September 29, 2008

Fireproof Followup

Well, the time finally came Friday night; the night I'd been waiting for since last November when I learned that Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the men behind Flywheel and Facing the Giants, were working on a new movie for Sherwood Pictures (the media outreach ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA where Alex and Stephen are associate pastors). The movie was Fireproof and I was NOT disappointed!

Considering that the budget for Flywheel was $20k and Facing the Giants was $100k, Fireproof upped the ante once again to $500k. And it showed. This film looked and sounded great. It was an all volunteer crew. Even Kirk Cameron, who is worth millions, worked for free because he so believed in this project and wanted to see God and His institution of marriage lifted up. And for the Truth to be told.

The movie was mostly one of anguish in which the two key characters are trying to live their lives and find contentment outside the will of God. But there were also many funny moments just like in the previous Kendrick movies. The key theme is one of marriage and what it takes to make it work successfully and all for the glory of God. As fallen sinful creatures, we all need help in this department since we are incapable of doing it on our own, regardless of what our flesh and society may tell us. And this is the journey that Kirk Cameron's character Caleb Holt must go through. His marriage would have no doubt burned into ashes quickly had it not been for Caleb's parents who got saved a few years back.

They have been praying for their son's marriage but now it's time for them to step into the battle to render aid before it's too late. And what an influence parents have in the lives of their children! It is paramount when they are growing up but it does not stop after they move out on their own. That's exactly what we see; a father who knows the Lord and will do whatever it takes in time, effort and heartfelt talks to get his son to see the Truth.

While I had many favorite scenes in the movie, my favorite favorite ;-) had to be when Caleb was sitting in the campground and his father asks him how Catherine has been reacting to his attempts at reconciliation. As Caleb tells his father how she despises him, hurts him and rejects him effectively spitting in his face, his father has slowly circled around to lean against the cross. He then asks his son if that reminds him of anything. And that's when Caleb comes smack up against his rebellion towards God. He denies that he has been rejecting the God who gave him life but his father disagrees. Dad presses home the point that God loves him and has given him all that he has. But Caleb can't give true love to his wife because he doesn't have it to give. That's where my heart broke because it reminded me and the life I lived before He graciously reached out and saved me from the brink of an eternity without Him.

There's plenty more I could talk about. One issue I had with the film was this above scene and its presentation of the Gospel. The father did lead Caleb though the law and showed him how he stood guilty before God, how it would condemn him to Hell and that no good works would come even close to bribing the Judge to think differently. Caleb needed Christ as we all do. Where the writers dropped the ball, I feel, is that they did not explicitly talk about repentance. The Bible is VERY clear in that REPENTANCE and FAITH are needed for Biblical salvation. Now, in a later scene, Caleb does admit that he has asked God for forgiveness and maybe that will be enough for some to "connect the dots" but I would have preferred that it happened back in the campground scene.

Speaking of connecting the dots, have a read over these two commentaries from the people over at Breakpoint (the web site presence of Chuch Colson's ministries):
Making Marriage 'Fireproof' (the paragraph of interest comes near the end)

’Fireproof’ Storytelling

I REALLY can't understand Mark Earley's comment, "And, in my opinion, the movie’s step-by-step presentation of the Gospel was a little over the top." I was flabbergasted when I read a week ago and still am in a state of confusion trying to explain that one. Even worse was that second commentary by Zoe Sandvig which makes about as much sense. Apparently it's impossible to make a good film if you are completely clear about the Gospel. Guess we should just leave that to the Bible and not bother to express it any other way. Pah-leeze.

On another topic, for those interested in the music from the movie, it is available on iTunes and includes songs from Third Day, Casting Crowns, John Waller and more. There are also several books that might pique your interest:
Fireproof (the novel based on the screenplay; I've read it and it contains more info)
The Love Dare (in its 4th printing & ranked 28th on Amazon)
Fireproof Your Marriage Study (DVD)
Fireproof Your Life (I'm looking forward to reading this next)
Preparing For Rain (I'm just about done with this and it's very good)
Still Growing (Kirk Cameron biography, I've read this and it's good as well)
Either you or someone you know will likely find the Fireproof My Marriage web site helpful.

And here's some of the latest press articles:
'Fireproof' Opens, Offering Hope For Troubled Marriages
'Fireproof' Makes Hollywood Premiere
REVIEW: If You See One Movie This Year....
Director Recounts Making Of 'Fireproof'
In closing, if you haven't seen this movie, go see it! If you have, be sure to tell everyone you know about it to try and convince them to see a wholesome movie that might unbeknownst to them may very well help their marriage or give them the Truth of the Gospel.

I was happy to see the box office numbers for the opening weekend. Fireproof took in $6.5M. Compare that to the opening weekend for Facing the Giants which took in $1.3M and topped off at $10.1M after 15 weeks. Looks like we can expect to see more from Sherwood and the Kendrick brothers. Praise God!

To everyone who has seen this movie, I'd like to hear about what you thought about it so comment away!

September 11, 2008

Waging War

My personal morning devotions are currently taking me through the New Testament and today's chapter of study was 2 Corinthians 10. Bearing in mind the title and purpose of this blog, verses 3 through 5 leapt off the page at me:
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ [2Co 10:3-5 ESV]
I believe most "Christians" (even those who are truly saved through repentance and faith in Christ) are totally unaware of what's going on around them in the spiritual realm. A war is going on that few of us seem to be aware of. Unfortunately I think we are so caught up in this world (run by you-know-who) and our five senses that it simply fails to register most of the time. And I speak from a long line of experience, trust me!

Jews in the NT were well accustomed to warfare. From the time they set foot in the Promised Land until the time of Christ, they were intimately familiar with the things of war. The nation of Israel started off by having to fight the pagan armies that surrounded them and later, they had to put up with being the captives of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Greeks and in NT times, the Romans. And while, on the surface, they were battles in the physical realm it was simply a facade for what's been going on between Good and evil since the Fall.

Although those of us in the US know little of real war, we as Christians can not afford to be so naive.There's something much larger than ourselves at stake! Two sides are battling for control even though the final outcome is certain. And it's simply not an option to sit on the sidelines or say that you're neutral (not even the Swiss)! If you're not actively maturing in Christ and growing yourself in Holiness with His help, you are unwittingly playing into the hands of His opponent.

The sad realization is that even though some of us are on God's side, we appear as though we are on Satan's. Most of us live such small lives and dream of such paltry things. Those in the church and those who lead it have lost the vision. We have been sucked up by the culture and grown fat, lazy and dumb. We don't know how to defend our faith. We are too timid to give a reason for the hope that is within us. We spend so little time in the Bible that true wisdom eludes us. And because of this we are ill-equipped to "destroy arguments ... raised against the knowledge of God"

We are told to "take every thought captive to obey Christ" yet how are we to do this when we do not have the knowledge of God's truth to do so? We are bit dim bulbs in the darkness when we should be shining as bright beacons, much like the bright lighthouse that warns sailors lost in storms at sea. We are told to renew our minds and that's done by immersing ourselves in the Scriptures so that we can understand what God's will is for our lives; to make ourselves more holy by conforming our thoughts, words and deeds to the will of Christ.

But instead we are immersing ourselves in the things of the world. Is it any wonder why we and the church are so ineffective in today's world? Consider the time you are in the Word, praying over it, meditating on it. How much of each day? Then consider how much time we spend immersed in the things of the world. It sickens me the more I think about how I spend my time.

Whose side are you on? What will you tell your King when you stand before Him and give an account of your life? Will you stand proudly, knowing you did your best thanks to the grace of God? Or will you stand there in regret knowing for all eternity that you lived most days according to your own will and pleasures rather than in the service of the One who bought you with the ultimate price? Is that how much we love Him?

So the time has come to obey our Lord and Savior. Spend time in Scripture. Read it, meditate on it, pray for guidance in using it and then live it out wherever the Lord takes you. Leave an impact on this world that will be felt throughout all time! As John Piper is fond of pointing out, only what's done for Christ will last. Fellow brothers and sisters, we are on the winning side. We need to go out there and live like it! We need to shine as bright lights to point this dark world toward God so that in and through it all He may have the glory. Soli Deo Gloria!