My 5 Favourite Films

5. Cars.  I have four gorgeous children, so end up watching a lot of family films at the cinema with them.  A lot of family films are awesome for adults to watch – often with jokes or parodies of things that the children would have to have explained to them.  I love Ice Age, Shrek and Toy Story.  However, my favourite family film has to be Cars.  The little filmette that starts this off is called One Man Band and is excellent in itself, and the film is great too. It starts with a race sequence, and goes on to tell the story of Lightning McQueen, the fast, heroic, city car who ends up stranded in a small town, imaginatively called Radiator Springs, and learns about a different pace of life and a different set of values.  It’s a lot better than the Michael J Fox “Doc Hollywood” from which a lot of the plot appears to be based, and for a children’s film, conveyed a message about how if all you aim at is success, who will you share it with when you get there.

A lot of fuss was made at the time about the decision to put the animated cars’ eyes on the windscreen, rather than use the headlights which is more common in cartoon films.  However, I think it makes the cars seem more anthropomorphic, more animated and more “human”.  

Definitely an enjoyable cinema trip, and a great film…

4. Back to the Future.  This film is just a lot of fun: Michael J Fox goes back in time, driving a time machine designed by a wacky professor played to a tee by Christopher Lloyd.  As he goes back to 1955, he breaks the time machine, has his mum develop a crush on him, inspires the civil rights movement, invents Rock and Roll – and skateboards, and finally manages to convince his dad to fight for his mum and not only returns to his present day but finds out he has actually improved it.  

Some fantastic set-pieces (the car chase while he is in the skateboard, leading to the car crash into the manure truck), the Doctor from 1955 refusing to believe Reagan could be president, and the fact that Marti (Michael J Fox’s time traveller) is called Calvin Klein by his mum because that is the name on his underwear, make this film thoughtful, action-packed and a lot of fun.

Although the two sequels are also fun and play with the ideas in the original in spectacular ways, neither of them reached the sheer energy and wit in this one.  In a decade that promises to be full of 80s remakes, I’d love to see a remake of this in 2015 with Marti going back to 1985 – but I can’t think of any music that would shock a group of 80s teenagers!

3. Superman (the Richard Donner film).  I love superheroes, I used to spend all my money on comics as a child, and Superman has always been my favourite.  I went to the cinema to see this with my nan, and she had me convinced I was going to see the Fox and the Hound!  It was awesome to watch on the big screen – I too believed a man could fly.  Christopher Reeve achieved the almost impossible: he made it believable that you could see Clark Kent and Superman and never realize they were the same person.  He showed the humanity of Superman even though his alien origin was paramount in the film.

From Marlon Brando as Superman’s alien father, to Lois Lane, this film altered the comics, and opened the way for a new generation of superhero films.  Gene Hackman plays a fantastic so smart he is dumb Lex Luthor, and I love this film.

My only criticism is one I have had of all the incarnations of Superman since (with the exception of Superman II): Superman needs a super-villain, someone he can have a super-fight with.  Chasing missiles at the end and catching a car is a bit mundane for Superman, using his heat vision to chop a branch of a tree – or in the latest film Superman picking up a mountain – is not really how I define an action film.  Let’s have him have to pound someone to pieces.  Hopefully the re-introduction of General Zod in the upcoming Man of Steel film will lead to some super action in a Superman film.

2. Cinderella Man

I love boxing, and I love true live films – and this one is excellent, telling the story of James J Braddock as he goes through the Great Depression as a washed-up injured boxer and eventually re-enters the ring.  Braddock is a proud man, and as he starts winning fights, starts to pay back the government the money he received as welfare.  The scene where he makes his son return stolen food to the butcher, insisting that he would rather starve honest than eat as a thief brought tears to my eyes – that is good, fair parenting.  

The end of this film is unbelievable until you realize it is based on a very true event.  Great film.

1. Shawshank Redemption

I reckon this must be a lot of people’s favourite film, Most people don’t realize it is based on a short story by Stephen King as it is not like his normal work.  The story of hope in the worst of situations resonates with all of us who have felt confined, falsely accused, bullied, and exploited, that your situation has no hope and your self-worth is continually undermined – and Morgan Freeman puts in the performance of a lifetime as “Red” the go-to guy who can get things, and who narrates us through Andy’s story.  Tim Robbins plays the everyman Andy to a tea (little known fact – the original casting of this film was Tom Cruise as Andy, and Harrison Ford as Red: so so glad that film was never made!), and draws you into his struggle.

When Andy finally succeeds in outwitting the prison warden, and ensuring Red survives, it is one of the most powerful cinematic scenes in history.  In fact, if you need a little light at the end of the tunnel today:

Ten Reasons to Speak in Tongues…

10.  You edify yourself and build yourself up

9. You train your mind to shut up and listen to your spirit speaking out of your mouth

8. You build up yourself in the faith

7. You speak mysteries to God

6. You can pray with the spirit, and then interpret and pray with understanding.  It’s a better way to pray!

5. You can pray in tongues in the car, walking to work, doing the dishes – in any situation in which your mind is unfruitful

4. Paul prayed in tongues and he told us that we should imitate him

3. Mary prayed in tongues, and that’s just awesome!

2. In the early church, they all spoke with tongues – and the church hasn’t changed since then.

1. Jesus said “In my name, you will speak in tongues”

Control Freak!

At Faith Camp last year, James Galloway said something very interesting.  He said that all good leaders should be control freaks.  I have meditated and considered this for months now, and I think that it is absolutely correct.

Now you cannot control people – that is witchcraft, but you can control the vision.  For example, God gave the vision of Tree of Life Church and Tree of Life Network to me – not to anyone else.  Now I can receive input and information from anyone, but at the end of the day, I have to be obedient to the heavenly vision God has given me.  Other people who are involving in either supporting the vision or benefiting from the blessing of the vision, have to accept that I cannot disobey or dishonour the vision.

You might want me to run Tree of Life Church this way or that way, but I can only run it His way.  I can only do the best I know how to do at the time.  

And you need to take the same attitude to whatever task and vision God has given you – do it, and do it right – and those people assigned to help you need to get with the divine programme.

10 People You Can’t Help! (and you shouldn’t feel guilty about not helping)

You can’t save the world – you can’t help everyone. You are one person who has a finite amount of time, energy and influence. That is a harsh but true fact – and if you try and help everyone in the world then you will go loopy. God in His wisdom has ordained a ministry and a task for you – and that is all you need to do. If you invest your time in people you cannot help, then you will never have the time, resources or energy to help those who need your help. Here are ten groups of people you cannot help:

10. People who think they don’t have a problem.

9. People who think you are their problem.

8. People who refuse to be honest with you.

7. People who fail to honour you.

6. People who refuse to respect your boundaries.

5. People who refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

4. People who think their problem can never be solved (or that it is unique to them and worse than ANY other problem in the world…)

3. People who expect the whole world to bend around them and their needs but never make a compromise to find help.

2. People who accuse you of being judgmental when you are trying to help them onto a higher path (all paths are not equal).

1. People who expect you to invest time, finances, energy and life into solving their problem, but who don’t invest any themselves.

Shake the dust off your feet and go and find some people you can help! Selah!

6 Steps to Healthy Relationships in 2013

1.  Don’t continue to pursue someone who isn’t interested.  You are wasting your time, energy and reputation – and you look ridiculous.  There are 7 billion people on planet earth, and there are mentors who will lead you on, followers you will lead on, and peers who will inspire and help you see things from another point of view everywhere.  Stop chasing the people not interested, and you will have time for those people who are there for you.  Sometimes we are so concerned about being friendless, we allow people to act as really bad friends because we do not think that we could ever find better friends.

2,  Don’t ever feel guilty about setting boundaries in your life.  Don’t let people chuck their rubbish in your garden this year.  Don’t become an enabler by allowing someone’s selfishness to ruin your life.  Setting strong boundaries is not unloving, it is true love.  You need to kindly let people know what you are prepared to do, and what you are not prepared to do.

3. Have fun!  Part of why we have relationships is to have fun, and enjoy each other’s company.  Rest and relaxation is not ungodly, and having fun with people is not wrong.  Sometimes we have to choose the people whose company we enjoy and go and enjoy their company.  True friendships are low-maintenance, you don’t have to worry about what you say or how you say it… when you find friends like that, take time to celebrate them!

4. Be grateful.  When people do things that encourage you, help you, or just show they are thinking of you – make sure you take the time to thank them.  Gratitude is the oil of good relationships.

5. Practise empathy.  Sometimes we get so caught up in our own world we forget about other people’s situations.  What may be a small thing from your point of view might be important to someone else.  The only real way to find out is to spend time listening to other people.

6. Keep feeding the cow.  In the parable of the prodigal son that Jesus told, the son basically told his dad to drop dead and give me all your money.  There are still people like that today – they don’t want a relationship with you, they simply want the benefits of being in a relationship with you; sometimes that is money, sometimes it is reputation, sometimes it is just so they can feel good about themselves.  People like that will always let you down.  Like I said in point 1, don’t go chasing people like that.  But eventually the son came to his senses and came home.  Then he didn’t get judged or condemned, he got loved and cared for.  In fact, the dad killed the fatted calf and held a huge party.  So, even when you have been treated badly, always keep the door open – people can change, and can surprise you.  Not often, but it does happen!  Be prepared for a party.