A Matter of Faith

Film Review By Chet Tan, Library Volunteer

“A Matter of Faith” centers around the Whittakers, a Christian family whose daughter Rachel (Jordan Trovillon) is going off to college. However, Rachel gets the shock of her life when she realizes that her renowned biology instructor, Professor Kaman (Harry Anderson), teaches the theory of evolution. This leaves Rachel so shaken that she tells her father Stephen (Jay Pickett) about it, prompting him to confront Professor Kaman about the “lies” he is teaching his students. In response, Professor Kaman invites Stephen to a public debate on the subject, which Stephen accepts. And so begins the crusade of the Whittaker family to share the truth of the creation story, which builds up to the climactic night of the public debate at the university that doesn’t go down as expected.

Admittedly, this is a difficult film to watch. The protagonists are supposed to be Christians, and yet it is difficult to sympathize with them when their determination to stand by their convictions borders on intolerance. Stephen’s demands of what is presumably a secular university seem to fly in the face of academic freedom. There is a scene where Evan (Chandler Macocha), a fellow Christian student who befriends Rachel, walks up to another student he doesn’t even know and then proceeds to publicly dress him down for having different beliefs. These onscreen actions can lead one to ask: is this how uncompromising a Christian should be?

Thus, the film’s resolution, which puts forth the proposition that both sides of the story should be presented so that everyone can decide for themselves what the truth is, comes as a welcome surprise. This is a message that all Christians need to hear, as we, in our zeal, may sometimes substitute Christ’s humility with self-righteousness, forgetting that our words must “…always be full of grace, seasoned with salt….” (Colossians 4:6 NIV) It’s just that this film takes a rather haphazard path to get to this message.
There is also a plot thread involving Rachel and another student, but I had to re-watch their scenes to make sure I understood what was going on. Without giving too much away, it can only be assumed that, in an effort to make the film more family-friendly, some of the dialogue ended up being vague and may need to be sensitively explained to younger viewers.

Watching “A Matter of Faith” had its challenges, just as its characters had to go through trials for their faith. The film certainly takes a roundabout way of getting its message across, but the payoff is worth it.

Director: Rich Christiano
Distributor: Five & Two Pictures (2014)

For Love’s Sake

A Film Review by Chet Tan, Library Volunteer

The moment I heard the character of Peter Walker, played by Richard Brimblecombe, explain to his son, James, played by William Wenlock, that becoming a Christian is not about being good, but submitting to Jesus, I knew this film was going in the right direction. “For Love’s Sake” depicts the struggles of a Christian family that is persecuted for their beliefs. However, this is not a period piece about the martyrdom of the early Church, but a drama set in 1970’s England.

Our protagonist is Mary Walker, a recently widowed mother of two young boys. At the outset, the challenges of her situation are obvious, and the viewer would not be faulted for expecting this movie to be about how our Christian heroine struggles with single parenthood amidst tragic loss. Except this film is not about that, as Mary’s depression makes caring for her children impossible at the outset, and eventually leads to her sons being taken away from her. Her efforts to pick herself up and get her children back leads to a steady stream of opposition, some of which presents a unique challenge and an unexpected twist.

Admittedly, the film has a low-budget feel, but this did not detract from its impact. If anything, it drove home the real world feel of the movie, which is appropriate, since the DVD’s packaging indicates that it is based on a true story.

The acting is not spectacular, but then a spectacle would not have been appropriate. Claire Walkington’s portrayal of Mary is understated, as she slowly rouses from her helplessness to a restrained determination when she resolves to bring her children home. William Wenlock and Luke Foxall, the latter playing older son Paul Walker, subtly show us the simplicity of how children would cope with these kinds of trials, devoid of unrealistic hysterics or drama, but from two very different perspectives.

The Walker family’s refusal to compromise their beliefs is nothing short of heroic. If you have ever assumed that Christians in the developed world don’t suffer for their faith, then consider “For Love’s Sake.”

Director: Andrew Walkington
Distributor (Philippines): Heartshaper Video, c2016.

Making Peace with Your Past By H. Norman Wright

A review by Anna Jean Marie Bañas, Library Volunteer

Our inner child affects the way we live at present, and this child will continue to do so. The point made here is that our inner child may be the past we need to make peace with.

The book starts with a discussion of the different factors contributing to the development of the inner child. Naturally, there is emphasis on the treatment given by the immediate family, especially the parents and their attitudes, and how the individual as a child reacts to it. Terminologies are not overwhelming and could easily be followed. As that introduction to the inner child is done, challenges to changing are also addressed. Several examples are given as to how a past experience becomes manifest and how this manifestation affects everyone, even without them necessarily knowing where such patterns of belief and behavior come from. Possible methods on how to mitigate and solve the problem areas are given. God’s importance is not forgotten in all these, especially in how believers are supposed to address the (broken) inner child, and how healing from God can start.

Furthermore, resentment and rejection are addressed as they can indicate how our inner child is. In this, forgiveness is important as this changes the response we have. Also, guidance and strength from Jesus Christ help the individual. Another issue tackled is perfectionism in that it can ruin the way we interact in this world. Along with over coercion and overindulgence, which are all rooted in our childhood due to how our parents brought us up, these parental attitudes may find their way in how we deal with people, situations, and ourselves at present. Ways in how to break away from these patterns of acting or thinking are also explained. Questions to facilitate self-evaluation and steps to change the problem(s) stemming from our inner child, our past, are presented. 

Each section is properly explained in terms that are easily understood. The examples and situations given are relatable. The groundedness, trust and faith believers have to have in God cannot be overemphasized. It is not so much as a self-help book as it is a reminder that in all our past and present brokenness, God is there to restore us, especially when we allow him to. This book addresses many questions, presents explanations, and gives good examples, drawing from both experiences and Scripture.

Michigan: Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, c1985/ Manila: Lighthouse Inspirational Books & Gifts, Inc., c.2016. 201 p. ISBN 978-971-834-362-3.

The Ministry of Ordinary Places By Shannan Martin

A review by Anna Jean Marie Bañas, Library Volunteer

Does ministry always mean something grand and unattainable for the ordinary (untrained) person? This question might be more relevant today as we still experience the effects of this pandemic. Several commonplace situations might also be on the table. What if you are just “stuck” at home or live in a small town or village? Or what if the people you encounter are the same kinds of people for some time? What if you are the newcomer?

Finding one’s place and calling in the daily and mundane life of people living in urban and suburban spaces shows that an ordinary person can be “called” and used as an instrument of God.

Finding one’s place and calling in the daily and mundane life of people living in urban and suburban spaces shows that an ordinary person can be “called” and used as an instrument of God. Shannan’s light narrative is easy to follow, and as she walks us through her daily life, events and relationships in her community, we can see how opening one’s mind, heart and life to what God presents right in front of us has far reaching effects as well.

Relatable ways on how one could effectively and easily share God’s love through family, neighbors and other community members through simple deeds and actions are recounted. This further strengthens the truth that one’s mission field need not be far to reap souls for Christ. Shannan arranges her stories into smaller events and themes of daily life which makes for high relatability of the reader. A healthy sprinkle of Scripture reference neatly ties her experiences with Christ’s teaching to His followers. Readers can follow how her little actions lead to increasingly deeper connections with members of her community. They are also shown not to discriminate and devalue the seemingly simple people and events presented to them by God.

Shannan’s voice is of one who has given up her life to serve the Lord in every way possible. Her responses also teach that it takes discernment and training to be attuned to what God calls people out to do. Her heart is on building relationships with those around her, for Christ to be able to work through and in each individual’s lives. This gives another view on how people could further the Kingdom of God in the place where they are currently planted and be effective, nonetheless. All it takes is that willingness to allow God to work through and in their lives. Through all these, God will allow people to grow and develop, placing their roots deeper and allowing them to bloom where they are planted. Highly recommend.

About the Book Reviewer:
Anna Jean currently works from home teaching Korean students online. When times get better, she hopes to return to hiking as she loves the outdoors, and photography also complements this hobby of hers. She also enjoyed the adult education classes offered at church, where you would have seen her plying herself with coffee.

The Ministry of Ordinary Places By Shannan Martin. Thomas Nelson: Nashville c2018. 217 p. ISBN 978-0-7180-7749-5.

JESUS 101: Was God in Error? [part 1]

The President of the Philippines paraphrased his version of the Adam and Eve storyinto his speech, after which he was bluntly colorful in his criticism of God.After he laid out how Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, the presidentstipulated that God basically set them up for failure. How? By putting in thegarden dangerous elements such as the Serpent and the tree of the knowledge ofgood and evil that would eventually tempt them to sin. Then, there is thecommandment itself. Why would God give such a command? With these questionshanging unanswered, the President concluded with a question, “How can yourationalize a God like that?”

As a believer, I have to at least try to provide an answer.

First, allow me to tackle the president’s criticism aspect on God’s being. This whole episode reminded me of another person who was critical of how God handledthings. His name was Job.

Job was a wealthy man, considered “blameless” and “upright” according to God. One day, the devil came before God where He boasted about Job’s goodness, but the devil argued that Job is good only because God had favored him extravagantly. After some cajoling by the devil, God allowed the devil to put Job to the test to see if after the devil’s torment, Job would turn and curse God. Job passed the first test, when after losing his business to marauders and all ten of his children to a devastating catastrophe; he still blessed God in his prayers. But then the second test was when the devil inflicted upon his body with horrible debilitating skin sores. At first, he seemed to accept his circumstances, but after having a lengthy poetic discourse with whom he thought were his friends, he bemoaned the injustice that God allowed evil people to prosper while he suffered. Job wanted to confront God and complain. Now, it would seem that Job may have gotten the upper hand of the argument, but God had a big lesson for him.

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said, “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” [Job 38:1-4]

So, what is the lesson for us? I don’t know about you, but if God decides to come to correct me in the midst of a whirlwind, there can only be two logical ways for me to face him, with fear and humility. Why? Fear is easy enough. Anyone capable of controlling the weather is worthy of fearful respect. As the Bible says, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…’ [Proverbs 9:10] As to humility, the question that God brought up about where was Job… or that matter, where were I or you… when He laid the earth’s foundation… well, you have to see the logic. It is arrogance for any of us to be critical of God, especially when first you don’t have His power and lack the experiential knowledge of Creation. Fortunately, Job learned his lesson and he was blessed beyond imagining.

Meanwhile, there are many people who still wonder whether God erred and why we are paying for it? We will tackle this in Part 2.

Until then blessings to you,

-Johann Quisumbing

The Prayer God Longs For

A review by Daisy J. Serrano, Library Member and Contributor

What is the proper way to pray? What should I do when it seems God does not answer my prayers? How can I be sure I am praying according to God’s will? Must I persistently pray until my prayer is answered? What is the prayer God longs for? The breath of spiritual life is prayer (p. 10). Prayer is vital if we desire to have a personal relationship with God because it is the best way to communicate with God. The specific prayer God wants to hear us pray is the prayer taught by Jesus to His disciples, “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13). White provides an analytical look at the world’s most famous prayer by taking it line by line, and consider the meaning behind it. He explains to us why we address our prayer to God (“Our Father”) and not to a triune Being, Lord Jesus, or to the Holy Spirit. Yet, he emphasizes that prayer is still deeply Trinitarian in nature, we pray to God the Father in Heaven in the name of the Son and through the Holy Spirit. He explains why our prayers to God should have similar structure or format. What should we pray for? We have been directed to pray for our past (forgiveness), our present (bread), and our future (temptation and evil). He answers questions that are often in our mind. White considers the Lord’s Prayer as presented in two movements: first, the focus on God himself – His name, kingdom, character and will. The second movement focuses on our needs: daily sustenance, forgiveness, and deliverance. Why do we pray for our daily needs and spiritual sustenance when God already knows we have those needs? When we pray for our daily bread, we are coming to God to say that we be given today the insight and patience we need, the sensitivity and commitment for our relationships, the money, knowledge and strength we need in the spirit of daily dependence, not demand. We are encouraged to pray to God when we have problems overwhelming us, face pressures that seem insurmountable, or too busy to pray. He reminds us never to forget to pray to Abba who longs to give the desires of our heart, according to God’s will. Allow the Lord’s Prayer to guide your conversation with God. Read it also as a meditation on prayer. White reminds us that when we confess and pray for forgiveness of our sins (God, forgive me for all my sins), we are confessing specific sins by identifying them and seeking forgiveness for them. There must be true repentance when we seek forgiveness of our sins. This book does not say anything about whether we should stand, sit, kneel or lie down when we pray; it does not mention the best time or day to pray, much less a direction to face. Jesus does not care what we should wear. Read the book and find out other questions about prayer, which White adequately answered using scriptures. Highly recommended.