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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Run the race

Run the race

Run the race: Finding Strength in the Bonds of Brotherhood

Run the race is a film that portrays brotherhood amidst individual life situations. Zach, a football superstar bent on using this sport as a ticket to a scholarship at a university. His younger brother Dave was a devout Christian in spite of having an illness. Both worked at a local grocer owned by their godmother Annie. She cared for them after their mom’s passing to cancer.

Zach enjoyed his fame but kept a deep hurt against his dad who left them. At their mom’s grave, their dad asked for forgiveness. Dave readily granted while Zach called him a drunk coward. Zach’s ego masked his long-standing pain. Dave’s strong faith in God opened his heart to forgive. Despite the contrasting perspective of the two, Dave consistently encouraged Zach to turn in to God all his frustrations and seek guidance from Him.

The story turns when Zach’s knee got hit after a petty fight on an outdoor drinking spree with his football buddies. At an instant, Zach loses his chance to play football. His good coach encouraged him to try running track once his leg gets better. Dave overheard their conversation and got himself a medical clearance so he can compete in running. His underlying motive was to convince Zach to train him so he can work on his leg again. Dave placed second in the preliminaries but due to a severe seizure, he got confined at a hospital.

Zach’s emotional struggle was feeling broken and thus, finding it difficult to forgive. One of the heartwarming scenes was his conversation with godmother Annie. She told him how hurt she was finding out that she’s unable to conceive but through a twist of fate, she became a mother and cared for them both as if they were her own.

These words teach us that when we forgive regardless of our reasons and desired outcome, it heals the hurt we have kept for too long.

There are several inspirational words in this film. Their musings validated their faith. Coach pointed out to Zach’s dad that he needed a father by his side after the leg injury. Their dad confessed for his shortcomings and admits that he was mourning for the loss of his wife too. These subplots not only justified their pivotal role in the story but it lets us see that broken people are willing to repent and change for the better too.

Run the race culminates with Dave’s passing at the hospital while Zach was running the race. Dave’s purpose in Zach’s life has ended. On the other hand, Zach’s run as a substitute for Dave may have just paved the way for a good start at a brighter future on track and his journey of faith.

Browse here for more of our Top Christian Movies. 

Ashes of Eden: The Price of Redemption

Ashes of Eden

Ashes of Eden: The Price of Redemption

The film Ashes of Eden took its inspiration from The Bible verse in 1John 2:15 that tells us not to love the things of this world for we cannot serve two masters, this world and God.

Police arrested Red due to some misbehaviour. At the time of his release, he met his friend, Vargas, who convinced him to join a gang party. The police raided their venue and his cop mom Dana sees him. In the next scene, Red’s younger brother Jake convinced him to attend church service. He went to the church but abruptly left during the sermon.

Subplots were in disarray. However, it showed Red as a troubled teenager who grew up without a father figure in his life. This bad reputation placed him in some consequential mishaps with others. But lacking a father’s guidance is not enough reason to run away from his mother’s admonitions. Dana showed that she is a mom who intends to protect her son no matter what happens and a cop who is out to help straighten his ways. She turns to prayer for inner strength.

The school principal Tony suspended Red due to a complaint that he stinks in class. On a personal note, he is wooing Dana so he came to her house to tell her about Red’s status in school. Dana pleaded for another chance but Tony was firm in his decision. Had Dana been open with his kids about Tony’s intention to become part of their lives, he could have acted as the father figure that both Red and Jake needed.

Red’s girlfriend Angela spells trouble too. Her brother Carlos and cousin Poncho were drug-dealers. They hid the packed drugs in the toilet. While they took some packs, the remaining ones Red stole then he connived with Vargas to resell them. There’s a scene where a desperate mom hands Vargas money in exchange for drugs. Red felt sorry about this mom’s daughter who pleaded to them not to give her drugs. The story progressed towards Red’s conscience that led to his meet up with Dana at the cemetery. The short exchange of words was poignant for both mother and son who acknowledged their shortcomings.

Carlos as an antagonist showed pure evil ways. He beats up his cousin Vargas and eventually killed him while he was in a coma with no hint of remorse. Then he pretended to comfort his aunt, told the cop, Sean, that Red had a fight with Vargas. He knifed his other cousin Poncho when he accompanied Red to get the money from drug-dealing that Jake hid in the bookshelves. After that, he pointed a gun to Jake’s head and at the turn of events, the child Jake was the one who shot Carlos dead.

The final scene of the movie Ashes of Eden showed Red preaching the parable of the prodigal son inside the prison. He too was once lost but found his way to pay the price of redemption.

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Are you salty?

Are you salty

Are you salty?

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” – Matthew 5:13

Jesus said this to His disciple as part of His sermon on the mount. Back on that day, salt was a highly valuable commodity for its significant uses. They used salt to (1) maintain freshness and keep food from rotting; (2) bring flavor to food just as people do today; and (3) help wound heal faster.

Salt was extremely important that they even used it as payment when buying other commodities. The important question, therefore, is “What did Jesus mean when He compared Christians to salt?”

 

And as Christians, our role is to:

Help preserve people from sin and destruction

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” – Galatians 6:1

The world has systematically made humankind confuse good from evil. As believers, however, we should know better. Thus, when we see our friends being lured to sin, we should be the ones to gently urge them to resist giving in to the temptation.

Just keep in mind to constantly study God’s Word and seek His wisdom through prayer to make sure that we are guided by the Spirit of the Lord, discerning what is righteous according to His standards.

Add flavor to life by bringing joy to the people around us

“Remind them [believers] to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” – Titus 3:1-2

Jesus commands us to keep His commands and remains in His love (John 15:9-11). Imagine all the Christians showing gentleness and courtesy to the people they associate with. What a world to live in!

As Christians, we carry Jesus name in our thoughts, speech, and conduct. It is our responsibility to be ambassadors for Christ, portraying Him appropriately. Take time to think about it, has the world become a better place because of your presence. Or is it the opposite?

Be God’s instrument for bringing healing to others

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3

God can heal spiritually, physically and emotionally (Psalm 103:2-4). His power knows no bounds. Even in the most hopeless, most desperate circumstances, God can redeem His people and bring healing. As the salt of this world, be sensitive to the hurting people around you. Be ready to show hospitality, so they could experience God’s love through you.

Be careful not to lose your saltiness

Serving this world is both a privilege and a responsibility. Be intentional in keeping your saltiness, so as not to be regarded as useless, as Jesus puts it, “no longer good for anything.” Walk according to God’s will for you.

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Princess Cut Movie Review

Princess Cut

Princess Cut: A Christian Perspective on Courtship and Marriage

The film Princess Cut presents the meaning of the cliché true love is worth waiting for. Main character Grace is a dreamy naïve country girl who stares fascinated on a princess cut diamond ring at a shop. Since she was into a long distance relationship with college boy Stuart for 15 months, she assumed he would propose soon. He busted her bubbles in front of his other friends when he announced that he’s already engaged with another girl.

Grace showed a shallow outlook when it comes to getting into a relationship. When her mom asked what she liked about Stuart, she identified his traits as cute and smart, none of which pertains to his personality. Mom says she dated someone like that and he talks only about himself. In another scene, Grace told her dad she wanted to move near Stuart’s location. Her dad said that their land had endured three generations and a college boy is not worth to replace it. Grace accepted the cool barista from the café Jared as an immediate replacement to Stuart. He wanted intimacy. Grace felt she regretted it when he kissed her. Although in a state of confusion, she managed to confide and be honest with her parents. It means trustworthiness is intact within their family circle. With their guidance, she used tact to end her involvement with Jared.

The story had good scripting. There were several takeaways from mom and dad like let love find you. However, Grace didn’t know that marriage is not a be-all for a girl her age. While she is on a waiting game, she is not lacking in love because her family loves her. About losing Stuart, mom says it is not a total loss. She could have followed it up with you’re a wonderful girl as you are with or without a boyfriend. The amusing part was when her younger brother Andrew posted an ad just so a potential boyfriend can come to their doorstep. Dad says that marriage is a gift from God and he could have added so is singlehood.

Dr. Clint showed an old-fashioned way of courtship. He declared his intention of pursuing Grace for the possibility of marriage. While dad affirmed that Clint would do honorable things for Grace and God, he also vowed to protect her daughter in every step of the way. Both Clint and Grace agreed to explore a deeper friendship together.  Despite the odds like Jared and the doctor’s ex-girlfriend Brooke, the story ended with getting the princess cut diamond ring in Grace’s finger.

Lastly, the soybean analogy is a great lesson to remember. There’s a season of planting and harvesting. There’s a proper time for everything under the sun. Courtship paves the way to marriage so both man and woman should take time to know each other and by placing the word of God in the center of the relationship, it could lead to a lasting partnership.

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Welcome to Paradise: A Leap of Faith

Welcome to Paradise

Welcome to Paradise: A Leap of Faith

Transitions in life are inevitable.

The film Welcome to Paradise tells us the story of preacher Debbie. A widow with a teenage son, Hayden.  She described his son as having difficulty coping since his father’s death. Bishop Jim misinterpreted her attitude as arrogance. She disrobed at the pulpit during church service one time that displeased the bishop further. He took that incident as a way to send her off to a small community church in Paradise.

These scenes showed us how one false move can lead to different consequences. These events affected Debbie’s job and her son’s disposition towards the aftermath of moving residence. It is clear that Hayden detests going to Paradise. This show how a person usually behave when forced out of their comfort zone.

In Paradise, Debbie saw a homeless guy Trevor who sings along the street to earn some alms. Impressed with his singing, she invited him to sing during church service. He was reluctant at first knowing that the well-off people who go to church may not like seeing him there. He accepted Debbie’s invitation and came to church the following Sunday. When Debbie called on him to sing in front of everyone, he sang his heart out that Sunday. Through Debbie’s encouragement, he felt he was welcome at the church.

Frances, another homeless person, shared thought-provoking ideas during their potluck after church service. She told everyone her misfortune. She admitted that when her husband died, it left them with a huge debt. This was due to his medical bills which is why she ended up losing her house and everything she owns. Frances reminds us how quickly we judge a person upfront that we missed to know that they have a story.

This film revolved around giving second chances. Debbie was given another chance to be a good church leader and a better mom. She told Hayden that despite Dyslexia she couldn’t ask for a better son. She pointed out that everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, and that he has other talents other than reading.

Frances accidentally neglected a lump of small burning coal when she slept outside the church that led to getting the entire structure burned down. Later on, the church members forgave her and even gave her a room to stay at the barn that became the new church.

After the fire incident, it was found out they cannot build another church on the same lot anymore because the contract got revoked due to missed payments. Patsy offered her old barn while Bobby commissioned John and the other men to work out fixing the barn to become the new church. The support given by church members including the homeless showed what Christians can accomplish by faith and resilience.

We go through struggles and transitions in life. What made Debbie’s transition purposeful is her strong faith that no man can stand in the way of the kingdom of God.

Molokai: Father Damien’s Selfless Devotion

Molokai

Molokai: Father Damien’s Selfless Devotion

Molokai, a small isolated isle in Hawaii. This film dramatically presented the struggles of Father Damien who volunteered to minister to the lepers in exile.

This story took place during the late 1800s. During that time, people with leprosy are outcast of society. Father Damien knew he could acquire the disease and yet, he accepted his mission with an open heart. His dedication towards his vocation made him go further lengths when it comes to serving the people regardless of their condition.

Upon his arrival at the island, a Lutheran gentleman warned him of the situation. They’re doing everything to prevent the spread of the disease. He also meets an Englishman who once was a medical assistant before becoming a leper. The Englishman warns the priest about having the same fate as his should he stay there longer.

He finds a ruined chapel and cleans it. Later on, he planted trees on the mountainside. Father Damien helped in building a hospital for the sick.  The priest showed resilience in these scenes. He makes the most out of what he can do with the available resources to help himself and the people residing in Molokai.

In another angle, he found out that the person of authority is a drunkard and a thief who operates a madhouse. At one scene, a mother requested him to fetch her teenage daughter there. He got enraged with what he saw and pulled some of the girls to send them home. A very ill man kissed him and because he didn’t flinch, everyone in the room is shocked. Father Damien even held the man in his arms and prayed for him. Since that incident, some people came to attend mass. They tested him and he remained forthright with his conviction.

The film also showcased coverups between church and government officials due to lack of interest in reaching out to the suffering people in Molokai. Father Damien’s letters appealing for provision became articles in the newspapers that dismayed the Prime Minister.

The captain of the ship refused to allow him onboard so he made his confession to the Bishop at sea. All the sick people are killed and thrown overboard. These leaders have no concern towards the lepers and prefer them dead.

The Prime Minister initiated building a hospital for lepers outside of Honolulu. So that all the government donations and nuns will not reach Molokai. He delayed granting permission to the nuns that when they came, Father Damien was already dying. The people of Molokai grieved for his death. But Father Damien fulfilled his mission and converted more souls to the Catholic faith.

The Adventures of Chris Fable: A Boy’s Symbolic Quest  

The Adventures of Chris Fable

The Adventures of Chris Fable: A Boy’s Symbolic Quest  

The Adventures of Chris Fable is an imaginative film that tells the story of a runaway boy named Chris who lives on thieving for a Fagin-like character Iggy. The preacher Evangeline caught him pilfering inside the church and held him to return the candlesticks. She mentioned The Bible as the most important book, so he took it along with other books he got in his bag. Iggy says that books are worthless and he wanted metals only.

He serves a master called the prince and the children in the junkyard were all his servants. Chris had a nightmare that there was chaos in the land which brought him back to Evangeline. He confessed that his father was a fisherman. He didn’t want his kind of life and rules, so he stole his father’s money and lost them all along the way. Evangeline coaxed him to find his father. She said that he would forgive all his sins and take him back.

These scenes remind us about ourselves going astray from the rules of our heavenly father. All of us are sinners, and we need to search for the path that will bring us back to Him.

Another thought to ponder was the bag that Chris carries in this journey. It represented the excess baggage we find difficult to let go. We think it is part of our being even when it weighs us down. Chris showed that when he encountered The Cross, he immediately it all.

The film presented it in symbolic form meaning the characters that Chris encountered in his quest represented a trait in a human soul including Faith, Hope, and some persons who acted as distractions to his path. Much like a life’s course in itself.

We have a lot of distractions such as getting what we want at an instant and staying in a comfort zone like Electric City. We indulge into a mirage of worldly pleasures that gets us sidetracked from our pursuit to spiritual enlightenment. Following Evangeline’s advice, we should remove our eyeglasses filled with deceit that blocks us from seeing the truth that lay before us.

There were characters too whose purpose was to show up and help Chris in times of his distress. One police offered his whip so Chris can get out of the sticky pond. A man named Grant told Chris hero stories and taught him to use a sword. These characters represent our good-natured friends. Friends who guide us, cares for our welfare and protect us against harm’s way whenever necessary.

The core message in this story is choosing to go the narrow gate instead of the wide one for it leads to destruction while the narrow path leads to Celestial City or a hopeful land. As viewers to this tale, parental guidance is recommended. The presentation fits early teens; however, the meaning of some scenes needs a further explanation so the youngster can relate it to Christianity.

Broken: A Tale between Vengeance and Forgiving

Broken

Broken: A Tale between Vengeance and Forgiving

The film Broken opened its story with a caption New Zealand (1836). The murder of a girl changes the course of history. The astonishing acts of forgiveness that follow bring peace between the warring tribes. The spirit of this story is inspired by hers. From these words alone, we were given a premise that the film’s main theme is the act of forgiving.

Main character Logan used to lead a gang called The Mad Bulls. He left them to raise his daughter Tori and settled himself as a boxing coach at a gym. Both of them enjoyed surfing just in time for sunrise. That morning, Logan’s former mate Murphy showed up on his dock to coax him to return to their brotherhood. Logan declined his offer even after knowing that the rival gang Pouakai was after him. All he wanted was a quiet life with his teenage daughter and nothing more.

Tori was a Christian. She invites her dad to come to church with her but he refused. She and her friend Josh picked up Jess so she can witness a worship performance at church. Jess later confessed that she planned to commit suicide if not for that invitation. These scenes remind us how a simple act of encouragement can save a life.

The story turned when the worried dad decided to fetch his daughter at church after not being home by the promised time. Logan drops by the boxing gym and sees his friend hurt, told him to find Tori sooner. He was still on the road when Tori picked up the phone at home. Men came and shoot her for dead with dad hearing it on his phone. Logan showed us how anger translated to wanting to avenge his daughter’s death. During Tori’s wake, he decided to put revenge in his hands and joined The Mad Bulls again.

Another pivotal character in this tale is Pouakai gang leader Cruz. He took Tori’s laptop in search for information but ended watching her video message about forgiveness. His mother was already confined at hospice care. In a short intimate chat, she told him to forgive everyone and himself so he could be set free. It was the same message bespoke by Tori.

Logan and Murphy came to kill Cruz’s mom. Logan was unable to act on it so Murphy pressed a pillow on top of her face. She was barely alive when Cruz came to see her. She reminded him to forgive everyone before passing on. Cruz made a noble act and that was to face Logan. Both men understood that they wanted to end the impending bloodbath. As it turns out, Murphy used Tori’s death as a match to ignite the fire between the two gangs so theirs can take over the town. He got shot dead as well.  In the end, Logan wore Tori’s cross necklace as a sign of his newfound faith in Christianity.

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