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A Godly Objective

with Alex Kendrick, Stephen Kendr...more | September 30, 2011

What pleases you, Lord? That's the question asked daily by filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, producers of the newly released movie, Courageous. That's because keeping the Lord happy is their highest priority and the only way they can expect God's blessing on their latest project.

What pleases you, Lord? That's the question asked daily by filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, producers of the newly released movie, Courageous. That's because keeping the Lord happy is their highest priority and the only way they can expect God's blessing on their latest project.

A Godly Objective

With Alex Kendrick, Stephen Kendr...more
|
September 30, 2011
| Download Transcript PDF

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Bob: You are probably aware of the movie, Courageous, that is opening in theaters all around the country today.  Alex Kendrick who wrote, produced, and directed the movie, and also stars in the film, is excited about the opening but more excited to see what happens after people have seen the movie.

Alex:  We have done dozens and dozens of screenings.  What I have heard more than anything else—are men walking out—some of them emotionally convicted, some devastated; but what I have heard more than anything else is, “I have seen myself in the mirror, and I have seen where I need to step up.  The Holy Spirit is all over me; and I want to run home, I want to embrace my kids and I want to start being the spiritual leader God has called me to be.”  That—that is what we want, and I think that’s what God wants!

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, September 30th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We may get a chance to see this weekend a little of what the God wants to do as men and women all across the country head out to theatres to see the brand-new movie, Courageous.  Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.  We really cannot call this “the premiere.”  Today, I mean today, is the day for the grand opening of the movie, Courageous, in theatres all across the country in about a thousand screens; but actually the premiere of the film happened about a month ago in Atlanta.  You and I didn’t get to go, our schedule didn’t allow it, but there were a whole bunch of folks at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta for the big red carpet premiere of Courageous.

Dennis:  And the co-writers and producers of Courageous join us again on FamilyLife Today—

Bob:  Along with the leading man; I mean, we got to throw that in too.

Dennis:  We do.  Alex Kendrick is the leading man.  His brother, Stephen, joined him in writing and producing the movie.  Welcome back, guys.

Stephen and Alex:  Thank you.  Glad to be here.

Dennis:  I wanted to ask you this question because you have now produced four films.  They have done remarkably well.  I believe this one is going to do even better.  In fact, Rick Warren says, “This is the best film of the year.”  I agree, and I agree on a lot of fronts.

Alex:  Thank you.

Dennis:  Message, mission, impact—it's all there.  But here is the question I have for you because you are invading enemy territory—and I am not talking about homes and lives of people—I am talking about Hollywood.  Hollywood is not known to be friendly for films with a message and a mission around the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  What’s been the biggest surprise you guys have had?  I would like both of you to answer to it.  What’s the biggest surprise about Hollywood?

Stephen:  I have been surprised that there are actually some godly believers in Hollywood who have been praying for something like this to happen.  We have been hearing about small groups of people who have been praying at Sony and other organizations saying, “Lord, would You somehow advance the kingdom through movies.”  Some of the movies we have been working on—they are seeing as an answer to prayer.  So I am very grateful for that. 

At the same time, so many of the people in Hollywood—they don’t know the Lord and so they are spiritually blind, and spiritually dead, and a slave to sin just like we are, apart from Christ.  They need the Lord.  We have been grateful, though, at the responses that some of them have had.  Alex has got a great story about the response to Fireproof.

Alex:  Yes, the weekend after Fireproof—which surprised all of us—it came out as the fourth top-grossing movie in the nation, the opening weekend.  It wasn’t even on their radar.  So the entertainment publications began contacting us. 

One guy said, “Who in the world are you guys?”  We said, “We are a church in South Georgia.”  He said, “A church!  A church?”  He said, “Churches don’t make movies!”  We said, “Well, right.  This one does.”  He said, “We know everything that’s coming, and we have a formula for how well it's going to do based on current marketing promotion.  You guys were so under the radar—all of a sudden you just appear as number four in the nation, and we are blind-sighted by this.” 

So we are thrilled when God shows off.  We do not take credit for how well the things do.  We obey the Lord.  We try to do the best we can; but, ultimately, God is the one that turns the heart and changes lives.  We don’t do that.  So we are grateful when God does something that we can’t explain.

Dennis:   And so Alex, what would you say is the biggest surprise in terms of Hollywood; and what you have learned since you started producing these movies with Sherwood Pictures?

Alex:  For me, I would say the biggest surprise is their fascination with why it's working.  One of the executives in Hollywood that we spoke with—I am not going to tell you the name of the company—but he came to us and he said, “We don’t know how to figure you guys out.  We don’t know why people go see your movies.  You don’t have any A-list actors, you don’t have any huge eye candy in these films, the budgets aren’t gargantuan.

Dennis:  Are you saying you are not eye candy?

Alex:  I am not, certainly not eye candy!  (Laughter)

Dennis:  I am looking over your shoulder at your wife.  Yes, she is finally nodding.  That’s good.  That’s good!

Alex:  Yes, she is being gracious to me.  I think they are fascinated with, “Why do your movies work?”  I am not saying this to brag—except on the Lord because he is the only One that makes them work—but I love the fact that something is going on that’s making them look over their shoulder and say, “What’s going over there in this small town in South Georgia?” and, “Why are they making movies that people want to go see?”

Dennis:  The favor of a Lord is of ultimate importance to you. 

Alex and Stephen:  That’s right.  That’s exactly right.

Dennis:  Explain how that works its way out in making a movie.

Stephen:  Well, we talk about, “Keeping God happy is our highest priority.”  So when it comes to writing, we lay it before the Lord.  We say, “God, everybody has got a good movie idea,”—we found out because they keep sending them to us—“but Lord, what’s your idea?” 

Then as we are casting, we are saying, “Lord who do You want to cast in each role?”  And even as we are on the set, we are saying, “Lord every day we are dedicating to You.  We are dedicating what happens this day to You.  We are seeking You for our provision and our protection.  Enable these amateurs to act beyond their own ability.”

Even in the editing of the movie, we are saying, “God, is there anything in this movie that displeases You, that would be a stumbling block to children?”  Jesus said, “Don’t do it.”  So we try to honor the Lord.  When you honor God, He promises He will bless you.

Dennis:  What a novel thought for a movie!  The ultimate objective is, “What pleases You, God?”  How many times do you think that’s occurred in the last 25 years?

Alex:  Not often, and God is very interested in telling us what pleases Him.  So when we seek Him, He opens doors, no one else could open and He shuts doors we should not walk through.  God’s favor is unlike anything else.  When things happen that are unexplainable, that you have prayed for—when your needs are met in unbelievable ways—God is showing up and showing off.  That’s what He loves to do.

Dennis:  I am not going to get into what happened here at Family Life just in the last 30 days, but we have gone ahead and that occurred here on multiple fronts.  I am grinning because it's just like we had nothing to do with it.  I mean, it's not about human competency, human ability—maneuvering, manipulating, pulling strings, superior ingenuity—it's just all about God, as you said, “showing up and showing off.”  It's just fun because, in the end, nobody gets the credit.  No organization gets the credit. It's just a group of people going, “Wow! God, You are up to something!”

Stephen:  You are awesome!

Dennis:  You are really up to something.

Stephen:  Our pastor says something—he says, “Guys, we are so one foolish un-prayed-over decision away from God taking His hand of blessing off of us.  That is something you steward.”  So all of us need to remain humble, and all of us need to keep seeking Him because sometimes in Scripture God warns them that when He blesses them, they forget Him.  We can't do that.

Bob:  I know you guys have screened this movie for folks across the country.  Critics have had a chance to see it at this point, and you are starting to hear some feedback.  What are the stories you have already heard from people who have seen Courageous—maybe folks who were at the Fox Theatre back in August?  What are you hearing that’s encouraging you?

Alex:  We have done dozens and dozens of screenings.  What I have heard more than anything else—are men walking out—some of them emotionally convicted, some devastated; but what I have heard more than anything else is, “I have seen myself in the mirror, and I have seen where I need to step up.  The Holy Spirit is all over me; and I want to run home, I want to embrace my kids and I want to start being the spiritual leader God has called me to be.”  That—that is what we want, and I think that’s what God wants!

Stephen:  We are grateful that people are going out and they are saying, “Hey, we are rallying our church; we are rallying our community.  We are buying up tickets for our police officers.  We are setting up men’s groups to get ready for this,” because just like with Fireproof, people walk out of the movie—they are emotionally charged and they are saying, “I want to go do something now.”  We want the body of Christ to be ready to embrace them and then lead them down a path towards spiritual leadership in their homes.

Bob:  If we go back and look at the movies you have made:  Flywheel came out.  You made it for $20,000.  It got just a few theatres where it got to show and then a half million DVDs. 

Facing the Giants—I think it opened on about 400 screens.  It made $10 million and you spent a half million to make it.  Then Fireproof comes out.  You spent a million to make it; $33 million domestic box office, that’s before you count the DVD stuff. 

If this movie does $50 million, domestic box office—

Dennis:  Let’s try $100 million.

Bob:  $50 to $100 million.  I can imagine somebody calling up and saying, “Stephen and Alex, listen, you guys have obviously proven your skill.  I know you have been a little hamstrung with money.  Your next movie—we would like to bank-roll it.  We would like to give you $30 million to make your next film.  You can do the whole faith-based thing.  That’s fine because, obviously, whatever you guys want to do that’s fine; but we would like to bank-roll it with a $30 million budget.

Dennis:  Bob, are you auditioning right now?

Bob:  No, I have been asking them about what the dates for the casting call are.  (Laughter)  That’s off the air—I was going to do that.

Stephen:  I was about to give him an e-mail address to send that money.

Bob:  $30 million?  How would you respond to a call like that?

Alex:  First of all, there can't be any strings attached that aren’t godly.  We want God’s best—all of His best—and for there to be nothing that would hinder God saying, “This is what I want you to do.”  So if somebody were to say, “I will give you the money, but you go to do it my way,” the answer is, “No.”

Bob:  Or if they said, “The studio retains final rights over this, or that, or that.”

Alex:  That’s right.

Bob:  You want total, complete control over your movie.

Stephen:  As a steward because we are accountable, ultimately, to the Lord.  We don’t want to put ourselves in a situation like where Joshua makes a covenant with the Gibeonites.  As a result, it sets him up to disobey God.

Alex:  That’s exactly right.  So, it is not an issue of us thinking we are too big for our britches.  It's an issue of saying, “Lord, if You trust us with whatever amount of money, we will do exactly what You call us to do.”  If somebody is about that, “Jump on the bandwagon.” 

Stephen:  “Let’s talk.”

Alex:  We have a number of movies we’d love to do and the one that jumps in my mind is Elijah—doing the biblical epic of Elijah.  I would call it The Fire of God—how Elijah stood alone—because we have to learn, if we are not supported as followers of God, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have to have the courage to stand alone.

Bob:  So you have dreamed of the special effects you could do with a few extra million dollars?

Alex:  I have seen the whole movie in my head already!  (Laughter)

Dennis:  You know, I am looking at what you have before you; and it’s a little bit, not exactly, but it’s a little bit of how Courageous concludes.  It's called The Resolution.  I am thinking back to Bob’s question.  This would be edited out.  I mean, this is hardcore Christianity.

Bob:  You mean if a studio was in charge of this, they would go, “Oh, that’s too religious, too preachy!”

Dennis:  Oh, yes.  If the money was tied to this, they’d go, “Yeah, you know, this is calling men.  This is tough stuff you are talking here.” 

Why don’t you just read the resolution and set it up—as to the kind of scene and what this looks like—and what you are playing out here.

Alex:  In the movie, Courageous, when one of the dad goes through a tragedy, he begins to look at what kind of father he had been to his children.  He realizes that he was accepting a “good enough” standard.  It is not good enough to be a good enough father.  God calls us to be men of courage, men of strength, men of obedience, and masculine men of faith. 

So in the movie, he pours through Scripture; writes this resolution.  This is what it says, and he commits to be this type of dad in front of his family and friends. 

He says:  “I do solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.  I will love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.  I will be faithful to my wife to love and honor her and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.  I will bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds and all of their strength.  I will train them to honor authority and live responsibly. 

“I will confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.  I will pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.  I will work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.  I will forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.  I will learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God. 

“I will seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will.  I will courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.”  At the bottom, it says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15.

Bob:  You know, that is a powerful scene there.  Actually, twice in the movie—there is a scene where the five men who are friends come together to have a ceremony and sign these resolutions. 

Then there is a scene at the end where you call a church to respond and call the men in the church to respond to these resolutions.  Do you have one of those signed in your home?

Alex:  It’s hanging on my wall right now.  But this is the other thing—our pastor has set a date and he said, “We are going to call the men of our church, and we are not going to do it quickly.  You have to make sure that what you are doing, you are serious about it and you know what you are signing.”  He is going to call the men of our church on a certain date—those who are willing to come forward and take this resolution—as the men of a church to hold one other accountable.  So our church, which has made the movie, is going to step out and do this resolution.

Bob:  Wow!

Stephen:  We are getting phone calls from churches of the men who have already gone to some of these pre-screenings—they are going through The Resolution book, and they are doing ceremonies.  Networks of churches are coming together to do this.  We are very excited because it could change the world—if men will step up and do it.

Bob:  But these guys better be careful and not take the Lord’s name in vain—

Alex:  That’s right; you got it.

Bob:  In the signing of—I mean, you can be filled with emotion and say, “That’s the kind of person I want to be.  So I will sign it.”  But there is a difference between, “This is the guy I want to be,” and, “This is the guy I will be.”

Stephen:  --which is why we wrote The Resolution for Men.  The entire book was written to help men understand and live out this resolution commitment.

Dennis:  Not just leave the movie feeling ashamed, or convicted, or guilty; but to leave there and have some hope because I think a lot of guys really do want to step up.  They want to do as you charge them to do at the conclusion of the movie—in that congregation with that church—you could feel it in your chest.  Men are out there going, “Yes!  Yes!” 

If enough men step up—Hollywood, the power brokers of America—I am telling you, the most powerful place is not Washington DC; the most powerful place is a family under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  If enough of them step up to become God’s men, we are going to see a spiritual awakening in our nation.

Alex:  That’s right.  May it be so, Lord.

Stephen:  That’s exactly right.

Alex:  You brought up something.  Men are going to walk out when they see the film, and they are going to have a myriad of issues.  They are going to say, “Well, I didn’t have an example in my dad,” or, “I am struggling with my own bitterness issues, or frustration, or hurt,” or whatever it is. 

We took great pains to address all of those things.  “How do I be a chain-breaker?”  So The Resolution for Men book addresses these things.  We hope that men read that before they sign this because you can't sign this when you don’t realize you are accountable for doing this before the Lord.  If you sign this, it is not a game.  We’d rather men not sign it and walk away rather than to sign it and not keep it.

Dennis:  And we talked earlier how your dad was a chain-breaker—how there was alcoholism, just all kinds of sin that was allowed to reign in homes and families.  He decided, “As for me and house, I am going to leave a different legacy than the one I was given.”  I asked you earlier, Stephen, to give a tribute to your dad.  Your dad is 69 years old.  His name is—

Stephen:  Larry Kendrick.

Dennis:  I warned you, Alex.  I wanted you to come back today; and I wanted you to conclude our broadcast by honoring a man who has, indeed, broken a chain—and maybe, a part of a giant chain and a legacy nationwide because of the work he has done in three boys’ lives, who have become men, who represent him today.

Bob:  You go ahead and take a few minutes to collect your thoughts while I remind listeners that the movie, Courageous, is out in theaters now; and we hope that you will go see it as soon as you can.  We think the whole family will enjoy the film.  We think dads, in particular, are going to be powerfully impacted by this movie, Courageous

And then I would encourage you to go ahead right now and get some of the resources that you are going to want to have on-hand for when the movie is over because the movie is going to inspire you and challenge you as a man; but the resources we want to recommend are designed to equip you as a man.  Stephen and Alex have written a book together with Randy Alcorn called The Resolution for Men

It's a book that talks about men stepping up to be the husbands and dads that God has called us to be.  It really is a great companion volume to the book that you wrote, Dennis, called Stepping Up:  A Call to Courageous Manhood.  We are getting great response from listeners and readers who have gone online to get a copy. 

In fact, the book is available—Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood is available as a downloadable e-book between now and October 15th.  It's available for your Kindle®, for your NOOK™, or for your e-book reader at a very special low price.  You can get more information when you go online at Familylifetoday.com.  There is a link there that can get you to where you can download it as an e-book. 

You can order from us a hardback book as well.  These are resources you are going to want to have on-hand, once you have had a chance to see the movie, Courageous in theaters.  So give us a call at 1-800-FLTODAY for more information about how to get copies of these books or find out more about the e-book and order from us online at Familylifetoday.com. 

I will just mention here that there is a book for women, as well, called The Resolution for Women written by Priscilla Shirer, who is going to be a guest with us next week on FamilyLife Today.  So ladies, if you are going to see the movie with your husband, you may want to get a copy of the book that is written for you, as well, to help you know how you can support your husband and be the woman that God has called you to be.  Again, more information about all of these resources can be found online at Familylifetoday.com; or give us a call at 1-800-FLTODAY. 

Let me also mention that there is a companion Bible study for men called Courageous Living that Alex and Stephen wrote, along with their Pastor Michael Catt.  FamilyLife has a special edition of that Bible study that we want to make available to you this week.  If you can help support the ministry of FamilyLife with a donation—we are listener-supported and your donations are what keep this program on the air on this station and on our network of stations all across the country and online as well.  We appreciate your financial support and we would like to say, “Thank you,” this week by sending you this study that you could do with other men in your men’s small group.  You can do it on your own, or get your sons together and go through the Courageous Living Bible study. 

Again, it's our way of saying, “Thank you,” when you make a donation to support FamilyLife.  If you do that online, type the word “STUDY” in the key code box on the online donation form, if you would, so that we know to send you this Bible study.  If you make your donation by phone, when you call 1-800 FLTODAY, just ask for the Bible study for men as you make your donation; and we will be happy to get a copy of it out to you.  Dennis—

Dennis:  Well, it's been our treat to talk to Stephen and Alex Kendrick.  They are kindred-spirit men, and it is a treat to have you guys back here on the broadcast.  We look forward to the weekend and seeing what happens and—

Bob:  I’ll be checking boxofficemojo; so call me if you have any questions.  (Laughter)

Dennis:  I look forward to what happens, along with you guys.  I asked you before we ended here today, Alex, if you would just seat your dad across the table and address him as your dad and thank him for how he did the job of being a man.

Alex:  Dad, this is your middle son.  I want to say that there are not too many people that would have a public opportunity to say, “Thank you,” to their dads.  I first take this as a great honor and a great privilege. 

But dad, through it all—I am 40 years old; and you are going to turn 70 soon.  I would say I don’t ever and have never wanted to be anybody else’s son.  I am proud of my dad, Larry Kendrick; and you are a gift to me—and for teaching me to love God—for demonstrating that yourself—your struggles were real for me and I also saw you seek the Lord for how to get past them. 

I have watched you struggle with multiple sclerosis and what it means for you; but I have also seen you impact an untold number of people because of your faith, because of your consistency.  Dad, I want to say that I love you.  I love you.  I could do a lot worse than being just like you.  I, like Stephen and like Shannon, the three of us, it is an honor to pass on a faith in Jesus Christ to our children that you introduced us to. 

We look back and we do not see a perfect dad, but we see a dad who was very real for us.  You were not a hypocrite, and I thank you for that.  I thank you for forgiving those who have hurt you and demonstrating to us that there is a Holy God in heaven who loves us, and wants the best for us and we can trust him with our life.  I learned that from you. 

So every book that we have written and every movie we have made would not have been made had you not taught us to walk with the Lord.  Thank you, Dad.  I am proud of you, and I love you.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

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