Sunday, April 29, 2012

Courageous: Movie Review

Last night we watched Courageous. It's a movie from the same people that did Facing the Giants and Fireproof, Sherwood Baptist Church in Georgia. The story is about four cops and a handyman who are all trying to figure out life, fatherhood and God. I'm going to split this review into two parts. The first half I'm going to review the technical components of this movie, writing, directing, acting, etc. The second half will be reviewing the message and themes of the movie. I wanted to split it into two parts because I have very different opinions on them. If you haven't seen the movie, there are going to be some spoilers, so read carefully.

First off, the technical parts of the movie. I thought that the film fell short of my opinions of what a good movie is. The acting was mediocre at best, with the exception of Ken Bevel who portrayed Nathan Hayes. I felt most of the actors spoke their lines too overdramatically, which detracted from the impact of the lines sometimes. Also, sometimes when in the background, they lapsed in staying in character and forgot they were still on camera even when not speaking lines. Ken Bevel was the one main actor who I truly believed as their character, and I was pretty impressed with his work, considering all the actors were volunteers. That's one thing you have to remember, nobody got paid to make this movie. The writing is where I have the most mixed feelings in this movie. I thought (and I'll discuss this later) the message and themes of the movie were very poignant, important and clearly made time and time again in the movie. The dialogue of the movie, however, was really cheesy in some parts and awkward in many instances. Maybe this is a cause and effect of the mediocre acting. Either the dialogue made the acting bad, or the acting made the dialogue bad. Either way both left a lot to be desired. I also felt the story was written around the message, rather than the message flowing out of the story. In this movie's case, that's not important because the story and the technical aspects of the movie were meant to be secondary to the message it was getting across. The directing had some moments where it was REALLY good, and other times where I was confused. Some of the cuts and scenes were awkardly put together, and the montages sometimes seemed forced. The two scenes that were really impressive to me were the action scenes at the beginning and end of the movie. The big opening scene was well put together, the action was done well and I was impressed. It had nothing on the big gunfight at the end of the movie. The shots they used were perfect for the scene, the slow motion uses were perfectly placed and I felt the actions and events were well done.

The message of the movie was very important in society today, and they reiterate that with stats throughout the movie. Fatherhood in society today is dying, and it's causing the rise in crime, gang violence and decay of families everywhere. This movie showed the importance of fathers, and was so well put across. I definitely cried in this movie, and not ashamed to admit it (the part that got me most was after Adam's daughter passes away, and they show the sign in her room 'My prince did come, his name is Daddy). It's a big challenge to dads everywhere, and I felt the challenge in my life. Although as a film it wasn't the most well done, it is one I would recommend to ANYONE, especially dads. The message of being there for your kids, doing what you can to help them grow closer to God, and being the leader of your house are ones every dad and husband needs to hear over and over again. And even if you're not married and have a kid, that kid NEEDS you to be a part of their life. I love how each of the dads in the movie had different relationships with their kids, whether it was divorced with visiting rights, never met the child or lived with them, and each one was challenged to do more to be the father God lines out in Scripture. Very good, and very important especially in light of today's society and how more and more kids grow up knowing barely anything about their dad.

I recommend this movie for the message it has and challenge it lays out. As a film, don't expect greatness, but let that go as you see the message unfold.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

3 Posts in ONE MONTH!

Wow, I seem to be consistently posting...or at least this month. I don't know really what I'm going to blog about quite yet, it will probably just be rambling and nonsense. The reason I'm still up is because I was supposed to have a softball game today at 9:30. I say supposed to because it got rained out. The thing that sucks most about it? I drove all the way there before they cancelled it. I've been up since 12:15 AM, no nap, so my lovely wife made me coffee so I could stay more awake than I felt. So now I had no softball to take off the buzz of caffeine, and I'm awake...22 hours...oh dear Lord help me sleep. So for the past few weeks I've started being mentored. It's been fantastic, and I've been doing a LOT better about reading my Bible. I have grown so much closer to God, and I feel like I'm learning and being more disciplined in the way I've approached my relationship with God. I don't feel like reading your Bible and praying are items on a checklist, but if you love God and want to grow closer to Him you NEED to be doing those things. You shouldn't do them out of obligation, but actually want to do it. It's been great, and I'm so glad that I have started this path of my life.

Another new thing in my life has been starting volunteering in Youth Ministry at church. Last Thursday I went to a Home Group, and met some guys who are doing a Bible study/accountability group. I had heard about them from the Sr High Ministries Leader, and had been praying about becoming their leader. I found out Thursday they had been praying for a leader just the week before. So, it seems as if I'm going to be a small group leader soon. I'm super excited, but also super anxious. I definitely know that God will always give me the words to say and the paths to lead, but I always still feel so inadequate and unqualified. It will involve LOTS of prayer and LOTS of prayer!

Anyways, I think I *might* be tired enough to sleep, so I will bring this post to a close. Thanks for reading, even though I'm sure not many people are. It's ok, I don't blog for anyone but me. If you're reading it, thank you for stopping by and I hope that you're having an awesome day/evening/afternoon/night/whatever.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Human trafficking and slavery

Ok, this story is super graphic and hard to read, but this is not an uncommon story among young girls right now. So many young girls and women are forced into a slavery that I wish wasn't happening and for so many years pretended didn't exist. My heart breaks for these girls and women, and I hope that it breaks your heart too. It is a nasty part of what is going on in the world today, and an issue that really has been on the hearts of our family. Right now, through the end of this week if you donate to RescueLife, your gift WILL BE DOUBLED! Normally, $128 will rescue ONE GIRL, but with the doubling it will save TWO GIRLS caught up in slavery. Please consider contributing to this cause and saving lives!

The story of Anjali:

My father called me "the child he never wanted."

When I was young at home with my parents, I quickly learned that my father despised us girls.

My earliest memory is of a birthday. I was having such a great day and was so pleased with my pretty dress. My cousin had come over for my birthday and we were celebrating. Then my uncle came along and said, "Let's go for a walk in the woods." That was the first time I remember being raped. I was 4 years old.

At that time my family could not figure out what was wrong with me. I had a very high fever and wouldn't get out of bed. It was from the abuse. I did not tell what happened to me because I was too afraid.

But my father also molested me and even had other men have sex with me. This started when I was 6 or 7 years old. I thought my only role and purpose in life was to be an object of abuse.

As horrible as my story sounds, it got even worse. One day I watched as my father strangled my mother to death. After that, my father forced me to go on the streets and beg. And the abuse grew even worse.

After my father died, we were moved to where my aunt lived. I don't remember exactly how old I was at that time...around 8 or 9. I had a lot of anger in my heart at this time from all the pain.

When I was only 10, my aunt and uncle wanted me to marry a man. I wanted to run away because I did not want to marry this man. However, I was forced to marry him. The first night he was very hurtful and cruel to me, so the next day I took 60 rupees and ran away.

I didn't know where to go, but three older women in the village told me they would help me. They said they would take me to my grandmother's house, but instead they took me to the city.

They brought me to a strange place. I did not know where I was. They started dressing me up and putting lipstick on me, telling me I needed to look good for my grandmother. Finally, one sweet girl told me that the ladies had sold me.

If I resisted or protested, they would beat me until I submitted. I would scream and cry, but the ladies would still force me to sleep with the men. They were horrible to me. The men were cruel, dirty and sick. I got HIV, TB and many infections.

I witnessed horrible things. I saw one girl get her throat cut and another one mutilated with a knife. I saw many girls die, so I stopped resisting and started doing the work. Still, over and over I asked, "What can I do to get out of here?" They told me I had to work and pay my debt.

Then one day my life completely changed.

Some wonderful, kind people came and rescued me. They gave me a safe place to live. They taught me that God loved me and that gave me value. They assured me that my pain was not God's plan. For the first time I didn't feel that my purpose in life was to be hurt and used. I thank God I am now in a place of hope.

I have seen so many girls murdered. I am just praying that many others can be rescued so they will not have to go through what I did. I want them to be able to enjoy simple things like Christmas, sunlight and freedom.

I now believe God gives each of us a way to help others. Now I am being able to speak up for other girls. I was the victim; now I am a part of the solution.

Friday, April 13, 2012

My affinity for Hip-Hop and lack of TV shows to watch

As I have gotten closer in my relationship with God I have given up quite a bit of my entertainment choices. I have given up some music and quit watching a lot of TV shows that I was religiously watching. Not that any of my music was bad, or watching those TV shows were sinful, but that I couldn't grow closer to God and keep up with all of that stuff. I work a lot, and so watching a TV show takes a much bigger sacrifice than for most people. Work takes up roughly half of my day between the commute and long hours, so to sit and watch an hour long show (or even a half an hour for that matter) is a huge sacrifice and cuts into family and Bible time. That's not even including the content, which is getting worse and worse as time goes on. I used to LOVE How I Met Your Mother. I still would like to keep up with it, but the ideals of sex before marriage and sex as a joke are very prevalent in them. Also, drinking a LOT and living together before marriage are seen as normal. Those aren't positive moral choices and not what God wants at all from us. I used to find those funny, but now I just see how lost and depraved our society is and it makes me sad. I want to know how Ted meets his wife and if Marshall and Lily have a baby, but neither makes me want to watch the show anymore. I don't want anyone to think that I'm saying watching How I Met Your Mother is a sin, it just wasn't good for my relationships that mean the most to me; God, Shannon and Sofi. And with music, I was listening to a lot of music that had swear words in it, and music that talked about a lot of things that weren't in line with the Bible. This was causing my world view to mimic more of that line of thinking than God's line of thinking. Again, I'm not saying non-Christian music is wrong, or that you're a horrible Christian if you don't listen solely to worship music and CCM music (gag!). What I'm saying is this; as I get closer to God, my convictions about those things have changed. I have also re-discovered my love for hip-hop. By re-discover I mean this; I now LOVE hip-hop music. I had a phase late in high school/early in college where I *loved* Eminem. I knew the lyrics to most of his hit songs, and was quite the "rebel." Now I've been listening to Christian hip-hop, and there is such a thing. No I'm not talking about TobyMac or KJ-52, but real hip-hop. Lecrae and Trip Lee are the only two albums I have, but I plan on getting more as time goes on. I don't know what it is, but I can't get enough. I also can't get enough worship music. In the last eight months we've bought worship albums from a bunch of mega-churches over the US. They're fantastic, and they're not lame (yes, I mean lame in the sense of Chris Tomlin, who isn't bad, just sings CCM worship). These churches have worship pastors who write most of the songs they sing in their church, and these albums are all original songs. It's SO good, and I can't stress enough how badly you need these albums. Elevation Worship - For the Honor, The Village Church - God of Victory, Bethel Live - Be Lifted High, North Point Live - Awake, and a few Hillsong United albums are what we have right now, but I think we're going to look at getting some of these churches other albums as well. Like I said, these are just what God has convicted ME of (and Shannon too), so I'm not saying if you watch How I Met Your Mother or listen to non-Christian music you're going to Hell, just that I have let go of those things to get closer to God.