I Can Only Imagine

I-Can-Only-Imagine-Movie
It’s time to look at a recent movie about the iconic song “I Can Only Imagine.” It’s definitely a pretty good song so I was up for having a film about how it was created. As you might expect it is also a bit of a tragic tale with a happy ending since it’s based on true events. It’s a good movie with quite a few songs which is good although I would have liked to have seen a few more tunes thrown in.

The movie follows Bart as he grows up in a rough household. He manages to get by, but the situation forces him to try and grow into the image his father wants him to be. He joins the Football team and it goes well for a while until he injures his leg and is forced to retire. I guess extra curricular activities are a necessity in this school so he is transferred to the music class where the teacher forces him to become a singer. Bart enjoys singing but the problem is that he knows Arthur (his father) won’t approve. His suspicions are correct and things boil over until Bart decides to run away from home and join a traveling band. In the process he breaks up with Shannon and prepares for his new life.

This life is tougher than Bart thought it would be though and he starts to have doubts. He tries to run back to Shannon, but that isn’t happening and his vocal skills are being doubted by the professionals. When all hope is lost he finally heads back to his home to confront Arthur who has seemingly been redeemed after becoming a Christian. Bart has to confront this fact by wondering if this is true and also if he will forgive Arthur regardless.

It’s a pretty emotional movie for sure. I think you’ll end up being a lot more invested in the musical scenes then the plot though. Partially this is because Bart just isn’t a very likable main character for the most part. It’s hard to blame him for all of the family stuff since that was pretty traumatic for him, but I’m talking about everything aside from that. First off is his relationship with Shannon. He had absolutely no reason to break up with her in that scene. It just didn’t really make any sense and I feel like it just happened to increase the dramatic tension. Of course it’s hard to say if that’s how it played out in real life as well. Then his attempt at getting back together with her was painful. He went to her house at midnight while pretending to be the police? That’s a prank that went way too far and she shouldn’t have even gone to the front door if you ask me. It’s no surprise that she didn’t go with him.

Then we have the scenes where the critics come to hear his band play. Their agent tells Bart that he’ll handle this and for the crew to wait in the back. They all listen except for Bart who runs to the stage and makes a mess out of everything. The film goes a little too far in making him super head strong and naive as far as the critics process goes. Surely he knows how these things go and that you can’t just yell at the critics to make them change their minds right? He just makes so many mistakes and then just saying that he’ll quit wasn’t very responsible either. Things could have really gone badly for his band mates at that point. Of course that’s when he chooses to take a long leave of absence from the band…great.

Still, if that’s exactly how it played out in real life then it’s good that the film played it straight there. Meanwhile Arthur is one of those characters who is so bad that it’s hard to buy into the redemption arc which is why you can understand Bart’s skepticism even if he doesn’t handle the situation well at all. (Why even show up at the house if you’re just going to guilt trip Arthur the whole time?) It’s definitely good that Arthur saw the light and ultimately found Christ. At the end of the day even if nobody believes that you have been truly redeemed it doesn’t matter. You know if you’ve become a Christian and that’s what counts.

Overall, I Can Only Imagine is a good film. While it can’t really be called a fun film for the most part as it can be pretty dark and dramatic, the songs are fun. It’s a quality movie and one that you’ll definitely want to see if you’re curious about the song’s origins. It’s not quite on the same level as God is Not Dead which is still quite excellent, but this movie doesn’t really make any big mistakes. It does manage to be a pretty realistic film without over embellishing the events.

Advertisements

Hillsong: Let Hope Rise

hillsong-2
As Hillsong is my main Church, I definitely had to go and watch the Hillsong movie. I saw it in theaters a while back so this post is rather late, but better late than never right? When you’re given lemons, you make lemonade and that was my logic as I grabbed my backlog and turned it into a pile of future reviews. The movie is essentially a biographical film about how the Church started up and their expansion since then. It’s pretty interesting and while you may already know a lot of the bullet points from a quick online search, it’s fun to see.

The main selling point of the film was the music. Hillsong’s always been known for its solid array of music during service and many other Churches use their songs as well. On that note, I do think that the movie could have had some more songs. There were a decent amount of them I suppose, but not nearly as many as I had expected when I went into the film. It’s not as if the history part was boring or anything, it was just a little unexpected.

The biographical parts play out like your old family movies. We see recordings of the Hillsong founders going to the original location of the Church and talking about the good ole days. We also have some footage of those days that are played, like when the gang was stopped in a traffic jam. The way that the film plays out does make it a little hard for this post to not be short though since it’s easy to run out of things to say. At this point, you’ve already got the gist of the film. Obviously, you’ll enjoy the film even more if you’re a Hillsong Church-goer and want to learn more about the Church or if you just want to see a nice success story about a Church that continues to help people out far and wide. It doesn’t really do anything provocative to warrant discussion (That’s a good thing by the way) and since there isn’t really a plot since this is a documentary, there aren’t characters to discuss.

It’s just a pleasant history film to watch. I may be a little biased, but I’d say that the NYC branch of Hillsong actually has the others beat in the song department though. The songs here were great as always, but NYC just has that extra kick in its voice as we have such talented singers at the ready. NYC’s Hillsong has always set the bar super high after all and that won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Overall, I won’t stall too much here. Let Hope Rise is a very solid film and it’s neat that the Church got the film to go into theaters. It had a short, but lively run and I’d recommend checking it out on DVD. I don’t watch too many biographical pics so it was a nice change of pace. The music is definitely solid and everything about the movie is on point. It’s the kind of film that will leave you in a good mood and that’s the kind of flick that’s always in season.

Risen

risen_poster
Risen is a Christian film that takes an interesting approach to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most films look at it from the point of view of one of the Disciples or Mary, but this one looks at it from a roman soldier’s point of view. Clavius has been tasked with finding out who is spreading the rumors of Jesus being alive and putting an end to the problem. Clavius works at this goal for a while, but eventually begins to realize that this may not simply be a baseless rumor, but an incredible truth. This puts him at odds with the government so he quickly finds himself in a dangerous situation.

I can definitely appreciate what the director/writer was thinking here. This fresh take on the event is fun to see and Clavius is a good lead. He’s a reasonable guy who may have started out rather hard, but eventually came around. Paul ended up being one of the greatest Apostles in history and he started out as a murderer. There is always time to become a Christian even if you have a dark past. It can be easy to feel like it’s too late, but it certainly is not. The biggest mistake you can make it putting off your repentance and salvation because you want to wait for a good day. If you wait too long, you may find yourself dead before you have a chance. Prolonging things of such importance is not a good idea and the world continues to be in constant turmoil. It’s really impossible to say whether you will be dead or alive tomorrow so don’t take the risk. It is not worth losing your soul for eternity.

If I have any complaints about Risen, it’s that I would have liked to have seen the Disciples more. They rarely got to appear and didn’t get to look all that great when they did show up. Granted, they certainly would be cautious since Clavius was a Roman and they are only human. They did offer him food to eat and were amiable, but I suppose they still had their guard up. When Clavius was interrogating Mary (I believe it was Mary or it could have been one of the other two women) she didn’t do a great job of talking about her faith. She would just ignore him and stare at a corner, saying only a word or two once in a while. I think that aspect of the film certainly could have been handled better. More screen time for Christian messages to be spread by these characters would have been great.

Risen does a good job of recreating what the landscape would have been like back in the day. It’s not all that pretty to look at, but that’s the general point. It’s better to get an accurate look at the area than a romanticized version of it, at least for a film like this one that is depicting real events. The chase scene we get towards the middle of the film where Clavius tries to locate the Disciple base was fun. It’s certainly hard to catch anyone in those streets since the buildings are everywhere and objects obscure your view from all sides. Being able to see the Disciples and Jesus for the first time after his resurrection was definitely the turning point for Clavius.

When thinking about everything that Jesus did in this era, it’s amazing just how close minded people were. He cured people of various diseases, gave the blind sight, and made the crippled walk again. The miracles that Jesus performed were numerous and in front of many witnesses. As Clavius was converted in this film after witnessing Jesus Christ’s power and being exposed to the message, it’s hard to see how someone wouldn’t be converted after seeing it first hand. It can never be that easy of course and there will always be those who don’t believe, but I like to think that the majority would after such a spectacle. I suppose some people simply refused to believe it, no matter what evidence was presented.

Whether in the old days or in current times, there will always be people who have completely closed off their hearts. Nobody is too far gone for God to change, but free will is a privilege that he gives us so we still have to make that choice. If you’re trying to talk to someone about Christ and that person is completely unwilling, it’s best not to force the issue. It can just make that person all the more resistant to change so waiting it out can be a good approach. Nobody can stop you from praying so you can always pray for that person to have a change of heart. Praying for others is a good habit to do every night and you should also pray for yourself as well. If you talk to God every night, it will certainly help you stay strong as a Christian. It can be tough to find time during the day, so you should always keep some kind of schedule in mind. Whether you read a daily devotional every morning or read the Bible during lunch, try to have some kind of routine. It’s not as if it’s tough to make an appointment with God, you can talk to him instantly at any point in time. Always remember to keep that connection active and it will make a difference in your life. You’ll respond to people differently if you have God in mind while you are acting.

I definitely recommend checking out Risen. I recommend it higher if you are already a Christian as you will enjoy seeing this from a new perspective. If you are not yet a Christian, then I’d sooner recommend other films like God’s Not Dead or the 10 Commandments. I admit that I have not watched the latter yet, but I’ve heard that it’s excellent and faithfully recreates a lot of events from the Bible. This film just didn’t have enough Christian discussions and messages in my opinion which is why it wouldn’t be at the top of my recommendations list, but it is still a very solid film. You certainly won’t be worse off for watching it and perhaps you will be able to identify with Clavius. Christianity looked odd to him at the beginning and he thought that it was all foolish, but after actually learning what it was all about, he saw the truth. It’s why it is important to learn about something before writing it off. That’s something that we can apply to everyday life as well.

Do You Believe

do-you-believe
God Is Not Dead was a terrific film and it’s good to see more and more Christian films make it to theaters. As more and more people hear about the Word, hopefully we will see them accept Christ into their lives. When I saw the title of this film, I immediately thought of a song that has been sung in Church fairly often as of late. It’s a great song based on the Apostle’s Creed where you reaffirm your faith in God. This film shows us many different characters who will have to deal with their faith in different ways as hardship comes in many forms.

There are a number of plots here and they are all rather separate until a highway situation forces all of them to meet up and help each other out. A pastor is asked if he believes in the Cross and is unable to really answer at first. It is certainly a powerful symbol which has been interpreted in many ways. Sacrifice and kindness would be the first two words that I would use for it and other Christians would possibly have different views. We all know that Jesus died for us and how we respond to that is all different. The pastor asks everyone what the cross means to them. He is then faced with other tough choices like whether he should accept stolen money from a gang member or not. Naturally, accepting such an offer is certainly not something that a Christian wants to do, but not accepting it would possibly put the criminal in even more danger as the guy wants to walk away from crime. The best thing that the Pastor could have done in my opinion, would have been to hand the cops the money immediately. I suppose that they may have forced him to identify the guy who gave the package to him, but it still seems like the best case scenario for the guy.

Not all of the plots end up perfectly happy for the characters, but most of them end up seeing the light and becoming a Christian before it’s too late. I think that the gangster plot was probably a little out of place here, but it did add some action to the whole ordeal, which is probably what the writers were going for here. One of the plots saw an emergency worker get sued for supposedly trying to convert someone to being a Christian and letting the guy die as a result. Naturally, this was not the case as the man tried his best to save the victim before converting him, but the wife would not hear of it. The man refused to lie about this even though it meant that he would lose all of his money in court as well as his job. Certainly a tough decision for anyone to make considering that your life would effectively be over as it would be very tough to bounce back from that. He certainly gave us a good example of standing by the belief that God will ensure that everything turns out okay. You have to believe and have faith.

Some of the plots were certainly more enjoyable than others, but in a film with so many storylines, it makes sense that this would happen. None of the plots were bad though. For example, I didn’t care too much for the Pastor’s subplot where he took in a girl who was pregnant and having a tough time so he took her in. It’s not my kind of plot, but it definitely shows how selfless the Pastor was here. An old couple also took in a girl and her mother, who didn’t have a home before then. They were fortunate to meet up with these Christians and one also gave them a place to stay before that. Seeing such generosity is always inspiring.

Do You Believe is a more somber than God’s Not Dead and shows you a lot of real trials that Christians deal with all the time. As such, the other film is naturally a lot more fun for me, but both titles are good to check out. As Christians, it’s good to give these films support provided that they do a good job of presenting God’s truths and aren’t simply trying to capitalize on them. This film has a number of good messages and I definitely recommend checking it out. At 2 hours, the movie is certainly able to fit a whole lot of themes in.

If I had pick which trial was the toughest, it would probably be taking in the pregnant lady. You have to be really selfless to do such an act since letting someone into your home is no small feat. It will also be expensive since you will have to provide for another person. The easiest one would probably be the court case. Not saying that it is easy by any means, but at that point in the game, your honor as a person would also help you to stick to your story of what happened. Pride and honor wouldn’t let you back down and since you know that telling the truth is the right thing to do here, it’s a double incentive for you. The gangster one depends on if you’ve made your peace with the world or not. At the very least, the end should be fairly quick in that scenario. I was glad that the film didn’t go over the top with the sadness angle though as a certain individual staying in the car at the end would have been unfortunate.

I look forward to seeing which Christian film I check out next. I know that several more will be coming out in the near future and that’s a really good thing. Despite society drifting further and further away from the Bible, these films give people a chance to retink Christianity and every person that ultimately converts into Christian is a big battle that has been won by the people behind the film. As in the film, there will always be those who will refuse to accept God even if a miracle occurs right in front of them, but we must still pray for as many people as possible to see the truth. Miracles do occur each and every day after all and until the Lord comes again, our mission to bring more and more people to Christ is not over!

Heaven Is For Real

11179620_800
As Christians we know that truer words have not been spoken. Heaven Is for real and we know this to be an absolute certainty. This film explores an event not too long ago where a kid believed that he went to Heaven during a trying medical situation where he nearly died. This film essentially brings that story to the big screen and while they take some liberties, most of it happens as it did in the real. (“In the real” = Real Life) So…did this happen?

There have been many miracles throughout history. We’ve had many significant ones like David vs Goliath or the 3 men in the burning furnace. Many smaller miracles have happened as well and continue to happen. Think of the many times someone has had cancer or another incurable disease and then for it to vanish. It can even be something as getting delayed in a train for an extra minute so that you get to just miss a big storm. I’m confident that miracles happen each and every day around the world. We simply won’t hear about many of them and some may happen that we don’t even regard as miracles. We don’t always see what effects each event has on us even if it was something that critically changed our lives.

We don’t expect to see events like in the olden days where God would physically speak to crowds and perform incredible feats. It’s a different time and once we get past the New Testament and Jesus went back to Heaven after the resurrection; it is now a time of Faith. Would faith be as important if we were shown proof of God’s existence so openly? In his own way, he shows us this each and every day, but our faith is very important. We choose to believe in God whether we see proof of this or not. It’s just like how many people don’t believe in him because they don’t think that he exists. Free Will is granted to us and we choose whether to believe in him or not.

Coming back to the question…do I believe that this boy went to Heaven and came back? It’s certainly possible, but I am highly skeptical and I would be inclined to say no. Unfortunately, we live in a very difficult world and there are billions of people on it. Just as many live for the Lord and to spread his glory other live to tarnish his reputation and to take people away from this path. There are many people who claim to have heard directly from God and speak of many fantastic occurrences. While I have no doubt that some are true, the majority of them are probably not. I personally find events like this one harder to believe once they do get into the spotlight like this. It just seems all too easy and like it’s a way for us to renew our faith in the Lord. That may be a noble intention, but if the story is fabricated towards that goal then it is not worth it. There is always the chance that the kid truly believes that he went to Heaven and that he truly did, but there’s no way to know for certain.

I pride myself on being an optimist most of the time, but I can also be a very skeptical person. It’s tough to balance these two things out as I typically assume the worst when any situation occurs. Sometimes my hunches are correct like with The Interview and how that situation blew up quickly, but it’s always good to tackle a situation with bright thoughts. Expecting the worst can just lead to you not enjoying things as much as you should be. So, I want to believe that he really did go to Heaven, but I have a hard time believing it.

There are so many things that could have happened. He could have really gone to Heaven; He could have made the whole thing up; He could have had a dream; His parents could have made up the story and had the kid play along and he won’t change the story now; etc. The possibilities are endless. This line of questioning also arises in part from the fact that he is just a kid. He was quite young in the film and I forgot what age he was in real life when this happened, but he was certainly still a child. He grew up in a Christian home where his father was the Pastor. He had probably heard many fantastic things as he grew up and I’m sure that he was familiar with the Bible. He may have thought up the whole thing to impress his parents and he may even have forgotten that he made it up.

Ultimately, it does no good to go in circles about this forever. I’ve just been the type to never believe what I hear or see at face value without a lot of extra deliberation on my part. We all have our reasons for why we believe in God. Whether it be a connection that we feel in our hearts or an appreciation at everything that God has created, we know that he is real. No Big Bang created everything and life hasn’t just been in existence forever. So, you do not need any fantastic miracles or events to convince you of his existence. As long as you sincerely believe in your heart the words of the Bible and give your heart over to God, then you’ll be okay. You’ll be much more than okay! If you believe that this happened then that’s wonderful and if you don’t, then you’re still doing great. This is a story that has clearly given many people a lot of happiness and has strengthened many people’s beliefs so I still wouldn’t go around shooting it down. I can never say one way or the other whether it happened for not so maybe it’s just time that I started having more of a bright outlook on it. The last thing that you want to do is to discourage another person in their walk of faith so you just need to stay true to your belief in God and just take things from there. This is a formula that shall never fail you.

Debating whether or not this event actually happened certainly took up most of this article so I shall be brief on the rest. I still don’t care for the main protagonist to be a child as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, but he’s not a bad character. I think the film went a little far when he told his parents to pay back the hospital and then a big gust of wind hit the house. I get that symbolic scenes are important, but that was probably stretching the sensationalism a bit. He’s still a good character and that scene is a good example of what a moral individual he is. The parents are pretty good even if there is one scene that comes out of nowhere. They just suddenly explode and have a big fight. I guess their tensions had been rising, but it still felt out of character for them. Not to mention that they were in a tight spot so breaking a pair of dishes is not in their best interest.

Their fellow church goers did not look good though. They really didn’t handle the situation well. I don’t place the whole blame on them as I think the father should get some of it, but I would give them most of it. They certainly did not act as you would expect a Christian too. The pastor had a very tough time and they didn’t make it any easier. They were practically glaring at him as he went on the pulpit and none of them gave him any words of encouragement. A simple quote or two from the Bible or some sign that they were on his side would have been nice, but they ran to the option to fire him.

The one reason why I don’t put all the blame on them is that the Pastor didn’t do a great job either. The fact that his kid may have went to Heaven shook his faith to the core and he wasn’t sure whether he should believe in God anymore or not. It may have been best to have taken a little more time off from the pulpit then instead of just going up there and admitting that he’s not sure of his faith. As I mentioned, one thing you never want to do is to shake another person’s faith in God. That’s an absolute no no! It was a small church though and I was surprised that nobody was willing to talk with him about that. I’ve been to many Churches in the past and there is almost always at least one person who is very vocal throughout the message and would have had no qualms about debating with him or simply talking about the situation calmly. There was none of that here as the audience was just completely quiet or just adding to his troubles.

Overall, Heaven is For Real is a pretty uplifting movie. It actually gets pretty sad during certain parts, but you can look forward to it getting happy again by the end. Especially if you are familiar with what happened in real life. It is certainly awesome to think about Heaven, what it’s like and how it’ll be to live there for eternity. Just talking about Heaven would likely take up a whole other article so I won’t go into that here, but I believe that it will literally be perfect. Whether it will look different to each individual or whether it has a single look doesn’t matter. What matters is that we will be going there someday and we can wish for nothing better. Whenever you are in a tough spot or just need some encouragement, just think of where you will be going. This life is just a small drop compared to the eternal life that awaits us there. Meeting God will be an event like no other and it’ll make every hardship and pain that you’ve ever experienced worth it! This is a pretty good film to check out for Christmas and while I am at it I also recommend God Is Not Dead. Both of these films are very uplifting and nothing beats checking out a Christian film in time for Christmas, one of the greatest events in history! (The Birth vs The Resurrection vs The Rapture vs The Day you got saved, you can certainly make an argument for any one of these days being the greatest. Naturally, the latter would just be the greatest for you, but boy did that day change your life!)