Thursday, January 22, 2009

So run!

"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." (1 Cor. 9:24-27)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

21st Century Princess

Remember how I stated in the last blog that Geoff Botkin's message at the film festival entitled, How To Analyze A Hollywood Movie, deserved a blog post all of its own?

Well, today on Doug's Phillip's blog (founder of the film festival), he posted an article by someone named Adam McManus describing the sum and substance of Mr. Botkin's message - and thus saving me from having to do so! I think the issue at hand is greatly worth the post, so I am pasting the entirety of his article below.

First, as a little background, let me say that I wasn't even planning on attending Mr. Botkin's lecture at the festival. But when I heard he would be using the film Princess Diaries 2 as his example movie, my curiostiy was piqued as to what he would have to say. (I never have seen Princess Diaries 2, but I did see its predecessor several years ago...and was very un-impressed by the whole thing - to put it nicely.) Considering that it was Day 3 of the festival, and we had viewed a myriad of films already, Mom and I decided that Mr. Botkin's lecture would be a nice change of pace and would certainly be worth hearing.

I am so glad we went.

This lecture has opened my eyes even more to understand the agenda of Hollywood - targeted especially at my generation - and I am sure I will never view a film the same way again. My friends, I am more convinced than ever of the importance of not allowing ourselves to become desensitized by the sin and worldliness that is subtly packaged in such attractive entertainment all around us.

You may think the issues Mr. Botkin pointed out in his lecture are no big deal. It's just a movie. Yeah...that's the problem. Just a movie that thousands, if not millions, of girls have seen and been influenced by.

At the end of Mr. Botkin's message, he said something along the lines of:
In summary, don't be fooled by a lack of gratuitous sex, overt violence, or swearing. There can be far more harmful and insidious messages within the movies we watch, especially when we are trusting enough to allow our children to consume them freely or unattended. Everyone has a worldview, and they do not develop in a vacuum. Every film contains and communicates messages and a worldview, and those who don't watch with a critical mind and eye will absorb those messages and find themselves molded by that worldview. It is our duty to shape and form the worldviews of our children rather than allowing Hollywood to do it for us.

The Lord Jesus stated in His Word, "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Cor. 10:31) If God cares even about the little things we do like eating and drinking, and He wants those actions to be pleasing to Him, don't you think He cares about the movies we watch?


How Hollywood is Poisoning Our Daughters: A Review of Geoff Botkin’s Message “How To Analyze a Hollywood Movie”

Review by Adam McManus Host of KSLR’s The Adam McManus Show

When Geoff Botkin warned the 2009 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival audience that the G-rated Walt Disney film entitled “Princess Diaries 2” was filled with toxic messages antithetical to a biblical worldview, you could have heard a pin drop.

But, in scene after scene, Mr. Botkin revealed how this seemingly innocuous movie wasn’t innocuous at all!

Indeed, in the very opening scene, Mia Thermopolis portrayed by Anne Hathaway — the Crown Princess of Genovia — is graduating from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Policy. Mr Botkin described Woodrow Wilson as the second most treasonous president in terms of constitutional fidelity — the one who instituted the income tax system and established the Federal Reserve Bank. We learned that in the world of film making, nothing is there by chance. It’s all scripted to a “t” - including the decision to honor Woodrow Wilson over Ronald Reagan.

Throughout the movie, we hear the Princess declare over and over again the politically correct mantra “This is the 21st century!” — a notion no doubt instilled in her in the classrooms of the Ivy League. The message? Throw off the constraints of family, tradition, and religion and find your own “truth.” While the servants are conducting a slide show of possible suitors in order to help to get married within 30 days and retain the crown, Anne Hathaway’s character and a friend, without pause, yell out approvingly when they discover that one young man has embraced the abomination of homosexual behavior. In other scenes, materialism, lust, rebelliousness, and rudeness are all exalted as character traits in keeping with a Princess who wants to rule the country of Genovia as Queen.

Honor is a concept far from her mind, as Mia sneaks out the window to meet the cute boy, despite the fact that she is not only engaged, but literally hours away from holy matrimony. From Disney Company’s perspective, I suppose, it’s totally innocent since they don’t engage in sex.

I believe Walt Disney himself would be horrified at how the good, masculine, and honorable guy is presented as boring, and the bad, effeminate, skirt-chasing guy is seen as desirable. What messages are we sending both our young girls and boys if we allow them to watch this movie without an immediate biblical critique, or watch it at all? And why would a Christian pastor claim that Princess Diaries 2 was “loaded with virtue”?

Isaiah 5:20 comes to mind: Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.

For too long, parents and pastors alike who profess to follow Christ have allowed the pagan culture to desensitize them to the dangers in the world’s films, TV shows, and music, missing critical moments for Christ-like discipleship. If, as Geoff Botkin suggests, we are to “take every frame captive for Jesus Christ,” we all need to look at the world through a biblical lens, not at the Bible through the world’s lens.

For more details from the message jotted down by another attendee, click here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Festival of Films pt. 2

Out of 50 films at the festival, many of which were feature length 2-hour productions, there was no way we could watch them all, but we did manage to get around and see quite a few! Here is the detailed description of our experience at the festival. For more information or to view pictures/summaries, go to

Thursday afternoon:

~ Viewed two documentaries about home schooling:
1. Exposing the Trojan Horse
2. The Rock From Which We Were Hewn
Both of these films were very well done. I came away with a much deeper appreciation than ever before for the men and women who went ahead of my family, blazing the trail to make home schooling legal in this country. I was also sobered by the startling reality that we could very well lose these freedoms if we are not careful.

~ Viewed a documentary produced by Franklin Springs Family Media entitled, An American Adventure; the story of Jimmy Gentry.
This was a delightful, well-made documentary about a man who very much reminded me of my grandfather. Jimmy Gentry grew up in small town America, fought in WWII, and now lives on a farm in Tennessee where he is always striving to invest in the lives of people in his community. Very touching story, and beautiful cinematography!

Thursday evening:

~ Opening ceremonies including music by Charlie Zahm and the Von Trapp Children, as well as a dramatic telling of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho by George Sarris.

Charlie Zahm leading us in the opening hymn "Be Thou My Vision"

~ Viewed Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
A film of incredible professional quality! Expelled has a great message in defense of freedom of speech and intelligent design vs. evolution. Unfortunately, when I watched this movie, it was very late and I was exhausted, so not everything I heard about made contact with my brain cells. :-) There were parts that were a bit over my head!


~ Viewed a feature film entitled Throw a Few Things on the Ground
This film was produced by the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. It was a touching story about a family in Africa that turned their back on spirit worship in order to follow Jesus, despite the high cost involved. The film was slow paced and very l-o-n-g as a result, not to mention that it was all in French with English subtitles. Production quality was okay, but not amazing. However, the message was excellent, especially for the use of tribal evangelism which is one of its whole purposes.

~ Viewed a feature film entitled The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry
I LOVED this movie! It was of top-notch production quality and had the most winsome story about an older man who disciples the neighbor boys one summer in small town America. He makes the Bible come alive for them and influences their life in an amazing way. This film made me laugh, cry, and come away feeling inspired! Produced by Rich Cristiano, I knew going into it that it would be of good quality, but I was even more impressed than I thought I would be. This film by far tops all of the other ones Mr. Cristiano has made. The audience gave it a standing ovation. Mom and I gave it our vote for Audience Choice Award. It won Best Musical Score instead. :-)

~ Viewed Fireproof, my new favorite movie!
I just can’t say enough good things about this film. It is excellent in every sense of the word. There’s humor, romance, a clear Gospel message, and a storyline that promotes the covenant of marriage like no other movie has ever done before. Even though I had seen Fireproof on opening weekend at the theaters, I was just as blessed to watch it a second time. And it was especially fun to watch with my mom, who had not seen it yet! She loved it, and of course, cried at the end! :-) Another standing ovation for this film. After the showing, Stephen Kendrick came on stage to share a bit of the story behind the making of Fireproof as well as to share how it has been impacting thousands of people all across this nation.

~ Lecture entitled Narration and Performance Art for the Glory of God, by George Sarris
This was more like a sermon about living for God’s honor, without compromise, in a secular environment. It was excellent! I really appreciated George Sarris’ humility and love for the Lord that was evident throughout his message. He had many thought-provoking and inspiring things to say.

~ Viewed a series of four different films in the “Young Filmmakers” category
We had a blast seeing what young people age 18 and under are able to produce! There are some promising and budding filmmakers in the making – that is for sure! My two favorites out of the four we viewed were “As Always” and “Sugar: Adventurous Tails.”

Friday Evening

Friday evening was packed with all sorts of exciting happenings in the main auditorium! One of my favorite parts of the whole weekend was the half-hour concert by the Von Trapp Children. Their incredible family harmony is unlike any I’ve ever heard before. Not only was their music touchingly beautiful, but they sing with such radiant countenances and love for the Lord!

We also greatly enjoyed hearing from Stephen Kendrick and Kirk Cameron about their experiences as filmmakers in this generation. Their heart-felt messages seemed to greatly impact the entire crowd. More standing ovations. :-)

The evening also contained the World Premiere showing of various Bible films that Crown Financial Ministries has produced. Talk about stellar quality! I really enjoyed watching these stories of Abraham and Isaac and the Rich Man and Lazarus. There is something powerful about seeing Scripture come alive on a movie screen. Following the screening, we heard from veteran actor Dean Jones, who starred as Abraham. His testimony as a Christian in the movie-making world is both unusual and very encouraging!


~ Viewed three films in the Animation category, two of which were made by young filmmakers.
Mom and I got such a kick out of these animated movies! We especially enjoyed the third one, Wars of Humanity III, which showed the story of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho through lego animation. It was VERY well done and hilariously funny!

~ Viewed three films in the "All Life is Precious" category (highlighting those with special needs)
1. Free Wheelchair Mission

2. A Full House of Blessing
3. On Wings of Angels
This had to be the most touching experience of the whole festival. We were so blessed to see the people and families featured in these films who were reaching out to special needs people in their homes and around the world. And we were reminded of just how precious all life really is.

~ Viewed the feature film Pendragon; Sword of His Father
Another excellent film! This period-story from 411 A.D. would have definitely won the best costume award - - if there had been one. :-) Not only was the production quality well done, and the story engaging, but the message was also gripping. I really appreciated seeing an epic war film produced predominantly by young men who cared enough to weave throughout the story a message about true manhood, Christian grit, and noble honor in the face of danger. Although the cinematography wasn’t as professional as Fireproof or Jonathan Sperry, Pendragon definitely gets a thumbs-up, especially when you consider that it was made by young people who are in it for God’s glory.

~ Viewed the feature film The Widow’s Might
This film was the only musical in the whole festival – and it was truly delightful! The production quality was of the highest caliber, the story was engaging, and there was plenty of comedy sprinkled throughout for everyone’s enjoyment! After 3 standing ovations, I was not surprised when The Widow’s Might won Audience Choice Award by an overwhelming majority. It also captured the highly-desired grand prize of “Best of Festival” and the $101,000 dollars that accompanied it. Pretty amazing when you consider that this film was written, directed, and co-produced by a 19-year old.

~ Lecture by Geoff Botkin entitled How to Evaluate a Hollywood Movie
This was a timely message that I got a lot out of! However, it deserves an entire blog post of its own…so more on this topic later!

Saturday Evening

Closing ceremonies for the night mostly featured the announcement of the winners of each category at the festival (i.e. Best Documentary, Best Young Filmmaker, Best Feature Film, etc.). We also heard the lovely music again from the Von Trapps and from Charlie Zahm. All in all, it was a wonderful close to a wonderful weekend!

The 20-member Duggar Family (woops - make that 21-member family; Joshua recently got married to our friend, Anna!) presenting the "Best Biblical Family" award

Stephen Kendrick receiving the award for "Best Feature Film" in regards to Fireproof

John Moore receiving the award for Best of Festival

With Friends at the SAICFF

Look who I found at the festival! :-)

A Festival of Films

Attending the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF) with my mom this past weekend was an incredible delight! Not only was it a ton of fun to go on a weekend getaway together (we’ve never done something as just the two of us!), but we were also both deeply blessed by all that we experienced.

One of the most significant aspects of the film festival that impressed me was the atmosphere of holiness that I found myself in. Everything about the whole weekend was designed to bring glory to our Creator. From the films to the lectures, the music to the fellowship, everything about the festival exalted and honored the Lord Jesus. And that was truly refreshing.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the SAICFF, it was founded 5 years ago as an entity of Vision Forum Ministries for the purpose of encouraging the production of high-quality, culture-changing Christian films. In our media-saturated society, television and film productions have become the greatest influencers. And it is the opinion of the SAICFF that Christians need to be contributing the influence of Godliness in the world of media – in an excellent way. Not the corny, low-budget, lousy productions that many people associate with the idea of “Christian” movies.

Unfortunately, Hollywood has an agenda in which the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life run rampant. It’s an agenda that tears down rather than builds up the Biblical family. It’s an agenda that glorifies the pleasures of sin for a season. It’s an agenda that seeks to contradict everything for which God stands. Sadly, most Christians either sit back and complain about Hollywood without offering a solution or they embrace the same movies that the rest of the world applauds without concern.

The SAICFF does neither. Rather, it exists to promote a solution to the problem of Hollywood garbage without compromising convictions.

Founder, President, and Master of Ceremonies: Doug Phillips

The SAICFF offers a 3-day Filmmakers Academy for the purpose of training aspiring film makers on the foundation of a theologically-sound, Biblical worldview upon which is built the knowledge they need to produce excellent films for the glory of God. I’ve never been to the academy, but I’ve heard rave reviews about it from people of all ages.

Following this academy is the 3-day film festival itself during which are shown dozens of Christ-honoring films that are all in competition for the grand prize of “Best of Festival.” This year, out of 250 films, 50 were selected as semi-finalists to be screened at the festival. The films are selected based on various factors including content, production quality, screenplay, musical score, acting, and effort. The films are submitted from young filmmakers age 18 and under as well as seasoned producers such as Stephen Kendrick and Rich Cristiano. In addition to watching movies throughout each day, the festival also contains opportunity for enjoying delightful musical entertainment, engaging speakers, and special presentations.

Even though I am not a filmmaker, I have been interested in attending the festival for several years for the purpose of supporting its mission and learning more about what God is doing through this organization. I love the fact that the SAICFF is striving to raise up a generation of filmmakers who will use the power of the media for good. Before God transformed my life at age 14, my goal in life was to be a Hollywood movie star, and even though the Lord has changed my direction in life, there is still a part of me that loves acting and performance art. I am so delighted to see how God is using this small minority of Christians to light a candle in the darkness! May it burn brightly and draw mutitudes to the Savior!

To read more about others' experiences at the festival and to see additional pictures click here, here, and here.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Going to the Film Festival

Today, my mom and I are heading off for the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF) and therefore, my blog will be silent for the next several days. I hope to have lots to report about soon, though!

Stay tuned!
(and pray for our safety!)


Monday, January 5, 2009

Fireproof Takes the Cake!

I came across the following post on Doug Phillip's blog (of Vision Forum) and found it to be quite a testimony to the Lord! If you haven't seen Fireproof yet, make plans to do so when it comes out on DVD at the end of this month. It is an excellent, Christ-honoring film!

Fireproof Becomes Top Grossing Independent Film

The timing of this remarkable event could not be better.

For the first time in modern film history a distinctively Christian film is the undisputed top grossing independent movie of the year. The Kendrick brothers’ film Fireproof takes the #1 spot with $33,063,487 in gross receipts.
All this on the advent of the 2009 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival where Fireproof will be competing with fifty other film releases for Best of Festival and the $101,000 grand prize.

Of the hundreds of films that were produced independently of the major Hollywood studio system (Universal, MGM, Paramount, Warner Bros, Disney, Sony Pictures, etc.) our Lord allowed Fireproof to beat out the rest at the box office during 2008. Praise the Lord.


1. “Fireproof,” $33,063,487
A film that honors Christ and reinforces biblical marriage.

2. “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” $22,749,000
A film glorifying fornication, murder, and homosexuality.

3. “Slumdog Millionaire,” $19,661,000 A movie containing extreme violence, drug use, and profanity.

4. “The Duchess,” $13,848,978
An immoral film containing profanity and explicit sexual scenes.

5. “Milk,” $13,597,000
A pro-sodomite film which mocks Christianity and defends radical homosexuality.

6. “Religulous,” $13,011,160
A work of anti-Christian bigotry which attacks faith, the Gospel, and organized religion.

7. “Under the Same Moon,” $12,590,147
A defense of illegal immigration.

8. “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day,” $12,313,694
This movie includes theft, nudity, and fornication.

9. “Rachel Getting Married,” $10,018,000
This movie contains strong profanity, drug use, and immorality.

10. “The Visitor,” $9,427,089

Saturday, January 3, 2009

From the Bookshelf...Pt.3

This is one of the BEST missionary biographies I have ever read! It was so intruiging, I finished it in two reading sessions - less than 24 hours.

In colorful first-person language, Joanne Shetler, a Wycliffe Bible translator, chronicles the story of her 20-year ministry amongst the Balangao people of the Philippines. During those two decades, she learned to speak their language, created a written alphabet, and translated the New Testament into their language. She was also very instrumental in leading many Balangao people to the Lord Jesus. As they began to grow in their understanding of Scripture, a church was formed and soon the Balangaos began carrying God's precious Word across the mountains to other tribes and villages.

The back cover says:

"God, show yourself stronger than the spirits!" For years, Joanne Shetler had prayed that prayer. And now the village was in an uproar. Two old women who were powerful spirit mediums had decided to worship God. The spirits were angry and the village was terrified. The people pleaded with Joanne: "Those women can't do that, the spirits will kill them."

In the past those who had tried to quit serving the spirits had paid with their lives. Now, everyone was watching, waiting for the two spirit mediums to die.

This it the dramatic story of how God set in motion events that knit Joanne and the Balangao people together in a spiritual battle that changed them forever. For centuries, the Balangaos had worshiped the capricious and hard-to-please spirits who made relentless demands for sacrifices. They knew the spirits had power...did God have power?

You'll be inspired and challenged by the simple obedience of this people transformed by the power of the Word."

Friday, January 2, 2009

From the Bookshelf...Pt. 2

Corrie ten Boom has been a heroine of mine ever since I read The Hiding Place, her story of faith in the midst of a Nazi concentration camp. I think I've been even more blessed, however, by the sequel to this book entitled Tramp for the Lord.

In Tramp for the Lord, Corrie writes about the many lessons God continued to teach her after WWII as she traveled around the world sharing her testimony and the Gospel message. Her writings are candidly honest, humorous at times, and faith-building. She writes about a variety of topics including trusting God for finances, forgiving one's enemies, and spiritual warfare as well as detailing adventures and miracles that she experienced along the way!
I was so blessed by this book that I can't wait to read it again!