MOVIES: A persecutor, a widowed mom & Steve McQueen

by Phil Boatwright, posted Thursday, March 22, 2018 (9 months ago)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) -- The apostle Paul once referred to himself as the "chief of sinners." In a way, each of the films listed here –--"Paul, Apostle of Christ," "My Daddy Is in Heaven" and "Steve McQueen: American Icon" -- give evidence of God's grace to all of us who, like Paul, fall short of the glory of the Lord.

Paul, Apostle of Christ

In theaters March 28, Paul, Apostle of Christ offers an intimate look at the man who once persecuted members of the early church, only to have a life-altering experience on the road to Damascus. From then on, the inspired author of much of the New Testament would be a joyous slave of Christ.

During the first scenes we see Paul (played by James Faulkner) suffering alone in a Roman prison, awaiting his execution under Emperor Nero. Once known as Saul of Tarsus, Paul had been a brutal and determined persecutor of the new sect known as Christians. As he awaits his fate, Paul is visited, at great personal risk, by Luke the Physician (Jim Caviezel), who comforts and tends to him. While there, Luke smuggles out letters from Paul to be given to the growing community of believers.

Perhaps the most poignant aspect of this film, a moment that really hit me in the gut, is the outcome Paul faced.

Without wishing to give too much away, Paul died for his teachings. The execution is portrayed here (not too graphically). The film haunted me throughout the day because of that scene, reminding me that a man won't die for a lie. Paul, Peter and most of Christ's disciples and apostles faced death many times for their evangelizing. Many of Christ's closest followers were finally put to death because they wouldn't renounce Jesus.

Writer/director Andrew Hyatt ("Full of Grace") brings a mood and sensitivity never before captured when telling the story of Paul. Well acted, I found Paul, Apostle of Christ, to be a moving spiritual experience. (PG-13 for some violent content and images.)

My Daddy Is in Heaven

Launched March 13 on DVD, Digital and On Demand, My Daddy Is in Heaven, based on a true story, takes the viewpoint of a 7-year-old child who sees her churchgoing mother, a woman devout in her faith, struggle with faith when tragedy strikes. If you ever wonder where our heavenly Father is during calamities, you may find this film a helpful tool.

The story has loving farm folk preparing to enjoy the 4th of July when a tragic accident takes the life of the beloved father and husband. The grieving widow questions why God would take her young husband. The film offers a penetrating question: Are we secure in our religious beliefs only when we are living the dream?

The film's prodigal protagonist learns some tough lessons as her faith and character are tested. It reminds us that at some point in our faith walk, Christians will face depression, worries and fears, like anyone else. Jesus said we'd have these ordeals: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" John 16:33.

From Studio City Pictures, My Daddy Is in Heaven wasn't rated when this column went to press, but I found nothing objectionable. The production may be most suitable for older teens and up.

Steve McQueen: American Icon

Also new to DVD, Steve McQueen: American Icon is a powerful film biography that explores the movie star's lifelong search for meaning, with the actor thankfully finding a spiritual fulfillment before his life here on earth was cut short by cancer.

It may have caused some to raise an eyebrow when I first spotlighted the theatrical release back in September, and with good reason, as his celebrity status caused the actor to indulge in all it would offer. But while Mr. McQueen could have been called the "chief of hedonists," the actor finally embraced Jesus as his Lord during the latter years of his life.

We hear in McQueen's own recorded voice that he regretted not having more time to bear witness to the love of Jesus. There the actor was mistaken. Thirty-seven years later his voice was heard in movie theaters across the country, declaring Jesus as his Savior.

Now on DVD from Universal, Steve McQueen: American Icon is uplifting for Christians and an effective witnessing tool. Not rated, I found it suitable for teens on up.

Phil Boatwright is the author of "MOVIES: The Good, the Bad, and the Really, Really Bad," available on Amazon.com.
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