Unplanned: Movies That Matter And Why You Need To See Them

There are some films you see not for entertainment value but because of the message. It speaks to the heartbeat of current culture. This is why Unplanned was made. While I knew the movie would be hard to watch, there’s no way to really prepare for heavy content. In case you aren’t familiar with the recent film Unplanned, it addresses the issue of abortion, focusing on Abby Johnson’s story.

As a clinic director for Planned Parenthood, Abby rises to the top serving as the youngest director in just eight years. She even had two abortions of her own before working for this organization. The irony is that while she advocated for women’s rights to have abortions, she had never actually seen one done.

The day she assisted an abortionist by holding the probe over a mother’s belly, Abby finally saw the reality of abortion. She watches in horror as the infant twists away from the tube, and is then sucked piece by piece out of the uterus. I’m not going to lie, I thought I was going to throw up during this scene. The camera scans to the containers of blood and body parts afterward.

It’s gruesome to watch, but this happens every day, every hour, to thousands of humans who are murdered through abortions. It is happening right now as I write this- as you read this. Since Roe v. Wade in 1973 the death toll rises in the millions.

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Abby had a complete shift in her thinking over unborn life. She was so shaken by what she saw that Abby resigned from Planned Parenthood and now runs an anti-abortion ministry called And Then There Were None.

Because of her experience Abby knows how to counsel women considering an abortion or women who have had one. This post is not a slam on those who made the decision to end their baby’s life. I can’t imagine that kind of grief. But this doesn’t have to define the rest of your story either. There is forgiveness and redemption for those who seek it. God provided a way for all of us through Jesus Christ so that we can have freedom and fellowship with Him without living under condemnation anymore. What makes this movie beautiful is the whole story. We see Abby’s life reclaimed and set with a fresh vision of hope.

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Abortion is a shameful part of our history that most of us don’t think about often. I honestly don’t like to because I get upset, nauseous, and feel helpless to do any good. But abortion isn’t a game or just a political narrative. The greater evil at play is Satan’s victories in annihilating what God creates.

This doesn’t extend just to babies either. Where is the stopping point for someone who makes up their own moral code? What about the elderly in nursing homes who can no longer “contribute” to society? What about the disabled?

It’s ironic that in this modern era we consider ourselves so sophisticated and tolerant, as long as we’re not inconvenienced. I think one of the ways we can contribute to fight for life is through prayer. Don’t be fooled into thinking prayer is a passive tool. It is a valuable weapon for the believer. Use it and use it often. The only way a person who sides with abortion will ever see the truth is for their hearts to soften. God can do that. Sometimes when we need to justify our sin we become blind to the truth standing right in front of us.

Abortion is barbaric.

 Abortion annihilates humans.

 Abortion destroys so many lives left in the aftermath.

 We can help pick up the pieces. We can bring hope to men and women by showing them another way. One that leads not only to saving an actual life but healing for those caught in the lies and brokenness that the world applauds (Romans 1:32).

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Please go see this movie. This is an important movement we need to support. It is rated R for the violent scenes. Hello. Sometimes we have to look the truth in the face ourselves to remind us of the heartbreaking reality. Unfortunately our local Christian radio stations won’t advertise the film because it has an R rating. Perhaps because the movie isn’t exclusively Christian they won’t back it up?

Unplanned depicts real people in real life situations- it isn’t always tied up with a pretty bow. This is exactly who Christ came for. He redeems the messy, broken, and sin-sick. Us. Jesus finishes our stories. Hallelujah.

 

Grace upon grace,

April

p.s.- The previews to this movie are mostly garbage. I have no idea why they chose them with this particular film. Just letting you know ahead of time so maybe you can avoid seeing the previews. 

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Words to live by this year

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.

Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” – 2 Peter 1:3-4

Gratitude.

Contentment.

Satisfaction.

These are the words I want to practice more of until it becomes habit, until it is my nature.

Habits of grace.

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2018 was hard and wonderful. Isn’t it normally like that? Life is full of trials and joys. We moved into a new house and Jesse started a new school- again. He watched his first movie (Toy Story in case you’re wondering) over the summer.

We’re starting over in many ways but also living just as we have, day after day. This is a new year, but you are still the same you. We each have one life to bless others, worship the Lord, and use our gifts.

Our lives are filled with so many good things. We enjoy them with gratitude knowing Who lavishes us with these graces. But with all things kept in eternal perspective, only Christ brings purpose to even these earthly blessings.

Only God can satisfy a parched soul.

Only ‘I AM’ fills the cracks with Himself. Longing for the Lord is good- be patient and persevere in seeking His face.

Coram Deo. Living before the face of God.

We let our light of salvation flood out the dark- in our own flesh and the culture around us.  Jesus can use you this year to be an agent of change for His Kingdom, that is not of this world. That’s worth celebrating any day of the year 🙂

 

Grace upon grace,

April

 

 

it’s a mad, mad world. but you already knew that.

A billboard that I see each morning driving Jesse to school shows 3 women on a beach wearing bikinis. The slogan says “On December 3 their tops will come off”.

Another one along this same road boasts, “Your wife knows, and so does your girlfriend”.

These are obviously intended for shock value and I’m not quite sure what the selling point is, but the goal is to make you look.

The problem with it is that we live in a culture that has no shame, no filter, no decency. One thought I had was, do these people have kids who put up those signs? 

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The world in 2018 continues to become godless and develop a we don’t care attitude, do what you want lifestyle . We’ve always known that, but it seems more direct than ever.

Angry mobs threaten individuals who they vehemently disagree with – in both political parties.

Brett Kavanaugh, a Supreme Court Justice nominee had his life dragged through the mud because of political agendas, more than the actual accusation.

Commercials subtly insert homosexual couples in ads to normalize it.

Voting chaos in mid-term elections.

Journalism and the media report with bias and behavioral outbursts.

 

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It makes me sick to my stomach because the world is bold in rejecting God, blinded by sin.

Yet there are three things we can take away from our current cultural climate that can help us stay faithful as Christians:

1. God will judge those who remain unrepentant.

Reading through the Old Testament minor prophets, the one thing that strikes me is the certainty of the prophecies. It’s not if but when the Lord executes judgment. It sounds very fanatical and this is where the world mocks Christians (much like in the days of Noah) but it serves as a warning right now- a mercy, until its too late. The prophets were mostly foretelling of the fall of Jerusalem and exile that took place beginning in 597 B.C.

God is patient but swift to act when the appointed time comes.

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3)

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2. God will preserve His people because of His covenants.

In the days leading up to Babylonian captivity, God promised to leave a remnant of His people so they weren’t completely annihilated. One of the reasons for this was to preserve the line of Christ. Just as God provided physical deliverance for Israel, His plan was also to bring spiritual deliverance for humanity through Jesus.

“I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people.

One who breaks open the way will go up before them; 

they will break through the gate and go out. Their king will pass through before them, the Lord at their head.” (Micah 2:12-13)

3. We cannot stay neutral.

Because you are either a follower of Christ or a follower of Satan. Sure, you might not phrase it like that, but it comes down to where our allegiance lies. This isn’t a game or a fairy tale. The spiritual world is just as real as the couch you’re sitting on, reading this post.

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Jesus says in Revelation that we can’t be lukewarm (3:14-22). God says in Zephaniah that complacency is sin (1:12). I would propose to you that neutrality doesn’t even exist- it serves as a cover for not wanting to get mixed in. Because when you finally choose a side, it will cost you something. We in America have the current freedom to not experience physical persecution like other Christians around the world. I don’t fear for my life when I profess to follow Christ.

Maybe if I were bold and unashamed like the world is bold and unashamed of how they want to live it would cost me more. I’m thinking that from an eternal perspective this is how I should live.

But remember, God is with His Beloved, He is with us and not against His people. We have the Holy Spirit as our help and comforter. So we don’t have to live in fear, or despair the spiritual rebellion happening all around. He dispenses grace and strength we need for each day. God is hidden but present. He is Providentially at work.

“He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”

1 Corinthians 1:8-9

Grace upon grace,

April

How should Christians vote?

“I have revealed and saved and proclaimed-

I, and not some foreign god among you.

You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,

“that I am God.

Yes, and from ancient days I am He.

No one can deliver out of my Hand.

When I act, who can reverse it?”

Isaiah 43:12-13

These are the words of the Lord. They are absolutely true and trustworthy.

 

God is the same God in 2018 as He was in 18 A.D. He does not “evolve” but is the Great I AM yesterday, today, into eternity. He always has been and will be.

Next week will be the mid-term elections. Whatever happens is under Sovereign Providence. We vote but we also pray and trust in the Lord. Because He is holding all things together.

God is at work and none can stop Him, not even the pits of hell.

Praise the Lord.

 

Grace upon grace,

April

Fight like a good neighbor

For my birthday Jason and I rented Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the recent documentary about Fred Rogers’ life. Most of us knew him as Mister Rogers from his children’s show, with the same name, on PBS. I was reduced to tears halfway through the film, seeing this man fight for goodness in a culture hell bent on being hell bent. Mister Rogers was a counter-cultural show, and relevant at the same time.

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He purposely talked slower, keeping a quiet pace for his viewers, in reaction to the fast moving, in-your-face entertainment catered toward young consumers. Mister Rogers never dumbed down his message but instead spoke directly to children as people, not half-human martians. He also addressed the current issues of his day with subjects about assassination, politics and race. It was never overt but more like a gentle conversation, leading by example.

The documentary shows how Fred Rogers used his life to display kindness to all people. In essence, he saw every person with inherent value, choosing to treat others with dignity. Mister Rogers demonstrated what it means to show grace in an angry world. It’s a good lesson for Christians too.

It doesn’t mean we ignore the wickedness of our time, but first view each person as an image-bearer in need of God’s salvation and grace.

We start the good fight here, not for external moralism, but compassion for heart transformation. The greater war within each of us is spiritual. A person, a people, a nation cannot change without the inner man being renewed.

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It is so easy to become disheartened in our current climate, to watch evil win. When everyone does what is right in his own eyes sin will prevail. We do what we want under the disguise of “tolerance” to justify our sin. Helplessness sets in for the Christian so we keep our heads down.

But Fred Rogers bravely and publicly lived out his conviction to reach children with the hope of transforming the next generation from hate to love, anger to kindness. And yet we go a step further because it isn’t enough. Outward change only results from inner change first. We operate out of our own regenerated hearts before engaging in spiritual battles/culture wars. Only then can we approach others from a place of sincerity and live out the Gospel message.

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Friends, don’t grow weary in doing good. Even with mass chaos in our world we have the invaluable gift of giving the lost what they need most- Hope. We are the Light Bearers to darkness.

Remember who you are in Jesus Christ and fight the good fight right in your own neighborhood.

 

Grace upon grace,

April

 

Go deeper:

Revelation 2:2-7

Hebrews 12:3

Galatians 6:9-10

 

How Christians deal with tragedy in the world

Last week was our fall break, so we joined my in-laws at the beach. Even though the pool water was frigid and sleep eluded us due to sharing a room with Jesse, it was nice – a much needed get away from all adult responsibilities. We arrived the day before the Las Vegas massacre, stealing so many lives, causing hundreds of injuries and an untold number of psychological damage to those who witnessed the horrific scene.

It somehow felt wrong to be on vacation when others were experiencing such grief. I felt a little guilty for indulging in a week away from my life.

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The reality is, tragedy strikes every day all over the world – unspeakable things that never make the headlines. How do we respond then, when sad events seem to come in waves like recently? There are so many needs around us it can feel overwhelming, not to mention the sorrows that touch our personal lives. I begin to feel helpless. Paralysis sets in or an apathetic mindset. I don’t like admitting that, but we are not humanly capable to emotionally respond to every single calamity. This is what I have been wrestling with this week.

How are Christians to react to multiple tragedies?

One thing I took away from the Las Vegas attack and hurricanes on the coasts was to be grateful for the things God has given me: life, family, salvation/hope, opportunity to take vacations, food, shelter, witnessing acts of kindness, laughter, God’s beauty in creation; the list goes on because it has to. If we stop counting God’s kindnesses we become victims too, swallowed in despair.

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We fight against Satan’s schemes, living in a fallen world, by carrying a grateful heart. Living in the present, taking nothing for granted.

It doesn’t negate the pain, but those very circumstances propel us to pray for the hurting and call us to act. It doesn’t have to be big. Small acts of kindness go a long way. Ask God specifically how you can meet need, bless someone, or who to pray for. We have opportunities to minister right where we live too. Look around – your neighbors, local church, friends, family, and school.

These are open invitations to do His work.

Satan would have us living in fear, or doubt even, to keep us ineffective and disobedient as believers. You can still be grieved over the brokenness in our world, but you don’t have to be fearful or useless. We hold our hands open to accept both the good and the bad.

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There is purpose in pain. We may not comprehend it this side of heaven but what Satan intends for evil God can use for good. It isn’t senseless or haphazard, even when it feels that way.

We know how the Story ends; it’s the middle part that’s muddled. Yet because we are confident in our eternal future we don’t have to walk through this life riddled with anxiety over the unknown. I do not serve a hard God. This world is hard because it isn’t as it should be. Those who place their faith in Christ know this earthly life is not all there is.

We choose to trust in God’s Sovereignty.

We place our hope in His unfailing Love and Mercy.

Rest in His Power when things are chaotic. Trust in His Goodness when you don’t understand. Remember His grace to you and live out of that confident hope.

 

Grace upon grace,

April

 

 

why others should know what you stand for

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Recently the television show Once Upon A Time aired an episode specifically to celebrate the LGBT community. It became obvious what their goal was with the forced story line seemingly coming out of nowhere – well, Oz to be exact. The series plot follows fairy tale characters that we all know and love as they navigate their way in the modern world.

In an attempt to normalize homosexual relationships, what better way to force-feed the audience their agenda than behind the cloak of “family friendly” watching? I’m not naïve enough to think ABC (the broadcast in which the show airs) shares my values. In fact, it took me this long to see how much they despise them.

In the name of tolerance there are shows on ABC about a gay teen (The Real O’Neals), a married gay couple with a kid (Modern Family) and a woman who has an abortion (Scandal). I don’t even have to watch those shows to know I won’t be tuning in. The clips and headlines say it all.

But my head turned when the creators of Once Upon A Time, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, decided to make Red Riding Hood and Dorothy a proud lesbian couple with a full-on make-out scene. I shouldn’t be surprised, but that one caught me off guard. They also clarified Mulan’s lesbianism as well. It seems obvious that the writers ran out of good material and had to go for the shock value instead. The season had been sputtering a little and this sealed it.

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If there was one thing I could tell ABC it would be that in the crusade for tolerance, you have offended me, a Christian.

Our world is so bent on not offending the LGBT group that the rest of us don’t even matter.

We’re called bigots, intolerant, homophobes, and narrow-minded (and those are the nice words).

The standards I choose to follow are God’s biblical principles laid out in Scripture. I believe what God says about marriage. It is between one man and one woman and not only is it beautiful, but also sacred. (Genesis 2:20-25; …all of the Song of Solomon)

The wide brush that Christians are painted with grieves my heart. We are projected as LGBT haters. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that the kind of lifestyle homosexuals celebrate is what God calls an abomination. It makes something He created as holy, unholy. (Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Corinthians 6:17-20; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Deuteronomy 22:5)

But what I also see are the people behind the masquerade – souls that need truth, to see what real love looks like, the love of Christ. What a scary place it must be to make up one’s own morality as you go along.

When everyone does what is right in his own eyes we self-destruct.

I’m disappointed Once Upon A Time took such an unnecessary turn. However, I will not be silenced or ashamed of my convictions because I follow Jesus Christ. I agree with the Bible and that it is completely true without error. The sad part is LGBT and supporters have made themselves the victims when in fact it is the Christian faith being attacked.

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Redemption is possible to all who desire repentance from whatever lifestyle of sin. But “you cannot adjust your faith to make room for your favorite sin” to quote Matt Walsh. It doesn’t mean Christians have it all together. Rather, it acknowledges a need for forgiveness and daily grace, seeking to please God because we love Him. Defiant rebellion and rebuking God’s Word is not an option or a mark of a believer.

So, let us pray for this nation in a culture war that steps inside our own homes through the television screen (or better yet, turn it off). Let us pray to be kind to someone who vehemently disagrees with what we stand for, demonstrating gracious speech, patience with conviction. Let us grieve for the lost and do our part in bringing the Gospel to our neighbor, co-worker, city, and to the nations. Engage the culture instead of shunning it. Let others know what you believe because when you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

 

Grace upon grace,

April