I Am Gabriel: A Messenger of Hope

I am Gabriel

I Am Gabriel: A Messenger of Hope

Life’s challenges bring us to a test of faith. With hope gone, we would instead find refuge elsewhere than look into a silver lining where we are. This film brings a message of hope for those overwhelmed by problems.

The story began with the couple Ellen and Joe losing a child at birth. They were heartbroken. In a small town of Promise, people believed this incident started a curse of drought to their lands resulting in poor business conditions, unemployment, and foreclosure of homes. They have become hopeless that some even considered leaving town to have a job. These forms of suffrage aren’t a far-fetched reality, and thus, the question of why do bad things happen to good people emerge.

Out of nowhere, a boy named Gabe arrives in Promise with just the clothes on his back and a rolled prayer mat in tow. He was on the road when Joe, driving with his wife Ellen, almost hit him. With no home or parents to go to, the couple took him in. They reported the matter to Sheriff Brody, then he searched online for a missing boy across neighboring towns but unable to find a lead as to where Gabe could come from. Meanwhile, Gabe took action on his divine mission, rousing faith in each person he talks to. He reinforces the power of prayer so that God will listen. The boy made it clear that relationship to God means talking to Him that many people often forget.

As the story unfolds, each character showed how they were dealing with their own struggles. Doc has been silent about his terminal illness, the pastor’s daughter was taking pills to cast aside her hurt, Sheriff scrambles to save everyone’s issues while unable to come to terms about his wife’s death and his friend turns to alcohol due to depression that he lost his job. These people lack encouragement for one another as much as each of them lacks self-encouragement. Gabe’s mission was to remind them how connected they are to each other and to God who will not forsake them amidst their troubles.

There are several tender moments in this film. One is when Gabe sits beside Wesley, a young man with Down’s syndrome. Amazingly, he knew who Gabe really is. He sat on a bench outside the church expecting the boy to make it rain. True enough, the rain came to drench everyone with fresh hope.

The glimmer of hope turns to skepticism when Doc dies. Gabe’s presence was again deliberated among townsfolk. The sheriff pushed the matter further that led to Gabe finally revealing his identity for everyone to see and believe.

As it was written in Scriptures, Blessed are those who do not see and yet believed. We suffer not only due to lack of faith but lack of hope in believing that there’s a better tomorrow to look forward to. And this inspiring film illustrated the meaning of hope and the miracles it brings to those who believe.

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Boxes and blessings

Boxes and blessings

Boxes and Blessings: A Call to Starting Life Over Again

Restarting lives is never an easy decision to make.

At one point or another, having to adjust to new people at a new place happens.

The story happened when Summer has just started, and young Jennifer, together with mom Ashley moved across the country to a coastal town.

After a failed marriage, the two were to start life over. Jennifer quickly made new friends in their neighbourhood, Reese and a gossip with a dramatic flair Hayley.

The two girls inform her about the next door reclusive neighbour Mr O’Reilly, and that’s where the trouble begins.

Jennifer acted as if she’s a detective on a lookout to prove that Mr O’Reilly is a child or dog-killer.

The three girls decided to befriend the loner man so they can figure it out.

They aren’t mean by heart, but their intentions often get caught up in their hasty words and actions.

Mr O’Reilly was bitter with God for losing his wife and potentially losing his house too.

This film showed the vulnerability of a person who lost his faith only to find himself back in the arms of Jesus again.

The storms in our lives are inevitable. But we have the option to decide to stay hurt or rise when we fall.

The story takes a surprising turn when Mr O’Reilly becomes Jennifer’s hero from a kidnapping attempt. This scene allowed both to wrestle out of their preconceived notions of each other.

She realised that the crazy man she thought he was got only misunderstood in their community. He cared to save her from the real bad guys.

To his words, God put me in the right place at the right time. He acknowledged God’s ways that made him do the right thing, impulsively.

She responded, “When you saved me, you made me realise that there is a God. I believe in Jesus now.”

At an early age, Jennifer made a bold move to share the Gospel. She proclaimed her faith in Jesus to her friends.

There are several scenes worth discussing with your family. Like about different kinds of families and how to teach the Gospel to kids in different family situations.

Since treatment of the film came mostly from an adolescent’s point of view. The adults can distinguish those that equate from carefree innocence and reckless comments.

When you thought you knew how this story ends, you’re in for a sweet surprise.

The culminating scene ultimately feels right to the heart.  It doesn’t necessarily tread new ground. All excellent and compelling stories come from the purest origins of the heart, and that’s what matters.

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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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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.

Remember the Goal: Coaching the Pathway of Life

Remember the Goal

Remember the Goal takes place in a Christian school environment. It is Orange Hills’ first time to have a female coach. Main character Courtney just got out of college and was assigned to train an all-girls team. They will compete for cross-country race this season. Instead of pushing the girls to run faster, she instructed them to go slow that made her techniques questionable for both students and parents alike. They were quick to judge that she is unfit for the role.

In life, we meet people who are quick to judge us at face value especially when we work in a team. Some people forget that an individual’s cooperation contributes to teamwork. The top student runner Kristen did forget as she shows off to her coach that she runs faster than the rest of them.

The turning point was when Courtney kicked Kristen off the team for being defiant. As a result, Kristen got the other girls to quit with only five who stayed for training. Naysayers may influence our decisions but it is in ourselves that we determine which is a good or bad company for us.

There are disjointed subplots however, what’s good about this film were the short scenes showing each girl’s personal struggle. Ana’s dad pressures her to run faster so she can get a better rank off the charts. Rebecca’s mom was always scolding her about house chores. Heidi has an inferiority complex over Ana whom she thinks is always better than her. Katelyn’s father works far-away and missed to see her run in her earlier races. Shelby’s dad forbids her to date with boys at the age of 15.

The common problems among girls in middle school were brought up because it is where the role of parents, teachers or coaches comes into play. It is the stage in their lives where they needed guidance the most. We have seen here that Courtney’s advice and actions to guide the girls in the right pathway of life go beyond the sport and winning the game.

During their final practice, Courtney revealed the purpose of running at tempo pace and that is to build their endurance. She resembles practice with character building where patience, trust, and fortitude makes for a better athlete and a better person altogether.

Even in the race of life, we sometimes believe that getting ahead will lead us to achieve our goals faster. We press ourselves harder to win the race that we miss to see stumbling blocks on our way. We work harder that may end up wearing us down. That’s the lesson in this story.

The verse in Corinthians about whatever you do, do it for the glory of God means that winning is not the ultimate goal in life. Having the wisdom to rise up from adversaries may matter more. Our skills and wisdom came from God. We only need to acknowledge that in whatever we do.

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War Flowers Movie Review: A Tale of Sorrow and Hope

War Flowers

War Flowers: A Tale of Sorrow and Hope 

The historical-drama film War Flowers deals with emotions from the perspective of a soldier’s wife and daughter. Set during the Civil War, Sarabeth and daughter Melody stayed at farmland. Sergeant John Ellis who owned this farmland joined the Confederate Army.

The story began with a brief scene of a shooting. Melody appeared by the windowpane wishing for his father to come home soon. Every child whose father is a soldier can relate to Melody’s longingness for a father’s presence. There’s always that special bond between a father and daughter. It was her doll and bear that connects her with her father. It kept her in believing that he will return.

What this movie is all about

There were several poignant scenes in the movie. Sarabeth has shown us her sorrow while reading her brother’s letter. She was looking for news about John. Another heartbreaking scene was when her baby Isaac died, and Melody saw how it broke her heart. The pain runs deep for a wife. She is uncertain about her husband’s fate. She’s a mother who is unable to save her baby from sickness while he was out at war.

These scenes explain why Melody kept the truth about her father’s death so her mother can continue to hope that he will be coming back for them. Apart from food shortage, there’s an unruly neighbor Rufus and soldiers who passed on their land while exchanging bullets in the air. Sarabeth needed to have the will to secure their safety and Melody made sure to remind her that the Lord is taking care of them.

Other notable characters were that of Gen. Mcintire and his son Lt. Louis. When his two sons fell in a close encounter, he told Louis he can give his life for the cause but does not want his remaining son to die at war. In an incident, one gentleman shot Louis. He was wounded and end up where Sarabeth is staying. Upon reaching back the Union line, his father ordered his men not to allow his son to cross the line again. The General knew that duties lead to repercussions while they fight in battle. In this case, a father only wanted to spare his son’s life.

What Sarabeth and Louis shared in their brief togetherness is a decent affection for each other. She knew her boundaries as a married woman, and he was a gentleman who respected the fact that both woman and child belongs to another man. Only after Melody confirmed her father’s death were they able to acknowledge looking forward to a future together. Sarabeth was a woman of dignity despite the hardships she faced. Louis was an honorable man.

The film War Flowers resonates to time for sorrow and a time for hope, a chapter in life that ends as the war ends and a new one begins.

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Polycarp: A Man of Unwavering Faith

Polycarp

Polycarp: A Man of Unwavering Faith

The story in the film Polycarp took its inspirations from the book “Polycarp: Destroyer of Our Gods” by Rick Lambert. Main character Polycarp was a known aged bishop and a disciple of John the Apostle. He stood as a leader to the followers of the teachings of Christ after the death of the Apostles.

The first subplot focused on Polycarp buying a slave girl for 50 denarii. She became an adopted child in their home. She listens while he preached within the household. However, she is adamant in believing their act of faith as her prayers are left unanswered.

As an audience, we relate to Anna’s emotions when we feel confused after being saved by an unnoticed divine intervention from any form of mishap. There’s still hesitation to look into faith when bad experiences in life outweigh the teachings we hear from religious leaders. In Anna’s case, she came to accept her fate upon knowing that both Germanicus and Polycarp got saved from slavery like herself.

Germanicus was Polycarp’s adoptive son who also serves as his messenger, tasked to deliver the scriptures to other Christian followers. Since the Roman government imposed on publicly worshipping only Caesar as God, the proconsul Quadratus orders to capture and kill those that refuse to renounce their faith. During one of his errands, Germanicus got captured.

However, he has kept his faith to the end. Polycarp mentioned to Anna that he ran to face the lions although it was not shown anymore. These scenes depict the picture of commitment to serve God regardless of circumstances.

Following the death of Germanicus, getting Polycarp captured and killed was the proconsul’s next agenda. Anna ran to his place to warn him. Instead of running away, he told her the analogy of the lampstand that intends to give light to many relating it to the purpose of his life. He stands for his faith amidst an impending persecution. He says one can always hope and one can always pray.

This act reminds us of Jesus Christ praying at the Garden of Gethsemane before he got captured. Polycarp, in the same way, prayed to God to prepare himself before facing Quadratus. He was calm and sure of himself as he defended God as the creator of man and that Caesar is only a man. His stance provoked the proconsul to declare that he has committed treason against Rome. Polycarp was burned at a stake.

The culminating scenes in this film speak volume in terms of losing life for Christ’s sake. In this era, preaching Christianity is still being persecuted in some parts of the world and yet, more Christians are out to spread the word.

Truly, passing on the teachings of our faith is what makes our life’s purpose well served. A grown-up Anna passing on her learnings to a girl in the cell before she faces her own death ended this story.

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Joy in Christ Jesus

Joy in Christ Jesus

Joy in Christ Jesus 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Are you joyful with your life right now? How are you feeling right now? If you are not feeling joyful right now, what makes you feel lonely instead?

Does your heart leap with joy, the kind that genuinely comes from the inside? Yes, joy is different from happiness. Happiness is externally inspired while joy, on the other hand, can be founded on internal motivations.

God wills that we be joyful, experiencing it through the power of the Holy Spirit. As one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, joy in Christ Jesus is meant to be experienced if we live in the Spirit.

“Rejoice in the Lord.” (Philippians 3:1)

This is a clear manifestation of God’s will for us to remain joyful. It’s not just about thinking happy thoughts; it’s more about a longer lasting feeling of satisfaction with God by our side.

Do we experience beauty in the works of God? If so, that is a joy as well. When you feel down and do not know what to do or who to turn to, remember that God wants us to experience joy and eternal pleasures.

These truths are in the form of God’s wisdom. God’s wisdom may not be the shortcut route we are imagining, however. We may encounter difficult times ahead when we follow God’s will. However, this is where authentic joy abounds.

The Bible, in fact, is filled with the ways to live and find joy in Christ Jesus. As long as we live up to these principles, we will definitely feel lasting joy. The Ten Commandments, for one, is a great source of tenets we can refer to when we feel lost. By honoring God and our parents, loving our neighbors, and caring for the people around us and for God’s creations, we can never go wrong.

Part of living with joy is resting in God’s promise of a great life as long as we trust in Him. Sure, there may be times when we underestimate God’s plans for us. We worry too much, ending up miserable because of the littlest things. And forget that God has an ultimate plan for us. We just have to have a firm trust in Him.

“You have turned my mourning into dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” (Psalm 30:11)

The verse above just states how God can readily turn our mourning into joy. It reminds us that God does not forget His promises. He loves us so much that He wants to bless us with everlasting joy and peace.

When we manifest a joyful heart and being, trust that it will radiate onto the others we encounter. We will serve as the gem in the pile of rocks, with God by our side. And bring light and life to the people around us. We will be instruments of joy, ready to spread this contagious feeling to the ones who need it the most.

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