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God’s Not Dead, Still Making a Splash


People continue to flock to see “God’s Not Dead.”  Every few days I notice someone’s Facebook update reminding all of their “friends” of the very fact…God’s Not Dead.  Certainly, some probably wonder why their making such a statement.  If they ask, tell them to see the movie!  It’s fantastic!  But why?  Why has the film made such a splash in the shadow of Hollywood blockbusters?  I speculate it’s because of the current political climate in America.

Almost daily, stories surface of people accusing Christians of bigotry, even filing suits against those refusing to sanction their lifestyle.  Take for instance, the story of Elane Photography.  In 2006, Elaine and her husband were asked to photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony.  Elaine respectfully declined, citing her conservative Christian beliefs as the reason.  Case closed, right?  Wrong!

The lesbian couple secured another photographer at a lower rate, yet still filed a complaint accusing Elane Photography of “sexual orientation discrimination.”

The Human Rights Commission of New Mexico found Elane Photography guilty and ordered them to pay almost seven thousand dollars to the two plaintiffs.  The decision was appealed to the New Mexico Supreme Court.  These judges upheld the ruling.  One judge in his concurring opinion wrote:

Elane Photography “is now compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives,” as “the price of citizenship.”

Did anyone else just feel the rumble of the Founding Fathers rolling in their graves?

This week, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.  The New Mexico Supreme Court ruling stands.  It appears that America’s barreling down a road which trumpets the freedom of the First Amendment as long as one sides with the Liberal and godless agenda.  Those who yell and scream for tolerance exhibit the most intolerance of all.

As I visited with a group of men this morning, another Pastor predicted that soon churches would be required to host same sex marriages and pastors would be required to officiate…whether they believe the union is biblical or not.  Some laugh at the idea and say that will never happen.  Christians said the same thing about removing prayer from school and legalizing abortion on demand.  Almost 43 million aborted babies later and look where we find ourselves…In the middle of another cultural war with the soul of America at stake.

God’s Not Dead resonates because the movie casts a positive light on Christianity.  For once the Believer isn’t cast as a dopey, idiotic Bible thumper.  The movie conveys the story of real life Christians making a mark for Christ in a world filled with antagonists.  The film encourages people to stand for Christ when no one else will.  Sure, that’s a lonely place to be, but God blesses faithfulness.  And God will bless Elane Photography.  I don’t know how or in what capacity, but God will honor their stand.

As Christians we can expect persecution and to lose an occasional battle, but as one evangelist once said, “We’ve already won the war.”

Everyone hold on to Jesus.  The ride’s gonna get bumpy.

 

Interview with “God’s Not Dead” Actress, Trisha Lafache


My Church family attended opening night of “God’s Not Dead,” and I can honestly say it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. I posted a blog about the film, a synopsis and some personal thoughts, but then I decided to contact some of the actors/actresses and see if they’d agree to an email interview for my blog. The first to graciously accept was Paul Kwo, who played “Martin Yip” in the movie.  (For those familiar with the movie, he played the foreign student and the first to stand and proclaim, “God’s Not Dead.”)  Then Cory Oliver agreed to answer a few questions.  (She played “Mina” the Professor’s romantic interest.)  Now I’m excited to share with you my third email interview.  This time you’ll be hearing from Trisha Lafache who played “Amy,” the reporter.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m from New York and not married. I attended both college & law school, but I was acting professionally even when I was in law school.

What is your religious background?

I’m Catholic…always have been. My father’s cousin is a priest and I grew up going to hear him every Sunday. I’ve never struggled with faith. I’ve always had it…always believed in God.

What part did you play in the film?

Amy, the reporter.

Can you relate to the character you played in “God’s Not Dead?”

I can relate to my character Amy in many ways…specifically, her drive. I think I know a lot of people who are singularly minded about their career. I think being a story teller is a beautiful thing especially when you get to tell a story that touches so many people. Sadly, in my profession, there are a lot of narcissists. There is a lot of narcissism. To me narcissism & selfishness & being self-obsessed is really glorified with people constantly on their phones & taking “selfies” but really people are more lonely as a result. I think Amy is really lonely. She clearly has a boyfriend who does not care for her. They cut a scene, her final scene in the movie, when she calls her mother from the Newsboys dressing room and it’s clear they haven’t spoken in some time.  I missed that scene because I thought it was really important. So do I relate to her? My answer is I understand her. I mean I understand how she got lonely…busy…isolated.  I understand how she thinks by “winning” she’ll be a winner. I’d like to see Amy be of service to others. I think that would make her feel better about her life than the things she tries.

Did you enjoy working with the leads Shane Harper and Kevin Sorbo?

I think Shane & Kevin are terrific in the film but we did not work together.

With what part of the cast were you able to spend time?

I worked with the Robertson’s who were sweethearts. Willie kept moving forward and they kept telling him not to and he said: “I’m sorry, she’s just so AGGRESSIVE.” That was hilarious. I also worked with the Newsboys, who were pure joy.

Are you surprised by the response to “God’s Not Dead?”

I’m completely shocked by the film’s success.  Pleasantly, obviously.

Tell us some of your favorite parts of the movie

My favorite line in the movie is,

“Sometimes the devil allows people to live a life without trouble because he doesn’t want them turning to God.”

I love the scene. I think the actress does such a great job.  I think my favorite thing about the film is that it celebrates the beauty of faith.  I think that most people who don’t have faith lost it because hard things happened to them and I think that’s when you need faith the most.

After watching the film together with friends, we left the theater feeling very joyful. I like that about the movie as well. I think Benjamin & David’s scenes are so happy & light.

Have you heard any negative comments about the movie?

People have criticized the film for portraying the theists as mean and awful people. I find it funny only because I play a theist and the feedback I’ve been getting is that people were crying their eyes out when I break down at the computer and when I pray with the Newsboys. Also I feel, and I can only speak for my performance, that it was important for me NOT to play her as completely unlikeable/evil.  I was very clear with our fabulous director, Harry Cronk, I was not interested in playing her as one dimensional and he was very supportive. I don’t think theists are mean/awful people. I think people are people. Being kind and full-hearted can sometimes be challenging. I believe faith helps.

Thanks so much to Trisha Lafache for taking time to answer some questions. You can follow her on Twitter @TrishaLafache.

Be watching for future actor profiles!

Movie Review: God’s Not Dead


Movie Overview: God’s Not Dead

College freshman, Josh Wheaton, reported for first day of classes, eyeing a future degree in law.  A committed Christian, Josh expected to receive a higher education, not a tongue lashing, from his atheist philosophy professor about the first year student’s Christianity.

During his first lecture, Professor Radisson chided any professing belief in the antiquated God of the Bible.  To kick-off the semester in Philosophy 101, Professor Radisson instructed the pupils to write “God is Dead” on a sheet of paper and turn it in, signed.  With little or no forethought, the students, eager to please, signed the declaration….Well, all but Josh Wheaton.

The Professor expected absolute obedience, and when Josh refused to sign the statement denying his faith, Radisson assigned Josh the daunting undertaking of proving God’s existence.

The question looms, will Josh stand resolved as Daniel in the Old Testament or compromise his faith to secure a passing grade in the mandatory class?

Brief Review

The movie captures a predicament devout Christians across America are facing.  As the credits rolled, cases argued/defended by the Alliance Defense Fund revealed that “persecution” of Christian students on university campuses is not isolated.  In fact, as our culture continues to embrace a more tolerant view of lifestyles the Bible specifically lists as sinful, the pressure to live wholly committed to Christ will become increasingly difficult.  As Christianity becomes more and more unpopular, the students who dare refuse to participate in spiritually compromising lessons and assignments face potential retribution from professors who see themselves as “god” in their own schools of higher learning.

Josh Wheaton, played by Shane Harper of “Good Luck, Charlie” fame, delivers a powerful and believable performance.  His internal debate over compromising or “swimming upstream” is palpable.  At one point, my wife leaned over and whispered, “I feel so nervous for him.”  My heart raced with the same anxiety.  Fantastic acting in this young man’s fledgling career.

Kevin Sorbo plays the part of Professor Radisson, the atheist.  He, too played his role powerfully, causing me to be nervous whenever an encounter with Josh was imminent.

This film delivers a timely message and definitely deserves a rating of “family friendly.”  I can’t imagine Willie and Korie Robertson (Duck Dynasty) making a cameo appearance in anything but…can you?

Do We Really Want the Clinton’s Back in the White House?


Fifty years ago, families gathered around a black and white television set, enjoying the situation comedy, “Leave it to Beaver.”  The show focused on Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver and his adventures.  According to Wikipedia,

“In a typical episode, Beaver got into some sort of trouble, then faced his parents for reprimand and correction.”

Regularly, viewers sat as flies on the wall, watching as Ward and June Cleaver debated their approach to child rearing and how Beaver’s punishment would be meted out.  All in all, America heralded the Cleavers as a model family.  Leave it to Beaver landed on Time’s magazine list of “The 100 Best TV Shows of All-Time.”

As a child I loved re-runs of this hit series.  In fact, I cut my “television” teeth on re-runs of Leave it to Beaver, I Love Lucy, My Three Sons, and Andy Griffith.  Adjectives like “wholesome,” “family friendly,” and “Virtuous” describe these iconic television shows.  These shows triggered laughter and taught a valuable moral lesson at the same time.  My parents never needed to turn off the set because of profanity, gratuitous sex, or violence.  Try finding shows like that today.  Other than Duck Dynasty, not many other shows come readily to mind.

As I type, I’m thinking of the Cleaver bedroom scenes…Ward and June climbing into separate full-size beds before turning the light off for the night.  Whew!  We’ve come a long way baby!

Television shows today seldom celebrate a happily married heterosexual couple, instead we find producers championing shacking up, adulterous relationships, and homosexual liaisons.  These Hollywood elitists argue they’re just mirroring the culture.  Recently, Miley Cyrus “twerked” her way into the news.  Her gyrations at the MTV VMA’s, better suited for a gentleman’s club, ignited discussion about this once wholesome Hannah Montana gone wild.  Though some parents expressed outrage, many fans of Miley stood by her side….and continue to do so.  On the day after her salacious performance she tweeted,

“Smilers! My VMA performance had 306,000 tweets per minute. That’s more than the blackout or Superbowl! #fact

Currently, 17.1 million people follow her on Twitter, up 4 million since the VMA’s.  Instead of efforts to boycott her music and lifestyle, we live in a culture more than ready to embrace her bawdy antics.

So, how does this relate to the Clinton’s?

Most people know of President Clinton’s sordid “indiscretions”, but will that dissuade an up and coming culture of Miley enthusiasts from voting for Hillary to reside in the White House?  Does it matter that the First Gentleman may turn the Lincoln Bedroom into a brothel of sorts? Where has dignity for the Office gone?  More importantly, where has America’s conscience fled?  Our Country resembles the crippled Titanic moments before submerging to a watery grave.  As passengers of the doomed vessel boarded the lifeboats, survivors reported hearing a stringed ensemble playing “Nearer My God to Thee.”

Fast forward to the present.  We proudly pledge our Country’s flag with the words, “one nation, under God….” yet we pay homage to those who press the “moral” envelope.  Contrary to popular opinion, character matters.  Integrity matters.   Morals matter.  Just ask the One to whom we recognize in our Nation’s Pledge of Allegiance.  President Abraham Lincoln said,

‘Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my
greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.’

Many in America desire for our “Ship” to be righted again.  But first, we must turn to God.  II Chronicles 7:14 says,

“If my people, who are called by my Name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My Face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, will forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

It’s time that Christians strip off the apathy and stop asking Hillary’s oft-quoted statement,

“What Difference Does It Make?”

Turning to God, makes a whale of a difference…Just ask Jonah.

Phil Robertson Modeled Jesus


Yesterday evening at family Christmas, my brother announced, “I just saw a Fox News Report.  It’s official.  Phil’s back on the show.”  The family room erupted with a smattering of applause and head nods of approval.  But no one was surprised.  A louder voice spoke.  Money talks.

After a nationwide uproar, A&E re-instated Phil Robertson to his prominent and beloved position on Duck Dynasty.  According to the Left, Phil committed the unpardonable sin.  He dared define homosexuality as sin, citing the Bible as his reference.  The side always preaching “tolerance” leveled accusations of bigotry and homophobia at the God fearing outdoorsman.  Resolved to hold fast to the truth of Scripture, the Patriarch of the Robertson Family told a Church Bible Study group he refused to back down from his anti-homosexuality statements but added,

“I’m a lover, not a hater.”

He’s modeling Jesus.

In the Gospel of John chapter 8 we find the following:

Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.

And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee

Many people, when justifying a choice or behavior, quote this section of Scripture, stopping before Jesus finished his statement.  He did say,

“Neither do I condemn you”

But He also added,

“Go and leave your life of sin.”

People hate being labeled a sinner.  It sounds so filthy and dirty and undesirable.  And yes, that’s how God views it.

Had the religious leaders dragged a homosexual, or a thief, or a person charged with “knock-out,” a murderer, or a child guilty of sticking gum in his sister’s hair, to the feet of Jesus, He’d said,

“Go and leave your life of sin”

It’s not a popular message.  It steps on our toes and causes us to be uncomfortable.   But that’s how God deals with our sin.  If people desire forgiveness, there must first come an acknowledgment of sin and then repentance, a

“Going” and “Leaving.”

Phil Robertson pointed out several sinful lifestyles, targeting no group in particular.  He explained every person’s need of repentance and of God’s role in holding Heaven and Hell’s citizenship rolls.

What did the “Duck Dynasty” star do wrong?  He ruffled the feathers of a minute percent of people searching for a lifestyle validation.  From Mr. Robertson, those people won’t receive,

“Congratulations, you’re living in a sinful lifestyle,”

but more likely hear,

“There’s good news, a little Baby born in Bethlehem entered the world to shoulder your sin problem…as well as mine.”

And that should be good news to one and all.

Christians are to Blame for Phil’s Firing


A&E’s not to blame for kicking Phil Robertson to the curb.  We are.  The Church.  Sure, A&E wrote out his checks and signed him to contractual agreements, but the real reason for Phil’s retribution lies on us, the Church.  Somewhere along the way, the Church joined the rest of our Country in the “wussification” of America.  For those unfamiliar with the term, it means, “the trend of becoming an increasingly wimpy society.”

Over the last several years, there’s been a movement to make the Country more soft.  Little boys can’t bite pop tarts into shapes of guns without stern reprisal.  In the Fall of 2013, Fox News reported, “An elementary school in Nashua, NH has reminded parents and students that playing “tag” violates the school’s longtime “no contact” rule for recess games.”  And the no contact rule now extends into the adult world.  In football, players are limited in their methods of tackling; Major League baseball plans to ban home plate collisions beginning in 2015.  Soon, spectators will fill arenas to watch professional athletes in marathon pillow fights or playing tag….well, maybe not tag.  Little kids can’t even play “Cowboys and Indians” because of the offensive nature of the “I” word.  America’s becoming too soft.

Sadly, the “wussification” movement has crept into our churches as well.  A couple of centuries ago, pastors pounded pulpits and loudly warned of “hell, fire, and brimstone.”  In 1741, Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon entitled, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”  The message depicted the realities of hell so clearly, the hearers could smell the sulfur burning.   Fast forward to the early 1900’s and to the evangelist, Billy Sunday.  NPR contributor and author Steve Inkeep wrote of Sunday, “The “muscularity” and movement of his sermons was meant to counter the view by some that Christians were docile and fragile.”  Finally, over the last 50 years, Billy Graham spoke plainly about the hell awaiting those without Jesus.  Unfortunately, many churches today shy away from sermons about God’s Judgment or the text Phil quoted in his GQ Interview.  I Corinthians 6:9-11 states,

 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a]10 nor thieves
nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the
kingdom of God.”

Tough words but none more true.

Soon the executives and A&E will crowd around a conference table wondering how to keep their proverbial ship afloat, and some will ask why did we allow 5% of the population to dictate this decision.  None will think to blame Christians.  If the Christian voice resonated with as much volume and fervor as GLAAD, Phil Robertson wouldn’t be out of a job; the rest of the cast wouldn’t be facing tough decisions about their television future.  But we needn’t worry.  Duck Dynasty will land on their feet with even greater success.  God blesses faithfulness.

In the meantime, Christians today need to “man up.”  Phil Robertson transported America back to the days of Jonathan Edwards and A&E’s response to Phil’s comment proves that in 250 years, this Country’s grown soft…too soft.  And so has the Church.

I stand with Phil Robertson.

More importantly, I stand on God’s Word.

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