," "Fireproof" and "Courageous") who discovered as an adult that he had been adopted, the film hit close to home: "I am mor ethan viable tissue. Jeremiah says that God knew me before I was in my mother's womb. Mom, wherever you are, if you ever read this, I was no accident. God had a plan for you and for me. Thank you for not having an abortion. Thank you for loving me enough to give me breath. I hope that one day you will see and know how God has used all this for His glory.

For Melanie's parents, it was a chance to realize the impact of a life of service: "My parents have such a heart for the Lord and for children. They have lived and worked at a children's home for the past 13 years. While watching the movie Friday night, my mom leaned over and asked my dad if he needed a tissue. His reply? 'I need a towel.' Needless to say, they love the movie, as did I.

For Sharon, it was a reminder of her journey to forgiveness: "The movie is very inspirational and I think it will give many post-abortive women hope of healing and forgiveness. I am a forgiven post-abortive woman and was very moved by the brave testimony during the credits. There is hope and forgiveness to the millions of us mothers and fathers who have lost our precious children to the sin of abortion."

For Dina, it was a chance to share the hope she found in October Baby: "I went to see it twice and the second time took friends with me. This film is the most touching, moving film I have ever seen. So full of hope, love, forgiveness and above all, healing! I am so immensely blessed by it. Prase be to God.

The stories keep coming in. I asked folks on Facebook what the most meaningful scene was in the film. Here are some of the responses. . .

SPOILER ALERT

  • When the birth mother comes into her office and finds the note that says, "I forgive you" What a powerful picture of what God can do through a person. I think it must have been much harder to forgive her for the second rejection than for the first.
  • One of my favorites is actually when the movie is over and the actress who plays the birth mom is describing reading the script and then playing that scene. LOVE how God planned that moment for her years ago and it affirms again that He is in the details of our lives!
  • My other favorite scene was when they were saying goodbye at the college campus, and she remembered why her father could never let her go. And she turned around and ran back to him and told him that it would be OK.
  • The reference that being human is 'beautifully flawed'...WOW!
  • I liked when the Snake King almost arrested Chris Sligh.
  • When she was in the church and the priest explained to her about God's forgiveness for us and how He has empowered us to do the same.
  • My favorite part was in the church, the time she actually realized forgiveness was freedom. Wonderful movie, so glad we saw it thank you David for arranging these times for us.
  • There are so many parts! Each and everyone mentioned here is awesome. I have to say I'm very pleased with the way the movie was put together. They did such a wonderful job showing how abortion effects so many more than just the mother!
  • My favorite parts were in the church and when she had forgiven her birth mother. But most of all I liked how she was chosen, adoped, and loved. One of my favorite verses is Roms 8:15 for I too was adopted first in this world and then in My Fathers world.

I strongly encourage you to see the film. Also, stay through the credits to see and make sure those with you see Shari's story. 

 


What the Church Can Learn From Netflix

Sometimes business decisions are made in board rooms that sound so very right, but when announced to the public become so very wrong. 

Netflix-Price-Hike Now, I have never sat in on a planning meeting or vision casting session with the CEO or board of Netflix, but just by watching the reaction of industry monitors and reading customer reactions on social media sites, it appears (at least to me) that Netflix made some very risky decisions recently.

In case you have had your head in the sand for the past six months, here's a recap:

  • Netflix is the number one provider of on-demand streaming media in the United States as well as flat-rate DVD by mail provider. Virtually on their own, Netflix moved Blockbuster video to the brink of extinction and redefined how Americans procured DVD films for home viewing.
  • In April 2011, Netflix announced they had accrued 23.6 million subscribers and expressed plans to expand to Europe in 2012.
  • In July 2011, Netflix announced a plan to separate its current subscription plans into streaming and by-mail DVD rental. This was not such a big deal until it became obvious this meant a price hike for subscribers. This was not met with positive results.
  • Social media sites were flooded with negative comments about Netflix's plans.
  • In early September 2011, Starz announced it's plans to remove Netflix streaming from its plans in February 2012.
  • Later in September 2011, Netflix announced the creation of Quickster. According to CEO and Co-Founder Reed Hastings, Quickster would be the name of the DVD section of the company and would also include the rental of video games. This in and of itself seemed like a good plan in that customers had been asking for video game rental for years. However, the public and industry reaction to "Quickster" was anything but positive.
  • Yesterday, October 10, 2011, Hastings announced the cancellation of Quickster and said that DVD-by-mail service would remain part of Netflix.

What?

This sounds like the "New Coke" strategy of 1985. That one also resulted in negative PR, though some still say it was an orchestrated plan to drive the stock of Coca-Cola back up after the re-release of Coca-Cola Classic. Who knows?

So, what can the church learn from this fiasco?

I meet with numerous pastors around our community. Some are in thriving churches and great things are happening almost weekly. Hearing their stories are encouraging and moving. However, many are frustrated. These men are in churches that are struggling financially. Some are close to foreclosure on their facilities and battling spiritually daily with church members (and in some cases other churches.) They are drained and burned out. It's heart-breaking. 

I was talking with one pastor recently and he shared how those in his church are constantly seeking the "secret sauce" to fix everything. This is dangerous and ultimately fruitless.

They seek a "fix" that will bring people into their fellowship. It may be a new building project, a community event, a new staff position or the replacement of a staff member, or any number of things except THE THING that is needed.

There are also those serving in churches that seemingly are running on all cylinders. They are seeing people come to Christ regularly. They are honoring the Lord through their worship and impacting the community, but they're restless. This restlessness leads to recklessness.

Since we live in a changing culture, I believe methodology must continually change and morph to best impact the community and world we are in with the Gospel. I do not believe the Gospel or the message should ever change or be compromised. To live missionally means that we understand the community around us, as missionaries are to do, and adjust methods to result in the greatest impact for the Gospel.

What Netflix did is what many churches do. They changed, seemingly, just for the sake of change. While there may have been good reason to change, apparently, they did not sell it well to their customer base. That's why they're backpedaling now.

One of the greatest and most difficult things we deal with as pastors and church leaders, is communicating the "why" of change within the church when it's necessary. I do not pretend to have this figured out, but I have learned that there is no "buy in" to the Kingdom movement if the people are not led to understand it. 

In George G. Hunter III's book The Celtic Way of Evangelism, he describes Patrick's journey to the Celtic people of Ireland. The Celtic Way, amazingly is the missional way being espoused today. There is much to be learned here. This paragraph really grabbed my attention:

Indeed, the fact that Patrick understood the peole and their language, their issues, and their ways serves as the most strategically significant insight that was to drive the wider expansion of Celtic Christianity and stands as perhaps our greatest single learning from this movement. There is no shortcut to understanding the people. When you understand the people, you often know what to say and do and how. When the people know that the Christians understand them, they infer that maybe Christianity's High God understands them too. (p. 8)

It seems that Netflix leaders forgot the people. They didn't fully understand the customer base. They led to some possibly great changes, but left the people behind.

Churches sometimes do this as well. It's about understanding the lost around the church and reaching them with the Gospel. It's also about understanding the saved within the fellowship and leading them to be missional.

I'm all for change. My nature drives me to change. I get bored easily and the same-ole, same-ole drives me crazy. Yet, change for the sake of change is a waste of time and energy. Change when needed, communicated well and for the growth of the Kingdom is powerful. May we learn from Netflix and others. May this remind us that we are the church, not another corporate entity.


"Courageous" Opens September 30 - We Will Be There @courageousmovie

Last night my wife Tracy and I attended a pre-release screening of the new Sherwood Pictures film Courageous. This is the fourth release from Sherwood Baptist Church and the Kendrick brothers. Previous films (Flywheel, Facing the Giants & Fireproof) garnered quite a following and prompted some great ministry options for local churches. 

When we arrived back home, our children asked "Well, how was it?"

I responded, "It's the best yet."

To which they said, "You say that every time."

I do.

I really enjoyed the previous three films and was and am amazed that a local Baptist church was able to put together such moving, challenging and faith-filled movies. The fact that these films went nation-wide in local theaters rather than direct to DVD amazed me.

I went into the theater excited to see this new installment.

We're in the midst of summer blockbusters and while much of the buzz at the local theaters has been about Cars 2, Green Lantern and Captain America, I can honestly say I was more excited to see this film than any of those.

This film revolves around the lives of four deputies in Albany, Georgia (all the films take place in Albany and there are subtle references to the other three movies throughout, but you have to be clued in to catch them.) I don't want to be a spoiler because there are elements in this film that you need to experience first-hand. I will say this, the film begins with action and draws you in immediately.

The message is for men, fathers especially. It's challenging, hard-hitting and real. 

However, it's not just a men's movie. 

Some of the issues addressed are:

  • Growing up without a father
  • Dealing with divorce
  • How to be more than a "good enough" father
  • Why children are drawn to gangs and trouble
  • Doing the right thing when it's not easy or popular
  • Fathers connecting with sons
  • Husbands connecting with wives
  • Fathers loving their daughters
  • Dealing with the death of a loved one
  • Forgiving oneself
  • Leaving the past behind
  • Forgiving absentee dads
  • Healing open wounds
  • Trusting God when it's impossible
  • Finding courage to be who God has made you

The only problem with viewing this film with your buddies or family members is that you will find yourself crying at times. Believe me, I don't care how "tough" you are, if you're a father, it will get you. I was glad the lights were down because the tears were rolling.

The Kendricks know the severity of the story and I appreciate the humor and levity throughout the film. I mean, just sitting in a theater blubbering for two hours is no fun. Laughter is needed and is great medicine.

Our desire as a church is to rent out a showing the opening weekend of September 30. The film will open at the AMC Theater in Orange Park Mall and I hope to secure at least one showing. I think a great plan would be for church members to purchase two tickets each. Then, we can see the film and give away tickets to friends and neighbors who need to see this.

As I'm watching the film, names of men in our community that I know are coming to mind. 

Believe me, the film is that powerful and worth it.

Our Real Men's Ministry is going to sponsor this. I hope you join us in promoting the film as it promotes REAL manhood and Jesus Christ as the Answer.

Check out the trailer below. . .


"The Butterfly Circus" - 20 Minutes of Inspiration

I saw this film about a week ago with a group from Lakeside Junior High.  I wanted others to see it and purchased the DVD.  Our family watched it tonight.  This film has so many messages at so many levels - grace, acceptance, the power of "us", transformation, life, etc.

I know it's 20 minutes long, but you would be wise to take the time and watch.  Perhaps, if we can get the licensing, we'll show it during one of our church gatherings.

 

I watched the special features on the DVD.  I always enjoy seeing the behind the scenes info and outtakes.

I knew some of the actors looked familiar.

  • Mendez is played by Eduardo Vera'stegui - Remember him as the star of Bella?
  • Will the "Limbless Man" is played by Nick Vujicic.  He's been featured on YouTube for years and you probably have had clips of his story emailed to you.
  • Otto is played by Doug Jones.  I've never seen Pan's Labyrinth, but I've seen stills from it.  he plays the character with eyes on his hands.
  • Poppy is played by Bob Yerkes - a stunt man who doubled for Doc Brown at the end of Back to the Future when the lightning struck the clock tower as well as the stunt double for Boba Fett in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.  He said that he was typecast in this film as an old trapeze artist.  He's great as Poppy.

Apparently, they are making it into a feature film.  Can't wait to see the story unfold even more.

To order your own copy of the DVD, go to www.thebutterflycircus.com

 

 


There and Back Again - Lessons from a Hobbit

Sunday afternoon, after getting home from church and eating a big lunch, I found my place on the sofa.  There's nothing on television on Sunday afternoons this time of year, so I put in my copy of The Lord of the Rings:  Return of the King.  This is a great film and this version is the extended version.  I started watching it the day before, but it's four hours long and I fell asleep, so I put it back on and tried to finish.

I have owned this copy of the film for a couple of years but never got around to watching it.  So, Sunday looked like a good day to finish.

I had preached Sunday morning the first message in a series of sermons titled "Small is the New Big."  The emphasis is on noticing those things that are seemingly insignificant, yet greatly used by God.

There are biblical accounts of this principle throughout the Scriptures:  David, the slaying of Goliath, Zacchaeus, etc.

I didn't expect to be taught something by watching a movie.  I just wanted to finish the film, relax on the sofa and rest on this day.

As I watched the film, even though I had seen the theatrical version earlier and knew how it ended, I was taken by the fact that of all the huge, bigger than life characters in the film (Gandalf the Wizard, Aragorn, Legolas, etc.) that the key elements to the victory in battle were tied up in the smallest characters.

The four Hobbits in the film - Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin, were vital in every portion of the victory.  Of course, we knew Frodo would be.  He's the one given the task of destroying the ring.  He's the central character, but the other three proved valuable as well.

Throughout the story, there are jokes and statements made by other characters about the Hobbits, their diminutive size, their seemingly inability to make a difference, but when you get to the end of the film, you realize that all those other characters must eat their words.

The scene that did it for me was the one linked below (just click the image.)  What a great reminder that regardless of your size or seemingly insignificant role in the grand Story of God - you matter!  You are valuable!

Hobbits