Risen (Pure Flix)

Risen tells the story of a Roman guard who is tasked with finding the body of Jesus after the Resurrection. His search leads him on a journey of self-discovery, and he begins questioning everything he has ever believed.

Risen stars Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, and Peter Firth. While well-acted, the plot moves slowly. One of the beginning scene of the Crucifixion may be disturbing for some viewers.

Running the Bases (PureFlix, Amazon, VUDU, iTunes)

Baseball was their dream. Until that dream is crushed by an untimely death and the diagnosis of a potentially fatal health condition. Now, with no plans and apparently no future, Luke feels lost until he modifies his dream. He may no longer be able to play baseball, but there is nothing stopping him from coaching it.

As a coach, Luke focuses on developing the whole person, not just their baseball skills, holding his team to high standards both on and off the field. His reputation as a coach lands him a job offer at a large, public school. Luke and his family make the decision to move and accept what they believe to be a God-given opportunity.

However, it is not long before this God-given opportunity turns into a nightmare as Luke’s values and methods are challenged by the school superintendent whose focus is on winning and not on building men of character. There is an underlying reason for the superintendent’s behavior, but that will be revealed in the course of the movie.

This movie is worth the watch, and I don’t say that about many Christina movies. The story has humor and heart; it has plot and character. Yes, there are Christian references, but they are believable (they come up naturally in the story). At no point in time do you feel like you are being preached at. This is by far one of the best Christian movies I’ve ever seen. Definitely worth the watch! I will be adding it to my “Favorites.”

Running the Bases is also available on VUDU, Amazon Prime, and iTunes.

The Girl Who Believes in Miracles (PureFlix)

The Girl Who Believes in Miracles is a surprisingly well written and well-acted Christian film. A young girl with the faith of a mustard seed discovers that she has been granted the ability to cure people. This tests the faith of her parents and certain people in the village. Unfortunately, her new found abilities come with a price; in one of her visions, she is told she will be going to heaven soon – a revelation her parents are unwilling to accept.

P.S. I also want to note that while the message of faith permeates the movie, this movie was surprisingly not “preachy”. The aspects of faith were addressed in ways that felt natural and appropriate and didn’t interrupt the storyline. This is one of the few Christian movies I’ve actually enjoyed.

Blessed Among Us

BlessedAmongUs.jpgBlessed Among Us is a collection of short biographies (3 paragraphs at most) of individuals who, through their lives, exemplified virtues such as service to others, humility, courage, compassion, etc. Written by Robert Eslberg for the Give Us This Day monthly publication, they were eventually compiled into a book.

This book covers people from all walks of life. While this book predominantly focuses on the lives of Catholic Saints and Catholic individuals, it does not limit the biographies to solely Catholics, featuring biographies of individuals like Martin Luther King Jr., Anne Frank, Fred Rogers, and Mohandas Gandhi to name a few. The purpose of this book is not to promote one denomination as superior, but to show how individual lives can change the world simply by making selfless choices.

Often times, when I read stories about people from history, religious or not, I do not feel as if I can relate to them. Their deeds are far beyond anything I believe I am capable of or their experiences are not comparable to my life. I find it discouraging – how can I ever hope to make a difference when I’m not special or talented or gifted?

This is one of the reasons why I enjoy Blessed Among Us so much. While some of the individuals featured are naturally gifted, extremely brave or devout, or make some extraordinary discovery, many of those featured are simply “normal” (at least by my standards). They didn’t discover a cure or save somebody’s life; they just lived – lived a life doing what they could with what they had to make the world a better place.

Authors, Artists & Artisans!

Had a nice time at the Higher Ground Books & Media‘s “Authors, Artists & Artisans!” event.

I spent way too much money, but hey, I got some Christmas gifts! (Thanks Michael Fehskens and Meaghan Fisher: Children’s Author)

Met some authors that I’ve read (J.Kevin Earp) and several that I’d like to read (Mina R Raulston, Parker Stevens, and Carolyn Williams). My reading list just got longer!