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I used the famous Gene Kelly scene from Singing in the Rain as an illustration of Romans 5:17. The Sermon title was Singing in the Reign. Kelly’s dance was full of the child-like love we can feel and experience in knowing that God has freely given us His abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness. Kelly’s exhuberant joy is dampened by the appearance of the policeman - an apt illustration of moving from grace and the free gift back into legalism!

 
Contributed By:
Jim Luthy
 
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A video clip from the movie "Dead Man Walking" might give us a better understanding of what mercy really is.

In the video, Sister Helen Prejean sits with convicted killer Matthew Poncelet in his cell. When he confesses that he has indeed killed a man, Sister Prejean teaches him that he can become a child of God by asking for forgiveness of his sins and owning up to his responsibility—which he does, realizing that confession doesn’t negate what he’s done. The best he can do is wish the families peace. Poncelet is grateful for Sister Prejean’s compassion and love.* The video concludes with Poncelet telling Sister Prejean, "Thank you for loving me." (* Source: Videos That Teach, by Doug Fields and Eddie James)

 
Contributed By:
A. Todd Coget
 
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["Mr. Holland’s Opus": Leaving a Legacy, Citation: Mr. Holland’s Opus, (Hollywood Pictures, 1995), rated PG, written by Patrick Sheane Duncan, directed by Stephen Herek; submitted by Greg Asimakoupoulos, Naperville, Illinois]
Mr. Holland’s Opus is a movie about a frustrated composer in Portland, Oregon, who takes a job as a high school band teacher in the 1960s.
Although diverted from his lifelong goal of achieving critical fame as a classical musician, Glenn Holland (played by Richard Dreyfuss) believes his school job is only temporary.

At first he maintains his determination to write an opus or a concerto by composing at his piano after putting in a full day with his students.
But, as family demands increase (including discovery that his infant son is deaf) and the pressures of his job multiply, Mr. Holland recognizes that his dream of leaving a lasting musical legacy is merely a dream.

At the end of the movie we find an aged Mr. Holland fighting in vain to keep his job.
The board has decided to reduce the operating budget by cutting the music and drama program.
No longer a reluctant band teacher, Mr. Holland believes in what he does and passionately defends the role of the arts in public education.
What began as a career detour became a 35-year mission, pouring his heart into the lives of young people.
Mr. Holland returns to his classroom to retrieve his belongings a few days after school has let out for summer vacation.
He has taught his final class.
With regret and sorrow, he fills a box with artifacts that represent the tools of his trade and memories of many meaningful classes.
His wife and son arrive to give him a hand.

As they leave the room and walk down the hall, Mr. Holland hears some noise in the auditorium.
Because school is out, he opens the door to see what the commotion is.
To his amazement he sees a capacity audience of former students and teaching colleagues and a banner that reads "Goodbye, Mr. Holland."
Those in attendance greet Mr. Holland with a standing ovation while a band (consisting of past and present members) plays songs they learned at his hand.

His wife, who was in on the surprise reception, approaches the podium and makes small talk until the master of ceremonies, the governor of Oregon, arrives.
The governor is none other than a student Mr. Holland helped to believe in herself his first year of teaching.
As she addresses the room of well-wishers, she speaks for the hundreds who fill the auditorium:

"Mr. Holland had a profound influence in my life (on a lot of lives, I know), and yet I get the feeling that he considers a great part of his life misspent.
Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his, and this was going to make him famous and rich (probably both).
But Mr. Holland isn’t rich and he isn’t famous.
At least not outside our little town.
So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure, but he’d be wrong.
Because I think he’s achieved a success far beyond riches and fame."

Looking at her former teacher the governor gestures with a sweeping hand and continues, "Look around you.
There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each one of us is a better person because of you.
We are your symphony, Mr. Holland.
We are the melodies and the notes of your opus.
And we are the music of your life."

 
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GO WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE

The latest movie from the writer and director of “The Sixth Sense” is titled “Unbreakable.” In this movie, Bruce Willis discovers that he has a special gift, but he doesn’t yet know how to use it. So his new friend, played by Samuel L. Jackson gives him this advice: “Go where people are – and you’ll know what to do.”
That’s God’s advice to us too: Go where people are – and you’ll know what to do. I’ll show you. I’ll tell you. Just make yourself available. Go out in your yard when your neighbor is outside in his, sit and listen when your uncle wants to tal...

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Contributed By:
Brian La Croix
 
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A few years ago there was a series of commercials featuring a man wearing a flannel shirt and jeans who would be telling people how much he cared for them, often getting teary-eyed as he said with all the emotion he could muster, “I love you, man!”

And the person he was speaking to in that particular commercial, whether it was a girl, his dad, or whoever, would say, “You’re not getting my Bud Light.”

The commercials were funny, but they serve to illustrate the fact that these people could see through this guy’s self-serving talk.

He wasn’t interested in love, he was only interested in their beer, but he was willing to say anything to get it.

 
Contributed By:
Rob Short
 
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One of the most disturbing and powerful films I have seen over the
last couple of years is Steven Spielberg’s movie, Saving Private
Ryan. The movie tells the story of an Army captain named John
Miller who having survived the carnage of the D-Day invasion at
Normandy Beach, portrayed in 28 minutes of intense, graphic and
gory detail, is ordered to find a solitary private among thousands of
displaced soldiers. He must return Private James F. Ryan home to
his mother, whose other three sons have just been killed in action.

However, due to some confusion in the invasion, it is not certain
where he is to be found; Private Ryan is a “needle in a stack of
needles”. The soldiers reluctantly set out on their daunting
mission. Almost immediately, they begin questioning the worth of
risking eight men’s lives in order to save one.

Captain Miller rationalises that each life lost in combat is supposed
to save 10 lives. Within that paradigm, how can their current
mission make any sense? The soldiers begin to detest their
mission to save Private Ryan, even hoping to find his name on one
of the dog tags taken from some dead soldiers.

Captain Miller and the small group of men assigned to him
successfully locate Ryan, but then are forced to defend a strategic
bridge against enemy tanks and troops. Captain Miller is fatally
wounded. In his dying moments, he reaches out to Private Ryan,
and with great emotion says, “Earn this! Earn this!”

Many years later as an old man, James Ryan stands in a military
cemetery tearfully looking at the small white cross that stands
where the man who saved his life is buried. He wonders aloud if he
has indeed earned the great gift he received.

 
Contributed By:
Fred Mueller
 
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I don’t know how I feel about the Christmas Lexus commercials. Have you seen them? In a series of vignettes, a key to a new Lexus is given to a very surprised and very pleased wife or husband. IN one instance, the husband has the family dog take the ribbon holding the keys to his wife. In another, the husband and wife are decorating the tree, with the man handing his wife the ornaments who then hangs them on the tree. After handing her ornament after ornament, he hands her keys to a new Lexus. I don’t know how I feel about these commercials. To be honest, I love the expressions of delight and glee and surprise on the faces of the women. But part of me says, “Isn’t there something more to the Christmas spirit than tens of thousands of dollars of automobile?

I would much rather see the look of surprise on the face of a gangly adolescent opening a gift from our church through the Christmas angel project. It seems to me that something more of value in that than another expensive gift to another home that already has way more than they need. It seems to me that that is somehow closer to what Christmas is all about.

We need a better sense that we are temporary.

 
Contributed By:
John Shearhart
 
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In the movie, A Knight’s Tale, the main character William Thatcher and his friends are starving. William is a gifted jouster, and has potential to make enough money jousting to feed everyone, but he is not of noble blood. Only nobility is allowed to joust competitively. The team of friends creates fake papers for him, and he begins to joust successfully. After some time though, his fake papers are exposed, and William is put in the stocks for impersonating nobility. The scene shows his four loyal companions warding off an angry mob in the streets to protect him. Suddenly and from no where the prince reveals himself by throwing off the cloak he had been using to disguise himself, and the crowd goes silent as he approaches William. What the prince says to William shows deep insight into the philosophy of tru...

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Contributed By:
Ed Sasnett
 
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The comedian Jim Carrey stars in the movie Bruce Almighty. He plays a TV reporter who thinks his being overlooked for promotions and various other misfortunes mean that God doesn’t care, or at least has let him down. When God, played by Morgan Freeman, shows up to offer Bruce His own power for a season to see if he can do any better with it, Bruce accepts the deal.

Soon Bruce is indulging himself in the fulfillment of his fantasies and manipulating his way to the coveted anchor position. This obsession with advancement causes an estrangement with his girlfriend Grace, who discovers how low down on the priority list she has become.

Bruce discovers that a part of God’s job is answering prayers, and there are billions of them. Lacking God’s wisdom, he grants a blanket “Yes” to all requests, and trouble begins. Not only that, but because he can’t violate human free will, he finds he is losing Grace, and all the power in heaven and earth cannot make her come back to him. His ambition, coupled with great power, has resulted in his life being a bigger mess than ever.

In one of the best scenes of submission to God’s will ever put on film, Bruce realizes he has much to be thankful for, and that someone else can run his life better than himself. He learns that he is not fulfilled by the desired promotion, but by serving others with his God-given gifts (“My Will Be Done, Alex Wainer, Breakpoint).

 
Contributed By:
Mark Nichols
 
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SPIDER MAN 2: The Spiderman trilogy has quickly become one of my favorite series of movies. Spiderman 2 is probably the most interesting plot out of the three of them. Here is what it is about:

Peter Parker’s having a rough time. His double life as the super hero Spider-Man is having a devastating impact on his civilian life. Things are so bad he declares that he’s quitting and never putting on the suit again. However, he decides to use his gift / his power as he realizes that he is the only one who can stop the evil but brilliant scientist Dr. Otto Octavius who was transformed in an accident and becomes Dr. Octopus.

If you had Peter Parker’s gift….if you had THAT kind of power…would you use it to help others? What are you doing with your gift? Are you tired of using your gift? Do you wish someone else would do it?

I want to encourage you to continue using your gift and do not grow weary of doing good. Only YOU can do what you can do! God has given you your gifts and abilities to only you!

 
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