Kidologist.com: Karl Bastian's Personal Site and Blog
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What if your child challenged your beliefs? What if you child told you they had an experience that contradicted what you believed was possible? That was the experience of Colton’s dad, Todd Burpo (played by Greg Kinnear) in the story that has gone from best selling book and is now headed to the big screen this year.
When four year old Colton goes through emergency surgery he has an experience that is unexplainable in human terms. He is soon able to describe things that he shouldn’t know – and attributes the things he learned to a visit to heaven. Colton’s dad chooses to believe his son despite the disbelief and even ridicule it brings upon him and his family, even bringing his employment as a pastor to risk.
I can relate to the skepticism because I was not even interested in the book when it came out, considering it an attempt to profit off a story I didn’t believe possible due to Scriptures declaration that prophesy was closed. As a rule I don’t give much credence to “visiting heaven and returning” stories. I do believe that God can (and does!) provide supernatural experiences to Christians, as I have had such myself, but have always been hesitant to share those stories for profit, my own stories included – least I tempt God to never intervene in my life again is such a manner.
And yet, my skepticism of the book actually led me to surprisingly appreciate the movie all the more – since the natural skepticism that the audience may have for a story like this is not only welcomed, but embraced by the family themselves. That struggle to believe their son is central to the story – and yet, if true, the evidence he presents in the details and facts he describes, make clear, if it wasn’t heaven he visited, God surely gave him some kind of special experience, and if so, what is the lesson in that for him, and in turn, for us as well?
In the end, the answer to the question as to whether what Colton experienced, “Was it really heaven?” isn’t actually answered. The answer to that question ultimately isn’t important. What matters is that his family believed him and that heaven is real, and that God can and does reveal Himself to us uniquely when and however He desires.
But are we open to Him when He does?
The Bible says that we are to come to God as children. Perhaps that is because children have the openness and tenderness that is needed to see God and receive what He has to show us.
I highly recommend you go see Heaven is for Real. Don’t go as a critic. Don’t go wondering whether Colton’s story is real. Go wondering if heaven is real, and if it is, how else might God try to give glimpses to His creation that it is, so that we don’t stay so busy we miss out on that all important reality.
Enjoy the trailer:
Download excerpts from Colton’s parents new book at: http://heavenisforreal.net
Learn more about the movie at: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/heavenisforreal/
Stealing an idea from George Lucas, PIXAR decided to come out with a “prequel” to Monsters Inc., which I think was genius from a business point of view. Not only will families with kids flock to the film, but the college crowd who grew up on Mike and Sulley will too.
And flock they did! After missing out on not one but TWO sold out showings, we decided we’d better go an hour early if we wanted to get the best seats in the house!
Luke doing his first movie “camp out,” but well supplied!
I’ll link to the official Kidology Review coming shortly from one of our expert reviewers, but I wanted to post some of my thoughts.
First of all, TWO THUMBS UP! As people were coming out the showing before us, I asked, “Thumbs Up or Down?” After repeated thumbs up, I had to explain the ‘thumb system’ to Luke. LOL
NOTE: I AM going to include spoilers from this point forward, so if you haven’t seen it, stop reading after this paragraph, and just go see it. It’s a great film with super messages for everyone on friendship, forgiveness, teamwork, and as my blog title suggests, never giving up.
Secondly, (minor spoilers following) I love the theme of never giving up on a dream! Along with that came the message of HARD WORK, which is not taught very well or very often in our American “get rich quick” or “I’m entitled to success” culture. That’s why I’d give the movie four thumbs up if I had that many. (I’d probably be in the movie, then, huh?)
Mike is a little monster who, quite simply, isn’t very scary. But after an experience as a young monster early in the movie at the Scream Power Plant at the heart of Monstropolis, (I’ll leave that spoiler out, for those who chose to read on), he sets his heart and all his effort on becoming a Scarer at the Power Plant. It is his dream and life purpose. The movie quickly shows him studying hard and getting good grades to get into the college of his choice, Monsters University, rather than the rivals, Fear Tech or Scary University.
Despite all his hard work, and he works and studies harder than anyone else, his lack of “natural scariness” seems to spell nothing but failure. Rather than summarize the entire movie since you’ve either seen it or will, I will to get to my point. Through it all, Mike never gives up. There is one moment of despair where he almost does, but that is when reconciliation happens between Mike and his former rival, Sulley. As it turns out, Sulley had been depending on natural talent and a family reputation rather than hard work to succeed, yet he was seeing the same amount of failure.
Working together, they end up doing the impossible. As great as that is, it isn’t what I like the best about the film. There was something else I really liked, and I’m curious if others caught it.
In the process of doing this incredible “thing” at the end (still avoiding the details), they break some rules and to my surprise, they are expelled from Monsters University. I really expected them to be forgiven and allowed to re-enroll due to the amazing “thing” they did. The intimidating teacher I suspected of being evil the entire movie turns out to be just stern and intimidating. While she admits her surprise at their success, she doesn’t extend grace. They still have to leave the school.
Could the message, especially to to college kids,be that the ends do not justify the means? You may accomplish good, but you may still have to accept the consequences?
Then came what I loved most, and my Patriotic side nearly burst. Since they flunked out of Scare School, they decided to take on what was offered once as an insult: a job in the mail room at the Monstropolis Power Plant. It reminded me of Joseph in the Bible.
First, sold as a slave, he decided to be the best slave he could be, and in time was promoted to running the entire house of the captain of the guard of Pharaoh. His positive attitude, even as a slave, earned him that promotion. Then, when Joseph was falsely accused and thrown into prison, he didn’t pout and complain Again, be decided he would just become the best prisoner that prison had ever seen, and soon he was put in charge of the entire prison. In time, he rose to become the second in command of all of Egypt! His literal childhood dream came true.
That is exactly what Mike and Sulley did. They immediately set out to beat the “most mail delivered” record. And they did. Next, we saw through some pictures put up over time in Mike’s locker that they went on to be janitors and decided to be the best janitors ever. Then they served soup, and they put their hearts into that. Finally, there was an “Employee Scare Try-Out,” and they won. Their dream came true! It took time, hard work, and patience, but they DID became official Scarers!
That is a message MUCH NEEDED for kids today in our country. Hard work, patience, humility, determination, and dedication to a dream will in time product results!
Just like John D. Rockefeller, Mark Zuckerburg, Ansel Adams, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Ty Warner, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, John Travolta, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Peter Jennings, Steven Spielberg, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and even Abraham Lincoln, they fulfilled their dreams through hard work and focus, having never graduated from college! They didn’t expect anything to be given to them, they worked hard for it.
Too many young people today expect to graduate from college and be given a six figure salaried career. They aren’t willing to work in the mail room, be the janitor, serve soup, or flip hamburgers – and be the best hamburger flippers their fast food joint has ever hired. That is the secret to seeing your dream come true. I am blessed to own and run my own business, but that only came after decades of mowing lawns, flipping burgers, delivering legal documents, valet parking cars, organizing plumbing parts, and being the best children’s pastor I could be while pursuing a God-given dream I had when I was 19 and a calling I received when I was 10.
I guess you could say, “Be Like Mike.” Pursue your dream, and if one door closes, find another way. And if God is on your team, you can only win, if you never give up! He will bring along the Sulleys in your life to help you, humble you, teach you, and join you in your quest!
BE LIKE MIKE!
PS: Stay after the credits. Our family were the ones who did… and it was worth it.
Last night I went out to see a movie. I’ve had a lot on my plate and many deadlines, and I just needed some “brain candy” as I call it. Unfortunately, my movie app was wrong, and Oblivion, which I headed out to see, was NOT out until today, despite my app giving me movie times last night. But after driving through a blizzard over ten miles to the theater that my app said was showing it, I decided I might as well see something for my troubles in getting there. The only movie remotely interesting to me that fit with the time I was there was The Host. This is NOT a movie I would have seen, especially since it was written by the creator of the Twilight series, a trilogy I am proud to say I’ve never seen, nor will I ever. (!) LOL However, I watched the trailer for The Host on my iPhone, and it seemed bearable. Driving home again in the blizzard suffering a #fail seemed pointless, and I had an AMC gift card to burn.
This blog post is not a review. I’m not going to say rush out and see it. But it was interesting enough. And I am going to give a few spoilers while not totally wrecking it, if you plan to see it, but I suspect most of my readers are like me – they have no intention of seeing it.
The basic premise is that aliens are taking over the bodies of humans.”We” are the hosts of these aliens. By the time of this film, nearly all humans are inhabited by the aliens, which is obvious by their blue eyes. However, as always, there is a remnant of rebels. The main character is a girl who died in a fall while running from the “Seekers” – aliens out looking for the few remaining humans. She was leading them away from a young boy she loved, the brother of her boyfriend. The aliens healed her and she became one of the hosted humans. However, she is a fighter, and throughout the movie you hear the voice of the original human girl inside the mind of the alien who now lives in the girl’s body. This all sounds gross, and it’s all a little confusing to listen to, but you get used to it. If you’ve ever had a conversation with yourself, it’s not much different.
The alien ends up being convinced by the human girl ‘host’ of the virtues of mankind as she leads her to the boyfriend and the younger boy. Of course, she is greeted with suspicion and believed to be leading other Seekers to find them, but trust is built and in the end, the new “alien girl” decides to give her life to allow the original girl to come back and be with those she loves. The alien, who has lived a thousand years on several planets, states that only now, having met this host and her “family” does she finally have something (someone) worth dying for.
Many times when I speak at camps, and even this past weekend at a boys retreat, I challenge young people to watch for this theme, even (and especially) in secular films. One of the most powerful verses in the Bible says,
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Why is it that, in so many movies, books, poems and love songs, we see that the Ultimate Gift is someone willing to die for another? Here it was once again. An alien, who was once sent to destroy and replace, is now willing to lay down it’s own life to give life and love back to another. It is just a softer version of Terminator 2, where the “terminator” in the end gives his life to save humanity. “No, there is another,” says the robot, after they defeat the T1000, “but I cannot self destruct, you must destroy me.” Remember that? (See also: The Gospel According to Darth Vader)
Over and over you will see this theme, even in those who do not believe, or are not even aware that Someone gave their life for them. Nonbelievers can’t help it. Deep down they want to be loved so much that someone would die for them. Every single person on earth can’t help it. They wonder, “Would anyone love ME that much?” And this theme pops up over and over again in our films.
The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Some One does, and He already did.
Watch for this in films. Watch for it in books and love songs and poetry. Look for the great themes of the epic story of God to be found throughout modern and ancient literature. They are all there, for the Story of God is written deeply on the hearts of man, even those who do not know His Story (history) or choose not to believe it.
I have a formula of “10 elements of Great Story” that are found in all the great stories and popular films. I won’t blog it, (I don’t want to spread it around too much) but I do share it when I speak at camp or at other in-person events. It is was the basis for my own novel, The Order of the Ancient.
I just thought it was interesting to see the element of sacrifice again in The Host last night. I wish more people would realize Someone died for them, and accept that Gift. If they would, more would be able to live the New Life that is offered as a result.
If you aren’t aware of Who I am speaking of, let me know, and I’ll fill you in.
I found the Lost Medallion! And with it, I traveled into the future and saw this movie that is coming out in theaters NEXT MONTH!
Here is my review, before the movie even hits theaters! Truly, the Medallion is powerful!
No worries, right before returning from the future, I replaced the Medallion to the place where I found it so as not to disturb the space time continuum – you really don’t want to mess with that! Last time I did, I nearly kissed my mom at a dance in the 50′s! McFly!
Anyway, I really enjoyed it. (Dare, I admit tissue needed at the end?)
It reminded me of The Princess Bride in that the story was written in response to requests from children (though not many people know the Princess Bride was written from a list of things the author’s daughter asked to be in a bedtime story) – In this movie, it was a group of gathered foster kids who asked for a story.
It also reminded me of Second Hand Lions in that while the sets and acting and effects may have been sub-par for a ‘realistic’ major motion picture, it wasn’t intended to be ‘realistic’ as it was a visualization of a story being told, and in that sense, it made it perfect. This isn’t to say the effects or acting were bad – it was quite elaborate and the settings were beautiful and exotic, just a little corn-ball at times in a fun way, similar to Second Hand Lions.
It also had tips of the hat to Indiana Jones in light hearted ways, but in the end, it was a movie with an obvious purpose: to address the need for kids to know they are special (a word almost over used).
The story teller is a man dropping by a foster home to drop some things off on his way to a play off game and after visiting with the host, an elderly woman, he conversationally learns a little about three news kids – each with unique needs. When he is mistaken as the Tuesday story teller, he gets roped into spinning a story, which he crafts using the names of the three new kids, each with character needs similar to their own.
Half way through the story, you see him glance at his tickets and you realize he has chosen to skip the game and continue his story for the sake of the kids who are glued to the story he is skillfully weaving… with the once withdrawn kids moving closer and engaging, much like the nephew in Princess Pride.
As for violence, there is one death that is a little awkward to the plot and seems a bit forced, but is planted in order to provide a parable for Christ’s sacrifice for us. An old man who was killed steps in front of the main character to save him. When asked why he would die for him, his dying words are, “Because a king once died for me.” The sudden attempt on the boy’s life by an otherwise comedic character seems a little out of place, but it serves the purpose of the parable as well as lightening the party who next must travel by water, a trip that would have certainly left the old man behind anyway. The primary villain kills a few of his underlings, but most of the violence happens behind a log or bush or is pretty tame.
While the story moves a bit slow at times and could have used some tighter editing, it has a message that is an important one that would be valuable for all children to view. I would especially recommend this movie to children who are in foster care – as it seems it would have a message of hope and value for them, when adults in their lives have let them down, God still has a purpose for them, and the message of “they are no accident” is rung loud and clear several time in this film. It is refreshing to see another movie produced with the goal of instilling positive messages to kids about their own value and God’s love for them. We need more movies like this.
The hardest line for me was the father who told his son, “Everything of value to me is buried in the ground,” referring to his deceased wife and the lost treasure, oblivious the message that communicates to his son – who is alive and standing right there. I would hope fathers watching would catch that blow, and ask themselves if their grief over life’s losses and their devotion to work ever communicates a lack of value placed on their children who are longing to be loved and valued by their dads.
The end has a very sweet twist I’ll save for your enjoyment that adds an extra special and unexpected heart tug outside of the Lost Medallion story itself, that adds value to the overall experience.
In short, support this film, and take your kids to see it in the theater. You’ll be glad you did.
Next entries »
Followers of my blog know I’m a Star Wars fan. People often laugh when they hear me say to my son in a deep voice, “Luke, I am your father.” He laughs, even though he doesn’t get the significance of the quote. Since he is only six, he hasn’t even sat through all the movies, though we have watched segments and he loves the original Clone Wars cartoons I have on my iPad before the freaky looking version came out that looks like a video game gone bad. (I’m not a fan of the current Clone Wars show – yuck!)
Tonight, Luke had trouble sleeping so he was lying on the couch down in my office while I worked and looking at all the items in my Star Wars ‘museum’ – and noticed I have a lot of Darth Vader figures and collectibles and asked, “Why do you like Darth Vader so much, when he is a bad guy?” Good question. I answered, “Luke, Darth Vader is the reason I love Star Wars so much – because Star Wars is a story of a bad guy who was saved because of the love of a son, a son named Luke.”
My Luke sat up. “Wait, you mean, THAT’s Luke’s father?” – and so the conversation began. It wasn’t that he didn’t know I’d always been immitating Darth Vader – but it kinda hit him that the bad guy was the good guy’s dad. I explained that Luke was separated from his dad when he was little, and he was told that Darth Vader killed his dad, so he hated Darth Vader. I went through a quick summary whole first movie, saving the princess and all, and how he watched as Darth Vader then killed his mentor Obiwon, and that made Luke hate him even more. And how in the next movie Yoda was training him to become a Jedi so he could fight Darth Vader but when his enemy captured his friends he ran off to save them, and battled him and it was only then that Darth Vader told him this incredible truth – that he didn’t kill Luke’s dad, he WAS Luke’s dad. My son was spell bound. We talked about how all of America was talking about this revelation when in happened in 1980. (Not until The Sixth Sense did a movie have such a great surprise, and this was still bigger.)
But then we talked about how Luke had every reason to despise or hate his father, but instead he chose to love him and feel pity for him. He even told his dad so. Even when his dad stopped believing in himself – “It is too late for me, son” – Luke never gave up on him! Luke even gave himself up in the third movie and let himself be captured to go and face Darth Vader and his even more evil boss, the Emperor! (Now Luke was on the edge of the couch.) There, the Emperor told him of the trap that would kill all his friends and that Luke would have to join the evil side, like his dad, or be destroyed. The Emperor wanted Luke to kill his own father. But Luke refused. He loved his dad, even though he had done so much bad. He refused to fight him – only defending himself as his father attacked him under the Emperors orders. But then Darth Vader got Luke angry. He told Luke if he didn’t turn to evil, he would go after Luke’s sister, and that got Luke upset and then Luke attacked Darth Vader to save his sister – he defeated Darth Vader and even cut off his hand to make his light saber fall away! Darth Vader was defenseless! Now Luke could have killed him if he wanted. Did Luke do it? No. He was good. The Emperor ordered him to kill his father and take his place – but Luke did the most amazing thing, he threw down his light saber and said, “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” He spoke of his father like he was good. He spoke of the time when his father was a good Jedi, of the time when his father would have died to do the right thing, and chose now to die doing the right thing, as his father would have done long ago. He wanted his dad to see that he had raised a good son, willing to die for good, even though he himself had failed, he had succeeded in having a good son, a son willing to die for him.
I asked my son, “Would you die for an evil man?” My Luke said, “No way. I might die for a good person, but not for a bad guy.” And I said, “That is the whole point! The Bible says that a man might die for a good person, but no one would die for a bad person, but here Luke is willing to die for his father who is one of the worst men in the galaxy, the second in the command of the evil galactic Empire – out of love for him. And Darth Vader is seeing this display of love, and what do you think is going through his mind as he lays there thinking, he could have killed me, and I deserve it, because I was trying to kill him! And now he is going to die so that I can live?”
My Luke says, “He must feel very loved.” I said, “I bet he does.” The drama only intensifies from there. The evil Emperor comes down, and says, “So be it. Jedi.” (Said with condescending disgust.) “Only now, at the end, do you understand. If you will not turn to the dark side, then you will be destroyed.” It was, in truth, the Emperor, who was not understanding that a plan of Redemption was unfolding right before his very eyes. This master of evil was unable to see the conflict boiling up within his apprentice, Vader, whose murder he had just ordered – a plot that had been foiled by love. The Emperor bellows to Luke, “Your feeble skills are no match for the Power of the Dark Side!” When in truth, this act of sacrificial love by this young Jedi would prove more powerful than all this powerful master’s evil schemes!
And then the Emperor begins to electrocute him with that powerful blue lightening from his fingertips. Darth Vader rises and keeps looking back and forth between his son who is suffering in agony and this evil leader who is killing him realizing he has a choice to make. Save his son or stay with this evil Emperor, who would have had his son kill him. I’ve always wondered if this was when Darth Vader woke up and realized he would be replaced as soon as his leader found a stronger Number Two, despite Vader’s fierce loyalty.
The Emperor pauses, only for a moment, to say, “And now, young Skywalker, you will die.” During the final burst of lightening, Darth Vader looks back and forth a few more times, as if to antagonize the suffering audience some more, before making his choice. Finally breaking from his frozen state of inaction, he bursts into motion, lifts up the Emperor and tosses him over a railing and down into a reactor shaft where he falls, wailing as he plummets, until, finally, he dies.
Not only is Luke saved, but Darth Vader as well. When Luke says, “I must save you,” Darth Vader answers, “You already have.” Vader does not physically survive the ordeal, perhaps due to his battle with Luke or the lightening when he lifted the Emperor, but his redemption comes from his choice to save his son and turn back to the good side, and the evidence in the world of Star Wars, is his being seen with Obiwon and Yoda at the end of the film in their ghostly jedi forms from the after life. Indeed, the faith and love of a son, brought salvation to a man everyone else thought was unreachable.
I’m not really a science fiction fan – I enjoy other science fiction films, but the reason I love Star Wars is primarly the story of the Redemption of Darth Vader. There is a lot more to it than I even have gotten in to in this post. (Note that fact that Darth Vader could sense Luke’s presence on the Moon of Endor and the Emperor could not! The Emperor asked, “How do you know he is there?” Vader answers, “I sensed his presence.” – “Strange that I could not,” responds the Emperor. Not strange at all, he didn’t love Luke!)
My Luke and I ended up putting in the DVD to watch the end of the film – and then looking up Romans 5:6-8 and John 15:13
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
I may pretend to have Jedi powers when I open automatic doors at the grocery store or open the garage door, but the truth is I am powerless. And I’m not a righteous person. I’m not even a good person. But God’s demonstrated his love toward me by having his Son lay down his life for me. He could have killed me for my sin – I deserve it as much as Darth Vader, for disobeying God. There is no one righteous enough to merit salvation. The real evil Emperor, Satan, has invited me to rule my own life at his side – but Jesus defeated him on the cross, dying in the process, for me.
Star Wars teaches us that there is NO ONE beyond hope. There is good in everyone – and we ought never give up hope on anyone. Love can conquer anything and anyone and that evil will ultimately be defeated by the Power of Love.