My Lucky Life (book review)

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Dick Van Dyke has always been one of my favorite on-screen personalities. Of course, what goes on off-screen to allow someone to get on screen is often a long journey. Mr. Van Dyke recounts his journey in his memoir My Lucky Life In And Out Of Show Business. 

I actually listened to the audiobook for this one, and it was nice to hear Dick read his own remembrances of his small-town upbringing, the way he developed his comedy routines, the people who opened doors for him, his perseverance through some thin times, and—as the title suggests—the breaks that came his way. 

It was also a lot of fun hearing about things that didn’t end up in movies like “Mary Poppins” or in TV shows like “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” Getting to go behind the scenes to hear what goes into making a hit show that lasts through the generations was very eye-opening. 

The only sad note from this memoir is one I have, unfortunately, noticed in the lives of many who have been so devoted to their show business careers: the toll on their family and personal lives. This reminds me of Solomon’s haunting conclusion in the book of Ecclesiastes that things “under the sun” turn out to be meaningless, but only what lasts for eternity has any value. 

Despite the few minor keys, My Lucky Life is an informative read, especially for those who grew up watching the TV shows and movies that featured Dick Van Dyke.  

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As You Wish (book review)

I was visiting in my wife’s 3rd-grade classroom and I was asked by her class what my favorite movie was. Without hesitating, I said, “The Princess Bride.” Not surprisingly, several of these young children knew this movie! For a movie that is over 30 years old, that would meet the definition of a “classic movie.” Cary Elwes famously portrays a pivotal character—the man in black—in this wonderful movie, so he is the perfect person to give us a behind-the-scenes tour of this film in his book As You Wish.

I chose to get the audiobook version, and I’m so glad I did. This is a delightful remembrance of how this movie came to the big screen, but hearing Cary reading these remembrances in his own voice (and sometimes hearing him impersonate some of the people he is quoting) was an added dimension that I had not expected. In addition to Cary’s voice, you will also be treated to the voices of Princess Buttercup, Count Rugen, Prince Humperdinck, Miracle Max and his wife Valerie, and Vezzini, as well as director Rob Reiner and producer Andy Scheinman.

In As You Wish, you will hear about the cast selection, the struggles of getting a studio to agree to make this movie, the lengthy training that went into the amazing sword duel between Westley and Inigo, the injuries, the ad-libs, the faux pas, and so much more! 

Whether you have seen this movie or not, As You Wish is an excellent primer before watching this movie (again)! 

Links & Quotes

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“When we meet with our kinsfolk and acquaintances, let it be our prayer to God that our communion may be not only pleasant, but profitable; that we may not merely pass away time and spend a pleasant hour, but may advance a day’s march nearer heaven, and acquire greater fitness for our eternal rest.” —Charles Spurgeon

“When Scripture says that Christ died ‘for’ us, I think the word is usually υπερ (on behalf of), not αντι (instead of). I think the ideas of sacrifice, ransom, championship (over death), substitution et cetera are all images to suggest the reality (not otherwise comprehensible to us) of the atonement. To fix on any one of them as if it contained and limited the truth like a scientific definition would in my opinion be a mistake.” —C.S. Lewis

“Christ will really help us in our fight. He really will help you. He is on your side. He didn’t come to destroy sin because sin is fun. He came to destroy sin because it is fatal. It is a deceptive work of the devil and will destroy us if we don’t fight it. He came to help us, not hurt us.” —John Piper

A really cool timeline of the events surrounding Christ’s birth.

“You will not experience the real presence of Jesus until you have within you a growing hatred for sin—a piercing conviction for your failures and a deepening sense of your exceeding sinfulness. Those without Christ’s presence become less and less convicted by sin. The further they withdraw from His presence, the bolder, more arrogant and more comfortable in compromise they grow.” —David Wilkerson

Have you seen Unbroken or read the book? This post—Unbroken Uncut—is very interesting.

This is a disgusting twist of Scripture that perverts God’s Word to make it sound like those who are pro-abortion are the evildoers.

“You will never forgive anyone more than God has already forgiven you.” —Max Lucado

[VIDEO] A sweet video of a 10-year-old boy who finds out he is going to be a big brother—

When The Game Stands Tall (movie review)

When The Game Stands TallI had the privilege of seeing an advanced showing of When The Game Stands Tall which opens in theaters next weekend (August 22). When this movie was over, I was the one standing tall because it is such an inspirational story.

The movie opens as the De La Salle High School football team is in the midst of a 151 game winning streak. Think about that: in 12 years this high school football team hadn’t lost! How did they do it? Through the careful coaching of Bob Ladouceur and Terry Eidson, and through the dedication of players that bought into their principles.

But the team lost track of who they were and how they had achieved such success. The unthinkable happens: De La Salle loses a game!

How the coaches and players respond to this loss is the real heart of the story, and I’m so glad that it’s being told on the big screen. This movie is completely family-friendly, with no questionable content at all.

Here’s the deal: If you want Hollywood to keep making movies like this, you MUST make plans to see it on opening weekend (August 22-24). The movie executives base their decisions on box office sales that first weekend, so it will largely determine whether they will make more pro-family movies like this one.

Here is a behind the scenes look at the making of When The Game Stands Tall that I think captures the essence of the heart of this story—

Please go see this movie next weekend!

Links & Quotes

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These are links to some interesting quotes and news stories I was reading this weekend.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder still thumbing his nose at the law he has sworn to uphold.

Apparently it’s more important to win games than it is for student athletes to get an education. Check out this whistleblower report.

[VIDEO] Congressman Bruce Braley thinks only lawyers are qualified to serve in Congress … certainly not “a farmer … from Iowa” !

“May God raise up more ministers like William Booth, who support gospel proclamation with practical ministry to those who need it most.” Amen! Check out this great article about Salvation Army founder William Booth.

The Hollywood movie Noah has been called “the least biblical biblical movie ever made” by its director Darren Aronofsky. But check out this article: The Folly Of What Noah Preached.

“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.” —Rick Warren

Tell your Congressional representative and senator not to turn control of the internet over to the U.N.

Glad to see that World Vision reversed their decision on same sex couples.

“I fear John Knox’s prayers more than an army of ten thousand men.” —Mary Queen of Scots

Astronomers have found a new planet! Think what else the Creator has out there for us to discover…. “It goes to show that there’s something we don’t know about our Solar System, and it’s something important,” says co-discoverer Chad Trujillo.

“Home Run” (movie review)

Home RunHome Run opens in theaters on April 19, 2013, but Betsy and I were privileged to see an advanced screening of this movie.

I’ll be honest with you: Going into the theater I was a bit skeptical. From what I had been told, and the little blurbs I had read and watched, it seemed like it was going to be a bit over-the-top Christianese. I am happy to tell you I was totally wrong!

Home Run follows a baseball player who has been suspended from his team because of his alcohol problem. One of the conditions of his return to the diamond is his attendance at some sort of 12-step program. Cory chose a Celebrate Recovery program.

I loved seeing the stark contrast between the messages of hope Cory was hearing in his Celebrate Recovery meetings, with the lack of success he was having outside of the meetings. Cory attempts to use his own willpower to overcome his addiction, and the emotional scars that led to it, but is unsuccessful at almost every attempt. In his Celebrate Recovery meetings he is hearing how people who surrendered to the love of Jesus (not just “a higher power”) were finding a freedom they had never known before.

I also like how the movie didn’t lead to an all-too-typical Hollywood fairy tale, they-all-lived-happily-ever-after ending. Instead we see Cory on the road to recovery, but with many relationships and situations still to be reconciled.

The movie is rated PG-13 for the subject matter of alcoholism (and the other addictions discussed in the C.R. meetings), and for a rather intense scene with Cory’s drunk, emotionally-abusive father. So I wouldn’t recommend this to families with younger children, but anyone else who is struggling with an addiction, or who knows someone who is, should see Home Run when it opens on April 19.

The Butterfly Circus

Butterfly CircusOne of the best short films I have ever seen. You will love the message in The Butterfly Circus

A Story About Choice

What an amazing story about Ryan Bomberger!

And don’t forget about October Baby opening in theaters on March 23 (you can read my review of the film here).

Act Of Valor (movie review)

I have always had great respect and appreciation for the soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines that keep us safe. After seeing Act Of Valor, that level of appreciation has gone up significantly!

This is a realistic movie. It’s not a Hollywood-stylized action film. It portrays that way our teams operate in the field to keep our country and her citizens safe. And it shows the real men and women, and the real emotions they have to deal with as they do a very dangerous job.

This movie is rated R for very realistic combat scenes, and some language. But for your teenagers that think they know what “real combat” is because of the video games they play, take them to see this movie and use it as a discussion of what’s really real.

Go see this film. And then thank an active duty service personnel or a veteran for their incredibly selfless service to our country.

October Baby (movie review)

Betsy and I were privileged to see an advanced screening of October Baby last night, and I’m still trying to process all of my thoughts.

It was emotionally moving, but not sappy nor sentimental.

It was thought-provoking, but not philosophically deep.

It was laugh-provoking, but not a comedy.

It addressed a woman’s struggle, but it’s not a chick flick.

It addressed parenting, but it’s not a dry documentary.

It is just a GOOD movie.

The script was good, the acting was good, the cinematography was good, even the soundtrack was good. The message that all life is precious comes through clearly, but not in an in-your-face, shove-it-down-your-throat way.

The movie is rated PG-13 because of the subject matter (a girl on a quest to find her birth mother, after discovering that she’s the survivor of a failed abortion attempt). But because of the purity of the movie (not a single swear word, zero sexuality), I would recommend families see this together.

This is a story that needed to be told, and the Erwin brothers did a phenomenal job telling that story.

Send a message to Hollywood, go see October Baby on opening weekend, March 23-25.

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