Friday, January 30, 2009

Eduardo Verastegui's Most Noble Moment

Eduardo Verastegui is one of the most physically attractive men to ever be captured on film. Known to millions as "The Mexican Brad Pitt," Verastegui had it all. He began his career at age 18 as a model and also a singer for a boy band in Mexico. He soon starred in a series of novelas (Spanish soap operas) and then finally hit the big screen in 2003 as a triple-timing playboy in Chasing Papi. His star was on the rise. But Eduardo Verastegui was empty.

Today, Eduardo Verastegui is a changed man. He no longer works as a model and refuses to participate in any projects he feels are "offensive to God." Today, Verastegui is one of the leading celebrity spokesmen against the abortion industry. In this touching video, he tells of his first experience at an abortion clinic. (Warning: The first 60 seconds of this video contain mild sensual images of Verastegui during his early career.)



What would make a man like Eduardo Verastegui, who had the whole world at his feet, give up everything to save the unborn? In the following interview from The 700 Club, Verastegui explains without sugar-coating, and without watering down his conversion experience, his faith in Jesus Christ. (We especially like what he had to say regarding biblical masculinity and femininity:)



Truly, this is a changed man! We hope this story inspires you to seek God in 2009 and rejoice as He answers your prayer for change through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ!

Please note: Eduardo Verastegui is a devout Catholic. Both Jennifer and Geraldine of Reformed SHEology sharply disagre with Catholic doctrine, however, we truly believe that Eduardo Verastegui is a soundly saved, born again believer in Jesus Christ. Reformed SHEology's mission statement calls for women to encourage men, not tear them down. We disagree with Catholic doctrine but embrace Verastegui as our brother in Christ based upon his testimony of conversion and evidences of repentance in his life. Any comments from our readers with regard to his Catholic affiliation may or may not be published at our discretion. Thank you for respecting our desire and our Lord's desire toward unity within the body of Christ.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Treasure Principle

Before the month is out, I wanted to recommend another book. Randy Alcorn's The Treasure Principle is a small book with a big message -- one that will change the way you look at your finances. It has been marketed as a shorter version of Life, Possessions, and Eternity, but you'd never know the difference.

I first read this book last year while completing a seven month assignment that God gave me involving money. God asked me to anonymously donate a specific sum of money to a man who sinned against me and hurt me very deeply. In November 2007, I began my seven months of restitution. That same month, I started a blog called Reformed SHEology. It would be a chronicle of the things God has taught me about my own sinfulness, and how he has changed me from an angry woman who, in many ways, hated men -- to a woman who is deeply grieved over the blackness of my own heart.

At first, I only saw my restitution as payment for my own sin of anger. But by the end of the assignment, I realized that blessing the one who sinned against me was one of the most satisfying, fulfilling experiences of my entire Christian walk. It was also the exact same thing that Jesus had done for me.

The experience was amazing and life-changing in itself, but it was The Treasure Principle that served as a companion study guide to me during this process. In his book, Alcorn gives a very practical, insightful look at biblical giving, but not without sharing his own tale of persecution that resulted in a life change of his own. In Chapter 2, Alcorn describes how he was sued by an abortion clinic. The abortion clinic won, and as a result, Alcorn was legally unable to own anything (otherwise he'd have to give it to the clinic). So he resigned as pastor and took a job earning minimum wage. Says Alcorn, "It was the best thing that ever happened to us," (p. 23). How can this be?

Alcorn explains that everything belongs to God. We are merely managers of His money. When we understand this, we are able to give freely. In fact, the more we understand this principle, the more our view of money will change. We will want to give more and more.

This is not a "how to" book on financial stewardship. Rather, this is a book that explains the "why" behind giving. If you are going through The Lord's Table, and you are finding you are turning to more than just food to find fulfillment and satisfaction in your life, The Treasure Principle is a great companion to this study (especially if you are a shopaholic). In this book we are reminded that:

1) God owns everything, I am just His manager.
2) My heart always goes where I put God's money.
3) Heaven, not earth, is my home.
4) I should live for eternity, not life on earth.
5) Giving is the only antidote to materialism.
6) God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but my standard of giving.

The book concludes with a list of questions God might ask you about your finances. If you need to change in this area, I cannot recommend this book enough. It will not give you pointers on how to give, but it will provide you all the reasons why you should give. And when our perspective on the "why" changes, the "how" becomes a non-issue.

You can order The Treasure Principle from Westminster Books by clicking here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Do Hard Things

My church is part of Sovereign Grace Ministries and so it is common for us to get first hand knowledge about some of the wonderful resources being produced by SGM-affiliated writers, teachers, and musicians. A few months ago, our executive pastor encouraged us to pick up a book written by twins Alex and Brett Harris, titled Do Hard Things. I am recommending this book as a tool in the fight to maintain positive change in a traditionally "take the easy way out" culture.

With its clever subtitle: "A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations,"Do Hard Things is obviously geared toward adolescents, but is surely a must-read for people of all ages, especially since early on in the reading, the book addresses something called, "The Myth of Adolescence." The book explains that until the 1940's, there was no such thing as a "teenager." You were either a child, or you were an adult. Today, we have adolescents: people who want the pleasures and freedoms of adulthood, minus the responsibility. I mean no disrespect to teenagers in writing that, nor do the authors of Do Hard Things (they are teenagers themselves). But the term "adolescence" in today's society is no longer limited to those aged 13-19. Today, the period known as "adolescence" has officially been extended to age 24! (I do not have documentation for this, but can provide it upon request. As someone with a career in higher education, I can verify that colleges and universities are now considering anyone under the age of 25 an "adolescent," based upon the trends in today's culture.)

I found this particularly intriguing because I was for many years an overgrown teenager. Until the age of 31 I was happy to live my life as a single woman because, quite frankly, I didn't have to share. I have my own room, I get the entire closet to myself, I spend my money any way I darn well please, and when I want to go somewhere, I go. I don't have any "bothersome" children to worry about, or a husband whose permission I need to obtain first. It's freedom all the way, baby!!!

But is this why God created us, so we can be live for ourselves? It wasn't until 2005 that I realized I was in sin. I was refusing to grow up. And Do Hard Things is a book about growing up.

Some of us are still living the single life by choice, not because we were called to singleness by God. Some of us are married, but acting like we're still single in the way we choose to spend our time and money. This is why I say Do Hard Things is not for teenagers per se -- this is a book for adolescents. Some of us are still going through adolescence well into our 20's and 30's. It's time to repent.

You may have been thinking this month that you cannot identify with our theme of change because you don't have anything that need to change as far as a traditional New Year's Resolution is concerned. Perhaps you don't need to lose weight. Perhaps you don't smoke or abuse television or computers. But are you living a childish life?
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11)
If you are over the age of sixteen, is time to put away childish things. Sixteen might seem young in our culture, but if you read Do Hard Things, you will see that God did not intend for us to stay children. It is interesting to note that a man's life spans an average of 70 years, but only 15 or 16 of those years are considered childhood. Just as there is only a short amount of time when one is a "child" chronologically, this is symbolic of how spiritually, God does not intend for us to stay a "child" for very long, either. God does not intend for us to remain in our immaturity by prolonging it.

The remainder of the book describes five kinds of "hard things" and offers advice on how to do these things:
1) Things that will take you outside your comfort zone,
2) Things that go beyond what's expected or required,
3) Things that are too big for us to do alone,
4) Things that don't pay off immediately,
5) Things that go against the crowd.

Are you avoiding doing hard things in your life? Are you, like me, suffering from prolonged adolescence? You can change your life with God's help and guidance. Click here to order a copy of Do Hard Things from Westminster Bookstore.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Perseverance of the Couch Potatoes

All my life, I hated to run. I could never understand why people would want to do such a thing. I never would run unless it was absolutely necessary, and even then, I knew that if I ever found myself in a situation where my life depended on it, I wouldn't stand a chance. I could barely last thirty seconds without feeling like I was going into cardiac arrest.

For some bizarre reason, I joined the junior varsity field hockey team in ninth grade. (Even more surprising is that I tried out and made it!) After-school practices were grueling. I can still remember running up and down the field, drilling with my partner, shooting on goal, practicing my scoops, and being completely exhausted. Then I'd hear the coach say, "I want three laps! Now!" I thought I was going to die. The cramp in my side was unbearable. My heart felt as though it would pound right out of my chest. Any minute, I was sure my calf muscles would burst right through the back of my legs the same way a frankfurter skin splits under extreme heat. Oh, it was torture! Life as a couch potato never looked so good!

There are some people who actually enjoy this torture. No matter what the weather -- rain, snow, sleet, or apocalyptic global meltdown -- these people are out running. And they do it because they want to. Which, in my book, makes them absolutely, certifiably insane.

Yet when I consider how the Bible uses the activity of running as a metaphor for living the Christian life, I am intrigued:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

Eric Liddell knew the power of this metaphor. Known as "The Flying Scotsman," Liddell was a committed Christian who viewed running as a way of communing with God. Liddell made it to the 1924 Olympics and was almost disqualified because he refused to run on Sundays. As the story goes, Liddell was given inspiration just before the 400 meters race in the form of a Scripture: "Those who honor Me, I will honor," (1 Samuel 2:30). Liddell ran with that scripture clenched in his fist, and won the race. He later went on to be a missionary to China, where he died in a Chinese prison camp. His last words were reportedly, "It's complete surrender." The 1981 Academy Award winning film, Chariots of Fire is about Liddell's life and legacy.

Metaphorically speaking, everyone runs. Everyone will make it through life in one way or another, but some are able to do it with more finesse than others. The secret is Christ. Christ enables us to persevere to the end. Paul urges us to run in such a way as to get the prize. How is this done? The answer: "I beat my body and make it my slave." In other words, he is no longer slave to the flesh. Instead, the flesh takes orders from the Spirit. The only way this is possible is through God's power. Suddenly, we understand what it is like to enjoy what the rest of the world views as torture. When others are living in comfort and choosing the easy way out, we choose instead to endure hardship for the sake of the Kingdom. Just as I used to shake my head at those "nutcases" running in the rain, this is how people look at me when I "waste" a perfectly good Sunday in a church service. I am running the ultimate marathon, I am competing for the grand prize, and I am in strict training. I don't care who sees me, and I don't care who thinks I'm nuts. I'm actually enjoying running the race!

The Couch to 5K Running Plan
About five months ago, for reasons still unbenownst to me, I woke up one day and decided I was going to run. It was late August, 2008. The temperature here in Florida was in the high nineties, but that didn't stop me. I was a complete couch potato, but I was determined to run. I only lasted about 30 seconds at a time. But I refused to quit. The following week, I was running for 60 seconds at a time. A few weeks later, I was running for 90 seconds. With each week, I was huffing and puffing less. And I discovered that I actually find joy in this activity.

I can now run for eight minutes. Eight minutes! Me, the one who thought I'd have to call the paramedics after 30 seconds! There is no more cramping. There is no more pain in my calves. And I am getting stronger. How did I do it? How is it that I am better at running now than I was 20 years ago? The secret is that my outlook has changed. I no longer view running as torture, but joy. And you can do it too. All you need are two ingredients: help from God, and the Couch to 5K running plan.

The Couch to 5K gives you small drilling exercises that alternate between walking and jogging. The plan is supposed to help you run 5K (3 miles) in only two months. But do yourself a favor and eliminate the time frame. Just as we are sanctified in God's timing, we cannot put deadlines on becoming master of the flesh. It is a continual process.

Instead of referring to each step as "Week 1, Week 2," and so on, do what I did -- call these steps "Level 1, Level 2," etc. Do what you can, and do not get frustrated. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Remember, the Bible uses running as a metaphor for the Christian life. What better way to commune with God and understand the work He began in you than to actually try running? You will be amazed at how strong you will become physically. When I am doing my drills, and I don't think I can take another step, I say to myself, "this is what God is doing in me spiritually". I think of times in my life where I wanted to give up on my Christian walk and just take the easy way out, but God wouldn't let me. And as I reflect on all God has done for me, I am able to persevere.

I used to think people who ran were crazy. Now, I am one of them. Only I am training for more than just a neighborhood 5K. I am training for the EK (Eternal Kilometer) race. Perhaps the most famous line from Chariots of Fire is when Eric tells his sister Jenny, "I believe God made me for a purpose. He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure." The Bible tells us that God is able to make us persevere, but I believe it goes deeper than that. I believe it actually gives God great pleasure when we persevere in His strength:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Time Heals No Wounds

Ten years ago, I witnessed my friend "Lila" go through the painful ordeal of ending her twelve-year friendship with "Karen." One afternoon, Karen erupted into a fit of irrational anger without warning and callously used Lila as a verbal punching-bag. Karen showed no restraint in unleashing all her unrelated frustrations upon Lila, and even went as far as to call her a "fat pig". Lila was an innocent bystander in the situation, and was very sensitive about her weight. Needless to say, she was crushed.

Lila tried her best to resolve the situation with Karen. The first thing she did was ask my opinion as to whether or not she had done anything that would render her responsible for what happened. (I assured her she had not.) She then poured her heart out to Karen in a letter, which she gave to me to proofread before sending. It was perhaps the most beautiful, loving, grace-filled letter I had ever read. I suddenly began to weep as I realized what a wonderful friend I had in Lila, knowing if I ever found myself in Karen's shoes, this was the kind of undeserved grace I could expect from her. Lila emailed the letter to Karen and we eagerly awaited a response.

To our chagrin, Karen did not show any remorse for her hurful behavior, nor did she seem touched at all by the grace and forgiveness being offered her. Instead, she justified her anger and placed blame for her actions upon Lila. Again, Lila pleaded with Karen to look inside her heart and consider how hurtful she was being, but Karen would not. Over the next six months, Karen sent Lila a series of cutesy little email "forwards" and internet jokes. But there was no apology. Then one day, Lila received the following email: "Dear Lila. Now that time has passed I truly hope we can move beyond this and be friends again."

As difficult as it was for her to do, Lila ended the friendship.

DOES TIME HEAL ALL WOUNDS?

Most people are familiar with the old adage, "Time heals all wounds." It's a nice thought, but quite untrue, and quite unbiblical as well. Yet it is interesting how much we will buy into the passage of time as the magic ingredient for making the impossible a reality. Consider how the passage of time is used in the theory of evolution: without it, most would agree that the claims of evolution are laughable. Think about it. The thought of an amoeba becoming a human being in ten seconds is ludicrous. But add millions and millions of years, and suddenly people are embracing the very same ridiculous scenario. What is it about the passage of time that leads us to believe that real changes will occur if we only wait long enough?

What is it about the passage of time that leads us to believe that real changes will occur if we only wait long enough?In the case of interpersonal relationships, time is no more effective at changing a heart than it is turning an amoeba into a human being. Only faith in Jesus Christ and repentance from sin is an effective means of real and lasting change. Once we understand this, we will be able to make tough, but biblical decisions to break fellowship with unrepentant individuals. This is difficult for all Christians, but I believe it is especially hard for women. Our emotional ties to certain people can cause us to blur the line between forgiveness and reconciliation. We are required to forgive, and forgiveness takes just one individual. But reconciliation requires the efforts of both parties. Forgiveness is required on behalf of the offended, and repentance is required on behalf of the offender. If the offender is not willing to repent, reconciliation cannot take place. The Bible commands us to separate from those who are unwilling to repent, and we are not to embrace these relationships again unless the offender repents -- regardless of how much time has passed. In the case of Lila and Karen, it has been ten years, and the only reason these two have not reconciled is because Karen has been unwilling to humble herself and admit that she sinned against Lila.

BUT AREN'T YOU MAKING A BIG DEAL OUT OF NOTHING?
The case of Lila and Karen certainly seems like a petty issue, doesn't it? If Lila was unwilling to forgive Karen, then yes, I would say she was being petty. But there was a lot more at stake. What Lila was actually up against was a weak character on Karen's behalf. Trust me -- I was there, and I watched as Lila wept and grieved over the loss of this friendship. But what were her choices? If Lila had agreed to reconcile without Karen's repentance, she would have re-entered a friendship that was not built on trust or mutual respect. She would have reinforced Karen's false idea that she did not have to take responsibility for her sin. And for the remainder of that friendship, Lila would have been forced to peacefully co-exist with Karen on a superficial level, never seeing the friendship progress beyond the occasional polite exchange between two acquaintances. Should we be satisfied to simply settle for this type of relationship? Is this the type of relationship that Christ died for us to have with one another?

THE GOSPEL IS FOR EVERYONE!
If you've ever been street witnessing, surely you are familiar with the excuses people give to justify their sin. A common justification is, "Yes, I've lied, I've stolen, I've done bad things, but God will forgive me because that was a long time ago." Popular street-witnessing methods such as Way of the Master will illustrate to the unbeliever that time is irrelevant. God is holy and just, and will bring all our deeds into the light - no matter how long ago these acts were committed. Friends, if the gospel is true for unbelievers, then the gospel is true for us too. How is it that we can tell an unbeliever they will be judged by God for every sin no matter how long ago it was committed, but when we are confronted on our own sin, we become irritated? Why is it that when a brother or sister in Christ is able to approach us in love after fully forgiving us our debts, we get cranky and accuse them of "holding a grudge" because what happened was so long ago?

Friends, this should not be. The gospel is for everyone -- saved and unsaved alike. If we are in a relationship with someone who perpetually sins against us, the Bible calls us to confront that person on her sin. If she repents, praise God! But if she doesn't, you have a responsibility to break fellowship with that person until she does. Likewise, if a brother or sister in Christ approaches us with a concern, it is inappropriate and completely irrelevant to argue how long ago the incident took place. Humility dictates that we receive correction without complaining or trying to defend our position. The only way that we can heal from past hurts, whether we were the cause of the pain or the recipient of it, is to exercise true forgiveness and repentance.

Anything else is a waste of time.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Lord's Table

Back in September our theme of the month was "True Beauty" and I had posted an article called, Do You Think I'm Fat? which discussed how we can sinfully become obsessed with our outward appearance. I was suggesting that we most likely do more criticizing than reality would dictate. However, in the event that one truly is a bit overweight, instead of complaining, perhaps something should be done about it. I never offered any suggestions for how one might go about overcoming her weight issues, but a sister named Donna had commented that she had great success with a Bible Study called "The Lord's Table," which is available through a ministry called Setting Captives Free. I had never heard of SCF, so I looked over the material. It seemed promising.

HOW IT WORKS

The Lord's Table is a free online course that is also available in book form. This course addresses the idea that overeating is nothing more than the long ignored, rarely mentioned sin of gluttony, and that the only way to truly be free from this sin is to repent. (Imagine that!) Here's how it works. The entire course runs 60 days. There are two eating plans to choose from. Option 1 allows you a more structured plan that divides the normal seven day week into two normal portion days, two half portion days, two liquid days, and one fast day. Option 2 is called "GBS" which stands for "Growly Belly Syndrome." You are only allowed to eat when you are hungry. Each day, you have a daily lesson to complete, which takes about 30 minutes. You are also asked to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, six days a week. An online mentor is assigned to you to help you with your progress and keep you accountable. The plan works because weight loss is not the goal - repentance and reliance on God is.


HOW I'M DOING SO FAR

I began the program a week before Thanksgiving (I purposely planned it so Thanksgiving would happen to fall on one of my normal eating days). I found it surprisingly easy at first, although the fast day was a little tough. I was so excited that I decided to combine the two plans. On normal and half days, I only ate when I had a growly belly. The results were very noticable. In the first two weeks, I lost four pounds. Then my life got hectic and things started to fall apart a bit.

Once the holidays rolled around, my bible lessons and my exercise started to suffer. I also could not keep track of which day I was on (normal, half, liquid, fast), so I defaulted entirely to the GBS plan. Needless to say, I have not lost any more weight. I am probably supposed to be on Day 45 but I'm only on Day 29 in the lessons. Even so, I'm still way ahead of the game compared to when I was trying to battle my food issues through secular means. I still consider it a success because my eating habits have drastically changed and my awareness of God as the source of all my joy has increased!


WHAT I'VE LEARNED

I learned some very eye-opening lessons from this program. Even though The Lord's Table is about overeating, the lessons were so powerful that I became aware that I was overdoing many things in my life (primarily spending too much time on the internet). With each time-wasting activity, I began to feel convicted. I not only reduced my caloric intake, but I have now drastically reduced the time I'm spending on the internet. This has freed up a lot more time in my day to be in fellowship with the Lord.

Even the secular health gurus will tell you that the weight will never come off unless you make a lifestyle change. But who in the world can simply decide to make a lifestyle change? Can a leopard change its spots?Secondly, I gained an incredibly profound look at the role of food in the Bible as a metaphor for eternal life. This has further changed my outlook on physical food, and the result is different from any other weight loss plan or diet I've ever tried, because I don't see food as an enemy. I actually see food as a gift from God to be enjoyed, and I am finding my food to be much more tasty than I did before.

Finally, I have discovered the secret to lifelong success -- repentance from sin. Even the secular health gurus will tell you that the weight will never come off unless you make a lifestyle change. But who in the world can simply decide to make a lifestyle change? Can a leopard change its spots? Secular diets don't work because they expect us to change in our own power. But apart from Christ, we can do nothing.

Before The Lord's Table, I used to try to avoid certain foods. Now, I simply eat whatever I want in moderation. And I discover that I suddenly don't want to eat certain foods anymore. Just as I don't find my former sins appealing anymore, I no longer find certain foods very appealing. At least, not in large quantities. God has changed my desires and I just don't really want the stuff anymore. I could never say that when I was avoiding certain foods in my own power.

So here I am at the halfway mark (even though I started the program more than 30 days ago) and I'm confident God will give me the strength to finish the course with flying colors. If I fall off the wagon again, there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. I just get back up and finish running the race.


NOW IT'S YOUR TURN!

If you would like to try The Lord's Table Course with Setting Captives Free, it is available here.

Also, you can preview Day 1 of the course by clicking here.

If you decide to take the course, I'd love to hear about your progress. Please feel free to post comments to this entry and let me know how you're doing! I will check in as well.

Here's to feasting on the Bread of Life!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Why New Year's Resolutions Fail

What would you say if I told you that my New Year's Resolution for 2009 is to stop sinning? That's right: from this moment forward, I resolve to never sin again. What's so funny? You think I can't do it? Okay, go ahead and laugh, but this time I mean it. This time, I am really, really motivated!

Naturally, I have no such New Year's Resolution. The idea that I can stop sinning because I've decided I'm just not going to do it any more is silly. It's just as silly for me to isolate a specific sin and make that my New Year's Resolution: I'm going to stop coveting. I'm going to stop lusting. I'm going to start putting God above all else. How ridiculous! The reason this is silly is because it cannot be done. We cannot simply decide to stop sinning. Sin is a trap that ensnares us. If we could stop sinning on our own, there would be no need for a Savior.

Which brings me to this question. Why do we so often fail to keep our usual New Year's Resolutions? Why is it so hard to lose weight, stop smoking, or save money? Could it be that many, if not all New Year's Resolutions are also based on the idea that we can stop sinning?

Chances are, we are engaging in whatever behavior it is we are trying to stop in an effort to satisfy a need that only God can fulfill.I believe that nine times out of ten, sin is the reason we cannot keep our New Year's Resolutions. Chances are, we are engaging in whatever behavior it is we are trying to stop in an effort to satisfy a need that only God can fulfill. And until we learn to replace whatever that "thing" is with God, we will never succeed at changing our ways. Thus, we are no more victorious over weight, cigarettes, and money than we are over lust, coveteousness, and idolatry.

This is an unusual concept for many of us, but this month, we hope to examine some of these undesirable behaviors to see if we can bring about true change the Biblical way: through repentance. I cannot adequately coach anyone in a mere blog posting here and there, but this month I hope to share with you some resources that will knock your socks off as you finally discover how to:

Lose the weight
Exercise more
Be a better steward of your finances
Read your Bible in a year
Quit _____________
Improve your relationships

Consider what your New Year's Resolutions are for 2009, write them down, and ask God to show you why this particular area is a struggle for you. Remember, it's not what goes into a man that defiles him - it's what comes out of his heart! Ask the Lord to reveal the heart issue that causes you to remain ensnared to whatever area in which you can't seem to be victorious. Once you see the sin patterns that surround that issue, ask God to give you the power to resist temptation and flee from sin. This is how we achieve lasting change. We go to the source of change - the cross of Christ. We do not change simply because the calendar has fallen on a particular date in January.

I realize it's easier said than done. For this reason, we're going to begin this process with an awesome Bible study that will address every woman's number one New Year's Resolution: weight loss. This Bible study will not only free you from your sinful eating habits and help you lose weight, it will teach you to get closer to God in a way that you never imagined.

So stay tuned, and get ready to toss out your New Year's Resolutions once and for all. A date on a calendar may motivate you for a few weeks, but the cross of Christ is going to change you forever . . .

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bella

Happy New Year! We are kicking off 2009 with a theme of "Change". To illustrate what a changed life looks like, our Film of the Month is Bella, a contemporary story of faith, family, and friendship that is quite rare in today's modern cinema.

STATS
Year: 2006 (Rated PG-13)
Directed by Alejandro Monteverde
Starring Eduardo Verastegui and Tammy Blanchard
Setting: New York City, 2006.

Winner: Toronto Film Festival People's Choice Award, 2006.

Content warning: The story is centered around a woman who is considering having and abortion and this may be sensitive for certain viewers. Some images involving a car accident may be disturbing. Language is squeaky clean!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. Very interesting Christian imagery and symbolism. There is an intriguing use of a headscarf in the film, as well as strong references to a butterfly. A blind homeless man holds a sign that reads, "God closed my eyes and now I can see." Some critics have commented on Jose's character as being a type of Christ figure. The film opens with the line, "My grandmother used to say, if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."

2. Strong pro-life message. The script treats the subject with great sensitivity and wisdom. The arguments for abortion are presented by Nina (Tammy Blanchard) however, Jose (Eduardo Verastegui) is able to counter her reasoning not with words, but with demonstrations of love that make adoption a compelling alternative.

3. Vanity vs. Selflessness. Flashbacks tell us the story of Jose's vain and arrogant past, but now he is a changed man. It is interesting to see how our passions change when our perspectives change.

4. Beautiful portrayal of family, as well as Mexican culture!

TRIVIA
None of the music in the trailer is actually featured in the film. This almost makes the trailer a unique work in itself.

Eduardo Versategui had his own life changing experience as he was preparing for this role (we will highlight the life and work of Verastegui in a separate post this month).

The movie was produced by Metanoia Films. Metanoia is the Greek word for repentance.

This film was based on a true story.

Here is the official trailer:



Click here to visit Bella's official website.