Christmas Classics: It’s A Wonderful Life

*Warning, this post contains spoilers

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10. (NIV) 

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“When the bell rings, an angel gets their wings.”

Today is officially the last day of my Christmas Classics series, and I am closing it with one of the most well-known Christmas classics of our time: It’s A Wonderful Life. 

It’s A Wonderful Life is a (black and white!) Christmas movie created in 1946 about a young man named George Bailey who learns the meaning of Christmas after being visited by an angel named Clarence. George is at the end of his rope and contemplating suicide, after being faced with a lot of disasters at work that feel too big for him to handle. He sees no point in continuing to live until the angel shows him how his life has touched others—and what the world would be like without him. Through this he learns to see the value of his life and goes back to be with his family—and celebrates Christmas with a renewed hope, joy, and purpose.

It’s A Wonderful Life asks the timeless question that many of us have probably asked ourselves at some point: Does my life matter? Am I making a difference? Would this world be different if I weren’t there? And despite the notion that an angel “getting their wings when the bell rings” might be a little theologically shakey, there are a lot of good lessons that we, as Christians, can learn from this movie.

Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (NIV) and 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (NIV).

God has plans for each one of us, and whether or not we were ‘planned’ in the natural sense, God knew and formed each one of us before we were born! Though Jeremiah 1:5 is speaking about Jeremiah, it applies to each one of us—before we were even formed God knew us, and had an incredible plan for our lives! And in 1 Peter 2:9, Peter is speaking to every believer who has been called out of darkness, into God’s glorious light! God’s desire for each one of us is life, and that we live out the dreams that He has for us and impact those around us! 

If you’re reading this today, and asking any of the same questions that George Bailey asked in It’s A Wonderful Life, than I want you to know one thing above all else: your life matters! God would not have created you intricately and divinely in your mother’s womb if it didn’t. If you are alive and breathing today than God still has plans for you. If you just look around to those that you see each and every day, you will find lives that God wants you to impact—in your school, in your friend group, and in your family. And, there is no one else on this planet that can live out the life God created you to live! You matter. To God, and to so many people that see and interact with you every day! 

Maybe you’re reading this today and thinking ‘I already know this. I already know that my life and every other life on this planet matters.’ If that’s the case, than maybe you’ll find yourself in a different character in this story—Clarence. Maybe God wants to use you to encourage someone in your sphere of influence today, and remind them that their life matters! Maybe God wants to use you as someone’s guardian angel. God will often use us to speak to those who are hurting, and maybe as you’re reading this, the Lord is putting someone on your heart that you need to talk to. If that’s the case, than I want to challenge you to be obedient. You never know how God might want to use you in another person’s life! Maybe you could be somebody’s Clarence! 

If you get nothing else out of this post, than please remember this: God loves you, your life matters, and God wants to use you to impact the lives of others. In the words of the pastor/writer Max Lucado, “You weren’t an accident. You weren’t mass produced. You aren’t an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the Earth by the Master Craftsman.” 

May we always remember this; this Christmas, and the rest of our days!

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Christmas Classics: A Christmas Carol

Hey guys, so I know this post is a little late, but a couple of days ago I got sick and haven’t been up for writing. Sore throat, nausea, fatigue…you name it. I had it. 

But thankfully, I’m feeling better now. So, without further ado, here is the next installment of my Christmas Classics series…A Christmas Carol!

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“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 (NIV) 

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I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!

From the time I was a young girl, I have always loved the classic Dickens tale, A Christmas Carol. I read the book when I was in middle school and have seen just about every movie adaption under the sun, from Mickey’s Christmas Carol to A Carol Christmas (a Hallmark adaption, with the old 90210 star Tori Spelling). It is a timeless classic that many have adapted for their own TV shows and movies. However, the original story as told by Charles Dickens still remains in a category all its own.

The story starts off with a cranky old miser named Scrooge (a title that has become somewhat of a pop culture phrase in its own right) who refuses to let one of his employees take the day off for Christmas. He sees no need for the holidays, and places money above everything else in his life—an attitude that has gotten him into trouble time and time again, even to the point of driving his ex-fiance and one true love away. Because of his sour attitude, and dysfunctional priorities, he is visited by three spirits who teach him lessons about life, faith, and kindness; the very things that Scrooge has spent most of his life neglecting.

There are too many lessons in this story to cover them all, but for the purpose of keeping this post short, I will only be focusing on two; living a life fueled with purpose and remembering the things that are truly important in life.

Scrooge is a man who has it all in the eyes of the world. He is successful in his career and he is so wealthy that money-problems are essentially a foreign concept to him. However, in the midst of all of this, he misses some of the things that are most important in life: Family. Friends. Caring for others. And most of all, God. 

Though most of us would never consider ourselves to be like Scrooge, and though he is a rather extreme example, there are many times in our own lives that we can fall into similar patterns as this character in the classic Christmas story. How often do we focus so much on material possessions and worldly wealth at the expense of the things that are more important in life? How often to we pass people by, so caught up in our own problems that we forget to look out for those who are hurting? How often do we forget to remember our blessings, and One who blesses us with it all?

Mark 8:36 says, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (NIV). And, Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (NIV).

It is not wrong to desire success or to have wealth, but it is problematic when it becomes your sole focus, causing you to neglect people, and make an idol that you place before your relationship with God. Scrooge was not wrong for having wealth, but he was wrong for being making it his top priority—and for putting his own needs above the needs of others. As Christians, we are called to put others first, and think of others’ needs more than our own. When we do this, God will bless us—maybe not materially, but with a joy that cannot be replaced by anything that this world has to offer.

This Christmas, I want to challenge you to spend some time reflecting on the true reason for the season—and going through this Christmas with an open heart, for those who are hurting and broken.

I want to challenge you to remember that the greatest things in this life are the things that we cannot see or touch, and that those are the things that truly give us purpose.

I want to challenge you to make time for family and friends, and never let a day go by without showing them that we care.

In this way, we can hold the Christmas spirit in our hearts.

In the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us, each and every one.”

Thirty Day Blogging Challenge #2: Day Twelve

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Hey everyone, I’m finally back for the blogging challenge! 

Nonetheless, I’ve found that with what I have going on right now, I’m not going to be able to blog every day. I will continue with this challenge, but it may be a little more sporadic than I had originally planned. Like my friend Emily at Fearfully Wonderfully Me, my life has gotten a little busy lately.

Now, today’s challenge is about my favorite movie. Truth be told, like with TV shows, I have a lot of movies I like. Because I can only talk about one movie that I like, I’m going to review a movie that I saw just recently called October Baby—which is easy one of my new favorites.

The story opens with a girl named Hannah, who has been dealing with various health problems over past nineteen years. After collapsing in a play from an unforeseen seizure, she finds out the truth: She adopted, and the survivor of a failed abortion. This news leads hr to unimaginable turmoil, as she tries to make sense of her life in light of this new information. Who is her birth mom? Where did she come from? What are her roots?

Before long, she’s faced with the opportunity to find out about it all—after her Jason invites her on a spring break road trip with his friends, where they’ll pass through Mobile Alabama—the place she was born. Despite her parents advisory not to, Hannah joins her friend on the trip, where one event leads to another, sending her on a full on search for her birth mother—finding hope, redemption, and forgiveness where she least expects it.

This movie had various emotional scenes, as well as a couple of comic ones, and an awesome soundtrack. It’s a movie that’s not primarily about adoption or the emotions surrounding it—it’s about redemption. Throughout the movie, messages are weaved subtly, so it feels authentic rather than forced. Many female viewers will also appreciate the subtle love story between Hannah and her lifelong friend, Jason. All and all, I’d give this movie five out of five stars and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good inspirational story. 

You can find the trailer here, if you want to get a sneak peak into the content of the movie!

Left Behind: The Next Generation – Vanished

 

When I was in middle school, I read and was borderline-obsessed with a popular teen series called Left Behind: The Young Trib Force. For those of you who have never read or heard of the series, it was basically the original teen disposition series, largely based off the Biblical book of Revelations. I can honestly say that this was one of the first YA books that I really fell in love with.

Six years later, my dream came true—they released a movie based after the popular Christian series from the nineties, which I could not wait to see. Thus, considering how big a fan I was of the book series, I felt it was fitting to review the movie on my blog, doing my best to avoid spoilers (Though be warned, there may still be some).

The movie starts out with three teens and one preteen—Gabby, Josh, Flynn, and Claire. If you’re a fan of the original, I should probably warn you that Vicki, Judd. Lionel, and Ryan have been replaced, which was probably the most difficult thing to get past for me. Nonetheless, if you think of it as a story of it’s own, independent of the books, you’ll quickly grow to like the new characters.

Gabby is basically you’re all around girl-next store with a whole lot of bravery. She’s quick to take care of her sister, and is a good friend to Josh—AKA the archetype boy-next-store. Josh is also quickly likable, as he’s portrayed of the all around good guy of the film. He watches out for Gabby, adapts the role of an older-brother-figure, and is faithfully loyal and dependable. He also, has a huge crush on Gabby, along with a new guy who falls into the picture, Flynn—a homeless teen who turns out to be surprisingly more sensitive and compassionate than anyone would have initially guessed. Lastly, there’s Claire, the adorable and innocent younger sister of Gabby.

The movie starts off with Gabby narrating her life, and than quickly shoots to her doing normal teenage-things. Talking to her mom. Hanging out with her best friend, Josh. She never foresaw the tragedy that was about to take place—a rapture that would take her mom, eventually leaving her as an orphan. Cars crash. Criminals run rampant. Things blow up. Nothing is safe as drivers are taken from their cars and children are taken from their parents.

Therefore, Gabby, Claire, and Josh flee—heading for the countryside to try to escape the danger of the city, where they meet Flynn, who joins their group and quickly becomes friends with the rest of the main characters. Before long, as they search for Gabby’s father, they stumble upon a backwards “doomsday prepper” man who they stay with, as his sister cleans up a nasty gash on Claires leg. But, are these people who they think they are? And who can be trusted?

From this point, there’s mostly nonstop action, along with some poignant moments of faith and redemption, and a couple of sweet romantic moments. Their goal is survival, and as they’re left alone, they soon begin turning to the only One who can help them through a long period of tribulation. Backstories are also revealed, as two characters soon learn that they both had difficult family situations growing up. At the end, they finally return home, where they discover that a frightening world leader has risen to power.

Overall, despite it’s drastic differences from the origin, I would highly recommend this movie. Though the characters are different, this story stays true to the heart of the original. The action will keep you on the edge of your seat, as you root for four unlikely heroes. The faith element comes of very authentic, avoiding the cheesiness of some Christian films. And, of course, many girls are bound to enjoy trying to figure out which attractive guy Gabby will end up with.

I’d give this movie a good four stars, only leaving out the fifth star because of the change of the original cast and a cliffhanger ending. If you want a good action packed Christian movie, Vanished is a great choice for viewers twelve and up.😃

Thirty Day Blogging Challenge: Day 19

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Hey everyone, sorry I’m a little late! I had a Bible study today and everyone just left my house. Today’s topic is my favorite movie.

I have a lot of movies that I like, but one of my favorites would have to be God’s Not Dead. In addition to a great cast (I already knew Shane Harper, Kevin Sorbo, and the Robertson family from other works), the movie had an amazing storyline!

One thing that I loved about the movie was the fact that it had multiple plots. A lot of books that I’ve read use the same tactic, and I feel that it often makes the story feel more complex and interesting. Plus, you get the advantage of having multiple perspectives.

The main storyline centered around a college student named Josh Wheaton, who had to defend his faith in a college classroom. This story got the most attention, but the other ones were just as compelling. Some other stories include

  • An ex-Muslim girl who was forced to hide her new faith in Jesus from her family.
  • A successful blogger and reporter who gets cancer and is forced to take a second look at God and life.
  • The dynamics between a college professor and his girlfriend, who was beginning to realize that she is unequally yoked.

Somehow, as different as all of these stories appear to be, they all tie together nicely and share the common underlying theme of of faith and it’s role in a person’s life. Josh and Aisha (The former Muslim) risk everything to stay true to their faith, while Amy (the reporter) and the professor are forced to reconsider their unbelief.

This movie carries a surprising amount of depth and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys well made faith based films. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the Newsboys make a star appearance at the end of the film. 😉

Here’s the trailer in case you guys want to check it out!

A Walk In Someone Else’s Shoes

“It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”
― Billy Graham

Some years back, I saw the iconic movie, Freaky Friday. A lot of you may have seen it, but for those of you who haven’t, it’s about a mom and daughter who don’t see eye to eye. When they go to a Chinese restaurant and read their fortune-cookie-messages, they wake up the next morning as the other person. As they live in each other’s bodies for a while, they learn things about each other that they did not previously know, and find that the other person has a lot more challenges than they would have suspected. Aside from being an awesome chick-flick, I believe that there’s a a lot we can learn from this movie. While it is highly unlike that any of us will ever wake up as someone else, it can be helpful to try to see life through another person’s eyes.

Oftentimes, it’s easy to get caught up in our own lives, and not see what life would look like through a different lens. But, what would it be like to actually take the time to put yourself in someone else’s shoes who is different than you? It can be easy to judge a person based on what we see, but what if we tried to understand people beneath the surface? I’m not saying that we shouldn’t use discretion in who we choose to hang out with, I’m merely saying that when we try to understand another’s life, we’re almost always going to gain compassion from it.

One of the biggest stereotypes of Christians right now is judgmentalI find this very sad, considering that it’s God’s job to judge, not ours. We cannot change the attitude of every person, but we can change our own. What if, every time we are tempted to judge another, we instead looked at their circumstances and tried to understand them. We don’t always have to agree, but we ought to always see people for who they are.

Fearfully and wonderfully made by our Creator. 

Just because someone has a different struggle than we do, doesn’t make them any less of God’s masterpiece. John 3:17 says “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” If Jesus himself did not come to the world to condemn it, than we certainly aren’t in a position to do so. We’re called to love others as He did, which often means taking time to try to understand them and their situations. And, it always means cultivating compassion for our fellow humans created in His image. 🙂