"As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you." 2 Thessalonians 3:1
Prayer for one another is a spiritual secret weapon. It rocks the devil's world, wins over a lost world, and brings peace in this world. Prayer for another is a necessary ingredient in the recipe for successful living. A prayer investment is an eternal investment. Prayers for healing, prayers for wisdom, prayers of praise and prayers to courageously spread the gospel all acknowledge the Lord's priorities. Indeed, prayer promotes God's agenda.
Moreover, our prayers for others change us. When we implore Christ to heal the illness of a sweaty browed small child, our heart grows tender. When we ask God to give a friend wisdom in a crucial decision, we grow in wisdom. When we pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers, the Spirit directs us to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Prayer is a platform that produces righteous results for the giver and the receiver.
"And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5:15-17
Be careful not to take your prayers for granted, treating them as an afterthought or mindless routine. Asking God's blessing over a meal is a big deal. Whether in private or in public you give glory to your provider and sustainer, Jesus. Are you bold when eating out to politely ask permission to pray out loud before you partake? Yes, you can pray quietly, or you can remind everyone present who is Lord of the meal.
Who needs your fervent prayers today? Do they know you are praying for them? Perhaps you send an email or text prayer to a special friend in need. Sometimes a hurting person needs less advice and more comforting words of Christ on their behalf. A supplication to your Savior for suffering saints brings fear to its knees and elevates faith and hope up front and center. Thus, ask for prayers and offer prayers for God's glory. Prayers hold up one another.
"So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him." Acts 12:5
Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me to pray for those who need your comfort and conviction.
We love getting to know the artists behind our favorite Christian music and we’re pretty sure you do too! Here’s a quick Q &A with the artists appearing on the Proof of your Love Tour: for KING & COUNTRY, Dara Maclean and Jason Castro.
FC:What was the first album you ever owned and do you still own it? If so, do you still listen to it?
Joel (for KING & COUNTRY): I'm not sure I could say I official "owned" this record but nonetheless, when I was about 5 years old I clearly remember sitting in front of a vinyl 45 record playing in my parents home in Sydney Australia. I was staring at a Stryper record cover in awe with the music blaring in the background! Good moment.
Luke (for KING & COUNTRY): Hmmm, this is a really sad realization but I don't remember the first album I bought! Now that being said, our Dad was a concert promoter in Australia and brought over bands like: Stryper, Whiteheart, Carmen and Amy Grant. I might not remember the first album I 'bought' but I certainly had those records around my house from when I was very young!
Dara: The first significant album I ever owned was not one, but all of Crystal Lewis' records! It changed my world musically when I was 8 and inspired me and my sound as a female vocalist.
Jason: One of the earliest memories I have of actually owning an album goes back to when I was maybe 12 or 13 years old. I was at a Christian bookstore with my parents and my dad told my brother and I that we could each pick out a CD to take home. My family was pretty frugal, so this was pretty special! I bought the very first Relient K album and listened to it non-stop. I don’t have that CD anymore and I'm pretty sure that if I did, it wouldn’t work because I know I wore that thing out!
FC:What was the first concert you went to?
Joel (for KING & COUNTRY): Our pops was a concert promoter and he had brought over Stryper for an Aussie tour. I remember the concert well, I sat on Dads shoulders with the palms of my hands over my ears soaking it all in. I was also the on-stage t-shirt mannequin. I went up with my pops and stood there during announcements, the shirt was so large it was touching the floor.
Dara: KLTY Joy Williams Brown Bag concert!!
Jason: Hmm...I think the first concert I actually went to was at Six Flags Over Texas. There were a lot of bands playing, but the ones I remember most from that show are The O.C. Supertones and Switchfoot. It was a blast!!
FC:What has God been teaching you lately?
Luke (for KING & COUNTRY): My wife and I are expecting our first child this Christmas and I've been challenge by the thought of how my kids will view me as their father. God calls us to be servants and if I can think of one characteristic that I'd like to be known for, it would be having a servant’s heart. Certainly easier said than done, but I feel the Lord tugging at me to be a servant to all.
Dara: He has been teaching me about rest. How when we trust Him and His way of doing things, you can do more by resting in Him then by striving and exhausting yourself all day. True rest is only attainable through Him, the greater one living within us.
Jason: Humility, humility, humility! Pride makes everything worse and it never ceases to amaze me how fast humility can turn things around. "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble."- James 4:6. Another passage I have been loving on humility is Philippians 2:3-11, check it out!
BONUS - Here are the latest music videos from each artist:
for King & Country
“And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.” Romans 15:14 NASB
Admonishment is a gentle, but firm warning. It is best received when the words are delivered clearly and directly in a well-oiled relationship of trust and love. A recommended idea is optional, but an admonishment is a strong suggestion. It implores an idea to an individual by almost demanding, but humility holds it back. A brother or sister in Christ admonishes another to protect them from foolish friends or an unwise choice.
Blessed are we to have men and women in our lives, who feel the freedom to warn us of potential train wrecks. Those who have traveled the road of life longer know where to tread lightly or not at all. It is a blessing, not a curse for us to have someone who cares enough to tell us the truth. A messenger who means well is not meant to be dismissed, but desired. Be grateful for a reproving word, an honest assessment or direct warning.
"It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools." Ecclesiastes 7:5
Who do you know who needs you to tell them what you know? Are you withholding valuable information that could save someone from a financial or relational crisis? Yes, make sure your motive is to bring help not harm, but don't wait until it is too late. Busyness or fear of rejection is not a good reason to hold back. Summon up your courage in prayer and with practice. Do for one what you would like to do for many.
Moreover, there are those who are not ready to receive a rebuke. A fool is like Teflon—responsibility rarely sticks to his or her life. The immature cannot handle truth, so don't waste your words on those who are not ready. However, God knows the heart. So ask the Spirit to lead you into conversations that cultivate a heart of good soil, where a seed of admonishment grows a tree of wise decision-making. Indeed, admonish the teachable.
"Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you." Proverbs 9:8
Prayer: Heavenly Father lead me to love your children with a gentle heart, a firm faith and with clear truth.
Recently, we exchanged a few questions with author Dee Henderson via email.
FC: It’s been many years since your last book, we missed you. What have you been doing?
Dee: It’s always nice to be missed. It wasn’t a plan to have so much time between books; it’s simply how this particular story evolved. Full Disclosure originated in a mystery series I had developed over the course of a couple years. That series turned into the back-story for a larger single title. I don’t recommend arriving at a book that way, but I personally like the results of a richer plot line and more complex characters.
I’m wired by God to be a storyteller. Hours spent working on a story are not a job, but are in fact the reward for having gotten the rest of my life uncluttered enough that I can go do what I want. And most often that’s a pen and paper and being lost in a story I’m creating. So I hope to be creating stories for my readers to enjoy for decades to come, just hopefully with not as much time between finished stories in the future.
FC: For those of us who are excited to read Full Disclosure. Tell us about it.
Dee: In Full Disclosure I gave two very good cops a car wreck, a suspicious death, and a lead on a hired shooter. The case which began so simply will lead them to the kind of secret that will change how history is written once it is known. So at its most basic, Full Disclosure is a mystery and a romance.
I enjoy writing about cops. With this story I wanted to portray the job that a cop’s life really is—the cases keep coming to be solved, and if you’re going to have a private life, space for it is going to have to be carved into the flow of work.
I also like to write about falling in love. I decided to write a bit against type in this romance. From the beginning, Paul Falcon wants to get married and is looking for the right lady. Ann Silver is content being single and hasn’t been thinking about marriage. It created a unique romance that I loved.
And I enjoy writing about faith. What characters think about God, whether they believe or not, interests me. I’m not ready to say a manuscript is finished until I’ve figured out what I want the book to share about God. In Full Disclosure I explore how God is involved and interacting with us in our day-to-day life.
FC: How would you compare Full Disclosure to your other novels?
Dee: It’s a more complex book with a richer plot than my prior books, and the story continued beyond the romance and wedding to the first months of their lives together. I describe it as an O’Malley book plus more.
I write a lot about survivors—overcoming what’s happened, learning something about yourself and friends, deepening what you know about God. This adds a rich layer to the stories I want to explore. This book follows that basic theme, so I think it’s going to read as familiar to my fans even though it’s more layered than prior books.
FC: Who’s your favorite character in all your books and why?
Dee: I love Quinn and Lisa as a couple. Lisa has a depth to her back-story I didn’t realize was there until I wrote The Truth Seekerand it fit so well with the faith theme being the resurrection that I think it was God-inspired in small ways. There are scenes with Lisa and Quinn I remember better than any of the other stories I’ve written.
FC: Are any of your characters based on real people?
Dee: You can pretty much read a book of mine for the dog I either have or want to have. But the characters in my stories come from my imagination.
FC: Are you a character in any of your books or is there one character you relate to the most?
Dee: Ann Silver in Full Disclosure is probably the character I understand best. Her personality is closer to mine than most I’ve written. Part of that was simply the back-story Ann needed for the book required a certain type of personality in order to sound authentic.
FC: What are your favorite books to read?
Dee: It’s a family joke but true that I read everything. Recently, books on business, economics, marriage, painting, and politics. I love to understand how something works and what a job is like. I read a lot of fiction. I read to understand how another author got that emotional reaction from me or made me sit up and notice a well-developed plot.
Some titles I’ve reread this year: Certain Prey and Mortal Prey by John Sandford—absolutely fascinating lady shooter and ripping plot lines. The Good Guy by Dean Koontz—a great hero and you don’t realize why until the end of the book. I loved how the author played out the information about his hero. J. D. Robb—I love the Eve and Roarke story line that threads through the series. I like the depth of their unfolding relationship and how well it’s played out across multiple books.
FC: Are you a music lover?
Dee: I don’t hear well enough to hear music like others do, so while it is often on in the background, I’m not one who could tell you what the words are to a song.
FC: What’s your favorite thing to do to relax?
Dee: I walk when I’m given the chance to fill half an hour. I pick up a book and read when I want to wind down at the end of a day. If I have a few hours where I know I won’t be interrupted, I may paint. I enjoy television where a good plot line is rolling out, where dialogue is flowing at an interesting pace.
FC: What has God been teaching you lately?
Dee: He’s working on teaching me to live within my limits. I tend to stretch too far and not leave enough margin in my life, around my finances in particular, or my health. I find it easier to manage areas like my time. On that, I keep a limited list rather than a to-do list. I know I won’t get done what everyone would like from me, so I choose the items that personally matter to me or impact my family. Most stuff simply doesn’t get done. It’s easier to accept that than to live like you can do everything. The other areas of life are much tougher for me to discipline. Anyway, God’s been working on that one for a while. I’ll be glad when he’s helped me solve it.
FC: What’s on your bucket list?
Dee: I was asked one time, “What’s your favorite holiday?” And I replied, “I actually don’t like holidays—they’re too busy. I’d rather have a regular day that goes 24 hours without something going wrong during it. That would be a nice holiday.”
When I read your question about a bucket list, I had a similar reaction. I want more of the same. I want a week like last week, where I wrote some on a story, talked with friends, took a walk with God, read a few books, watched a movie, and slept. Oh, and my mother called and asked if I wanted something brought back from the Dairy Queen. It’s hard to beat that kind of nice week. Even the weather was nice. Sometimes earth feels like a slice of heaven. I don’t have major goals I want to accomplish or things I dream about doing. I’ve already got them. I simply want more of the same, and time to enjoy them.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13
Soldiers in Christ’s army enlist to serve others. They serve at their Savior’s pleasure and they unselfishly serve fellow servants of the Lord. Servants of Jesus are first responders to the needs that afflict or attack the Body of Christ. There is no waiting to be drafted, because salvation in Jesus assumes service. Like America and apple pie is being a Christian and serving others. Serving others is an extension of love, a platform for humility and an expression of Jesus.
Love is the motivation of Christ-centered service. So, we volunteer at church, in the parking lot, in the nursery or leading a small group, because we love. We clean up the kitchen after a meal because we love. We manage the home finances, wash clothes, cook, do yard work, help a child with homework, visit a sick friend, give a gift and write a caring note because we love. Love cannot—not serve—our service says I love you!
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
Service to others is a stewardship for God. He has blessed you with stuff for your use to serve others. He gave you a house to host guests and to take in those who need a place to stay. He gave you a car to provide transportation for those who need a ride to work, the grocery store, to school or just to get away. He gave you time to invest in others; their children, their spiritual lives, their financial needs, their health or their emotional wellness.
Your selfless service benefits yourself. You feel fulfilled having filled up another’s emotional cup with healthy feelings. Your faith grows when you take the time to build up another’s belief in God. You are more accountable when you teach others the commands of Christ. You are a candidate for service from others, as they seek to show gratitude to God and to you. You serve not to benefit or be served, but this is the outcome of caring. So, serve others for Christ’s sake and watch Him work. You serve Jesus by serving others!
“This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-2
Prayer: Heavenly Father, whom can I serve for You with my time, talents and treasure?
"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." Romans 15:7
Acceptance sets the tone in a trusting relationship. It ascribes value by making a friend feel special, especially if someone struggles with wounds from past rejection and hurt. Acceptance is an antidote for guilt and regret. It looks to bring meaning in the moment, not dwelling on former failures. It creates a non-judgmental, safe environment. Like a sympathetic nurse, it listens with empathy. Acceptance feels no discrimination or bias.
Who is hungry for your approval and acceptance? Is it a child, a parent, a friend, a co-worker or fellow Christ follower who needs to feel your warm words of delight in them? To not be an included team member is emotional torture. Passive rejection can be worse that blatant rejection. Indeed, an accepting attitude says, "I believe in you", "I need you", "I am for you". You give others the benefit of the doubt. A person who feels your approval has nothing to prove.
"To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:6 NKJV
Acceptance from Almighty God is found in Christ. He accepts the rejected. He invites those who wander from the faith to come home. Christ calls His children back from embarrassing situations and embraces them with open arms. His acceptance is unconditionally based on His love and grace. The Lord is looking for those in need of approval. He can't wait to bless and believe in His own. Jesus accepts back those who have turned their backs on Him.
Therefore, accept others as Jesus has accepted you. Even sinners, you may ask? Yes, you can accept the individual without compromising your integrity. You grow in Christ's character when others, who are unlike you, know you like them. You love those who love the world, without your loving the world. When you serve someone with competing standards, they tend to ask "why me". Lovingly say, "why not you"--in order to bring praise to God!
"The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them." Romans 14:3
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for accepting me in Christ, so I can accept others in the same way.
Moving from the financial industry into the film-making world may sound like a big leap, until you hear Jason Atkins talk about it. And suddenly it makes perfect sense. Why? Because when the Holy Spirit directs something, He makes all the difference. And the way He pulled together the story, the script, the actors and the message of Unconditional (arriving in theaters this month) is something that only He could do…
Family Christian: We always like to start out our interviews with some background. Tell us a little about Jason Atkins and what brought you to the idea of creating the film Unconditional…
Jason Atkins: Sure, my background is originally in the finance world. I had worked for about 12 years in the hedge fund community and prior to that was working for a Global 100 accounting firm. But one morning in 2006 while I was praying I felt the Lord start to speak to me about media. Out of that time of prayer He referenced [me] back to Hebrews 11:3, [where] the things of the seen came from that which cannot be seen. He began relating that to me [by] cross referencing back into the Old Testament where the prophets were bringing His messages to the people into a visual context, essentially, things that could not be seen into realms that could be. So back in 2007 our foundation decided there was more love, hope and truth that we could offer the world through our foundation and supporting media than just making money for institutions and wealthy individuals which is who our clientele was. So within our investment firm we started the Doorpost Film Project whose purpose was to identify the next generation of filmmakers and instill love into those individuals so that they could move up in their craft; becoming the leading filmmakers of the next generation... that the nature of their content would reflect the values of the Kingdom of heaven. So we started that project and in the first year it was named [among the] top 25 film projects in the US. We had a few thousand enter into a film contest that we held. We had 3,000 artists and creatives sign up to participate in our social platform, somewhat of a “MySpace for filmmakers” that we developed and those 3,000 filmmakers produced short content out of which we selected the best and most promising to remake content on the topic of hope. My current business partner and a producer on the film Unconditional, felt like the Lord was saying, we shouldn’t necessarily preach to these individuals because we needed to meet them where they were and show God’s love to them, but what we could do was set a platform for them to discover truth. And so we used the biblical principles (like redemption or forgiveness or love) that the submissions for this contest had to be attached to one of these concepts. Then, those that we selected participated in a final round that we provided some funding for and told them they had to make their film on [the subject of] hope. They had to explore hope in order to try and to be true to that concept. It was their own discovery process and it was the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to bring them to a place of what truth might be within that concept that is His. And so through that, it opened our eyes to the nature and impact of media, and we saw several people come to know Christ through that experience, for others it reshaped the way they were thinking about the contest and even a couple that has said they were [previously] thinking about giving up on making movies all together had this contest not come along. If they hadn’t made it into finals they were going to quit what they were doing and go back to their previous day job. One of those filmmakers is Brent McCorkle who ended up directing Unconditional. About half of the finalists in 2008 and 2009 (the two years that J. Wesley Legg and I led that project as a side bar to our hedge fund investment firm) were believers and about half of them were not. They were all exploring “how can I make my own impression on this world” some for good and some not. Hopefully over the 2 years that we led and the 3rd that an independent board led the Doorpost Film Project, the future of film-making was impacted for future generations. We’re excited that since that project, we’ve had multiple filmmakers go on to make feature films, some go on to write large budget Hollywood films and their careers are on a fast track in many ways to become the influencers of this generation. But in 2008 I was continuing to pray and I felt like the Lord was telling us the time to shut the hedge fund down and move into media full-time was something He had a real interest in. The more we pushed into it, the more that became evident. In the middle of 2008 we opened the second office for our investment firm in Nashville, and by the end of the year we came to the conclusion that even though we were growing, the Lord had different plans for us and it was time to shut down. So we let our employees know, it was a 6 month process in that transition phase, but by middle of 2009 we had shut the firm down and had started the process of making our first feature film with the idea that we would continue to sow into future generations, but the need for truth in the world today, and the need for inspiration and hope was a present problem, not just a future issue. So that’s when we began to [ask] what should our first feature film be? Shortly after arriving in Nashville, we had begun to participate in an inner city ministry working with at-risk children and youth called Elijah’s Heart. They provided food, after-school mentoring and their biggest ministry is a youth choir that’s multi-race and works across 7 different projects in Nashville. So through that ministry we got to know an individual named Joe Bradford who was just one of the most humble, gentle, meek, kind individuals we had ever had a chance to get to know. The Heart Behind Unconditional
Through the process of seeking what our first film should be about, I felt like the Lord said I should talk to Joe about his story. Now, at the time my perspective of his story was not film-worthy, I knew he had kidney disease, had a transplant and I knew that he worked with at-risk children, but in and of itself in that did not make for a theatrical experience, at least in my mind’s eye. But I asked Joe to lunch one day and I brought the topic up and he started to weep in the middle of the Five Guys Burger. I was kind of looking at him stunned and he said I knew this day was coming and I didn’t know when or how, but I knew I was supposed to share my story with you, and what I’m about to tell you no one other than my wife knows, and I’ve been scared to share it with others because I didn’t know if you would still be my friend. So I shared with him “Look Joe, I love you, nothing you can share with me would change my opinion of who you are, or the friend that you are.” So he goes on them to share his story, of growing up in a small, rural town being the only African American growing up in an all-white town. He was dirt poor to the point they did not have indoor plumbing nor did they have their own outhouse – He had to use the neighbors’ outhouse in his childhood years. He taught himself how to play the saxophone and then took some karate classes. Through the whole process of him laying out the components I began to see (laughs) well maybe there are some theatrical elements to this. So then he goes into his adult life, becoming one of the world’s first hackers and almost definitively one of the world’s first African American computer hackers. The events that led up to his ultimate “fall” from a place of growing prominence within the University of Tennessee and a job at IBM to a place of incarceration. Then he carried it further and talked about what happened in prison, and how it happened and the nature of how God started to transform his life and where He showed him new value and new hope – what love really was about. And shared more about his views of “the highway of love” how scripture lays that out and ultimately to the point of working with children through “walks of love” that he does with these inner city communities. It all just began to really sink in that Jesus knows more than we do. (laughs) My preconceived notion of what makes a theatrical story was not just wrong, but was dead wrong. And the thing that He was really just pushing into me at the moment was that we don’t always have to make up stories to glorify God, he’s already written truth before the foundation of time and the story that He’s written for each one of us truly is a theatrical experience that we can all marvel at, wherever He’s involved. And so the nature of Joe’s story having true elements that people will see on screen became more and more profound as I learned more and more and the realization that truth has so much more power than fiction. So that led to us beginning to develop the script and write the story, and incorporate as many of the true elements of his life that we could. Our first version was about 3 hours long, and we tried to whittle it down and in the process broaden the character base. We took some artistic liberties with a few characters and changed some names and basic profiles but left everything around Joe’s story as true to form as we possibly could. In some places we dumbed it down because we didn’t believe that audiences would actually walk away believing [it was] true because sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. The elements that people scoff at most when they watch the movie and say that couldn’t have really happened were much more bizarre and unusual than what we even put on camera. So the entire process was God, we want our life to matter and we love what we’re doing as investors and You’ve blessed us in the business that You’ve given us, but our lives feel like they’re isolated and buffeted and we want every component to be of value. So in that process of seeking He began to unveil the Doorpost which led to Harbinger Media Partners. So the thing we delighted in doing and what was a blessing, He chose to shut down for a new path and Lord willing this will be one of many stories to come.
Unconditional Movie Trailer
FC: What an incredible story. So does that mean the Doorpost Film Project is officially shut down or is that still sort of running behind the scenes?
Jason: I wish that it were. We turned it over in 2009 to an independent board and we gave them the funding and operating budget for the following year with the understanding that they’d become self-sufficient and it did not work out.... it unfortunately closed its doors (at least from an outside perspective). The database and all of the underlying work is still there, but on a day-to-day basis it does not have an active presence anymore.
FC:Unconditional is just the sort of film that grapples with your heart. What’s the process of going from script to recruiting actors, and how did these big names react to the message of Joe’s story?
Jason: The process is one of writing the scripts (we wrote 7 major iterations, 13 total drafts of the script) and getting to the 13th draft and having it pass through the muster of scrutiny from multiple demographics and geographic parts of the country to make sure there was some measure of poetic flow to it. We went out to actors and used a casting agency in LA. They were fantastic, they gave us recommendations of who they thought would fit well to play the characters because they read the script as well. We had our own wish list of actors that we thought would be right to play various characters and so we went out and made offers to a handful of people. The process was one of offer and either acceptance or rejection – when you get to that level of talent they can select which projects they want to participate in. The interesting thing about it is not knowing the full background of all of these actors and actresses that we were making offers to. It’s a scary proposition because you never know what you’re going to discover after the fact and in some cases we were just very thankful that God saw fit to provide us cover and work it out the way He did.
Michael Ealy was one of the very first people that we went to. We didn’t know he was a believer but he is. He’s an amazing man with great wisdom – he helped to cover us in a lot of areas of production. Being first-time producers and directors we could have made mistakes that would have been hard to come back from, but he really helped us to avoid them. He helped to lead and guide elements from a talent, acting and production flow perspective. He was just amazing. He spent a lot of time with the real Joe Bradford to make certain that he was embodying as well he could the personality and the love of the Holy Spirit in Joe. Michael has been a delight from the beginning.
Lynn Collins was another really cool situation in that she grew up in a home of faith in Texas and had been in Hollywood for awhile. Upon talking to her about the story, she shared that she was really pleased because this is the type of content her mother was really excited about. She had been talking with several [people] recently who’d recognized that it felt like the world needed more hope and more positive pieces of content. She was thrilled to be a part of something like this that she had not had the luxury of doing for awhile. She had just come off John Carter which was a $250 million movie that she was the lead in. Michael had just come off of finishing Takers which was a blockbuster that he was a lead in. So they really kind of just identified with the story at different levels. Michael because of a heart for children and the challenge of playing a real guy that was a positive role model within the African American community as a male figure who was being the father to the fatherless; embodying the essence of true religion according to James. Lynn grew up in Texas and had horses. She said that she would share secrets with the horses that she wouldn’t share with anyone else and went through periods of her life where she had battled elements of depression, so the character played out in a way that just mimicked her real life as a child and adult. She was able to embrace and realize that others could take the story and find a real place of hope.
FC: So you guys are doing something unique because you’re literally calling people to action after viewing the movie. Can you tell us a little about that?
Jason: Sure. When we went down the path of making the movie, the question that kept coming back to me, when I was praying about the situation [was], God is this the movie we are to make? And what kept coming back to me was “Are you going to remember my forgotten ones?” That question really didn’t haunt me, but it felt really important. (laughs) The heart of God is for the fatherless for the widow for the broken and what are we going to do as the church? As believers? As His children, to remember those that society in many ways has forgotten, that we often turn our back to, or we feel like they might have gotten themselves into bad situations. The one thing about children is that they don’t choose which home they’ll be born into. They didn’t decide where they would be born geographically or to the gene pool they came out of. They’re innocent in the form of their circumstance. In part, their conditions were never ones of their own choosing. And yet God was asking the question – are you going to love them? That in part sprang up the genesis of the title of the movie, Unconditional.
So what we wanted was not just to entertain but hopefully inspire believers that come out of the theater – that their lives can be of greater value. That they can be a hero. It doesn’t take much to be a hero for someone else other than to just share a life of love. And so we’ve begun to partner with organizations all over the country in just about every city that we’re opening in – we will have at least one and in most cases more than one that we’re calling ACT partners. These are organizations that serve the broken, the needy and the hurting. Whether it’s helping children with after-school mentoring programs, feeding programs, adoption situations and in some cases job training… we’re raising [people] up as the hands and feet of Christ, to let them know that they are loved by the Father in heaven, that their life matters and they can become more than what they see around them. Their lives are precious and treasured. Our hope is that people will leave the movie and get activated in such a way that they become the hands and feet of Christ to someone else. And whether they see themselves this way or not, they become a “Papa Joe-like” character where they’re the hero of their own story for someone else just by sharing one life at a time. Right now we’re thrilled because not only do we have great partners, but we’re already hearing the magnitude of the great impact of these partnerships. Even people coming out of the first private screenings, general audiences of pastors and business leaders were saying – I’ve got to do something else, I’ve got to either start a ministry or I’ve got to plug into a new one. I’m not doing enough – my life can be worth more to someone else than to myself. And that’s really encouraging and exciting. At the end of day I think it’s touching the heartbeat of God and ultimately the purpose of why He’s called us into making this content to begin with.
FC: We think it’s just great that you not only display this story to be enjoyed, but then encourage people to go make a difference themselves. Will there be a soundtrack to go along with the film?
Jason: We talked about doing an “inspired by” CD, because there are only five songs in the entire movie – the rest of it is score-based, so we don’t have enough songs to make a full-blown soundtrack. We potentially could if there was demand, we could add to that list another 7 tracks that we kind of drew upon ourselves while writing the movie to cobble on to it. We released a new single on gospel and some contemporary stations called “Hope” and it was written initially by Grammy award-winning songwriter Aaron Lindsey. We just re-recorded the vocals recently with Brian Courtney Wilson. The other songs were sung by a husband and wife duo who go by the name of Johnnyswim. They’re good friends of ours, the female voice is the daughter of Donna Summers, Amanda Ramirez is her current married name and Johnnyswim is absolutely phenomenal. One of their songs is in the main body of the movie, and the other is at the beginning of the credits. The one in the credits is called “You’re Not Going to Leave Me Here” which is a really cool song basically about love getting us where we are and that it won’t leave us in the place of brokenness and the other one is called “Good News.” They are a wonderful group, but also amazing people.
FC: Ok, one last question for you. What would you say to a young filmmaker who is a follower of Jesus and feels like they have talent for film-making that they want to pursue?
Jason: Good question. Pray… and don’t rush it. Not in the sense of don’t push into it quickly – but don’t rush a product. We have a lot to learn and as believers we have a duty and responsibility to excellence and honoring our King with something that is capable of standing on its own as an artistic piece. That is glorifying not just in its content but in its production. And we are nowhere near that ourselves, so that’s not coming from a place of pride – I recognize on the front end at Harbinger that we have a long way to go to meet the threshold that we ultimately want to be at. I think the danger and the trap is for believers who are so eager to bless the name of Jesus that we sometimes diminish the value of the art itself to where it can’t be received by the audience it was originally intended to be received by. It’s more of a challenge than advice because we all have to find our own path and I would not be presumptuous enough to say that I know the best way, but my heart is this: that others who God is calling (and He is calling quite a few), will take the challenge seriously. That [the church will] reemerge as the leaders of art and culture and no longer sit back and say a tithe or a partial tithe is good enough in the form of our art. It needs to truly be an offering, in the sense of giving everything. For hundreds (if not thousands) of years the church led in the nature of content, art and shaping culture through the arts, and because of our willingness to accept lower production value and quality, we’ve really lost our voice in many places. I’m just excited to see that God is raising up those that are extraordinarily gifted and I believe that’s an area of society that He’s going to leverage to lead in again. However, we [at Harbinger] can serve those that He’s calling and we want to do that. He’s bringing them to the marketplace but if they can [they should] be as patient as possible to bring as beautiful an offering to the table as they can. And not rush quality, because I don’t think that quality can be rushed, it is something that has to be developed and nurtured.
FC: Excellent words, Jason.
To learn more about Harbinger Media Partners and their upcoming projects, click here.
“He [Christ] died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1Thessalonians 5:10-11
Courage in Christ is a gift Christians have to give one another. It is a boldness of belief bent on bettering others. Daily life drains courage from a person’s heart, but believers are able to fill with encouragement what unrighteousness removes with discouragement. Saintly support comes when a person is aware that someone knows and cares about them. There is an emotional engagement that flows from an inner desire to be there for a needy friend.
Our encouragement is like being an ambassador from Almighty God. We represent Jesus to His followers and to those who have not come to faith. It’s when people see Jesus in our actions and attitudes that they are drawn to personally know Him. Yes, our encouragement is a conduit for Christ! We give a cup of courage in Jesus’ name, and the thirsty recipient tastes that the Lord is good. Their soul then seeks to drink the living water of Christ.
“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
Your encouragement builds up the hope, faith and love of another loved one. Over coffee, an acquaintance hears from you that they matter, because they matter to God. Your words of truth grow confidence in a character who struggles to be consistent with Christ’s commands. Encouragement challenges as well as comforts. Most do not complain of too much encouragement, but many quietly crave more.
Most of all be encouraged by Jesus. Invite Him to invigorate your faith and rejuvenate your passion. Christ is your biggest cheerleader. His courage is limitless and breeds bravery. His eternal energy engages your soul to persevere as a praying parent, to be patient in whom to marry, to serve in your church and to give a kind word to a stranger. Be encouraged by Christ, so you can encourage another. Encouragement gives courage!
“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thanks for encouraging me to encourage others.
Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Psalm 32:1
Forgiveness is full of blessings. The blessing of guilt’s removal is a fruit of forgiveness. The peace of being in a right relationship with God and people is facilitated by forgiveness. The freedom to follow God’s will, passionately and unashamedly, is fueled by daily forgiveness. Forgiveness frees the soul and enlightens the mind. It is a state of experiencing God’s grace and mercy. Forgiveness offloads laziness and replaces it with diligence. Forgiveness erases lust and writes in love. Forgiveness takes away the stain of selfishness and dyes it with service. The blessings of forgiveness are bold and they belittle sin. As Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, there is a mountain of blessings that come to the obedient.
Jesus forgives the lawbreaker, not the law keeper. Foolish and naïve is the man or woman who thinks they can continually keep the law without the pardon of God’s grace. Forgiveness is a daily requirement for those who want to keep short accounts with their Savior, family, and friends. It is when we try to justify our bad attitudes and behaviors without repenting that we get into a crazy cycle of self-sufficiency. Knowing and acknowledging the need to do something does not free us from sin. We may kid ourselves, but discerning people know if we’re daily doing business with God or just going through the motions of religious activity. Unless we repent of our sin from a contrite heart, there is no remission. The forerunner of Jesus, John the Baptist, taught this (Luke 3:3). Jesus gave His life so He could give us life. Jesus sweat blood so we could have sweet forgiveness.
The Bible describes a trinity of sin for the unforgiven. In our own strength, our disobedience is labeled as transgression, sin, and iniquity. But the Trinity in heaven annihilates the trinity of sin. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, and draws us into the love of our heavenly Father. His love leads us to Jesus, who gave His life on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. We confess to Christ our need for His gracious forgiveness. In Christ we are free. We are free from guilt and free from guile. God’s Spirit uncovers our sin, cleanses it with our confession, then covers it with grace. If we conceal our sin we will not prosper (Proverbs 28:13). Mercy comes to the man who confesses. Miserable is the man who conceals. Come clean with Christ, and His grace will be your residue.
Furthermore, be a blessing by forgiving the unforgiven. God forgives us so that we can forgive others. Extend forgiveness to those who do not deserve your forgiveness. This is grace. This is what Jesus would do and what you would want if you were in their same situation. Unconditional forgiveness is freeing. Indeed, one reason you forgive others is for your own sake. Otherwise, unforgiving relationships cause a root of bitterness to grow deep into your heart and rob you of joy. Avoid withholding forgiveness to hurt others. Otherwise, you will get hurt. Let go, and give to God your unfair friend, insensitive supervisor, proud parent, uncaring spouse, or selfish child. Pray for them to be healed, and you will be healed. Forgiveness does this. It heals the soul with eternity’s elixir.
“Your brother has come,” he replied, “and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.” Luke 15:27
Our soul seeks out safe environments. We are attracted to people we can trust, who accept us for who we are instead of who we need to be. Safe environments give us security and peace. We can bare our souls because we know we are in a place of confidentiality, and do not fear rejection. A business meeting with a rigid agenda, pretense, and pride is not a safe place in which to be yourself.
Those who foster safe environments seek first to understand, there is no rush to judgment, but there is a rash of love. In safe environments, we’re still loved, especially when we are unlovely. Parents have the privilege of providing a safe environment for their teenagers transitioning into young adulthood. This can be a trying time for everyone, as your children are not babies anymore, so they do not want to be babied and controlled.
By God’s grace, you have trained them for such a time as this. This is your teenager’s time of transition into maturity and he or she may have to make a bad relational decision in the process. This is how he or she grows and learns. Therefore, as parents, it is imperative you keep the home environment safe and non-combative. Continue to speak the truth in love, but do so graciously with great patience and after much prayer. If your teenager doesn’t feel safe at home, they will find safety and acceptance somewhere else; so create attractive environments.
Safe environments are also necessary for Christ-seekers. People in a search for authentic faith need someplace to ask questions without being rebuffed for their elementary inquiries. More mature believers have the opportunity to be there for those on their faith journey, but judgment is a juggernaut against safe environments, as it crushes with condescending attitudes. So, be careful not to impose your high standards on a person or situation, and in the process endanger the safe environment. Share your own failures and struggles, as this builds bridges to the heart. Safe environments are void of pedestals of pride. Consider a Bible discussion in your home and follow it up with a fun activity. Make Christianity attractive, not boring. Safe environments draw people to Christ.
Above all else, seek out a safe environment with your Savior. Your Lord longs to linger with you. He deeply desires to listen to your dreams and fears. In your safe place with Jesus, you are loved completely. Your heavenly Father feels your pain. In your safe place with Him, you are positioned to receive His love and blessings. Your safe environment with God may be early in the morning with a cup of coffee, the Bible, and your journal. It may be late at night before your head hits the pillow and begins its silent reflections. It may be on your lunch break in the shadowy sanctuary of a tree. It may be a walk in the woods, a jog on a treadmill, or a run across a maze of sidewalks. It may be a quiet occasion in the mountains or an engagement with eternity at the beach.
God gives you safe environments for your soul’s refreshment. It is there you can cry, laugh, complain, thank, create, give, listen, and ask. Christ celebrates when you go to Him, and receives you just as you are, needy for love and acceptance. Safe environments are necessary for communication and trust. Therefore, create and enjoy safe places, and go there often for your sake and the sake of those you love. The Bible says, “You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety” (Job 11:18).
Taken from September 16th reading in the 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God”… http://bit.ly/bQHNIE
Post/Tweet this today: We can bare our souls when we are in a place of confidentiality, and do not fear rejection. #safe #secure
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