The Ultimate Gift

The Ultimate Gift

The Ultimate Gift: A Grandfather’s Legacy

A gift’s purpose is to surprise its recipient.

Indeed, Jason was about to receive the biggest surprise in his life. He had no monetary inheritance, his grandfather plot a series of tasks that he must fulfil before he receives his inheritance, the ultimate gift.

Based on a best-selling book of the same title, the story revolves on profound insights into a life experience.

Red’s passing led to the reading of his will, much-anticipated by his children and widowed daughter-in-law. Knowing they weren’t as responsible as him in managing business and estates, he placed under restrictions each heir to their dismay.

As for Jason, Red devised a different plan. He wanted him to learn the value of wealth and happiness through tasks he sets him out to do. If he fails, then it forfeits him from claiming the ultimate gift.

The problem with Jason is being accustomed to an easy life and wasn’t too fond of his grandfather.

In fact, he wasn’t at all excited to do his bidding and even his girlfriend advised him that this might be worth his effort instead of getting a job.

He went to Texas to set up logs as fence over barren land. For someone who hasn’t done manual labor in his entire life, this task taught him the virtue of hard work.

Red and his lawyer Hamilton were lifelong friends. Jason’s second task was to present to Hamilton a true friend. Stripped off from his condo unit, car and credit cards, he was to figure out who his friends are.

He ended sleeping at a bench in the park. A 10-year-old girl named Emily recognized him from Red’s wake and became an unlikely friend. Emily has Leukemia and her mom Alexia was having financial constraints.

Their predicament led Jason to realize what giving and sacrifice really mean. The girl’s impact on Jason made him do things out of compassion. At a chapel in the hospital, Jason uplifts Emily’s spirits by telling her that Jesus’ outstretched arms are meant for her.

For someone who is not a religious type of person, he showed an act of faith.

A noteworthy twist in the story was Jason’s trip to Ecuador. It brought him painful memories of his dad’s untimely death. He discovered Red’s fault and how remorseful he was of that tragedy.

Jason wants to see the plane in the mountains.  He went into the mountain together with a local guide which is how they ended up captured by local rebels. In a matter of days, he learned survival and fighting for his life.

This incident taught him that forgiveness can set him and Red free from long-overdue hurt between them.

Without setbacks, Jason begins to love beyond limitations. His love for Emily and Alexia gave a new meaning for his life’s purpose. The culminating scenes leave lessons that stick to the heart and soul.

Ultimately, the film is commendable for teaching everyone a virtue that will define the character of a person.  The kind of gift that lasts a lifetime.

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Untouched

Untouched

Untouched: Battle of Inner Demons and Conscience

A conscientious soul makes a man stand with courageous integrity and fight for the truth. This story tells how guilt works in the lives of those who harboured regrets.

Main character Mitch was a lawyer. She inherited her mom’s firm in Savannah. Eleanor was an authoritative figure not only in the firm and their town but in her son’s life as well. Mitch became pushed over and preferred to do his mom’s bidding. His behaviour may seem intriguing — an adult without a backbone of his own.

As the plot unfolds, Mitch showed that even an educated person from a well-off family could become vulnerable to his emotions. Much as we too, show others a façade of stable personality when, in fact, we battle with inner demons like guilt and regrets.

The story turned when Eleanor wanted Mitch to represent 16-year-old Jacquelyn, daughter of Reverend Terry — arrested for murdering her newborn baby. Mitch’s former flame District Attorney Reece submitted a motion so Jacquelyn will be on trial as an adult.

However, the judge granted to have her detained at a juvenile facility upon Mitch’s request. For Eleanor and Reece, it was already a done deal. However, Mitch and his police investigator friend Taylor went to Tybee community in a search for the baby’s father.

And then, there was Angela, Mitch’s former great love who happened to be Jacquelyn’s music teacher. She stands as a witness. During questioning, Reece slighted her credibility by asking if she ever had an abortion, but Mitch was quick to intervene. This scene reminds us that no passing of time can diminish deep-seated hurts. There had been no proper closure for Angela and Mitch.

There were several twists and turns in this film. Reverend Terry and Eleanor seemed to have affection for each other but chose to keep their reputation instead. Mitch didn’t fight for what he and Angela had a long time ago. It caused him so much regret to the point of drinking to drown memories of their togetherness. Both mother and son have issues of their own and against each other.

The core message of this film depicts the purpose of conscience so that some scenes could have justified it. Jacquelyn reads The Bible inside her cell.

However, she remained adamant about confessing the truth. Her father was a preacher, and yet, he remained proud and detached from his daughter’s ordeal. Their knowledge of the scripture could have led to exposing their guilt and then repentance. Instead, they portrayed religious persons who committed a crime and got away with it because of their influence on those who impose the legal system.

Some things are better left untouched like a lost love or a past mistake — they break us for a while. When we face the truth and forgive ourselves, that’s when a new chapter of our lives begins.

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Sunrise in Heaven

Sunrise in Heaven

Sunrise in Heaven: Enduring Love

Based on the novel His Sunrise My Sunset, Jan recounts her love story to an Air Force soldier named Steve Hurst.

The film Sunrise in Heaven opened with an old version of Jan and Steve, talking about what they can still do together while driving on the road and then an accident happened.  They were both sent to the hospital.

Their adult daughters Terri and Michele came to the hospital to comfort Jan, but her thoughts were elsewhere. It brought her back to the day she first met Steve.

It was in 1964 when Steve got stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, where Jan’s dad Jim, was an officer who trains recruits. Jan was among the young girls who served food at a canteen. Steve was instantly attracted to Jan the moment he laid eyes on her. To him, it was love at first sight. But Jan was quick to turn him down. Her dad already forewarned her not to date a GI.

These scenes remind us there was an era not so long ago where teenagers obey their parents no matter how strict they are. Having to follow their parent’s rules outweighs peer pressure.

There are several scenes that youngsters of today’s generation can learn from when it comes to courtship. Jan thinks her dad’s antics towards Steve is crazy.

However, she tells Steve how important it is for her that they get her dad’s blessing.

Seeing them consult their thoughts and feelings to a pastor is a good reflection to young audiences. Both of them showed openness and respect not only for each other but to the people involved in their lives.

Jim thinks Steve is soft; that is why he tested his patience. He wanted to know if his spirit is weak and if he will turn his back on Jan because he was getting in their way.

Their confrontation scene will make us understand Jim’s intention as a father and that is to save his daughter from heartbreak before it even happens.

Back at the hospital, Terri and Michele showed a contrasting outlook about their dad’s condition. His spine was already damaged, and he is only relying on a respirator as life support. Terri believes in the power of prayer. While Michele confronts the reality that for her, Steve has a bleak chance of surviving.

Despite their differences, Michele reached out to Pastor Robert so he could pray for their family. The prayer scene reminds us of how powerful prayer can be to ease a soul from desperation.

Sunrise in Heaven gives us a story that will help us understand how to accept challenges in life and anchor it by faith.

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The Stray: A Loyal Guardian

The Stray

The Stray: A Loyal Guardian

Everybody loves the innocent love and loyalty of a pet. Based on a true story, this film tells the tale of a brave stray dog named Pluto. Pluto came into the lives of Christian and his family unexpectedly and yet, touched their lives like no other.

Mitch almost always comes home late. He spends long hours reviewing scripts while his wife Michelle takes care of their three kids.

Guilty for turning down his son’s invitation to watch his upcoming baseball game, Mitch told Michelle about getting a dog to become Christian’s playmate. The idea delighted his younger daughter Rachel, but Michelle doesn’t want to get one on purpose unless a stray dog comes up.

Meanwhile, Christian bullied by two boys at the school playground when a dog suddenly showed up to defend him. The dog followed him at home to Michelle’s surprise and eventually, became part of the Davis family. Pluto’s opportune arrival seems the answer to Mitch dilemma.

These scenes tell us how easy it is for us to find an outlet for our shortcomings than makeup for it. Mitch thought that the dog’s presence would keep his wife and kids distracted while he is away from them.

A year later, Christian scores at baseball and Mitch missed again to see his son’s milestone.  The boy was already becoming distant from him. Michelle expressed her thoughts to Mitch about their situation that all she wanted was a happy family. She told him that his workload becomes time-consuming to the point of putting a strain on their relationship as a family. This scene of two adults opening their hearts set an excellent example of how to face problems in a matured way. They teach us to make life-altering decisions like leaving a career chase in favour of keeping the family close-knit.

As for Pluto, the dog showed how he valued their family. The youngest child Kinsey wandered off when mom and dad were busy. When they finally noticed that she was missing, the worried dad drove off the road and found Pluto barking at every stranger around the crying child.

Moving to countryside Colorado, Mitch finds himself lonesome. Unable to write a script, he attempts to reconnect with Christian who still blocks him. Pluto’s companionship eased his troubled mind. He sits there beside him under a tree and jogs with him in the morning. A compelling thought was that The Stray takes care of them better than they do.

Mitch requested neighbours to let their sons join him and Christian trekking the mountain, tagging along Pluto. He tried to amuse the kids, but the snow started to fall and then, lightning strikes. Be inspired by the concluding scenes showing us how fragile life is and how devoted a man’s best friend can be. Pluto may have been the catalyst for the story’s plot. However, the core message of this film is really about protecting the family and its values.

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In God’s Time

In God's Time

In God’s Time: Keeping Faith Amidst Life’s Uncertainties

Time is precious at any given point in our lives. This film takes us to four people dealing with difficult phases in their separate lives. A watchmaker narrates that God intervenes in the workings of his creation. In a twist of fate, a wristwatch showed each character the moments that affected them most.

Sleeping on a friend’s couch and without a job, young Rorry worries about her pregnancy. It doesn’t even help that her uncle Dr. Phillips suggested considering abortion as an option. He showed insensitivity to Rorry despite hurting over losing his wife to cancer. He tried to numb his pain by becoming alcoholic and taking prescribed pills to cope up with life without her. Meanwhile, Brandon left the Army on AWOL. He was guilt-stricken for accidentally killing a man and a child when he was in Afghanistan. His brother’s suicide also tortured him so he sleeps in his truck. And there was Jerry, a belligerent vagrant who intimidates other beggars. These characters relate to how vulnerable we are when troubled with life-changing trials that come our way.

The story turned when Jerry received a wristwatch from a mysterious man. He was examining the watch on his wrist when it sparked. With the hands of time spinning, Jerry fell into a dreamlike state seeing himself as a devoted father to his young daughter. He saw Christ extending his hand to him. Snapping back to reality, he decided to clean himself up and find his daughter. These scenes remind us about losing grip of faith when we are downtrodden. Then, we redeem faith again when we are ready to take another shot at life.

Jerry saw Brandon beaten at a parking area. After a short conversation, he handed the mystical wristwatch to Brandon wishing it will help him too. It made him see scenes in Afghanistan, his brother giving him a Popsicle and laughing while they play football. Then he saw Christ’s hand as if reaching out to him. His soul yearns for redemption and this time, he may need to forgive himself. God’s mercy allows us to make peace with our past hurts so we can move forward and see a good life beyond the pain.

Brandon left the wristwatch with Dr. Phillips when he went to his clinic. The wristwatch opened a trance for Dr. Phillips to see blissful moments with his loving wife. By seeing her with Christ, he has come to accept that she has already passed on. The doctor handed the wristwatch to Rorry. She, in turn, realizes she’d rather transform her worries into believing that God loves her.

When you thought you figured out how the intertwined story of these characters end, the culminating scenes come as a surprise. Worry, grief, disappointment and being heartbroken usually comes to us unexpectedly. However, God allows time for healing so we can stretch faith in Him. We learn from each other’s experiences and these things happen In God’s Time.

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Five Feet Apart

Five Feet Apart

Five Feet Apart: Love Beyond Measure

The heart knows no boundaries and the soul knows no time, as they say. This inspirational film presents a teenage love story that’s hindered not by the people around them but their own medical condition called Cystic Fibrosis.

The story opened with a narration about human touch as our first form of communication. Touch connects us to other people and we need that touch from the one we love almost as much as we needed air to breathe. Main characters Stella, Will and Poe were teenagers who considered the hospital as their second home. All three of them have Cystic Fibrosis, a lung disease that restricts them from having normal teenage lives. Stella’s best coping mechanism is sticking to her regimen of pills and tube tune-up. Scenes showing the funny Stella in front of her friends and in her vlog and the Stella alone in the hospital room tells us a lot about how we too, seem okay in front of an audience when the truth is being sick alone is a lonely battle.

They have to rush Will to Saint Grace Hospital to receive a new drug for CF. He noticed Stella passed by his partially opened room so he followed her to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The short introduction immediately ended upon Nurse Barb’s warning to always check their distance. The reason for this is because Will may contract Stella with B-cepacia infection that may make her ineligible for a lung transplant.

Stella then grabbed a pool cue to measure the distance between her and Will. She can roam around the hospital with Will five feet apart. In one tender moment by the pool, Stella showed Will her body with scars and so is Will. No matter the restrictions between them, they who are in-love have such moments to share and cherish. Even without touching, Will expressed his love for Stella through his drawings and Stella showed how much she cared about Will by arranging his medicine cart and coaxing him to take their regimen at the same time while on video-call.

Stella and Poe were friends since they were young. They couldn’t hug each other to express their feelings be it happy or sad. Poe ended his relationship with Michael even when he loves him despite having CF. Just when Poe planned his reconciliation with Michael and meeting his mom, his lungs gave up on him. Brokenhearted, Stella left the hospital with Will, even disregarding calls and text messages informing her about the lungs transplant.

Have your Kleenex handy for the culminating scenes. The walk towards the light showed two faces under one poignant scene. This film made us understand that regardless of being healthy or not, we could do better at getting the most from the time we have. In a world of uncertainty, there’s life and death, there’s hope and hurt, and there’s love that surpasses time.

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Painted Horses

Painted Horses

Painted Horses: Hunting for Treasure Within

Teaching is a noble profession. Learning is not only confined to the lectures discussed within the four walls of a classroom. There are several nuggets of wisdom derived in this tale of encouragement and hope.

Main character Pam came to a town called Paris to apply as a teacher of US History. The principal forewarned her that the teens have a knack of spitting a teacher out.

She was desperate for the job so insurance can cover her baby’s surgery. The boy has club feet, and the young mom wanted to support his medical-related expenses. Pam sets an example of how a determined mom carries the weight of her responsibility towards her son in spite of an impending challenge presented to her.

On her first day in class, Pam’s nerves were immediately put to the test as a cold Zoey tells her she does what she wants. To spite her further, Zoey walks out of class, hid her lesson plan and car keys. She even lied to make Pam come to the principal’s office. Upon her return, AJ and Rex almost had a brawl if not for Dillon’s entrance. Dillon’s big frame and silence made his classmates wary of him. Later on, Pam learned that each student behaved for a reason. The students’ personalities were no different from those people we get to meet in our lives. They touch our lives for a reason too. Differences make us unique and capable to relate to one another if we so will it.

Intending to keep the students’ attention during class, Pam invited ex-Marines officer Clay to tell them a story related to treasure hunting and the history of Tennessee. Then Pam orchestrated a plan to search for the lost union bank coins. These scenes remind us of how important it is for us to appreciate stories about our ancestors. The possible fortune they will discover, and their adventures tell us how they valued the land they once fought.

There are several takeaways from this film. Pam’s initiative to reach out to AJ and Dillon encouraged both to face their doubts instead of just going with the flow. AJ turned a new leaf after Pam saved him from the cops and fed him with a home-cooked meal. Dillon, though not speaking, takes the books Pam offers him to read out loud to his horse. This way, he can practice doing away with his stuttering problem.

An unexpected climactic twist happens to Pam towards the end of this tale. When they accused her of malicious intent to boot her out from the school. Her revelation will astound you. On the other hand, Dillon’s final act to save his teacher comes as a surprise.

The core message of this film is to not judge a book by its cover.

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Remember

Remember

Remember: Choosing Truth

This film, released in 2012 transports us into a futuristic society under totalitarian rule. In the year 2050, the economy suffered from overpopulation. As a result, the state created a plan which resulted in panic in all the member of the community.

First, they decided to take away all newborn babies from their families. Second,  they imposed that parents intake tablets to erase anxiety and trauma brought about by the separation. Finally, the state taught all the children to remove painful memories. The state believes that inner peace makes for a productive, peaceful citizenry. The unique concept of this story gives us viewers a glimpse of what, why and how it can happen to a technologically advanced society.

Captain Carl works as an enforcer at the Federal Child Protection Agency. His job is to make sure that adults remain compliant with taking memory relief pills and unable to recall having children. Otherwise, his device will prompt him to raid couples who were trying to search the identities of their children.

The conflict started to appear when Carl and his wife Wendy missed their daily dose. Carl goes into a trance where a shadow reminds him to turn the hearts of the father to their children and vice versa. The saying disturbed his thoughts and loyalty to his role at the agency. However, Wendy intentionally missed taking pills in trying to recall her children they stole from her after birth. Seeing a mother’s pain is unsettling. No mother would want to forget her children or having them forget her in the process.

There are several thought-provoking scenes in this film. The first was when Carl was haunted by guilt as a result of shooting Tom, his friend. His trauma, the shadow, Wendy’s persistence at tugging his conscience and the gap in skipping the pills. Pushed Carl to act on reuniting the detained parents and their kids at the agency. The shadow reminded him that only by changing, he could make a difference. And then his action validated his choice to do the right thing, much like we too choose logic, emotions and conscience as deciding factors when we face life-changing situations.

The sneaky way of Carl playing a dual role and alternating his pills intake led to climactic scenes worth looking out. His confrontation scenes with a colleague turned traitor, and unexpected allies will give us an afterthought on those we consider friends and antagonist in our lives.

This film’s core message points out that God has given us The Bible to serve as our guide. A guide to contradict the ideals of Plato and other philosophers that people may use to convince us. Idealism may change, and technology will continue to advance. But we were given a conscience that makes a difference with the way we believe in logic and understands our emotions.

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The Colors of Emily

Colors of Emily

The Colors of Emily: A Reflection of Hope

An artwork is an expression of one’s soul.

This story, The Colors of Emily, is about how an art finder and artist have affected each other’s lives in one way or another. Kate was a hard-headed art dealer. She undergoes therapy so she can get her life in order but decided to run away from the therapist. On a lookout for new art pieces, she drove to reach a small town called New Harmony. Kate’s behaviour holds to a typical adult with a troubled past.

This reminds us to not judge a person, but we need to understand where she is coming.

Kate meets café owner Nadia. She took notice of the artwork on display and offered to purchase it. To her dismay, Nadia refused to say it was a special gift from a blind girl named Emily. Kate went to Emily’s house, and there, she found herself amazed at the other pieces that she crafted beautifully. In each section, Emily tells her inspiration. Each had a back story.

As Kate’s friendship with Emily develops, so is her knowledge about Emily’s tragic family history, the murder of her mom and the conspiracy underneath.

Kate learns much about the town and its people through Emily’s paintings before she lost her sight. In a twist of fate, the café exploded, killing Nadia in the process. Kate’s shock upon Nadia’s passing has transformed her to become strong-willed. Nadia’s husband Sam believed what happened was not an accident.

A lawyer named Thomas tried to intimidate her. Good thing there’s police officer Jacob that looks after her and Emily. The trio was out to solve a mystery involving Emily’s family and their land.

The twists and turns in the plot tell a lot about how a back story affects the present lives of the characters. Kate experienced abuse when she was young. She carried her pain to adulthood that it haunts her, even resulting in nightmares.

This film showed how Kate was able to conquer her fears. Her realisation scenes teach us not to allow old wounds to scar us for the rest of our lives.

Emily reveals that their land holds a reservoir of oil that’s worth a fortune. The lease was the reason they killed her mom. She knew the perpetrator which became that is why she translated her fears into colours, a piece called Reflection. She protected herself and her property in her way. Exposing this man led to a climactic ending and revelations.

This scene is a thought-provoking part of the film. Elders may explain to a young viewer why they need to value their heir.

Ultimately, this film depicted blindness in both conscious and subconscious form in each and every one of us. We choose to see what is visible or go blind over matters we thought we could escape. It is up to us to decide which to see.

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Simple Guideline on Making Decisions

Guideline on making decisions

A Simple Guideline on Making Decisions

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. -Micah 6:8

All the course of your life, you will go through countless crossroads where you’ll get torn to choose between two (sometimes more) options.

There are times when taking a path is simple. Other times, however, picking is not as easy. Things become too complex, and coming up with a decision becomes quite difficult.

In such circumstances, the prophet Micah is clear about what God desires you to do. It is to (1) do justice; (2) love kindness, (3) walk humbly with God.

In all you do, therefore, you must ponder on these questions before you go ahead:

Am I being just?

This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. – Jeremiah 22:3

When making decisions, the Lord asks you to consider the interest of the people around you. Contemplate how your actions might affect the people you love, your workmates, your friends, and even the strangers you encounter on the streets.

If what you’re planning to do, in a way, treat others unfairly, then go the other way.

Do not let the Lord’s justice be upon you by oppressing or taking advantage of others, especially the weak (Deuteronomy 10:18).

Am I being kind?

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. – 2 Timothy 2:24

We are always taught to be kind to others, but how are we really to do this? You can name countless traits on how to be kind – hospitality, gentleness, patience, loyalty, forgiveness.

If you need to sum this all up and learn a practical way to practice kindness, just keep in mind Jesus’ command in Matthew 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

How do you know if an action or speech is kind? If it’s something you won’t mind others do to you.

Am I being humble before God?

Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “These are the ones I look on with favour: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. – Isaiah 66:2

Most importantly, before taking on a decision, make sure that it is in line with God’s will for you as His child. More than pleasing others, our primary goal as Christians is to honour God in all our thoughts, actions and speech.

For I desire steadfast love[a] and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. – Hosea 6:6

The Lord favours those who humble themselves before Him and walk according to the standards He has set before them. Our Christian walk is not just about practising spiritual disciplines. It is about intentionally offering our hearts to God, seeking to love Him and honour Him in every moment of our lives.

In what aspects of your life can you follow this simple guideline on making decisions? Ask God today to transform your heart and help you to always do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with Him.

Read more of Crossflix’s Devotional article here.