Monday, June 16, 2014

Two movie reviews

Taking a break from book reviews for the next few weeks, today I’ll bring you 2 movie reviews.

These are just fun, enjoyable films, for different audiences.


We saw this a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. It’s a fun, easy-going story with a great cast (including John Favreau, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman and Sofia Vergara).  It details the spectacular downfall of a restaurant chef, followed by remaking of himself with a food truck travelling across the US.

We loved it. It combined three great story elements: the fun of good quality food & cooking; the highs and lows of using online technology (mainly Twitter) to comment on people and what they do; and a lovely story of a father and a son.

It was a gently meandering story, nothing traumatic happened (rather like About Time which we also liked last year). I loved seeing some beautiful parts of the USA in the scenery and really think I should take my family to New Orleans where I spent some of my childhood and treat them to the delights of coffee & beignets!


Chances are anyone with daughters around the same age as mine (9 & 6.5) has already seen this and like us, probably also already owns the DVD. My girls LOVE this movie.

I took our elder daughter to see it when it came out, and we were both delighted with it. Now, our younger daughter is equally hooked.

It is the story of Elsa, Queen of Arendelle, who has special powers to turn things to ice, but she cannot control them. She hides away from the world, including her sister Anna, who she does not want to hurt. When Elsa’s powers threaten to destroy Arendelle, she flees and Anna follows her to bring her back. With a love story along the way, a snowman Olaf, some great fun trolls and a reindeer for sidekicks, it is lots of fun.

For my girls, I love the message that the true love that saves them in the end in the love of sisters, not the love of a man. This is a quite a change from your average Disney princess movie. I also love that when Anna becomes engaged to Hans after one day, everyone thinks she is crazy and keeps telling her so.

It has a great soundtrack, which my daughters sing to each other most of the day, after having decided to it was worth spending their money to download their favourite songs. I personally think Disney hasn’t produced a soundtrack this good since The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast.

So, if you want some light, fun kids or adult viewing, you might like these ones.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Serving Without Sinking

Serving without Sinking, John Hindley

Here is another offering by The Good Book Company, in the same series as Compared to Her.

John Hindley faces head on the issue many committed Christians feel - we should serve, we are called to serve, we want to serve, and yet sometimes it is very hard work, be it through tiredness, busyness, or being unappreciated and unacknowledged.

He challenges us to see that many of the reasons we serve as Christians are actually flawed. They can come from a wrong view of God and Jesus - I serve to be good enough, I serve to get something, or I serve to pay Him back. We can also have a wrong view of people so we serve to impress or belong; or we can have wrong view of ourselves so perhaps we serve because we think Jesus needs us, or in fact we don’t really need Jesus. All of these possibilities are fleshed out well with good examples and explanation, and I could honestly see myself in all of them at various times.

He ends this section with the challenge that if we see these reasons operating strongly in us and we feel like our serving is sinking us, we should consider stopping some of our service:
“If you’ve sat reading and the thought keeps coming: I know this is me. But I can’t stop for a while to sort my heart out. I’m the only cleaner. I’m the one who lives close enough to open up. I’m the pastor. then remember: it is better to quit your job than lose your Lord.” (p44)
Hindley then take us back to Christ and our relationship with him. Through a series of chapters, he leads us to see that we are served by Christ, we are friends with him, we are his bride and we are his true sons; and even now Christ is still serving us. Through all of this, we can see that serving follows love and Christ is indeed our first love, and so serving Him brings joy.

The strength of these little books seems to be in identifying the issues. Like Compared to Her, I found the last few chapters on how we find our true value in Christ a little light on and would have liked to see them fleshed out a little further. However these books are designed to be short and easily readable, and so that is really only a comment from someone who always likes to read in more detail!

As service is an area in which many Christians are indeed serving for the wrong reasons and sinking in the process, this would be a great ‘reset’ for both our motivations and our desire to serve Christ fully.