Category: I Recommend

God’s Heart Recommends: The Chosen (TV Series)

Jonathan David Faulkner

 

Let me start by saying that I rarely make recommendations of Christian Film Media. We either make the mistake of being extremely reductionistic and legalistic or we give easy and pat answers to extremely complex issues. I am even more hesitant to recommend Christian film Media that depicts or dramatizes the life of Christ. In them we often make Christ to be some otherworldly sage who quotes scripture and only upsets people when, and if, he cleans out the temple. We end up with a curated and incomplete picture of Christ as He was, as Scripture describes Him as. Jesus becomes either a flower-child Hippie (as in 2014’s “Son of God”) or an unreal, aphoristic shadow of who He really was. Rarely do we find, in Christian Media, a depiction of Jesus which accurately portrays him as both human and divine. Of course, one will never see perfection, that is impossible, so long as fallen and depraved human beings are involved. But we may have finally gotten as close as we are able in Dallas Jenkins “The Chosen.”

First off, let me comment on the format this is being released on, because that is where the uniqueness starts. The Chosen cannot be found on traditional film outlets. You are not going to find this on Amazon Video, Netflix or Hulu. Instead, you have to download a specific App that is available through almost every App Store (though it is not available through the Mircosoft or Kindle Stores) and allows you to, for free, stream to any external device on your TV or computer. My wife and I have been projecting it from my phone to our FireTVHD Stick with little difficulty. All you have to do is be on the same network as the device you are streaming it to. The other unique part of the system of delivery is that every episode is free, however you are asked to “Pray it Forward” by providing a certain number of episodes for free to someone else. You can even see who has paid for your episode as you watch it. You are not required to Pay it Forward, but I highly recommend it. This is how they are paying for their planned 7 or 8 seasons.

After you download the App and start watching episode 1 you are thrown into the world of Ancient Israel as you have likely never seen it. It is incredibly obvious that Jenkins and his production staff have done their research and maybe even consulted an N.T Wright or Everrett Furgason. The Cultural backdrop to the Bible comes to life in full HD living color. Right away you are introduced not to Jesus, but Mary Magdalene or Lilleth who is still Demon-Possessed. Long before you ever meet Jesus you are introduced to Matthew, Peter, Andrew, James, John and the Pharisee Nicodemus. You get to learn about their back stories, please note that we know little abut their lives before Christ, so creative license is taken, but even this creative license is believable given what we know of their characters in the Gospel, Peter is particularly impulsive. The first time you meet Jesus is in the last two minutes of the first episode where He comes to Mary in the Judean equivalent of a Bar where she is preparing to drink herself into a stupor. The episode ends with her healing, but not by Jesus doing anything dramatic, he calls her by name, and she runs to him crying. The next time we see her, in episode two, she is healed and preparing a Shabot Supper. Immediately you get the sense that Jesus, played by Jonathan Roumie, is incredibly safe and incredibly powerful. He is obviously human, but He is also obviously divine. He is an average person going where average people go, but He is also God. Roumie has done a masterful job of combining these two aspects of Jesus life in a way it has never been done before.

The final aspect I want to mention (I could write a book, but this is a recommendation), is the attention to cultural detail and background they have taken in producing this. You get the sense that you are watching ancient Judean’s under the occupation of Rome. The actors look and sound as they would have looked and sounded in the ancient world. Brown skinned middle eastern men and women who dress and act like ancient Brown skinned Middle Easterners. One is surprised to find this was produced in the United States since it denies our normal tendency to Westernize Jesus and His Disciples. This is likely what will make this show most effective as an evangelistic and discipleship tool, that it will be accessible to everyone because it strives to be an accurate representation of the times and the people involved in the original Gospel stories.

One final note and this is more a warning to fans than a concern about the production itself. I have seen some concerning comments about how this show has brought people closer to God than they have ever been. That is good, but please do not let this show replace your daily reading of the scriptures it is based upon. Please remember that this should point you to the Jesus of the Bible, not the Jesus of The Chosen. This should also encourage you to be part of the Jesus Community from which it came, scripture should always bring you into the communion of the Saints on this Earth. Pastors, this is an effective discipleship and evangelistic tool, let us use it as such, to draw people to Christ, but also to remind people that Christ’s People still gather today.

So I give THE CHOSEN a 9 out of 10 HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Check it out today!

Download the App From the Google Play Store Here: 

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid Faulkner is a Graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary holding Masters in Divinity and Church History, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry. He lives with his wife Rachel and daughter Erin in Buffalo Center Iowa and seeks to be a part of the project of reconciliation in the local and international church. He is currently serving as the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Buffalo Center.

Book Recommendation: Oneness Embraced by Rev. Tony Evans

In my seminary and pastoral careers I have been asked to read many books, required to read many books. This book, which I had originally bought as summer reading, appeared on a requirement list for my Summer III course Preaching Reconciliation. This was then, the first book I read for the class.

Here Evans’ lays out a path towards and vision for Reconciliation and oneness in the Church that embraces oneness and unity without destroying the many cultures that make up Christianity. This book is filled with practical wisdom, deep theological insight and beautiful examples of Oneness, reconciliation and unity. Evans has woven together a road map along the lines of Brenda Salter McNeil and others and his voice is one we need to listen to today.

Album Review: Demon Hunter – Ovtlive (Outlive)

By Jonathan Faulkner  

4 out of 5 stars

In the ever changing world of music 2000 seems like forever ago. As Spoken said in their recent Kickstarter Campaign: “Many of the bands we used to tour with are no longer together,” A sentiment I’m sure Ryan Clark of Demon Hunter shares as the bands nearly 20 year career has outlasted a good number of their cohorts. This is especially impressive in a general like Metal where some bands are lucky to have the same lead singer for 10 years, let alone nearly 20. The genre also boasts a number of bands that never really grew up or came into their own. Yeah, we all love the raw sound of certain groups like Underoath, and some bands do strive to keep that raw sound and do become mainstays. But the bands that are often remembered longest craft and hone their sound, the ones that really outlive all the others are the ones who mature in both songwriting and in material.

Demon Hunter’s latest outing Outlive moves beyond the growing pains of Extremist and shows the band at its best since it reached its height with True Defiance 2012. Yes, it is Demon Hunter as we know them, they have incorporated many elements that have made the band one of the most popular names in metal since their 2002 self-titled release. The album has its share of raw, metal driven rockers that will take the listener back to previous albums. At the same time there is a maturity and branching out that is almost refreshing. One could say this is not a Demon Hunter Album, it is something much, much more, and potentially surpassing all that has gone before.

The album opens with another intro-track similar, down to the opening instrumentation and key to “Death” from their previous album, but “Trying Times” does more than just introduce a topic that will be loosely referenced throughout the album, it sets the theme and the tone for the rest of the album. Suffering from both our own faults and suffering because of the pain of life itself. Life can be a trying ordeal and the band is trying to acknowledge that and even offer a little bit of hope. Musically “Trying Times” won’t turn any heads, it may actually inspire a bit of trepidation and discourage you to listen to the rest of the album. But that which makes it weak makes it strong as the elements from Ryan Clark’s Side Project NYVES serve the purpose of building into a Classic Demon Hunter piece “Jesus Wept” Like the slow building of classic television drama that suddenly explodes into high action. The setup almost pulls the listener into a false sense of security.

If “Trying Times” is the set up then “Jesus Wept” and the first single “Cold Winter Sun” are the payoff.  The former will catch the attention of both new and old fans and set the bar for the entire album. What was missing on most of Extremist are back for this song which will also remind fans of former masterpieces such as “Someone to Hate” (True Defiance) and “The World is A Thorn” (The world is a thorn). Not only does the track draw on former Demon Hunter Themes musically it also returns to the theme of personal repentance that has long been a central theme of the bands works. (“Eyes wide, see red, I’m why, bloodshed, eyes, wide, so I don’t forget, I’m why, I’m why Jesus wept.”). The latter will appeal to fans of the newer music, reminiscent of “Artificial Light” and “Collapsing” but with a great amount of musical maturity and high guitar rifts than even Artificial Light. The song deals with the difference between serving self and serving the kingdom (“We give way to sorrow, when the self is all we build…. we are the kingdom come, we are the come undone”). All three tracks serve as a 1-2-3 punch to hook you in and get you to listen to the rest of the album, and it’s worth the listen.

In true Demon Hunter style after the quick jump out of the gate the band appropriately slows things down with a beautifully written and wonderfully executed “Died in My Sleep” Though the track does not feel like a traditional Ballad it has ballad like qualities, culminating a chorus that not only shows that the usually hard charging Clark can bring something new to the table vocally, even after all these years. The song almost marries the usual Demon Hunter rifts with the Ballad work that has longed defined them, bringing in more of a rock feel such as that found in “Heart of a Graveyard” from their previous record. If you are wanting for a true, Demon Hunter, Ballad then you will not be disappointed. “Raining Down” follows the outline for a traditional Ballad and is also a standout track for its message. Following the idea that though our lives may be going well and we may have peace and calm in the moment we should remember that in the life of another there may be a storm brewing or a flood coming and so we should not, in our comfort and serenity, close our eyes to the suffering of another. The tag “It may be calm for now, oh but somewhere else.” Is a powerful reminder of this reality and the need to look beyond our own circumstance is essential if we are to live together on this planet.

One thing that is obvious with Outlive is that the band is branching out, this explains the second half of the record which comes off as more of a Rock ‘n’ Roll outing than a metal album. “One Less, Patient and Slight the Odds” are extremely solid pieces but are also a break from what older fans would expect from a Demon Hunter album. Even the four remaining tracks “When I die, Cold Blood, One Less, and The End” which all feature traditional Demon Hunter verse also feature clean choruses. This is not a problem in concept, but may be for the long initiated listeners who want more of what made Demon Hunter famous.

Overall Outlive is a solid Demon Hunter album that shows the band can expand and grow beyond their set parameters. They are willing to try new things and though the experimentation does not always work it still meets the Demon Hunter standard of excellence that now helps govern the Christian Metal industry. The result of the experiment is yet to be seen, but I think fans will warm to the album in the long run.     

. Record Label: Solid State Records
. Album length: 12 tracks: 49 minutes, 56 seconds

  1. Trying Times (2:23)
  2. Jesus Wept (2:44)
  3. Cold Winter Sun (3:25)
  4. Died in My Sleep (4:43)
  5. Half as Dead (4:00)
  6. Cold Blood (4:25)
  7. One Step Behind (5:09)
  8. Raining Down (3:44)
  9. The End (4:39)
  10. One Less (3:24)
  11. Patience (5:19)
  12. Slight the Odds (6:01)

 

Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid Faulkner is a Graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary working on Masters in Divinity and Church History, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry. Formerly he worked for Altrocklive.com CMG (Christian Music Group). 

Book Recommendation

Book Recommendation.

The Heresy of Mind Control:

Recognizing Con Artists, Tyrants and Spiritual Abusers in Leadership 

By Stephen Martin

Check out The Heresy of Mind Control: Recognizing Con Artiststs written by Stephen Martin! Martin exposes the science of cults and abusive leadership while gracefully offering healing and encouraging words to readers who have been affected by wolves in sheep’s clothing. Steve is an educator and has been a workshop leader at Wellspring Retreat & Resource Center! Check it out, order a copy or download the e-book.

For more information go to recognizeheresy.com