Entertainment with a Message
About the Guest
Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the writers and producers of the new movie “Fireproof" opening in theaters today. The Kendrick brothers, creators of “Facing the Giants” and “FlyWheel”, talk more about the film’s main character, Fire Chief Caleb Holt, played by Kirk Cameron, and the unusual dare he accepts that becomes the key to rebuilding his marriage.
Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the writers and producers of the new movie “Fireproof” opening in theaters today.
Bob: What happens when a church in southwest Georgia decides to make a movie? A movie like "Fireproof" that opens in theaters all around the country today, a movie that will be seen by millions of people before it's done. Producer Stephen Kendrick describes what happens when a church decides to make a movie.
Stephen: You know, you've got retired men pushing dollies and holding lights and doing the clapper. You've got homeschool kids, you know, helping with the wardrobe, and then you've got senior adult women bringing – catering the food on the set every day. It's the body being the body. When you watch the credits at the end of the movie, you're seeing the body of Christ.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, September 26th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We'll hear today about all the people who came together to make the new movie, "Fireproof," that opens in theaters all around the country today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. A pretty big night out in Hollywood last night, big red carpet premier for "Fireproof" that opens nationwide tonight, but these guys, you were walking the red carpet in Hollywood last night, huh?
Stephen: The Lord is good, the Lord is good.
Bob: You didn't get to do that with "Facing the Giants." There was no red carpet Hollywood opening for that was there?
Alex: Well, there was a small one, actually, in Hollywood. I did not do it because my wife was – were having our fifth child, and I'd rather be at that.
Bob: Yeah, there was a different kind of premier that was going on, right?
Alex: A better premier.
Dennis: Well, that, of course, is Alex Kendrick, along with his brother Stephen who co-wrote and produced and directed the new movie, "Fireproof" that is being premiered this weekend and …
Bob: It opens this weekend in a theater near you!
Dennis: That's right, and we need to make sure the – I think the Christian community really supports this movie for a number of reasons but I think, primarily, because of the message that is represented here, which is a pro-marriage, pro-covenant theme throughout the movie.
Bob: And if they're going to support this movie, this weekend is the weekend to do it, right?
Stephen: It's one of those few things that gets judged based upon three days – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and so you could spend 10 years making a movie, but opening weekend makes or breaks you, and so if people go out and see "Fireproof" this weekend, then it may expand to more theaters and more cities and impact more people for the Kingdom.
Bob: So will you be by your cell phone tonight or by your computer waiting for the daily numbers to come in?
Alex: Well, the numbers tell you how many people responded, certainly, and so, yeah, that will be interesting to see. But we hope that it expands. You know, we were thrilled with "Facing the Giants." It started off in 400 theaters, ended up in over 1,000, and we had so many responses from people ministered to by the movie that it was overwhelming. We couldn't even read them all.
Stephen: The body of Christ, too, has risen up and said, "We want this movie in our city." So we've had hundreds of cities say they've gone to fireproofthemovie.com and found out where it was, and then if they didn't have it coming to their city, they clicked on "action squads" and said "We want it coming to our city because we want to save marriages, strengthen marriages where we are."
Bob: So it's in some theaters this weekend because Christians …
Alex: About 800, yes.
Bob: A few weeks ago said, "We want it here," and made it happen.
Dennis: There was another red carpet moment, however, that didn't take place in Hollywood or Atlanta, but in Albany, Georgia. Why don't you …?
Alex: Yeah, months ago. Yeah, Sherwood Baptist Church is our home church and the church behind the prayer and, really, the service of making these movies and …
Dennis: You need to go ahead and say the church paid for this movie.
Alex: Yes. Yeah, and then so what we'd do, you know, we had 1,200 members and people in the community to help make "Fireproof," and when we did our premier, what we did is all the actors and people in the movie stand outside the ropes of the red carpet, and our church walks down the red carpet while the actors cheer them on.
Stephen: They were the ones who pray, they're the ones who gave, they're the ones who supported and, you know, you've got retired men pushing dollies and holding lights and doing the clapper. You've got homeschool kids, you know, helping with the wardrobe, and then you've got senior adult women bringing – catering the food on the set every day.
Alex: Home-cooked meals.
Stephen: It's the body being the body. When you watch the credits at the end of the movie, you're seeing the body of Christ.
Bob: So where was this premier? What theater in Albany?
Alex: It was at our church.
Bob: Oh, you did it at the church.
Alex: We got a huge, 20-foot wide screen, 15 feet tall and projected in our worship center.
Bob: GLP, Dolby SurroundSound, and the whole thing?
Alex: We did.
Dennis: So take me there. What was the emotion at the end of this movie when you showed it to your church?
Alex: Oh, yeah. You know, they are looking at people that they know and love on the screen, and they are looking at a redemptive, powerful marriage that will challenge couples across this nation, that's our prayer, and they were excited. They cheered at the very end, and we had a little over 1,000 of our members packed in one room watching it, and that also sparked them to begin the prayer process of the impact this movie could make on our nation.
Dennis: Popcorn? Did you have popcorn in your church?
Alex: No, we didn't have popcorn in the worship center.
Bob: What did showing this movie do to you, as a pastor, in terms of marriage counseling, in terms of small group studies starting about marriage, did this spark something spiritually in your church?
Stephen: Well, we wrote this move based upon our lives of knowing that marriage is a covenant not a contract; that it should be based upon unconditional love. You know, we see marriages falling apart all around us in our city, in our church, and we're doing marriage counseling, we're seeing the common issues that the couple struggle with. So we tried to write that into the dialog of "Fireproof," and then we said, "Well, here's what changes marriages, long term, is when God gets involved." When people surrender to His Lordship, when they start walking in an abiding relationship with Christ.
And so we wanted to show that on the screen because ultimately that is the answer, is letting Jesus be Lord over a marriage. He resurrects dead marriages.
Alex: And these issues we're dealing with – the issue of pornography that is so prevalent, especially for men, in our country and unfaithfulness, even emotional unfaithfulness. We touch on all these issues, and we do not do it so blatantly that you see things on the screen you shouldn't see, but you are so aware of these issues, and in many ways they're a parasite. Pornography is a parasite, because it steals your emotions, your focus, your time, your energy away from your spouse. I mean, it's really demonic, if you want to get down to it.
Dennis: Before we came into the studio, we were talking, and you gentlemen, I think, agreed that this really is an invasion of evil …
Alex: It is.
Dennis: … in the church today that close to half, if not over 50 percent of the men in the church today are dabbling in pornography; they are sampling it.
Stephen: Well, and pornography starts – lust really starts with ungratefulness for what God's given us, and we begin to set our hearts on something that is forbidden and try to take pleasure and delight in something the Lord never intended for us to have. It sets up dissatisfaction that causes us to put unrealistic expectations on our spouse, and pornography ultimately is also going to lead to anger in the home, like James 4 said, "Why is there fighting and wars and quarrels among you? Because of the lust that's within you," and then anger helps destroy that marriage.
Alex: Pornography is trying to meet a legitimate need in an illegitimate way, and when you go down that path, you are not fulfilling each other as God intends for husband and wife and vice-versa, and it starts to degrade your marriage.
Bob: And your lead character in this film is struggling with pornography – I guess at the beginning, is he struggling or does he think this is okay?
Stephen: Yeah, he thinks it's okay at the beginning of the movie, and she uses the line, "You get fulfilled by looking at trash on the Internet." We tried to be very careful in how we handled the dialog, because we never want a child to stumble from watching a Christian movie, especially. But the adults who know what pornography is are going to totally understand what's going on.
Bob: And he says back, "Well, I sure don't get it from you." And I wonder how many times that conversation has been had…
Bob: … in households, in Christian households all across the country.
Stephen: That's right.
Alex: Yeah, and so when he does that, he's using it as justification to meet his personal needs, and she sees it as something that she has to compete with and then ultimately when she disrespects him so much, you know, emotionally she begins to separate herself from him. And so pornography is just that – it is a parasite that will ruin marriages, and it will warp your view of each other.
Dennis: You've undoubtedly already had some feedback from those who have seen this movie?
Dennis: And the impact of this – well, this message you're giving, calling men away from that.
Dennis: Can you share a story with our listeners?
Alex: My goodness, there was a young man who saw "Facing the Giants," and then "Fireproof," and he called us, and he said, "I realize what I was doing with this stuff," and that he finally realized how damaging it was to his life, and his whole view and perspective of women, in general. He turned his life over to God. He pleaded with the Lord, "Please cleanse me from this," and he emptied six large garbage bags of pornographic material, threw it in the dumpster, and he said "For the first time I realized pornography for what it really is – garbage."
Stephen: He said, "I've never felt more free in my life than I do right now."
Bob: His right eye offended him, and he plucked it out and got rid of the stuff, right?
Stephen: And we use that analogy with Caleb Holt in "Fireproof" with how he tries to deal with it in his own relationship. It's a struggle.
Dennis: You know, you not only tackle some really tough issues, but there's just some great, delightful, little humorous scenes of Caleb coming out of his garage, and he has this encounter with this old codger next door.
Alex: Oh, yeah, Mr. Rudolph.
Bob: Where did you get the idea for Mr. Rudolph?
Alex: That was a combination of three of us. I wanted a neighbor to be seeing him, and I'm hesitant to give everything away – this neighbor always sees him doing something that it looks like something different than what he's really doing, and Stephen said it ought to be an old cranky man, and then Jim McBride, who is executive producer of this movie at church said, "It ought to be Bill Stafford," who was a traveling evangelist who has the perfect face for this, and so …
Dennis: This guy that is the neighbor …
Bob: Mr. Rudolph …
Dennis: … is a traveling evangelist?
Alex: Yes, he is, and he's a godly man, too, but he has a …
Dennis: I hope he dresses better than that when he preaches the Gospel.
Alex: Oh, yeah, he does. He certainly does.
Stephen: He preaches in his cowboy boots, and we decided to have him in the movie. And the water hose he is holding in "Fireproof," we said that's your smoking gun. You know, you're in your cowboy boots, this is your smoking gun when you're watching what's going on.
Alex: He was terrific. Audiences – in the 100 prescreenings we've done, audiences just go crazy over him.
Bob: You know, I've had – I had at least one pastor who said to me one time, "I resist preaching too much on marriage because every time I preach about marriage for the next six weeks my appointment book is full with people who want to come in and talk to me.
Bob: He said, "If I preach on eschatology, I can play golf the next week. But if I preach on marriage, I'm going to be in the thick of people's stuff." This movie is going to …
Stephen: We go there.
Bob: It's going to prompt some people to go home and call their pastor, call somebody, don't you think?
Stephen: It's an x-ray machine in a lot of ways because people see what they're dealing with in their own homes. They're convicted. One thing that we try to do is we show a guy – we did this in "Flywheel" as well – we show him way over here, so far from where he needs to be, and a lot of people say, "I'm not there."
But then they see a transition takes place in his life. As he's discovering, they're discovering with him, and somewhere on the journey, they join him in that journey and begin to say, "I want to begin to pour back into my marriage," and our hope is that "Fireproof" will bring some hope and some healing to some marriages out there.
Alex: And when people come see this movie – I want our listeners to hear this as well – that you will laugh, that you will cry, you will probably have some emotional reaction at some point in the movie because we try to make this movie where every couple in America could relate to certain aspects of the friction, the joy, the pain, the suffering, and the struggle that this couple goes through.
Bob: And I don't cry over a whole lot, but I do cry about Zuzu's [sp] petals in John Stewart's pockets, you know, every year at Christmas?
Alex: Zuzu's petals.
Bob: He knows, he's seen it. Zuzu's petals. But I was choking up at the end of this movie.
Dennis: You were?
Bob: I was choking up at the end of this movie because, again, there are powerful messages that are getting communicated, and I think it's touching people in some profound places.
Stephen: And our hope and prayer, Bob, is that the Lord will spark a dialog all across the nation, ultimately the world, that will do what Hebrews says and "hold up marriage in honor by all," and begin to see it more than a piece of paper but as a picture of Christ bride, the church.
Bob: I'll tell you what Mary Ann and I have decided to do on this, and we heard this idea from you, I think, a few months ago. Because we've seen the movie, we decided that we would provide child care on opening night for friends of ours who wanted to go see the film. And so we're opening up the church, and anybody that wants to drop off their kids at church, Mary Ann and I will provide the child care, they can go to the movies, and that gets folks out to see it on opening night.
Alex: What a great idea for any church to do. You know, to help your couples, as a couples ministry, watch their kids so they can go spend two hours watching a movie that is designed to spark a spiritual renewal, conviction, encouragement, and even laughter and tears.
Stephen: And our hope is not just that people will be moved emotionally and enjoy a night out with their spouse, but we're trying to work with churches so that they've got "The Love Dare" book, they've got curriculums, they can begin to launch a marriage ministry. They can do the Homebuilders program, they can go to a Weekend to Remember, they can build a marriage ministry and try to save marriages in their churches.
Alex: That's right.
Dennis: One of the themes that the movie really – well, I think tastefully does is the whole issue of perseverance and almost quitting.
Dennis: Because both of the leads in the movie really do teeter.
Alex: That's true.
Dennis: You feel it, and I just wonder, in how many marriages across our nation, even within the church, of how often there is a teetering, but there's not the father, as there is in this movie, who comes alongside the son to breathe life into the marriage and to anchor the couple in Scripture. Was that what you were trying to do there was give people courage to step into messy situations?
Alex: Yes, but, you know, you bring up another valid point – the father is a mentor, of sorts, to his son. But the church has to come and give a nurturing atmosphere to these young couples, especially, or, really, couples of any – we've got to pour more into marriage ministry in our churches, because if we're not doing it right, what example are we telling the world? We've got to do a better job of focusing on what God intended marriage and families to be, and so it doesn't have to be your biological father or mother or your biological son or daughter. You need to be pouring into other people the scriptural truth that you have learned along the journey.
Stephen: And, Bob, for those couples that are out there who are right there, they are hanging by a thread, and they're wanting to give up, and they're wanting to quit, and they're saying, "I've had enough," like Catherine does in the movie, "I want out, I want out of this relationship."
There is the Word of God that is saying, "Pray but don't quit," like Jesus said, "Be not weary in well doing." You can hang on. There is the Holy Spirit in us encouraging us to hang on. There is the church that should be around us, encouraging us, cheering us on. The cloud of witnesses around us, and then there are so many marriages that you know about that you've seen personally in your ministry where God has brought healing where there was death and Christ resurrected a dead marriage and where those people are saying, "You can hang on. God can resurrect this marriage, and He can strengthen and make it something beyond anything you can ever hope or imagine."
Dennis: You know, it's to that point, Stephen – just before we came in here, we were talking about a couple you are counseling. You ask "What did I recommend you do," because you describe them much as the couple in this movie. They are hanging by a thread. What should a couple do? Because I think the movie is going to be used to give people courage to grab hold of the thread, but where do they go then?
Well, yes, they need to get involved in their church. That, ultimately, long haul, is the key, and a church that preaches the Scripture, but here is where I've got to encourage couples. If you take a couple to this movie, and it gives them hope to begin to deal with their marriage, get them to a Weekend to Remember. Yes, get the love dare, get them involved in that process, but the Weekend to Remember takes them into the biblical blueprints for building a godly relationship. And it does it in a Friday night, all day Saturday, half-day Sunday, and for many couples, knowing the blueprints together, learning it together, getting a vocabulary together, learning how to resolve conflict, learning that there's more at stake in their marriage than just their happiness. The conference can be used in their lives not only to give them hope but to turn hope into a reality, and I know that's what you want to do because of the movie.
Stephen: Well, and we so believe in Weekends to Remember we've put it on our website, Fireproofmymarriage.com. We've put a lot of resources out there because there are so many marriage ministries out there, and Weekends to Remember is one of the best out there – something you can go to and begin to interact with real people, hear real stories, and God can do a work there.
Alex: God is in the business of resurrecting dead things. He resurrected Jesus Christ. He resurrects us spiritually when we turn to Him and profess faith in Jesus Christ. He can resurrect a dead marriage where love can bloom where love never was, and when you choose to love your spouse by choice, and you make that commitment and that covenant, because that's the way God uses it, and you turn to Him, using God's love as a resource, you can love in ways you never thought possible, and God can resurrect your love for one another and your marriage.
Stephen: Dennis, forgiveness is often the key. Beginning, it's to first base to really restore a marriage, and when I see couples that I'm working with, you can't heal until you forgive. The healing process doesn't really begin until you forgive somebody, and Jesus used the analogy of setting someone free from a prison. And when we get wounded by our spouse, what we do is we throw them in a little prison inside of our hearts, and we say, "You owe me, you hurt me, and I'm not going to set you free."
And Scripture says it only poisons us. It's only messing with our lives, and it messes with us spiritually with our relationship with God, and so forgiveness is not saying that what they did was okay or they're going to get away with it. It's saying that I'm releasing my anger, I'm releasing this person out of a prison in my heart. I'm turning them over to the Lord, I'm turning my anger over to the Lord. God is judge, he's going to deal with them, and I'm going to show them mercy just like Christ showed me on the cross.
Alex: When you judge your spouse, you are taking God's rightful place as ultimate judge away from Him, and that is not our right to do.
Dennis: And, ultimately, forgiveness means you give up the right to punish the other person. You, in essence, let them out of the jail, and when you let them out of the jail, that prison that you have them in, many times you find out the person who has really been in prison …
Alex: Is you.
Dennis: Is you. And that, to me, is one of the great themes of your movie as I watch this couple who have battled through all their disagreements and all their disappointment, they ultimately came to that point of forgiveness, and I think that's one of the most powerful themes in the entire movie.
Bob: Let's put this thing in perspective for our listeners. When "Batman" came out, opening weekend, $155 million, right?
Dennis: Yeah, but how much did it cost to make?
Alex: About that.
Bob: That much or more, yeah.
Dennis: Okay, all right.
Bob: You guys spent a half million making this movie?
Bob: "Facing the Giants" did $10 million box office in the United States, right?
Bob: Can this movie do $10 million this weekend?
Alex: That's up to the listeners.
Stephen: Only the Lord knows.
Alex: It's possible. If people go out and – we're not saying don't go out and support it just because you feel for Christian movies not doing well. You go out and support this because it's an investment in your own life and in your own marriage and your own relationship with God.
Dennis: You're not going to be sorry you went to this movie. I can promise you.
Stephen: This is a fun movie.
Dennis: I can promise you, you will not be sorry. This is a great date night.
Alex: And we're talking about "Fireproof," by the way.
Dennis: That's exactly right, "Fireproof."
Bob: Which opens this weekend in theaters all across the country, and we do hope listeners will get out there and support it, and we hope it runs for many weeks in theaters and then we're excited to find out what's next. I know you are, too, right?
Stephen: Well, the Lord knows that, too. So if people go to Fireproofthemovie.com, they can watch the trailer, they can see some clips and then find out where it's playing.
Bob: And we've got a link to that site on our website at FamilyLife.com as well.
Dennis: And I just want to say thanks to you, Alex and Stephen, for using your gifts in a relevant manner. And I also want to say thanks to Sherwood Church for a group of believers who are thinking outside the box. That's cool. That is really, really cool, and your church and your pastor are to be applauded for that. And we look forward to what's to come in the future, and I just am waiting for the movie that Bob is going to star in.
Alex: There you go.
Bob: I could have been a contender – I could have been somebody.
Alex: Thank you, guys, it's been an honor.
Stephen: Thank you very much.
Dennis: "Fireproof" or "Knockout Proof," what do you think?
Bob: I think folks better stick with "Fireproof," which opens in movie theaters all across the country this weekend. You can go to our website, FamilyLife.com. On the right side of the home page you'll see a box that says "Today's Broadcast." If you click where it says "Learn More," that will take you to an area of the site where there is a link to the "Fireproof" website. You can find out when the movie is playing in a theater near where you live. There is also information about the "Fireproof" book, the novel that tells the story of "Fireproof," and the book, "The Love Dare," that comes from the movie "Fireproof." All of that's on our website, FamilyLife.com. Again, when you get to the home page, click on the right side of the screen where it says "Today's Broadcast," and plan to go see the movie this weekend and call some friends and take them with you. I think you'll enjoy seeing "Fireproof."
And let me take just a minute here, if I can, and say a special word of thanks to those of you who have helped support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We are listener-supported, and it's your contributions in the past that have made it possible for FamilyLife Today to be on this station and on other stations all across the country, and we do appreciate your financial support.
We hope when you give to FamilyLife Today that you're not taking away from giving to your local church. We believe that the local church needs to be your first priority when it comes to financial support. But, beyond that, as you are able to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, we not only appreciate it, we want to send you a thank you gift this month.
We had a conversation not long ago with Dr. Emerson Eggerichs who wrote the book, "Love and Respect," and we talked about communication, one of the areas where marriages often break down. We'd like to send you the two CDs that feature our conversation with Dr. Eggerichs when you make a donation of any amount this month for the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
You can donate online at FamilyLife.com, and if you do that, and you'd like the CDs, type the word "code" into the keycode box, c-o-d-e. Or simply call 1-800-FLTODAY and make a donation over the phone and request the CDs on communication. Again, we're happy to send them to you as our way of saying thanks for your support of this ministry, and we do appreciate hearing from you.
And we hope you have a great weekend this weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and we hope you can join us back on Monday when bestselling author Jerry Jenkins is going to join us. We're going to talk about some of the steps he has taken in his marriage to make sure his marriage stays fireproof. That comes up Monday, and I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. Also special thanks to our friends at the WinShape Foundation for their help in getting out the word about the move "Fireproof." On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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