Monday, September 29, 2014

How To Truly Conquer Your Fear

Fear feeds off of the unknown. All good filmmakers know it. It’s the thing behind the closet door that scares us the most. It’s that person out in the dark just beyond what we are able to see. When we can’t see what  out there to get us, our imagination takes over and fear floods our minds.  The only way to send the fear scattering… to turn on the light. When we see what we are up against, it’s not so scary. The deepest fears that haunt us, however,  aren’t generated by what’s under the bed or in the woods or behind that closed door, it’s inside of us. The things that we’ve hidden deep inside of ourselves, the doubts and insecurities, the assumptions about life we’ve made because of how we’ve been treated by others. That stuff is truly scary, and we very rarely turn the light on to have a good look.

If you really want to be free from the fear that has been beating you up for so long, here’s a few things to remember:

The truth about you is much better than you imagine.

Most of us don’t take a close look inside of ourselves because we are afraid of what we might find. Your imagination is actually part of the problem. When you think about you, you almost always spend more time thinking about the bad stuff, the words you shouldn’t have said, the relationships you shouldn’t have held on to. Most people assume that God is the little voice in your head reminding you of all the bad you’ve done. In truth, it’s just the opposite. He is there to remind you that He has better plans for you than you could ever imagine for yourself.

Get some help.

We pay people to fix our cars, to wire our houses with electricity, and to clear those viruses out of our computer that makes Facebook run so slowly. But, when it comes to the incredibly complex inner working of our minds and bodies, we feel that we have it all figured out. Not even close! Getting help, whether from a close friend, counselor, or mentor is a life-line that should not be ignored.

You are not alone.

When you turn the light on and have a good look inside of your heart and mind, you will realize that God is there to face whatever you fear with you. God does not ask us to solve our own problems or conquer our own sins. We’ve all tried, and we’ve all failed. God wants to work with us as we deal with our junk. He loves us fully as we are and at the same time He never forgets all that we can become. 

Photo Courtesy of Death To Stock Photo

Friday, September 26, 2014

Stress Kills!!! Here's 3 Ways To Do Something About It

Stress kills. Not only is it a leading contributor to several types of illness, it is also one the main reasons our effectiveness suffers at work and at home. It also severely limits our ability to enjoy life. If you are interested in increasing your quality of life, then eliminating stress is a good place to start! Here are three things you can do today:

Say “No”

Odds are that you have too many things going on in your life, in fact it’s almost a guarantee. It doesn’t matter that all of your things are good things because even good things bring stress. Stress escalates exponentially as our calendar becomes more and more full. Opening up some margin in your life will immediately begin relieving the stress you feel.


There’s just too much noise. It’s everywhere. We roll out of bed to silence our blaring alarm, and the noise doesn’t stop again until we fall asleep (sometimes not even then if you sleep with the tv or music on). Noise keeps your brain constantly engaged. Your mind tries to process sounds or filter them out. Like background programs that aren’t fully closed on your computer, constant noise keeps your brain running and expends precious energy that you can't afford to waste. Small , intentional periods of silence (wherever you can find them), allow you to center and relax.


As simple as it sounds, people for centuries have understood the importance of controlling their breathing as a means to stress relief. When we are fully engaged, adrenaline pumping, stress rising, our breathing tends to be shallow and more rapid. Reminding ourselves to stop for a second here and there to take a couple of deep breaths is a simple way to recalibrate in the middle of a hectic day. As your breathing goes, so goes the rest of your body and mind.

As simple as these measures are, they can have an immediate impact on the level of stress that you carry. Do yourself a favor and pay attention to your stress levels today, you’ll be glad you did!

Photo courtesy of Mindi Holt

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Silent Film Edition (Tony's Addendum)

I completely agree with Michael's selection of "not to be missed" silent movies. Each is a classic and a masterpiece (I especially love The General.) However, I wanted to add a couple of my favorites for consideration. My favorite Chaplin movie is Modern Times (AFI #81). It is a brilliant satire of the "modern" industrial era and its effects on society and it is Chaplin's last "silent" film. The film also stars the terrific Paulette Goddard as the orphan girl who is the perfect compliment to Chaplin's "Little Tramp." When it comes to Chaplin movies, whether City Lights, Modern Times or The Gold Rush, you can't go wrong.

My other favorite silent era movie is "Pandora's Box." A much darker take on society as it tells the story of a beautiful woman's fall from grace. It stars the iconic Louise Brooks.

I can't wait to see what movies Michael selects next.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Films That You Absolutely Can Not Miss!!!! (Silent Film Edition)

There hasn’t been a lot of “film” on this “faithfilmandfood” blog lately and it’s time for that to change!

People have been making truly remarkable films for over 100 years. Great films have the power to impact us in ways that few other things can. A story that is well-told visually can affect our emotions and thoughts at deep levels,  but with all of the films out there, it can be tough to know where to start. So, in this series of posts, I am going to attempt to offer a foothold to anyone who would like to get a broad view of film over the past century. I will take various genres and time frames and select two movies to watch that will give you a good glimpse of the entire category. An effort like this is absurd, as there are so many more good films to consider than the couple that I will offer up, but my list will give you a place to start, and your feedback is always welcome! What movies would you include in each area???

So, let's start at the beginning....

Silent Movies

Silent movies have long been avoided or reserved for only the serious movie buffs, but there is a lot to enjoy in the realm of silent pictures. True, you have to pay close attention to enjoy them fully. You won’t be able to just turn back to the screen when you hear an explosion to see what may be going on. Silent filmmakers, actors, and directors had to be truly creative to communicate without the help of sound effects or spoken dialogue. Those demands led to some brilliant performances. If you want to sample the beauty of silent movies, I offer up the following two suggestions:

The General (1926)

Directed by and starring Buster Keaton, The General is both funny and heart-felt. Keaton plays Johnnie Gray, an engineer whose has two precious things stolen from him by Union soldiers, his train and his beloved Annabelle Lee. The scene where Keaton is clearing crossties off the rails in front of his train is cinematic gold! Ranked #18 in AFI’s Top 100 Films From The Last 100 Years.

City Lights (1931)

City Lights was written, directed, and starred Charlie Chaplin. There have been few stars in the history of Hollywood as talented as Chaplin, and his talents are on full display in City Lights. Playing his beloved Tramp character, Chaplin tries to find ways to help a beautiful blind girl that he has fallen in love with. The physical comedy is flawless and incredibly funny. The story arc is charming and full of heart. It’s hard not to fall in love with this classic film. Ranked #11 in AFI’s Top 100 Films From The Last 100 Years.

Honorable Mentions

Sunrise (1927)

A powerfully emotive film with character depth, well-acted, and well-written! Ranked #82 in AFI's Top 100 Films From The Last 100 Years.

The Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Sergei Eisenstein was a brilliant filmmaker. Countless films have borrowed scenes from this classic movie.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Spanking vs. Time-Out: Parenting in 2014

Everybody’s parents disciplined them in some way or another, and as they look back now, they either hate the way their parents did it or they love it. Their approach to parenting is most likely based on what they experienced growing up. Therefore, nobody is neutral when it comes to how to discipline children. The conversations usually go something like this:

“My mom and my dad spanked me and I turned out just fine!”


“My mom and dad never laid a hand on me, I can’t imagine what I would have done if they had!”

Remember that when you challenge someone’s approach to disciplining their children, it probably feels to them like you are insulting them and their parents before them.  My recommendation is to find your method of discipline and quit telling other people how awful their way is. The truth is that time-outs, restrictions, spanking, grounding, etc… are all acceptable forms of discipline. They can also all be misused and become abusive, and abuse is never ok. When it comes time to discipline your child(ren), here are two things to remember:

Constant Discipline Is Deflating 

If you discipline your child more than you relate to your child, then your discipline (regardless of what discipline you choose) is worthless. Remember you are not after complete compliance (which is almost impossible with some kids), you are looking for growth and character development. All kids are wired differently, some are naturally  more compliant and some will make you earn your pay!

Lack Of Discipline Is Unloving

It takes discipline to play athletics, to learn to play a new musical instrument, and to get the job you desire in life. It takes effort and the ability to receive correction well. If you refuse to correct your child or require effort out of them, you are making their future incredibly difficult.

The right discipline plan, perfectly administered (like that would ever happen!) does not guarantee perfect children. There are no perfect children, they are like their parents in that respect! Teaching them a system of right and wrong and about responsibility and consequences will give them an opportunity at a great life, and in the end, that’s all we can really do. So, don’t get discouraged, you don't have to be perfect to make a difference!

Photo Courtesy of Death To Stock Photo

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

True Guilt vs. False Guilt (And Why The Difference May Be Wrecking Your Life)

True guilt can be an incredibly healthy thing. Feelings of guilt allow me to look honestly at myself and my actions. This enables me to address what I’ve done wrong, and if needed,  I can confess and seek forgiveness. Once the guilt has been addressed, the feelings will begin to dissipate over time. Honest feelings of guilt are an incredible gift.

False guilt on the other hand is corrosive and devastating. Few things can derail your life more than false guilt. False guilt often feels exactly like real guilt. That’s what makes it so difficult to deal with. The difference is that it tends to linger regardless of what action you take. False guilt is what happens when you feel guilty even though you've done nothing wrong. Those of us with especially sensitive hearts can be ravaged by false guilt. 

True guilt is present when objectively wrong actions have occurred by your hands. In other words for it to be true guilt, it has to be wrong, and you have to be one the one who did it. If either of these are not present, then that feeling churning in your stomach is false guilt . Here’s two important questions to ask to avoid carrying around the weight false guilt.

Is what I’ve done morally wrong?

Just because someone isn’t happy with you doesn’t mean that you have done something wrong. Remember, you are not responsible for how others feel! Using the Bible as direction, I believe that lying is morally wrong, as is stealing or lust for example. It is not wrong, however, to miss someone’s call, or to not be able to read their mind and predict what they want from you. If you haven’t done something morally wrong, then it’s not true guilt that you are feeling.

Was it my responsibility/decision?

Just because something bad happens around you doesn’t mean that you have done something wrong. Remember, you are not responsible for other people’s decisions! We can impact people, influence them, and encourage them, but when all is said and done, we have no power over what decisions they will make. You can raise a child as perfectly as you are able but, they still get to decide for themselves whether or not they want to become a drug addict, go to law school, or marry their cousin. So, don’t apologize for things you have no control over!

False guilt impacts our health and well-being in countless ways. It takes courage to admit when you are wrong, but it takes just as much courage sometimes to admit that you aren’t actually the one to blame. I hope these questions will help you know how to tell the difference!

Photo Courtesy of Death To Stock Photo

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Finds - September 12

This week's Finds are all in video form! It's been a long week, kick off your shoes, curl up with your laptop and be inspired by some truly amazing leaders!

N.T. Wright should be mandatory reading for all Christians. He is intelligent, compassionate, and is able to write and speak in ways that are guaranteed to make you think.

Miroslav Volf has spoken more passionately and with greater conviction about forgiveness than any theologian on the planet. His incredible book , Exclusion and Embrace is one of the best on forgiveness ever written.

It’s hard to imagine a better coach or more powerful leader than John Wooden. His TedTalk is one I return to often. It is worth every second of your time….

Have a great weekend!!!!!

Photo courtesy of Death To Stock Photo

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Honest But Uncomfortable Definitions: Mercy


1-Something everyone loves to receive, but few people enjoy giving. 
2- Refusing to take enjoyment out of the mistakes others make and the punishment they receive.

Imagine for a moment that a news van on the way to cover a story happened upon an act of heroism. Let’s say that they catch on film a car packed with senior adults toppling off a bridge into a river in the middle of winter. As they are calling emergency services for help,  a 6 year old boy jumps into  the icy, frigid waters and one by one drags each of the people to safety on the shore. Not only that, while saving them, he sees and rescues 3 baby seals and a tiny puppy who had also managed to fall into the deadly water.

That would be an incredible story, and would likely be the lead on the nightly news, unless…..

A celebrity, politician, athlete, etc… made a colossally bad decision.

These are the stories we love to see the most, and there is unfortunately a never ending supply of them for us to revel in. Drug abuse, money-grabbing schemes, affairs, physical abuse, and the list goes on and on. We want to hear about the story as soon as it happens, and we want constant updates after that. How quickly did he know? Where did she hide the money? Who else was involved? We want access to all of the gruesome details.

And it’s a toxic way to live.

I hunger deeply for justice, and I despise injustice (especially when I am not at fault – but that’s for another post). I believe that people should answer for their crimes, and reap the consequences of their behavior. It’s healthy to hate injustice. It’s important to seek to bring justice to our world. Enjoying the downfall of others, however, has nothing to do with justice.  Hours after the latest scandal has been unearthed, thousands flock to Facebook and Twitter to weigh in. All are sure the punishment, whatever it will be, will not be enough. The true motives of anyone who does not seem sufficiently enraged are called into question. Drunk driving or physical abuse were just as important hours before the scandal, but few people took time to write anything about them at that time. What’s even more troubling is that after the scandal of the hour passes, people often stop writing and stop thinking about the dangers of abuse and the need for care for it’s victims. Instead, everyone travels forward in a social media mob in search of the next injustice to rail against.

The fight for justice is a never ending battle. It doesn’t stop when it’s no longer “trending”. My plea and my goal is simply to fight for justice but at the same time to love mercy. It’s the combination our world needs the most. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wounds Don't Just Heal Themselves!

I grew up with two incredibly resilient parents. Both grew up deep in the mountains of western North Carolina. Both came from large families (13 siblings for my mom, 9 for my dad). Both grew up in poverty. Both suffered great loss, and both endured and created a good life for themselves. I don’t ever remember either of them talking to me directly about how to deal with hardships, but it was understood. “If life kicks you, kick back and keep moving. Don’t let what you feel affect what you do. No excuses, no feeling sorry for yourself. You may get knocked down, just don’t stay down.” Those thoughts have served me well, and while I am in no way as strong as they were, I am grateful that they raised me the way they did.

There are times, however, when gritting your teeth and pushing forward no longer works. There are some wounds in life that must be attended to, not just endured. Much like a bad cut that gets infected without proper attention, there are wounds to our soul which will never heal properly unless we intentionally address them. In the words of John Eldredge, “An unfelt wound is an unhealed wound.”

So if you have been through a hard time that you just can’t seem to shake, here are some things to consider:

Are You Hurt Or Are You Injured?

One of my favorite coaches in high school was fond of saying, “are you hurt or are you injured?” There’s a big difference in those two. If you are hurt or simply feeling pain, the best thing to do is to keep moving, and to push through. If you are injured, however, it would be foolish to try to continue playing, because it would only make the injury worse.  Here’s some question to give serious thought to: Has your broken relationship, betrayal, abusive past, etc… begun to affect the way you see yourself? Does it impact the way you make decisions in life? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you are likely injured and not just hurt.

Wounded Does Not Mean Weak.

It’s not weak to get a broken leg set in a cast, it’s smart. If you have been wounded by life, it’s not weak to stop and get some help. This is more than just having your feelings hurt or not getting your way. A wound that is not attended to can affect your quality of life for years.

Wounds Heal

There is hope. You do not have to carry around that pain for the rest of your life. Talk to a trusted friend or pastor. If needed, talk to a counselor. You invest time and money into your house and food and clothes, why not invest in the health and well-being of your soul?

If you have been wounded by life or by other people, you are not weak and you are not alone.  I hope you will find the courage to get help, and that you will enjoy the freedom that comes as your deepest wounds heal!

Quote from John Eldredge's book Wild at Heart

Photo courtesy of Death To The Stock Photo

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Honest But Uncomfortable Definitions: Meekness


Strength restrained. People who possess this character attribute are committed to gentleness and quietness. As opposed to those who are loud, showy, and arrogant whose only strength is often in their loud words, the meek possess a strength that is much deeper and is often expressed in sacrificial love for other people. Most often found in the people you don’t ever really notice.

As you can imagine, meek people don’t seem to get very far in our world. Those who are meek are often overlooked, ignored, and at times, walked on. It doesn’t make sense to be meek. But, Jesus’ way of doing things didn’t make a lot of sense either. Unlike Harvard University, a Fortune 500 company, or professional football teams who are looking for the best and brightest, the strongest and the fastest, Jesus said that His followers would be made up of the weakest and poorest. The last person you would pick for your team would likely be Jesus’ first pick.

Imagine this, you are in charge of selecting a person for a very special assignment.  The assignment: to free over one million men, women, and children from slavery. The candidate will lead those people across miles of hazardous terrain to a place where they can live in peace. It must also be noted that other people currently live at that location. They are strong, well-fed, and live in well-defended cities. Your candidate must lead his unarmed former slaves to a military victory against them.

What sort of possible candidates would come to your mind?? It would need to be someone incredibly courageous, with the ability to motivate people with their eloquent words. It would be important that they also have military and leadership experience. Who would you choose? George Washington? Napoleon? Iron Man?

How about a gentle-natured shepherd with a speech impediment?

That’s who God selected.

 A writer of the Torah described him like this:

“Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all the people who were on the face of the earth.”                                                    
                                                                -Numbers 12:3

Moses wasn’t just a little quiet and slightly gentle. He was the most gentle and quiet man on the planet! God often selects meek people to change the world. A couple of thousand years later, Jesus would say it like this:
            “God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.”
                                                                                -Matthew 5:5

Although meekness rarely seems to get you ahead in this world, it does seem to matter greatly to God. God likes underdogs. So, if you are feeling trampled on and overlooked today, don’t get discouraged! God may be preparing to you change the world!