The Man Who Invented Christmas tells of the magical journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer), Tiny Tim and other classic characters from A Christmas Carol. Directed by Bharat Nalluri (MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY), the film shows how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) mixed real life inspirations with his vivid imagination to conjure up unforgettable characters and a timeless tale, forever changing the holiday season into the celebration we know today.

Watch the trailer here:

The Man Who Invented Christmas — official trailer

Build Boys

randomlychad  —  August 31, 2017 — Leave a comment

I thought of you when I read this quote from “Stepping Up” by Dennis Rainey –

“It’s better to build boys than mend men. —TRUETT CATHY, CEO OF CHICK – FIL – A”

Start reading this book for free: http://a.co/i4qFLTY

Cover art for The Day the Angels Fell

I want to tell you about a book. A beautiful, wonderful, terrible, moving, life-altering little book. What I mean by that is, upon finishing it, I (an avid reader) couldn’t find another volume in my library which I felt could even begin to come near to the experience I’d just lived through.

 
Picture if you will the following scene:
 
You are in a dusty tent in the near middle east. The air is close, scorching your throat as you try to breathe in great, gulping gasps. Your sweat-soaked clothes cling to your body like a wetsuit; you’re not sure you’ll even be able to peel them off. The tanned animal hides, sweaty bodies, the remains of a lunch hastily eaten add a piquant bouquet to the cloistered air.
 
Like Saul of old, you’re there on a mission; namely, to ask the favor of a witch. But it’s not the shade of Samuel you’re there to raise; no, it’s someone much more recently dead.
 
You ask the witch there, in Endor, to raise up the shade of Madeleine L’Engle, late author of A Wrinkle in Time (and many others). You have a request of her; something you feel only she can do. You want her to rewrite Stephen King’s Pet Sematary.
 
But not as a horror story; yes, it’s still a book about death, and the lengths which we’ll go to try to get around, behind, beyond it. Now, however, it’s thesis isn’t necessarily that “sometimes dead is better,” but rather that death is a gift to be embraced.
 
You have traveled halfway around the world, and are now presently standing in this stifling tent, because you believe that L’Engle is the only one who, as one of (if the the most) preeminent young adult authors of the 20th century, can turn a story of horrific death, loss, and pain into a tale of blazing light, probing the darkest reaches of the heart.
 
She agrees.
 
——————
 
The foregoing is fiction; Madeleine L’Engle is still, sadly, dead. That said, there is a voice working today, and I swear he channeled L’Engle (with just a dollop of Stephen King) in his book, The Day the Angels Fell. This is the volume I alluded to above. It’s the book that, upon finishing, left me reeling, unable to find anything suitable to read in its wake.
 
Who is this genius author? None other than Shawn Smucker. His book, The Day the Angels Fell, releases on September 5th. I would be very sad if you didn’t pick a up copy or three.
 
Find it on Amazon here:

As with yesterday, the following comes courtesy of Grace Hill Media, and makes a compelling point about the vulnerability which accompanies grief. When we are desperate–hurting, grieving, alone–we are often altogether too open to anything which will assuage the pain, numb it, drown out its voice.

Yet that very voice always comes screaming back, shrieking like a banshee, claws like meat hooks piercing our souls. The late, great C.S. Lewis well said that "our passions are not too strong, but too weak… We muck about with drink and sex, when all the the splendors of heaven are open to us."

Yet when we are down in the very depths of despair we don't see that splendor. Grief, loss, pain pale the light, and we reach out for whatever shred of comfort we can find.

Sometimes that takes us to dark places. Whatever comfort we find there turns to ashes and dust, blowing away upon a baleful wind.

And then there is hell to pay…

We know this, but when we're that far gone into despondency we don't care. God doesn't seem real any longer, or if we cling to a shred of faith in his existence, it's in a capricious deity who doesn't care.

Else why would he cause, or allow, us such pain?

Thus the downward spiral goes.

Fortunately, as David wrote, even the darkness is as light to him. And the thing about hitting bottom is that we've hit bottom. We may not be able to see it at the time, but there is a way back up…

Without further ado, Grace Hill Media:

Comforting Those Who Need Us Most
 
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.
For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”
Thessalonians 4:13-14
 
 
Life is a miracle filled with God’s blessings, love, and cherished memories. Life also comes with struggles, temptations, and loss. At some point in our lives, we will grieve the loss of a loved one.  Our grief is one of the hardest things to overcome – and it manifests differently for everyone.  We as God’s creatures love deeply and thus we feel loss strongly.  
 
For many, it takes time, faith, prayer, and support to heal from the loss of a loved one. But for some, the journey may be too difficult and their burden too heavy.  We’ve all heard that there are 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  But what if someone struggles to heal?  What happens if they get stuck in one of the stages of grief – anger- for example can lead to a great deal of self-destruction.  How far might a person go “to make the pain go away.”
 
There’s an upcoming film “Annabelle: Creation” that deals with this very premise. I’m not usually a fan of horror movies but there’s something in the storyline of this upcoming film that’s worth talking about. The movie begins with two parents – the Mullins – who suffer through the unimaginable and sudden death of their daughter.  Their grief is unbearable, and it is when they are at their weakest and most vulnerable that temptation and evil comes with whispers of consolation, and a way of “seeing” their little girl again.  I don’t want to give away any more plot spoilers, but needless to say the Mullins give into temptation, and a supernatural battle against evil takes place in their home.  If you’re a fan of horror movies, you may really enjoy this film which releases in theaters this Friday, August 11.
 
Though the Mullins are fictional characters, the idea that we’ll do anything to hold on to a loved one who has passed and/or that evil wants to take advantage of us during a time when we are vulnerable can be very real.  
 
Grief, especially when it comes unexpectedly, can crush the spirit of even the strongest among us.  As Christians, it is my hope that whenever we come across someone who is grieving, we reach out to comfort and support them with their immediate needs (ex. cooking dinner for the family, babysitting the children, etc.).
 
It is also my hope that we minister and share God love with them and remind them that they are not alone.  As Christians it is our duty to take care, comfort, and pray for one another.  Healing may take weeks, months, or years, but it is a comfort when they know they can turn to God and to their neighbors to help them through.
 
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.”
2 Corinthians 1:3
 
“After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
Thessalonians 4:17-18
 
 

The following post comes courtesy of Grace Hill Media in sunny Southern California. As the genre, and responsible parenting/consumption of media are near to my heart, it was a no-brainer to feature their byline here.

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Lessons For Christians From Horror Movies

The popularity of horror films continue to grow, especially among teens and young adults, who flock to movie theaters on opening weekend.  This Friday, August 11, for example, the movie “Annabelle: Creation,” about a possessed doll hits theaters nationwide.  It seems difficult to believe that any movie created to frighten and give us nightmares might have a meaningful spiritual lesson for Christians.  And yet, anyone who has been brave enough to watch “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” written by Scott Derrickson, a Christian filmmaker, knows full well that horror movies can serve us with cautionary messages and, might just inspire the audience to head to their nearest church pew.
To be clear, not all horror films are the same. The genre has different versions.  
There’s no takeaway from “slasher” or disturbing “torture” movies meant to provide nothing but shock.  However, there are horror movies that depict spiritual warfare (which we know to be real) and the battle between good and evil. These supernatural films, oftentimes written and produced by Christians and based on real-life events, are filled with lessons about something we as people of faith have stopped discussing in an increasingly distracted secular world – that evil is real.

Here are a few other lessons from supernatural horror films:
1) Exorcisms are also real.  Although incredibly rare, people can get possessed by evil.  “The Exorcist” is based on a real-life possession of a young boy, and “Annabelle: Creation” is about a possessed girl.  

2) God will always defeat evil. No matter how powerful the enemy may be, God will always come out on top.  In the Bible, one of the most powerful miracles that Jesus performed was The Miracle of the Gadarene Swine in which Jesus cast unclean spirits out of a man.  In real-life and in all supernatural films that have a faith message including “The Conjuring” and “The Rite,” evil will always be vanquished.

3) Ouija Boards are a big no.  Perhaps one of the strongest and most valuable lessons to come from supernatural horror movies (which just as true in real life) is that those who become plagued or possessed by evil may have inadvertently invited those spirits or demon to come into their lives.  This is done through certain “gateways” that many priests and Christian leaders warn us about.  Christians, especially Christian parents must teach kids and teens to stay away from Ouija boards, tarot cards, fortune telling, or any sort divination.  These are all means in which evil can take hold of our lives.  In the second “Conjuring” movie the character becomes possessed after playing with a Ouija board.  This was based on a true person and event.
 
4) Prayer is the most powerful thing in the world.  Prayers protect and deliver us from evil.  In horror movies, those who are plagued by evil must often turn to a person of great faith or priest to help them.  That Christian leader is always portrayed as someone who believes prayer to be of utmost importance and is shown onscreen praying to God throughout the film.

5) Faith is the most important thing in the world.  Believing in God and being baptized in the Christian community protects and strengthens us.  It is a natural defense again evil.  In times of weakness, we must lean on our faith and turn to God.  The upcoming movie, “Annabelle: Creation,” is a cautionary tale that depicts what happens when one turns away from God and succumbs to temptation during a period of grief and weakness as opposed to leaning on God for grace and healing.  

All movies, including horror movies tell stories.  In the last century, before we had television and films, parents told stories and tales that were meant to alarm and even frighten children and youth from a certain place or course of action.

Now these stories, meant to be lessons, are brought to life onscreen, complete with sound effects and make-up.  They are terrifying and they should be – evil is something to stay away from.  But for Christians, there is a stronger message, one that should always comfort and strengthen us – that we have a savior and that he will always come to protect and fight for those of us in need.