Let’s face it. The Christian film genre has not always had the closest table at the Golden Globes. As Christians looking for edification or Gospel tools at the theater, we have forgiven cheesy scripts, sub-par acting, and paid our fair share of money to support our tribe. Thankfully, as of late, Christian filmmakers have invested more time and resources into their projects.
“Home Run” is the latest evidence of great strides in Christian filmmaking. The story centers around Cory Brand, a major league baseball star and out-of-control bad boy. His alcoholism has led to stunts on and off the field putting his career in jeopardy. One such stunt gets him suspended and through a series of related events, Cory finds himself facing life in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, with ghosts from his past. Cory is forced to attend Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12-step program, as he faces his past, present, and future as a man struggling with alcohol addiction.
The film wholeheartedly accomplishes its main goal as a Celebrate Recovery vehicle. The program is shown in a very real and honest manner. The movie does an excellent job of exposing hurts, habits and hang-ups in many of the characters, showing that we all have struggles in life that need God’s restoration. The film also exposes the rippling effects of unchecked sin. There is great hope that Celebrate Recovery groups across the nation will see a fresh harvest of people wanting to bring their hidden and dark struggles to light.
While the direct goal is accomplished, the movie itself accomplishes a leap forward in Christian film. Lead actor Scott Elrod and actress Dorian Brown give standout performances as the story’s central characters. There are a few hokey moments in the film, but overall I enjoyed the story as well as the way it was told.
If there is a weakness to the film, it is one that falls with many movies in the Christian genre. While the movie does focus on God’s power to transform us in our addictions and struggles, there is little about the Gospel or Christ Himself. Jesus is implied in the film, but there is no real mention of Creator God, our depraved nature, justification by grace through faith, and growth in Christ through the Spirit. While Christians assume these things, and they may be offered thematically, they are not directly afforded to us in the movie.
This may be too high an expectation for what the filmmakers were hoping to accomplish. However, we do need to remember that one does not need the gospel to quit drinking, be a more committed father, let go of pornography, or win the football state championship. While many of those things can come through the transformation of the gospel in Christ, those things are not the gospel or Christ.
This is where the church comes in. Movies don’t save people. Jesus saves people. Home Run is a great way to begin a conversation about Jesus. I highly recommend it. There are many individuals who may not walk through church doors, but will gladly sit in a theater with a box of Junior Mints and a five dollar Mr. Pibb. The job of the church is to take that tool and use it for the gospel. In making a quality movie with a God-honoring message, the makers of Home Run have put an excellent arrow in the church’s quiver.
* A note regarding the movie’s PG-13 rating: I would have no qualms about taking a child as young as ten to the movie. While there are some intense moments, great care is taken to ensure it is honest without being gratuitous.
The life of a believer should look so much different than that of the world that you should “not fit in.”
I’ve heard the argument that you should try fit in so you can make new friends and lead them to Christ. Although this is partially true, in that you should love everyone you encounter with a passionate and welcoming love, you are not called to conform to the world around you in order to fit in.
Romans 12:2 says…
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
I think about modern day Christian music artists, and also ones I’ve seen in the past, who denounce their Christian title in order to reach a broader audience. While in a sense, I can’t judge where their hearts are, I am smart enough to realize many do this in order to broaden their success, not their audience. Because let’s face it, anything saturated in Christ isn’t popular in our sin-soaked society. When these talented artists “put away” some of their Christian title, they lose a severe amount of effectiveness.
Our lives are supposed to look like Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:12 tells us we are supposed to follow Christ. And if Christians are following Him, our lives should produce beautiful fruit.
“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Matthew 3:8
So, the production of fruit in your life will show that you do indeed follow Christ.
Although you do not become a Christian by “moral goodness”, fruit WILL be evident if your heart is after the Lord.
Plain and simple, a believer cannot live in sin. While yes, you will struggle with it, you cannot live in it. That’s why Christ mentions repentance (which is a turning away from sin) so much in the Bible.
As a 17-year-old, I’ve struggled with sin enough to know that living in and loving it will pull you far away from where God wants you. When you are more concerned with self-satisfaction than with pursuing God’s plan for you, you begin to miss out on some beautiful blessings. I’m not saying that you MUST be completely innocent, because as humans, it is inevitable that will see fallible. But the important thing is that you’re seeking truth. Seeking truth will result in identity in Christ, the production of fruit, and the abstinence of indwelling sin. These are three critical attributes of an effective believer.
Recently I heard one of the counselors at Rob’s Ranch tell the clients….”Everyone will relapse, but no one ever has to take another drink or do another drug.” The more I pondered this, the more it made real good sense, but not only for the “addicted” out there, but for the general population as well.
Before I get too far into this, for those of you who don’t know what the word “relapse” means here is a definition. I know there are a few out there because my daughter asked me over the weekend and I had to try and explain it. So here is my very simple definition.
Relapse – When after a period of abstinence a person reengages in an activity that is painful to themselves or to others.
Relapse, backsliding, setbacks, regression, falling off the wagon, it doesn’t matter what you call it or specifically what you are speaking to. The point is, none of us are perfect and we all will have moments of relapse in our thinking, speaking or even in our actions. The important thing we must focus on is how we go about recognizing what we are doing. If we can strengthen our ability to assess our behavior in real time, to tune into what the Holy Spirit is convicting us of, we can be better suited to stop ourselves from ever “taking that drink” or “binging” or “visiting that website” or doing whatever it was that we are trying not to do.
For those of us that are chemically dependent we know that for a long time we have medicated our pain with chemicals. Drugs or alcohol….for many of us – both. Since this is where I have the most experience, I will stick to speaking to “using” drugs or alcohol, but I want to make it clear that this general principle of relapse is common to anyone out there trying to rid themselves of some type of addiction, habit or hang-up. Be it a porn-addiction, compulsive eating, gambling, etc.
Relapse does not start when we decide to finally use again. It’s a long process of us slowly migrating back into old behaviors, practices or attitudes. Below are the 4 common areas of Relapse, areas in our life that we can quickly look at to gauge how we are living and how actively we are pursuing our choice to be abstinent. Like a barometer, measure yourself in these categories and ask yourself this question.
What is your pain in these areas….?
- God -Check your relationship with God?
- YOU – How much do you love yourself today? What is your self-worth level?
- Others – When we are using, on average, we hurt 21 other people. Are hurting others again?
- How do you feel about lying to God, to others?
- Is this a practice that has crept back into your everyday actions?
- Are you lying to yourself about your true spiritual condition?
Delusions and Denial
- Are you beginning to negotiate with yourself in order to do things you haven’t been doing or know you shouldn’t?
- Are you criticizing others?
- Are you hanging with the wrong people?
- What are you watching, listening to or attending? Your environments are huge influences on your overall well-being.
Letting up on daily disciplines
- Are you justifying missing meetings, daily devotional readings or family events?
- Procrastinating on step work, calling your sponsor or hanging with encouraging and positive people?
- Have you missed church for weeks at time?
- Are you reading the word or excusing that time for selfish gain?
If you are nodding yes to yourself as you read some of these bullet points, then check your program, check your behavior and call someone who cares about you right now.
Also here are a few points to help you steer clear of relapse.
Stay away – Steer clear of slippery people, slippery places and slippery things.
Stay Motivated – Find whatever it takes to keep you positive, passionate and living “on purpose.”
Stay in Routine – As soon as you realize you’ve slipped into a state of relapse. Immediately go back into the routine that keep you sober the first 30-90 days. Prayer, devotional, gratitude, meetings, church, etc. Whatever it is for you get back in to a positive routine.
Get motivated! Get back in your routine! ODAT!
People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily. — Zig Ziglar