Overcomer–Movie Review

My husband and I watched this film together last night.  As the credits rolled, I turned to him and said, “What do you think?” His response was “a cross between a Hallmark movie and an after-school special.”

I have to agree.  The plot was formulaic and predictable.  The happy ending (although it does involve a death) tied everything up neatly.  People are reconciled, the underdog triumphs, conflicts are resolved, wrongs are made right.  This seldom happens in real life.  There is also some questionable theology for Lutherans, who do not believe a person can “decide” to follow Jesus.  God chooses us, we do not choose Him.

That being said, the film was uplifting and will raise your spirits.  Sometimes we all just need to be inspired and entertained.  It’s a movie you won’t be embarrassed to watch with your children or your Sunday School class.  No questionable language or nudity — hooray!  It raises plenty of issues to discuss with young people — things like forgiveness, prayer and Bible study.

The basis for the film is this Bible verse:

1 John 5:5 New International Version (NIV)

Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Overall Verdict?  I give it three stars

For a related post see:

What’s So Wonderful About Webster? by Stephen and Alex Kendrick–Book Review

Small Groups Made Easy – A Book Review

Ryan Lokkesmoe is a well-known author of several books on small groups, as well as, small group curriculums. The book is divided into 2 parts. The first part addresses the practical applications of small groups. He covers logistics, planning, leaders, childcare, and location, as well as many more.

He gives practical, simple principles to follow to make sure the group is instituted, planned and lead well so that it can succeed in the first part. I found the principles to be easy and effective if a bit simple.

The second part is based on 12 basic Christian studies which I enjoyed more than the first part. I felt that the studies were well thought out and provided ample questions to engage all participants. He backs up his study material with ample scripture references and ends each study with the most important thing – Prayer.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I felt it was well-written and gave sound advice but could have given a little more detail in the implementation part.

I have received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

Martin Luther on Prayer

“All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired, although not in the hour or in the measure, or the very thing which they ask;  yet they will obtain something greater and more glorious than they had dared to ask.”

Martin Luther

More about prayer from Martin Luther:

A Good Prayer to Start the Day by Martin Luther

A Prayer by Martin Luther

Martin Luther on Praying for One Another

Freedom In Prayer

“If you have any trial which seems intolerable, pray,–pray that it be relieved or changed.  There is no harm in that.  We may pray for anything, not wrong in itself with perfect freedom, if we do not pray selfishly.  One disabled from duty by sickness may pray for health, that he may do his work;  or one hemmed in by internal impediments may pray for utterance, that he may serve better the truth and the right.  Or, if we have a besetting sin, we may pray to be delivered from it, in order to serve God and man, and not be ourselves Satans to mislead and destroy.  But the answer to the prayer may be as it was to Paul, not removal of the thorn, but, instead a growing insight into its meaning and value.  The voice of God in our soul may show us, as we look up to Him, that His strength is enough to enable us to bear it.”

James Freeman Clarke (April 4, 1810 – June 8, 1888)  American theologian and author

For other quotes on prayer go to these posts:

Martin Luther on How to Begin When Busy

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Praying For One Another

Do Not Worry?

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you-you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” Matthew 6: 25-34

These verses have been coming up recently in my study.  First, we had a Sunday School lesson on them;  then they showed up again in a book I am reading about “respectable sins” (more about that in an upcoming post).  Yes, I am learning, worrying is a sin.  We may excuse it by saying, “that’s just how I am — I was born a worrywart!”  That certainly seems true of me.  We may even find it a bit admirable — worriers are often the best planners, and certainly God doesn’t want us to go through life oblivious to our needs and responsibilities.  At the core, however, worry betrays a lack of trust in God.  Jesus tells us in the verses above that we can rest assured that God cares for us, and our lives will work out, when we put His kingdom first.  Trust puts one foot forward at a time, day by day and resists feeling anxious about the future.

I also recently read about anxiety in a book about insomnia (didn’t I tell you God directs my reading?)  One suggestion given was, if you tend to worry and can’t sleep, set aside a “worry time” each day — maybe just 30 minutes.  Ask yourself what things are really bothering you, and then decide what you’ll do about it.  When the worry comes back, tell yourself, “I’ve already thought about that problem, and  I have a plan for dealing with it….. then put it out of your mind.  As a Christian, our “worry time” might be part of our hour of prayer.  Let God know what’s on your mind, and ask Him to help you resolve it.  Then ask for His peace about the situation, knowing He will give it to you.

Maybe, like me, you’re a natural worrier (because we all are, after all, natural sinners).  You can’t entirely avoid those worrisome thoughts;  but you can stop yourself from obsessing.  Turn them over to God.  Pray instead.

He loves you and so do !

Other posts about worry:

Who’s Got Your Back?

Growing Older

Afraid of all the Things by Scarlet Hiltibidal–Book Review

 

Breakthrough–Movie Review

A friend recommended this movie, so I checked it out of the local library.  Honestly, I expected it to be rather sappy — one of those Christian feel-good movies, implying that all you have to do is get enough people praying, and God will be manipulated into doing whatever you want.  Well, I am surprised to say, I liked it!

Chrissy Metz (of This is Us) did an excellent job portraying the mother of John Smith, a young man who fell through the ice of a Missouri lake.  After spending at least 20 minutes in freezing waters, and 45 minutes or more with no pulse — he is revived after his mother, Joyce, prays for him.  Transported to another hospital, a specialist informs the parents that their son will probably not survive the night, and if he does, will have little brain function.  Joyce insists that those around her son remain positive, and that everything possible be done to maintain his life.

After a wrenching scene in which Joyce realizes she has been pridefully insisting that she is the reason her son is still alive, she surrenders to God’s will and His plan for her son and her family.  Yes, there continue to be prayers, but with the understanding that God is always in control.  Miraculously, sixteen days later, John walks out of the hospital, mind and body intact.

Throughout the film, the Smith’s pastor, Jason is a constant support and presence, because “that’s what shepherds do.”

Of course, the very pertinent question of “why me?”  is raised.  Why did John survive, when others do not?  The answer, rightly, is unknowable.  After all, God is God and we are not.

Breakthrough will make you feel good.  It’s based on a true event, and reminds us that miracles are possible.  However, it did not imply that we, through any pious or deserving action on our part, can influence God’s decision.  We are in His hand.

VERDICT:  5 stars.  You’ll enjoy this movie.  It was an honest portrayal of a Christian family coping with crisis — and one that has a happy ending.

For other reviews of Christian films, visit these posts:

God’s Not Dead & God’s Not Dead 2 –Movie Review

Film Review — The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

Tolkien–Movie Review

Begin With Prayer

This particular verse has been coming up over and over again for me, in different books, prayers and sermons.  So I decided that God really wanted me to H.E.A.R. it.

Highlight

“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'”  Matthew 9:37-38

Explain

As Jesus went about teaching and healing, He had compassion for the many people following Him, because they were lost and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  He told his disciples to begin by praying that God would send workers out to them.  He doesn’t tell them to get organized, make a plan or start immediately.  Prayer comes first.  In the next chapter, He gives the disciples the authority to heal and sends them out.  They were to be the workers!

Apply

I am both to pray for workers and be a worker.  Like Jesus, I must have compassion for those around me and a desire to tell them about the true leader, Jesus Christ–the only one who is able to save them.

Respond

Dear Heavenly Father, Remove all fears of rejection from my heart.  Send me to your helpless sheep.  Fill me with love and a holy yearning to bring others into your kingdom.  Amen.