Archives For grace in unexpected places

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.
 

'Oppositions' photo (c) 2009, Iliazd - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Those of you who have been readers here for awhile know about the appeal for help I put out on Father’s Day. And you folks responded in a beautiful, and powerful, way. At a time when I was doubting the community we’re building here, you showed me. You honored the ways I invest myself here, on this platform, by investing in me.

That investment is about to come to fruition. Soon I will be heading off to the Wild At Heart Bootcamp. I am going for healing, and for hope. For the resolution of issues that have plagued me since childhood.

But just getting there might kill me.

Ransomed Heart, the organization the hosts the bootcamp, sent the following:

“What you are about to take part in may be one of the most spiritually significant experiences of your journey.

Expect opposition.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a
roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in
the faith.” 1 Peter 5

Arguments with your wife. Health problems. Being inundated with demands on you at the
office. Assaults against your strength, your character, your work, your reputation. Roadblocks coming up between you and the retreat. Men, please know, these are ALL indications that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. The evil one does not want you to walk forward and take part in what God has for you at this retreat.”

I acknowledged this upon receipt–not really giving it much thought. My bad.

But it has been proven to be entirely prescient, altogether true. All of these things have happened.

And I am kicking against the goads. I have lashed out, tried to defend my honor–instead of letting Jesus do it on my behalf.

Can I get real for a minute?

I have no fight left in me. I’m tired. But I don’t want to give up. I want what the Lord has for both me, and my family. I want it like nothing else. Pray that nothing comes between me and my going up to the mountains.

Will you commit to praying for me, and my family, from now through August twentieth? I covet your prayers. Please pray the Lord covers in all the areas, and indeed mends the wounds I have inflicted. For I am the rough beast that slouches towards Bethlehem, waiting to be born. But I would not be that beast anymore.

Thank-you, and God bless!

How may I pray for you?

You Did It!

randomlychad  —  June 23, 2012 — 7 Comments

Thank-you to all who gave, prayed, tweeted, facebooked, and encouraged me! You did it! Because of your kindness, I’m going to the Wild at Heart bootcamp this August! I want to sincerely thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for helping me rewrite my life’s story.

And look what a story we told together this week!

All week long, those doubts assailed me: “Who are you to ask for help this way? These people have families to feed, bills to pay.”

But we all know who’s voice that is, don’t we? He who masquerades as an angel of light, who roams around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. We Christians know him as the enemy.

And he’s a liar!

This week, you bathed me in kindness, you covered me in prayer, you showed me just how much you care.

You showed me the meaning of community, and like Robert Frost said “that has made all the difference.”

Thank-you again from the bottom of my heart!

Chad

'depression' photo (c) 2008, Rupert Ganzer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

So. I’ve mentioned that I have a piece in a book called Not Alone: Stories of Living with Depression. Yeah, it surprises me, too. Thing is, if you met me, you’d probably think “he seems like a pretty happy guy.”

The truth is: I get by.

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In case you didn’t know, I’m contributing author in the Not Alone book, which was edited by the incomparable Alise Wright, and published by Civitas Press.

I’ve said before that I’m proud to have contributed, and humbled to included in such a great group of writers.

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