Month: April 2018

REVIEW: “A Quiet Place” is a smart monster flick with a loud pro-life message

Lee Abbott and his family live in the quiet countryside amidst rolling hills, endless cornfields and big, blue skies.

But if you look beyond this postcard-like scene, you’ll soon discover that all is not normal. No one in Lee’s family – not his wife Evelyn, his daughter Regan or his son Marcus – talk. They use sign language, even though only one of them – Regan – is deaf. They also take extra precaution not to make sounds. This means they don’t slam doors or play music or stomp feet, preferring to tiptoe around the house so not even a creak is heard.

There’s a reason for this madness. Years ago, strange creatures wiped out most of the population, leaving only a few smart and savvy people – like the Abbotts – alive. These creatures hunt not with their eyes (which they don’t have) but with their ears, meaning that a simple drop of a fork or the cry of a child could prove fatal.  

It’s like a deadly game of “quiet mouse,” and at least three of the creatures reside in Lee’s region.

And now Evelyn is now pregnant. Which leads to the obvious question: How is a woman to give birth and then raise a needy, crying baby in such an environment?

It’s all part of A Quiet Place (PG-13), which is now in theaters and stars John Krasinski (The Office, 13 Hours) as Lee, Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, The Adjustment Bureau) as Evelyn, Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck) as Regan, and Noah Jupe (Wonder) as Marcus.

The film is scary, yes, but also smart, with plenty of intrigue and suspense yet with very little of the “grotesque” element seen in other modern-day thriller/horror movies. In other words, it’s a monster movie the way monster movies once were made. It’s also squeaky clean in the language and sexuality realms.        

The best part of A Quiet Place, though, involves its thought-provoking lessons. Among these are a pro-life message that is so loud (pardon the pun) that it’s hard to miss.    

Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!


Moderate. It’s a thriller, so be prepared to be scared. Still, it contains less violence and ugly images than many superhero films. We see a glimpse of the monster snatching at least three people. (It happens quick, though.) We also see a dead body. Someone steps on a nail, and we see blood. In the film’s final scenes, we see the monster up close.


Minimal. The husband and wife dance. We see the mom giving birth, but we never see her nude. (Although we see plenty of blood.)

Coarse Language


Other Positive Elements

The family joins hands before a meal and prays silently.

The father and mother will do anything to protect their children. The father works day after day to try and make his daughter a hearing aid. The brother and sister, too, seem to care deeply for one another.

Other Stuff You Might Want To Know

A child dies in the film.

Also, if you’re the type of moviegoer who doesn’t like to crunch your popcorn when the theater is quiet, then you may want to skip the concession stand. This movie has lots of quiet moments. 

Life Lessons

When tragedy strikes, do you blame others? Do you live life with regret? Or do you move on?

In the movie’s opening scenes, a member of the family is killed by the monster as the family walks through the woods. The child had been playing with a noisy toy. For the rest of the film, the mom blames herself for the death, saying she should have been carrying the child. Likewise, Regan blames herself, because she had handed the child the batteries. The lessons they learn are lessons all of us could learn.         

The film also gives us lessons on self-sacrifice and expressing love for your child.


Imagine living among creatures that attack and kill if you made any noise. Now imagine a family member – or yourself – getting pregnant. What would you do? No doubt, many modern-day families would have found a way to perform an abortion, knowing that a baby – and the loud noises it brings — could result in the entire family dying. But Hollywood didn’t give us that story. Instead, it told us about a father and mother who had a plan to keep the baby alive once it was born – even if the birth meant they might die, too. Maybe Hollywood didn’t intend for it to be a pro-life story, but it ended up that way.

What Works

Thrillers are always scarier when we see less of the monster, not more. Kudos to the filmmakers for getting this element right. 

What Doesn’t

I’m always too analytical in thrillers: Couldn’t bombs and military planes have killed the monsters? After all, the monsters don’t fly.

Discussion Questions

  1. Did the parents make the right choice? What would you have done?
  2. Why did the father wait so long to tell his daughter he loved her?
  3. What can the movie teach us about regret? About moving on with life? What is the secret to not living in the past?
  4. Did you like how the movie ended? Why or why not?

Entertainment rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

A Quiet Place is rated PG-13 for terror and some bloody images.

African-American scholarships double to 20

FORT WORTH—In anticipation of doubling the number of scholarships offered to African-American students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, trustees there approved the president’s recommendation to name them in honor of two alumni, Eugene Florence and Shadrach Meshach (S.M.) Lockridge.

“We started last year making 10 of our scholarships directly available to African-Americans and this year we are adding 10 more,” SWBTS President Paige Patterson announced during the April 10-11 trustee meeting at the campus.

At the age of 100, Florence was awarded a master of divinity degree in 2004 for coursework he had completed in 1951. At that time, during the period of segregation, the seminary did not offer a master’s degree program but instead had night classes available for blacks to earn a diploma. He preached in chapel in 2006—at 102 years old. Over the course of 70 years, Florence pastored four churches in Texas.

Lockridge, a Texas native who began his ministry in Ennis, pastored Calvary Baptist Church in San Diego for 41 years and was best known for his message “That’s My King,” which features a six-and-a-half-minute description of Jesus Christ that has been played in thousands of churches over the decades.

Trustees also approved Patterson’s recommendation to move the J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies in Houston to Sagemont Baptist Church, at the church’s invitation. The move will provide more accessible facilities. The board authorized the school to sell the current Broadway campus.

A proposed budget of $35,947,605 was approved for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, down from the previous year’s $36,833,962 figure.

Faculty promotions were approved for Mike Wilkinson from assistant professor of theology to professor of theology; John Yeo from assistant professor of Old Testament to associate professor of Old Testament; Matthew McKellar from associate professor of preaching to professor of preaching; and Terri Stovall from associate professor of women’s ministries to professor of women’s ministries.

Michael Crisp was approved to occupy the Edgar “Preacher” Hallock Chair of Baptist Student Work.

Trustees also approved graduates for spring and summer commencement exercises, a new social media policy and a reduction in the baccalaureate of humanities and biblical studies degree from 129 to 125 hours.

Kevin Ueckert, pastor of First Baptist Church of Georgetown, was re-elected chairman. Connie Hancock, pastor of Springboro Baptist Church of Springboro, Ohio, was elected vice-chairman and Philip Levant, pastor of Iglesia Bautista La Vid of Hurst, was elected secretary. All officers were elected by acclamation.

Lead Camp grows servant Leaders

LIVINGSTON Organizers say there’s nothing like Lead Camp anywhere in the nation.

It’s a week-long, three-track, practical-skills-plus-discipleship camp that equips teenagers to return to their church and immediately become involved in the leadership of the church.

“It’s really changed my life because it helped me realize worship is a lot more than just standing in front of people and singing or playing guitar,” said Jacob Cates of First Baptist Church of Porter, a high school senior who has been to Lead Camp each of the last five years. “It’s leading people to the throne room of God, to worship him.”

Worship is one track; technology—sound, lighting, video, computers—is another; and ministry leadership is another. This year the camp is to take place July 9-13 at Lake Tomahawk Christian Retreat Center in East Texas.

“Lead Camp has helped me see the importance of being a biblical leader in everything I do,” Cates said.

Lead Camp is for all teens, said Jeremy Rogers, pastor of Arlington Park Baptist Church in Arlington and co-director of the camp. He has taken youth or been a leader at the camp for at least a dozen years.

Of the seven teens Rogers took when he was a student pastor in 2007, two have now graduated from seminary and are serving in the pastorate; two married ministers; “and all the rest are very active in their church as elders or lay leaders,” Rogers said.

Lead Camp has a disciple-making, mentor-based structure. It starts with a teaching time that “sets the tone for the whole day and the whole camp,” Rogers said. “A full-blown, camp-wide worship service ends the day.”

In between, students go with either the worship, technology or leadership tracks, which might be children’s ministry, youth ministry, or pastoral ministry. Afternoons also include recreation time: water activities on Lake Tomahawk, a climbing wall, sand volleyball, two 1,000-foot zip lines, and more.

“It was probably the neatest thing I’ve ever done,” said Brock James of Calvary Baptist Church in Nacogdoches; he went to Lead Camp last year for the first time. “The second to the last night, [the speaker] challenged us about our testimony and made us think about what we believed in. Then people were coming up to you that you’ve only met once, willing to talk to you about their life, just connecting through Jesus. It was a powerful night.”

James chose the leadership track, where apologetics and writing personal testimonies were main elements, and where he learned “how to lead, where you should lead, and what’s your job as a leader.”

Since returning home from Lead Camp last July, James has started two Bible studies: one at church for teens, and one at school.

Lead Camp is a skills-building camp rather than a basic instruction camp, explained Curtis James, camp director, minister of music at Calvary Nacogdoches, and Brock James’ dad. The worship track is designed to provide the tools and training necessary for students with band/praise team experience to plan and lead worship and improve instrumental and worship leadership abilities.

The worship technology track will have somewhat-experienced students leaving camp with hands-on knowledge of how to better use sound, lighting, video projection and computer equipment in their church. 

The leadership track is designed to teach Christian leadership principles, apologetics, personal discipleship, evangelism and developing a Christian world view.

Lead Camp is for all ninth- through twelfth-grade students, Rogers said. “We have students come who have never done leadership. In the end, as Christians we’re all called to lead through our service in the church.”

Experienced practitioners lead each track, and students put the principles they’re learning into practice each night in the evening worship service. They also fan out to area churches to practice new skills during midweek services.

Cost for Lead Camp: $199/camper. 

“I’ve never found another camp able to do what we do,” James said. “We want students to engage with someone who is doing the ministry already, so they can apply it in their own church.

“It’s about teaching concepts and giving the students tools to serve in their own churches,” James continued. “What makes the camp really effective is the quality of the leaders.”

Ken Lasater, minister of music at First Baptist Church in Bowie, started Lead Camp in 2003, when he was on staff with the SBTC.

“Most leadership camps invest in equipping the students to accomplish and achieve more in their personal life,” Lasater told the TEXAN. “I was interested in equipping them to strengthen the ministries of their church.”

Student pastors are urged to bring their high school students to Lead Camp. 

“I want to make sure student pastors understand the benefit of sending their students and coming with their students,” Rogers said. “The student pastor actually is training his/her own leadership team by bringing them here.” 

REVIEW: “The Miracle Season” a family-friendly film that fills a box-office void

Caroline is an energetic, optimistic and outgoing teenager who lights up every room and – as her best friend Kelley says – turns “absolutely anything into an adventure.”

She’s also captain of the West High School volleyball team, which won the hearts of the townspeople last season by winning the Iowa state championship. They’re one of the favorites this year, too.

Then tragedy strikes.

Just days into the season Caroline is killed in an accident, devastating not only her team and classmates but also the city that had been inspired by her bubbly personality. Some 4,000 people attend her funeral.

How long will it take for this community to recover from such a devastating event?

The Miracle Season (PG) opens this weekend, recounting the true story about an Iowa high school team that recovered from the death of a star player – Caroline “Line” Found — to compete for another state title. Instead of winning one “for Line,” they drew inspiration from her optimism to “live like Line.”

It stars Helen Hunt (Twister, Mad About You) as Coach Kathy Bresnahan, Danika Yarosh (Jack Reacher: Never Go Back) as Caroline “Line” Found, Erin Moriarty (Jessica Jones) as Caroline’s friend Kelley, and William Hurt (Captain America: Civil War) as Caroline’s father, Ernie.

The Miracle Season surprised me. Consider: How many successful films have been made about high school volleyball? But it has a solid storyline and a nice message, and even a few biblical lessons, too.

It also fills a void at the box office: films spotlighting female sports. Most movies in this category (A League of Their Own, Million Dollar Baby) involve sports that females on the high school and college level don’t play.

Let’s examine the details.

Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!


Minimal. Police deliver the news of Caroline’s death – she died in a moped crash — to her father. (We don’t see the crash.) We also learn of another person’s death. We see Caroline’s funeral. 


Minimal. We hear a joke about a married man “getting lucky” with his wife. A husband and wife kiss. We hear discussion of two teens kissing. Later, we see teens kissing twice.

Coarse Language

None/minimal. OMG 4, butt 2, suck 2, pi—ed 1.

Other Positive Elements

Caroline’s father develops a father-daughter type relationship with Kelley, who replaces Caroline as captain. It’s touching to watch.

Some of Caroline’s opponents from other teams attend her funeral.   

Life Lessons

Perhaps to some moviegoers, The Miracle Season will seem hokey or trite: a community comes together by rallying around a volleyball team. But such an opinion overlooks the significance that sports can play in teaching us to overcoming adversity and tragedy. In fact, sports can teach us multiple lessons about life.

The primary lesson from the film, though, isn’t about adversity. It’s about living life with joy. In the real world, Caroline Found was a Christian whose faith gave her the hope to shine for Jesus. She was involved in Young Life. People wanted to be around her. At the movie’s end, West High fans sported “Live Like Line” t-shirts – a reference to her contagious view of life.  


Few of us ever will face the tragedy that Ernie Found faced, and the movie shows him struggling with doubt. “God hasn’t exactly showed up for me lately,” he says at one point. But by movie’s end – thanks in part to assistance from a Christian friend — Found draws strength from his faith: “I know how blessed I am.”

Scripture tells us that Jesus can “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). The Gospels even depict Jesus as grieving and weeping (John 11:35).  

We don’t know why Caroline Found was killed, but we can see the good that came out of that tragedy (Romans 8:28). Such verses may not bring instant healing, but over time, they can help give us a glimpse of God’s tapestry.

What Works

Few of us know the intricacies of volleyball strategy, but the film does a nice job explaining what we’re watching on-screen. The volleyball action is believable, too. Finally, the father-daughter type relationship between Ernie Found and Kelley brought tears to my eyes.     

What Doesn’t Work

Although the volleyball action is believable, the crowd shots – and the PA announcer – are not. But few sports films get this element right. (If you want to watch one that does it right, check out Woodlawn.)

Discussion Questions

  1. What good came out of Caroline’s death? Should that help bring comfort to the family?
  2. Why was Caroline filled with joy? Why aren’t we living like that?
  3. What can we learn about overcoming tragedy and adversity from the story of West High?

Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

The Miracle Season is rated PG for some thematic elements

REVIEW: “Chappaquiddick” is a gripping tale with a message for all of us

It’s not easy being the younger brother of a former president. Or the younger brother of the former attorney general. Or the son of a former Roosevelt administration official.

For Edward “Ted” Kennedy, though, it’s just part of life in 1969 America. Expectations always have been high, and with his two older brothers now dead following assassinations, the Kennedy mantle has been passed to him.

“What’s it like walking in that shadow?” a reporter asks.

The sky is the limit for this youngest Kennedy, who already has been elected to the U.S. Senate and is now majority whip. Friends and big-money donors even are encouraging him to run for president in 1972.

But all that changes one night in July 1969 – the very night Neil Armstrong and Apollo 11 are heading to the moon. After hosting a party on Chappaquiddick Island for some friends, Kennedy leaves the party with Mary Jo Kopechne, a single woman who had worked on his brother Robert’s presidential campaign. Minutes later, they are speeding down a dirt down, and within seconds, he has driven off a bridge and into the water. Kopechne is killed and Kennedy survives, and his legacy is forever tied to the incident.

The film Chappaquiddick (PG-13) opens this weekend, telling the story of what has become the most-investigated car crash in U.S. history. It stars Jason Clarke (Everest) as Kennedy, Kate Mara (Captive, Fantastic Four) as Kopechne, and comedian and actor Jim Gaffigan as Paul Markham.  

Director John Curran and writers Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan said their goal was to make a movie based solely on the facts and one that doesn’t promote conspiracy theories. Perhaps they accomplished that – I’ll let historians debate the details – but I do know they weaved an engrossing story that left me outraged at Kennedy while also feeling empathy for him. The movie shows Kennedy and his father’s legal team working to cover up the facts. It also shows Kennedy working futilely to live up to his father’s enormous expectations as the latter tells him: “You won’t ever be great.”

Here are the details:

Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!


Minimal. We see Kennedy drive off the bridge, and then divers trying to get the body. We also see officials examine Kopechne’s clothed body. In flashbacks and re-creations, we see Kopechne fight to get out of the car.  


Minimal. We see two women in one-piece swimsuits on a beach. Men strip down to their underwear to try and save Kopechne.

Coarse Language

Moderate. At least 28 coarse words: h-ll 7, s—t 5, OMG 3, d—n 3, a—2, misuse of “Christ” 2, misuse of “Jesus” 2, f-word 2, SOB 2.

Other Stuff You Might Want To Know

I’m a stickler for historical accuracy. This means during any history-based film, I’m asking, “Did that really happen?” I asked that a lot during Chappaquiddick – which isn’t surprising with a story surrounded by conspiracy theories. Questioning the narrative in such a film isn’t a bad thing. It can drive us back to the history books, forcing us to search for the facts.

Life Lessons

Kennedy is a complicated character in Chappaquiddick. At first, he tries to cover up what happened. Then he changes his mind, telling his dad he’s going to do the right thing. Then he changes it back. And then he changes it again. Finally, he changes it again. It’s a modern-day parable with a tragic ending, and it includes life lessons on telling the truth, covering up the facts and deceiving others. What would each of us have done? After all, isn’t denial often our first reaction when caught in sin?

For parents, there’s also a lesson to be learned about placing expectations on children. Kennedy’s ill father is cruel to him throughout the film. It’s difficult to watch.   

Finally, let’s not overlook the compromising situation in which Kennedy put himself. He was a married man with children, partying and then in the car with a single woman.  


Scripture warns us, “You may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). If we’re honest, most of us can list an example from our own lives where that happened. Thankfully, though, our personal-and-embarrassing moments aren’t portrayed on the big screen as they are in Chappaquiddick.

Additionally, even the sins we think we have escaped in this world are known by an omniscient, omnipresent God, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). One day, all of us will answer for our sinful deeds.  

What I Liked

Clarke is great as Kennedy, masterfully copying the mannerisms, the accent and the quirks. The screenplay, too, is well-written. It’s not easy making a movie when everyone knows how it will end. But in Chappaquiddick, I never lost interest. It is well-produced. Also, hats off to the filmmakers for staying away from a possible Kennedy-Kopechne love story. We don’t even see them kiss. Kennedy’s reaction to his father’s harmful words is enjoyable, too.   

What I Didn’t Like

The strong language.

Discussion Questions

  1. In America, are you more likely to get away with a crime if you are wealthy?
  2. Should Kennedy’s legacy have been tarred because of Chappaquiddick? If he had told the truth, would it/should it have made a difference?
  3. Do our sins always find us out (Numbers 32:23)?
  4. Did the expectations that his father placed on him change your attitude about Kennedy? 

Chappaquiddick is rated PG-13 for thematic material, disturbing images, some strong language, and historical smoking.

Entertainment rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

M3 Week focuses on evangelism, transforming a Lakeland teenager”s life

LEWISVILLE–“Zandal is very passionate about the gospel and about leadership,” said Cody Landers, student pastor at Lakeland Baptist Church describing one of his students who experienced a radical life change last summer at the M3 Week Camp of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

M3 Week focuses on evangelism: challenging all students to walk closely with Christ, live evangelistically in their communities, and live missionally in the world.  Zandal is an example of how God has used M3 Week to a ignite passion for Christ that makes a difference.

Throughout M3 Week, students build relationships with their own group by doing everything together. Each activity of M3 facilitates building a family unit. 

“At M3 you stay with your youth group rather than divide by ages, which is unique compared to a lot of camps,” Landers said. Because of the diverse economic and ethnic backgrounds of the Lakeland student group, he believes this togetherness helps his group overcome differences and develop a sense of family.

Breakout sessions provide opportunities for students to dive into relevant and engaging topics such as apologetics, how to evangelize, and dealing with struggles and temptations they face regularly, such as pornography. Landers stated, “I’ve had more kids confess personal sin in their lives because of those breakout sessions.”

Landers said typical summer camp costs of $400 to $500 are often prohibitive for students. Through Cooperative Program giving, camp fees are minimized, which helps get Lakeland Baptist students to camp, and allows the church to provide scholarships for students in financial need.  “This year we will scholarship about 25 students.” Landers said.

“Our student ministry always benefits from camp—especially M3.  I’ve never walked away from M3 thinking it was a waste of time. After camp they should be better leaders, more engaged with Christ, and have closer relationships,” said Landers. 

M3 2017 was Zandal’s first experience attending a church camp. Landers remembers observing him during breakout sessions and services, and witnessing his heart transformation.  “There was a point when he began talking to me about some things going on in his life, and how he wanted to get those things right with Christ.”  

At the end of the week, Zandal surrendered to a call to ministry, and since then has consistently demonstrated his commitment.

“He is winning people in the community to Christ.  He’s even going after some older people in our community trying to get them involved in the church [which has] truly been impactful on our church and community,” said Landers in a video produced for the SBTC last fall that can be seen at

Landers recently told the TEXAN how God has continued working in Zandal’s life. “It’s great just watching him give his testimony and engage with people—he goes to WalMart and different places and shares the gospel and invites them to come to Lakeland. Zandal has really gown a lot.”

For more information about M3 Week go to or call Garrett Wagoner at 877-753-SBTC. Space is still available for the Glorieta M3 camp.