“So I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground. Look, you have what is yours.’”
Matthew 25:25 HCSB
You have a calling on your life!
What's holding you back? Whether you're an artist, athlete, soldier, office worker, contractor, or entrepreneur God has a purpose for you. Ultimately our purpose is to bring glory and honor to God in everything we do and win souls for his kingdom by sharing his love. This is how we were designed to express ourselves... so why aren't we?
Michael Arndt, the writer of Toy Story 3, explains writing as climbing a mountain blindfolded. This is also true of living in Faith as a Christian and the enemies goal is that we die having never climbed at all.
Allot of us view Spiritual Warfare like a scene from Lord of the Rings, Angels, and Demons locked in a battle for the fate of humanity, when actually we know that the battle was already won, the enemy defeated, and humanity saved. We would be better off looking at it as a defeated enemy’s last attempts at taking as many poor souls with him as he can in a blaze of glory. The way to do this is not to simply focus on the non-believer but rather the Christian. If he can stop the Christian from fulfilling his purpose then how will non-believers ever be saved?
“Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 1:13 HCSB
Please know that I'm talking about myself before anyone else and for me, my biggest weakness is procrastination. Procrastination is probably the most effective tool in the enemies arsenal because it keeps us in the mindset of I WILL do it but I’ll do it tomorrow. The enemy would love to have us saying this until we die. In my film ’A Town Called Redemption’ Doc states ”there are thousands of promises in the bible but tomorrow isn't one of them.” Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
“Don’t boast about tomorrow, for you don’t know what a day might bring.”
Proverbs 27:1 HCSB
Now it’s easy to blame outside forces for our problems. ”The devil made me do it” would be too easy for us to get out of our problems. The sad truth is the enemy doesn't force us into anything. He just plants the seed and we act out on our own. We create the drama in our lives, turning every day into a soap opera which turns us into the very thing we fear. We begin to criticize, judge and gossip, getting into all kinds of trouble.
We should not accept this behavior in ourself because it's going to prevent us from our calling. We need to put the sparing gear away and actually get into the ring. We need to change our ideology of ethics. We will stumble and fall from time to time but we must work hard every day.
“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us,”
Hebrews 12:1 HCSB
Although we may fear rejection, which is human, the Pro doesn't let it paralyze him. The Amateur waits for his hand out. The Pro takes the day. The Amateur dreams of success. The Pro knows work breeds success. The Amateur entertains hope and disappointment. The Pro lets the chips fall where they may and trusts God. The Amateur lets adversity discourage him or victory fool him into complicity, where the Pro doesn't fall for it, he accepts what may come, presses in, and keeps fighting, win or lose. When the Pro wakes up in the morning and his feet touch the ground the enemy says ”oh, no.” The Pro doesn't take things personally and instead gives God the glory in everything he does. Because at the end of the day the Pro knows that if he just takes the first step God will meet him the rest of the way. What’s the hardest part of climbing a mountain blindfolded? Finding the mountain. We just need to forget excuses, find our mountain, and start to climb.
1 Peter 1:13
A Town Called Redemption has been nominated for an Oscar!
Just kidding, we’ve been nominated for something WAY better. The International Christian Film Festival has nominated A Town Called Redemption for Best Screenplay for a Short Film! On behalf of the cast and crew, we cannot be more honored and would like to give God every once of credit and glory.
What is ICFF? Sometimes referred to as the ”Christian Oscars” ICFF draws some of the biggest names in Christian Cinema and the most talented emerging faith-based filmmakers in the world. Widely considered the largest Christian Film Fest, they have concerts, screenings for nominated films, seminars, and an award ceremony for the winners in each category.
What is ’A Town Called Redemption’? It's a short faith-based film made by my Church and myself about a young boy who, with the help of his best friend, takes on a ruthless band of outlaws to protect his father. The film is an action adventure in the style of old Zorro and Lone Ranger serials that's sure to please fans of both Westerns and Superheroes. It's also a film about life choices and how your decisions determine your destiny.
Stay tuned for more info on screening schedule for the film and please make sure to buy your tickets and book your room through internationalcff.org
Show your support for the film by emailing them and letting the festival know you're excited for ’A Town Called Redemption’ HERE
I LOVE MOVIES.
Nothing beats getting a huge bucket of popcorn and seeing a really great movie. It’s even better when its something you can connect with, in my case ”faith-based” or films with Biblical elements. That’s why I believe Christian cinema has had a little bit of a revival as of late. Seems like there are faith-based films being released once a month almost. The only problem is none of them are connecting with anyone other than people like me, that is people of the Christian faith.
I can think of about two Christian movies within the last twenty years that are Biblical and have connected with both people of faith and non-believers: The Passion of the Christ and Prince of Egypt, and one is a cartoon. Every other film I’ve seen that I’m told is a ”must-see” Christian movie seems to get critically panned and isn't really being widely accepted. I couldn’t figure out why but then I realized its because they aren’t good movies outside of the message they're trying to convey.
In my last blog post, I wrote about the importance of Invisible Ink. This is the emotional moral hidden within every scene of a well-written film. Why author Brian McDonald calls it Invisible Ink is because it’s meant to be hidden. If not, it begins to become ”preachy” and turns audiences off. A movies primary goal is to entertain, not preach where a sermons main goal is to preach, not entertain. Now you can have elements of both in sermons or movies but when you lose focus on the primary function you lose the audience completely. Christian movies, at least to me, seem to preach to the choir. Maybe because the Choir is who mainly buys tickets or maybe it’s designed to inspire folks of faith. It’s not made to entertain so, therefore, non-believers don't want to see it and, as a result, it can not evangelize.
Ben-Hur (1959) MGM available to own or rent through iTunes, Amazon, or Vudu
One of my favorite Christian films ever made is the 1959 epic: Ben-Hur. Nominated for 11 Oscars and still considered a classic to this day Ben-Hur bolsters an unforgettable story, legendary acting, and action scenes that, considering how old it is, still wow viewers (partly because it’s Stunts, more on this in another post). The most compelling part of the story though is its message. Ben-Hur is about letting go of hate. The villain was great too. He had reasons why he betrayed Ben-Hur and honestly was hurt that he had to. He wasn’t one dimensional.
Some of the biggest faith-based films in recent history have really good messages, like standing up for your faith or what you believe. They have...acting. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to live up to Heston. The plots exist too. The villains are more or less ”facebook meme villains”. Unsurprisingly every faith-based film seems to be critically panned and NOT just because Hollywood has an agenda. I repeat DON’T BLAME CRITICAL FAILURE ON THE LEFT-WING. Don’t believe me? Hacksaw Ridge, a film about a young man standing up for and inevitably conquering through his faith in Jesus Christ, was nominated for...wait for it...BEST PICTURE.
CREDIT: COURTESY OF LIONSGATE
If you are just making a movie to make Saints nod their heads and feel good you’ll never evangelize non-believers. One note evil atheist villains and perfect Christian protagonists who have to overcome not their own flaws, like Judah Ben-Hur needing to repent of his hatred, but just being oppressed by people who disagree with them aren’t entertaining to anyone who isn’t an “oppressed” Christian. Entertaining Christian movies can exist, if they focus on being good movies that have a message, not a message that’s slapped into a mediocre movie.
Maybe they need to shake the formula that seems to be the current format or maybe we as Christians need to ask for more than feel-good mediocrity. Either way, if it's not preaching the gospel to new souls, what’s the point?
Things to Google:
1. Christian Film reviews
2. Ben-Hur (1959)
3. Hacksaw Ridge
4. Creating realistic characters