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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of BREAKTHROUGH

Breakthrough, rated PG
***

Breakthrough is a well-made inspirational film based on a true story. The film was directed by Roxann Dawson in her film directorial debut, and written by Grant Nieporte (Seven Pounds), based on the 2017 book Breakthrough: The Miraculous True Story of a Mother’s Faith and Her Child’s Resurrection by Joyce Smith and Ginger Kolbaba. The film is set in the St. Louis area, but was actually shot in Winnipeg, Manitoba. DeVon Franklin is a producer of the film and Golden State Warriors’ superstar Stephen Curry is an executive producer.
Fourteen-year-old John Smith, played by Marcel Ruiz (One Day at a Time) is the adopted son of Brian, played by Josh Lucas (A Beautiful Mind, Sweet Home Alabama), and Joyce, played by Chrissy Metz (This is Us). John doesn’t get along with his mother, doesn’t do his homework, and really only comes alive when he is playing basketball. He is also hurt because his birth mother abandoned him, leading the Smiths to adopt him at nine months of age from a Guatemalan orphanage.
Topher Grace (BlacKkKlansman) plays Pastor Jason Noble, the Smith’s new pastor from California. Pastor Nobel does a number of things that irritate Joyce:  kicking them out of a meeting room, bringing rap music into the church worship service (Lecrae appears in a cameo rapping along with Phil Wickham singing Wickham’s “This is Amazing Grace”) and using the television show “The Bachelor” as a sermon illustration. Joyce doesn’t even like the pastor’s haircut.
On a sunny Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January, 2015, John and two of his friends are playing on the frozen surface of Lake Sainte Louise in St. Charles, Missouri. Suddenly, the boys fall through the thin ice, with John sinking all the way to the bottom of the lake in freezing water. The police are able to rescue John’s two friends, but as time goes on, the firefighters look to recover John’s body, rather than rescue him. Then Tommy, one of the firemen, played by Mike Colter (Luke Cage, The Defenders), thinks he hears his boss’s voice telling him to go back and look in a particular place under the ice. It’s there that he finds John, and they pull him to the surface. But it’s been fifteen minutes since John fell through the ice into the freezing water. When they bring John to the surface, they find that he does not have a pulse. For all intents and purposes, John is clinically dead. Still, he is rushed to a local hospital, where after John is worked on by medical personnel, they call in Joyce to say goodbye to her son.
In an emotional scene, Joyce cries out to Jesus and the Holy Spirit to breathe life into her son. Incredibly, John’s heart weakly begins to beat. John is then air-lifted to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. There, the world-renowned Dr. Garrett, played by Golden Globe nominee Dennis Haysbert (24) the physician heading up John’s case, tells Brian and Joyce that John is not expected to live through the night. But Joyce will not accept that.
Will John ever wake up? And if he does, will he suffer irreparable brain damage from his brain being deprived of oxygen for so long?
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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

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Stephen CurryStephen Curry: The Incredible Story of One of Basketball’s Sharpest Shooters by Clayton Geoffreys. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 102 pages. 2014
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My interest in this short unauthorized biography was not necessarily that Stephen Curry is the reigning National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Most Valuable Player, a member of the 2014-15 Championship team or the fact that that his team is currently an incredible 43-4 as I write this, with a real shot at beating the all-time record of 72-10 set by Michael Jordan’s Bulls in the 1995-96 season. What really attracted to me to Curry’s story, in addition to all of the above, is that he is known for his Christian beliefs.

Curry was born in 1988 in Akron, Ohio. His father Del was an NBA player and coach and his mother Sonya was an accomplished volleyball player. They met at Virginia Tech.   His parents provided Stephen and his brother Seth (also a basketball player), the following priorities in life – faith, family and academics above everything else, including sports.

Curry attended Davidson University, where he played for three seasons before leaving for the NBA where he was drafted as the seventh overall pick by the Golden State Warriors in the 2009 draft. In his 104 games at Davidson, Curry finished with averages of 25.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game. His 2,635 total points and 414 total three-pointers are both Davidson records.

Curry’s early seasons were hampered by injuries (he spent the entire 2011-12 season recovering from ankle injuries and undergoing a season-ending surgery). He and teammate Klay Thompson, are nicknamed the “Splash Brothers” for their shooting abilities. The author states that even at this relatively early stage of Curry’s career, some are already considering him the greatest shooter in history.

The author takes us through Curry’s NBA career, through most of the 2014-15 season when the Warriors had a league-best record of 67-15, Curry was the top vote-getting in the All-Star Game, and was named the NBA Most Valuable Player. The book went to press before the end of the playoffs and the Warriors winning the NBA Championship.

Curry professed Christ while in the fourth grade at the Central Church of God in Charlotte. He writes bible verses on his basketball shoes. He is married to Ayesha and the couple has two daughters. He has a strong work ethic and though only 27 years old is a wonderful role model. The author tells us that Curry has stated in interviews he felt that God wanted to use him in the league to show that not all successful athletes live the celebrity lifestyle that comes with all the money and fame.

I enjoyed this short book about Steph Curry. The author sometimes goes overboard with superlatives and didn’t have any contact with Curry. Still, for those who want to know about this role model, this is an excellent book to check out.
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Studies in the Sermon on the Mount BOOK CLUB Won’t you read along with us?

Studies in the Sermon on the MountStudies in the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

This book made a significant impact on my wife Tammy when she read and discussed it with friends thirty years ago. When I picked up my diploma the day after graduation ceremonies from Covenant Seminary last year I was given a copy of this book. After enjoying Lloyd-Jones book Spiritual Depression (and the sermons the book was taken from), I couldn’t wait to read this book, which is the printed form of sermons preached for the most part on successive Sunday mornings at Westminster Chapel in London. This week we look at Chapter 22: The Exceeding Sinfulness of Sin

    • There is nothing at the present time which is more urgently necessary than that we should truly grasp the biblical doctrine with respect to sin. I assert that most of our failures and troubles in the Church, as well as in the world, are due to the fact that we have not really understood this doctrine.
    • I suggest that unless we are clear about the doctrine of sin we shall never truly understand the New Testament way of salvation.
    • Regeneration is meaningless to people who have a negative view of sin and do not realize its profundity.
    • If you dislike the New Testament doctrine of sin, it simply means that you are not a Christian. For you cannot be one without believing that you must be born again and without realizing that nothing but the death of Christ upon the cross saves you and reconciles you to God.
    • There is no true evangelism without the doctrine of sin, and without an understanding of what sin is.
    • A gospel which merely says `Come to Jesus’, and offers Him as a Friend, and offers a marvelous new life, without convicting of sin, is not New Testament evangelism.
    • If you do not like the doctrine of hell you are just disagreeing with Jesus Christ. He, the Son of God, believed in hell; and it is in His exposure of the true nature of sin that He teaches that sin ultimately lands men in hell.
    • Self-satisfaction, smugness and glibness are the very antithesis of the New Testament doctrine of holiness.
    • Above all, this doctrine of sin leads us to see the absolute need of a power greater than ourselves to deliver us. It is a doctrine that makes a man run to Christ and rely upon Him; it makes him realize that without Him he can do nothing.
    • Finally, it is surely only a true grasp of the New Testament doctrine of sin that enables us to realize the greatness of God’s love to us.
    • Why do not we love God as we should? It is because we have never realized what He has done for us in Christ, and this itself is because we have not realized the nature and the problem of sin. It is only as we see what sin really is in the sight of God, and realize that, nevertheless, He did not spare His only Son, that we begin to understand and to measure His love.
    • The first thing our Lord emphasizes is what we may call the depth or the power of sin.
    • Sin is not merely a matter of actions and of deeds; it is something within the heart that leads to the action. In other words the teaching here is the characteristic teaching of the Bible everywhere about this subject, namely, that what we must really concentrate upon is not so much sins as sin.
    • Then there is the perverting nature and effect of sin. Sin is something that perverts.
    • Sin has perverted man, turning good itself into evil.
    • Finally, sin is something which is destructive.
    • God and sin are utterly incompatible, and therefore sin, of necessity, leads to hell.

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