Tag Archives: Christianity

Fireproof – The Movie

This weekend my wife and I had the opportunity to go see Fireproof, the latest movie from the makers of Facing the Giants.  Facing the Giants did well when it came out but Fireproof has already beaten it.  In fact, Fireproof made an estimated $4 million this weekend and over $12 million since its release two weeks ago, despite showing on only 852 screens, roughly 1/3 to 1/4 of other big Hollywood movies.

Set in Albany, Georgia, Fireproof tells the story of a young married couple whose marriage is more than on the rocks and the struggle of Caleb, at the encouragment of his father, to win back the heart of his wife Catherine who wants out.  The writers manage to faithfully paint the picture of what’s surely happening in homes all across America since half of all marriages end in divorce.  Who can watch the film and not find something that reminds them of themselves, their friends or their family?  The intensity is there, the sadness is there, the hope is there, the fighting is there and the love and romance are there. 

While Facing the Giants is a great movie with a great message, the acting was notably mediocre.  But Fireproof blows past mediocrity this time with very good acting by most of the characters, especially the two leading actors, Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea.  Both played their parts well and, like any good movie, brought to the big screen what many live in the common life out here in real America.  There aren’t any lotteries won (well, not million-dollar lotteries though you’d might say both won in the lottery of relationships). There are no prince and princess fairytales and everyone is just like us.  I see all of these people everyday, right here in Mississippi.  And that’s part of what makes this film special.  There’s no “Pretty Woman” storyline though I’d say Erin Bethea is much prettier than Julia Roberts.  There’s no elitism.  These are regular people.  It’s the story of real people, struggling in life and relationships.  And it’s the story of facing head-on all the faults that make us so human, but working hard to overcome them.

While some would argue that this film is made by an Evangelical Church in Georgia and that it talks about Christianity, I’d say it’s worth it, even to the atheist, to see this film and there’d be few Christians that would argue that you don’t need God in your marriage.  Despite the religious arguments and complaints that are out there, the film can still be enjoyed and appreciated as well as challenging to any person from any worldview.  I’d especially encourage giving it a shot for any of you out there whose marriages are on the rocks.

Fireproof is proof that a low-budget movie ($500,000) can be made that is satisfying to watch and challenging at the same time, all the while avoiding the sex and promiscuity and foul language that pervades most films out of Hollywood.

Watch the trailer below.

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Grace Versus Works – Galatians 3:3

Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Galatians 3:3

The topic of grace and works is something that we don’t completely grasp. I’ve seen in my own life and in the lives of others a skewed picture of grace. Paul saw it too as he was writing to the Galatians. John Piper sees it in today’s world and wrote a great book about grace entitled “Future Grace”. It’s a little deep for me and I had to read it twice just to begin to understand it.

Here’s the problem. We believe and say that it’s God’s grace that saves us. We generally believe this, at least in Protestant churches (I can’t speak with authority on other denominations) and we can quote the verses like Ephesians 2:8,9 and others that remind us that it’s God’s grace that saves us. So, when we first come to Christ, we’re pretty good at recognizing that there’s really nothing of our own merit that can suffice to earn eternal life. It’s God’s grace.

Where we have trouble, I think, and Paul and John Piper seem to teach, that after we’ve accepted God’s grace, we kind of forget about the grace and begin to rely on our works, the things we can to do, to obtain God’s favor. Yes, it’s true, that a faith without works is a dead faith. However, after coming to Christ, we often start living a life sort of thinking that “If I do this….”, “If I can pray more…”, “If I teach this class, if I be this leader…” then that will grant me more favor in God’s eyes. That is, we begin to try to rely on our works and all those things we do and say to earn what God has already given us, free and clear, with no debt to repay. Yet we continue living as if we can somehow pay down that debt like a run-up credit card.

God’s grace is enough. Of course, we need to work out our faith and let the fruit of that faith and God’s work in our lives and hearts be visible and multiplying. But God’s grace was enough to save us and it is enough to keep us. God’s grace is enough to live and respond to all of life’s circumstances. God’s grace is enough to help us overcome all those issues we deal with. It’s foolish to think otherwise. It’s foolish to start with grace but finish with works. God’s grace is what saved us and God’s grace, as the hymn “Amazing Grace” goes, “will lead me home.”

I had a link to a great version of Amazing Grace in another post that you can hear here.

Who Do You Trust?

Some trust in chariots. Some trust in horses.  But we trust in the Lord our God.  
Psalm 20:7 (New International Reader’s Version)

Recently, a big story broke about a pastor in Australia who seriously deceived not only his congregation, but also his fellow staff and even his wife who all falsely believed he had a terminal illness.  In the Fall of 2006, a major evangelical leader in the U.S. resigned his leadership positions amid allegations of a gay scandal.  Numerous popular mainstream Christian recording artists have divorced their mates over the last several years.  There is a website devoted to cataloging proven and well-supported allegations of sexual predatory abuse by pastors and ministers and deacons.   And on and on it goes.

This unfortunate trend has been on my mind for the last two years as I began thinking about what’s going on in the Church today and why some are imploding.  Maybe it’s not just the Church “today”, maybe it’s always been like this, but for the last couple of years I’ve come across several churches and pastors and situations, not for the purpose of being judgmental, but to ask, “What is going on?”  Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear about a well-known Christian leader who has fallen.  Hearts are broken, families are ruined, churches are disgraced and the name of God is cheapened. 

I don’t think any of us can say we haven’t done something that reflected poorly on the God we love and the faith we espouse.  As a contemporary song asks, “Who here among us has not been broken?  Who here among us is without guilt or shame?”  (You can hear the song here.)  So the purpose here is not to judge or be judged. 

So, the question is, “Who do you trust?”  Do we trust in man or do we trust in God?  Man will let us down time and time again.  Here also are a few other things that I’m reminded of as I think about our failures and I think about who I put my faith in.

  1. It’s OK to shine the light on sin.  It’s okay to call it what it is.  Face sin head on, don’t hide it.  Don’t accept anything less than what’s wrong is wrong.  Don’t sugarcoat sin but uncover it.
  2. We need to understand grace.  If we knew the grace we’ve been shown, both in salvation and repentance, it would be far easier to show grace to those who also fail. 
  3. There, but for the grace of God go I.  That sums it up pretty well.
  4. Trust in God.  Trust in Jesus.  We give to men what God rightfully deserves.  Man will fail us sooner or later.  We shouldn’t base our faith and religion on man but put our hope in Christ alone.

Hidden in the Jungle

There are people all over the world who have never heard about Jesus.  The Amazon Basin in South America is home to several hundred culturally distinct people groups.  Here is a video about the Amazon Basin and its people.

Hidden in the Jungle

The Hope That Doesn’t Disappoint

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38,39

I’ve been sitting on those two verses for a couple of weeks, just waiting for a time to sit down and write how these words have been impactful to me in my life.  These two verses are a couple of verses that have been words of hope time and time again.  But this week, they hit home in a little bit of a different way.  This week, a couple of things happened that last night found us sitting, disappointed, kind of shaking our heads, discouraged and frustrated.

Last night, my wife and I stayed up late talking about it.  We were both pretty bothered and disappointed.  She was crying and I was disspirited.  As we turned out the light and tried to go to sleep, still ruminating over the disappointment, these verses came back to me.  I had to be reminded that, though people will eventually disappoint us and circumstances may discourage us, there is one rock who never will.  I had to be reminded, for a moment, of God’s love. 

No matter the discouragement we experience in our circumstances or the disappointments we face in life, Christ Jesus is never more than a prayer away.  No matter the frustration, no matter our dismay, no matter how disheartened or whatever happens in life, no one can separate us from God’s love.  Those are words of hope.

And this morning, Romans 5:5 has been on my mind as I made it into work.

Now this hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.   Romans 5:5

The hope we find in God doesn’t disappoint.  Man will disappoint us.  Circumstances will discourage us.  Things will happen.  But there is one constant, one solid rock, one cornerstone, one Lord from whom nothing can separate me.