Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World–Movie Review

I borrowed this film from our local library and watched it last night with my husband and some friends. I may be going a little off topic for the month with this review, but if you know anything about Martin Luther, you’re aware that he was well acquainted with the concept of repentance!  He spent so much time confessing that he was told to go away and come back when he had something worthwhile to report!  Released in 2017, this  movie depicts the major events in Luther’s life, interspersed with comments by theologians and historians.  Every word spoken by Luther was taken verbatim from his writings.  It was well done and gave a good, basic chronological account of the history of the Protestant Reformation.  Even if you’re well versed in this history, there were any number of interesting facts you may not know.  For example:

  • Luther wrote about 25% of the materials printed during his life
  • He was not paid for any of his writing
  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s name was originally Michael King.  His father changed both of their names to Martin Luther out of admiration for the great reformer
  • Luther stated that his reason for marrying his wife Katie, was to please his father and spite the pope

Lutherans and history buffs will enjoy this PBS production, and I would certainly recommend it for confirmands.  I give it five stars!

Have any readers seen this film?  If so, I’d welcome some other comments.

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I Can Only Imagine

I just finished watching the movie, I Can Only Imagine.  I don’t think it’s an accident that the next adult Sunday School lesson I’ll be teaching is from the book of Romans and titled “The Transformed Life.” God does that to me all the time! Bart Miller’s story is one of transformation, redemption, forgiveness, hope and most of all music.  His father was abusive and angry, his mother left, and for young Bart, music anchored him, lifted him up, and gave him a dream.  I won’t say more, because you should see this film for yourself.  You’ve probably heard the song, but it’s worth another listen:

 

Entertaining Angels– Movie Review

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  Hebrews 13:2

The other night my husband and I watched the movie, Entertaining Angels:  The Dorothy Day Story.  If you don’t know anything about Dorothy Day, I can only say that learning more about her will challenge you to a more radical kind of Christian love (agape).

As a young woman, Dorothy was not a Christian, but she was always concerned with social justice.  She converted to Catholicism after bearing a child out of wedlock.  Returning to work as a journalist, she felt called to do more than simply write about the plight of the poor — she wanted to do something.  Encouraged by her friend, Peter Moran, she started the Catholic Worker Movement which published a newspaper and established “hospitality houses”  to minister to the physical needs of the homeless and hungry.  Dorothy (and her young daughter) lived with the poor and shared their lives.  Later in life she was jailed multiple times for protesting war and nuclear armament. Some have called her “the American Mother Theresa.”

Dorothy took the words of Jesus literally.  She tried to live her life as He did.  This made many people, even fellow Christians, uncomfortable.  She lived her faith.  She welcomed and loved people most of us would find undeserving and unlovable.  Was it easy?  No.  The movie depicted her frustration, anger and loneliness. Why did she continue?  She felt it was God’s call to her.  What is His call to you?

Change My Heart

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

We tend to think of the heart as the seat of the emotions, but in Bible times, it meant something a little different.  The heart was considered a person’s very essence.  The heart revealed who the person really was; the core of their being.  And guess what?  Every one of us is cursed with a sin-sick heart.  Often we try to deceive ourselves, insisting that we are basically good, but the apostle John tells us,

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”1 John 1:8

Lee Strobel was a stubborn man.  In the movie, The Case For Christ, we see just how far he was willing to go to convince himself and others that God did not exist.  He prided himself on his intelligence and objectivity.  He researched diligently; he consulted the best experts in the field.  He hardened his heart.  He wanted to rebel.

Every day, Lee’s wife, a new Christian, prayed this scripture for him:

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

She begged God to change Lee’s heart and her prayers were answered.  Only God can soften hearts.  Only God can make bad men and women good.   He loves us, forgives us and saves us.  Has He changed your heart?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful for Others –Hebrews Chapter 12

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before us, looking to Jesus who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1

Have you ever heard a Christian talk about their ‘life verse’?  Well, this one from Hebrews is mine.  To me, this verse and this whole chapter is about persevering in the Christian walk.  How do we do that?  By keeping our focus on Jesus, and being inspired and encouraged by the example of other faithful Christians.

In the last chapter, we heard about all the great people of the past, who endured trials for their faith, even before the promises of God were fully revealed.  It’s been called “the hall of fame of faith.” This hall of fame is not yet complete.  Now we’re the ones running the race while the host that went before cheers us on.  Sometimes we’ll get tired;  sometimes God will discipline us;  sometimes sin will trip us up.  We need to keep going, with the help of Christ and our fellow believers.

Who’s in your faithful “hall of fame”?  Your parents?  Your pastor?  Your childhood Sunday School teachers?  Your spouse?  A friend?  Write down your list, and then say a prayer of thanks for those who have molded and shaped you, and helped you to keep going.

What Stands Out?-Hebrews Chapter 5

“For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.  He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.  Because of this, he is obligated to sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.  And no on takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, as Aaron was.” Hebrews 5:1-4

Maybe it’s because I’m a pastor’s wife, or maybe because this month we are studying the church, but the verses above stand out to me in Chapter 5.  Of course, the chapter goes on to tell us that Jesus has become our high priest, and he is both the perfect priest and the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Still, here on earth we also have earthly priests, the ministers who serve our congregations. The AFLC calls them “servant pastors.”  Hopefully our pastors try to set a good example, to point us toward Jesus, to teach us and lead us. This is not an easy job, but one they have been called by God to do.  However, they are NOT perfect.  Setting them on a pedestal will lead to disillusionment and disappointment.

Pastors sin and need to repent everyday, just like we do. Sometimes they feel discouraged. Sometimes they feel alone. Sometimes they need understanding and support. Sometimes they need forgiveness. They always need prayer and encouragement.  There is an old saying, “if you want a better preacher, pray for the one you have.”

So, I hope on reading these verses, you will remember your Pastor, the Elders and other leaders of your congregation and do something to let them know you appreciate the work they do for God and for you.  They are God’s gift to your church.

God loves you and so do I!

 

A Story of Forgiveness

corrie ten boom - the ultimate forgiveness story_thumb

The story of Corrie ten Boom has been told countless times through the years.  Yet, even today, it remains one of the most beloved stories of forgiveness this world has ever known.  During World War II, she and her family saved Jews from being sent off to concentration camps by hiding them in a room at the top of their home.  When Nazi officers learned what was going on, the house was raided and Corrie was sent to a prison, political concentration camp, and finally a death camp.  But, miraculously, she survived.

As you can imagine, there were many moments of hardship that Corrie had to overcome even after the war ended.  One such moment was at a church where she saw a former SS man who guarded her in the concentration camp. As the man approached her to shake her hand, everything in her reminded her of the horrid pain this man had brought upon her. And even though Corrie often spoke of the need to forgive others, she knew she couldn’t forgive this man in her own strength. God had to do it through her. Corrie writes, “When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.” God gave Corrie the strength to forgive and love the man when she could not.

Perhaps you’ve never had to deal with such heavy forgiveness in your life as Corrie ten Boom has, but there are many times in life when we will have to both forgive and be forgiven.  Below are four things to keep in mind when you forgive someone.

1. Realize everyone has to be forgiven.  It will save you a lot of trouble to understand early on that we all will make mistakes and need forgiveness at some point.

2. Forgiveness isn’t earned.  Grace is undeserved favor that no one can earn.  Therefore, forgiveness should be given with no expectations in return and no strings attached.

3. Don’t bring it up again.  Sometimes people forgive like they’re burying the hatchet but keeping the handle uncovered in case they need to use it again.  This only prolongs the conflict.

4. Make the decision and your heart will catch up.  If you wait to “feel ready” to forgive, it’s never going to happen.  Rather, you must make the decision to forgive and soon enough your heart will catch up.

Is there someone you need forgive right now?  Take courage from Corrie ten Boom:  “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred.  It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”

Read more about Corrie’s life in her books: The Hiding Place and Tramp for the Lord.  The Hiding Place was also made into a movie.