Courageous movie review

30 10 2011

Yesterday I saw the movie “Courageous” in the theater.  I have to say I was really impressed.  I enjoyed their previous movies (like “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof”), but I think this one is even better.  To me, it was all well done — the depth of the story, the range of emotions, the acting, and the production values.  I’m no movie critic (nor do I try to have that mentality while watching movies), but I didn’t have any problems with it.

The story is incredible.  There are numerous main characters, and it’s not obvious what they will all go through.  This movie had the full range of emotions, too — sometimes you laugh outloud, sometimes you want to cry, and overall it challenges you to live a better life.  Someone asked me if it was a great story or just a great devotional, and I think it was a great story.  When the end credits started in the theater, quite a few people clapped.  You don’t see that very often.

“Courageous” is rated PG-13, which might concern some people, but the only reason I can think of is gunfire between the police and criminals.  There’s nothing graphic about it, but you still might not want young children to see that.

I recommend seeing it.  If possible, go to a theater to watch it, because that’s the only vote we have in what types of movies are produced.  So many movies these days are full of filth and obscenity, so it’s refreshing to see a clean, wholesome movie (with a great story) do well.  I hope they keep making more.  And if other companies see the success of this type of movie, they will be more likely to make similar movies.


it’s easy to get complacent

3 10 2009

I’ve noticed that sometimes we can get complacent, even when we’re trying to do what’s right.  We can still be in love with God, doing what He called us to do, and attending church regularly, yet still get somewhat complacent.  I realized this had happened to me recently.  Thankfully God showed me how I need to raise the bar, to aim for more and expect more.

Part of the reason this happens is just our human nature, that we’re battling our own self-will and crucifying it.   But we all have a ways to go.  We may have made great progress in becoming like Christ, and maintained that progress, but then if we stop growing, we plateau — we stay at the same level.  Getting to where we are now might be a huge achievement, looking at what we’ve overcome and how we’ve changed for the better.  But we must not stop, because there’s still a lot more to change.

Another reason we tend to slow down in our spiritual growth is because of the standard of “Christianity” around us, and that we naturally compare ourselves to others (which we shouldn’t do).   I think this is a big problem in America (and I’m in the “Bible Belt”).   What does it mean to be an on-fire, sold-out Christian?  What is a great church like?  Think about those questions.  If your church has a few people getting excited during the services and it sees a few people get saved each year, is it doing really good?  If someone gets emotionally excited about God and actually talks about Him to other people, are they fired-up?   How high are we setting the bar?

This is what I’ve felt convicted about lately.  I still love God and am serving Him, but how high am I aiming?   I know, the standard is supposed to be Jesus Christ, to live like Him and be like Him and to know Him.  And the standard for the Church is the book of Acts.  It’s easy to acknowledge these things, but sometimes it’s harder to see it happening.   It takes faith, which seems to be more difficult to believe for ourselves, because we know all about our own shortcomings and failures.   But God wants each of us to be very intimate with Him, and to walk in His power.   Can you picture yourself walking in the power of God, seeing supernatural miracles worked through your ministry?  That’s what we should be aiming for.   Can you see your church in revival, with services lasting hours longer because the people are so passionate about God they don’t want to leave, and thousands of people getting saved each year?  That’s what our churches should be aiming for (and then some).

Like I said, this can be hard to believe for ourselves and our church.  But we must remember it’s not by our power and might that this can happen — it’s the power of God.  We just have to believe and do our absolute best.  And speaking of doing our absolute best, that means there’s a cost to us.   We have to give up things — even things that aren’t sinful in themselves — to grow.  We’ll have to make some changes to how we think and see things and what we do.  Our life won’t be about us anymore — it’ll be about God and ministering to others.  Are we willing to pay the price?

the intolerable name of Jesus Christ

13 05 2009

I happened across an interesting article that discusses the polarizing effect of the name Jesus Christ.  The article is called: The Terrible, Traumatic, and Intolerable Name of Jesus Christ.  Here’s an excerpt from that article:

The earliest Christians used the name of Jesus Christ to cast out demons, but today atheists use it to cast religion out of the public square. No other name has ever had such power for both believers and deniers alike. Simply saying that name in public is enough to traumatize secularists possessed by the conviction that they have the right not to be exposed to religion. …

In a way, Christians should feel flattered. Of all the names in the world, this one is so dangerous that the American legal system has begun putting it in the same category as shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. … While Christians use this name to refer to a real person, secularists treat it, ironically, as if it has immanent magical powers. Just the sound of it can resonate so deeply within the atheist’s brain (re: soul) that physical distress results. One might think that those who hate this name the most would simply dismiss it as pure fantasy, rather than trying to quarantine it as a contagious contaminant. Like a tune that gets stuck in one’s mental circuitry (think “The Lion Sings Tonight”), the only way they can get rid of it, evidently, is to litigate.

If you think about it, no other name causes such division and oppression.

Also from the article, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has objected to a video made to help military personnel deal with depression.  In the video, Terry Bradshaw mentions that his faith helped him through some dark times.  And the MRFF was extremely bothered by a homecoming ceremony that “forced” soldiers to hear prayers “in Jesus’ name”.  One plaintiff said that was “humiliating and dehumanizing”.  That’s some strong words!  It was “dehumanizing”?!?  I’ve heard people pray in false religions, and I didn’t get all offended and damaged, so I don’t understand the use of those words (unless it’s to force litigation and censorship).

When you hear secular news about religion, notice how the name of Jesus is polarizing.  And notice how so many people are fighting against Christianity (especially here in America these days) and see if there’s much backlash against any other religions.  Why are some people so eager to repress Christianity but not other religions?  Could it be that Christianity is the truth?

living completely for God

21 04 2009

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I sometimes “step on your toes” (or meddle, as some call it).  I try to be both challenging and encouraging (and hopefully it never comes across as condemning).   This is the kind of “iron sharpening iron” that I like from my friends, where we share what God is revealing to us and it will be convicting and encouraging at the same time.

This post may be the most challenging one yet, so be forewarned.   🙂  Just remember that this is not directed at anyone in particular, and you are reading it of your own free will.  So if you get offended, don’t blame me.  🙂

In our spiritual growth, we tend to have seasons where it’s challenging and seasons where it’s a little more comfortable.  (I don’t know that we’re supposed to be comfortable too much, but it can happen.)  When we’re comfortable, God sometimes will rock the boat and challenge us to a higher level of devotion, so we’ll grow more.  These times can be quite difficult, because we may have to give up things that aren’t bad at all, in order to move up.

Sometimes we find ourselves challenged to a level where we’re not comfortable, and we may fight against it for a while.  It’s not that we don’t want to move up — although part of us wants to stay where we’re comfortable — but it’s difficult to make the necessary changes, to die to self even more.  So we might struggle to change, and this struggle may last for a while sometimes.

That next step for spiritual growth may mean giving up something you enjoy or it may mean doing something you’ve never done before.   Either way, we know what we should do, but for whatever reasons we’re not fully doing it yet.

I’ll admit I’ve been there, so I can relate to that struggle.  I wish I could say I’ve always stepped out in faith instantly when prompted to do something, but sometimes it has taken a little while to put my will in full submission to His will.   Perhaps you can relate.  (I hope this helps someone.)  You don’t have to share with me and everyone else reading, but at least be honest with yourself.

I was struggling with this in a particular area when I heard a sermon recently by Brian Jarrett (which I’ve already written about a couple of times).  Here’s something he said that really put it in perspective:

“Are you gonna play God for a while and then trust Him, or will you trust Him now?”

He was referring to a huge step of faith and obedience that he was called to, and he wanted to do it, but he wasn’t stepping out immediately.  In his mind he was wrestling with the step and trying to rationalize a way to delay his obedience, so he could find the right time to take that big step.   But he realized that when God tells you to do something, you should do it as soon as possible, unless He wants you to wait.   If you think about it, that’s how it should be.  Delayed obedience is dangerously close to disobedience, and to a degree, it is disobedience.  We don’t get to decide when it’s convenient to do God’s will.

This concept also applies to everyday life.  Even if we aren’t facing a major step of faith, we’re all called to walk in the Spirit and follow Jesus’ example and even do greater works than Jesus did.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we haven’t arrived there yet.  But the bigger question is: do we expect to grow to that point?  Do you expect God to anoint you for awesome works in your ministry every day, and do you expect to know God in a very intimate way, as a friend?   That’s part of His will for your life.

So do you expect those things?   I figure most people who call themselves a Christian would say they want it.  But just wanting it doesn’t make it happen, as you’ve probably figured out.  Are you taking the steps necessary to make it happen?  Along that line of thought, I want to share a quote that has stuck with me for years:

Just when do we plan on beginning to walk in the presence of God moment by moment?  Well, most people don’t plan to.  Most Christians just like to talk about it and read books about it and “intend” to get around to it!  After all, when 99.9% of the people they know who call themselves Christians are able to claim to be the real thing without ever being personally responsible for their own feeding in the Word; and without ever manifesting a hunger and thirst for righteousness; and with more interest in worldly emotionalism in place of obedience and adoration of God; then, why can’t ALL of us get away with that, eh?   Isn’t that really the bottom line? ~ Bro. Dan Jenkins

I don’t think the number is 99.9 percent, at least among people I know.  I’m not going to even try to estimate what it really is — that’s not the point, and I have no way of knowing anyway.  The real question is whether we are taking the necessary steps to live a victorious life in Christ in the fullness we are called to.   It’s not enough to hope it happens and to talk about it — we must do all we can to make sure it happens.  It’s God’s will, so it’s up to us whether it happens or not.