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Monday
Apr062015

A Hollywood Revival?

For a number of years I have equated the cities of Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles (Hollywood) with the God-given differences between men and women.

Here's what I mean.

Men, in general, have more authority than women due to their masculinity and strength. Women, in general, have more influence than men due to their sensitivity and intuition.

In a marriage, this is a wonderful balance. Men usually are more successful at discipline (authority) but women have the greater power in family nurture (influence). 

The analogy with America's two great cities is this: Washington, D.C. is the seat of power and authority in the American nation (law and government). It is the "male" capital of America.  Los Angeles is the city of influence--the cultural trend-setter, especially through the power of Hollywood. It is the "female" capital of America.

Right now Washington, D.C. is struggling--our government seems to be broken. But Hollywood is surging with a new-found strength.

A Hollywood revival?

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus. What happened on these truly historic days two thousand years ago changed the course of history and the cosmos.

It also changed many of our individual lives.

On Good Friday, my wife and I watched the national premiere of Bill O'Reilly's best-selling book now turned television movie-- Killing Jesus. It was an accurate historical portrayal of Jesus' last days and the religious and political forces that led to his death. It was sponsored by the National Geographic Channel. National Geographic magazine is one of the atheist bastions in America.

But, on Good Friday, Hollywood tamed the atheists and gave us Jesus.

Then on Sunday evening, our family joined with millions of others across the nation in watching the television preview of A.D.--The Bible Continuesa TV mini-series produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey--the self-acclaimed "noisiest Christians" in Tinseltown. 

If you saw it, I'm sure that you agree that it is one of the best biblical series that has ever been made. It has a great, true-to-the-Bible script, it is very well casted, and it was shot on location in Morocco with a full scale replica of the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 33.

We were absolutely thrilled with it's beauty and message. It's being shown on NBC for three months--every Sunday night.  Scores of millions of people will tune in and learn a great deal about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and how His Church changed the world for good.

I encourage you to forward this blog to many of your friends, asking them to get behind this new series and be a part of seeing it touch the lives of others. 

Quite a few people have rightly viewed Hollywood as a negative influence in our culture. Yeah, there's some good sprinkled in with the overall bad. But isn't Hollywood, overall, one of the main societal proponents of easy divorce, cheap sex, un-restrained violence, sexual perversion, impiety, and many things evil in our world today?

Hollywood has been a propaganda trumpet for anti-God values for most of my lifetime. 

It hasn't always been that way.

For example, on Easter Sunday, our extended family watched a DVD of Tennessee Ernie Ford (most of it shot in the 50s and 60's). Ernest Jennings Ford was a committed Christian and when he was asked to host the Ford Theater, he demanded that every program finish with the singing of a hymn. At first, the network balked, but he stood his ground.

That hymn sing soon became the greatest attraction to the program as millions tuned in to identify with Ernie's faith, love for God and people, biblical morality, and Christian service. 

It was a delight to watch a re-cap of all those hymns last Sunday. The songs were so pure, uplifting, great lyrics, God-centered, and other-focused compared to much of the trash we watch and hear today.

We've come a long way, baby.

But, many people have been praying for Hollywood and some have begun using their gifts and talents there. For years we've been asking God to bring people to Christ and to fill the screens of the world with good story-telling with moral values and uplifting themes once again. In fact, the YWAM Prayer Diary has encouraged us for decades to pray for those in the Media and the Arts. 

Two years ago, I joined with the National Prayer Committee in Hollywood and met a number of key players in the industry. We heard about a "God-touch" on a number of studio sets, talked to folks who are leading Bible studies and prayer meetings in various parts of Hollywood, and also previewed some films.

Our weekend ended with a prayer walk along Hollywood Boulevard where we continued to pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all of those involved in this incredible influential area of 21st century society. 

Our prayers are being answered.  

According to my friend Ted Baehr, who has faithfully produced Movieguide for nearly a quarter century, there has been a major shift in Hollywood during the past year. He says that from 1991 to 2014 the percentage of movies with at least some Christian redemptive content has increased from about ten percent to over sixty percent.

In fact, in 2014, nine out of the top ten movies contained strong or very strong Christian content, and/or biblical and moral worldviews. They included Captain America, Frozen and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The moral content movies averaged $67 million at the box office compared to $20 million for movies without a strong Christian worldview. 

These answers to prayer and obvious blessing on moral-based story-telling have fueled a revival of good films: Do You Believe? (March--a follow-up to God is Not Dead) John Hagee's Four Blood Moons (March),  Hillsong: Let Hope Arise (April), David and Goliath (April), Mary, with Ben Kingsley and Julia Ormond (April), War Room (August), Bill O'Reilly's Killing Jesus (April), Captive (September), 90 Minutes in Heaven (October), Polycarp (Fall 2015), Anne Rice's Christ the Lord: Our of Egypt (March 2016) and a redone Ben Hur (2016). 

But the most impacting may be Burnett and Downey's A.D.--The Bible Continues, which runs for the next eleven weeks on Sunday nights on NBC. For the first time, a major production is being made of the book of Acts and the miraculous beginnings of the Early Church.

Roma Downey, former TV star of Touched By An Angel, says that "the star of A.D. is the Holy Spirit." It powerfully portrays the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost where Peter is seen in next week's episode throwing open the doors of the darkened upper room while the light of God pours into Jerusalem. Peter glows with a supernatural energy and turns to the room filled with disciples and declares, "Now we can leave this place. Now we spread the Word!" 

Korie Robertson, a star in A&E's show Duck Dynasty says, "I've been talking to people in the industry who are telling us how their attitudes have changed toward Christianity over the last few years. It's just unbelievable. It's definitely God at work. Robertson concludes, "We better take advantage of this opportunity to spread the Gospel via the world's most important medium. I think it's time for us to jump in and do what we're called to do--spread His Word!" 

Just as Downey and Burnett, the producers of A.D.--The Bible Continues, are doing.

Roma Downey grew up Catholic in Northern Ireland and later came to the US where she achieved stardom through the Touched By An Angel television series which showed the Hollywood elite that Americans were hungry for spiritual truth.

Mark Burnett was raised in England, even serving in the British equivalent of the Navy Seals. He came to Los Angeles as a young man seeking fame and fortune and did everything imaginable to mark a name for himself--even serving as a nanny in Malibu. Through hard work and tireless faith he ascended the ladder of the movie industry becoming a producer of such reality shows as Survivor, Shark Tank, and The Apprentice.

After both of their marriages failed, Downey and Burnett married, brought their children into a blended family, renewed their faith in God, and set out to be a catalyst for a Hollywood biblical revival. 

Their first hit was The Bible series which Burnett said in 2014 "will be seen in every country of the world. More people will see this series than everything we've made together--combined. Billions of people will see this series."

Now they've produced A.D.--The Bible Continues. Downey says "What we have here is the potential to reach an even bigger audience. Following the first ten chapters of Acts, we explore the aftermath of Christ's death and its impact on the disciples and the political and religious leaders of the era, an impact that would completely change the world."

Yes it did. 

To sum up, though Washington, D.C. may be sinking (and let's believe God for revival there also), Hollywood seems to be rising on the tide of biblically-based, moral films. I don't care what the motives are for making them--faith, money, or peer pressure.

Jesus is being lifted up.

Let's do all we can to to get behind this Hollywood awakening. Let's increase our prayers. Let's invite friends and neighbors to watch these great stories over coming days and years.

The lady of the nation is rising in godly influence. 

Let's support a Hollywood revival.

 

 

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