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Director Judd Brannon was inspired by Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the makers of “Fire Proof” and “War Room.” He started thinking about what he could do in his own community to encourage people through film in Woodstock, Georgia. There was a race track nearby and Brannon started praying about creating a film based on the sport. He started to meet people and talk with the owners and the film “Champion” was birthed. This is something he never saw done in a film. He thought “wouldn’t it be neat to do a film about racing.” Over the next couple of years, the script started coming together.

Brannon wanted to be sensitive to what God wanted to communicate to the film team.

“For us, it was forgiveness, which is the overarching message in the film,” he said. “I know that working in a church and even in my own family’s life there is unforgiveness. If we can get people to understand that and what Christ had done for them, they’re going to draw closer to Christ. We really went after the message of forgiveness.”

The movie is about dirt track racer Sean Weathers (Andrew Cheney) was at the top of his game with an unstoppable career. When a rivalry with another racer turns personal, the ego that propelled him to success causes a tragedy, sending his life into a tailspin. Jack Reed (Gary Graham) had prospered as a businessman but failed as a family man. In a sudden turn of events, his chances for reconciliation are ripped from his grasp. Sean and Jack’s lives collide.

When people started screening the film, Brannon realized that there was a fatherhood message and a foster kid component to be experienced as well within the plot.

“Me and my wife are foster parents, so we were walking through the process of foster care as part of our church, while we were making this film,” said Brannon. “Why can’t the church be involved and not the state [regarding foster care]. I thought that also could be part of the story.”

Weaving the Gospel into the storyline without it being over the top is something that was vital. “It is weaved in there as part of the character’s lives,” Brannon added. “And then there is that wow moment in the film of two guys working out their problems together in that Gospel message. It feels like you are watching real life and it feels very authentic.”

The art of film can shape a person. For Brannon, he wants to see barriers come down in people’s lives after they see the movie. After viewing a screener, a woman said that after viewing the movie, it helped her turn a corner in forgiving her own father after being separated for many years. The movie prompted her to take that step, maybe it can for you as well.

“Champion” will be in theaters on May 19th.

360px-Tim_Allen_2012Tim Allen, comedian and actor, is not afraid to let others know he is serious about God.

Tim Allen became famous for his hilarious jokes and handyman hobbies, but there is a side to him that many haven’t seen. Allen doesn’t claim to be the perfect Christian; instead he is open about the fact that many of his life’s deepest struggles are what caused him to turn to Christ.

Allen didn’t always have it easy. At only eleven, Allen’s father passed away when he was hit by a drunk driver. After that, Allen began to question if he would have prayed harder or if he had been with his father that day, if he could have prevented his death.

“I knew my father was dead, but I was never satisfied with why he was dead. I wanted answers that minute from God. ‘Do you think this is funny? Do you think this is necessary?’ And I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with my creator ever since.” Allen said in a 2012 interview.

Like many other celebrities, Allen struggled with addiction and alcoholism. He felt he had nowhere else to turn and found comfort in drug and alcohol abuse.

Allen’s life took a very dramatic turn on October 2nd, 1978 when he was arrested for possession of over 650 grams of cocaine. He pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges. He was released after serving over two years in federal prison.

After he left prison, he turned to his comedy which he says saved his life. He began his hit sitcom Home Improvement and starred in the Disney movies The Santa Clause trilogy, Wild Hogs, and Toy Story trilogy.

Through all of this, he still hadn’t finished dealing with his dark demons.

“For years, I just did not like this idea of God, church,” he said. “(I was) still a churchgoer, but constantly a cynic.”

He continued to have a tricky relationship with God, but wanted to create a relationship with his creator.

“Whoever built me, this is too much, too weird that it happened by accident,” Allen said. “It didn’t happen by accident.”

Today, he calls God, “The Builder.”

“I always do ask… The Builder, what did you want me to do?” Allen said. “And I do ask it. But you got to be prepared for the answer.”

Through tough work and a lot of faith, Allen did dedicate his life to Christ. Now, it’s simply incredible to see all that God has done through Tim Allen.

In a recent episode from Allen’s sitcom Last Man Standing, Allen found a way to incorporate Jesus Christ into the script. Despite getting constant flack for talking about his faith, the scene shows that Allen refuses to back down.

With over a decade of sobriety under his belt, Allen is free to enjoy his family and daughters. Allen’s life boasts of God’s redeeming grace and goodness, and proves that no man is ‘too far gone.’ Even when he pushed God away, Allen was able to find Him again.

His own experiences — from his father’s death to a two-year jail stint on a drug conviction to his sitcom stardom — help inform his faith.

C9uUMSWXYAA9vDDCan politics and religion ever really be separated?

Congregations around America are becoming increasingly polarized. Since the 2016 presidential election, 73% of Americans have said they feel the country is more divided than previous generations. Contributing to that feeling of division are one’s political views and one’s faith informed by one’s race, gender, age, place of origin and economic status.

Since President Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists who wrote expressing concern over the lack of explicit protection of religious liberty and against a government establishment of religion, the term “wall of separation” between church and state was introduced to ease such concerns. New York Times best-selling author and global spiritual leader Bishop T.D. Jakes will lead this highly-anticipated conversation on this discordant issue and its effects more than two centuries later.

Bishop T.D. Jakes has brought together some of the nation’s most influential figureheads to sit on one stage to discuss these issues to an audience of prominent faith and community leaders. On Thursday, April 27, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. CT, “Global Think Tank: The Polemics of Politics & the Pulpit: Rightly Dividing Between Church and State” will be held at the 2017 International Pastors & Leadership Conference in Dallas.

The panel will begin a conversation exploring the role of the church within the political arena. Guests include April Ryan (White House Correspondent), Paula White (Donald Trump Spiritual Adviser and Chair of the Presidential Evangelical Advisory Board), Joshua DuBois (Former White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Director under President Barack Obama), Father Michael Pfleger (Senior Pastor, The Faith Community of Saint Sabina and highly recognized for work on equality and injustice), and Bishop Harry Jackson (Senior Pastor of Hope Christian Church and serves on Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board.)

2017 is set to be an especially fun-filled year, one marked by sequels and remakes of some of our most beloved films. If you’ve been wondering which movies might be especially worth your cash in the coming months, look no further than this list!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The first installment of Guardians of the Galaxy was a surprise hit, impressing audiences with its retro soundtrack, awesome visuals, and charismatic, wisecracking lead, Chris Pratt. And on its debut on May 5th, it’s likely we’ll get more of the same with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, in which we may finally learn the true identity of Peter Quill’s biological father.

Judging from the trailer, this film promises to be just the infusion of summer fun you need this year, so don’t miss out.

Wonder Woman

Coming to theaters on June 2nd, Wonder Woman tells the story of the Amazon princess, Diana—also known as DC Comic’s premier female superhero, Wonder Woman. When a American military pilot, Steve Trevor, washes ashore and tells her of the ongoing World War I, she leaves her magical isle for London to end the conflict.

The combination of unconventional setting and strong lead actors might just make this Warner’s breakout superhero movie of the year.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming takes place after Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, and centers on Peter Parker’s efforts to balance his personal life with the increasing demands of fighting crime as Spider-Man.

Fans everywhere cheered when the long-awaited Spider-Man appeared in Civil War, and with the involvement of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Michael Keaton’s Vulture, and exciting newcomer Tom Holland as Spider-Man, Marvel is likely to have another crowd favorite on their hands.

Dunkirk

Dunkirk is the Christopher Nolan-directed story of the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk during World War II, and it’s shaping up to be a moving—and beautifully shot—flim.

Told from three perspectives—the land, the sea, and the beach, itself—Dunkirk is, as Nolan says, a survival and suspense film, lacking the typical bloody aspects of war.

With Nolan’s reputation, this is one film you don’t want to miss.

It

Had a good scare lately? If you’re like most horror fans, you’ve probably lamented the decided lack of frightening films this year.

Well, look no further, because the second iteration of Stephen King’s novel is coming to the big screens. It tells the story of a group of outcast kids who discover an ancient evil that’s taking the children of their small town in the guise of a clown.

If you liked Stranger Things, and have a thirst for something a bit more scary, this is your movie.

Blade Runner 2049

2017 is the year of the remake and sequel, it seems—Blade Runner 2049 takes place decades after the events of Blade Runner, and follows a new blade runner, Officer K, played by Ryan Gosling, as he teams up with Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard to hold off the end of humanity.

With the original Blade Runner being regarded as one of the greatest science fiction films of all time, its sequel has a lot to live up to. On October 6th, head out to theaters to find out if its sequel lives up to its name.

God Particle

J.J. Abrams has been toying with fans ever since he teased audiences with his mysterious monster movie, Cloverfield and alien invasion flick, 10 Cloverfield Lane, giving out subtle hints as to what in the world is going on in the cinematic universe he’s building.

Now he continues that with God Particle. Debuting on October 27th, this is the story of a team of astronauts aboard a space station who find themselves stranded after Earth simply disappears.

If you’re curious about where Abrams is taking us with through his Cloverfield franchise, take a look at God Particle this October.

Thor: Ragnarok

If any Marvel film finally breaks the mold and stands out on its own, it’s going to be Thor: Ragnarok. Directed by Taika Waititi, the mind behind the hilarious mockumentary, What We Do in the Shadows, Ragnarok promises to be as weird as possible. In a good way, of course.

And that’s saying nothing of superstar Cate Blanchett’s role as Hela, the film’s antagonist—one who destroys Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor, within the first moments of the trailer.

Also included in the film are Karl Urban, Sam Neill, and—interestingly—Jeff Goldblum.

Even if you’re not typically a Marvel fan, this spectacle may be worth the price of admission.

Star Wars: Episode VIII

This list wouldn’t be complete without Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Coming December 15th, this film picks up where The Force Awakens left off, with Daisy Ridley’s Rey training with the legendary Jedi, Luke Skywalker. And judging by the quality of its predecessor, this film is going to be great.

Unfortunately, that’s all we know so far, but hey—it’s Star Wars, and we’re all going to see it no matter what, right?

A Year of Action

If you’re a fan of action films, superheroes, monsters, and Jedi, 2017 is your year, although even if you’re not, you’ll likely still find something to love amongst these potential blockbusters.