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BRAVEHEART: "I DON'T WANT TO LOSE HEART"
Braveheart (2:12:34 - 2:14:30) is the story of Scotlandís pursuit of freedom from the tyranny of the English under the leadership of William Wallace, played by Mel Gibson. Leading up to this scene was a battle where Wallace and his men were fighting the English. Wallace thought he had the backing of the Scottish nobles, but they had been bought off by the King and betrayed him on the battlefield, leaving Wallace and his men to be routed by the English. Weíll see the leader of the nobles, Robert the Bruce, takes his act of betrayal particularly hard. Pay attention to how he owns his betrayal but doesnít let it define him, and notice his resolve to fight for a purpose that is above himself:
Robert Bruce, Sr.: Iím the one whoís rotting, but I think your face looks graver than mine. Son, we must have alliance with England to prevail here. You achieved that. You saved your family, increased your land. In time, you will have all the power in Scotland.
Robert the Bruce: Lands, titles, men, power... nothing.
Robert Bruce, Sr.: Nothing?
Robert the Bruce: I have nothing. Men fight for me because if they do not, I throw them off my land and I starve their wives and children. Those men who bled the ground red at Falkirk fought for William Wallace. He fights for something that I never had. And I took it from him when I betrayed him. I saw it in his face on the battlefield, and itís tearing me apart.
Robert Bruce, Sr.: All men betray. All lose heart.
Robert the Bruce: I DONíT WANT TO LOSE HEART!!! I want to believe as he does. I will never be on the wrong side again.
Maybe thatís the cry of your heart this morning. Youíve chased after everything you thought would satisfy your soul, and itís left you empty--nothing. And maybe you even betrayed your savior to do it. You and I have been idolaters. Weíve built our own cisterns and they donít hold water. They leave us empty-hearted.
Maybe you're even saying to yourself, "I DONíT WANT TO LOSE HEART. I want to BELIEVE. I will never be on the wrong side again."
One of my favorite comedies is "Groundhog Day", a make-believe story about
a weather man, Phil Conners who has a bad attitude, even worse manners, and a razor tongue. He was was reporting on Groundhog Day from a small town he cared little about. The fuss the folks were paying to a groudhog he cared less
about, but he did care for the new and attractive producer.
After the shoot, they couldn°¶t get out of town because of the bad weather.
To his horror, when he woke up the next day, he discovered that he had woken up to yesterday. He met the same people, did the same things, and
said the same things and ended up at the end of a promising day on a sour
note, where he had to start all over again the next day!
He tried many ways to beat the system, take advantage of what he knew the
previous day, but over and over he woke up to a new day after a terrible
mistake. Since he was going nowhere, he tried to woo the producer, and she
was smitten with him because he knew her likes and dislikes day by day, and
just as she was about to kiss him at the end of the day, she discovered he
was just a hypocrite mouthing words to win her, and she slapped him. She
slapped him for many recurring days, until he gave up trying to be who he was
not, learn new things like playing the piano, changed his attitude and just
enjoy the town and people and even the weather that left him there.
When that happened, the producer fell in love with the new Phil Conners, the
weather cleared up, and the next day was a new day.
A. Todd Coget
["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."
Even if you never saw the movie ďA Few Good Men,Ē youíre probably familiar with one scene.
Tom Cruise plays a military lawyer and is interrogating tough-guy Jack Nicholson.
Cruise is getting nowhere and finally yells, ďI WANT THE TRUTH!Ē
And Jack Nicholson shouts back. ďYOU CANíT HANDLE THE TRUTH!"
Truth is difficult stuff. Sometimes itís hard to handle.
A. Todd Coget
STAY THE COURSE
The 2000 movie, The Patriot starred Mel Gibson as Benjamin Martin, a reluctant Revolutionary War hero.
Martin has an 18-year-old son named Gabriel who is eager to join the conflict.
Gabrielís sentiments for his country are revealed by one pastime: throughout the first half of the movie, Gabriel diligently repairs an American flag he found in the dirt.
Tragically, Gabriel becomes a casualty of the war, and, suffering deep loss, his father Benjamin Martin appears ready to quit the cause.
While Martin is grieving at the side of his dead son, Colonel Harry Burwell, a Continental officer, attempts to persuade Martin not to quit.
He recognizes Martin has great influence with the soldiers and his departure would demoralize the troops.
As the scene opens, the colonel says, "Stay the course, Martin. Stay the course."
Grief-stricken, Martin responds, "Iíve run the course."
Resigned to the outcome, the colonel informs the troops and they ride on, leaving Martin behind.
As Martin loads his sonís personal effects on his horse, though, he finds the American flag Gabriel had successfully restored.
As the dejected soldiers ride away, certain they have seen the last of Benjamin Martin, Martin appears in the distance, carrying the flag.
With determination in his posture, he rides upright in his saddle, face like flint, the Stars and Stripes whipping in the wind.
Martin has been a symbol of perseverance for the men, and there is a triumphant shout of both relief and excitement from the once-weary troops as they see the patriot crest the hill.
Whether leaders at home, school, work or church, we must never underestimate the power of our influence to demoralize or to rally others.
People are watching. Soldiers look to officers.
Children look to parents.
We must stay the course.
["The Patriot": Perseverance despite Heartbreak, Citation: The Patriot, rated R, Columbia Pictures, Centropolis Entertainment; Executive Producers, William Fay, Ute Emmerich, Roland Emmerich; submitted by David Slagle, Lawrenceville, Georgia]
(Elapsed time: 2:13:09 to 2:15:50; Content: The Patriot is rated R for graphic violence. There is no nudity. )
Many years ago I went to see a theatrical production called Cotton Patch Gospel, a musical about the life of Jesus with an Appalachian, country-western twist. It was based on Clarence Jordanís paraphrase of the New Testament, by the same name. It tries to tell the story of Jesus as if he has been born in Georgia in the 1950ís. The lyrics and music were written and composed by the late Harry Chapin. I wish I could play one of the songs for you, for it is both gripping and haunting.
It begins with Herodís men singing:
All through the ages, the wise men and sages,
have said there are dirty deeds that simply must be done.
To keep society going, and the benefits flowing,
thereís the simple necessity of hurting someone.
It means strength and agility, taking responsibility,
itís the core of what leadershipís really about.
When the red blood starts coming, just think of it as plumbing, if youíve got a problem you must flush it out.
Then the narrator comes in and tells this story: Herod had seen to it that on Sunday morning a bomb got tossed into the nursery of a church where Jesus was supposed to be. Fortunately, Joe had taken Jesus to Mexico, so the plan failed to get him. But the explosion did kill 14 innocent infants and toddlers. It was a horrible sight that morning. The doctor couldnít even convince one mother that her child was dead. And then the mother sings her song:
Rock a by sweet baby, Mama is here
Hush a by sweet angel, thereís nothing to fear
Close your eyes sweet darling, all through the night
Mama will hold you safe Ďtil the morning light.
Do we sometimes plough on with a project regardless, without any thought or concern for those people that the Lord has already given to us? Itís the Achilles heel of the evangelist, but Paul knows he cannot ignore the needs of his brothers and sisters who are already in Christ. Neither must we (neither must I) ignore them!
In the film ĎWe Were Soldiersí Mel Gibson is the tough battle hardened US Army Captain. He has a mission to complete, a mini great commission! However, before his men leave for Viet Nam he promises them and their families that he will be the first one to step on to enemy territory, and the last to step off it. He cannot promise that they will all return alive, but he promises that all 395 men will return, dead or alive. He has a mission, and he has plans, but he is always looking out for his men.
So too was Paul. He left Troas to search for Titus.
In the movie, A Knightís 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...
OUR TONGUES GET US INTO TROUBLE
The classic movie, "A Christmas Story," is a nostalgic look at growing up in Gary, Indiana, through the eyes of a boy named Ralphy. One scene depicts a school recess in the middle of winter. Two boys surrounded by their classmates argue whether a personís tongue will stick to a metal pole in below-freezing weather.
Eventually one of the boys succumbs to the infamous "triple-dog dare." Hesitantly he sticks his tongue out and touches it to the school flagpole.
Sure enough, it gets stuck. The recess bell rings. Everyone runs into the school building, everyone except the hapless victim. When the teacher finally looks out the window, she sees the boy writhing in pain, his tongue frozen to the flagpole.
While few of us have been in that predicament, we all know what itís like to have our tongues get us in trouble. When we suffer the pain that eventually recoils upon everyone who speaks boastful words, lying words, bitter and cruel words, hypocritical or doubting words, we learn the truth of the proverb, "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles." (Prov. 21:23)
ó M. Castillo, Whitewater, Kansas, quoted in Leadership, p. 49 ó (10,000 Sermon Illustrations)
ILLUSTRATION... The Brothers Grimm (2005)
I rented a movie recently that spoke volumes when it came to dealing with falsehood. The movie is called Brothers Grimm and came out this past year. The fictional story centers around two brothers who are in the witch and ghost busting business. They ride into towns that have old folk tales of ghosts and goblins and offer to rid their town for a price. The price is of course way too high, until a villager comes and reports that the ghost or beast has returned. Sounds like a coincidence doesnít it. The Brothers Grimm step in and save the day. The movie reveals that the Brothers Grimm also have two other partners that set up the false ghosts and witches and put on a production for some villagers to watch. The villagers see the evil foe vanquished and the brothers make their money. It is all a false production. It is a con-job. Early in the movie, these two Brothers are arrested by government leaders because of their treachery. It was all fake. They had to admit that their business was a false one. The truth was revealed.