Family

Heaven is For Real Movie Review

MV5BNjc3MzYzMTUzNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTYzNzI2MDE@._V1_SX214_I just returned from having the opportunity to see an advance screening of the movie, Heaven is for Real, which releases nationally on Wednesday, April 16. In case you missed the book’s national prominence, Heaven is for Real, is the true story of a four-year old boy named Colton, who experiences heaven during an emergency surgery. After his near death experience, Colton talks about looking down to see the doctor operating on him and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family doesn’t know what to believe about Colton’s experience, so they doubt, but soon the evidence is clear.

Having not read the book, I didn’t know what to expect. But I was pleasantly surprised. Overall, I felt that the film delivered an entertaining, moving and inspirational perspective on the topic of heaven. In fact, I would say it was probably one of the most professionally done “faith-based” movies I have ever seen. The cast is solid, the acting stellar, and Connor Corum, the 4-year-old boy who plays Colton, is simply adorable. In addition, Greg Kinnear turns in a very emotional performance as Todd Burpo, the father/pastor who is faced with whether or not to believe his son’s account of “Heaven.”

While I appreciated the authentic portrayal of a pastor who struggled with doubts, how to pay the bills, and his own sense of pride, I did feel that the producers muddled the message about heaven, most likely to make it easier for the non-Christian community to swallow. However I will say this, there was no compromising of the message that heaven is the place where Jesus resides!

Although I did have some issues with the film, I believe that the film will serve as a great conversation starter to get people talking about God, heaven and the afterlife. And that’s what director Randall Wallace and the producers likely had in mind. I also believe that the movie can prove to be very healing and hopeful for those who’ve experienced loss and need to be reminded of the fact that heaven IS for real! Therefore, I would encourage you to go and see it.

Why I’m Leaving Facebook

fastI joined Facebook in 2008. I don’t think at the time, I really understood the implications of this platform. It was new. It was fresh. Everyone was doing it. I joined the craze.

I wanted to buy stock in Facebook when it went public in 2012. I’m glad I didn’t.

But in 2014, I have decided it’s time to leave Facebook! Well at least for a while. You see, I’m giving it up for Lent.

Lent is the 40 days before Easter in which Christians pray, fast, contemplate and engage in acts of spiritual self-discipline. According to my friend, David Timms, professor at William Jessup University, “Lent provides a prayerful rhythm for our lives. It invites us to fast from something that is significant to us, and a regular part of our lives. And our fast is a trigger for prayer. Every time we think of (or desire) what we’re fasting from, we are to pray instead. Not necessarily lengthy prayers, but breath prayers. In short order we find ourselves praying more often throughout the day and living with a heightened sense of God’s presence.”

So for the next 40 days, I am going to be fasting from Facebook! But during this time, I’m really going to pray about leaving Facebook all together. Or at the least, create new rhythms in my life, whereby I am less attached to it.

Facebook was a significant way to connect with friends and family when we lived in Southern California. In fact, it helped us bridge the distance in incredible ways. However, over the last couple of years, Facebook has become a huge distraction and terrible time waster for me. So with that, I am going to test the waters and see how life is different without it. And here’s what I imagine is going to happen…

I will have more time!

I will have more joy!

I will have a deeper connection with God!

I will be more connected to friends!

I will be more present with my family!

I will be more content!

So if you want to catch up with Bryan, I suggest you visit my blog. I’m looking forward to the journey. Perhaps you might even consider joining me.

Remembering Grandma Helen

Scan 6Helen Jane Moore was born on September 18, 1914. She was the only daughter of Homer and May, and sister to her brothers, Paul and Richard. Grandma Helen as many of us affectionately called her, passed from this life on December 18, 2013 at the full age of 99! She is survived by her three beautiful daughters Clare, Sandy, and Billie, 10 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren and 7 great great grandchildren. When you think about it, Grandma Helen left us an incredible legacy, and today we enjoy the blessings of family, cousins and friends because of the sweet love she showed to those that she cared for most in this world.

Born and raised in Danville, IL, Helen would make the most important decision of her life as a 8 year old girl, when at a tent revival, she went forward to receive Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior! While she might not have fully understood the implications of that decision until later in her life, it would also be at a church meeting that she would meet her first husband Bill Payton, who was traveling through town as a trumpet player in the Army Band. They would fall in love, get married and began to make a home in Danville. The wife of an army man, Helen would give birth to their first daughter Clare in Danville, and daughters Sandy and Billie in Louisiana. Later this military family would move out to California, spend a year in Germany after WW2 and later return to California, finally landing at Hamilton Field before the marriage dissolved.

As a single parent, Helen was forced to enter the marketplace and would begin working at Albert’s Department Store in San Rafael, which would later become Macy’s. It would be while working retail, that she would meet the man who would later become her doting husband of 45+ years, George Sinnott. Together they would enjoy taking rides along the coast, going to Giants games and dancing. Grandma Helen would retire from the marketplace in 1985 after 30 years with Bank of America.

It would be in her retirement years that grandma would significantly grow in her relationship with Jesus, attending Bible Study Fellowship while continuing to be part of the community of First Baptist Church of Novato, where she attended for 26 years before landing at Valley Baptist Church these past 7 years. Grandma loved Jesus and reading God’s Word. An avid reader, she often exchanged historical fiction novels, with her daughter and granddaughters. And she always loved a good crossword puzzle.

Having married into the family, I always enjoyed spending time with Grandma Helen. And she always made me feel like one of her own grandchildren. She had such a sweet disposition and I loved to hear her laugh. There was also this playful side to grandma, she was a bit of a jokester and prankster, as you’ll see evidence of in some of the photos from the life in pictures. Grandma also loved her sweets. And I will never forget one time at Nancy’s when grandma was beginning to slip into her dementia that I watched her eat four pieces of pie at one of the Warfield get-togethers. She would look around and see if anyone was watching her, and quickly grab and eat another with a huge smile on her face. It was hilarious. It was like watching a kid in a candy store.

What a life Helen enjoyed. For many of us, we have no clue of the type of world Helen was born into in 1914. Born just a few months after World War I began, parents back then worried significantly when their children came down with high fevers and bad coughs. Statistically speaking she was expected to live to the age of 59, if she survived the perilous years of infancy. But Grandma Helen survived two World Wars, and other countless challenges to live to the age of 99, which even in this day is well above the average life expectancy.

Much of Grandma Helen’s world, was lived in what we could call today, “off the grid.” In her early years, she likely had no phone, no electricity, not even plumbing. But during her life, she witnessed the evolution of much of what we take for granted today…the first  movies with sound beginning in 1935, the evolution of television from black and white to color, the dawn of the internet, email and the modernization of America. And at 99, even as a former bank teller, I doubt she did a lot of online banking, nor did she have a Facebook page, but she was definitely was part of one of the greatest generations ever to live.

We loved Grandma Helen and she loved us. And I am grateful for the legacy and memories that she leaves us. However, the greatest legacy she would want to remember her by is that she was a lover of Jesus and she would want us all to know this hope and reality, because while we may grieve her passing today, we can grieve with hope knowing that the actual date of grandma’s death is probably not written down in a record book that we can easily get our hands on, you see the date on the obituary refers to the date that her body ceased to function. But the real Helen, the part of her that lives on forever, died many years ago when she heard the call of Jesus upon her life.  As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old things have passed away behold new things have come.

New things have indeed come to Grandma Helen! And that is our hope!

A New Tradition…Remembering

P1000083My wife Jennifer recently wrote this article and I thought it was a wonderful read worth repeating on my blog…

You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done.  – Psalm 92:4 (NLT)

Well, whether we’re ready or not, 2014 is here! It’s hard to believe that 2013 is over! Time goes by so quickly and the blessings of the year are often so easily forgotten. The arrival of the new year is a great time to start tracking God’s faithfulness and a fun and simple way to capture God’s blessing throughout the year is to create a memory jar. To start the fun, take a large jar (or other container) and place it somewhere your family can easily access. Whenever you have a blessing you want to remember, a prayer that is answered or an event you want to capture, simply jot it down on a small slip of paper and add it to the jar. Encourage every family member to participate and contribute. At the end of 2014, on New Years Eve perhaps, gather the family together and read those slips of paper. Not only will this be a great walk down memory lane, but it will give you the opportunity to focus on God’s faithfulness and unfailing love.

Memory Jars, and memorials in general, are not new concepts. In fact, memorials are God’s idea. Over and over again in Scripture, God instructs his people to remember His goodness, power and provisions. Start a new tradition this year and thrill in the Lord as you remember what He has done.

Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever. – Joshua 4:21-24 (NLT)

In Memoriam: Billy Hardwick

1452215_10152408124337222_1751868859_nThis past Saturday, my Uncle Bill, a PBA Hall of Famer and two-time PBA Player of the Year died of a heart attack at the age of 72.

In what is described by the PBA, as one of the greatest turnarounds in professional bowling history, my uncle, Billy Hardwick went from a rookie PBA Tour season in 1962 failing to cash in a single event, to winning four titles and becoming Player of the Year the very next season. His first major title came in the 1963 PBA National, which was followed by a PBA Tournament of Champions win in 1965 and the Bowling Proprietors Association of America All-Star (now U.S. Open) title in 1969. He won a then-record seven PBA Tour titles in 1969 to earn his second Player of the Year crown. Over his professional bowling career, he had 18 PBA Tour titles, three of which were majors that earned him PBA’s Triple Crown. He was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1977.

While our family didn’t often see my uncle, due to his travels and our families geographical distance, he still made his way into our living room each week as we watched him bowl on national television. Rated #12 in the Top 50 PBA Bowlers of all time, he bowled with an elite group of bowlers such as Earl Anthony, Dick Weber and Nelson Burton Jr..

Yet despite the fame, my uncle’s life wasn’t an easy one. He had early onset rheumatoid arthritis that caused him to leave the PBA Tour at an early age. In addition, he lost two children, who both died as infants. However, in the last couple of years of his life, he seemed to find contentment and make peace with his past.

My Uncle Bill will be missed. Our family loved him. And he made us proud. Today my thoughts and prayers go out to my dad, my aunts and my cousins. I pray that the God of all comfort would bring us all peace, as we remember and give thanks for Billy Hardwick.

Something More

One man’s life changed the course of history for billions of people across the globe. He is both revered and reviled, famed and feared and you know who he is without a single mention of his name. His name is Jesus! Do you know Him?

Trust

577462_10200444369724239_1728339791_nBack on June 23, our good friend Sandra Kyung Lee entered into the presence of her Savior after a heroic battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. At her service at SeaCoast Grace Church, I shared that while we were trying to be attentive to Sandra’s needs, God did something within us that was truly remarkable…He used Sandra to bring us all closer to Jesus and to help us to experience the incarnation of “God with us”, through this wonderful thing called church.

One of the ways God worked through Sandra, was as this caring community that was serving the Lee family began to grow, the women of our church started a 90 Day reading plan and assigned various women to one another for prayer and reading accountability. The group designed the plan so that it would be accessible to Sandra, as her health began to fail her. So they decided that they would text or email one another. This worked for Sandra, as she was a rock star on the iPhone, relentlessly texting away with her left thumb.  From her home she could text, email and respond to the gals in the group as well as stay connected in community, especially as her life began shrinking around her. She, along with a few others, would also send out a Monday devotion. It became this great thing that ultimately over 100 women were committed to this organic challenge and to keeping each other accountable.

At the service, one of the gals from this group shared a devotional that Sandra wrote on Monday, October 15th, 2012. It gives a glimpse into the struggle of ALS, but it also offers hope and inspires me to have courageous faith as Sandra did. So today, I thought I would share it with you.

Trust

lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:20, 21 NKJV

The past several weeks have been difficult. My left arm and hand is getting weaker. I’ve experienced with other body parts this feeling before it became useless. If I lose my left arm and hand, it’ll mean I won’t be able to feed myself, nor write on my iPhone to communicate. I’ve struggled with anger these few weeks. I didn’t know where it was coming from. Now I realize the anger was from just feeling utter helplessness and having no control over the matter. I do carry hope of miracle. But dealing with this day-to-day, the anger snuck in without even me realizing it.

I confess that I was worried over what’ll happen if I lost this arm as well. “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body  (Matthew 6:20, 21, 25 NKJV).

God has demonstrated how faithful He is to us. His timing is impeccable. I have tons of stories in our lives as well as from others of how God has provided in the past. I must not forget and remember that God is trustworthy. When we forget how God parted the red seas in our lives, we may die without ever seeing the promise land.

I may be in the desert struggling to survive but if we ask God for manna, he will give us just what we need for the day. Let tomorrow take care of itself. Today, I will trust my Father who provides for me perfectly. Thank you Father!

– Sandra Kyung Lee

Just as Sandra completed her seventh LA Marathon on March 17th of this year to the cheers of those at the finish line, she also finished her race on this earth surrounded by those she loved and was welcomed into the arms of Jesus who I am certain said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

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