Jesus Christ

Battles Men Face: Strategies to Win the War Within By Dr. Gregory Jantz

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By Dr. Gregory Jantz

Fear is an emotion I’ve dealt with much of my life. The fears and struggles have changed throughout time, but the overall feelings resulted by each fear and struggle has remained with the exact same effect. I am not afraid to admit I am an imperfect person, in fact this is one of the reasons why I love Jesus as I do, but I also have recognized as of late it is something which has held me back in life. Not too long after a conversation with my wife, I ran into Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book: Battles Men Face, which I hoped would give some clarity to what I’ve felt for a long time…

Battles Men Face: Strategies to Win the War Within is a self-help book, targeted for men, which guides the reader with both Christian theology and clinical psychology. Dr. Jantz examines The What, The Why, and The How of various issues Men face. He also guides men with patient testimonies, scriptural passages, and even personal experiences in order for readers to understand and relate to what’s going on within their hearts. Battles Men Face is a book which reveals many thoughts readers might have never thought about as specifically as they might think, and it is also a book which asks the reader some tough yet essential questions…

Though not every man has every problem Dr. Jantz describes, he writes about the inner struggle exactly how it is; at least within my heart. Partially thanks to Dr. Jantz’s book, I realize I have even more growing up to do but what I learned from his book is a good start on my journey. It was eye-opening for me to see a glimpse of why I struggle with the issues I do, and how I should respond to those issues from now on… Based on my personal experience reading Battles Men Face, I’m confident not only was this a very good book for me as a man, but also for any man who wants to be honest enough with themselves. The only complaint I have about Dr. Jantz’ book is every time, I remember, he sources scripture he uses The Message translation; I feel there are better translations out there than the MSG. Otherwise I did not see anything promoted by Dr. Jantz which is contrary to what scripture says. It’s great to see there is a Christian out there who isn’t just trying to help people with their issues, but is also trying to lead them to Jesus Christ; the most important thing a man and woman can do to respond to their inner struggles. I recommend this book highly, and I am encouraged to check out some of his other books as well.

Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Loving the Bad Man: A DVD Review

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An East Lake Film

Before Christmas arrived, in addition to wanting to watch something with the wife, I also wanted watch a Christian based title. While at Family Video, I saw there were a few Christian titles made available recently, which I can’t help but think is really cool by the way, and one title which I couldn’t resist renting was Loving the Bad Man. I saw an ad for this on Christian Cinema not too long ago, and I also remembered that Stephen Baldwin was on the cover so I was like “hmmmm wonder what’ll be about…?”

Loving the Bad man, concerns two different people. One is a upstanding, Christian girl who tries to be good to everyone and loves the Lord even more. Another is a not-so-wholesome man with a criminal history, that isn’t happy with where he is currently situated in life. The unwholesome character runs into the Christian girl, because she is in need of some help with her flat tire. However in a drunken rage, he rapes her after completing the job…. The dude is thrown into prison while the Christian is struggling with the fact she is now pregnant. Will this prisoner realize the evil he has committed, and how will this Christian girl respond to this very difficult life circumstance?

This is a very controversial film for both Christians and unbelievers a like. I definitely feel this is a film which should be viewed primarily by Christians, simply because there are some ideas within this film which unbelievers are not going to understand or appreciate. However, what is addressed is something which some Christians might also struggle with as well like how Julie responds to her rapist. At times I almost feel the movie is unrealistic, to an extent, in certain scenes where both Julie and her rapist make some diffcult decisions way too quickly; no I am not referring to Julie’s decision to keep the baby. Overall it’s a decent film, it could have been better at times, but it could have been a lot worse too…

Movie Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

The Perfect Gift: A DVD Review

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A Kelly’s Filmworks movie

A while ago, when I still had Cable, I watched The Perfect Gift on JCTV. I remember when I first saw it I really liked it, but I never got around to purchasing it. Years later, when trying to think up some good Christian Christmas movies for my upcoming movie night, this was one of the first thoughts of which I was reminded. However, I didn’t completely remember why I had enjoyed watching Jefferson Moore’s The Perfect Gift so I had to re watch it again in order to properly write this review.

The Perfect Gift contains multiple stories, which all revolve around a drifter named Jes. Maxine is a spoiled rotten girl who is forced to make some new adjustments with Dad and his money no longer being in the picture. Maxine’s mother also has a burden forced upon her, but this mom’s trouble involves planning a politically correct celebration called “The Winter Gala”. Tony is an over burdened, Assistant Pastor who is in the process of setting up a Nativity Scene outside of the church; he also wishes the church was doing better. Blaine is an Atheist who is the head of an activist organization which claims to promote “religious freedom”. Jes is a drifter who peacefully arrives into town who looks a lot like Jesus Christ, is mysteriously a great carpenter, has a gift of wisdom, and somehow directly and indirectly affects the lives of all of these people and the rest of the town itself. What sort of lessons will everyone learn, and what makes Christmas… well Christmas?

After watching this I remembered why I LOVED The Perfect Gift. This movie is wonderful for many reasons, and certainly puts many Holiday Fluff films out there to great shame! One of my favorite reasons for enjoying this movie was the deep theological messages contained within the film without the actors hammering it into your skull. I was especially enamored with the way the townspeople respond to Blaine; it was awesome!!! Jefferson Moore is great as Jes, because he is able to cultivate a variety of moods appropriately, and I also liked how he passionately talked about Mary’s journey to Bethlehem and what he said to Blaine. In fact most of the actors did very well; Christine Fougnie wasn’t the best at first but got better with each scene. The story is very clever and quite realistic, and this was even funny at times. I am amazed I didn’t buy this sooner or tell people about this any sooner. I very strongly recommend this movie for your collection; especially if you like Christmas movies.

Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Christmas Miracle: A DVD Review

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A Vivendi Entertainment film

Going grocery shopping one day, I saw some of Wal-Mart’s recently released movies along side the checkout aisle. Some were terrible so I just ignored them completely, especially the Holiday Fluff films which companies claim to be representing the “Christmas” season, but I did see one film of interest: Christmas Miracle which inspired me to take a closer look. I read the description and saw the concept was interesting, and I also enjoyed the fact this was made from the same company who released A Mile in His Shoes and both WWJD movies; for those wondering one had John Schneider the other had John Ratzenberger.

Christmas Miracle concerns a group of strangers who get stranded together due to a snowstorm on Christmas Eve; how they all get stuck is suspenseful indeed. One car contains a father whose marriage is falling apart, one contains a widower who used to be a Pastor, another car has a newlywed couple with a bit of an age difference, another has an upper class couple who have been married for years but fight constantly, and the last vehicle is a former EMT worker. Each set of travelers contain their own set of baggage, and must band together within an old abandoned church in order to survive. What will they learn and experience within the old church? And will they have a good Christmas if even having one at all?

Right off the bat I have to say George Canyon, the actor who plays the EMT, is an excellent singer and I love the songs he sings in this movie. I also felt the events and lines written in Christmas Miracle were well done and for the most part were not unrealistic. The acting was very good, and although this was primarily a drama there were a few funny moments too. The theological messages portrayed throughout and at the end of the film I cannot help but feel are necessary for Christians and non Christians alike to hear; especially non-Christian viewers, because then believers can talk to  unbelievers about it. I recommend this as a good Christian, Christmas movie to add to your Christmas movie viewing pleasure and will tell my friends about it.

Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Christmas Angel: A DVD Review

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A Pure Flix Film

Lately I’ve been in the Christmas movie mood. In order to plan for a special movie night for my Christian movie group, I’ve been doing some recent research on finding more Christian Christmas movies besides the ones I was aware of thus far. Checking out a lead on Pure Flix’s YouTube Channel, I saw they just came out with the new movie Christmas Angel. The trailer actually looked pretty cute, and since it was also recently released on Netflix I couldn’t wait to test it out before it would arrive at my mailbox.

Christmas Angel is a story about some kids who discover a “magic” house which seems to grant certain wishes after the kids throw rocks at it. More is going on though than meets the eye in this Christmas story. Olivia is a 5th grader who is looking for a great guy to be with her mother, while she is also trying to solve the mystery of the “magic” house. Why is it that some of the kids’ wishes are granted while others are denied? What is the strange blue glow coming from within that “magic” house at night…? Is it really an Angel like Olivia thinks? And what purpose does Dr. Davis have for even owning the rundown building in the first place?

I absolutely loved Christmas Angel. The actress who plays Olivia and the rest of the kids themselves, are very cute and play their roles well. It was also really neat to see the grownup actors apart of the cast, very nicely done I must say to whoever arranged that. I really enjoyed the story itself as well, because it captivates many different moods appropriately while also providing a message that closely relates to the Christmas season.  We need more films like this to be made, and someone ought to get Christmas Angel to be played on national television because a new trend needs to be set with our culture’s “entertainment”. We need to kick out all of the Holiday Fluff which is poisoning the purpose of this time of year. This is definitely a film you can enjoy with the entire family, and I am glad to have added this to my Christian movie collection. I am confident if given the opportunity, those I show this to will also enjoy it as well!

Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

THE Three Types of Christmas Movies

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It’s one day from Halloween, and I’m writing an entry about Christmas, yes I know I am weird lol. But seriously, I couldn’t help but think about the idea of Christmas movies for a few reasons. One reason is due to the fact I am planning a special Christian Christmas movie night at the end of November; hopefully we’ll have snow by then so we can go tubing. Besides that though, I know very soon companies will start releasing their DVDs, TV Specials, commercials, products, etc for the “holiday season”. Because there are plenty of movies out there which are and have been made for the Christmas time of year, I couldn’t help but think more about them. At one point, I remembered some of my previous blog entries and movie reviews about Christmas, and I also remembered some of the previous Christmas films I’ve watched in the past and have heard other people talk about. And then it hit me. Really when you get past all of the details, there are really only three types of Christmas movies.

Before I get to what the three types are, I’m sure some of you maybe wondering… “Ben why does it matter?” Well it matters, because of what Christmas is supposed to be all about. Christmas is supposed to be about many things, but there are somethings which are emphasized which may not necessarily be as important as other details if even important at all. In fact some of these details are reasons why some don’t celebrate Christmas and even hate those who do practice it; or at least hate the time of year… Now this is very important to note, because some of those said people think that’s why people celebrate Christmas, when that isn’t true in actuality and if someone is actually doing it for those grrr-able reasons then they ought to reexamine their life. What are those details to which I am referring? They’ll be addressed as I’m revealing to you THE three Types of Christmas Movies:

1) Secular Christmas Movies. These were the common format for what a Christmas movie was back in the day. (when I say ‘back in the day’ I mean within the 90s and earlier.) I have enjoyed and currently own many of these types of movies. These type of Christmas Movies have to take place around Christmas time; in fact any Christmas movie must. These also emphasize certain ideas within the plot like Family, Peace, Joy, Love, Friendship, and Forgiveness which are very good things. What makes it secular, however, is the fact these movies won’t say much about Jesus; though might give a quick slip of a reference indirectly. Now I’m not saying that’s a completely bad thing, because I don’t expect all movies to talk about Jesus but with Christmas being what it is, all those other themes I mentioned a few sentences ago are secondary themes. Primarily this is done simply to reach out to a broader audience, which I can respect depending on how it’s done of course. I would argue such movies as Trapped in Paradise, All I Want for Christmas, A Muppet Family Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and others are good examples of Secular Christmas movies.

2) Christian Christmas Movies. I know that might sound like an oxymoron to some people, but unfortunately in today’s culture it is not. Now again I am not demonizing Secular Christmas movies, because there are some very good ones out there besides the examples I mentioned a moment ago. However, a good Christian Christmas film will do everything a Secular Christmas movie does, and will also not be afraid to tell people that Jesus is the reason for the season. It is, after all, THE Primary reason we ought to celebrate Christmas in the first place. If someone grrs at that idea, that’s too bad because that is nonnegotiable. I do not expect, nor should every Christmas movie to be a reenactment of the Nativity scene, because that isn’t the only way a movie can talk about Jesus Christ and some of those reenactments are questionable for interpretation anyhow. Sure movies like Christmas With a Capital C , Saint Nicholas, The Perfect Gift, and others are great movies made by Christian based groups, however not every Christian Christmas movie needs to be necessarily made by a Christian company. I mean there are other movies/TV Specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas, Noel, Nestor the Long Eared Christmas Donkey, and others which are examples of Christian Christmas movies not necessarily made by a Christian based company.

3) Holiday Fluff. I wrote and talked about this a little bit last year, but it needs to be said again. Holiday Fluff in short is a concept which appears very sugary sweet and might even taste good with a quick lick, but when heavily consumed it gives the person a stomach ache and doesn’t satisfy their hunger. Unfortunately, this is the type of “Christmas” movie which is more popular in modern times. These types of movies promote stuff like shopping, decorating, Santa Claus, finding a tree, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, having family over at the house, wrapping presents, Frosty the Snow man, snow, opening presents, and other things/ideas which don’t necessarily need to even be apart of Christmas to make it Christmas. Holiday Fluff are also the types of movies which will absolutely REFUSE to talk about and show anything referring to Jesus Christ, the Nativity, or anything else which is Christian based at all; unless it’s in a negative way. Because of this complete refusal, companies will even go as far as trying to reinvent what it means to celebrate Christmas, and much of what they try to promote are what makes some people grr at the Holiday Season. Honestly, if Christmas was all about what Holiday Fluff tries to paint this time of year to be, I’d be standing right next to the protest sign holding Atheist in support. Despite this, however, there are some likeable Holiday Fluff movies including Elf, Christmas With The Kranks, and A Christmas Story. But then there are others like Gremlins, Die Hard, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, Four Christmases, Olive the Other Reindeer, Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure, Home Alone 4 and others which make me think “How is this Christmas???”

The Mark: A DVD Review

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A Pure Flix Film

One night when hosting my Christian movie night, the movie Escape was voted upon; great movie by the way. While we were checking out the previews before the movie, a preview for this movie: The Mark began playing. When my moviegoers and I saw this preview we were all like “Whoa!”, and some of them even asked me to check this out and see if it was worth nominating for a future movie night. Of course besides them asking me about it, I wanted to check out The Mark because I felt the plot was very promising and I was also just thinking of the whole microchipping thing…

The Mark concerns paid mercenary: Chad Turner who has been hired to protect some medical workers. In the middle of a chaotic attack, one of the scientists injects something into Chad’s arm… When Chad comes to he learns he has a very unique microchip which has been bonded to him for life. Chad is told by one of the members of Avanti, the corporation which designed the microchip, he needs to go to Berlin to present it before the G-20 conference. While on the plane for Berlin, Chad is warned by a reporter what he has in his arm could very well be the prototype to “The Mark of the Beast”… Does what she say have some legitimacy? And why are there people who will stop at nothing to steal the chip? What fascinated me the most about this movie is the fact they based the plot off of something real; the RFID Chip… It is scary to think about for various reasons.

One reason being the part where Eric Roberts says if the terrorists try to remove it from Chad’s arm that it’ll kill Chad and destroy itself, because that is real. Of course, another reason is the fact this insidious idea could very well be the actual Mark of the Beast described in the Book of Revelation someday… In regard to this movie, I thought it was pretty good. There was plenty of action and drama. If you don’t believe in the rapture you might not like certain things being talked about in this movie, but I think for the most part it is enjoyable to watch even if you don’t. The only downsides I have with this movie is that much of the movie is shown in the preview, and I also think they could have tied in certain details better. But then again, they showed immediately at the end of the movie that they plan to make a sequel! Overall this is a good movie and I plan to share it with others.

Movie Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.