Runaway Hearts

Runaway Hearts

Runaway Hearts: The Courage to Live

This film tells a compelling story about two kids who ran away from home and came across two adults who ran away from their past circumstances. An 11-year-old Tevin and 5-year-old Angel have the same mom Maze but different fathers who they haven’t met.

The story took a turn when one day, Maze overdose on drugs. On impulse, Tevin drags Angel out of the house until the ambulance took their mom’s body away. Tevin takes his mom’s boyfriend Dill’s drug money. He thought he needed a bike so they can go farther. The kids went to Gabe’s yard, and Tevin took one of his bikes, but Angel prodded to return it.

As viewers, we think they were too young to experience this kind of messy ordeal. But it happens in real life. Tevin showed us the survival instincts of an elder brother who was out to save and protect his little sister from the odds they face.

Meanwhile, Gabe was attending a counselling session after his release from jail. He was hard on himself after a trauma he experienced when he was a teenager. His dad frequently hits his mom. He was coming home from school when his parents died from a car crash. His younger brother Jerry sustained severe injuries.

Unfortunately, social services separated them. Jerry ended up with abusive foster parents. Gabe became an architect but resorted to alcohol to ease his pain. He was drunk-driving when he crashed into a bus resulting in multiple injuries on the passengers, which is why he was in jail. Gabe’s pain runs deep into his soul. Issues we face like cruelty from people who are supposed to care for us takes a long time to heal. Only God’s mercy can save our soul from self-incrimination.

After being away from their town for a long time, Gabe returns to his former home. Emma was his love interest when they were young. She would catch him looking at her from afar. Emma and Gabe were both lonely souls who yearn to love and love in return. They tell us that their separation from each other no matter how long a time it was cannot erase the love that they hold in their hearts.

The kids used Gabe’s treehouse as their shelter. Gabe kept mum to the authorities even when they knew about the kids’ whereabouts. Meanwhile, Dill trailed them and took the chance to retrieve his money. The culminating scene will leave you to the edge of your seats. The ending implied that Gabe and Emma could become adoptive parents to Tevin and Angel soon.

Ultimately, the film’s message is for us to use courage as a means of living a life that is better than our past. Gabe’s conversation with the counsellor taught us we can’t change what was, but we can change what will be. Our past experiences may influence our present and future self but not defined by it.

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Lion of Judah

Lion of Judah

Lion of Judah: A Lamb with a Lion’s Heart

This animated Christian film takes us to a tale of courage represented by a lamb named Judah.  The story opened with a crate brought to a stable near Jerusalem. The playful Judah meets Slink the rat, Horace the pig, Drake the rooster, Mighty the horse and Esme the cow. Each character displayed distinct traits that will surely amuse young audiences.

In particular, Mighty the horse always faints at the slightest fear over anything to think that he is the tallest animal in the pack. His character relates to us who seem to stand tall and yet, have fears over something at some point in our lives.

You can be great not by the stature of authority. But in being able to contribute something good for the welfare of others like these animals that look out for each other.

The story turned when Judah’s attempt to escape the stable failed. This time, Drake accidentally fell into the crate with him. The other animals set out a journey to Jerusalem to save them both. On their way, they meet Jack the donkey who goes the other way. However, the rope tied to his neck tangled into the pig’s snout. He was being rude to each of them that Esme demanded he should apologize. One heartwarming scene was when Jesus touched him and removed the rope from his neck. It was his sign of knowing freedom from slavery.

The raven’s dream needs further explaining to the youngsters. We need to explain that the crucifixion of Jesus did not only save the wages of mankind’s sins but the classification between clean and unclean animals as well.

They took Judah from the herd and made him believe that he is the chosen one.  That he will free other animals from captivity. He did not know that he will be a sacrificial lamb in the temple during Passover. The death of Jesus on the cross has shaken the earth and split the temple into two that saved Judah from being killed at the altar table.

The King’s death saddened the animals except for Judah who believes that He will come again. The lamb patiently waited to see The King outside the tomb. These scenes reminded us when Jesus showed Himself to the disciples and then to doubting Thomas. Blessed is he who has not seen but believed.

The film Lion of Judah is a delightful treat to watch for kids and the young at heart. It depicts courage for the faint-hearted and walking with faith for the believer. And a message of hope for everyone that Jesus overcame death to redeem us all.

Hating the Sin, Loving the Sinner: Is this even possible?

Loving the sinner

Hating the Sin, Loving the Sinner: Is this even possible?

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has a light with darkness?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14

As part of God’s family, we become more discerning of what is acceptable to God and not. Our new nature makes us despise wrongdoings. Admit it or not, it is so easy for us to be uncomfortable when we know that the unbelievers around us are committing sin.

But how are we really to respond to such situations? Let’s look at Jesus’ example.

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gatherings around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?’” – Luke 15:1-4

When the Pharisees called Jesus a ‘friend of sinners,’ it was to insult Him. Ironically, they just reflected the reality of Jesus’ love and longing for the lost. He came to earth, not for the righteous, but to seek and save the sinners (Luke 19:10).

Befriending the sinners didn’t mean that Jesus tolerated their sin or took part in their destructive behaviour. He lived a holy, sinless life, but still spent time with sinful people.

This is to show us that everyone may experience life transformation if we would only repent – ask for forgiveness, receive Him as our Savior, and turn back from our old ways.

Even on our original state – sinful, filthy, hopeless – Jesus proved Himself to be the best friend we could ever have. Jesus sacrificed His very own life for us (John 15:13).

He saw us in our worst situations, yet loved us just the same,  He saved us not for our righteousness, but because of His mercy (Titus 3:5)

Therefore, as Jesus’ followers, we are to do the same.

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” – Matthew 5:44, 46

Being kind to kind people is easy. Giving to those who are generous to us is easy. Loving those who do us good is easy. Even unbelievers can do that.

However, the one who loves the least loveable, the arrogant, and the immoral is the true Christian. Because we are followers of Jesus, instead of disliking those who wrong us, we forgive them and understand their need of a Savior.

We are not to condone the sin, but not condemn the sinner either. And we must hate the act but love the one who took action. We are to attack the problem, but not the person.

By so doing, we can pass down to others the unconditional love that we have received from Jesus.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

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The Rack Pack

The rack pack

The Rack Pack: Kids at Play Saves the Day

Before the advent of digital games, kids look forward to playing outdoor games after class. This film takes us into Darrell Rackley’s adventures together with his two brothers and a handful of military kids who formed a troop called The Rack Pack.

The story opened showing an elderly Darrell narrating about his great-uncle General Rackley who hired rustlers to hide Yankee gold and heavy pistols in a tunnel during the Civil War. He was riding a horse when the map fell on the road and was picked up by two boys. The tale was that the General fell from the horse and remembered nothing about the map. The boys hid it under a brick on the floor of their house. These scenes related to treasure and a map fascinates the kid at heart in us. We have outgrown the passing of legendary accounts of our ancestors and their ways during days of old.

Fast forward to Darrel’s time, a woman found the map while clearing items for auction and threw it in a box. A girl asked her mom to buy the box for $20. However, a sneaky guy named Ted snatched the box and sped off. While scouring items for reselling, the map piqued his interest that led him to discover an underground tunnel below old Brady’s shack. These scenes set the plot into motion.

The Rack Pack was playing military tactics in the woods when Darrell and the smaller kid Manny saw Ted and his son DJ from the treetop. The two boys followed the men to the shack and Darrell took the map. Darrell’s Dad David learned what happened and prohibited them from going back to the shack. However, David went there himself and was held captive by Ted. Unable to return home, the snoopy girl Tammy told Darrell where David went. Knowing that their Dad is in trouble, the boys prepare for a strategy to fight the bad guys. The highlight of this film was to show the power of brotherhood among kids especially during times that they lack adult guidance. They come up with innovative ways to fight after knowing that the tunnel leads to their museum. Amusing acts included using fireworks and poop sticks to scare the goons.

Some scenes showed patriotism with the way Darrell cherished a small box containing US Army patches. At one endearing scene, old Colonel Lamb gave him a medal and picture of his grandfather when he was a young soldier.

Furthermore, we saw David’s pain at the loss of his wife. He showed us how a soldier manages to be a parent of three sons. In absence of a mother, there are grandfather-like figures in that small community that looks out for their neighbor’s kids. Colonel Lamb’s concern led to him finding David as help gets underway. The goons were all tied and beaten when police came. Apart from being entertaining, The Rack Pack represented bravery and children empowerment.

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Practical Ways to Rule Over Your Emotions

Practical Ways to Rule Over Your Emotions

 Practical Ways to Rule Over Your Emotions

The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”

Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. – Genesis 4:6-8

Despite receiving a warning from God, Cain was still not able to overcome the heat of anger. Being unable to control his rage, he made the decision that led to the first ever murder incident in human history.

Who are we to frown on Cain, though? Even today, it is so easy to hastily deal with things that enrage us. When we are wronged or ridiculed, we can just recklessly do whatever we feel like doing.

Letting this happen, however, is dangerous. When we allow our hearts to be filled with rage and let ourselves lose our self-control, we are on our way to making dangerous decisions – ones that can even lead to our own destruction.

It is vital, therefore, for us Christians to intentionally change our attitude and rule over our emotions. Here are some practical ways to do that.

Suppress yourself from speaking hateful words

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. – Ephesians 4:29

Jesus warns us to be careful of what comes out of our mouths because we can defile ourselves not through the food that we eat, but the things that we say (Matthew 15:11). Before blurting out anything, remind yourself of your identity. You are a child of God, and God’s children speak with grace (Colossians 4:6).

Forget about getting vengeance

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. – Leviticus 19:18

Discipline yourself to repay evil with good because that’s what God expects from us. He does not ask us to defend ourselves from wrongdoers. Instead, God tells us to trust Him and leave vengeance to His hands (Deuteronomy 32:35). To stay at arm’s length with the sin of hurting others, strive to do what is good for others (1 Thessalonians 5:15), regardless if they offend you.

Go immediately to God

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. – John 14:26

Ask the Lord to remove the anger from your heart and replace it with patience. Take a moment to literally pause and pray. This way, you can be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s conviction on the right decision to make.

How do you respond when others mistreat you? Do you lose your temper? Do you act in haste? Do you make foolish decisions?  Whatever situation you’re in, God promises never to abandon you. Resolve to practice self-control. Don’t let rage take over. Remember, “a man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28).

Indivisible: A Fight to Keep a Fort Undivided

Indivisible

Indivisible: A Fight to Keep a Fort Undivided

This film was based on true events that happened in the life of Army Chaplain Darren Turner and his wife Heather.

He brought his wife and three kids with him to Fort Stewart. Heather took all the responsibility of caring for their kids. She also attends to the wives of other soldiers at the Fort while Darren was in Iraq.

In this kind of separation between husband and wife, we see two different perspectives. For Darren, it means self-sacrifice to go and serve his duty at an uncertain place for the first time. For Heather, it means containing her strong-will so she can take care of her daughter.  Setting aside her personal need so she could provide for her daughter’s needs.

In Iraq, the shooting takes a toll on the soldiers. Their physical energies and emotional strength deplete. At the passing of months, Darren keeps his communication with Heather and his daughter but his spirit weakens at the sight of dead soldiers and a dead girl brought to him to pray for before they bury the bodies. Darren realizes that each soldier keeps themselves alive for their loved ones while they try to save as many innocent lives as they can in the battleground.

Lance questions Darren about God’s will and why He allowed the death of innocent people. He is unable to quote anything from scripture at that time.

However, Darren’s caring ways have drawn Lance to rekindle his belief in God to the point of getting baptized. Another character that he influenced was his neighbour Michael who also has some troubles with his wife. Darren convinced him to call his wife and connect with her again.

To both Lance and Michael, Darren served as a guide and a brother that reminded them God is with them even in their personal battles. Before returning home, an explosion killed Lance and Michael’s leg got severed that it was to be cut off. The incident traumatized Darren until their homecoming. Heather faced a withdrawn husband who was even edgy towards their children.

And these scenes truly happen in real life. There are soldiers who get into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This film showed us how it developed, how to get help and how the afflicted and their loved ones address it so they all could go into a healing process.

Darren decided to leave the military service in favor of working at a flower farm. He and Heather continue with their counselling sessions with an elderly Army Chaplain until he courts her again.

Michael, already in a wheelchair, confronts him that what happened to them in Iraq was beyond his control and that they need to move on from it. He becomes enlightened and ready to reunite with his family again.

Indivisible presented to us a powerful and inspiring journey of a soldier’s personal struggles, a marriage strain, spiritual healing and restoration of faith.

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The Young Messiah

The Young Messiah

The Young Messiah: A Glimpse of Jesus’ Childhood

We have seen many stories about the life of Jesus in the film, but an account of what his childhood could be like is what inspires The Young Messiah.

The story began with a Jewish girl playing with Jesus who was then about seven years old. A bigger kid teased and hit him for playing with a girl. A tall man in black cloak appeared and threw an apple to trip the kid, so Jesus gets blamed for his immediate death. Mary pulled Jesus from the crowd and locked the door. Jesus’ cousin asked if he can restore the kid’s life the way he did with the dead bird. Jesus sneaked out and prayed for the dead kid who woke up still angry at him.

The elders presumed that Jesus might be evil, so Joseph decided to leave Egypt and take his family to Nazareth. Both Joseph and Mary knew that at all cost, they are there to protect Jesus. At the slightest incident that may cast doubts about Jesus’ powers, they flee to secure his safety.

This narrative showed us common scenarios in those days. Roman soldiers easily wield their swords to kill anyone they suspect as rebels, so Joseph exclaims that they are travellers.

Two notable highlights worth noting in this film were the devil whispering to Jesus that his mother is a whore and father is a liar. The young Jesus was firm in telling the devil not to touch him, and that scene captured Jesus’ authority over him. It reminds us that the devil can influence bad thoughts to come to our minds that can lead to bad deeds, but he cannot harm us when we are firm believers that we are children of God. Another compelling scene was Jesus’ answering the rabbis at the temple in Jerusalem. A rabbi asked if God was a carpenter. He replied God gave Noah the dimensions for the ark and directions for building the temple. Jesus reminded us of how God’s guidance works for the chosen ones.

The culminating scene happened when Jesus stood face to face with the Roman soldier Severus. The devil whispered to his ear to go and kill the boy. But Jesus, looking at him, made him feel his power, so he let Jesus and his parents go.

Towards the end, Mary explained to Jesus that He is the begotten Son of God. He goes on top of the hill to accept and claim He is the child of God. A kind, humble, obedient and smart child preparing to become The Messiah to humanity.

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A Boy Called Po: A Special Child’s Wandering Thoughts

A Boy called Po

A Boy Called Po: A Special Child’s Wandering Thoughts

Autism is a delicate topic to discuss. A Boy Called Po is a film that talks about the challenges a widower faced while grieving the loss of his wife and being a committed father to a child with Autism.

David intentionally hid Beth’s passing from Po thinking that he might not understand. Little did he know that Po worries about the sadness he sees in him. We get to see David in us when we think it is better to wallow in our own pain than hurt our loved ones.

Five months passed and Po was still asking where his Mom was. He begins to drift into his fantasy world making it difficult for the teacher to get his attention. The principal told David to transfer Po to special education as he cannot thrive in a regular school.

The challenges he faced while dealing with therapists, insurance coverage, medical bills, and his projects at work. He is an engineer who experienced difficulty connecting with his son.

Po was actually a smart kid who loves complex math and enjoys reading the stock market pages of the newspaper.  Inside his fantasy world, he meets Jack who asks him for advice in whatever situation he gets into.  Po was normal on that other plane. He sings Dancing with Myself and tells Jack that for him, the song meant that he is confident being himself.  Since he gets bullied in school, he meets Amelia who talks to him and reads to him topics that interest him.  Later on in the story, we realize that Amelia is Po’s another imaginary friend too. We have seen here the picture of Po’s colorful mind.

There were several heartwarming father and son scenes throughout the film.  When Po used ketchup and mustard to draw a rainbow on the wall, David already turned his back and missed the boy’s remark you’re my rainbow Daddy. Once in a while, Po says don’t be afraid Daddy. Later on, he told him it means to not be afraid of him for the way he is.

David’s dilemma was whether Po stays in a facility so he can work. Meanwhile, Po was contemplating on staying in his fantasy world. Amidst the complexities in their intertwined lives, David finds comfort in Amy, Po’s last therapist who became his confidante.  Amy gave him moral support and encouragement on moments he needed it the most.  It was she that made him realize to choose Po over his career.

Towards the end, David reimbursed his 401K which turned out as a larger sum than he expected. Po asked for his signature and it allowed him to enrol at a high-risk stock trading that paid off. Finally, David told Po about his mom’s death, brought him to her grave and for a brief moment, he sees her in his thoughts and she held his hand. And having his thoughts wander is alright.

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Defining True Success

Defining True Success

Defining True Success

There are world standards that cause people to be pressured and even embark in worthless pursuits. In fact, keeping up with society’s expectations have become like a day-by-day task for most people.

We face it the moment we open our eyes in the morning until we slumber at night. It’s an unending cycle of doing things that others would approve. Focusing on what could make others’ perception of us better.

We become more conscious of whether to do or not to do certain things in the hopes of being accepted by other people. Failure to keep up with those expectations, more often than not, lead to anxiety, stress and even fear of rejection.

For Jesus’ followers, however, true success does not come from pleasing others. Rather, it is about doing things that we know our Master would be proud of.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant[a] of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10

It’s a matter of having faith that despite us not conforming to do what will please men, the Lord is there by our side to uphold us with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

So, when the world system is trying to redefine what’s right and wrong for you, and you find yourself struggling, hold onto Him. He will never fail those who call upon His name. At the end of the day, it’s still his promise and His plans that shall prevail over any failure or any disappointment.

You may not be able to please others in every effort that you exert. And you may be regarded as lunatic for the things you think, say and do. You may seem lacking in people’s sight despite always trying to give your best. But you don’t have to be worried!

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled… And blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” – Matthew 5:6, 10-11

Jesus loves you and that’s a total gamechanger. Knowing that the God of all creations is there for you, you will have peace of mind. You don’t have to prove yourself to the world. Even Jesus himself said that in your lowest and weakest points, you are blessed.

Thus, to achieve true success, learn to change your perspective and decide to surrender and commit your work to the Lord.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” – Colossians 3:23

Instead of conforming to the world’s standards, let others see the fruit of the Spirit in you (Galatians 5:22-23), that they may come to know Jesus Christ through your life.

For our goal as Christians is to serve for the advancement of God’s kingdom. Our life’s purpose is not just about earthly desires, but things that are above and eternal (Colossians 3:23). That on the day we are to give an account to God for how we lived our lives. We may hear Jesus say, “Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master.”

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The Least of These: The Life Story of Missionary Graham Staines

The Least of These

The Least of These: The Life Story of Missionary Graham Staines

This film presented events in the life of Graham Staines, an Australian medical missionary who brought his family to a remote village in India. His intention was to serve the lepers and to build a home for them.

In the late 1990s, there are governmental laws against Christians who use inducements to make new converts. Indian journalist Manav moved to the town to uncover speculations about Graham. In exchange, his editor promised to pay for his wife’s hospital bills after the birth of their daughter.

Manav’s motive was to expose and pin Graham for doing something illegal. To his amazement, what he saw was a selfless act of serving the people with leprosy. Graham showed Manav the meaning of God’s compassion and love for the lepers.

However, Manav later found out that the leper on the bus works for Graham at a hospital-home that he built for the lepers. How ironic that a foreigner cared more in aiding the locals deemed as outcasts of society.

A subplot showed Manav taking a video of a Christian pastor baptizing a woman in the river. These scenes exemplify the risk taken by every Christian who goes to non-Christian countries. They are considered unwanted outsiders and their safety get placed in jeopardy.

There were two short scenes that show how common it is for us to judge people based on deformities that we see. The scene showed a leper got kicked out of a bus while another one gets booted out of a village. Due to the fact that they carry a contaminated disease.

These events showed that most people would rather throw them out and ignore the opportunity to help alleviate them from their condition.

Truth always seems to cost something. This line speaks volume in meaning as Manav continued to investigate Graham. We see the admiration in his eyes witnessing Graham’s relentless work. Considering he stoked the anger of Hindus at outreach by inciting that the head of the snake must be cut off.

His speech put Graham in constant danger. And as a result, they burned the Rover which causes the death of Graham and his kids. Manav felt guilty and seeks forgiveness from Gladys. She forgave him and continued the work of her husband. Gladys taught us the power of forgiveness to overcome hate.

The Least of These is a thought-provoking movie that narrates the life of a Christian missionary. The fact that Christians in some areas around the world are suffering from persecution. This movie is dedicated to everyone who served and sacrificed their lives to share the Gospel. And may this film serve its purpose so that we could bring everyone to love one another, especially the outcasts and the least of these.

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