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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.
 

I believe in the Gospel of grace. Grace here defined as a free gift of God’s unmerited favor bestowed upon sinful humanity. None of us deserves it, yet it’s given freely. I don’t understand that. Yet I embrace it. For I know my need.

As with any gift, the grace that is given must be received. While the invitation is open to all, while there are seats at the table for all, not all want God’s grace. I don’t understand that, either.

For those that receive His grace, and freely come, we’ve not found a license to sin. We find salve for our wounds, balm for our souls. But we find something, Someone, else as well:

Jesus.

And that encounter with Him must fundamentally alter the course of our lives. He gave His all upon the cross; died a death which wasn’t His, payed a debt He didn’t owe. When we come to Him, as with any loving parent, He in His grace, will gently, lovingly, yet implacably, remove from us (as we let Him) all that is not Him. Anything that is not Him, to which we run for comfort, try to assuage our brokenness, fill our emptiness, in which we find identity, He will inexorably take away. There can be no other before Him. In other words, the Gospel of grace is the Gospel of death: a death to self.

Grace is found in, and fills, the cracks, yes.

But make no mistake: it is grace which takes our our sacred cows, everything we exalt above Our Lord. Take it from me (with generous portions of sodium chloride, naturally) that when Jesus comes asking to take that thing away (whatever that thing may be), yield then. You really don’t want His graceful two-by-four upside your stubborn head. Because He will.

Make no mistake: He loves as we are, where we are, but loves us enough to not leave us there.

So, yes, grace is free. But not pain-free. Jesus is the cosmic cow-tipper. Upending our comfortable, carefully controlled lives He longs to give us something so much better.

James Prescott has written, and just released, a book called Mosaic of Grace God’s Beautiful Reshaping of Our Broken Lives, wherein he writes so much more eloquently than I ever could about grace. Consider this your not-so-gentle reminder to pick up a copy of James’s book at your bookseller of choice. Find James on Twitter, Facebook, and on his blog, James Prescott.

Angry

randomlychad  —  November 13, 2014 — 2 Comments

I’m angry.

I’m angry because, and I hate to even write about this, media whores like Kim Kardashian (who is famous, please remember, because of a sex tape) garner all kinds of attention from intentional overexposure. Please understand: I’m angry–not jealous. I don’t care if I’m ever famous, or known. In fact, I’d rather not be.

Because there’s safety in obscurity. I can say what I like, and have no fear of reproach or recrimination.

I’m not angry for me; rather, I’m angry for friends who have blogs–have platforms and messages–that are worth paying attention to. I’m angry that they’re not getting the acclaim they rightly deserve. I’m angry that all it takes to be famous is flashing one’s derriere. Who does that help? My friend, Chris Morris, has a blog dedicated to disseminating information by, about, and for those suffering from chronic illnesses. He’s trying to make a difference in people’s lives.

Kim KardASSian however is merely trying to pad her bottom line. To keep her fifteen minutes going.

Where’s the justice in that? Where’s the fairness?

WHAT A WORLD WE LIVE IN, folks! The other side of the coin is, of course, how we, the consuming public, lap up the lascivious lives of the rich and famous. The reason this dreck keeps getting out out there is because we keep sucking on its teat, crying for More! MORE!

I don’t know about you, but I want to live in a world where people couldn’t care any less about Kim Kardashian’s ASSets. Where teachers get paid more than athletes (who, they are quick to tell us, aren’t role models at all). Where there is no celebrity, and actors get paid what everyone else does–because they’re just doing a job.

I want to live in a world where we stop venerating the wrong heroes.

Who’s with me?

There are companies out there that care about their customers. That value the goodwill of their customers. Who understand that choosing them over their competition is more than a business transaction.

It’s a relationship.

DirecTV is not one of those companies. How do I know? Let me count show the ways.

My wife and I are DirecTV customers. Have been for over a year-and-a-half. We have paid them a godly sum in that time to enjoy their programming. Last Monday evening, we noticed some playback errors during one of our favorite shows, Castle. At the time, we didn’t think much of it, writing it off as a broadcast glitch. Between then, and Sunday evening (the fifth of October), we didn’t notice any other errors. But that night when I settled in to watch the season finale of The Strain, the Genie Minis were indicating that a “server could not be found.” Strange, I thought.  
Going downstairs to check on it, I turned the T.V., and was greeted with:

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(Disclosure: I took this picture the following morning; on Sunday night, there were 16 errors).

Being in the tech industry, I knew that the errors referred to were disk errors. Which meant that the drive in the DVR was on its way out. I let DirecTV know. They’re sending replacement.  Well and good.

What’s not so good is that it’s 2014, and they’re not doing a thing to help me save the existing recorded content. Despite the fact that there are indeed ways to do it.

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This is stuff that I’ve paid for the privilege of watching. And now, according to DirecTV, I won’t be able to.

What’s particularly galling to me is that we have a brief window of opportunity to move content off of their failing equipment (it’s leased), and they won’t even send me a Genie Go to at least preserve that stuff for a month:

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Way to stand behind your equipment, DirecTV! Kudos for your customer service. I can see that you value having My family and I as customers…

Not so much.

This is where things stand now. It’s what, in an earlier day, would have been termed a “Mexican standoff.” I won’t budge, they won’t budge. I guess they don’t know (or appreciate) the power of social media. Remember Comcast,  folks? And that support call from the nether regions?

Let’s make this go viral, too.

Here’s a hashtag: #DIrecTVdotherightthing

Can you help men out? Share this post on:

Twitter

Facebook

Google+

Let’s let DirecTV that shoddy customer service is unacceptable in 2014.

Thanks!

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 11.20.12 PM This is Dean Koontz. You may have heard of him. 😉 He is one of the biggest bestselling novelists in the world. After starting as a science fiction writer, he broadened the scope of his work to encompass multiple genres: thrillers, mystery, horror, humor, etc. He is now more of a cross-genre writer, as his work encompasses all of these elements–and all within the pages of a single book!

He can take us to the darkest depths, make us weep with despair, and then raise us to the highest heights. For no matter how dark his stories skew, there is always a ray of sunshine. Hope somehow not only survives, but thrives. As in our own lives, this doesn’t happen without cost. There are sacrifices to be made, lives are lost on the way.

But the journey! The icy shock of confronting the blackest of evils, the good guys–misunderstood, and on the run. Koontz’s books are like literary crack! One wants to put them down, but cannot! There is always the next page, chapter… until the final one is turned, and stumbles to bed, bleary-eyed, at three A.M., fallen into a fitful sleep.

Like all the best writers, Koontz often writes himself (and his characters) into a corner, and one just keeps reading to see how he is going to get himself (and them) out whatever outrageous pickle he has imagined. For my money, the best writing does this: posits impossible scenarios–creates problems–and then finds a plausible way out.

Koontz does it time and time again.

I share my exuberance for his work here because I would be honored if you would join the on Thursday, January 23rd at 5:00 P.M. EST. Dean will be chatting with his publicist, a Vice President of Random House publishers, and three lucky fans. Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 11.36.39 PM

I’m inviting you, my readers, to this event because, out of all of the people that applied for one of those three spots, I was chosen.

It feels a little like winning the lottery. It felt a little clandestine: there were emails, sample questions, and a phone call from New York to “triple confirm” my availability. I was like, Are you kidding me? Of course I’m there!

This is where you come in. Not only can you watch me blubber like an idiot (if you like), it’s also your chance to be heard! It may be my face being seen, and the sound of my voice being heard, during the hangout, but it could also be yours. In addition to, of course, taking questions via chat during the hangout, I would like for you ask any questions you may have for Mr. Koontz here in response to this post.

If you have questions about writing, about research, about the creative process, please ask them below, and I will do my best to get them answered on air during the hangout.

Thanks much for your support! I couldn’t do what I do here without you.

–Chad