Saturday, April 26, 2014

It's a Matter of Your Own Faith

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Greg Kinnear plays Pastor Todd Burpo in the movie adaptation of the book
"Heaven is for Real". Entertainment Weekly
(Warning: Some spoilers inside, so read at your own risk.)

When I watched "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" last month, I bumped at the full trailer of a movie entitled "Heaven is for Real". After watching the trailer, I said to myself, "I want to watch this movie." Good thing PLDT Home gave me a post-birthday gift as I and three other bloggers got a chance to watch HIFR at the Newport Cinema in Pasay City.

Greg Kinnear starred the film based on the Todd Burpo bestseller of the same title. The movie started with Todd (Kinnear) having a day in the office as a church pastor, wrestling coach, a volunteer firefighter, and a businessman. The movie continued with him, his family, and his church doing fine in their lives. The story took a twist, however, when Todd's son Colton (Colton Corum) got sick badly. Colton eventually recovered, but he told his dad that he saw Heaven, Jesus Christ, and even his sister who Todd and Sonja (Kelly Reilly) lost during pregnancy and his great grandfather, who died 30 years prior to his birth, while getting treated. That led to a series of events that tested Todd's family and even his church. In the end, he realized that indeed Heaven is for real. He preached that in the final scene, and many got moved with the message. The clincher was a statement of the psychologist portrayed by Nancy Sorel: "It's a matter of your own faith."

That's where the Lord moved me. As seen in the screen adaptation, even church leaders like Todd Burpo argue to the Lord about what's happening, especially when their kids tell them that they were in Heaven. But again, it's your faith in God that matters. God spoke to Todd through Colton, and the pastor responded.

However, I noticed that despite being a Christian movie, Tristar Pictures seemed to make it more secular in approach by minimizing the Scriptures used in the movie. While it may help in gaining audience, I think it also shrunk the point of the movie. That led me, though, to look for the "Heaven is for Real" book. Still, I would recommend "Heaven is for Real" movie to my pastor friends.

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.... By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:1, 3 NIV)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

God is Always at Work

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I got accepted for an online news site, and currently, I am on training. A problem is that I still don't have a new laptop (since my previous laptop got stolen, I am updating my three blogs at internet cafes). Also, my training fell on Holy Week when virtually every remittance center is closed, so I have to be extra cautious of my budget. But God is always online 24/7. He knows my scenario, and He intervened. My training was moved to Monday.

But another trial came. Black Saturday and I only had a buck left. I really had to find ways to tell my mom that I need cash. But it came to a point that I was wrestling with God. "What? Am I about to go a full day of fasting?" I already mulled at it, but again God provided. My weekend money came just in time (with little trouble, though, as my mom gave me a wrong code, but the Lord is indeed in control).

However, God is also at work when it comes to handling what I am supposed to do. Someone invited me to the opening of a barber shop tomorrow. I wanted to come, but I was reminded of my pastor's preaching last week: God will provide the right amount you need. It turned out, my money may not be enough to come over the opening. Eventually, I have to back out (Or did he not choose me just because I don't have a phone yet?), but my friend offered that we can set up another date for that. Jesus said "no" because He is telling me that it's His day--the day He rose from His martyrdom that was intended to save us from doom (it's "was", not "is", meaning Jesus Christ died once for us). Also, He's preparing me for a Word that may strike me.

Holy Week is indeed God's special week. We commemorate Jesus' death and resurrection, and He is tweaking our lives to live according to His plan, a plan that will prosper us and not harm us (Jeremiah 29:11).

Here are some of the verses I read today that may help those who work like me:

"Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ." (Colossians 3:23)

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him." (Nahum 1:7)

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Great Start to the Holy Week

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Last year, I found out that Christian band Jars of Clay performed for free at the Bonifacio High Street Ampitheater in a special Easter Sunday mini-concert. I missed it, so I really made sure that I'm not gonna miss its repeat performance this year. I went to the High Street, and the mini-concert is not just what I saw.

The mini-concert was actually part of Church Simplified's Holy Week project in which the group put up its own Stations of the Cross along the High Street walkway. Each booth, or station, has a Scripture, some insights, and an act written on it. The first stations will ask you to write your problems, frustrations, and mistakes you made on a red paper strip that you will "crucify" in the ninth station, symbolizing that Christ, through His sacrifice on the cross, has made you free from those.

There's another booth in which you will pray for the person or persons that helped you in your walk with God and another in which you will draw a prayer request written by someone who was there before you in a bowl and pray for it. To give others an opportunity to pray for you, you can write your own prayer request and place it inside the bowl. You can opt to write anonymously, just like the writer of the prayer request I drew.
At the last station (you are not required to visit all the 14 stations but it would be fun if you will), you will partake the Lord's Supper, a way of celebrating the victory of Jesus over our sins and the devil through the cross. Across the street was the mini-concert. I came just in time to watch the opening performance by Julianne. At the end of her performance, she and her band sang her latest composition "Ikaw Lang". Up next is American Christian singer Michael Gungor. His wife Lisa was supposed to join him and the band in Taguig but was discouraged by the doctor as she is pregnant. Still, I got mesmerized with the band's style of play. Michael even played the banjo in one of his songs. Then came Jars of Clay, and we got to our feet in worshiping God when the band played "I Want to Fall in Love with You".

It was a happy Palm Sunday for me as the worship concert made my night. Also, I was reminded of God's love for me through the interactive Stations of the Cross by the Walkway. I hope you can drop by there. The Church Simplified Stations of the Cross will be there until Sunday.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 NKJV