To Save a Life Review

To Save A Life didn’t suck.

That surprised me a lot. An awful lot. They took the usual Christian movie route but dodged all the potholes. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I think we’re heading in the right direction. Finally. On the other hand, it cost twice what Fireproof cost and made 1/11th as much money (though it turned a profit nonetheless). To Save a Life was honest, truthful, and (in my opinion) not preachy. It was preachy when it was appropriate to be so, and selectively preachy at that.


Perfect Christians
Jake Taylor starts out as a non-Christian who becomes a Christian after he stops being a jerk.
The youth pastor doesn’t have all the answers
The senior pastor is a jerk, and his kid was “played by Satan” according to some fellow moviegoers.

Easy Evangelism
(From TVTropes) “Any story where a character is converted unnaturally easily to whatever the writer is trying to teach.”
Jake doesn’t become a Christian overnight. He’s just… exploring Christianity. It just so happens that he meets our lovely youth pastor, who tells him to “just visit church” and then manipulates him into coming: “It’s inconvenient for you to come to church? It’s inconvenient for me to pick up drunk kids from parties…” I approved of that moment. Continue reading “To Save a Life Review”

The Voicemail of Paul the Apostle to Philemon. Starring John Wayne

Author’s note: THIS paper is the worst paper EVER. It’s so bad that it loops all the way around from awful to awesome. That’s what I think.

The Voicemail of Paul the Apostle to Philemon

Starring John Wayne

Author’s second note: Yes, I know that there weren’t any voicemail recorders back in the first century, or phones either, for that matter. But if there were, and if the apostle Paul had gotten a cell phone in his jail cell and talked a little like a cowboy in a western, a conversation something like this may have gone down sometime around A.D. 60.

The phone kept ringing. “I think it’s gonna go to voicemail,” Paul said. “I really wanted to talk to him.”

A familiar voice, half-drowned-out by static, answered. “Hey, Philemon here. I can’t come to the phone right now, but if you leave me a message, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”

“Hey, it’s me, Paul.” He held it up to the mouth of his much younger friend.

“And me, Timothy!” Then Paul took the phone back.

“Yeah. Hey, this message is for Philemon, our good buddy and coworker – and that great cowgirl Apphia, and our buckaroo Archippus, and the rest of the folks in your ranch church. First off, we wanted to send God’s richest blessings your way. You know, when I remember to pray for you, I always say thanks to God ‘cause of how much you love all His people and how much faith you have, and I pray that your ‘faith gang’ will keep on working better as you really keep getting what Christ put in you. You always make me feel better, bro, ‘cause you’ve just been a breath of fresh air to God’s people.” Paul drew a breath and continued. Continue reading “The Voicemail of Paul the Apostle to Philemon. Starring John Wayne”

The Book of Exodus: Street Style

Written for my Biblical History and Literature class. Any similarity between this account and the account found in Genesis 2 is purely intentional. I had 800 words to summarize Exodus. I had fun with this.

The Israelis are slaves in Egypt. A beautiful Israeli baby boy is floating in the river-basket his parents put him in to protect him from the Egyptian Pharaoh’s law that said all the Israeli baby boys had to die. Pharaoh’s daughter finds the boy and figures he must be on the kill list, but she thinks he’s cute and decides to adopt the kid and name him Moses. Fast-forward a few years. Moses is all grown up and he goes out to see the other Israelis. It turns out that they’re being repressed, so Moses kills an Egyptian who’s whipping an Israeli. But there’s a witness to the murder, and Pharaoh tries to kill Moses, but Moses escapes to Midian where he rescues a few damsels in distress and ends up marrying one of them. Her name is Zipporah.

More years go by. Pharaoh dies, but Israel’s still being repressed back in Egypt, so God appears to Moses in a burning bush and tells him to go liberate Israel. Moses is like “You’ve gotta be kidding,” but God’s dead serious. Moses loses the argument, but God lets him take his brother Aaron along as a sidekick. They show up in Pharaoh’s court and tell him “God says to let my people go!” and Pharaoh’s like “No way, dude.” God turns Moses’ staff into a snake and back, but Pharaoh’s not impressed and gives Israel more work. God dumps plagues on Egypt, but Pharaoh’s stubborn. Finally when his oldest kid (and every Egyptian’s oldest kid!) dies, Pharaoh knows he’s licked and tells Moses to beat it, and take his extended family with him. Continue reading “The Book of Exodus: Street Style”

Control, Slavery, and “Biblical Surrender”

A few weeks ago, I heard a message wherein the speaker advised “surrendering control of your life to God every morning when you wake up.” (That may be a misquote, but that’s a risk I’ll have to take. Surrendering control of your life to God certainly sounds like a spiritual and Christian thing to do… but is it really? Let’s find out.

An early warning / apology / clarification to the people I’ve tagged: This note doesn’t actually have you in it. It’s just something I thought you’d find interesting. (And something I wrote). I thought it might make interesting conversation. But it’s a long (and perhaps a bit tedious) note, so I figured I’d clear that early…

Does God want control over our lives? Continue reading “Control, Slavery, and “Biblical Surrender””


Joseph Garlington once told the story of an Asian woman looking for a house. Everywhere the realtor took her, she would look around and say, “Nice house. No statue.” The realtor, thinking she was a devout catholic, took her to houses with statues of the Virgin Mary, statues of St. Joseph, and every other statue he could think of. Still, everywhere they went, she would go inside, look around, and simply comment, “Nice house, no statue.”

Finally, back at his office, the realtor looked at the lady in frustration and asked, “Ma’am, everywhere we’ve gone, you’ve said “Nice house, no statue. Just what IS a statue?”

She picked up the phone on his desk, held it to her ear, and said “‘Stat you?”

Oh, the places I’ve been these past four weeks looking for church. The first week, a church called “Good Shepherd” (aka “The Well”) visited Huntington University and did church here. The next week, I did church with The Well again. It was nice, but it felt like something was missing.

Continue reading “Statue?”

“He’s not finished with me yet” (and) the search for home

It seems like every time I turn on the radio, I hear Brandon Heath’s song “He’s not finished with me yet.” This last time, I started wondering about that.

I was born in Tennessee
Late July humidity
Doctor said I was lucky to be alive

I’ve been trouble since the day that I got here
Trouble till the day that I disappear
That’ll be the day that I finally get it right

There is hope for me yet
Because God won’t forget
All the plans he’s made for me
I have to wait and see
He’s not finished with me yet

Ok, I wasn’t born in Tennessee. Or “lucky to be alive.” …I have been trouble, though. But that line “He’s not finished with me yet” kinda made me think. It made me think that maybe just because I’m over 350 miles away from anything familiar that my usefulness isn’t over yet.

Continue reading ““He’s not finished with me yet” (and) the search for home”


I was assigned to do a one-page essay in my Academic Writing and Research class. Mr. Cotton gave us 40 minutes to write it. The topic was “Heroes,” and I had to pick someone. I went with Ree, because picking Jesus, though it would’ve been more accurate, just seemed a bit cliché somehow at a Christian college. And I assumed he meant besides Jesus.

Without further commentary, my paper, titled


If I had to pick a hero, someone who I feel has made the biggest positive difference in my life, I would have to choose Ree Enlow. Ree is a forty- or fifty-something-year-old woman whose official title is “Director of Guest Services” at Jumonville, a Christian camp and conference center near Uniontown, Pennsylvania. The group of college-age kids who worked there this past summer just called her “Mom.”

Continue reading “YOU ARE A BUM”

Thief in the Night – I’m supposed to be here.

Oh my word.

I was just doing a google search to see if anyone had made a music video for Rich Mullins’ song called “Thief in the Night” when I made a discovery that let me know that God is in what I’m doing here.

See, how this whole thing started was like this: I had just listened to that song on my netbook up at Jumonville. I walked into Ree’s office and asked if she’d heard it and she asked if I meant the movie. I remembered the movie. “Thief in the Night” is one of the worst “Christian” movies of all time, and that’s saying something.

That conversation got me thinking about about how I’d wanted to make GOOD Christian movies for such a long time but never tried. Later that day while building a tent, I asked God if I could do that.

Through a ridiculous, almost laughable series of events, I ended up as a Freshman student at Huntington University with a Film Production major. But mentioning that title to Ree, and remembering the movie, was really what got me started thinking about this and kinda got those thoughts rolling. And then today I was doing a google search to see if anyone had made a music video for that song.

Turns out that’s not even the right name. It’s called “Steal At Any Price.”


Now that’s irony. And it’s just like God to do something like that.

You’ve gotta be kidding me (or) I don’t WANT to survive, Otto! I wanna LIVE!!

This is ridiculous. I really… yeah. This is just crazy.

The past 3 days have been a crazy blur of activity, inactivity, activity, and insanity. And I still don’t know quite what’s going on. I guess I’ll start with Monday.

Monday, August 17, 2009
I called the place I was gonna rent an apartment from. The apartment I was looking at last Wednesday had been rented already. Crap. But I drove out to that apartment community anyway, to look at a different one they would have available by THIS Wednesday. It was quite ok. I filled out the application, paid a $15 fee, and left.

On my way toward home, I stopped at FedEx Ground, where I’ve worked before. Everyone seemed happy to see me again. I filled out the application, and it was just a matter of getting a DOT physical taken again, and FedEx having my references checked. The job was as good as mine.

Continue reading “You’ve gotta be kidding me (or) I don’t WANT to survive, Otto! I wanna LIVE!!”

A Time To Weep, and a Time to Laugh

The summer is over.

The Jumonville grounds echo the sounds of a full summer; when you walk outside, you can almost hear the echoes of the kids laughing and the staff shouting out important safety rules, then explaining that every last one of them is a beautiful, unrepeatable miracle, or BUM.

The staff cabins, Andrew and Martha, are now filled with empty beds. I think I miss my room being a disaster area, because when it was a disaster area, it was also filled with friends. The common area once looked like a hurricane came through it. Now it looks abandoned and empty.

The dining hall, once cramped from squeezing fourteen staff members at one 8-place table, now comfortably seated the eight who remained at lunch. Then Tyler’s parents came to pick her up, and there were only seven. Kelly and Caitlin left without saying goodbye, and Caitlin M. is leaving at dinner.

The office is distinctly quiet, so much so that Ree had turned on a television for noise. The challenge course and the tower, yesterday (and even this morning) filled with screaming kids, are now empty and lonely.

True, through Jumonville’s autumn and winter there will be groups who come up to visit, and the forest, the dining hall, and the cabins will once again ring with childrens’ voices – though only for a little while. In the meantime, Ree and the very mountain of Jumonville will long for the coming summer and spring.

When the ground finally shakes off its fluffy white coat, and the green grass makes its bold appearance. When buses from the Laurel Highlands Outdoor School once again struggle up to the mountaintop and through the entryway, and Jumonville will once again be filled with the sounds of squealing bus brakes and squealing children.

There will be another group of summer staff, who will become a body, a church, and a family of friends. Nate and Ree will teach them about love languages, team building, behavior quadrants, and everything else they need to know.

And Ree will tell them that they are BUMs.

There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven…
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
~Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4