I recently had the opportunity to read Another Man’s War by Sam Childers. It is a fantastic story of a redeemed biker, drug dealer, and otherwise bad guy who came to Christ, became a pastor, and was ultimately used by God in one of the roughest places in the planet, southern Sudan, where he created an orphanage and ministry. In large part, it was because of his rough background that God was able to use Sam in such a rough and violent place. Sam’s story was also dramatized by Gerard Butler in the film Machine Gun Preacher, which is good, but just seems hollow at points because it just doesn’t have the force of the words of a redeemed man who is now fully devoted to God.
We love our church.
Seriously. The people are fantastically warm and inviting, the youth programs are engaging, the music rocks and uplifts. And our pastor, Benji Kelley, is the best I’ve ever heard.
I grew up in the Methodist church. Grandson of a Methodist pastor. Active in youth group, Young Life, FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) in High School, and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Campus Crusade for Christ in college. I’ve been on mission trips. I’ve been to conferences. We shopped around several churches here in Sanford, and I’ve heard great sermons at all of them.
Newhope Church is special. It’s the total package.
Biblical, engaging teaching from a wonderfully gifted, compassionate, educated and engaging pastor.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE if you are anywhere near Raleigh, Durham, Sanford, Garner, or Columbia (SC), and you do not have a church home, PLEASE come check out Newhope. Watch a sermon or two online (see one of my favorites below) and see for yourself, if you like. And bring someone who doesn’t know Jesus. If you already have a church home, how about take a step out this week and invite someone who doesn’t to come see all about yours.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Emily and I watched it and enjoyed it, and then let the girls watch it and they loved it. It’s fairly formulaic as a fighter movie with fights and training montages and all, but the differences between this film and others in the genre are small but significant.
First, Kevin James is reliably funny. Admittedly, I’m not a hard sell on the heavy, charming, funny, slightly sarcastic protagonist with a good heart, but James’ character of high school teacher Mr. Voss is perfect. Add in actual mixed martial art (MMA) legends for Voss’ trainers, Henry Winkler as the band teacher and Selma Hayek as the love interest, and you’ve got a solid cast.
James’ Voss is a burned out high school teacher who has just enough of a good heart to find himself volunteering (almost unintentionally) to raise money to save the band teacher’s (Winkler) department and job from impending budget cuts. When he discovers that an MMA fighter won $10,000 for losing a fight, the gameplan is in place. Voss, a former Division I collegiate wrestler, comes across a former MMA fighter and trainer (Bas Rutten, who steals the show with some of the funnier moments in the film) in the US citizenship night class he teaches and convinces him to train him for MMA. Insert training/early round montage here.
The heart of this film is what made it for me. As it turns out, Kevin James is a practicing Christian and that faith finds its way into the film in several organic and not heavy-handed ways. In addition to the over-arching plot thrust of literally laying down one’s life for his friends, there are also scenes that honor the pre-meeting prayer of an AA meeting, a reference to Genesis 32’s story of Jacob wrestling with God, and a pre-fight prayer.
The language is clean, the faith is real, and the film has a good heart. While there is the inherent violence of MMA bouts and training, none of it was gratuitous. One of my favorite films ever.
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. ~ Proverbs 22:7 NIV
Do you ever get to the end of the month and wonder who you’re actually going to work for? You earn money, but it all seems to go to the rent or mortgage, the power company, the gas company, the water bill, the phone bill, the car payment, the student loan, the credit card, the equity line, the tax man… There are months where all the money you work so hard for goes right out the door and the scripture above rings truer than ever, and that assumes you can even make all the payments. All that stress of owing so much to so many is THE major strain on a marriage. When you do have a little left over at the end of the month, the differing priorities about how to spend it become significant. How can you take control of your finances and get the priorities back in your life and the sanity back in your marriage?
Fireproof is a few years old, but it is still a very moving story about a firefighter (Kirk Cameron) and his strained-to-the-breaking-point relationship with his wife. They are angry with each other, hurt over perceived wrongs done by and selfishness of the other, and very seriously considering separating and divorcing. Then the firefighter has a literal come-to-Jesus moment and begins living and serving his bride to win her back. It is an inspiring example for all husbands and gives hope that no marriage is too far gone to save when viewed through the forgiveness and love of Jesus Christ.
The church that produced Fireproof, Sherwood Baptist in Georgia, has produced other excellent and inspirational films (including Courageous, which I recently reviewed), and has bible studies and other motivational texts to accompany the film.
Buy it on DVD, rent it, stream it on Netflix. It’s well worth it.
They had me at hello, to borrow the phrase from another football-related movie, Jerry Maguire. I’m a sucker for football movies. Rudy, Radio, Remember the Titans, Friday Night Lights (the show is better than movie, to me), The Longest Yard, Brian’s Song, All the Right Moves, We Are Marshall, The Blind Side, The Waterboy, Invincible, Wildcats, The Replacements… I could go on. Few things boil down the struggles of life like the microcosm of football. As a backdrop for a movie, it’s just a no-brainer. In the end, football gets down to the struggle to never give in, never give up, and keep fighting. Facing the Giants takes that backdrop and adds purpose.
Coach Taylor finds himself as low as a man can get in life, and like Job, he turns to God for relief. Ultimately, he puts God back in the center of his life, puts it into his team’s philosophy, and begins to live every day for His glory. The blessings he and his team reap are staggering. A great, feel-good family movie with a substantive underlying truth: God is worthy to be praised, and mighty to save.
The film involves the lives of 5 men (4 of whom are sheriff’s deputies) and their families and how they are driven and spurred by life’s trials to resolve to become better men. The movie is dramatic, with some interspersed comedic relief (the Snake Kings scene had my sides splitting), much like life. I don’t want to spoil some of the more moving parts, but it suffices to say that we can easily get caught up in the day to day of living and being a parent.
I don’t know how you can be a Christian husband/father and not be moved by this movie and spurred to action. What action?
Watch this movie and resolve to be the husband, father and man God calls you to be. Perhaps you can get a group of men together for fellowship, to study God’s word and to hold each other accountable to this resolution (or to one of your own creation). Resolve today not to be just a “pretty good” father.
P.S.: A special thanks to the folks at Sherwood Baptist Church in Georgia who created this film and others, including a great flick starring Kirk Cameron called Fireproof (my review of that film will be forthcoming).