As a rule, I do not frequent the theaters. However, once in a great while there is an exceptional movie worth seeing and worth paying theater prices in order to support the movie producer so that they will make more great films.
Recently, two such movies have made their debut in the theater. The first is entitled "Seven Days in Utopia." The writer/producer is Dr. David Cook – who has a long history of publishing Christian education materials. This rather unique movie begins with a recently-turned-pro golfer who is doing well at his first official tournament when he blows it on the last hole in a totally humiliating fashion. In anger, he drives off and has a car accident which leaves him stranded in a small community called Utopia while awaiting his car to be repaired. Here he meets an older golfer who also had once played the pro circuits and from whom he learns important golf lessons and even more important lessons for life. The movie is very engaging and will easily captivate you – even if you are not a golfer. Unfortunately, there is at least one profanity clearly heard in the movie and there might be others said under the breath but they are not truly noticeable. Still, it all works together to give a breath of realism to the environment of the movie. The most remarkable thing about this movie is the ingenuity of its ending. At the end of the movie, you are left with one nagging question which requires you to visit a particular website in order to find out what happened just after the screen went black. When I returned home from the movie, I visited the website which instantly answered my curiosity but also delivered another important life lesson. There was an opportunity to click a link to allow me to interact with that life lesson by taking action on what I have learned. Clicking that link took you to a page with a very clear and succinct presentation of the Gospel. This was ingenious. I would highly recommend taking your friends who may not know Christ to see this movie and then encourage them to do the follow-up to see how the movie ended. This is a highly creative way to share the gospel in a relevant fashion. Not many theaters will carry this movie, but find one that does not go see it.
The best movie of 2011 – and perhaps of the century – is the movie Courageous. Sherwood Pictures has superseded its previous three films – Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof. Flywheel revolved around the lines of used car salesmen and what happened when the owner of the business decided to run his business by God's principles. Facing the Giants focused on the life of a coach and his football team and what happened when they committed their ways to Christ. Fireproof showed the restoration of a seemingly impossible marriage in the life of a fire captain. With Courageous, we see God working in the lines of five men – four of whom are Sheriff deputies. It is rated PG-13 for its scenes of action and violence. However, there is not a single word of profanity in this movie. For those concerned about the style of music, there is no dominant rock beat in any of the music until after the closing credits begin to roll. This movie should be mandatory for every man to see. It highlights the duties we have as dads to disciple our own children. But it also highlights the duties we have the mentor those who were not our children but who have need of a father to speak truth into their lives.
Many are not aware of the significant of definite articles in Malachi 4:6 – "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." God says that his profit will come to turn the heart of fathers to THE children and to turn the hearts of the children to THEIR fathers. When a young person comes to you for counsel,you should always seek to honor their father and to turn their heart toward their father whenever possible. The heart of children should be turned toward their own dads. However, God expects me as a man to not only love my own children, but to love all children. Therefore, he says that his profit will turn the hearts of fathers to THE CHILDREN. God does not want us to only love her own children but also the children but do not really have a dad. Do you take time to mentor children whose father is absent – whether through divorce or death? You should. God expects it of you.
I would also encourage anyone who has sons who were not saved to take their sons to see Courageous. It will give them an opportunity to see the reality of men living Christian lives fleshed out in front of their faces. I believe this will ultimately result in them being more willing to receive Christ. Unfortunately, in our day and time, many young people regard Christianity as a woman's religion – often because the only real Christian they know well is their mother. Give your sons an opportunity to see men trying to live out their faith in a real and practical way.
Now Christian parents have a real challenge when taking their children to see a really great faith-based movie. The movie can be perfect, but you have to endure the previews. When I took my family to see the movie Courageous in the Premier 14 theater in Burleson, Texas, the vast majority of previews were family friendly. Still, my wife had the children look at the floor and keep their ears closed until the previews had concluded. She did this, because she knows that you never know what to expect from the movie previews that precede the feature film. Still, we are thankful for that theater in Burleson Texas for being sensitive to run family friendly previews prior to the movie.
The following evening, however, I saw the Courageous movie again at the Cinemark theater in Mansfield Texas. This theater totally lacks sensitivity to the nature of their audience. They showed previews with mature themes, one movie with an open mockery of Christianity starring Dolly Parton, and several movies with an occult or Satanic theme. This theater will likely be losing my business in the future.
So what can you do as a parent? Let me make a suggestion based on our own experience with eight children. You have several alternatives:
Wait for the movie to become available on DVD – and then you do not have to suffer through the previews. Pros: you save money over the cost of going to the theater and you get to miss the conflict in previews. Cons: you miss the opportunity to support a Christian filmmaker at the theater (where your attendance is essentially a vote for the theater to show similar future films). You also typically have to wait longer to see the film this way.
Get one or two of the most mature family members to reserve the seats in the movie auditorium. When the undesirable previews are over, Cindy text message (or call) to the other parent or older child who are waiting with the younger children in the hall to let them know it is now time for them to come in. They will still have an opportunity to get into the auditorium before the movie actually begins, but avoid seeing or hearing the previews.
Train your children to keep their eyes closed in the years close during the playing of the previews. This is probably the least effective alternative since some sounds will no doubt reach your child's ears.
The middle option is the one my wife and I have chosen to employ on several occasions. My wife and I can sit in the auditorium until the previews are complete and then we can notify my oldest at-home daughter to bring in the rest of the children to take their seats.then we can immediately turn off all of our cell phones so as not to disturb others during the movie. This allows us to support a Christian filmmaker at the box office, see the movie on the big screen, and still derive the important spiritual lessons from a truly great movie like Courageous.
Courageous will have you laughing until you cry, and then crying until you can laugh again. It touches upon a plethora of human emotions and grabs every man's heart from the opening scene. This is a must-see movie that every man and every boy over the age of 10 should see. And this movie has what may be the most succinct and clear presentation of the Gospel that has ever been filmed. If you know a boy or a man without Christ, take them to see this movie today. If you know a boy or man who claims to be a Christian but is not living that life to the fullest, by then movie tickets for this film today. I cannot stress strongly enough how important this film could be to your life and the life of those you love.