Saturday, June 10, 2017

SULLY (2016) Grace Under Fire

2 Timothy 1:7 says "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (NLT)
Sully depicts the powerful and inspiring true story about the “Miracle on the Hudson”. Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) successfully lands his disabled plane on the Hudson River without losing a single life from the 155 passengers and crew on board. He makes this decision out of pure instinct and a strict concerns for others. Throughout the film, Sully displays an admirable grace under pressure.
Not only does he calmly land the plane, but he also displays humility and composure throughout the hostile investigation that follows. In a desperate attempt to cast blame elsewhere, the NTSB attacks Sully's decision to land the plane in the river. They make every attempt to prove that he could have and should have flown back to the airport and do so with no regard for Sully's accomplishment, reputation, or future security. They waste no time throwing their hero under the bus just so they can avoid paying for their lost plane.
Regardless of this trial, he does not cave to the pressure. His priority remains the pursuit of truth even as he faces the possibility of losing his job and his future. He is confident in his accomplishment, but humble enough to question his choices. Because of this open-minded attitude, he is able to find the solution he needs to justify his actions. He presents hard evidence in a calm, brave manner. In fact, there is not a single moment where he succumbs to the hostility around him. He is a light in a dark and dangerous world.
Sully is one of the most inspiring true stories to ever hit the silver screen. It portrays the ups and (unrelenting) downs of life in an impactful way. Even more impactful is how he perseveres. The story sets a prime example to the world about the most effective way to react under pressure. 
Composure. Courage. Humility. Grace.
Colossians 4:6 says, "Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone." (NLT)
This is the attitude that Christ expects from his followers. What better example to set for those around us. For they are watching. What example do you set?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

SPLIT (2017) Why do we suffer?

1 Peter 5:10 says, “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” (NLT)

I have been a Christian my entire life, a fact for which I was always known. Advocate for Christ is a position (PK, Christian college student, minister) I take more seriously than any other label. Believe me, I have many more. Because of this, I am often challenged with one particular question over every other.

If God exists, why do bad things happen?

It is a complex concept to which I have heard and given many answers. Split, however, explores this concept in a fascinating and powerful way. It portrays a very dark circumstance in a gruesome way. Indeed, this film is not for the faint of heart. The message questions everything we know about the darkness of the world and what it means to suffer.

Romans 5:3-5 says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (NLT)

Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man with a severe case of Dissociative Identity Disorder, kidnaps three girls under the command of The Beast, the most frightening of his 24 identities. He believes that those who suffer are stronger and more pure than those who do not. Those who suffer are more deserving to inherit the Earth.

This puts two of his three victims in extreme danger because of their charmed lives. Casey Cooke on the other hand carries a very dark secret. She spends most of her life greatly suffering. It gives her a unique outlook on this terrifying situation and experience necessary to survive. Unlike her friends she chooses to overcome without violence. She appeals to each personality with empathy. She is vigilant. She is resourceful. The way in which she handles this trial is a contributing factor in her survival.

Romans 8:18 says, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” (NLT)

I enjoy that Split is so open to the distinction between the suffering and the broken. Naturally, Father God would never condone the Beast's decision to punish and destroy the inexperienced people in the world. The Beast turns the seeds of a crucial concept into an unholy abomination. She survives because she suffers, and she emerges a stronger person. The victim becomes the victor.

Why does God allow suffering?

The real question ought to be, how could God not allow suffering?

Suffering is an essential part life. It is a temporary condition. It gives us the opportunity to become the best version of ourselves. It gives us the chance to look forward to and appreciate the glory the lies beyond this life. Embrace it. Allow God to refine you through it.

Friday, May 12, 2017

SING (2016) Growing Community Through Music

Colossians 3:23-24 says, "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ."

Sing is a story of a theater own named Buster Moon and his final desperate attempt to save his from financial ruin with a cliché singing competition. He fails to pay his staff, he cannot pay his bills, and the bank is days away from repossessing the building. Worst of all, he guarantees a grand prize of $100,000, a prize he cannot even close to pay. Could the ticket sales be remotely enough to cover all he owes? Not even close.

The only justification he has for his irresponsible behavior is purely emotion. His father worked hard to buy him the theater; therefore… he should be free to be creative in spite of rational, logic, professionalism, or reality. Even as he faces the consequences of his terrible decisions, he continues to make terrible decisions. He lives in an unrealistic fantasy. He thinks one decent show will solve all of his problems, but reality says no.

The pressure of these impossible expectation also negatively effect the passionate musicians involved. Each of them except a certain egotistical mouse audition due to their love for music. The power and beauty of music give their lives meaning. It gives their lives momentum. It gets them through their daily routines. Music is a piece of their core identity. Yet, it becomes clear that the pressure, expectations, and controlling behavior nearly crushes the musical spirit within them.

In a series of unfortunate events, however, the expectations of saving that old building are removed. Without Moons's pressure, control, and selfishness in the way, the spirit of music comes alive. That spirit is then free to spark joy into the hearts of the audience.

Psalm 57:7 says, "My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!" (NLT)

He learns that music must not be controlled or restricted. He learns that the happiness of his performers is more important than pleasing the crowd. He learns to let go of the physical building and embrace a community of people instead.

What good is a building without people? What good is music without a joyful spirit? What good is a program without creative freedom? What will come of it is a mortgage foreclosure, a terrible reputation, and too many burned bridges to count.

Let go of control. Let the spirit grow. Give artists the freedom they deserve. Only then may the people find joy.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

LIGHTS OUT (2016) Defeating Darkness

Luke 1:78-79 says, "Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”

Lights Out is a suspenseful horror that will keep you on the edge of your seat with a horrifying, mysterious villain. It is originally based on the short, Lights Out, one of a series of horror based shorts starring Lotta Losten, which can be found on YouTube.

The film much like the short is a nail biting thriller, but it also provides a unique back story with unrelenting threat named Diana. She was once a girl with a dark obsession and an extreme aversion to light. What she becomes lack an official name other than a perfect example of pure evil. She can only act in darkness. She is darkness itself.

The only way she survives in the world is through a spiritual attachment between Diana and Sophie, a woman prone to deep depression. The deeper into her depression Sophie slips, the more powerful Diana becomes.

Darkness isolates. Diana wants Sophie all to herself, so she terrorizes and kills anyone who would come between them, including her family. Diana succeeds in killing both of Sophie's husbands and drives away her daughter.
Darkness lies. Sophie suffers the depression of losing her husbands, her daughter's abandonment, and a stubborn denial of treatment. What's worse is her denial of the truth. She denies the fate of her husbands, the demise of Diana, and Diana's dark intentions with her.
Darkness is contagious. Diana's darkness not only infects Sophie, but also Sophie's loved ones. Her daughter Rebecca becomes attracted to darkness. Her posters depict disturbing images. She partakes in drugs. She struggles to keep relationships. She avoids her family.
Darkness consumes the soul. Both Sophie and Rebecca are so infected that the only light remaining within them is their love for their surviving family. If not for that love, Diana might have succeeded in consuming Sophie. It drives her to the brink of madness.

Defeating darkness seems impossible. Physical light only deters Diana, but she is always near and ready to pounce. Weapons can't harm her, because she is already dead. Companionship and the police only give her more victims to murder. Abandonment is merely a means to survive. So how is the darkness within Sophie defeated?

Christ says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (NLT)

The answer lies within Sophie the entire time. love. Sacrificial love. Sophie scrifices herself taking darkness into death with her and saving her children. Much like Sophie, Christ sacrificed himself taking sin into death with Him and saving all of God's children. Through the salvation of Christ no one will have to be plagued by darkness again.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

KONG: SKULL ISLAND (2017) Embrace Understanding

"You don't go into someone's house and start dropping bombs unless you're picking a fight.” (Hank Marlow

Proverbs 14:29 says, "People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness." (NLT)

What makes a good leader? He would earn the respect of his people. He takes cares of his land and his people. He hears the cries of the helpless and distressed. He defends his home from destructive forces. He accepts the aid of others when the chips are down. He is at times woefully misunderstood. Good leaders must accept many difficult responsibilities and suffer many plights.

Such is Kong. Kong is King. He is the leader of Skull Island. He is in charge of the inhabitants' welfare and safety. He protects them from a much more sinister threat and anyone who would provoke that threat. So, what would happen if a small army of people march onto Skull Island bearing no understanding of the way the world works and start blowing holes into it. Naturally, Kong would be angry on behalf of his island.

The story behind Kong presents a powerful dilemma between stubborn control and open-minded understanding. It illustrates a divide between the island's guests.

One group consists of soldiers, people who insight violence. They close their minds to the greater understanding that Kong is the island's protector. They chose to fixate on revenge and violence. Their decisions put more lives at risk. Ultimately, they insight a battle that brings forth the real threat: The Skullcrawlers. They cause more destruction and violence.

1 Peter 3:9 says, "Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing." (NLT)

The other group consists of researchers, people who seek truth. They open their minds to the world around them. They treat the inhabitants with dignity, respect and peace. They learn the truths behind the island's hierarchy and its threats. They try to communicate their learning through a message of peace in order to prevent more destruction.

Proverbs 2:2-3 says, "Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding." (NLT)

They bring the truth about Kong to light. They share truth convincing some to lay down their arms. They save Kong's life so that he may save the island and ultimately the world. Truth is a great tool, the only tool one needs in the battle field of life. It makes better warriors of the people in Kong. It will make a better warrior out of you.

Embrace truth, understanding, open-mindedness, and knowledge.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

BOSS BABY (2017) Adjusting through life's unexpected hurdles.

1 John 2:16 says, "For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world." (NLT)

Boss Baby is a story of a family of three, Mom, Dad, and Timothy, that is blessed with a new addition. His family name is Theodore, but he calls himself Boss Baby. This is a very special baby. He is educated, he is ambitious, and he is on a serious undercover mission. He must infiltrate the Templeton family to obtain information about BabyCo's competitor, PuppyCo.

Meanwhile, he struggles to connect with Timothy, his older brother, who is unwilling to share his parents' attention. They are opposites in every way. Timothy is creative, imaginative, and carefree. Until, of course, Theodore shows up. Determined to send Theodore back to BabyCo, Timothy agrees to help the Boss Baby with his mission. However, they slowly become fond of each other.

His mission is a pursuit of a truth that goes much deeper than competitor insight. Instead, he discovers the result of business ambition and his possible future. His business hero, Francis Francis, turns into a bitter man from a life of injustice and no appreciation after many years of hard work. His path of revenge leads to a destructive end.

Luke 9:25 says, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” (NLT)

Theodore is fortunate. This experience gives him a new perspective and the opportunity to change his fate. On one hand, he may continue his work with BossCo where he pursues success, material things, and financial fulfillment. On the other hand, he may join the Templeton family with whom he would have love, companionship, and spiritual fulfillment. The choice is his.

Philippians 2:4 says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (NLT)

Should he chose to join the Templeton family, his presence would affect the family. Timothy would have a brother to join him on his imaginative adventures. Becoming an older brother would give him better chances to become responsible. Their parents would have the joy of another child. The family unit would become stronger.

What does Theodore decide? Check out Boss Baby and find out. It is a brilliant story about family, love, and life adjustment.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

RINGS (2017) Stopping Evil with Sacrifice

As an enthusiastic fan of The Ring and The Ring 2, I have always mused over the concept of Samara's curse with today's digital world. The incredible conclusion of this franchise, Rings, occurs twelve years after The Ring 2 with new characters, new back-story, a new killer video, and the same Samara.

In The Ring, Samara exposes her adoptive family and the tragic circumstances of her murder.

In The Ring 2, Samara's biological mother exposes Samara's fears and explains a method of her possible defeat.

In Rings, Samara concludes the family dynamic by exposing her biological father and the horrifying circumstances of her birth.

Evil begets evil.

Another pattern emerges. Much like the fearless reporter, Rachel, whose son Samara stalks in The Ring and The Ring 2, she also stalks Julia who fearlessly watches the video to save her boyfriend's life. She choses to watch the video ready to sacrifice her life. Samara is attracted to fearless people.

1 John 4:18 says, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we ave not fully experienced his perfect love.” (NLT)

There is no love greater than sacrifice. It is a beautiful love. It is an attractive love, even to an evil ghost girl. It is a love that could have put an end to the curse from the beginning. The solution that could have saved hundreds of lives and prevented The Ring 2 and Rings is simple. Courage and sacrifice.

The urge to save oneself drive people to continue making copies of the tape. The more copies, the harder it becomes to erase the video. With every year that passes the videos multiply. Fear makes the curse go viral, but courage could put an end to it. Somebody, anybody, could watch the video, not make a copy, and use their remaining seven days to destroy as many existing videos as possible. With courage and sacrifice Samara would meet her end.

Instead, the drive for self-preservation keeps Samara alive. It gives her the gift of digital video and a platform on which to take the world by storm. She could wipe out the human race.

Does Julia's selfless act come too late? Will anyone be able to stop Samara's wrath? Without self control and sacrificial love, the world is forever doomed. Only love can stop the evil.