“Miracles From Heaven” – Movie Review

Miracles From Heaven

I was honored to be sent a “screener” version of the upcoming film, “Miracles From Heaven.”   I was unfamiliar with the true story it is based on, so I was watching from a completely ignorant perspective.

This movie was produced by the same folks that brought us “Heaven Is For Real.”  It has many of the same elements that I totally appreciated about that movie:

Excellent Acting –  Jennifer Garner, Queen Latifah, and the rest of the cast (especially the young actress, Kylie Rogers, who plays Anna Beam) nail this film.  They brought me nearly to tears multiple times (and I DON’T cry in movies).

Beautiful Cinematography – This movie has some of the best shots I have ever seen in a faith-based movie.  Apparently, the director has done some films for the Disney Channel, but this movie looks nothing like anything you would see on that network.  It was brilliantly shot.  Every scene evokes strong emotion.

Great Story –  The story of the Beams dealing with their daughter’s mysterious sickness is one that so many parents will identify with.  Their faith is tested, their family dynamic is disrupted, and their future is in question.  As you watch the movie, you are truly taken on an emotional roller-coaster of emotions.

There were several elements about the movie that I wasn’t pleased with.  The pastor (played by John Carroll Lynch) is a nice guy, but is portrayed as a bit shallow.  His “preaching” is also a bit shallow (more like small-time storytelling and entertainment).  The church looks almost identical to the church used in “Heaven Is For Real.”  But, that scene is totally saved by some incredible music played by the church’s worship band – which happens to be Third Day.  🙂

Overall, I was extremely pleased and entertained by this film.  It is definitely family-friendly, faith-based, and well worth the money you’ll need to shell out to see it.  I highly recommend that you do!  “Miracles From Heaven” releases on Wednesday, March 16th.   Here is the official trailer for the movie:

 

 

Jumpstart Your Bible Reading In 2016 (FREE WEBINAR)

Jumpstart 2016

Happy New Year!

Lots of people make New Year’s Resolutions (or goals…or plan-of-attack…or fresh start). Whatever you call it, for Christians at least, Bible reading is typically somewhere on the list.

Is time in God’s Word on your list? Do you have a plan? (Hint: You need one.)

I want you to start well…so you can sustain a vibrant time with God all year long (ahem…and longer). That’s why I’m hosting a brand-new, FREE webinar This Friday at noon (CST).  I will be interviewing one of the foremost experts in this area, Keith Ferrin.  Keith is an author of several books and has developed many tools that will help you in your pursuit to make God’s Word a PRIORITY in your life this year. 

These are some of the questions Keith will answer…

  1. Is it really possible to enjoy the Bible?
  2. How do I keep my mind from wandering?
  3. Where do I start if I’m new to the Bible?
  4. What do you recommend for people who have been around the Bible a long time?
  5. What translation do you recommend?
  6. How do I remember what I read?

Are you in? Register today!

Can I ask one small 30-second favor?  Will you help me spread the word over the next few days? (I want heaps of people to hear this!)

You can also simply copy/paste this link – – into an email/text/etc. and that will send people directly to the registration page…or you can share this blog post via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+. 

Thanks! I am so excited I can hardly wait for this FRIDAY!

 

Are You A PROactive Or REactive Parent?

3 children with computer

 

Sadly, parents often wait until a CRISIS hits before they have conversations about TOUGH topics like Sex, Bullying, Self-image, Divorce, etc.  By then, it is often too late.  By the time they end up having the conversation, their child has already been filled with all kinds of misinformation from school, friends, and The Media.  These REACTIVE parents end up having to try to UNDO what’s already been done by society and the other voices that are speaking into their child’s life.

Instead of relegating conversations about these tough subjects to a one-time ordeal that is uncomfortable for you AND your kid, why not take a different approach?  Why not keep the lines of communication open so that these important topics are discussed as part of the ebb and flow of everyday interactions?  Better yet, why not PLAN and PREPARE for these conversations so that you are not merely REACTING when a crisis hits?

In this short video, I share with you how to know whether you are a REactive parent or a PROactive parent.  I also share several thoughts from my book, “Talk Now And Later: How To Lead Kids Through Life’s Tough Topics” that I think could totally revolutionize your parenting approach.  Watch this short video and learn how you can become the proactive parent you’ve always wanted to be.

You can purchase an autographed copy of “Talk Now And Later” now (before it releases Sept 1st) – click HERE!

Combining Faith With Fun: The Key To Making It Stick

Hey everyone!  Since I am at CPC (Children’s Pastors Conference) in TN this week, I have a guest blog post from a good friend in #Kidmin, Andrew Linder.  Andrew is a husband, a father of four, and a children’s pastor at a thriving church.  Andrew is passionate about intentional parenting and effective children’s ministry.  He blogs about Kids, Family, and Ministry at AndrewScottLinder.com, and he creates children’s ministry resources that combine faith with fun that can be found at KidzBlast.com. 

Andrew-Linder

One of the most powerful things I’ve learned in children’s ministry over the last 13 years is this:

  • Kids engage in what is FUN
  • Kids get excited over what is FUN
  • Kids are greatly influenced by what is FUN
  • Kids remember what is FUN

You may not have caught it, but there is a key to successful children’s ministry, that if we overlook, we miss the boat to effectiveness. You probably guessed it :-)…  FUN!

At our church, our children’s ministry is called KidzBlast – “Combining Faith with Fun!” Kids love to have fun, and what better way to use fun for good than to combine it with faith to make a lasting and memorable impact?

Think about it.

Have you ever noticed how Disney/Pixar/etc. have a “fun” character in nearly every kids’ movie they make, regardless of whether the character’s role is significant in the storyline or not?

  • My kids loved the movie Shrek. And do you know why? It really wasn’t because of Shrek. It was because of, you guessed it, Donkey!
  • My kids went crazy over Despicable Me. Why? One word – Minions!
  • And who doesn’t love the movie Frozen? Why? Another obvious – Olaf!

What it is that makes you want to watch those movies over and over again? I’m going to guess that it’s probably not the great storyline that draws you back in time after time.

It’s those fun characters that make our kids (and us) want to watch those movies over and over again. Without them, the movie, although having the same storyline, would be far less appealing and attention grabbing, and certainly less memorable. As much as you love Frozen, you probably wouldn’t be drawn to watching it over and over again with your kids if it weren’t for the fun that Olaf brings to the entire story.

So my question for you today is this – Why aren’t we making faith fun for our kids? I understand that fun is not the reason we exist as a church or a ministry, and we could teach the same stories every week without it. However, it will be far less appealing and attention grabbing, and certainly less memorable.

Whether we like it or not, we are in a sense competing with the entertainment industry for the hearts and minds of our children today. Just like a kid goes to school the next day after watching a movie and can’t be muzzled for talking so much about it nonstop… that ought to be our desire in ministry as well.

The kids in our classes on Sunday morning ought not be able to keep quiet on Monday morning about what they did and learned and how much fun they had in church the day before. Fun makes faith sticky! And isn’t that what we really want? We want our influence to stick.

A few months ago, when one of our first time bus riders was dropped of at her door, her father asked her, “So, how’d it go?” Her response, “BEST DAY EVER!!!” That’s the way it should be when we combine faith with fun in our ministry.

So, what will you do this Sunday to combine faith with fun? It might just be the one thing more than any other that makes your message stick.

I’d love to hear your input by you leaving a comment. What are some ways you’ve successfully combined faith with fun in your ministry?

Three Words That Will Energize Your Ministry

ENERGY

There are three words that will energize your ministry.  No, it’s not “Drink More Coffee!”  Although, on a Monday morning after a LONG Sunday, I can see where that would certainly help!  The three words that will energize your ministry:  ENERGY, ENERGY, ENERGY!

OK, so it’s the same word repeated twice!  But, having a high level of energy can transform a normally boring and routine Kids Ministry into a thriving one.  Just about everything can be improved with increased energy.  Nobody wants to hear a song, listen to a lesson, or participate in a class where the leader looks bored, irritated, or wishes they were somewhere else.  Kids want to be excited, pumped, and energized.  It all starts with you, the leader.

Some of you really struggle with this.  You work 5 days a week, run like crazy for your families on Saturday, and then on Sunday it is tough to have the energy you need to create a great experience for the kids to receive God’s Word.  So, I thought I would give you a few principles that will help you raise the energy level in your ministry…

How To Increase Energy:

1.  Realize what’s at stake

SOULS are at stake!  As Kidmin Leaders, we want these kids to see us excited about God’s word, worship, and serving others.  The level of passion you have will determine the level of passion THEY have.  When you realize that souls are at stake, suddenly the excuse of “I didn’t get enough sleep last night” doesn’t really cut it!

2.   Take responsibility for your own energy

Too many people wait to be pumped up by situations or persons.  They wait for the environment and all the external factors to be “just right” before they will respond with passion and energy.  As Kidmin Leaders, you can’t be like that.  You can’t wait for someone or something else to energize you.  You have to take responsibility and be proactive in having energy, not REACTIVE.

“The quality of your life is your gift to yourself.” – Benjamin Franklin

If you wait for someone else to strike up your energy before you do anything, then life will pass you by – and so will many valuable ministry moments.

3.      Act your way into feeling

“Right decisions will eventually bring about right emotions.” – Stephen Covey

Don’t wait until you feel right to do right.  Do right and you will feel right.  There is an old saying, “Fake it ‘till you make it!”  I don’t know if I like the word “fake,” but I think in this case it works.  Fake joy is better than genuine depression any day – when it comes to leading in front of a group of kids.  That doesn’t mean don’t ever “be real” with people.  But, the time to “be real” and display your sadness is NOT while you are in front of a group of kids teaching about the Power of God!

It all boils down to this – whose energy are you using?  Colossians 1:29 says, “To this end I labor, struggling with all HIS energy which so powerfully works in me.”  When you are accomplishing GOD’S PURPOSE with GOD’S POWER, then you possess eternally renewable energy.  So stop struggling with your own energy, and tap into HIS!

Winners of the FREE “Power Bible” Announced

Congratulations to Donna Falvo and Susan Cantrell!  They are the winners of a FREE copy of the “Power Bible.”  In case you missed my post on the “Power Bible” check it out HERE!

There will be more giveaways of more resources in the future, so stay tuned!  In fact, this week I am giving away lots of resources to randomly selected followers of mine on Twitter.  So, if you don’t already, follow me at @briandollar1 and see if you win!

Join Me and Ryan Frank For A FREE Webinar

Ryan Frank; Kidzmatter, Inc.

Ryan Frank serves as the CEO of KidzMatter and a Vice President at Awana Clubs International. Ryan and his wife, Beth, are also the publishers of Kidzmatter Magazine. He is the author of 9 Things They Didn’t Teach Me in College About Children’s Ministry (Standard) and Give Me Jesus (Baker Publishing).

Ryan has asked me to join him as a guest speaker for a FREE Webinar NEXT WEDNESDAY, July 2, 2014 at 12:00 pm CDT/1:00pm EDT.

How do you lead when you aren’t in charge? That’s the topic of this 30-minute lunch webinar.  Ryan and I believe that leadership is more than a position. It’s more than having formal authority. As John Maxwell says, leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.

Join Ryan and I at this  FREE 30-minute lunch webinar on Wednesday, July 2nd to discover:

  • How to lead when you aren’t in charge.
  • How to stay connected to your boss’ vision.
  • How to communicate with your boss.
  • How to fight the thought: “If only I was in charge.”
  • And much more.

To save your spot, CLICK HERE and get registered. This webinar is FREE, and you will leave with lots of PRACTICAL IDEAS to start implementing in your life.

Here Is The First Look At The New “Left Behind” Movie (Starring Nicolas Cage)

actor-nicolas-cage-discusses-his-2014-movie-left-behind

For those of you who are fans of the “Left Behind” book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, this is probably not breaking news.  For the rest of the world, it definitely is.  There is a NEW film adaptation of the first book, “Left Behind,” coming to theaters this October 3rd.

This version of the film boasts a much bigger budget and a much stronger cast.  Nicolas Cage is an Academy Award Winner and you will recognize Lea Thompson from her role is “Back To The Future.”  The budget for this film dwarfs that of the original.  Will it play well in theaters?  Only time will tell.

Personally, I had a lot of trouble watching the first installment (2000, starring Kirk Cameron) because it was so campy.  I am truly hoping this one is done better.  Here is your first look at the Official Trailer:

Since this film is starring several big-name actors, it is bound to get people talking.  We need to be ready to discuss the rapture with people in an intelligent way.  Let’s not let this slip up on us.  Read the Bible.  Study the scriptures.  ALSO, please understand that this is a dramatization and FICTION.  The story itself is made up and there is a LOT of creative license taken (although, not nearly as much as the “Noah” movie, I would hope).  It is important that Christians know how to explain that the Rapture itself is real, but this particular dramatic adaptation is fiction.  

So, after seeing the trailer, what are your thoughts?  Is the world ready for big-budget movie about the Rapture of the Church?  Are you ready?  Leave your thoughts in the Comments section…

 

5 Things That Will Destroy Ministry Momentum

 

momentum

We all love those moments in ministry when everything seems to be clicking.  The team is rocking, the place is growing, the numbers are climbing, and the morale is as high as its every been.  It’s what many leaders call “The Big MO” – a.k.a. MOMENTUM!

Momentum in ministry should NEVER be taken for granted.  You never know how long it will last.  You want to make the most of it and capitalize on it.  If you aren’t careful, you might lose it.  Here’s a quick hit list of some of the biggest MOMENTUM KILLERS.

1)  PRIDE – There is nothing worse than you starting to believe that the reason for the momentum is YOU.  Although it’s true great momentum can happen when a team is being led by a strong leader, there is not a single leader alive who can bring about momentum for an organization ALONE!  Give God the praise!  Give your team the credit!

2)  CONFLICT AMONG TEAM MEMBERS – With momentum comes growth.  When an organization grows, it’s systems can become stressed and strained as they are pushed to new limits.  This tension can sometimes lead to conflict.  Remember to keep the finger on the pulse of your leaders.  When you sense tension or conflict, remember to resolve it biblically (Matthew 18:15-17).  Do not allow feelings to fester.

3)  LAZINESS – Things come easier when you have momentum.  It’s easy to lay back and let the momentum do the work.  We all have a tendency when things are going great to spend a little less time in planning, vision casting, and organization.  Don’t let it happen!  It will bust your momentum!

4)  SIN IN THE CAMP – Momentum brings growth.  Growth brings more work.  Things get busy and it is easy for our personal prayer and spiritual time to fall to the wayside.  When you allow that to happen, you open the door for temptation.  Nothing will kill momentum like sin in the lives of the leadership team.  Don’t wait until you notice the problem – prevent it.  Make prayer and The Word a #1 non-negotiable priority in your life.

5)  TOO SLOW TO CHANGE/ADAPT – The world around us is changing – rapidly!  Children’s Ministry today doesn’t look much like it did ten years ago.  Organizations that don’t consistently look ahead and anticipate change (especially in today’s rapid culture) will be left behind!  If the culture changes LONG before you do, then momentum isn’t the only thing you will lose.

Momentum is a wonderful thing.  It is a precious gift from God.  Don’t squander it.  Be aware of these momentum busters – and guard it safely!

What about you?  Are you aware of other MOMENTUM KILLERS that I didn’t list?  Please share those in the comments section so that the other readers can benefit!