John Markum

A Proper Attitude toward Faith-based Movies

MOVIESThere have been no lack of faith-based movies that have come out in recent years – from family-encouraging movies like Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants all from Sherwood Pictures, to some more recent Hollywood productions such as Noah and God’s Not Dead.

I recently posted a teaser trailer for the upcoming Heaven is for Real film based on the book of the same title, expressing my interest in the movie. For those not aware, Heaven is for Real is the retelling of the story of Colton Burpo who at 4 years old had a near death experience where he claims (as a 4 year old) to have seen God, Jesus, angels, Heaven, and deceased family among many other phenomenon. His experience seems to have some level of confirmation in what appears to be knowledge that Colton could not have possibly known apart from some supernatural happening.

Immediately after posting it, multiple well-meaning friends, all of whom were professing Christ-followers, some of whom were brothers in ministry, urged caution or misgivings on my interest in the film. Without having read the book, I’m aware of the discrepancies in Colton’s story and what we can plainly see in Scripture.

I am not writing this post as a review on any of these movies. I’ll consider doing that in a future post, probably after I watch this one…

I instead want to address our attitude as Christ-followers toward faith-based movie. From Passion of the Christ to Son of God, it seems as if there are always people who claim to believe the Bible who have something negative to say about Hollywood’s recent fascination with God’s Word. I for one, am pleased that we’re at least having these discussions. Ultimately, no matter how well done, no movie is going to express as perfectly as each of us imagine Biblical truth to be. And I suspect that the actual reality of Scripture is simultaneously ordinary and yet supernatural per our expectations.

Let me give four humble suggestions on how Christ-followers should respond to any faith based movie – and arguably any movie in general:

  1. Appreciate good stories. It was said of Christ in Mark 4:34 that He never taught the people without telling a story. Jesus was a master story-teller. Most would agree that many of the parables of Jesus were fabricated stories that He used to make an illustration. A story doesn’t have to be true to be meaningful. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve referred to Star Wars or Everyone Loves Raymond to communicate a point in a sermon. And it’s amazing to see people understand the relationship between pure Jews and the Samaritans when you talk about “mud-bloods”…
  2. Relax. Truth is never intimidated by error. While we need to be busy sharing true stories, a skewed story can be addressed without getting indignant. “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” A defensive attitude toward anything indicates a sensed vulnerability. If I really believe the Bible is truth, I’ve got no reason to get defensive when someone questions the Bible or my faith. At least someone’s asking good questions!
  3. Share. I’ve lost count on how many times someone who doesn’t yet follow Christ has begun a conversation with me because of a movie that addressed a Biblical subject. The movie doesn’t have to be spot-on to be a catalyst for a divine appointment. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a story is worth a thousand pictures.
  4. Know God’s Word. Don’t take anyone’s expressions of faith, interpretations, or movie as the final authority on truth in your life. Look to see what God actually said in His Word. He’s quite adequate at speaking for Himself. Everything and everyone else should only propel you to looking deeper into His truth and applying it to your life. That’s why it’s important to be a part of a church family, a PTA, and to watch movies – because God speaks all around us through a variety of sources, even flawed sources like preachers and movies – but He never speaks more clearly than through His Word.

Pastor John

Worship Perspective

With our consumer culture and love of music, it’s easy to get the wrong attitude for how we worship in church. Some people, quite honestly, annoy me with how they criticize worship music in churches. Like they’re the Simon Cowell of worship leaders.

Now don’t get me wrong… no one in church appreciates good, powerful music more than I do. And because of my church background, I have as much appreciation for the old hymns as I do RED. But regardless, if the song is something that challenges the people of God to be Christ-like, or lifts up the name of Jesus, it is something to glorify God.

I think we get it mixed up so much because we confuse ourselves with the three participating groups in church worship services:

  • The Performer(s) – The person(s) doing the actual worshiping.
  • The Audience – The one(s) for whom the worship is intended.
  • The Catalyst – The one responsible for prompting The Performer(s).

Typically, we see the people on the stage as The Performers, God as The Catalyst, and the people in the seats as The Audience. With this mentality, worship in our churches often becomes entertainment: the people on the stage are easy to criticize based on how well they did, or (as we’ve learned from American Idol) what songs they chose, and the people in the service are either mostly passive, or critical of what they liked and didn’t like, while God’s presence is judged by how well the band entertained us. This problem occurs in every flavor of “worship styles” too. So this is not just a generational thing.

But God intended differently. The people playing and singing on the stage are not The Performers… they are The Catalyst. the people in the service are not The Audience, they are in fact The Performers. And God is not The Catalyst, He is The Audience. When we see worship in our churches this way, we realize that the job of the worship leader is to call us into God’s presence with praise. The Audience (the people) has the job of accepting the invitation and bringing their praise before God. And God takes His place as the rightful recipient of our worship.

I find it offensive toward God when we talk about “what we got” out of worship. Since when has worship ever been about what we get?!? It’s about what we bring before Him.

We receive the greatest benefit of worship, but only because true worship requires us to be surrendered to the One we worship.



How to treat a new follower of Christ

I find it interesting that many church people would cross mountain and sea to bring their friend or loved one to Christ. But afterwards many of these same people expect them to change over night. It just doesn’t happen that way. Here are a few things that every newer follower of Christ needs from the people in their life that are suppose to be more mature in the Lord:

  1. Extra Grace: We’re suppose to be gracious to one another anyway, but especially to the person who has recently crossed the line of faith, we should understand that they need people to give them the benefit of the doubt and love them through some things. This often means patience as they identify themselves in the church family.
  2. Accountability: Giving them more grace does not mean they get away with inappropriate behavior or sin. What it does mean, is that we help them see where they need growth, relate personally to their difficulties when possible, and encourage them that we’re all becoming more like Christ together.
  3. Meaningful Friendships: The saying, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care” applies to everyone. Personally, I choose to take my criticism from the people who love me. So newer followers of Jesus need people who genuinely care about them as a person and not just as a “prospect” to their church.
  4. Opportunities to Grow: We all need new challenges to take us to higher levels. This is certainly true of a new believer. A baby wants to learn to roll over, then crawl, then walk, then run, then climb. New believers don’t want to sit in a crib forever either. They want a faith that is real, and we should encourage that. Help them find places to serve, share, learn, relate, and use their faith in practical ways.
  5. Freedom: All of us need the ability to be who and what God created us for individually. There is plenty of room for us to be different and yet unified. Our goal is unity, not uniformity. There is a difference. We can all be ourselves in plenty of areas. We should encourage new believers to discover their uniqueness in Christ. This also means providing the safety for them to ask honest questions and get honest answers.

Whether you are a newer follower of Jesus or a veteran, we all have room to grow. And to the seasoned follower of Jesus, you’re missing a huge part of your own spiritual growth if you’re not willing to love a new brother or sister in Christ into your church family. Be like Jesus and be inclusive!



The phrase no pain, no gain has been a mantra for athletes and fitness junkies for years. And what they understand about physical pain needs to be broadened to a much more general use in all of our lives. Pain hurts. That's the whole problem. No one enjoys it, and if someone does, we rightfully

The Premium of Pain