Monday, October 27, 2008

Resources for your marriage

For the past two Sundays, I preached on marriage using Paul's words to wives and husbands in Colossians 3. You can listen to the sermons here. Thanks to two members of my church, I was able to tie my messages in to some excellent resources available to married people.

One of those resources is the movie Fireproof. It stars Kirk Cameron in the role of a firefighter named Caleb Holt, who instead of giving up on his marriage finds new hope in Christ and wins back his wife's heart by relentlessly loving her. It's a film full of hope for every married couple, even those with a healthy marriage.

Both Sundays, I used clips from Fireproof to illustrate the principles in Colossians 3:18-19. In addition, for the past month or so we sold discount tickets to the movie and asked our couples to make it a date night. We reserved a number of seats at a particular showing, and encouraged our members not only to attend that show but to invite another couple along and bring them to church the next day for my final message in the series.

Many people said they loved Fireproof, especially because it was connected on Sunday to the Biblical teaching of Colossians 3:18-19. The whole idea of using the movie to help our couples came from a person in my church - thank you, Jennifer!

The other resource I found very helpful is The Marriage Prayer: A Prescription to Change the Direction of Your Marriage. Written by David Delk, another member of my church and president of Man in the Mirror, The Marriage Prayer is an entertaining, interactive manual that shows couples how to invite Christ into the struggles and challenges of married life. The book is built around a simple prayer that husbands and wives can pray for each other every day. We made signed copies of The Marriage Prayer available for purchase after the worship service.

In addition to making the book available, I asked couples to take a 14-day Marriage Prayer Challenge. Every day for 2 weeks, dozens of husbands and wives in our church will pray for each other using the Marriage Prayer. To make it easy for them, we distributed the Marriage Prayer Card that Man in the Mirror has created to go along with the book. (You can view and order the card here.) It was inspiring to see husbands and wives throughout our Worship Center committing themselves to prayer. God moves when his people admit their need of grace.

I am grateful for this valuable resource and recommend it highly to married and engaged couples looking for practical, creative ways to experience renewal in their relationship.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Duchess

If you want to visit another time and place when sex-addicted men married love-starved women and brought ruin and heartache to everyone around them, go see The Duchess, starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes.

Knightley is great as Georgiana Spencer (1757-1806), who at the age of 16 wed William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire, and thus became the Duchess of Devonshire. Ralph Fiennes plays the role of the despicable Duke convincingly.

It's an interesting movie to watch if only to learn about the extravagance of the British aristocracy, the divide between rich and poor in the late-18th century, the value royals placed on having male heirs, and the elaborate fashions and architecture of the day. I loved the beautiful scenery and attention to detail. All the acting is superb.

The Duke was apparently just an awful man who cared for nobody but himself. The Duchess found that out on her wedding day. Later she acquiesced to a life of sharing her home and husband with the Duke's mistress, Elizabeth Foster ("Bess").

The themes of betrayal and loneliness are prominent. Also you see a moving picture of sacrifice, as Georgiana gives up her one and only love (Charles Grey) for the sake of her children.

Interestingly, among Georgiana's descendants was Lady Diana Spencer -- the late Princess of Wales -- who, sadly, suffered from the sins of the fathers.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Movie catch-up

It's been so long since I've posted that I bet my friends are wondering what's happened to me - no movie reviews??? Well, here are a few recent movie experiences...

Ghost Town - My wife and I really liked this movie, a romantic comedy perfect for date night. Ricky Gervais is a dentist who sees dead people (a clever take-off on Shyamalan's Sixth Sense). There are some hilarious and genuine interchanges between Gervais and his love interest, played by Tea Leoni. Underneath the comedy is a deeper message about human brokenness and the important part we all play in healing others' wounds. Thumbs up.

The Counterfeiters - This is a German film that I noticed earned a whopping 94% on RottenTomatoes.com...deservedly so. It's very good but very dark, very violent, and is another one of those movies that takes you kicking and screaming into the sad and scary world of German concentration camps during WWII. It tells the story of a group of Jewish printers and artists recruited by the Nazis to counterfeit British pounds and American dollars to promote the German war effort. I never heard such a thing happened, so it was educational from that angle. The courage of one of the Jews (Adolf Burger) who repeatedly and single-handedly sabotaged the operation was quite inspiring. (By the way, he appears on one of the DVD special features.) His example made me ask myself: Would I imperil my life and the lives of my friends for the cause of freedom and justice? Thumbs up, but not for the weak of heart.

The Lives of Others - My favorite of these three. A long, intense movie (at 137 minutes), it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film (German) in 2007. The story takes place in and around 1984 in East Berlin, before Glasnost and the destruction of the Berlin Wall. Georg Dreyman is a playwright suspected of pro-Western sympathies, so his flat is bugged by the East German secret police. It gets too complicated to tell the whole story here, but 3/4 into the movie I was completely captured by the interwoven stories of Dreyman, his lover, and the police captain who heads up the operation. It's a poignant commentary on socialism, the politics of fear, and the theme of loyalty vs. betrayal. I'm glad I'm an American. Thumbs way up.