Showing items filed under “Jeremy Shirley”
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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to a special pre-screening of the movie “Breakthrough”. It’s a movie that there is great interest around here in our area due to the local nature of the story happening right here in our community. So many movies you see that are based on a true story have no personal connection to you or your area, whereas this one definitely does. Even beyond the story being local, it’s a story of faith and God doing the miraculous.

The story of “Breakthrough” took place in 2015 right here in St. Charles County. The Smith family’s lives were changed on January 19 when their son John and 2 other friends fell through the ice on Lake St. Louise. Lake St. Louise is a smaller lake right next to Lake St. Louis. John and his friends struggled to get out of the icy water. While his friends made it out, John’s body shut down and he sank to the bottom of the lake. He spent at least 15 minutes underwater before a Wentzville fireman, Tommy Shine, amazingly found him at the bottom of the lake. John had no pulse at this point and they rushed him to St. Joseph’s West Hospital where they tried to revive John for quite some time. By the time his mother, Joyce arrived, the doctor’s had all but given up hope. When mom goes in to be with her son, she begins to pray loudly and as she prayed John’s pulse returned. That was the beginning of an incredible story of hope and faith. A story where we saw a mom fight for her son’s life, keeping the faith that God could do the miraculous in an uncharted medical situation. The story follows him to Cardinal Glennon where miracle after miracle takes place ultimately leading to John recovering.

Anytime I see a “Christian” movie or at least one intentionally based on Christian themes, one of my greatest concerns is the level of cheesiness, especially when it comes to the acting. It’s not out of the ordinary for us to joke about some of the acting or actors involved in Christian movies. When I went to see “Breakthrough”, I had similar fears despite what appears to have been strong casting. As the movie began and they were trying to establish some of the characters at the beginning, my cheesiness meter was rising. Thankfully, once the story got going the acting and storyline picked up and produced a high quality movie experience. You’ll recognize some of the main actors like Chrissy Metz from “This Is Us”, Josh Lucas, Dennis Haysbert and Topher Grace. For you Christian music fans, I’m pretty sure you’ll spot Lecrae and Phil Wickham in the movie as well. Don’t write the movie off in the first ten minutes, keep watching as you’ll be rewarded with the acting of a great cast!

One of the other concerns when you see a movie with Christian themes and are trying to decide whether to recommend it or not is how well does it portray biblical concepts, the gospel, and denominational distinctives. The other aspect I consider is does it feel forced when they do try to interject the gospel or some biblical agenda. Let me first say that I never felt like they were forcing anything extra into the story, it never felt like there was this side plot going on with some religious agenda trying to run parallel to the actual story. At the same time as I say that, there is no doubt that the biblical concepts of faith, hope, and prayer are very evident. Those themes were just part of the story, not a subplot, not an extra forced interaction…just beautifully interwoven into the movie. There were times when they could have easily gone down a path of some forced interaction that could have easily taken away from the story, but never once did I feel that was the case. This isn’t a movie you’re going to go see and hear a clear gospel presentation. Actually if you’re looking for a movie about Jesus and what He does, then you’re going to be disappointed. What this movie will do for your lost friends is show them that through a relationship with God, there is hope in the worst of times and that God can do all things. It’s a great springboard for a conversation over a cup of coffee or dinner where you can take it a step further to talk about the gospel.

There are a few things to consider as you prepare to go see the movie or invite someone else. In some of the character development, it felt like they were trying to establish both the pastor and John Smith as punks to an extent as they use some phrases that are unfortunate at the very least. While they are present, it wasn’t necessary for the movie to use a “Hell no” or a “Hell yea” in the movie. That was unfortunate, but to a far greater extent, I was disappointed by the use of “Oh My God”. I know culturally its very common, even among some Christians, but it’s still using God’s name in vain. I could only count a handful of phrases or words I wish they had not included, so it’s not like the whole movie and story is ruined by any stretch, but I’d be remiss to not at least mention it. Secondly, if you go expecting to see all the local places represented in the original story, you will be disappointed. It’s actually filmed somewhere else, but you will see familiar touches like the SSM logo, Wentzville Fire on the firetrucks, etc. It won’t look familiar totally, but it was neat to see the places we know represented with familiar graphics/clothing/logos on buildings etc. The last thing, they warned us before it started to grab our tissues. I’m not much of a go to the movies and cry person…but I cried during this one. The themes of faith, family, and watching a child go through something so traumatic and hopeless definitely plays with your emotions. If you’re looking for a lighthearted and fun movie to go see…just be warned. If you enjoy that sort of emotional movie…take your tissues and enjoy!

Breakthrough will be in theaters starting tomorrow, April 17. Overall it’s a quality movie with some strong themes portraying faith and hope! Given the wide array of disgusting content portrayed in movies today that we could spend our money on, this is one worth spending your money on. Consider it a great opportunity to have a conversation with friends and neighbors talking about the hope that is found in faith in Christ using a story that’s anchored in our local community.

Posted by Jeremy Shirley with
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As a parent with small children, I frequently find myself having to remind them to obey. 3 words that are uttered regularly in our house are “listen and obey”. We have a bedtime routine like many of you. After we have our family Bible story and prayer time, my son Noah is the first one to go to the bathroom, wash his hands, and brush his teeth. What usually happens after we’re done praying is my wife or I will remind him it’s time to go potty and brush his teeth. I’m sure none of you experience this, but sometimes no movement results. He’s still curled up in a blanket on the couch, snuggling with his momma or has already gotten distracted by a toy or something else. At that moment I typically use the age old parenting trick of letting him know he has until the count of 5 to get in the bathroom. I don’t have to even give him a consequence…I start counting and he starts running. J I wish it were always that easy because other times, as a parent when I tell my kiddos to do something, I’m met with resistance. Sometimes I’m ignored, sometimes they whine, sometimes they decide to do something else. They know exactly what they ought to do and yet they don’t respond the way I want. In a lot of ways I think God experiences the same frustration with his children…us!

As much as God would like to see us exhibit first time obedience…that moment where we learn what God wants from us and then immediately do it…so often God the Father is met with us ignoring Him, whining about what He wants us to do, or us just deciding to do something else. In all of our vast maturity we think we’ve got something better to do, more important, more worth our time, more critical in this busy moment. It’s as silly as when our children think that watching that one more tv show, playing a video game or whatever it is happens to be more important to do right now than whatever you as the parent said to do. Not only that, our lack of obedience makes us sinners. We saw that when we were studying James in Sunday School. James 4:17 says: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

I’m guessing many of us have a sin problem we’re not even aware of. We’re so concerned with not doing the wrong things we totally forget about the sin that comes from not being obedient to do the right things. Most of us can’t effectively discern God’s will for our lives or receive an answer to a prayer because of sin that exists in our lives from all the things God wants us to do that we’ve continually made excuses or ignored. Some of us have so ignored God’s instructions and commands, we’ve ceased to listen and obey to the extent that we don’t even feel guilty for it.

One of the best examples of this in the American church is our lack of sharing the gospel. You can’t be around a church very long and not know that God’s chosen to use us to reach people for Christ. You can’t be around a church very long to know God’s Word gives us purpose in this life and a major part of that is our efforts to make Christ known throughout the globe. At the same time, how many times have you shared the gospel this year? Some of you haven’t done it once, much less made it one of the priorities of your life. You’re just like the kid that knows exactly what they need to do…clean their room, take out the trash, get ready for bed and chooses to ignore that command. How frustrating it has to be for God to see His children live in disobedience. I know I get frustrated when my children don’t obey me.

Some of us know what we ought to do, but not how to do it. I can always appreciate when I give my children something to do and they try their best…they may not do it exactly the right now, the way I would do it, but they get the job done. I say that because for some of us, we know exactly what God wants us to do, but we have every excuse about not doing it because we don’t know how. That being said, maybe we should start by repenting of what we haven’t been doing that the Lord commanded,

then start trying something. Maybe it won’t be exactly right and you need to seek additional assistance but at least you’re trying. Do something, don’t wait to be the very best at whatever it is, to be the most effective…just do your best to fulfill the Lords commands. Follow the simple words many parents have uttered...listen and obey. We’re just a few short weeks away from 2019, we have such a great opportunity for a fresh start. What are you waiting for? Let’s be like my son when I start to count down for him to go to the bathroom...he’s running towards obedience…you can to!

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