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  • Ever have trouble getting people you love to embrace your life dreams? You’ll likely identify with Ryan Wade in The Identical.

    Music is in his soul. He has the looks, voice and moves of Elvis, and drives audiences wild. But his preacher father has different dreams for him, setting up a monumental collision.

    What unfolds is a fun Rock ‘n’ Roll parable with an upbeat, inspiring, message about finding purpose, revealing secrets, and experiencing redemption. Tunes to get you swaying and romantic odes touch your heart as they depict young love, discovering identity, and learning what really matters.

    Conflicting dreams

    This fictional story spans four decades from the 1930’s Great Depression to the 1970’s. We see early Rock evolve as Ryan (Blake Rayne) seeks to find his way. He loves to sing, but his father (Ray Liotta; Goodfellas, Field of Dreams) wants him in the ministry. His mother (Ashley Judd; Divergent, High Crimes) quietly observes their interaction without choosing sides.

    Ryan memorizes Bible verses as a child and attends Bible college as a young man. But African-American R&B captivates his heart. When Drexel Hemsley – the film’s Elvis-esque figure – tops the music charts, the mesmerized Ryan feels he knows what Drexel “The Dream” is thinking. The two are dead ringers (Rayne plays both parts); Ryan insists to inquirers they’re not related.

    Secret past

    But we know they are, identical twins separated at birth. Their impoverished parents, amid mutual anguish, invited the Wades – childless after multiple miscarriages – to adopt one boy. Pledged to secrecy, the Wades raised Ryan as their own.

    Ryan pursues a music career – eventually as “The Identical,” a Drexel Hemsley impersonator – triggering painful family explosions. His mom accepts reality first, advising Ryan, “The love of God seeks us in every situation and desires our good. If He is in your dreams, nothing can stand against them.”

    Ryan explains to his disappointed father: “I’m just trying to be what He made me to be, and not something else.” Biblical statements his dad had him memorize as a kid foreshadow his journey:

    “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.’”

    Ryan is ever the consummate gentleman in dating, marriage, and with adoring fans. In the end, all this confusion and conflict comes to … well, I won’t spoil it for you. But I’ll wrap with some fun facts, plus a personal reflection.

    Fun facts; personal reflection

    It’s not surprising that an Elvis-esque story includes twins and spiritual themes. The real Elvis Presley’s twin brother, Jessie, was stillborn. Elvis often experienced survivor guilt and a desire to know him. Elvis’ only Grammy Award for a single came for his 1974 recording of “How Great Thou Art,” a famous hymn. The lyrics, which likely reflected his own spiritual roots, point to hope beyond human accomplishment.

    I can identify with a son whose dreams conflict with those of his parents – which is probably the reason this film resonates with me. After finding faith during university, I sought a career with a Christian nonprofit, much to my parents’ dismay. My mother enlisted an attorney friend to try to convince me to attend law school. But my heart was set on helping spread worldwide the faith that had transformed me. Eventually, my folks accepted the inevitable.

    Fifteen years later, my father told me he thought what I was doing was extremely worthwhile, a deeply validating affirmation. “If He is in your dreams, nothing can stand against them,” counseled Ashley Judd’s character in the movie. She was right.

    http://www.TheIdenticalMovie.com Opens September 5 Theaters Resources

    Rated PG (USA) for “thematic material and smoking”

  • Could a football coach who teaches his players that character trumps winning…win games? Consistently?

    It’s happened – and quite dramatically – inspiring the film When the Game Stands Tall, opening August 22.

    Coach Bob Ladouceur led a struggling, obscure, Catholic California high school team to record-shattering national prominence by helping his players mature toward adulthood.

    Ladouceur’s (pronounced “LAD-a-sir”) De La Salle Spartans won 151 straight games, a record for football at any level. (To compare, Oklahoma University won 47 straight; the NFL’s New England Patriots 21 straight.) Rating services crowned them National High School Football Champions at least eight times.

    Winning: doable; teaching life: hard

    This inspiring film (Sony/TriStar) features Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, CBS-TV’s Person of Interest), Alexander Ludwig (The Hunger Games), Laura Dern (The Fault in Our Stars, Jurassic Park), and Michael Chiklis (TV’s Vegas, The Shield).

    “Winning a lot of football games is doable,” explains Ladouceur (Caviezel) in the film. “Teaching kids there’s more to life? That’s hard.”

    The film focuses on how players and coaches cope with The Streak’s end, plus a former teammate’s murder and the coach’s heart attack. “It’s not how hard you fall,” reads the tagline, “it’s how you get back up.”

    In this gritty story, a coach struggles to help his players make sense out of loss and tragedy while grappling with his own confusion and doubt. We see many contrasts: dreams shattered and fulfilled, family joys and conflict, selfish pettiness and stirring nobility.

    An All-Madden tale

    Legendary NFL coach and commentator John Madden called the Ladouceur/De La Salle saga “one of the greatest football stories ever told. There’s a lot more to it than X’s and O’s. [It has] life lessons…for everyone…about commitment, dedication, responsibility, friendship, brotherhood. And what you learn from those lessons is much bigger and more important than The Streak. …It’s about community…religious beliefs…everything that’s important in life.”

    Coach “Lad” (now retired) focused on accountability, preparation, bonding and hard work. Players set personal goals – for conditioning, practice, game performance, etc. – then held each other accountable, so each could thrive.

    The Bellevue, Washington, team that finally snapped The Streak emulated their opponent’s methods. “Credit De La Salle for the things that changed in our program,” explained that coach.

    Spartans’ secrets

    Ladouceur, also a religion teacher, fondly quotes inspirational figures like Bobby Kennedy, Jesuit philosopher Teilhard de Chardin, and Jesus. He noted:

    “The most important component of Spartan tradition is our commitment to create a brotherhood among ourselves. This task is bigger, tougher, and more elusive than any opponent we ever face. …Individual egos must die in order for a team to live.”

    “…We win because our players love each other. They are not afraid to say it or embrace each other as a sign of that affection.”

    He likes Jesus’ Parable of the Talents in which an employer gives each of three servants a sum of money to manage – “each according to his own ability” – then observes the results.

    “God not only gave us some sort of ability,” notes Ladouceur, “but also…placed us in an environment to develop those talents. And for what purpose?” Service, is Ladouceur’s answer.

    Of course, definitions of exemplary character differ, and Ladouceur willingly admits he’s imperfect. “I have a lot of regrets,” he confesses.

    A winning film

    I don’t generally follow high school football, preferring the university and professional games. When I first heard about this movie, I wondered what its appeal could be. Now I understand.

    There’s plenty of gridiron action for fans, but also poignant lessons about preparing for life, growing up, community, handling defeat, and more. The ending is somewhat perplexing (“seems contrived,” says my wife). But overall, it’s a great story for athletes and coaches, teams and fans, students and educators, families and friends.

    Rated PG (USA) “for thematic material, a scene of violence, and brief smoking.”

    http://www.WhenTheGameStandsTall.com Theaters Opens August 22 USA & Canada. Worldwide release dates Resources


  • I can’t stand the way he gets angry, pouts and tries to get even with me when he’s mad,” a young woman named Cathy said to me recently during a counseling session.

    “Right,” her husband, Tim muttered. “And Doctor David, you don’t know what she’s like behind closed doors either.”

    Coming to me for counseling because of marriage problems, I could quickly see that Tim and Cathy were in significant trouble. After ten years of marriage, they had reached a dangerous point in their marriage where they felt nothing but contempt for one another.

    Researchers are clear—when contempt and acrimony flood a relationship, a physical or emotional separation is not far behind. This research isn’t based on rocket science, but rather practical principles, as well as Biblical truths, that we cannot abuse each other without severe ramifications.

    We all must ask ourselves some challenging questions:

    What causes contempt in a marriage?
    What is my part in this growing contempt?
    How can I change these problems?

    Contempt doesn’t drop out of the sky onto our marriage. Sadly, we create it. As much as we might want to blame our mate, we must critically look in the mirror to see if we are immature and creating havoc by our behavior.

    Contempt is the product of:

    Relentless criticism
    Settling for mediocrity

    Because contempt is so debilitating to a marriage, as well as to our personal well-being, we must be ruthless in our endeavor to discover the truth about our actions and attitudes. If you are willing to take a ‘fearless moral inventory,’ you’ll usually discover various forms of immaturity that must be addressed.

    Getting rid of immaturity is not simply something good for our marriage and personal mental health—though it sure is good for that—but it is our Biblical responsibility as well.

    Consider this Biblical imperative:

    “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (I Peter 2: 2-4)

    While this Scripture is filled with instruction, pay special attention to what we must do—rid ourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind—and the results that occur when you do it—grow up in your salvation. Imagine the impact we could have on our marriage if we kept our side of the street clean by ridding our lives of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. What would happen if we chose even one of these—slander—and asked the Lord to cleanse our life of this destructive habit?

    Slander (purposely injuring our mate with words) is not only immature, but incredibly destructive. While we may rationalize our behavior, claiming our mate is the cause of actions, this doesn’t cut it. We are called to grow up in our salvation, and one way we do this is by choosing to be loving even when it’s not easy to do.

    Five Steps to Take to “Grow Up” in Your Marriage

    Agree to end criticism. Criticism is not only immature, but is incredibly destructive. Criticism undermines self-esteem, destroys intimacy, and creates divisiveness. Instead, make specific requests of what you’d like from your mate.
    Use encouragement liberally. Mature people notice efforts made by their mate and encourage them. They know their mate will never be perfect, and when positive efforts are made to meet those requests, they offer encouragement.
    Refuse to slander your mate. Give up negative labels. Don’t stoop to calling names, making judgments, or dishonoring your mate. No matter how discouraged you might feel, never put your mate down.
    Keep your side of the street clean. Ask the Lord to work on your heart. Notice and work on your part of the dance. Don’t enable or reinforce destructive behavior. When one person changes, the other will change as well.
    Reinforce and maintain clear boundaries. Don’t be afraid of consequences for harmful behavior. Just as you hold yourself to honorable behavior, maintain clear expectations to be treated honorably by your mate and to treat your mate honorably. Agree ahead of time on consequences for immature and dishonoring behavior.


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