Signed, Sealed, Delivered For Christmas, and Hope at Christmastime

Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas, and Hope at Christmastime

Copyright 2014 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer:Eike Schroter

In Signed, Sealed, and Delivered For Christmas, Oliver, Rita, Norman, and Shane (whom Oliver formally calls Ms. McInerney) have a very special job – they track down the recipients of undelivered mail, and deliver it to them. At Christmas time, they run the Dear Santa project, where they provide the gifts for children that they requested in their letters to Santa. At the last minute, they receive a letter that’s a little bit different – it was addressed to God, rather than Santa! It’s from a girl whose mother’s in the hospital. They do their best to track her down, and give her a Merry Christmas. Throughout the process, Ms. McInerney appears uncomfortable, due to memories of the Christmas her dad walked out on her, and she personally wrote a letter to God that she hadn’t received a response to. Also, Oliver is given another last minute letter to deliver that a child had sent to God a long time ago, but he just can’t seem to track down its writer. As the four of them help out the little girl whose mom is in the hospital, will the mystery solve itself?

The fact that her dad had left when she was a child and didn’t come back after she mailed her letter to God caused Ms. McInerney to reject Him. At one point, she opens up to Oliver about what happened that Christmas, and he says that sometimes, someone else having a great Christmas can cause us to relive our pain if we don’t let Christmas do its job, and that the way to hold firm in a storm is “. . . by trusting that that the one thing that matters in this world will never let go (of you).” He continues on to tell her “Perfect love casts out all that pain, all that fear, and replaces it with hope, and hope is what you were asking for.” He concludes by saying “. . . every Christmas since, hope is what you have been given . . . It’s right here for you.”

Maybe you’re dealing with a painful situation. Maybe, like Ms. McInerney, you’ve become skeptical towards God because of what you’re going through. Maybe the holidays, which are supposed to be filled with joy, seem to intensify the pain you’re going through, by contrast. If so, know that God’s perfect love is ready to meet you right where you are, and bring about healing in your life. The Christmas story is all about hope – hope for a world that couldn’t save itself, but now wouldn’t need to, because a Savior had been born. The hope that because of what He’s done for us, we can now approach God with confidence. Hope that no matter what’s going on in our lives, He will find a way to rescue us if we’ll open ourselves up to Him.

Romans 15:13 says “. . . may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Know that if you’ll come to God, He will cause you to overflow with hope this holiday season. Don’t keep your distance from Him. Turn to Him, and receive the hope that He is offering you!

The Ultimate Life, and How You View Money

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The Ultimate Life, prequel to The Ultimate Gift, tells the story of how Red Stevens discovered the series of “gifts” (important life lessons) that he passed on to his grandson, Jason. After finding the woman of his dreams in The Ultimate Gift, Jason Stevens gets so caught up in the busyness of life that he almost loses her in The Ultimate Life. When he comes to the end of his rope, Hamilton, long-time friend and lawyer of Red Stevens, gives him his grandfather’s journal. Through it, he finds out how his grandfather went from a poor young boy to a billionaire financial success, yet threw away all that mattered most in the process. As he reads the journal, Jason is reminded of what is truly important, which helps him figure out the next step to take in his own life.

In The Ultimate Gift, we meet Red Stevens as a determined teenager who sets out on his own, bent on achieving billionaire status. Throughout his journey, he displays initiative and drive that enables him to overcome any obstacle in his path. At the same time, his focus on gaining wealth causes him to neglect other important aspects of his life, such as his family, until he discovers that becoming a billionaire in and of itself isn’t enough to fulfil him. When he nearly loses his only true friend, he is forced reconsider the path he’s heading down.

The Ultimate Life says a lot about how we should view money. In and of itself, wealth isn’t at all a bad thing. As a matter of fact, God wants His children to prosper, and this includes in their finances. The problem comes in when we put money above all else, and begin to view it as the only thing that matters.

1 Timothy 6:10 tells us that the LOVE of money, not money itself, is the root of all evil. In other words, what matters to God is how you view money, and where your focus is when it comes to your finances. The right way to view money is as a tool to take care of yourself and someday your family, to bless others, and to enable to gospel to be spread throughout the world. The wrong way to view money is to prioritize it above other things in your life that matter just as much or even more.

Red Steven’s poverty as a child led him to become so wrapped up in gaining wealth he neglected other important matters. Wealth isn’t what causes love of money. There are both rich and poor people who love money, and both rich and poor people who view it how God wants them to. Instead of trying to figure out where the limit is on how much money it’s ok for you to have, trust God with your finances, and focus on using the money you have in a way that honors Him. If you’ll do that, not only will you be blessed with the financial success God desires to give you, but you will also come to view money the way God desires for you to view it!

Woodlawn, and the Power of the Gospel

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“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” Romans 1:16. Pureflix’s new movie, Woodlawn, clearly demonstrates this verse!

Based off of a true story, Woodlawn focuses on a high school in Birmingham, Alabama. Because of laws that were passed, the school was forced to become integrated, allowing both black and white students to attend. Black students were also allowed on the football team, which made the team members angry. All of this changed when a sports chaplain name Hank came to town and shared the gospel with the team. Almost the entire team responded by accepting Christ. After this happened, Coach Tandy Geralds found himself wondering why his team was the only place in the city where white and black people actually got along! However, the revival the football team had experienced soon spread to the rest of the school, a rival team, and the entire town, resulting in many, many lives changed by the gospel! The individuals who had experienced the power of the gospel in their own lives were not ashamed of it, and very bold in sharing their faith, standing up for it even in the face of adversity.

All throughout the movie, we see what happens when Jesus steps into people’s lives – hatred is replaced by love and respect for others, enemies become friends, and many are drawn to Him through His transforming power, displayed in the lives of those who have turned to Him. This is the kind of effect the gospel has! There is nothing else that can work this kind of a change – both individually and corporately among His followers. No amount of self-effort, motivational talk, or anything else can bring about true life transformation. The good news of what Christ has done is the power of God to save anyone and everyone who believes – no matter who they were or what they may have done before they accepted it!

Just like the people at Woodland high school whose lives were changed by the good news of Christ, we should be unashamed of our faith. Why be ashamed of something with that kind of power? The gospel is nothing to be embarrassed of or timid about – even though it may not be popular in our modern culture, it is what this world desperately needs. As a matter of fact, it is so amazing and exciting we should want to share it whenever we get the chance! Ask God to give you opportunities to share the gospel with those who need to be exposed to it.

Woodlawn clearly demonstrates both the transforming power of the gospel, and the fact that when we stand unashamed of it, amazing things can happen. If you haven’t already done so, will you accept what Christ has done for you? And if you have, will you begin to share the good news with others?

“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”

War Room, and Answers to Prayer

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War Room, the latest Kendrick Brothers film, came out in theaters on August 28th. If you enjoyed Fly Wheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous, you’ll love War Room, which combines familiar elements from previous Kendrick Brothers movies with some twists and turns that demonstrate the power of prayer, and how if we will let Him, God can turn around even the worst of circumstances.

Real estate agent Elizabeth Jordan’s marriage and family life are quickly heading downhill when she meets Miss Clara – a new client who  inspires her to develop a prayer strategy for every area of her life, and a “war room” where she can go to spend time with God in prayer. As she learns to seek God and trust him with what’s going on, things change drastically, and she begins to see what she’s been praying for come to pass – including a change of heart in her husband, and the restoration of their marriage.

War Room demonstrates that no matter how bad a situation may seem, if we invite God into it, He can totally turn things around. It shows that prayer really does make a difference, and has a tangible impact on our lives if we will make time for it.

Throughout the movie, Elizabeth learns that the enemy isn’t her husband, but rather the devil, that if she resists him, he must flee (James 4:7), and that her job is to pray and trust God to do what only He can do. No matter what you’re going through, know this – your enemy, the devil, has been defeated. Jesus won the victory over whatever you’re dealing with at the cross. If you believe in Him, you have been made right with God, and your prayers are powerful and effective (James 5:16). God desires to do amazing things in your life, and He has promised to answer when you pray (Jeremiah 33:3). Make time to come to Him and ask Him to do what only He can, confident that He will turn things around!

Do You Believe?, and the Most Important Question

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(Note – Do You Believe? is rated PG-13. It contains some violence, and addresses a number of more grown up topics. For a thorough review and breakdown of the movie and its content, visit http://www.pluggedin.)

Featuring Newsboys’ hit song “We Believe,” the movie Do You Believe? brings us face to face with a very important question – “Do you believe in the cross of Christ,” and if so, “what are you going to do about it?”

Do You Believe? tells the story of 12 different people from various walks of life, each dealing with their own set of circumstances, who share one thing in common – they must each answer in their own way the question given above. For the pastor and his wife, as well as a couple that has lost their daughter, it means taking in struggling people the Lord places in their paths. For others, it means taking the step to either commit or more fully commit their lives to Him. Some must take a risk to stand up for and live out their faith. At the end of the day, however, they all discover that God is ready and willing to meet them right where they’re at.

The question the movie asks – do you believe in the cross – is the most important question we’ll ever answer. This one choice – to place our trust in Jesus, and accept Him as our Savior – both settles where we will spend eternity, and also has a life-changing impact on us here and now. If you believe in Him, then you are a child of God, with the right to have a close, intimate relationship with Him that will extend on into eternity. Refusal to receive Christ is THE ONE AND ONLY thing we do that prevents us from someday living with Him forever.

Once we have accepted Christ, God wants to use us to impact others for Him. As the movie shows, He can do so in a variety of ways in each of our lives. What’s important is that we are willing to listen to His voice, and allow Him to lead and guide us.

How will you answer the question the movie presents – the most important one you’ll ever be asked? “Do YOU believe in the cross of Christ,” and if so “what are YOU going to do about it?”

Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas, In Theaters Starting November 14

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Kirk Cameron’s new movie, Saving Christmas, will play in select theaters for 2 weeks, starting November 14. Recently watched the screener for the movie. Here’s a sneak peek of what the movie’s about –

“In Saving Christmas, Kirk Cameron shows how all of the holiday traditions that we know and love actually point to Jesus, the One who’s birth we are celebrating! Kirk Cameron’s sister is hosting a fun Christmas party, and everyone’s enjoying themselves . . . except for one – her husband, Christian. He feels that Christmas has become about nothing more than a celebration with a bunch of pagan symbols and customs that are far from pointing to Jesus . . . Kirk Cameron decides to show Christian how all of traditions and customs that he’s afraid will distract people from the real “reason for the season” – our Savior – can actually remind us of Him!” – Exerpt from “Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas, and Celebrating Our Savior.”

For more about the movie, check out http://generationarise.com/kirk-camerons-saving-christmas-and-celebrating-our-savior/.

Are you planning on going to see the movie in the theater with your family?

God’s Not Dead, and Sharing Your Faith

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The movie God’s Not Dead is all about standing up for your faith in the face of adversity. When instructed by a professor to sign a declaration that God is dead, Josh Wheaton (played by Shane Harper, aka Spencer from Good Luck Charlie) is the only student in class to refuse. As a result, the professor – who is an adamant atheist – demands that he either prove to his classmates that God’s not dead, or face losing 1/3 of his grade.

Josh takes up the challenge, in spite of others urging him to the contrary. While offering logical arguments to prove that God’s not dead, Josh maintains that it all comes down to a choice to either believe or not to believe, and states that he wants the students to be able to make that choice for themselves.

Have you made that choice? Have you chosen whether or not to believe in God, and put your trust in what His Son has done for you? If so, are you willing to stand up for your beliefs, and share the good news with those around you?

In God’s Not Dead, Josh is inspired by the C.S. Lewis quote “Only a real risk tests the quality of a belief.” The gospel is not something to be ashamed of. Our faith in God is not something to hide away in the face of risk.  Let’s be aware of the opportunities that God is giving us to share Him with others, and make use of them!

Have you seen God’s Not Dead? What’s your favorite part of the movie?

http://generationarise.com/gods-not-dead-and-sharing-your-faith/

Summer Movie List

Summer Movie ListLooking for some good movies to watch this summer? Check out these suggestions!

(The movies on this list were carefully selected content-wise, and are all rated PG or G with the exception of Flywheel, which I couldn’t find a rating for. However, it’s always a good idea to use discretion in movie watching, and in selecting a film suitable for your audience.)

Family Movies

  • The Parent Trap (Disney version, starring Lindsey Lohan) – The Parent Trap is all about twin sisters who hatch a plot to get their parents, who are divorced, back together.
  • Cloud Nine – After finding out that she isn’t as good at snowboarding as she originally thought, Kayla Morgan (played by Disney’s Dove Cameron) will stop at nothing to prove that she has what it takes to win at the Fire and Ice competition!
  • Game Plan – A big-name football player discovers that he has an eight-year-old daughter when she shows up at his doorstep. Now, he must make the transition from #1 player to #1 dad!
  • Quints – An only child faces major adjustments when her mother gives birth to quintuplets.
  • Hotel For Dogs – Two children need somewhere to hide their dog to keep him a secret from their foster parents. They discover an old hotel where some strays are living, and get the idea to turn it into a place to bring puppies who would otherwise be sent to the pound.

Teens and Adults

  • Grace Unplugged – Starring AJ Mickalka as Gracie Trey, this movie tells the story of a young adult’s struggle with wanting to live life her own way, chasing her own dreams.
  • The Ultimate Gift – Jason Steven’s grandfather dies, and leaves him the ultimate gift – an inheritance that entails far more than he bargained for.
  • Flywheel – This dishonest car dealer hits a low point in both his career and his family life, causing him to turn to God. He determines to do things God’s way, embarking on a journey full of ups and downs.
  • Facing the Giants – When the head coach for Shiloah Christian Academny is faced with near defeat in various areas of his life, a new coaching philosophy and outlook on things completely changes his life!
  • Fireproof – Catherine and Caleb’s marriage is falling apart at the seams, when Caleb’s dad convinces him to try the 40-day Love Dare challenge. Can their marriage be saved? Or is it doomed to end in divorce?

What is your favorite move? Which of these movies have you seen? Which of them do you want to see? Which of them do you like the most?

Linking up this post with Thriving Thursdays at servingjoyfully.com

Movies To Watch This Father’s Day

Movies To Watch This Father's DayThis coming Sunday (June 15) is Father’s Day – the day we celebrate our dads, and the role they play in our lives. The movies on this list are all about fathers! Choose one of them to watch this weekend!

(In this day and age, it’s difficult to find movies that contain nothing objectionable whatsoever. The movies on this list were carefully selected content-wise, and are all rated PG, with the exception of Courageous, which is rated PG-13. Always remember to use discretion in movie watching, and in selecting a movie suitable for your audience.)

  • Daddy Day Care – is about 2 men who open a childcare service after losing their jobs, and are faced with the question of what’s really most important to them – corporate life, or their family life.
  • Daddy Day Camp – The men who opened Daddy Day Care now decide to open a day camp for kids! All throughout the film, the main character is caught between the kind of father his dad was to him, and the kind of father he wants to be to his son.
  • Father of the Bride – is an older movie that’s still fun to watch! It tells the story of a father’s struggle in coming to grips with his little girl growing up and getting married, as well as dealing with all the hoopla the wedding preparations entail.
  • Cheaper by the Dozen 2 – His kids are growing up, and this dad of 12 is having a hard time lengthening the leash, and learning to letting go.
  • Down and Derby – The upcoming Pinewood derby brings out the competitive side of the fathers in this movie full-force. Will they be able to let go of the need to win, and simply enjoy some father-son bonding time, or will they take matters into their own hands?
  • Courageous – This Christian film shares the story of the triumphs and failures of, as well as the lessons learned by, 5 men who, when faced with reality of how lack of a solid father figure has messed up the lives of many, form a resolution to become the kind of men and fathers God created them to be. (Note – While possessing a great story line with an awesome message, some of the content of this movie is more appropriate for older audiences, as indicated by the PG-13 rating.)

Which of these movies have you seen? Which of them would you like to see? Which one do you like the best?

Grace Unplugged, and Finding Fulfillment

Grace Unplugged, and Finding FulfillmentI recently watched Grace Unplugged, a Christian movie about a teenage girl named Grace – daughter of a former-rock-star-turned-Christian – and her struggle with wanting to live life her own way, chasing her own dreams. Leaving home to pursue a career in the music biz, she would soon discover that the glamour life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and the importance of a relationship with God over the world’s empty promises.

Throughout the film, Grace sought fulfillment in a variety of places – fame, a guy whom she thought cared about her, success in her music career – only to come up empty and heart-broken each time. This is the story of many of our lives.  We try to satisfy our deepest longings with that which can never bring true satisfaction, and no matter what we do, something always seems to be missing. Like Grace, it is only when we turn to God that we will truly find what we are looking for. It is in Christ that we are complete (Colossians 2:10). Only the love of our Heavenly Father can fill the void within us, giving our lives true meaning and purpose.

Grace Unplugged stars AJ Michalka as Grace Trey, whom the movie’s about, Jamie Grace as Rachel, Grace’s friend, and features a special appearance by Chris Tomlin. Rated PG, it is a great movie for teens and adults, and a good reminder that true fulfillment and purpose are found in the arms of our Heavenly Father!

Grace Unplugged, and Finding Fulfillment

Linked up this post with Thriving Thursdays at Serving Joyfully