Monday, August 31, 2015

GREAT WOMEN OF FAITH - ANNA, FIRST BIG CITY EVANGELIST

36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of
the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 
37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years,who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 
38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-38).


Nothing is wasted in God's economy. Nothing in His Creation and nothing in His Word. Every word, of every phrase of every verse of every chapter of book is there for a reason and the passage above is no exception. The prophetess Anna is more than just an extra in some church Christmas program. She is given to us as an example of so many attributes we need to emulate as Christians.

God created us, each with a different and unique set of DNA, fingerprints and personality. However, there is nothing new under the sun, while under the Son - He maketh everything new! The person of Anna, writen, under Divine Authority, about by Dr. Luke, the Greek Gospel writer is a living testimony to the amazing Mind of God. Let us unpack this, thematically as well expository, as we look at this powerful woman of God
.


Anna was of great age (verse 36b): In this case, it is okay to ask a woman her age!!  The only reason this is important is the evidence the Holy Spirit gives to show that Anna had been serving God for a long, long time. We see in the next phrase, she was an 84 years old widow, having been married for 7 years. Many of us have been Christians and followers of Jesus Christ for many decades, some for a few years, some just recently. But six plus decades is a long time, in anybody's language for dedicated, selfless service to the Lord. One significant noticeable thing is this - Anna lost her husband in her early 20's. Yet, unlike most, instead of being bitter and turning AWAY FROM God, she turned TO Him. We are to learn from this. We can learn that no matter how much it hurts, God is for us and is always in control. There is nothing wrong in asking our Father in Heaven "why me, Lord". But be prepared for the answer, because that answer is always geared towards strengthening our Faith and our relationship with Him, if we listen and let Him direct our future....after the appropriate period of mourning.


Anna did not depart from the Temple (verse 37a): She obviously had her own little room in the huge temple complex, which was appointed by God, where there had to be many old used scrolls of the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms. She did not spend those many years just walking around aimlessly, being only an encourager to countless women and children. According to tradition, she would not have been allowed to teach men, but praying for and ministering to others was her calling. The lesson for us here is this - we are not to depart from the modern Temple of the Lord, because the Holy Spirit Who abides in us, has fueled us up with the correct mindset to seek, pursue and acquire the Knowledge of the Holy One and we are to live under than unction all the days of our lives. This includes and precludes us following after the mystic and pagan ways of the eastern "religions" and the strange New Age doctrines of the west.


Anna served God with fastings and prayers (verse 37b): This is an interesting phrase as there is more to it than we read in the English translations, on which modern western christianity based their "theology". The word "serve" is from the original bible Greek word "latris" which literally means "hired servant". In a sense, we are all “hired servants” of the King, being Christians and bought by a price – on the Cross, by His Precious Blood. We are servants who are never fired, but are continually being fired up by the Power of the Holy Spirit – the very Spirit of God Who indwells every rejuvenated soul.  We serve Him best by being His disciples. We already know what the qualifications of a disciple is, i.e “take up your Cross and follow” Christ.


This “taking up of the Cross” is the one thing modern Christians have the biggest problem with and continues to be our downfall.  Taking up one’s Cross means total selfless commitment to the point of being a “doulos” like the Apostle Paul. Modern English translates that word “servant” to be politically correct when it literally means slave. A slave follows His Master as we should follow Christ. The commitment not only involves dying to self but following Christ in every way – in studying His Word, like Anna studied the scrolls – the same scrolls we hold in our hands when we hold a Bible. The commitment also involves daily prayer and as much as possible – fasting.  Fasting is not a concept which was done away with but a way to connect with the Lord on a deeper level, when we put aside the distractions and delicasies of daily living for a higher purpose of Christ, on occasion. This is the way we grow as disciples and emulate the great example of Anna the Prophetess.

Anna responded to God's Perfect Timing (verse 38a): Now this verse
about the great woman of faith – Anna –is so intriguing and full of meaning. First of all, we see perfect timing. It appears from Dr. Luke’s Gospel that God Himself directed first Simeon and then Anna, to His Son (in baby form) in the same encounter. But how would she know which one would be the Christ child in all the hundreds of people in the temple courtyard that day? God’s perfect timing is the only answer.  This woman had spent six decades, living in the temple under the auspices and Grace of God and had studied under the best teachers of the time, including Nicodemus and Gamaliel.  She knew the Word. She fasted and prayed and ministered as much as she ate and slept, walked and talked. In that instant, it all came together. For us, that moment was when we first knew Him as Lord and Savior – and the most exciting journey of our lives began! This is the journey with Jesus which will take us home to be with Him!

Anna became the First Big City Evangelist (verse 38b): So it no wonder, she gave thanks! Her entire life was fulfilled in the meeting and holding of the Sovereign King of the Universe –the Baby Jesus! Her words of gratitude for this honor are not recorded like Simeon, but her actions spoke more. Her gratitude for what the Lord did for her, led her to become the First Evangelist of the Christian Faith in Jerusalem. We already saw that the poor Shepherds of Bethlehem were the first pastors and evangelists but they were kept OUTSIDE the big city by the Pharisees, who did not want them in the Holy City for many reasons! They looked down on those shepherds as dirty, smelly and even thieves when these shepherds were the ones who kept all the sheep required for the Temple sacrifices! 

God revealed the Birth of the Savior to these poor Shepherds at the beginning on the jagged cold hills south of the eternal city. He then revealed the eight day old God-man to this amazing woman, Anna, who spared no time sharing the Good News of the Savior's arrival to all in the City of Jerusalem, who would listen. With whom she shared the news of the fulfillment of the Messianic Prophesy is important. Scripture said "Anna spoke of Him to all who looked for Redemption". Just like today, people felt oppressed, under stressed and distressed and full of hopelessness. Still, this great woman of Faith, who literally met the Savior as a baby boy, knew of the Hope that had arrived and told all who would listen. This laid the foundation for what took 30 years to come to fruition - the Ministry of Jesus Christ. Today, we have that same hope. So many are unable to cope and are even looking in the wrong place for their concept of Redemption, Peace, Joy, Understanding, Love, Hope and Grace. They need to look to the beautiful Face of Christ, Whom the Father allowed this unique woman to first see; surrender their lives to Him and then feel the same joy Anna saw, when she came face to Face with the Messiah two thousand years ago.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

DEPRESSION & BIBLICAL SOLUTIONS - HELP IS OUT THERE

1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me,
“Where is your God?”
4 When I remember these things,
I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude;
I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance......(Psalm 42:1-5)
Webster's dictionary describes depression as "a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies". That is a huge mouthful and unfortunately, all of it is true.

In times like these, it is small wonder that the ability to cope escapes more and more people, in all strata of society. Depression evades no one. We saw what happened in the recent past when the son of US mega-pastor Rick Warren unfortunately committed suicide, after almost an entire lifetime of depression.


Depression is not something to be dismissed by the super-religious by telling folks under duress to "get a hold of themselves" or "why don't you pray more....or read the Bible more" etc. It takes more than sermonizing. It takes love, commitment, counseling added to the Scriptures and Prayer to beat back the five major types of depression which I discuss in the video teaching below.


Counseling is important and critical to this, but it HAS TO BE from a Christian counselor. Most churches do NOT have this much-needed service and most times, the pastoral staff is ill-equipped biblically to handle these issues so they lean mostly on pop-psychology solutions. If you are someone who needs to reach out and seek or assist another in whipping depression, please look up your nearest Celebrate Recovery chapter in your town. 

There is a Celebrate Recovery group in almost every major town in the United States. There is even a Celebrate Recovery (CR) Bible now! There are apps for PDA's, anything which will keep a person with a problem plugged in 24/7 until we beat this thing. 

CLICK HERE TO FIND THE NEAREST CELEBRATE RECOVERY GROUP TO YOU

This is the best way to help a friend defeat depression. The mentoring, teaching and fellowship will bring value, peace and purpose to someone's life and the great thing about it, is CR is based ENTIRELY on the Word of God, with Jesus Christ as the foundation!
WATCH THIS SHORT TEACHING ON DEPRESSION AND HOW TO DEFEAT IT




Monday, August 17, 2015

GALLOWS ROAD- PATHWAY TO RECONCILIATION? NOW ON DVD!

GALLOWS ROAD (2015, LITTLE FAITH PICTURES, DALLAS)
STARRING ERNIE HUDSON (Ghostbusters, Grey's Anatomy); KEVIN SORBO (Hercules, God's Not Dead) AND MARY JANE BENTLEY (Secrets of Jonathan Sperry).

It is unusual for me to promote a movie or book which I have not yet had a chance to see or read. Every item reviewed in this blog has been thoroughly researched, watched and read and as far as books are concerned, I purchase the books I read. So only a select few make it on here. The vast majority of movies I have reviewed are also purchased on DVD or seen in the local movie theater. My reviews can be read here as well on the popular cultural online magazine Twinas Latinas Magazine as well as the Business Men In Christ website. I am going to get my own copy, most likely from Family Christian store, the country's largest chain of Christian bookstores, and a non-profit which donates all profits to missions, rather than Walmart, but decided to just write a different type of review.

This new movie, Gallows Road, is being promoted, for a unique reason - Racial Reconciliation.  We are living in times of race riots in Ferguson for two years in a row; racial riots and lawlessness in Baltimore and flare-ups elsewhere in related events. There were race-induced events that led to innocent deaths in South Carolina and Texas, but no riots. The difference with the events in the South can be directly related to these being Bible Belt states where church attendance and forgiveness are hallmarks of a society where Scripture and Jesus are rank highest in the top ten. Most who live and make Christianity their lifestyle, live accordingly. This is absolutely obvious, across all racial lines.
After watching the trailer and speaking briefly to the Producer of Gallows Road - Mary Jane Bentley, I was able to get a feel for what the thinking and theme of Gallows Road is all about. There is no doubt that this film can be used to heal a lot of racial wounds in a lot of places. From just watching the trailer alone, I can tell where this is heading. In a script, expertly written by Mary Jane Bentley's mother - Grace McAdams and directed by her brother Billy McAdams, we see what the combination fo alcohol and hatred can do to people who already are living on the edge, In this case, three ne'er do wells, burn down the idyllic home of a Godly black man named Bob Collins (Ernie Hudson) who has the great all-American family with a wife and two beautiful children and the dream of owning his own business. Everything goes wrong when all three of Collins' loved ones are victims of a horrible arson. Subsequent events leads Collins to walk away from God towards revenge while other events appear headed towards a collision. 

Producer Mary Jane Bentley with Gallows
 Road Director Billy McAdams
This is the most powerful trailer I have seen and it literally made me want to watch the movie streaming live from Amazon Prime, but I held back. Ernie Hudson did a powerful job in this movie and appears very intense while Kevin Sorbo is well, Kevin Sorbo. That man is as adaptable in a role as the late great Anthony Quinn, who used to play any ethnic group you could name! Gallows Road is also being shown on demand in theaters around the United States ON DEMAND, via Tugg. However, it is already out on video at all Christian bookstores and major retailers. 

Gallows Road is most definitely a must see. In fact it should be the type of movie which ought to be required watching in inner city community centers; black churches in Baltimore and LA; as well as in some narrow minded communities where the message of the Gospel and Forgiveness is so very much needed. That message has no color, but the color of love....and its Name is Jesus.

LINKS:
Gallows Movie Website
Gallows Movie Facebook Page
LITTLE FAITH PICTURES,
Family & Faith Based Films
www.maryjeanbentley.com

NEW BEGINNINGS - NEW SEASON

Each New Year's observance and subsequent "new year's" resolutions are sometimes wonderful things to be a part of, but we can have a restart and reboot now or at any time, which is more meaningful, enduring and can actually be maintained than fleeting "resolutions" that are broken six weeks after they are made!

America has always been the country and the Land of Second Chances. Here you can fail, try again...then really blow it, and then really come alive in a brand new city or state, doing the opposite of what you're trained for...and succeed at it! The country, which was founded on solid Biblical and Christian principles, is still that way. Before the United States was ever dreamed of, God ordained a truth and a new beginning for those who love and obey Him and than those who are called by His Name. 

The new beginning from God comes the moment we come to the end of our own little selves and realize that there is something and Someone bigger than us. It is when we realize we have hit bottom, lost all hope and have nowhere to go and turn to the One Who created us - Abba Father. God does not hear the prayers of those who are not saved, unless we called out to Him for Salvation and rescue. It is only then that we really and truly have a new beginning in life which will last us through eternity.

When we cry out, seek His forgiveness and accept that forgiveness in the spirit of repentance and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Master and the Direction of our life, only than will the God of Heaven hear our prayers. It is then the following becomes true: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh....Ezekiel 36:26

We read 2 Corinthians 5:17  says that if any man is in Christ, he is a "NEW CREATION". This is true. If you have ever observed a person, who led the most miserable life, looked and acted like a child of hell and then was radically saved, you will see the absolute complete change in that person. It is a confirmation of this verse!!

When the Bible says that person is a NEW CREATION, the actual original word for Creation is "ktisis". This is the very same word which is used to describe the Creation of the World, which God Himself formed out of NOTHING - NOTHING! God took our nothing and made something beautiful out it - a new creation. He creates a new person out of us, a child of the Kingdom, a royal priesthood, a holy nation! That's our God and that's the Truth! Jesus is Lord! 

The following is a program on New Beginnings, from my Bible teaching show, which expands on this:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

WAR ROOM: CHRISTIAN MOVIE MEGA-HIT OF 2015!

THE FIRST MAJOR MOVIE ON PRAYER EVER!
Actor/Director/Producer Pastor Alex Kendrick on point
The newest (and most powerful) offering from the Kendrick Brothers – War Room – is the most intense and timely of any of their previous, life-changing films.  Alex and Stephen Kendrick  are associate pastors of the great Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia which is middle class Americana, at its best! When they started doing films as outreach tools, these authentic men and their senior pastor Michael Catt never imagined the amazing response of the American public to their movies. They have since branched out into their own production company, called Kendrick Brothers and War Room represents their first major project independently of Sherwood….and what a movie this is!

War Room will take the Christian world by storm – across the board and across racial lines! Having had three months to ponder the message and methodology of this new movie (released August 28, 2015), the inspiration behind War Room, could not be more obvious.  As an active minister, now in my third decade as an intercessor, I can see the Mighty Hand of God behind this profound screenplay, from the pastoral hearts of the Kendricks.  Because there are at least 2-3 years between each of their previous Sherwood masterpieces, this Georgia-based team spends a lot of time in prayer, discussion, Research and auditioning as to who would be the most perfect cast for this project. It is obvious, that with War Room,  the Kendricks has a potential mega-hit on their hands! 
Priscilla Shirer ("Elizabeth") in her "War Room" 

War Room’s highest profile cast member is Priscilla Shirer, who has the lead role in the movie and is better known as a senior Women’s Bible Study creator of Lifeway – the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention! Priscilla is much less known as the daughter of the great Dr. Tony Evans of Oakcliff Bible Church in Dallas, whom everyone regards as the most popular and solid African-American preacher in America.  As an aside,  it appears that the entire Evans family is destined for greatness. Singer Anthony Evans got his start in worship music at the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro, NC. Former NFL player Jonathan Evans is a huge draw at national Men’s conferences and is set to be Dr. Evans replacement one day and now sister Priscilla puts in the most dynamic, convincing role of a lifetime as the seemingly wronged wife of the lead male cast member TC Stallings (as go-getter medical sales rep Tony Jordan).

Just briefly, the story revolves around an upper middle-class married couple – Tony and Elizabeth (Shirer) Jordan who live in a huge suburban mansion with their young daughter. Like most professing Christians, Tony does what it takes to put on a good show on Sundays with his “Christian” friends while cutting corners and wheeling-dealing the rest of this week, in order to pay for their over-priced house and two expensive automobiles. Elizabeth is in the real estate business, in dire need of some contract sales to keep up her side of their marital/home “arrangement”.  Things are already close to the edge for this couple and their walk of Faith. Compounding the complicated, Tony’s flirting with another woman leads to a romantic dinner with her as a scary adulterous relationship seemed to appear on the horizon. It never happened due to what can only be termed divine intervention. In the meantime, his wife is experiencing one personal crisis after another, including a crisis of Faith.
Here is where the most unforgettable character in the film comes in and where the genius of the Kendrick Brothers shines.  They wrote a gem around a character named Miss Clara (Karen Abercombie) who not only looks and reminds me of my own prayer warrior mother, but can be anyone’s praying grandmother! Her Godly and inspired wisdom in mentoring the troubled stressed-out Shirer character is a thing to behold. It is true discipleship right in front of your eyes.  Karen Abercombie did such a masterful job in her role as the elderly saint and mentor on Prayer and a Right Relationship with God, that you would think she was always this perfect. But no human being ever was perfect, since the Fall in the Garden. Here is where the second major theme of WAR ROOM – Grace – really hits like an F5 tornado. The moments in the lives of the major characters are so outstanding in this film,  it both takes your breath away and become “break out the Kleenex” moments. They are expertly written and produced. Even a casual viewer CAN NOT miss the true meaning of what Grace REALLY is and thus, what Christ did for us on the Cross.
WAR ROOM RESOURCES HERE

These are the two major accomplishments of War Room.  Because both Kendricks are the writers, producers and obviously the Spiritual directors of this new classic on Prayer and Mentoring,  they succeed in their united mission. “Prayer is so much more than people realize,” said Producer and co-writer Stephen Kendrick. “It (Prayer) can powerfully affect every problem and need in our lives if engaged from within a vibrant relationship with God.”  Stephen is the behind the scenes Kendrick while Alex has acted in all of them, but their pastors heart is evident as well as the months and months of prayer that went into making War Room.

Alex Kendrick said: “We made this film to inspire, challenge, and motivate families to fight the right kind of battles and to fight them the best way possible”. This can only be achieved, in my opinion, when child of God grows to a level of maturity that the need to have a secret place, to fight the battles of life on our knees is necessary. This “prayer closet”  (which can be our quiet living room early in the morning or anywhere) must be a place where we meet regularly with God. Then, once we are able to walk in righteousness through this daily discipline, we are compelled to share with and teach somebody else about the Grace and Goodness of God.  In short, this is the underlying message of War Room, which the screenplay being the engine used to convey this truth. 

WAR ROOM ALSO ABOUT RESTORED RELATIONSHIP
T. C. STALLINGS (AB0VE) LEAD ACTOR

The Kendrick Brothers accomplished ALL of their stated goals here in so many ways – by crossing racial and class lines and with the great sense of humor they have come to be well known for, in all their previous films. In so many ways, War Room has all the tools to be the transformative film of the year. Along with their upcoming new War Room Prayer Study guide resources,  (similar to the Love Dare from Fireproof and the Resolution from Courageous), War Room will impact lives for the Kingdom from deep within, for years to come. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH

Who are “the just” and are the only ones who live, and by whose faith? I can hear the sceptics, asking these questions when this seemingly quaint phrase is used. 

As ancient as modern man thinks the Word of God (the Bible) is, God's Word is written forever in the Heavens, and therefore in eternity. We live in a time where every person does what is right in his/her own eyes, thereby creating their own philosophies which they then extrapolate into an entry card to Faith. Ask anyone these days if they’re going to heaven, and the answer is “SURE”! If they  are a little more honest, the answer would be “I sure hope so”. The few odd ones I have spoken to have literally told me they are not afraid of the “lake of fire”! Good gravy, Gert!  Could they be serious?

In reality, the Just really WILL live by Faith. From biblical Hebrew to the New Testament Greek, the Word from the great God of Heaven is plain. Here is what He says:
"Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith..." Habakkuk 2:4
"For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith...." Romans 1:17
"But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith....." Galatians 3:11
"Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him...."Hebrews 10:38

I think we are starting to get the idea. The questions for us humans, redeemed and unredeemed are simply: who or what is "the Just" and what does it mean "to live"?

The just or "the righteous" (according to the Sacred Scripture) is the man or woman, boy or girl whose conduct - body, mind and soul - are in alignment with the perfect standard of God. Not that any living person can achieve that perfection. It is precisely for that reason we cannot make ourself "just" or "righteous" in the Eyes of God that He has to save us, rescue us from the pit of Hell and then IMPUTE or credit our account, free of charge. This act of His Grace JUSTIFIES us, makes us ACCEPTABLE in His perfect 20/20 Spiritual Eyesight. There is no other way to be a child of the King and have eternal life. There is no such fiction as reincarnation, purgatory, 100 levels of consciousness of anything else man-made religion concocts.  It is only God the Father, seeing us through the Perfection of Christ, when we repent and accept Jesus as Lord, which can bring us into being made Just in His Sight.

Secondly, being made right or justified by His Grace, we now have eternal life. Indeed shall we live in eternity (or Heaven) with God the Father in the eternal kingdom. However, Eternity actually begins the moment we are saved. At the point of Adoption into the Kingdom, when we are converted from the domain of darkness, into the Kingdom of His marvelous Light, we inherit eternity past, the present and into eternity future. The Holy Spirit, Who is sent to seal us as His, immediately testifies to that fact and if a person does not possess such a transformation, conversion is in perilous doubt.

Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God Who raised Jesus Christ from the dead is the same Spirit Who lives in us who are made just and are future citizens of Heaven. He immediately sets to work, to the degree He is allowed, to guide us into the way we should live - IN THE PRESENT. We, the Just, MUST live by Faith - NOW.

We are to live in the Faith, as plainly stated in Scripture. This means we are to eat, sleep, walk, talk, act, speak and think as one whose life is not his/her own, but made right and on loan from God, Who saved us.

The just who shall live by Faith is one whose daily life is fully dependant on God and knows it. Therefore the just who lives by Faith recognizes Who sustains our very breath, bread and eventually the brevity of our earthly life. 

The just who shall live by Faith is one who seeks and pursues the One Who died for us and then gave us a new permanent purpose in life.

The just who shall live by Faith is not only relies on and hopes in the God Who sits on the Throne above, but obeys Him (as stated in Scripture) and trusts fully in Him.

The just shall live by Faith and shows it as a living walking example of the Word of God, and as one whose prayer life jumps out and is a beacon to those who seek authentic intercession and someone to pray for them.  Oh yes, my friends, let us simply just live, love and long to reach others with the only Faith that matters AND saves- Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. Amen.

Friday, August 7, 2015

INSPIRATIONAL SCREENPLAY OF THE YEAR - "THE BEAUTIFUL WORLD": (Interview & Review)

(Adapted from Eleanor H. Porter’s Inspirational Novel: Just David)
If you’ve kept up with The Write Stuff blog for any length of time, you’ve noticed my posts about the prolific writings of Susan Rohrer, who has enjoyed a multi-faceted, award-winning career as a producer, screenwriter, director, and author in the entertainment and media industries. Most recently, I posed a few questions to Ms. Rohrer about her newest release entitled The Beautiful World.
—Bernie Lutchman 

BL:  Why did you choose to adapt Eleanor H. Porter’s original novel Just David into your latest writing project, The Beautiful World?

SR:  First, thanks so much for inviting me to be part of your blog, Bernie. It’s my joy and privilege to share these thoughts with your readers.

When it comes to choosing what stories to tell, I find Philippians 4:8 to be a great yardstick. I ask myself if that story I’m considering would be a vessel of honor, if it’s consistent with what is true, right, pure, lovely, and of good report. Does the story have any virtue? Is it worthy of praise, thought, and the investment of time? Does it have the potential to transform? One person at a time, could it help make this world a better place? Eleanor H. Porter’s stirring story measured up on every level.

As noted in its subtitle, The Beautiful World is an adaptation of Porter’s inspirational classic, Just David. Since childhood, I’d been familiar with Porter’s most famous work, Pollyanna, and the family film productions it inspired. But I’d never heard of Just David until a dear friend and former co-worker called that gem to my attention. Just David had been even more popular than Pollyanna, ranking as the #2 Bestseller in the USA when it was published in 1916. Those who’ve discovered Just David treasure it, but with no film made, Porter’s tale of David, a guileless violin prodigy, has largely faded from the spotlight of popular culture. Still, from her very first pages, Porter’s timeless story resonated within me. With its universal longing to find meaning in life and its many scriptural allusions, this Gospel-laced allegory evoked deep emotion in me. It made me want to see our troubled world through David’s luminous eyes.

I remember telling my agent at the time about my intent to adapt Porter’s book
into a screenplay. He did his best to discourage this since—in today’s market—dark, edgy, secular scripts are much easier to sell. Still, Porter’s story echoed within me, begging to be told on the screen. So, I wrote the screenplay, updating it into the contemporary milieu, under the title The Beautiful World. Bless him, my agent still circulated the script to a number of production companies. Across the board, praise for the script was high. Some showed interest in getting it funded for production. But though that script opened doors and boosted my credibility as a screenwriter, it has yet to make it to the screen.

Time passed, but that longing remained to bring The Beautiful World to life in some way. Many of my scripts had already been produced, but I had just as many that I loved that hadn’t made it to the screen. Because a number of my scripts took many years to get produced, I continue to do what I can to support that effort. One by one, I began to adapt those orphaned scripts, giving each a home and a new life in novel form. Finally, the time seemed right to novelize The Beautiful World.

BL:  What would you like to accomplish with this dynamic new work?

SR:  I’m so excited at the prospect that this modern retelling will bring Porter’s
Author/Producer/Director
Susan Rohrer of L.A.
classic back to the attention of contemporary readers. And maybe, God willing, as the novel takes on a life of its own, it will raise awareness of the screenplay and support the effort to get The Beautiful World funded as a motion picture.  

Meanwhile, in novel form, it’s my hope that The Beautiful World will put a mirror up in some way for everyone who reads, that we’ll see ourselves in each of its characters. Of course, as much as we’d hope to see ourselves in David’s idyllic mountaintop experience, we’re more likely to relate to the real world people he meets in the valley below. We might recognize the couple that takes David in, workaholic farmer Simeon Holly and his lonely wife, Ellen. We see ourselves in the Hollys’ farmhand, Perry Larson, or in single mother Tina Glaspell as she toils to feed her kids. Some will resonate with Jack Gurney’s truncated law career and his estrangement from his childhood sweetheart, heiress Barbara Holbrook, a woman who has everything but purpose in her life. Through each of these pivotal characters, I’d like to provoke readers to think about their relationships with work and to how that impacts their relationships with one another. In that sense, I’d like to set each reader on David’s quest, to discover what work of true beauty and value he or she is meant to do in life.

BL:  You have a wonderful gift of placing your readers into the narrative you’re producing. What advice do you have for young authors who may need some experience painting the sounds, smells, and feels a town or a scene, on the canvas of their stories?

SR:  Because realizing characters can be an intensely spiritual process, seeking discernment about each opportunity becomes an important first step. Stand strong in what you believe, no matter how hard the world tries to squeeze you into its mold. Don’t be afraid to pass on something that doesn’t sit right in your spirit. That hesitation you sense might be that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, whispering that it’s best to invest your time elsewhere. On the other hand, if the project passes the discernment test, the best place to start is by inviting our Creator—the greatest creative mind in the universe—into the creative process. He knows our minds and hearts so well. He knows the human condition each character faces. And He’s a very present help in making each character ring with relatable truth.

As in acting, in writing there’s this process of “going there” and inhabiting that place where each character lives in a profound, internal way. We need to do more than write about a moment. We need to be in that moment. And when we are, a very sensory world opens up inside us. We go beyond merely observing characters objectively to living in their circumstances experientially. We venture to that sensory place where we see, hear, smell, and taste what they do. As we begin to feel what they feel, we pour that experience out on the page. So, go there. Think what your characters think. Notice the things they notice. Laugh with them, cry with them, feel their pains and joys. Above all, acknowledge God in all your works, and as promised, He will direct your paths.

Editor’s Note:  Readers of this blog can get a copy of The Beautiful World by Susan Rohrer at either of the links below.

Paperback Edition (currently in release):

Kindle Edition (available on pre-release sale till its full release 8/15/2015):

Interested in following this author on Amazon, Twitter, or Pinterest? Visit:


BOOK REVIEW:
Every once in a while, a literary work bursts forth from the pens of some of our great authors and/or screenplay writers, either packing a wallop that immediately goes straight for the gut, or contains a message gloved in velvet that draws almost every emotion out of you. This new offering by producer/director and prolific author Susan Rohrer actually does both. The unique thing about Rohrer’s new book “The Beautiful World” is that you never see that wallop coming as you go through a series of twists and turns in the plot.

The unique thing about Susan Rohrer’s masterful writing is you never knew what is around the corner. It is a feature of almost all her previous books, most of which have been reviewed on my blog. A la Paul Harvey, by design, the origins of David and “Daddy’s” mysterious home in the mountains posits a quizzical take on this unusual father/son duo and the impact they are about to have on the rest of the story.

Ms. Rohrer’s fast moving plot really picks up speed when Daddy and David come off the mountain to the “valley” (the real world) where life gets messy, complicated and increasingly harsh. New characters are added like the good guy attorney Jack Gurnsey and his circle of friends and family, as well as the hardscrabble farm couple of Ellen and Simeon Holly and their trusted farmhand Perry Larson. The Hollys end up being the sympathetic couple who take the orphaned young violin prodigy David in, after Daddy departs for what David knows as “the far country.” All is not roses for David at this couple’s farmhouse. The Hollys struggle both to make ends meet and pay the mortgage, owed to a man who owns most of their county. 

The expertly woven tapestry of this small town drama has the feel of a major motion picture family drama, which could have occurred in any time period of the last hundred years, in Americana.  The emotional roller coaster in “The Beautiful World” will draw you in, make you furious, then make you smile. It will make you sad to the point of bringing out a box of Kleenex. Whatever your taste in books, this one is more than just for a lazy summer afternoon read. It is an experience many will relate to, because there is something in every character with which each of us can resonate. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

CHRISTIAN STAR RISING - A VISIT WITH JENN GOTZON

AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW:
OPENING WEEK OF AUGUST 4, 2015 ACROSS AMERICA
"PRINCESS CUT" STARRING JENN GOTZON  ET AL

Jenn Gotzon is the most popular and in demand actress in America. The good news is she is an authentic Christian woman whose life and career has become a ministry, by extention.  In fact, with the increasing popularity of Christian Movie Ministries in Churches, in which I am also actively involved, Jenn has successfully launched into a new facet of her calling to be Christ's representative in film AND to explain it to the folks out there like you and I! The following is an interview with Jenn, a Pennsylvania native, who got her start in Ron Howard's Oscar-nominated production "FROST/NIXON" as President's Nixon's daughter. Jenn has been in two movies which were Oscar-nominated: Frost/Nixon and Alone Yet Not Alone.
If you are interested in booking Jenn Gotzon as a speaker or presenter at your organization or church, after reading this interview, please leave a comment and your information will be immediately directed to her. Thank you!
Bernie Lutchman

BL:  A lot of folks are seeing you, Jenn Gotzon, in an ever increasing number of Christian movies and you are now identified as the most visible actress of this genre.  You actually had your start in mainstream movies as Tricia Nixon in (Frost/Nixon). How and when did you transition from this to Christian movies?

JG:  My calling from the Lord is to make movies that can entertain, uplift and inspire hope (films that make you laugh, cry and go on a journey that only movies can do for the soul) and then through that journey of the story, prayerfully hope the characters I play relate to the audience leaving an impact in their lives to realize they too can overcome life's challenges like the character they are identifying with on-screen. Those movies I strive to align myself with films that have a Godly perspective, uplifting, family-friendly and have themes of redemption. I love Jesus with all my heart and enjoy playing characters in movies like the characters Jesus would hang out with and minister to. Even though, mostly all the movies I have done since Frost/Nixon are labeled "Faithbased" only a few of those are evangelical (with a church-based come to Jesus moment)... most are films that all audiences from all beliefs can enjoy and hopefully be attracted to the message woven with Biblical truths within the story of hope, unconditional love and overcoming the odds with God to find victory. 
CURRENTLY IN PRODUCTION
I'd like to be working in mainstream films that are like "The Blind Side" or "The Help" deemed of such artistic excellence they receive critical acclaim being nominated by the Academy. Not for the 'status' of an Oscar.. but because it is the mark or artistic excellence in the film making community. Id also love the movies to mainstream appeal worldwide as blockbuster hits so more people can be inspired by the love God has for us. I strive to seek after protagonist roles in scripts and productions of this caliber.

BL: You sometimes have 3 or 4 projects going at the same time. In fact you just finished your first feature comedy and have done cameos in God’s Not Dead II with more to come. How do you keep it all straight while remaining firmly grounded as the Christian woman and faithful daughter you are?

ONE OF JENN'S MANY
UPCOMING PROJECTS
JG:  That is so kind of you, though I am a work in progress daily striving to find
the balance of keeping good health, peace over my soul, balanced diet and continual spiritual fueling, while being rested... It is a challenge for me sometimes that my body sometimes stops functioning forcing me to rest. I rely often on my prayer team that I have set up via a private Facebook group. What has been helpful (when i prioritize time to ensure Im doing this) is waking up and the first thing I reach to is Jesus in prayer and as my mind starts waking up, I like reading a devotion from "Jesus Calling" and as I begin waking up, having a glass of water, hitting the shower, then I have a little breakfast and a latte as I carve out quiet time with the Lord which entails finding a beautiful view atmospherically of God's creation praising Him for His glory, asking God to guide my time and grow my wisdom reading the bible as I continue in the chapter i left off. 


EVERY CHRISTIAN FILM SHOOTING  DAY STARTS 
WITH PRAYER - JENN, ON THE EARLY MORNING CALL
Currently, I am in 1 Corinthians and sometimes I will play the Bible on tape to hear audibly the word.. I will also put on praise music that is lyrical and transition into prayer journaling where I praise God, seek forgiveness for anything that may be causing my soul separation with the Lord (thought life, anxiousness, fears, etc) and press into His throne room in my mind'eye imagining Jesus in front of me. Often I will ask the Lord for guidance and vision with images and I journal down what ideas are coming upon my heart. I then 'test the spirit' so say to ensure that is a God idea and not a 'my desire' idea. I've learned through my journey that when its a God inspired idea there is fruit... and abundant provision, peace, opportunities flow and there is a joy.... when its a 'my desire' idea... there tends to be strive, anxiousness, and me pushing through a wall vs the ease.. I ensure that i spend solid quiet time praying to God ever day before work because I look at the opportunity as a gift from God and i am just a vessel with the talents God created in me to reach out and be an encouragement to others however God may lead through the performance while filming or the fellowship on and off set. :)

BL:  Which brings me to what is really important, in terms of eternity and your relationship with God. When did you come to faith with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and how do you balance your walk with Christ, with your busy schedule?

"I strive to align myself with  films that have
 a Godly  perspective, uplifting, family-friendly 

and have themes  of redemption" (JG)
JG:  My first time experiencing the physical, spiritual and emotional presence of Jesus Christ was when I attended a retreat in Steubenville, Ohio. It was a Catholic retreat and they asked us if we knew the Holy Spirit and lead us in a prayer to ask for forgiveness for anything we may feel shame, embarrassment, upset, scorn, torment, pain, anger, jealousy, addiction and that Jesus would want to take that from us and give us His peace. I remember crying and repenting visualizing me sitting on Jesus's lap and fearful to look into Jesus's eyes. And then the Lord said, give it to me... give it to me... let me take it from you. You are no longer alone. I am with you. I love you and I want to take care of you. I forgive you my daughter. I love you. Feel my grace. 
JENN GOTZON'S FIRST MAJOR FILM
WHICH PUT HER ON THE MAP
After this, I felt a peace that surpasses understanding come over my being from head to toe and electrified my body, mind, soul and i was 'born again'. I accepted Jesus as my personal savior and since then, my life has never been the same.. When life gets painful, hard, challenged as a while ago I went through a divorce bc my husband walked out on our marriage... as those years were tormenting painful, Jesus was right next to me.. As i suffered the loss of a few deaths and the pains of sadness, Jesus was right next to me and was able to hear Him whisper... "I love you, you are not alone, I am with you. let Me be your groom. you are My bride, let Me provide for you"... This was trancendingly powerful that stays my foundation. I am far from perfect and find many days, moments that I am wrapped up into all sorts of stuff that is not focused distracting my day, ie. Facebook... lol.. but once i get redialed into the Holy Spirit's guidance for the day... i feel God and Jesus' leading through my life journey.

BL:  Given your powerful testimony about your relationship with Christ, I understand your path is now leading you into ministry. How do you see that developing over the next two years and what steps do you think are important to keep a narrow focus on ministering to folks from all walks of life, while “tent-making” in movies….because, as you know,  the world out there with their eyes on high-profile Christians?

JG: The vision God has poured over me is using my movies as a platform to share our story on how we have overcome life's challenges like the characters on-screen in hopes to encourage others, they can overcome difficulties and live their passions and dreams with prayer, perseverance and faith in God. The program i created in 2008 is called "Inspiring Audiences" and has molded into "Jenn Gotzon's Inspiring Audiences: Music, Movie & a Message" 
We (Jenn and the Greens) had our inaugural event at Fellowship Baptist Church in Hudson, NC hosted by my dear friend Julie Green and her pastor husband Sheldon. They welcomed me into their church and hosted the event. The local news covered the experience and Jim E Chandler opened with worship song, followed by one of my movies, followed by Jim singing a song about his testimony, followed by me sharing an inspirational message about how the movie relates to our lives and then an interactive exercise helping people hear the calling God has on their lives to find their passion and live their dreams. It was wonderfully anointed time. I look forward to doing this program anytime I have downtime between filming and my spokesmodel job in China and ministry with AMTC Actors Models Talent for Christ where I spend my time mentoring and educating performers for the next generation with the staff to develop a Christian foundation to use their talents and as a positive role model in culture. #MakingGoodBolder #InspiringAudiences #GodisGood 
THE SUPER FIT JENN GOTZON WITH SIMPLE TIPS ON FITNESS:

HEAVEN WITH A GUN IS AN UPCOMING FILM PROJECT FINANCED BY INDIEGOGO AND INDEPENDENT DONATIONS. CLICK HERE FOR THE FUNDRAISER LINK:
Starring: Paul Le Mat, Jenn Gotzon, Cameron Daddo, Kathy Garver, Joe Estevez (Paul Le Mat is the Golden Globe Award winner for the 1973 classic American Graffiti)
4) Like & See what we are filming:www.imdb.me/JennGotzon
5) TEXT the word INSPIRING to the number 22828 and be invited to our upcoming movie premieres. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

LIVING WATER- THE SOURCE OF TRUE LIFE


Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks of this water which I will give to him will never be thirsty for eternity, but the water which I will give to him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”  (John 4:13-14)

There is no way any creature on planet earth can survive without water.  Even creation without souls and wills need water to live, thrive and survive. Plants need it. Animals need it and mankind, who was made a little lower than the Angels definitely cannot live without water. Scientists say that the average human can go  days without food, not so with water. Dehydration or lack of water in the human body can lead to physical, emotional and mental problems according to doctors and scientists in both the private and public sectors. We see the effects of drought not just in third world countries, but increasing in an America which has not just abandoned a God but constantly shakes its collective fists at Him, refusing to humble ourselves and repent, turn from our wicked ways and be healed. Hence, spiritual dehydration can lead to a slow spiritually bankrupt life, which will result one day in eternal separation from the Creator. 

There's nothing like a high mountain stream. Crisp, clean and clear, it pours out of the words of heaven. At first it slips down an incline and glides clean over smooth rock, picking up speed and cutting its own path this way and that. The Lord knows even where that little source of life goes. He directs thirsty people to it. 

There's nothing like the taste of a high mountain stream. It has a natural sweetness and unique flavor which no bottled water manufacturer anywhere in this world could duplicate. It's the natural, original grace and goodness of God. 

There's no such thing as eternal life without Living Water. This living water quenches the spiritual thirsty that has plagued humankind since the Fall in the Garden. This living water, once you and I drink it, does not require paying a monthly water bill or stopping in the local grocery store for a bottle of Dasani.  Sine every human being since Adam and Eve sinned, was born spiritually dead in our sins. It is only the pure Grace of God reaching down from Heaven, looking at the Sacrifice of God the Son (Jesus Christ) which pulls us out of the bottomless pit. 

The majority of mankind would rather rebel like Moses and STRIKE the Rock rather than speak to Him and seek a right relationship with God, through Christ. (Scripture told us the rock which Moses struck, when he was specifically told to speak to it, WAS Christ  (1 Corinthians 10:4)). Jesus told us of the rich man who was in hell and he was in torment, yet he thirsted. Being conscious, he even sought a sip of water to cool his tongue. Why does this even have to happen when the cool, peaceful water of Life is completely FREE and available to everyone, everywhere (John 3:16)?!

Let's think about this next time up on the front range of the Rockies and the snow starts melting or hiking around Pine Mountain, Georgia...or the gorgeous Smokey mountains. Have you drank at the font of life? Why not?!