Newsletter – Volume 25


Newsletter – Volume 25

December 11, 2023

This Week

Updates from the back of the pen
Meet Neal...

Not every black sheep is known for their straying from the fold. Some earn that honorary status for their willingness to stand up for the good in the midst of social and cultural pressure to cave. Such is Neal McDonough’s story.

Neil is an American actor who has a long list of accomplishments. He has been a character in a variety of popular movies and TV series, among them NYPD Blue, X-Files, Desperate Housewives, Band of Brothers, CSI, Yellowstone, Suits, and most recently, in the new faith-based film The Shift. Although he is an award winning actor and is highly regarded for his work on animated films and video games, his real claim to fame is his unconventional stance on what he will and will not do on film.

McDonough is a devout Catholic. In 2003, McDonough married Ruvé Robertson, a South African model whom McDonough met in the United Kingdom while filming Band of Brothers. Since being married, he has refused to perform sex scenes because of his faith and respect for his wife. He was actually fired from the TV series Scoundrels for his refusal to perform sex scenes.

“I won’t do kissing scenes,” McDonough said in an interview with podcaster Michael Rosenbaum, “I’ve never wanted to do it. I got crucified about it 10 years ago where they thought I was this religious zealot, because I wouldn’t do sex scenes. It was simply because I love my wife more than my craft and people just couldn’t understand that.”

He is our kind of Black Sheep Messenger!

Word of the Week


Noun: the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil

The courthouse in Oskaloosa Iowa is covered in red lights.  I’m not sure if it is meant to be religiously significant, but it’s not only a beautiful display, it is also a powerful picture of the gospel.  Jesus came as one under the law to redeem those who couldn’t keep the law. He came to secure their adoption as sons and daughters of the most high – by the shedding of his blood on the cross.  That story (though planned from the beginning of time), was revealed in the fullness of time at Christmas.  It still moves me! Amid the typical hustle and bustle of the season, how are you planning to remind yourself of the main reason for the season in the week ahead?

A Movie Worth Seeing

The Shift With Neal McDonough

Review: The Shift works as an edge-of-your-seat thriller as well as an uplifting story about considering the consequences of your actions.

Carol and I saw the movie this past weekend. It is produced by the same folks who created the popular TV series The Chosen (Angel Studios), and if you are a fan of the show, you will recognize some of the main characters in this film. This story is a sci-fi-ish recreation of the story of Job. Neal McDonough plays the evil benefactor (Satan), and his performance is quite convincing! Throughout the film the main character is challenged by the Benefactor to choose between selfish/unselfish decisions. Part of what I appreciated about the film was its honest portrayal that choosing the right thing doesn’t always lead to great personal outcomes. In my experience, many Christian films have cheesy predictable plot lines that are ultimately disappointing. This one avoids that trap. In conclusion, it wasn’t necessarily my favorite movie, and it didn’t live up to The Chosen in my view. But I was glad to support this production in hopes that they continue producing quality Christian content for the masses.

Watch the trailer with theaters and movie times HERE.

A personal request

Healing Prayer

Pocket Prayer: O Lord, you promise to give wisdom and insight to those who ask in faith (James 1:5). We are asking!

This is my nephew, Andrew Koke. He unexpectedly found himself in the hospital with severe chest pains. They discovered a partially collapsed lung and have run into a few complications along the way. He has been in the hospital for almost a week, and they are still trying to sort out the cause and the best way forward with treatment. He has been living in Louisville (close to his brother), but his parents recently joined him (traveling from NC), and they are asking for prayer for wisdom on next steps and a speedy recovery. Please join them!

Now Available

Pocket Prayers Devotional
(digital version)

“Even a black sheep knows that the soul needs to be fed…”

For the past couple weeks, we have been excited to share the news about the soon-to-be released Pocket Prayers Devotional. Unfortunately, we have run into several production delays, and they are now scheduled to be shipped on December 11. As soon as they arrive, we will be shipping to all who have placed advance orders. You should still have them in time for Christmas (in case you have plans to share them as gifts). In addition, we have also added another reading option for those who prefer to read on their mobile device. The digital version of our devotional is available HERE.

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