Saturday, November 18, 2017

LET THERE BE LIGHT....(NOT YOUR TYPICAL MOVIE REVIEW)

This is a review of a paying customer to a local AMC Theater. It is totally unsolicited, just like all reviews posted on this site. Thank you.
As mainstream Hollywood flounders under the weight of itself, the increasing abundance of some amazing Christian films is just astounding. Let There Be Light (LTBL) is one such film. While Pure Flix has become the "Warner Brothers" of Faith and Family big time movies and streaming services, LTBL is in independent movie produced by none other than the top U.S. Cable News Host - Sean Hannity of the Fox News Channel.

The official Let There Be Light website describes the movie thus, in part:
"....But even with all the fame and success, Sol is empty and distraught on the inside and his increasing reliance on alcohol to numb the pain is only making things worse. His New York party lifestyle has isolated him from his ex wife Katy and their two remaining sons.  Their unrelenting faith in God is something that Sol has actually grown to resent and he tells Katy that he just got sick and tired of her praying for his soul. Sol’s self-destructive habits eventually catch up to him and a serious car crash leaves him clinically dead for four minutes before he is finally resuscitated by some heroic first responders.  It’s a miracle that he’s still alive, but what really changes Sol’s outlook on life is what happens during those four minutes.  It’s a four word message that refuses to let him go despite his best efforts to deny it"...and those words are "LET THERE BE LIGHT".

Right off the bat, as the movie swings open, a big debate is going on between a polished, apparently mainstream evangelical Christian TV show guy and the celebrity atheist and superstar author Dr. Sol Harkins, played by "Hercules" - Kevin Sorbo. The debate happens in front of a huge lecture crowd which is actually representative of a lot of professing "Christians" these days. While the evangelical debates from familiar talking points, the accomplished celebrity author is able to not just passionately proseltyze as a pagan to the weak minds out there, but then go Elmer Gantry on them, with raw emotion. You see, even atheists know there is a God. Just ask Richard Dawkins, who once remarked "Oh my God...." when he forgot the full title of the book "Origins of the Species" by Darwin!

I have read other reviews of LTBL, by Biblical solid christian websites and blogs I always rely on for good discernment, and I could not disagree with them more. One of them is Patheos. This is NOT a cheesy Christian film. On the contrary, as anyone can see from the articles on this blog, I only promote the Bible and what it says - as far as life is concerned. I see the heresy out there and leave it to great people like Challies and Patheos or Dr. Al Mohler to talk about those things. My calling is to alert those who are open to it and what that scene, where the great Kevin Sorbo and his character shows is just how gullible and easily led into oblivion, the majority of people are. It was almost infuriating to watch our God being blasphemed by "Dr. Sol Harkins" (Sorbo) and people sit there and applaud him for doing so. These are some of the same people who will show up in a megachurch, the very next weekend and singalong with the latest Hillsong worship song, while sipping a caramel macchiato from the coffee shop in the church lobby. This is my first takeaway.

The movie DOES takes several turns from here on out as Sorbo's character embarks on a search for the meaning of those four words - LET THERE BE LIGHT. I see nothing hoaky or cheesy about it, just some good screenplay writing and as an evangelist and author myself - Gospel preaching. What some of our own evangelical critics of this movie may have forgotten is that the prime focus of a Christian and Faith-based movie is the Gospel. Using a former Italian 'wise guy' who spent 10 years in the joint and got saved when someone gives him a Gideon New Testament - his only companion for "three years in the hole" is genius. After all, the movie background is New York City and some of the best churches in NYC are in Brooklyn - the biggest being the Brooklyn Tabernacle, which covers every single nationality in the world. (Never mind the movie was filmed in Birmingham, Alabama! Lol).
Two hundred Gideon New Testaments 

like the one in the movie, handed out
at Inner City Trunk or Treat, 90 
minutes, to people who have never
had their bibles  - IN AMERICA

What Pastor "Vinny" does in his simple, funny and "goomba" - speak is to explain the Gospel of Salvation to an atheist better than some real preachers on TV and whom I know personally, who spent four years in seminary! He does that while having us laughing out loud.

I have been a Gideon Bible Society man for going on 23 years and have handed out 1000's and 1000's of Bibles to so many people as well as tens of thousands of tracts. I have had one man come looking for me at a Christian men's conference years ago, who said I gave him a gospel tract in front of a bar, during a parade once, and he didn't want to take it, but his wife did. These things have eternal consequences. As one who is hands on involved in evangelism no matter the neighborhood (from college campus to the inner city), there is something happening when the Word of God changes hands from me to a recipient. I just finished handing out 200 Orange New Testaments (student) to child and adult alike at an inner city "Trunk or Treat" Halloween replacement party for almost 400 people in a disadvantaged neighborhood. The hugs and love were icing on the cake. This was the second takeaway from LTBL - Pastor Vinny's Gideon bible from jail.


Kevin Sorbo and wife Samantha with real life son.
They all had a part in Let There Be Light.
My final takeaway, which actually had me teary-eyed, was Dr. Harkins' wife Katy (who is actually Kevin Sorbo's real-life wife, Samantha) and her explanation to her two (also real-life) sons as to why God chooses to answer prayers the way He does. Her two surviving sons were praying for her healing from a terminal disease and worried God was not listening to them. THIS is the sort of thing which each one of us as Christians and believers will ultimately face in life, as sure as we live and breathe. If we cannot explain it to someone else, or understand it ourselves, then there will be bitterness, doubt and even unbelief.

For me, this last portion of the Hannity-Sorbo creation was worth the entire endeavor - first, the risk of these great men taking a chance to make a movie like this and secondly, to have solid Bible based doctrine to apply to real life, and then write it into a screenplay like this. I think the misunderstanding of what a Christian movie, whether it is Let There Be Light or God's Not Dead (1 or 2) and some others is expectation.  Sure we want to be entertained and have high standards due to the production quality of mainstream Hollywood.  But a Christian movie is more than just watching Star Wars in IMAX and going "wow" for about 5-10 minutes afterwards. 

We expect something more life-enhancing, rich, solid and sound when we watch a Faith Based movie, whether is by Sorbo or David A.R. White or the Christiano Brothers. The good thing is - these men never disappoint and I for one, will continue to support these movies in the theaters. I have already started word of mouth among my own circle of friends of LBTL. Let's continue to do pass the word along, this holiday season!
Roll Tide

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 19: "THE GOD OF THIS CITY"

He has broken my teeth with gravel; He has made me cower in the dust. (Lamentations 3:16)
Several years ago, I met Aaron Boyd, the lead singer of the Irish pop band BLUETREE as they were doing an American tour. They had the best version of their original song "GOD OF THIS CITY" (sorry, Chris Tomlin) and it launched them all over the world. Bluetree had that mysterious and gentle, yet thumping, Irish sound which you hear in the music of U2 and the great Christian singer from Northern Ireland - Robin Mark (Days of Elijah etc.). In fact, Aaron told me that he was once Robin Mark's drummer. What does this have to do with Lamentations 3:16?

Well, the God of This City in a song, is the God of this and every city, where He wishes the hearts of all men, women and children will be open to letting their hearts be open to the Message our Creator wants to give to them. Some of the lyrics of the Bluetree "GOD OF THIS CITY" (2009) are perfect here:
You're God of this city, You're the King of these people
You're the Lord of this nation, You are
You're the light in this darkness, You're the hope to the hopeless
You're the peace to the restless, You are
For there is no one like our God
There is no one like You God.

The people of Jerusalem, God's own city, did not see that, acknowledge that or seem to believe it in their hearts, even while going to their temple (built by Solomon over 400 years earlier) to perform rituals before Him. They are no different than the people in the current city of Jerusalem or just about any city in the world today.

But the God of the City sees. He sees the evil deeds of man and the dark hearts, souls and eyes of everyone who rather bow before an idol than live the simple life of the Believer. He sees and His patience will one day run out. In the days of Noah, He Himself said He regretted making man (in Genesis Chapter 6 and following). He flooded the earth and wiped everything out. He rebooted the earth and saved only those in Noah's Ark. Here thousands of years later, in 586 BC, He destroyed the spiritually filthy city of Jerusalem and the now corrupt temple and used the most brutal army on earth to do it. Less than 600 years later, in 70 AD, He would use the brutal Roman army again- headed up by General Titus, to completely destroy Jerusalem again. There is one more complete do over coming, but this is the last one, before the New Jerusalem descends from Heaven, completely built to divine blueprints and specs.

This 586 BC destruction of Jerusalem was led by the prideful and power-mad king Nebuchadnezzar (who would later become a big Evangelist for Yahweh in Babylon while he was alive). The prophet Jeremiah who had warned and warned and warned kings and princes and priests and others about the coming Judgment, if they did not change their evil ways, witnessed this destruction in absolute horror. He knew what would happen if the people did not listen. It is one thing to know it, preach it and even suffer persecution for it, as Jeremiah did. It is a whole other thing to see the violent and precise Judgment of God right before one's eyes.

After seeing the brutal Babylonians carry out what God had ordered on the object of His Wrath, the prophet wrote the Book of Lamentations. He wept and pour his heart on in this document, because there is nothing good about evil and just as bad, seeing destruction which follows it. Yet, even in this long song of Lament, Jeremiah saw the hope of the Lord. 

In this valley of despair and rubble, where he felt like the Lord, through the Babylonian army, had only left dirt and dust for the remnant left behind to eat (re: Lamentations 3:16), Jeremiah still saw the goodness of God, the God of This City.

First of all, this poor man, who was chosen by God just barely out of his teens, to be His mouthpiece against the wickedness in the palaces and the Temple, was spared when Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem and killed all the royalty, except the king and took the elite of the nation into exile for 70 years. In fact, the Babylonians were made aware by God just who Jeremiah was and literally spared and left him behind to look after the poor remnant whom God wanted to stay behind and not go into exile. Jeremiah then wrote the Famous Letter to the Remnant in Jeremiah 29, which contains one of the most famous bible verses of all times - Jeremiah 29:11. It was a letter which gave hope to the people graciously left behind by God, that He had a plan to rebuild their lives, IF they would trust in Him.

The second thing which Jeremiah saw, even in the lament of this book (Lamentations), when he felt that all that was in his mouth was gravel, dirt and bitter herbs, was God's Love. This is a lesson for all of us who now feel like Jeremiah did, as we go through trial, tribulations and worse. It is a lesson we should observe as true, when we also see our communities, counties and country destroyed by the same evil, sin and the sinful like Jeremiah saw when Yahweh destroyed HIS city in 586 BC. 

When we weep for our own cities and towns like the Bible records one great man of God doing in the Book of Lamentations. When we not just weep but look up to the God of this City and Country as our only Hope, we too can fall back on the words found in this same Lamentations 3, and written by Jeremiah himself. These are the Words which should gives us hope in the midst of despair today:
JEREMIAH 3:19-32
19  Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness.
20  Surely my soul remembers
And is bowed down within me.
21  This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
22  The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23  They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
25  The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
26  It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the Lord.
27  It is good for a man that he should bear
The yoke in his youth.
28  Let him sit alone and be silent
Since He has laid it on him.
29  Let him put his mouth in the dust,
Perhaps there is hope.
30  Let him give his cheek to the smiter,
Let him be filled with reproach.
31  For the Lord will not reject forever,
32  For if He causes grief,
Then He will have compassion

According to His abundant lovingkindness.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 18: "1000 YEARS IN JERUSALEM"

15 “Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding. 16 It shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land,” declares the Lord, “they will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss it, nor will it be made again. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the Lord,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart. (Jeremiah 3:15-17)
The old Gospel song has a great line “Every day with Jesus, is sweeter than the day before”. Every day with Jesus also brings us one day closer to the Return of the King and the Millennial Kingdom or the 1000 years Reign of Jesus Christ on earth. Yes, God Who became man and dwelt among us will be returning to the Creation He gave His life for, but not as the sweet baby born in a manger over 2000 years ago, but as He is. His Eyes will be full of fire and Judgment will be in His Hands. However, more importantly, He will be coming back – just as He promised.

Most of the concepts and mind pictures we have of the Coming Millennial Reign of Christ, come directly from the Old Testament and the major prophets (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and others) are the chief proclaimers of the Truth of the Coming King, to a lost a perishing world.  Jeremiah is one of those major prophets and his words from Chapter 3, directly from the Throne Room of God, predicting an event 2600 years ago, which is yet to come!

Most casual Bible readers know a little of the coming 1000 year reign of the Son of God directly from the rebuilt new Jerusalem in the Holy Land, on Mount Zion. Whether they believe it or not, reflects on their level of biblical discernment. What humans believe really has no bearing on The Eternal God’s plans and purposes. What is going to happen, is going to happen. 

Scripture explains Scripture. The Bible is an unbroken thread written by over 40 authors, over a period of 1500 plus years, under the inspiration of God. Most of these men never knew each other, yet the Bible has one theme, one narrative and one account with many sidebars of the same One God and His Son, Jesus Christ. We all know the King was born in a cold dark stable in Bethlehem to a poor couple, lived thirty three years, ministered and taught for three and then gave His life as a ransom for all the world (John 3:16).

After Jesus, the Son of God was crucified, died, Resurrected and seen all around Jerusalem before He ascended into the clouds, the Apostle John wrote of His Second Coming.  Jeremiah 3:16 and its surrounding in-context verses above, do not specifically describe THIS Second Coming which immediately precedes the 1000 year reign of Christ in Jerusalem after He has destroyed the kings, leaders and armies of the unsaved world of all the other “religions”. What Jeremiah chapter 3 does give a glimpse of are facts on the ground AFTER Jesus has returned, at the End of the Age. Here is the scene of the actual descent from Heaven and Return of the King:

11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in mid-heaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. (Revelation 19:11-19)

This is the actual visual evidence of an event which is coming so fast, you can feel the winds of change blowing. Verse 14 above describes the "armies in Heaven in fine white shiny linen". Expect the following Bible heroes to be riding in the Celestial Cavalry:  King David, Uriah the Hittite, Joshua (God’s General), Benaiah among many other recognizable names!  This is the final battle scene of ALL HISTORY! Let this soak in for a minute, then let us return to our original text: Jeremiah 3:16.

What Jeremiah 3:16 says in point is:
Old things are passed away. We don’t need relics which have long since served its appointed purposes  Just as God says in the verse that Israel did not need the Ark of the Covenant again, there is also no need for communion, church buildings, church staff, Christian TV or this very blog you’re reading! Why? Because Jesus is Lord and is live and alive in person in the same air as we are breathing in our supernatural bodies, and the paradigm has shifted. We are now in the Kingdom we were preaching about during the Church age, and those particular books are closed.

- Jerusalem will be the Capitol of the Kingdom. Jesus’ Throne will be there and there will be no question about it. There will be no temple mount problems….no conflict over which “religion” owns which spot on the Hill where God’s Temple sits. The new golden Jerusalem will not put up with any…and that means absolutely NONE of the garbage you see today. There will be one Faith only – Jesus and Jesus alone. Everything else will have gone up in smoke.

- All nations will be recognize just WHO is sitting on the Throne Jerusalem and all eyes will always be on Israel. Zechariah   tells us that believe it or not, there will be rebels who will refuse to go up and honor Jesus each year at the Feast of the Tabernacles as required. How, you ask, can this still happen? Well, even in the Millennial kingdom, babies will be born in our local hospitals who will not have Faith yet, and grow up to be against God Himself, even though He is right here on earth! They will be dealt with as rain will be withheld which will adversely affect their crops and food supply. At the Final Judgment (Revelation  )Jesus will complete the transition of His people into the Heavenly realm, while all rebels will be cast into a fate they will regret forever – the Lake of Fire.

The facts are this – first of all, Jesus is set to return and each day is one day closer. Secondly, if anyone reading this is on the ground of planet Earth when the eastern sky cuts open and the White Horse leaves Heaven with an army of Bible heroes in white fighting gear, it is going to be too late. 

Thirdly, in light of this and knowing this is going to happen, regardless of what any human believes, don’t you think it is encumbent upon each soul to make 100% sure that they are right with God, and Jesus is the Lord and Master of their lives? There is no mulligan and no middle way. It is Jesus plus Nothing. It is Jesus MINUS nothing. It is all Jesus or you are eternally lost and in huge danger should you be sitting watching Netflix and eating pizza and drinking beer, when the Lord puts a stop EVERYTHING on earth. Do not incorrectly assume "everything will work out in the end". Everything WILL work out in the End, as God planned it in general. For the soul who has lived an unforgiven, rebellious life with these incorrect assumptions - big trouble ahead. DO NOT LEAVE THIS TO CHANCE!.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 17: "CHRISTIAN LIVING IN A CORRUPT WORLD"

16  Moreover, the Lord said, “Because the daughters of Zion are proud and walk with heads held high and seductive eyes, and go along with mincing steps and tinkle the bangles on their feet. 17 Therefore the Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs, and the Lord will make their foreheads bare.” (Isaiah 3:16-17).
There really is nothing new under the sun. The decadent unsavory lifestyle in a "Keeping up with the Kardashians" celebrity culture may be amplified because of today's 24/7/365 second by second LIVE action existence. It may even be more outrageous than anything ever seen. However the seeds of this self-destructive conduct existed 4000, 3000 years ago, 2000 years ago and if the Lord tarries, will increase in outrageous depths of decadence 50 years from now.

The conditions which led the Lord to declare complete judgment on EVERY single aspect of human urban life across Judah (where the great city of Jerusalem was/is) are also not dissimilar to modern times. The pagan idolatry, and its subsequent sexual immorality, the pride and lack of any discernment were as present then as it is now. Most of what happens today, in some of the vilest corners of worldwide social media, has its roots in the Tower of Babel. It was here that a famous descendant of Noah - a man named Nimrod, constructed one of the first pagan temple with its immoral conduct right in the open skies. This was a major reason for the Lord to scatter the people, create all the languages we have today and deal harshly with the pride of man.

From this verse, we see that God despises the Proud. Throughout Scripture, and thus in our own lives, we know that He gives grace to the Humble. Today, the self-absorbed, selfish culture tells us that "it is all about us". It is all about how we look, how we feel, and how we deserve the best - no matter the cost. There is a huge cost to this creation of coastal advertising agencies, Hollywood and New York board rooms and its associated forms of electronic and print media.

Never before have entire industries sprung up to bring back the lost fountain of youth. People inject botox and other temporary additives, designed to make people look good, into parts of their bodies where it has no business being. Botox is a bacterial toxin. Yes, it is as unhealthy as it sounds. People will go to all kinds of extremes to as God says hold "their heads high...and seductive eyes", with their costly designer clothing and jewelry etc. 


They must have the latest and best smartphones and other electronic gadgetry which is about as valuable as the passing wind, until the next update. While all this is going on...while they expose their private lives (and bodies) to gain fame, popularity and millions of followers on the various social media, their hearts are as dark as their empty souls. They have no concept of the judgment and accountability that is to come. Even worse, they do not seem to care and in fact, mock those who live by the Code of Christ.

But it is not just the rich and famous, but those whom they influence among the general population. These are the regular folks who take some of this stuff and ruin their lives, until the Lord also brings the hammer down on them, as He says here in Isaiah 3 verse 17. These are the ones who will say to themselves "hey, I am not as bad as so and so....or if they can do it, so can I!" 


They have not heard the lesson of the Lord Jesus, Who when told that the Tower of Siloam had collapsed and 18 people died, told His disciples who asked if He didn't care about this accident: "4 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam collapsed on them: Do you think that they were more sinful than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you. But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:4-5). What Jesus is saying is actually full of love, compassion and care for us. He is saying that first, nothing is promised to us, but if the hour comes when our soul is demanded of us, by God, we will have been forgiven by God and have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives". The repentance Christ speaks of, is the one which is full of Godly sorrow which leads to Salvation. However the so-called beautiful people, which Entertainment Tonight or the Today Show celebrates do not get this, to their eternal loss. Today, we see the fruits of such conduct and lack of wisdom, in all the scandals surrounding the coming collapse of the entire Hollywood Roman Empire,

What can we learn, even from those who are falling like cheap bowling pins on a Saturday afternoon in a Midwestern bowling alley, all over Hollywood, New York and London? They are no different from those whom the Lord condemns in these verses from Isaiah 3:16-17. It will behoove us to learn the following lessons from Scripture and to start flying right, as soon as possible. We avoid final judgment in those two major ways:

1. Make the main thing, the main thing. We were not put here on this planet, for however long God allows us, so we can long for "likes" on Facebook and Instagram, but that our lives should be a pleasing one to our Creator. That can only happen when we come to the realization that we were created for good works, which can only be meaningful if we are forgiven sons and daughters of Yahweh - the Holy One of Israel. We must believe the Gospel, turn from our sin and believe that Jesus is Lord.

2. When we have become Christians - by the act of confessing with our hearts and believing in our hearts that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead, our conduct must show it. No longer can we sin without conscience as we once did before conversion to Christ.  God has shown us in various parts of His Word but has chosen this passage to drive it home:
 13 ... live in peace with one another. 
14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 
15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people
16 Rejoice always; 
17 pray without ceasing
18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 
19 Do not quench the Spirit; 
20 do not despise prophetic utterances. 
21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
22 abstain from every form of evil.
(1 Thessalonians 5:13-22)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

DAVID A.R, & ANDREA LOGAN WHITE - THE REEL DEAL/NEW AUTHORS

The first I ever heard of  David A.R. White, was from watching a series of movies I had bought at the now defunct Family Christian Bookstores, over a decade ago.  Second Glance (1992) showed a young David, who himself was not too long out of high school, in what was the first of a multitude of independent Christian films which are assuming higher prominence, in these last days.  It was not his first movie, but the first one which led me on a journey to build a library of these early movies produced by transplanted New Yorker Rich Christiano, his brother Dave and starring David A.R. White. I have spoken with Rich several times over the years, in the course of public showing of his movies, and understand his heart and passion for what began in this genre over two decades ago with the young David and others in this now established field of Christian film.

Fasting forward to White's powerful alliance with Michael Scott, Russell Wolfe and Elizabeth Travis, David formed PURE FLIX (2005) which took the message of the Gospel, Christianity and the Bible to various action movies like Jerusalem Countdown; The Mark 1 and 2; Sarah's Choice with Rebecca St. James and so many more, one will have to go to their website (here) to get the full list. Some of my absolute favorites, for which I purchased several licenses over the years to show at church were The Book of Daniel; Woodlawn; Do You Believe and what several of us consider the best movie on Evangelism we have seen - Encounter with Bruce Marchiano!


CLICK HERE FOR BOOK INFO
Of course, what really blew Pure Flix, the Whites and Kevin "Hercules" Sorbo into the stratosphere was God's Not Dead (GND)1! The award winning GND 1 was the highest grossing indie movie of 2014. It has not stopped as the world keeps giving storylines with God's Not Dead 3 due in the near future. However, while most people associate David A.R. White with Pure Flix and Christian movies, they may not be too aware of his first book - "BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HOLLYWOOD....Chasing Your God-given Dream" (2016). Click here to read the First Chapter and here for purchasing opportunities. Any successful person will tell you, there is no such thing as an "overnight success". What can happen though, is a Christian who is faithful in the hard things, the seemingly small but important things and who completely follows the God Who will break things open in His Timing. I read the book and enjoyed the funny narrative of this young man from a conservative Mennonite background, who never took his eyes off why God put him here. I heard him describe the book for a full interview on Chris Fabry's Moody Bible Radio show and it became obvious why he wrote it - to encourage somebody else to follow their calling God has put in their hearts. White says on his website "there is no one too common, too uneducated, too poor, too inexperienced, or too broken that he or she cannot be used by God". This is reason enough to get his book.
CLICK HERE
 FOR BOOK INFO

The family that writes together, makes a whole of impact together! Andrea Logan White is David's beloved wife and from the state of Illinois.  Her book was released less than two months ago (Sept. 2017) and is a stunning work called "PERFECTLY UNFINISHED: Finding Beauty in the Midst of Brokenness"

Two things I gleaned from reading Andrea's book. The first one is do not start it unless you intended to finish reading the entire book, because it is not what you think. The second thing is, once you have decided to read it, you cannot put it down. It will stun you, make you scratch your head and then you get to the incident where God reveals Himself to the hurting and lost Andrea, your concern turns to rejoicing as another soul is added to the Rolls of Heaven.

I was not planning to write a full article like this on this, the REAL (reel?) Power Couple of Hollywood and both their books, until I could not put down the second half of Andrea's book, in spite of an busy early morning coming up. All I had planned on doing was to leave reviews on Amazon.com, where I got both David's and Andrea's books.  But completing Andrea's books in one sitting opened my mind to this article. It is, as Rich Christiano's movie is called - "A Matter of Faith" 

In troubled times, the matter of Faith, with feet that walk righteously, requires us to do the following:
1. Praise God in the Storm. This is not just a Casting Crowns Song. It is the foundation of a lasting Faith.
2. Love God in the choppy seas of doubt, pain and suffering.
3. Obey God even if you think you have nothing left to give...because you do (have something left to give - YOU).
4. Say NO to temptation to shake your fist at God. Job's wife told Job to "curse God and die". Job refused because He knew the Character of God and that His Redeemer liveth.
5. Trust, follow and BELIEVE God in Christ, no matter the depression, doubt and despair. Trust Him completely, even there seems no earthly hope. Trust Him because Hope in God IS out of this world.
6. Praise God in the Storms. While weeping may endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5) 

The portion of the book which describes Andrea's Walk with Christ as a wife and mother could describe the hidden trials and tribulations of many in today's high-stressed world. What was incredible to me was the previously unheard-of level of pain (physical and other) which one human can endure. I minister in men's ministry (for over 20 years); senior homes for about 14 years; street ministry etc. for over a decade, and have never come across such a warm, heart-felt, completely heart-breaking yet uplifting series of pages as I read in PERFECTLY UNFINISHED.

As I read about the Faith behind Andrea's pain, which led to her present perseverance, my mind immediately shifted to the words of the great Joni Eareckson Tada (a quadraplegic) who had this to say about living in constant physical pain and a horrid diagnosis. Joni said the following during an interview with Christianity Today (in part): "Even though it seems like a lot is being piled on, I keep thinking about 1 Peter 2:21: 'To these hardships you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.' Those steps most often lead Christians not to miraculous, divine interventions but directly into the fellowship of suffering".

Andrea Logan-White is not without her own movie portfolio! She was one of the leads in the hilarious "MOM's NIGHT OUT" and is currently in a weekly comedy series with her husband and several others, on the increasingly popular PURE FLIX Streaming service called "HITTING THE BREAKS".

PERFECTLY UNFINISHED is available here on Amazon.com.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 16: "NOTICED: WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES"

Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness. (Ecclesiastes 3:16)
If you speak to some of the majority of unchurched people, especially in America, one of the major reasons they will give is “I was hurt”…at some church or other.  Taking on the micro or personal level, many of them have a point. From observing various church operations, across a medium sized Midwestern city for two plus decades, which can legitimately be extrapolated nationwide due to demographics and doctrine,  there is a lot of truth to the statement that “if it weren’t from some Christians, the lost may actually become Christians”.

There have always been crooked preachers in America, who use the trusting nature of most Christians to fatten their wallets and live a lifestyle they could never afford, if they worked a regular job like the rest of us.  The abomination of the purveyors of Prosperity Gospel will continue, unfortunately, until Jesus Himself shuts this church age down, and calls His people home.  However the Prosperity Gospel has always been with us since before Jesus Christ, the Son of God, went to the Cross.

Jesus Himself indicted the “church” leaders of the time – when He started His final condemnation of them in Matthew Chapter 23. Here is some of it in part:
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 [Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.]........

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

The reason He did this was their decadent and ungodly lifestyle, couched in language of the Law of Moses. As you read these charges, consider these men. They were supposed to be the ministers of God but committed adultery yet did not take care of their families and yet stood in the public square and acted more piously than anyone else in the Holy City. They flaunted their “phony” piety in the town square and city streets, while living ungodly lives in private. Interchange white robes and the great Biblical priestly accoutrements of the Old testament with $1000 Italian suits, big fancy cars, houses and mindless television shows begging for donations and “sowing seeds”, and you have the same people!

There is nothing new under the sun! In fact, this is what the Preacher – King Solomon after he repented and came back to God – was talking about almost 1000 years before Jesus in the Book of Ecclesiastes! Let us read Ecclesiastes 3:16-17 again in light of what we just learned happened to the descendants of these same priests which Solomon was speaking of here:
16 Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness. 17 I said to myself, “God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man,” for a time for every matter and for every deed is there.

Lest we heap all the blame on those prosperity “gospel” TV charlatans, the real damage is even more devastating in our own local churchees. A preacher or church leader doesn’t have to be caught having an affair, or cheating on his taxes or verbally abusing some of his congregation to chase of impressionable young minds or people in the pews of any age.  The deacon who is flippant or rude to a stressed out single mom. The stuck up long time member who sees a little kid sitting in "her pew". The person who absent-mindedly forgot to wear food gloves while dishing out a food item from a tray at the church potluck. The little cliques of the well-to-do who will look down to speak to the blue collar guy and his wife and two young boys, while spending most of that minute looking away to find someone more to their suiting, to whom they wish to speak....these are the modern scribes and pharisees and in a sense, the kind of people who should be careful they don't end up on the wrong side of Jesus on Judgment Day!

Solomon alludes to this in Ecclesiastes 3:17 when he said the following "I said to myself, “God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man,” for a time for every matter and for every deed is there"....and this will happen, but verse 3:16 reserves the strongest judgment for the those in authority. To whom much is given, much is expected and God's Laws and Precepts are meant to be obeyed.

This is the underlying truth in Ecclesiastes 3:16

-  There is injustice and wickedness everywhere. Those who were placed in positions of great authority in the normal course of things, have more often than not in the course of human history, mightily misused their positions. They could be kings, politicians, judges and others in civil authority.
-  In the Lord's House, first the Temple of the Lord from the time of King David until Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD, to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ today, things were supposed to be a lot better. The Lord's House was/is supposed to be "THE place of righteousness" which it still is, even with men's failings. But even there, sin has corrupted. God will judge there as well.

This is the end of the story - and a recurring theme throughout the entire Book of Ecclesiastes. Indeed the preacher - King Solomon - does end the book in Chapter 12 with the following statement, in brief: (paraphrase) "in the final analysis, the crux of the matter is this: Love God and Keep His Commandments, because the Lord will bring every act into Judgment". Here is where the matter still resides today, until its appointed time.  

Sunday, October 29, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 15: "WISDOM - PATHWAY TO JOY"


Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor. (Proverbs 3:16)
The depth of the riches and joys of Scripture is an amazing thing to behold. There is nothing more important than the Pathway to Peace, Joy, Eternal “Riches” and Eternal Life and as we press into the Oracles of God and, it is never clearer than a key verse here in Proverbs 3:16.

To mine these gems, which speak of the Truths just described (the above-mentioned Pathway), we must read Proverbs 3:16 in context, by starting in Verse 10 and all the way to Verse 18. It is here we see the chief responsibility of those of us, who are called “His chosen or His Elect…..or His Children”. In case anyone is offended by the words “chosen” and/or “elect”,  these are the terms used in Scripture for the redeemed or those who have repented, sought forgiveness of all our sins, and accepted The very Son of God – Jesus Christ – as Lord, Master and Savior of our lives. Before this conversion, we were just like everyone else in this world – lost, and headed for eternal judgment. This is not magic. The offer of Salvation is open to everyone, because the God of Heaven loved His created world so much, He died to pay for our sins, so we would not have eternal death. It takes wisdom to acknowledge and accept this Truth.

Once, the Truth of this Good News, which is what the word "Gospel" means, is received, Wisdom is required to be able to move from Point A of being baby Christians, to Point B, C and D where maturity and fruit should be evident. Here is where we look to some of the verses surrounding Proverbs 3:16 to seek directions for that Pathway to Maturity. 

Let us begin in Proverbs 3, verses 11-18:
11 My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof,
12  For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. 
13 How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding.
14 For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.

PRUNING:
From these Words from the Oracles of God, we discover this about the Pathway To His Purposes:
-  When God separates us from the World through conversion, He will need to get the world out of us! Simple as this. A person can be a Christian for 10, 20, 24, 40 or even 50 years and we still have issues and a propensity to slip up and let in some of the worse elements of culture to sidetrack and even distract us from what is important. This is when God needs to prune us and get us away from evil influences, sometimes using unpleasant means, and discipline us for our own good. There is ONE BIG difference between a Child of God and a Child of the god of this world. Our Heavenly Father will discipline us, just like our own earthly father would, to keep us from harming ourselves and our future. But those who reject the free gift of Eternal Life and Salvation in Christ, will be allowed by God Himself - freedom to do whatever they want....in this life, but once it is over, they will of course, have to answer for it. They will be allowed to live lives of rebellion, lust of the flesh and more. They will be allowed to believe in evolution and strange idolatry, while the men and women who follow Christ will have the roughest time in this life. This discipline could be anything from doubt to persecution, from financial issues to emotional distress. All of the latter is meant to grow our Faith as we trust God with this transforming molding and shaping going on, and even trials by baptism of fire. As verses 11 and 12 prove here, those whom the Lord loves, He disciplines this way.  

-  Because every true Christian believer has a healthy fear, awe and respect of Abba Father, true wisdom has its seeds already planted. Because the believer has accepted the pruning and reproof of the Lord, whether it is through the preaching or reading of Scripture or the prompting of Holy Spirit, he or she is already blessed!! Even if we face the same harshness, coldness or even loneliness of life, our ticket has been punched for this Journey with Jesus. Seeking the fellowship of the local church and its ministries where the Bible is lifted up alongside the Name of Jesus, above all else, we grow in Understanding. Understanding and comprehension of what the Spirit is saying through the Teaching and Washing of the Word, will bring pleasures in our inner man which the world will never be able to even come close to taking from us! (Verse 13)

-  While these may appear to be simple on paper, they are extremely tough to live, in our own strength. We must trust God and especially trust Him when it is the hardest. Solomon knew this Truth in the beginning. At the dedication of the great Temple of God, Solomon was praying and the Lord told the new king to ask for anything he wishes, and God will give it to Him. Instead of riches etc, Solomon asked for "Biyn" - the ability to discern and understand.  It was this wise choice to ask God for the ability to think, understand and discern which led the king to be called the wisest man in the known world. These are the permanent riches which will light up our Pathway to Victory and will never go away. Understanding will lead to more wisdom and there are truly major benefits associated with Godly wisdom.

These benefits are in quick succession: 
-  Huge gain, sometimes even temporal financial blessings. While verses 14 and 15 do mention a possible gain in making wise fiscal decisions, the real gain in walking out this faith is to live wisely and with purpose. Wisdom here is to be regarded way more than temporary financial gains.
Proverbs 3:16 shows us, through the words of God, that if we are wise by allowing God to transform and clean up our lives, we CAN and DO have long and fruitful lives! The verse says "Long Life is in her (Wisdom's) right hand. The right hand is the hand of power and destiny all through Scripture. When God says that this to us, He wants us to know that IF we pursue His wisdom and that not of this world and its many nice sounding deceptions, we will more than be alight! We will downright shine through with the attributes of Jesus Christ. Once we have that in our lives, what follows is a Pathway to Peace - true inner peace.

- To that effect, verse 17 explains to us that because of this type of understanding and Wisdom, we can have "Pleasant Ways". This could be in anything. This could be anything from peace and tranquility in our homes to a Godly calm in the believer when everything around is exploding. Pleasant Ways do not negate the ups and downs and harsh ways of modern life. However, pleasant ways DO mean that we are supposed to keep those things in perspective as our minds are dedicated on to the Truth and Joy of the Pathway to Peace, love and joy in the Knowledge of Jesus.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 14:"ORIGINS OF PAIN AND DEPRESSION"

“Or like a miscarriage which is discarded, I would not be, as infants that never saw light" (Job 3:16)
Every human being alive, since the Entry of Sin into the World and the resulting chasm between God and His creation, has suffered from Depression. It was not supposed to be this way, but it is. God gave Man dominion over all the earth and the ability to freely enjoy all Creation. Adam and Eve had communion with Jesus Christ daily as He walked in the "cool of the garden". After sin entered the world, Holy God had to judge in righteousness. Herein we find the seeds of what later became known as depression.

Whereas God provided all for Adam and Eve for a long time as they went about their work, the stain of sin brought the following life sentence, which we still serve for all time, until the end of this age.
THE INTRODUCTION OF PAIN, BECAUSE OF SIN:
To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,

And he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

THE INTRODUCTION OF MAN'S DEPRESSING TROUBLES:
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;
Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
19 By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,

And to dust you shall return.(Genesis 3:17-19)

After you let this sink in for a moment, there will be a realization of the origins of all our troubles as human being. In order, agreeing with a serpent - the representative of Lucifer (Satan) over the pure and freeing relationship with God brought (from Genesis 3:16-19):
     - Pain
     - Lust
     - The Origins of the corrupted Creation which led to natural disasters from then until the present day (earthquake, drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods etc.)
     - Toil and labor for little or not return
     - Food and shortages of all the basic needs of life 
     - The sense of life having no meaning and that all we do is grow up, get up, work, eat, sleep, get back up, go to work, pay bills. Then if we are fortunate enough to live long enough - retire, play with grand kids and then die. 

That alone could depress even the most focused and joyful of us, unless we stay planted in Christ and point others to Him....and especially the Lost. 

Then there is the pain of everyday or unexpected tragedy: the stunning loss of a child; a loved one with a fatal disease; the increasing instances of new and untreatable diseases and on and on. Without the biblical perspective on pain and how God can move through the pain of His people, many walk away from Him and blow it, close to the finish line. This is NOT the plan of God, even in a corrupt and perishing world, which was brought about by sin.

This was not the initial response of Job either, when he lost everything - children and all his riches in one day and then was physically afflicted with sores and painful things all over this body. But as time went on and we get to Job Chapter 3, we see him first NOT listen to his wife, who wanted to him to "curse God and die", but go from having a good view of pain to opening wishing he was dead! 
Most of Job chapter 3 is a stunning turn for a man who was now regretting that he was ever born. 

These are some amazing words from Job:
"“Let the day perish on which I was to be born, and the night which said, ‘A boy is conceived.’ "(Job 3:3)
"“Why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?" (Job 3:11).....then Job goes on to wallow in thoughts of death (from Job 3:17-22).

Then here are words of true physical and emotional depression, the kind which is treated with heavy meds in the USA and other western countries. This is precisely how a depressed person feels - Christian or non-christian:
“Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden,
And whom God has hedged in?
24 “For my groaning comes at the sight of my food,
And my cries pour out like water.
25 “For what I fear comes upon me,
And what I dread befalls me.
26 “I am not at ease, nor am I quiet,

And I am not at rest, but turmoil comes.” (Job 3:23-26)

Job's depression continues for a long time and all kinds of incorrect things were said by both him and his friends. God was so upset with Job's friends and their horrid advice, He would have taken them out of the picture, if His grace did not allow Job to offer a sacrifice for them. When someone around us is depressed and in a terribly messed up, the worse thing we could do is give unqualified and uninformed advice. PLEASE get that person to a biblical counselor in your church or one of your local churches which have professional counselors on staff, and then to a physician in case there is a chemical imbalance, for which medication will be needed.

For the most part, accurate, pure and compassionate biblical counseling will go a long way because a qualified Bible counselor will be able to discern if a physician is necessary or not. The Word of God does have the remedy for depression. This verse from 2 Corinthians 1:8 tells us that even the great Apostle Paul was depressed: "For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life." (Emphasis mine)

He was not the only Bible hero to be in despair. Read most of the Psalms written by King David. Most were written when he was on the run from King Saul attempting to kill him and he was severely depressed for years and years. Still he - David - found his comfort and hope and rest in the Lord. In these Psalms, he would begin depressed and then immediately switch to praying to the Lord and end in praise! 

Therefore, when you and I get depressed - let's start there! Let's to to the Psalms and find comfort and respite. Then let's be encouraged with the exhortation from the Apostle Paul who said the following in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 "8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body".

MORE INFORMATION ON DEPRESSION & THE BIBLE IN THE FOLLOWING VIDEO: