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Faith Based Movies Impacting the Marketplace

As more and more faith-based films succeed at the box office, it’s not surprising that there’s an effort to reach an untapped audience. And why not? Why shouldn’t faith-based films be more of a priority? With all of the action and drama films, full of violence and sex; not to mention the graphic horror movies, that are mixed in with satanic forces, and the darker the better. It seems people want “fear” to find them, but fear has a different name these days.

It wasn’t that long ago, in my home state of Louisiana, fear walked right in the theater door, and opened fire on some movie watchers. Isn’t life scary enough? Isn’t there enough fear walking the streets, hidden in homes we aren’t aware of, just waiting for the opportunity, or the day in which they just, snap. If it’s not fear, its anger finding each other and the list goes on. Now it is children in the hands of these emotions. Just today, I read where a 14-year-old boy was arrested in Arkansas, for a threat he made online, where he discussed ‘shooting up a school.’ Authorities traced it back to him, and he was located at the school in class. No weapons were found on his person, or at his home; however, he was arrested for first-degree terroristic-threatening.

People are killing people; students are killing other students; teens are killing other teens; and children are killing other children. What do we do when fear, violence, and horror; all of the things we see in movies are jumping from the screen into our living rooms. We combat it with some good stuff. I know, some of you are thinking, “Movies don’t make people kill people.” That is not what I am saying. What I am saying is, there are some weak-minded people in this world who do not know how to process their feelings. If their emotions go unchecked for a long while, they become almost like children. Adult, young adult, teen adult, even older adults, because diseases of the mind affect everyone. These people cannot control their thoughts. Their thoughts control them, and they are powerful. They drift into the world of what they know, or what they see. If it is a world of virtual reality in a video game, then they go there. If it is a world in a television show they have seen, they go there. If it is a movie they watched recently, perhaps even long ago? They go there too. It is a safe place for them; a place they know. They go there and they search for a promising end to this story that terrorizes, disrupts, pains, or plagues them with ill feelings. Believe it not, it is a mental and physical pain, and it hurts.

Some of these people become depressed. These people don’t become upset over something. They become clinically depressed to the point, they cannot function. The only way to rid themselves of these feelings, is to step into a safe world of pleasure. If their safe world, makes them a soldier in a war of people attacking them? Then they are a soldier, and every person is out to get them. Maybe they are being attacked by zombies, because they have been watching the Walking Dead. This is just an example of course; however, I know recently of television programs which had to be rewritten or recorded as a new episode, because something dreadful has happened. Lives have been lost, and regardless of the reality of the situation, this being just a television show, what happened was not, and people have feelings, and these must be tended to for humanity’s sake.

Woodlawn was a High School in Birmingham, Alabama in 1973. And this story tells how the Woodlawn Football Team, at a time when the school and the city was filled with racism and hate, and in the midst of desegregation, underwent a spiritual awakening. This occurred when the majority of the team accepts Jesus and the community is revived. It was a powerful story, which captured the heart of the coach, Tandy Gerelds, and nearly every player on the team. The team’s first African American superstar, Tony Nathan led the team into victory in front of forty-thousand people against Jeff Rutledge’s team. This star running back reminded us all that we can overcome the odds through Jesus. Although Christianity was at its core, even non-Christians would find this film about faith on the football field, full of sideline excitement, awe-inspiring and spiritual.

Faith of our Fathers is a two-generation story about two men in search of who they are. Without a father in either man’s lives, the two men must search for their fathers through their past. The two men, John Paul and Wayne start with letters from Vietnam, and then journey to the Vietnam Wall, where they learn about war, what it means to be men, what it means to be human, what it means to be men of God, and they discover faith and love. The journey back is fluctuates with time, as the two fathers of these two young men are introduced, as well as their tour in Vietnam, as John Paul’s faithful father, and Wayne’s negative father struggle together as well.

This honorary film reminds us of all of the sacrifices made by the servicemen and women each day, and especially during wartimes. The reminder of how much our heavenly Father is needed by each and every one of us regardless. These men trekked far to find out who their fathers were; in the end, they found out so much more about their fathers, their heavenly father, and about themselves.

Other films to date which have challenged the not so typical filming formats are “Beyond the Mask”, by director Chad Burns, with co-writing assistance from Stephen Kendrick. You may recognize the name Stephen Kendrick, as he also wrote and produced the box-office sensation “War Room.” Both of these features included visual effects which changed the watching of the film. Of course there is no comparison to the use by each, as apparently Kendrick was just ‘getting his feet wet’ as you say as ‘War Room’ had about 20 visual effects shots in it, where Burns, obviously more comfortable with the technique, used a tremendous amount of work with special effects on “Beyond,” including more than 750 visual effects. (Bumpas, 2015)

 

It has been a while since writers and directors have been this bold with faith based movies. In the recent month of September, both Captive, and 90 Minutes in Heaven, were introduced. Others this year include, David and Goliath, Princess Cut, and Pass the Light. These are movies, but there have been just as many made for television; after all, who has to leave their house to watch a movie? Even the these movies, such as The Color of Rain, Pitching Love and Catching Faith, When Calls the Heart, I’m Not Ashamed, and The Lineup have all the “feels” of their so-called “movie night” comrades, such as Just Let Go, Woodlawn, and Finding Noah. No matter where you get your popcorn, with releases like these, every night will be movie night, and you don’t even have to leave your house to feel like you have stepped in to the theater. The only difference would be, you may notice you feel a bit safer at home. You may notice overwhelming feelings here, just as if you were at the movie, only if you notice an overwhelming feeling resembling fear; give it a minute that may be faith settling in.

 

OUR TWO CENTS

If I asked you if you had faith, what would you say? If I asked ‘what is faith’, would you be able to define it? If either of these questions have you wondering about ‘faith’, let me first say, according to God, everyone has faith, and that means, you too. If you read in the book of James, it says:

James 2:18-20 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.  20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?”

Thereby, if you walk with God, you faith is only growing closer between the two of you. You can’t decide you have faith, and then not practice your walk any longer. Faith is almost like a skill. Let’s think about a musical skill. If you played the piano, or the guitar, and you were thinking, “You know I have gotten pretty good at this.” So what do you do? Nothing. You put your guitar in the closet, or you close up your piano and start using it to stack things on. After all, you are good at it. Two years later, how good are you? Faith, well it’s like that, except you don’t have to wait two years. Within minutes, a noticeable difference can be seen and felt. Maybe not by you, but then again, you aren’t really the one it matters to, more like the one faith matters for. In Timothy 1, it says:

Timothy 1: 3-5 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain     people not to teach false doctrines any longer  4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

    All of the fears we have, and the desires we have to go against where we are in faith with God, come from getting further away from God. This world we live in, is not a safe place for the soul. It never has been, not from the day it was placed. You must always remember the mercy shown to you from God for all of the time you have sinned. Through grace, you are given this amazing gift. It is a gift. This faith you have, must be tended like a garden, and you must continue to yield the best you can offer to God. For through HIS mercy and grace, you have salvation, and there is no other way than by faith and through God, will you keep it. No magic, no game, no store can you buy it, but one thing can keep you from it for certain and that is fear. Remember the words of Ephesians 2:1-8, and choose your movie wisely.

Ephesians 2:1-8As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Dear Heavenly Father,
I hear your call to discipleship, and I accept this. You are asking me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. Today, I acknowledge that I have been crucified with Christ. I surrender to you Lord, and it is you who I live for. I owe my life to you, and I commit myself to prayer and worship. I will study your word, and ask others to do so too. Lord, I will serve you through serving those in need, and I will consider daily these gifts you have given me through your unbelievable mercy- through grace, you have brought faith to me, and I surrender all my desires, my will, my life to you. I will honor you in all that I do. My eyes will see you first, my ears will hear your words, and my mouth will whisper your name in all times of need. I love you Lord, and with all that I am, I am yours today, tomorrow, for eternity. I pray this in Jesus’ name.

AMEN

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About Brenda Stapleton

Brenda Stapleton is a professional writer and social media enthusiast. She is the founding columnist of from the park bench, and continues blogging under the same headline today. She is a content writer, technical writer, communication and procedural consultant, who considers it both an honor, and a privilege to have worked with such a diverse group of subject matter experts throughout the years. She feels it is through collaboration and communication with professionals in other programs, where meaningful partnerships are formed and challenging projects are culminated which produce awareness, integration, and increased success in finding solutions to mutual problems.

Brenda is a former primary and secondary educator, with a Louisiana teaching certification from (ULM) University of Louisiana at Monroe. She is a former nurse tech and registered nurse working under the ULM-RN program. She certified through the (AFA) American Fitness Association as a personal trainer, and is a certified law enforcement professional under (POST) Police Officer Standards Training in the State of Louisiana. She is well-versed in the Arts and Sciences, holding a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Arts in the discipline of Criminal Justice with minors in Sociology and Psychology. She has credited graduate work in English and Integrated Learning through Technology and Communication, carried over from her Ph.D. work in Integrating Technology, Learning and Psychology from Grand Canyon University.

and More…personally
Brenda grew up in Columbia, Louisiana in the same house, where her parents still live, today. She began life literally, stumbling every day. She was fitted for her first set of braces on her legs, as a toddler. She would wear braces on her legs, until the age of four, and orthopedic shoes until the age of six. Thinking the past was behind her, she took the world in leaps and bounds, until at the peak of her career, she faced yet another set-back, only this one, left her with a neurological injury that was irreversible. Since then, she has strived continuously for a career, where her passion for creativity would be fueled by the fervor of chasing a sense of sobriety that did not leave her doubtful of a future. Armed with a sense of humor, a purpose in life, and a heart full of dreams, she took the road less traveled, compliments of Robert Frost, and she has learned many things along the way.
She has learned adaptability is her best characteristic, and humility is her worst. She has learned the day is scarier than the night, for in the day you will see the harm that befalls you. She has learned unconditional love is never stronger than in the very young, and as it is in the very old. She has learned no matter what emotion a person is experiencing, a cuddly puppy can make you re-evaluate it all. She has learned the only certainty in life, is death- be ready. She has learned the most experienced emotions are forgiveness, grief and hope, and she has learned that patience is the most taught virtue.
In her free time, Brenda can be found lost in the elements of nature. She enjoys cycling, golfing, swimming, and practicing yoga. Her favorite places to be in this world are at the edge of the sand, with the ocean waves kissing her toes, or chasing her footprints away; or riding a bike through the park under the trees full of multi-colored leaves in the fall, with the wind blowing gently at her face, and is deeply overwhelmed by nature. It’s the fleeting moments when she is caught in a rainstorm, or snowflakes begin to fall, and melt as soon as they touch the warmth of skin, or when watching over a cocoon, as it changes into a butterfly, or a rose bud into bloom, when she feels human, small and meek.
Brenda is a published author of articles and blogs. She is currently writing her first book, but acknowledges her two greatest accomplishments, as the two who call her momma. She is inspired by watching her daughters become individuals, face their giants, and grow in life, while each follows her dreams and searches for a place and a purpose to aspire and grow. With several years behind her, and her children growing into adults, Brenda has taken the time to focus on her purpose. In doing so, she has unpacked the dreams she had placed away for safe keeping, and with a bit of uncertainty of what lies ahead, she sets out on yet another road less traveled, and this time, she says she takes a pen and paper along the way.

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