Idol Chatter


The Christian film “I Can Only Imagine” exceeded all expectations and had a massive opening weekend, taking home over $17 million at only 1,629 locations across North America. Christians everywhere are cheering on this big win.

The movie follows the life of Bart Millard, lead singer of MercyMe and man behind the best-selling Christian single of all time, “I Can Only Imagine.”

Nearly two years after the band released the song as a single in 2001, Millard got a call from a friend, saying he’d heard it on The Fitz Radio Program, a Dallas shock-jock show. The song was such a hit on the show, that they played it on repeat for the next several hours. Since then, the song has becoming the best-selling single of all time at 2.5 million copies, and the only song in teh genre to go double platinum.

The song inspired the movie which charts the difficult relationship between Millard and his abusive father. His father eventually found God after being diagnosed with cancer, and became a better man. His death inspired Millard to write “Imagine”, which offered comfort after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Nearly two decades later, the film seems to be inspiring similar passion. Its trailer has notched over 50 million views on Facebook, and the comments section is flooded personal stories from those who have struggled with loss, depression and terminal illness.

Bart Millard is played by J. Michael Finley, while the singer’s abusive father Arthur played by actor Dennis Quaid. Quaid was also featured in the 2011 Christian movie “Soul Surfer.” Quaid has been very open about his Christian faith, and once said “I grew up in the Baptist church, went to Sunday school and then got baptized when I was 9…I read the Bible cover to cover.”

Along with the monetary success, the reviews coming in about the movie are incredibly positive.

“So much of Millard’s story is simultaneously relatable and optimistic that the movie works for the same reason the song does: It lightens the burden of the pain people are shouldering today, and gives them something to look forward to,” wrote Peter Debruge at Variety.

Kathie_Lee_Gifford_in_2017Kathie Lee Gifford is seeking love two years after her husband’s death, but she has a very special requirement for the next Mr. Right. For Gifford, her man must share her Christian faith. This insistence has caused her some problems. Her first and only date since her husband’s death came to a swift end because her date did not share her love of Christ. “He didn’t share my faith and couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to be with him,” Gifford said. “I said, ‘My faith isn’t something I do on Sunday mornings for an hour. My faith is me, and I’m not going to share my life with somebody or even another hour of my life on a date with you if you don’t share the same passion for your faith as I do.”

Following the death of Gifford’s husband, Frank, Gifford found joy in Jesus Christ during her time of grief and loneliness. “My biggest struggle at this point of my life is loneliness. I’ve lost my parents, my husband is gone now and my children live far away from me,” Gifford said. “I still live in the same big house where we made a gazillion million memories. And there are times when I am overwhelmed by loneliness.”

When asked about her potential to get lucky and find love a second time, Gifford was honest about her expectations. “Who doesn’t want to find love again?” she asked. “I think my probability is less, obviously. Some men are afraid of strong women. I wouldn’t be interested in a man like that anyway…If [love is] part of God’s will for me, I’m certainly open to it. I’m not out at singles bars. I’m not online.”

In her darkest moments of loneliness, Gifford still finds joy in Christ. “I don’t want to live my life in hopelessness. I’ve been there,” she said. “God is not the enemy of joy. He is the creator of joy. You want to fly, you want to soar, you want to dream big dreams and see them come true? You have to partner with the right person, only Jesus, only Jesus. I am Kathie Lee Gifford and I am second.”

While she seems uncertain if she will find love a second time, Gifford has not given up looking. One can only hope she finds a man she loves who also loves Jesus.

35214768413_527f1c5776_bMadeleine L’Engle’s beloved book, “A Wrinkle in Time,” was filled with Christian themes and references. The main character, Meg, is strengthened by Bible verses as she journeys through a variety of dimensions in an effort to find her missing father. Meg’s brother, Charles, asks another character to read to him from Genesis, and Jesus is mentioned as fighting against evil. All of these elements, however, were cut from the movie adaptation of the book.

Screenwriter Jennifer Lee reportedly removed all of the Christian references from the film in an effort to be “inclusive.” Lee emphasized that the Disney adaptation celebrated inclusiveness and diversity and claimed that Christian references would detract from that goal. “In a sad way, some of the other elements are more important right now and bigger–sort of this fight of light against darkness,” Lee said. “It’s a universal thing and timeless and seems to be a battle that has to keep being had.”

The decision to cut the Christian content has left some reviewers feeling that the context that is crucial for the emotional impact of the climax was lost. Others felt that the Christian themes had been replaced with “lots of New Age content.” A Movieguide review said that the movie included “an emphasis on being one with the universe and the energy people create with positive or negative thoughts…At one point, one character mentions every spiritual, religious and historical icon, but seems to exclude Jesus Christ, as if Christianity was the one thing they didn’t want to include. In the book, however, Jesus was the iconic figure.”

One of the film’s producers, however, felt that elements of Christianity had been retained. They had just been made more subtle. “I think the movie has many faith elements in it. It’s truly a journey of a girl who, without seeing and having real evidence of her father, makes a bargain to travel throughout the universe to find him,” said producer Jim Whitaker. “I think that’s a really powerful metaphor and statement that’s worth considering about the nature of faith. How you have faith, without being able to have ‘real’ evidence, is kind of the key, and challenge, of life.”

When it came to adapting the book to the big screen, Lee said, “What I looked at, one of the reasons Madeleine L’Engle’s [book] … had that strong Christian element to it wasn’t just because she was Christian, but because she was frustrated with things that needed to be said to her in the world and she wasn’t finding a way to say it and she wanted to stay true to her faith…And I respect that and I understand those feelings of things you want to say in the world that need to be said that are out there. In a good way, I think there are a lot of elements of what she wrote that we have progressed as a society and we can move onto the other elements.”

Some people, however, argue that Lee’s claim flies in the face of what L’Engle herself wrote in her journals. “If I’ve ever written a book that says what I feel about God and the universe, this is it,” L’Engle wrote. “[A Wrinkle in Time] is my psalm of praise to life, my stand for life against death.”

Given L’Engle’s own words and the unfavorable reviews earned by Disney’s adaptation, some claim that Lee’s decision to remove Christianity from the film was a mistake. Others claim that the film’s struggles were due to the inherent difficulty of translating L’Engle’s wildly imaginative book to the screen. Viewers, however, will have to decide for themselves what they think of Disney’s adaptation of L’Engle’s beloved book.

I Can Only ImagineMercyMe’s hit song ‘I Can Only Imagine’ has inspired millions of hearts all over the world since its release in 1999. Incredibly, the song was written in mere minutes by MercyMe lead singer, Bart Millard. Now the popular song is coming to the big screen with viewers getting a close look at the true story behind the song.

Stop and grab some tissues.

Although he found faith at a young age, life wasn’t easy for Bart. He leaned into an active imagination and his love of music as escapes from a troubled home life. As he grew older, Bart turned to football in hopes of somehow connecting with his abusive father.

“I lived with my father, who was abusive, and it wasn’t until he came out with cancer my freshman year of high school that his life turned around,” Millard said. “He kind of fell in love with Christ and he went from the monster of the guy to the guy I wanted to be like when I grew up.”

Millard lived with his mother at first. But, after his mother decided to move out of town with her third husband, Millard and his older brother moved in with their dad when Millard was in third grade.
At first, spankings were only a few pops on the bottom. But punishment became longer and more intense. As a boy, Millard endured three or four beatings a week. Millard, only 8 or 9 at the time was terrified.

One particular abusive episode stood out to him. His father ambushed him and grabbed the boy with one arm, wailing away with the other with a growing rage he had never seen before.
“He beat me like a dog on a leash,” Millard said. “When I made eye contact with him, I thought: He’s going to kill me.”

After that, Bart missed two days of school – it hurt too much for him to put on clothes.

Millard often felt like his dad was taking out anger and frustration that had nothing to do with his children’s behavior. But something happened that Bart could have never forecasted.

His father had a complete transformation of heart as a result of accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

Bart’s father often fell asleep reading the Bible, no longer deriding his son’s involvement in church, even shocking his son one night by asking him, ‘Can I pray for you?’ This sent Bart’s faith into overdrive.

‘If the Gospel could change that guy,’ Millard figured, “the Gospel could change anybody.”
Millard and his father became friends, chatting for two hours each night as the teen administered a treatment through his dad’s IV. They talked about what would happen after he died, who Millard should or shouldn’t be dating, among other things.

Eventually the physical scars faded and Bart found peace with his father shortly before he died.
It was faith that saved their family, Bart said.

It was his father’s death that launched Millard’s musical success. ‘I Can Only Imagine’ was a song Bart wrote about his father dying.

When his father passed in 1991, Bart got mad at God.

“I finally got the dad I wanted, and he left.”

At the gravesite, Bart’s grandmother, a woman of faith said, ‘I can only imagine what Bub’s seeing now.’

The phrase really resonated with him so much so that he became obsessed with the phrase, writing it everywhere he could until he finally put words to songwriting paper. And the rest was history.
The film stars award-winning actor Dennis Quaid (‘The Day After Tomorrow,’ ‘The Rookie,’ ‘Soul Surfer’) as Bart’s father; Oscar winner Cloris Leachman as Bart’s grandmother (“The Iron Giant”); platinum-selling country music legend Trace Adkins as Bart’s manager and will introduce Broadway’s J. Michael Finley (‘Les Miserables’) as Bart’s father.

Quaid explained that the movie highlights the power of a changed heart. “It’s very uplifting, about how can really have a complete change in one’s heart and how much you can move the earth with that,” he said.

Members of MercyMe are also thrilled about the release of the upcoming faith-based film. Bart shared that this project has been in the making for years.

“I was first approached over five years ago. No turning back now,” Bart said.

“I Can Only Imagine” is in theaters March 16th.