Is God Dead?

The Newsboys, and featured actors of the film God’s Not Dead, would say that God is “surely alive, He’s living on the inside roaring like a lion!”  While their acting in this movie leaves a bit to be desired, their message is spot on.

In this Christian Drama, we follow Josh Wheaton, played by Shane Harper, an innocent freshman thrown into the lion’s den as he begins classes at the university, and quickly uncovers the true reason God sent him. 

Professor Radisson, a devout atheist and educated scholar, has a strong reputation for intimidating Christian students into denying God for a passing grade.  Warned that Professor Radisson would love to watch him be devoured, similar to the activies that occurred within the Roman Colosseum, Josh quickly learned what this meant.  His first assignment: deny his Creator.  Professor Radisson’s assignment for Josh, being that he could not claim that God is dead, would be to defend the antithesis.

Faced with such spiritual dilemma, Josh accepted the challenge, and knowing full well that he was not capable of performing such an assignment with the knowledge he had, went straight to the expert, God.   He began studying and forming arguments to refute well known and respected atheistic apologists.

But defending God didn’t come without consequences.  With no support from his family, and a long term girlfriend who could not understand his need and calling to defend God so vehemently, the assignment truly challenged his faith.  He lost his girlfriend and could lose the opportunity to go to law school, but he persevered and hung onto the words of Willie Robertson, of Duck Dynasty, as he quotes from Matthew 10:33, “But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”  Josh wasn’t just completing an assignment from his teacher, he was completing one from God.

Of course, defending God didn’t come without rewards.  The heat was turned up as the real reason Professor Radisson hated God was revealed- he watched his mother, a devout Christian, die a slow painful death while he was just a young child.  Upon completion of his assignment, Josh’s classmates got to decide.  Is God Dead?  Despite their first day’s assignment, to scribble the words “God is Dead” on their paper and hand it in, with an overwhelming majority, the whole class stood in agreement with the words “God’s Not Dead.”  God was with Josh throughout the whole assignment; guiding him and putting the people in his life that he needed to reach others.  This assignment wasn’t about a grade, it was about God.

Secondary plots in this movie include an interwebbing relationship of actors and the transformation of once God-denying individuals, including Professor Radisson, and the strengthening of faith in other individuals including Professor Radisson’s girlfriend and a young Islamic-raised woman. 

I must say that personally it was difficult to watch Mark, played by Dean Cain, treat others with such arrogance, but I am quickly reminded that it’s just a movie, and he will always be Clark Kent, Superman to me.  The irony is that it’s likely Superman doesn’t believe that even he needs God.

The arguments in this movie were very well laid out, and Shane Harper did an excellent job playing Josh.  I believe we’ll be seeing him in more movies to come.  Personally, I believe Christian dramas are still somewhat lacking in their plot and acting, but they keep getting better.  This was a perfect example of that.

This movie was loosely based on a true story about a college student embroiled in a campus battle after defending her faith.  The Alliance Defending Freedom has taken up numerous cases in which religious freedom was encroached on within universities across the country.  For more information on these cases, check out: http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/home/detail/8843

Movie review by Lauren Wilson

Is God’s Design for the Family Truly Irreplaceable?

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Tim Sisarich, of Focus on the Family, sets out on a journey around the globe to answer this question:  What is Family and does it still matter in today’s society?

Tim leaves his beautiful family in New Zeland to explore some common themes throughout the discovery documentary.  To get a pulse for what society is professing, he speaks with strangers in public settings; in parks, outside of bars, and at special events.  Additionally he speaks with well known and respected philosophers, experts, and authors including John Stonestreet, Eric Metaxas, Dr. Roger Scruton, Carey Casey and a number of other acclaimed professionals.

Ultimately, Tim recognizes some common themes as he travels the world in search for answers.  The movie begins by exploring the breakdown of sexuality and how the free-love movement of the 60’s began the disintegration of God’s model for sex.  An ‘anything goes’ attitude towards sex meant a strong welcoming of sex outside of marriage, an increase in sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy outside of marriage, and ultimately a breakdown of marriage.

Some individuals in Mexico city are working towards establishing temporary marriage licenses, for people who want to get married, but who do not want to stay married forever.  Two women that Tim met on his journey had the opinion that if you are not happy in a marriage, then you should get out of that marriage and find someone else that will make you happy.  Divorce is rampantly accepted, and while the statistics are over exaggerated to a discouraging 50% (actually the divorce rate is closer to 25%) to appease those who have been divorced, this breakdown in marriage leaves a family torn apart and often a home fatherless.

Because of this breakdown in marriage, children are left without a mother and a father.  Parenthood is broken.  With a vague description of Parenthood, in one area, city officials are pushing to have the wording in their laws changed from “Mother and Father” to “Parent.”  Children grow up without knowing their fathers, or worse, hating their fathers, and women are left to fill the financial and masculine burden of a vacant father.  While God’s role for mothers is to be a nurturing and loving caretaker, they are being forced to play both roles in society's version of the family. 

As a result, Children are not raised with a necessary Mother and Father, and are victims to the devastating and lasting results.  We listened to three men in prison explain the negative impact that not having a father around or having a disconnected or abusive father had on them.  If we devalue Parenthood, and the important leadership roles that fathers have, we devalue Children.

While on this public journey for Focus on the Family, Tim Sisarich was able to delve into a more personal journey of forgiveness.  He begins to tell his own story of his family growing up and the commitment and strength his mother had to stand by God’s example of marriage.  Despite learning of her husband’s second family and watching him go to jail as a result of embezzlement, she stood by her husband.  Tim’s father met Christ in prison and became a new man.  Had Tim’s mother accepted society’s views on family, and divorced his father, Tim and his beautiful children would never have existed.

The journey left Tim to ask himself what kind of father he is.  He confessed that he is not the father in Rembrandt’s painting and the story of the Prodigal Son, but the journey gave true clarification to the question.  Is family a cultural social practice or is it God’s divine institution?  A culture cannot exist without the family.  It is truly Irreplaceable.

Irreplaceable was a very well done discovery documentary that was thorough in addressing all aspects of the breakdown of culture as a direct result of the breakdown of family.  It did not point fingers or use emotional charging, but stated research and information basically and straightforwardly.  Tim was truly inquisitive and as a result the viewer assumes a similar role to learn more.  As a seemingly wonderful father, he challenges all of us to question our own status as men, women, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers.  My only complaint about the movie was that it was shown for one night only.  More people should watch this movie. **


Irreplaceable is the first in a series by Focus on the Family to delve into the family’s roles in society and how the breakdown of the family affects society as a whole.  Get more information or look for upcoming video documentaries at Irreplaceablethemovie.com.

**Two encore presentations of the film will take place on May 8th and May 15th.  Check your local listings for a showing near you.

Movie review by Lauren Wilson

A Prayer For Our Pastor

Father,

We bless you God, you are most WORTHY of our praise and abundant gratitude.
Thank you that we have a pastor that listens to your voice and follows your
word. Father, you are The Lord Almighty and you have put your words in our
mouths, especially the mouth of our pastor, Cameron, and hidden him and this
church safely within your hand. You are the one who says to Israel (us) You are
mine! (Isaiah 51:15-16) We thank You Holy Spirit for blessing us through worship
and teaching us what is best for us as you direct our paths (Isaiah 48:17). Give
us ears to hear and eyes to see O Lord. Jesus we pray that our pastor's soul
would find rest in You and he would be reminded that you are his refuge, and his
honor is dependent on you (Psalm 62). God we pray you grant YOUR strength to
your servants (Psalm 86:16) as our hearts are flooded with light so that we can
understand the wonderful future You have promised to those You called.We thank
you God that you have declared over us that we are your people and you are our
God (Ezekiel 14). Thank you God for pursuing us, and leading White Stone, from
picking the land, the founders, and finding just the right pastor to shepherd
your flock. We love you Jesus, in Your name we pray, Amen!

-Anonymous