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Christian Filmmakers Need To Take the Land
Copyright 2001 Mitch Robbins

On D-Day, the 6th of June, 1944, one of history's largest assault forces began to recapture France from the occupying German army. The ultimate goal of this invasion was to defeat the Germans and liberate Europe from the iron grip of Hitler's Nazi war machine.
Allied air forces provided air cover for the invasion, as well as transport for three airborne divisions. More than 5,000 vessels of the Allied navy-from battleships to landing craft-carried and landed the 130,000-troop assault force along fifty miles of Normandy coast. Paratroopers from more than 1,000 transport aircraft dropped to secure the flanks and beach exits of the assault area. The British and Canadian troops landed on beaches that were designated Gold, Juno and Sword. The Americans landed on Utah and Omaha beaches.
Good soldiers. Among the many brave units that served during that invasion, the outstanding group known as the Rangers is an example to us as Christian filmmakers. God has called us-along with evangelists and missionaries-to conduct ourselves in a way that befits good soldiers of the cross. We have been called to be God's Rangers to establish spiritual beachheads in our society and culture.
At the beginning of World War II, the Rangers worked and trained hard to prepare for the extreme requirements of their mission. These men weren't called Rangers until they earned it. The following quotation is from the Rangers' History Archives.
Promoted to major, Darby performed a near miracle in organizing the unit within a few weeks after receiving his challenging assignment. Thousands of applicants from the 1st Armored Division and the 34th Infantry Division and other units in N. Ireland were interviewed by his hand-picked officers, and after a strenuous weeding-out program at Carrickfergus, the First Ranger Battalion was officially activated there on 19 June, 1942.

But more rugged and realistic training with live ammunition was in store for the Rangers at the famed Commando Training Center at Achnacarry, Scotland. Coached, prodded and challenged by the battle-seasoned Commando instructors, commanded by Colonel Charles Vaughan, the Rangers learned the rudiments of Commando warfare. Five hundred of the six hundred volunteers that Darby brought with him to Achnacarry survived the Commando training with flying colors, although one Ranger was killed and several wounded by live fire.
Resistance. Although each aspect of the invasion was critical, and many brave men accomplished much, the landing at Omaha Beach typifies the events of that great and terrible day.
When the first wave of American troops landed at Omaha Beach at 6:30 a.m., the men encountered fierce resistance from the German defenses. The men of the 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions and the Army Rangers encountered a wall of steel, barbed wire, and land mines along the 7,000 yards of the Normandy shore. From the bluffs overlooking the beach German positions raked the beaches with deadly machine-gun and mortar fire. The assault was stopped at the water's edge for most of the morning.
By mid-morning Lt. General Omar Bradley, United States First Army commander, considered pulling off the beach and attempting a landing elsewhere along the coast. The success of the whole invasion was at stake. If the American troops could not establish a position in this area, a German wedge in the front lines could divide the Allied forces and put them at risk of a German counterattack.
Colonel Max Schneider led the 5th Ranger Battalion during the invasion. The mission of the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions was to capture gun fortifications on Pointe du Hoe, west of Omaha Beach. During the landing, heavy enemy resistance delayed companies of the 2nd Ranger Battalion from gaining a foothold atop Pointe du Hoe. As he and his battalion approached Omaha Beach under intense enemy fire, Col. Schneider realized there was no beachhead. He swung the flotilla east and managed to bring his Rangers on shore intact, ready to fight.
Despite fierce machine-gun, mortar and artillery fire, three companies assaulted the perpendicular cliffs of Pointe du Hoe and destroyed a large gun battery that would have wreaked havoc on the Allied fleets offshore. The Rangers fought for two days and two nights without relief, until the 5th Ranger Battalion linked up with them, storming the beach under heavy enemy fire and establishing a position on Omaha Beach.
The Rangers then broke across the sea wall and barbed-wire entanglements and braved strong enemy machine-gun and mortar fire to take the pillbox-rimmed heights. Then they advanced four miles to the key town of Vierville. This opened the beach for supporting troops to land and expand the beachhead.
Every year we remember the sixth of June 1944 and the thousands of brave men who laid their lives on the line at Normandy. With great pride and sadness we honor their sacrifice and the place they won in our history. Their determination and faithfulness to the enormous task before them enabled the Allies to establish a critical beachhead in Europe. This successful invasion was the beginning of the end to the terror and bloodshed of World War II.
Another war. Today we are in another war, which some describe as a war between a moral and an immoral culture. On the surface, this is true. However, the real battle is a spiritual battle between the demonic forces of Satan that hold people captive, and God's people who will overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. The Church of Jesus Christ has been commissioned to spread the gospel and to liberate people from the enemy's bondage. As Christian filmmakers, we believe God has called us to proclaim the gospel in film and video.
God's Requirements for Entering the Battle
Deuteronomy 20:1-9
When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people, And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it. And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it. And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.

And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart. And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.
This passage makes it clear that not everyone is ready for the battle. It takes personally knowing God and His greatness and power. It takes trusting in Him, not in the arm of flesh. It takes courage born out of seeing God work over and over again in our lives and others' lives, knowing that nothing can stand before Him as He goes before us. It takes having an undivided heart toward God and the purpose for which He has called us.
Notice that after saying, "Be not afraid of them," God has Joshua and the priests name the things that would disqualify someone from taking part in the battle.
What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? ... that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? ... that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? ... And ... that is fearful and fainthearted?
The first three have to do with a divided heart. They are not evil things. They are not sin. They are areas of our lives where we find ourselves distracted or unprepared to give 100% to the effort of the battle. God knows the times in our lives, such as right before or after we get married, when we may not be ready to concentrate on the battle. He tells those to take care of their responsibilities with no rebuke or stigma attached.
Everyone who finds himself in this situation needs to attend to those distracting things and let God bring him back to a singleness of heart concerning His purpose for him. That person can still be a big part of God's plan through prayer and support, but it may not be God's time for him to join the front line action.
The fourth point addresses those who are fearful or faint-hearted. God is not talking about nervousness or "butterfly stomach" that may bother us when sharing the gospel. I often feel this way myself, because I know my own inadequacy to share the gospel effectively and my need to trust God to work through me.
The fear God is talking about here comes from a lack of trust in God's love and infinite power. This can be a big problem, because this kind of fear is sin. It was one of the main reasons God did not allow the first generation of Israelites to enter the Promised Land. If we find ourselves in this frame of mind, we must turn to God and humbly acknowledge this sin. We need to spend time getting to know Him and let the Holy Spirit begin working in our lives and our families' before stepping out in the serious ministry of spreading the gospel. We need to let God prepare us, lest our fear affect others around us and hinder the work of the gospel.
Rigorous training. Christian filmmakers, God wants us all ready to fight in the battle. We need to train to be the best in every technical and artistic aspect of production, marketing, distribution, and support services. More than that, He wants us to be spiritually prepared. We need to read God's word and through faith and obedience learn to walk in God's ways. God wants to bless the work that we do, but His blessing is for those who diligently listen to His voice and obey Him.
Leviticus 20:1-12 says-
And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.

Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.

The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways. And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee.

And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee. The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.
God has called us to take the land. Joshua 1:1-9 foreshadows our ministry to win people to Jesus Christ.
Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.

Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.

There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
This passage shows that God will go before us and give us the land wherever our feet shall tread. We won't take back the land by just waiting for God to hand it to us. He has the power to do it, but He has chosen to involve us in the process. He will not give us any land that we do not step out in faith and walk upon. There are many areas of the film industry that we will need to take by stepping out in faith and doing what God tells us to do. There are areas of financing and production, areas of marketing and distribution. All of the technical, artistic and spiritual aspects of this industry will need to be taken back from the enemy by faithful obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
We can't let the size of the task or the faces of those occupying the land cause us to shrink back. We can't let the hardship of our part of the mission discourage us. Some will be able to establish their part of the beachhead with little initial resistance. Others, encountering the brunt of the enemy's defenses, will need to make great sacrifices.
Our commander. God knows where He has placed his forces. On the Normandy beaches, some of the toughest assignments fell to units of the United States Rangers. Whether by providence or by the skill of the Allied commanders they were the best prepared for that kind of fighting. If less-experienced units had been assigned to scale the cliffs next to Omaha Beach, they would have almost surely been defeated. But the Rangers could do the job because of their training and preparation.
The same is true of us as Christian filmmakers. As it wasn't enough for a man just to call himself a Ranger, it's not enough for us just to call ourselves Christian filmmakers. We must equip ourselves and equip others in every aspect of the work God has called us to do. Our personal lives as well as our films need to reflect moral and spiritual purity and loving obedience to God's word. As our commander, God has laid out clear specifications for those who want to join His army. It's up to us to let Him prepare our hearts as well as our technical skills for the battle ahead. Be not afraid… God will go before us!