Movies

Avengers 2.0

Image result for the avengers infinity war

It’s been a long time coming, but it is finally here and I am so excited to share this piece with you. I love the MCU and this list isn’t exhaustive, but there enough to serve a purpose.

Captain America used to be the traditional legalistic one, but he realized that traditional thinking wouldn’t save his friend. Many of us have to go through the reality check of life, have our beliefs challenged, and have to do what Paul said and become all things to all people so that some may be saved. Our change in thinking, like Captain America, will cause people to look at us weird and ultimately we must separate ourselves, so that we may become all we were meant to be and reach those we couldn’t before. Nevertheless, when the time comes, we put our differences aside and rise to the task at hand.

Thor is the broken Christian who has endured so much rain in his life, loss after loss, struggle after struggle. Yet, the rain only strengthens him, and his anger builds persistence and perseverance, for he continues to avenge the Enemy from destroying anyone else without giving up on himself. Thor’s story speaks to those of us who can’t seem to get a break from life. We try so hard to stay face, but we struggle on the inside; we try so desperately to be strong but we are so broken, yet like Thor, every loss, every thunderstorm, reveals a higher level of the gifts God put inside of us. Our power then, delivers and liberates more people, just as Thor.

Iron Man is the believer whom the Lord humbled in order that he realize that it’s not all about him. Iron man Christians become so poor in spirit that they do whatever they can to reconcile, but become pious as Captain American Christians started off to be, but their heart is to keep others from making the same, if not bigger, mistakes than they did, when their ego creeps back up and they believe they know best. The safety net though, is the realization that we all have a different flavor in our worship and ministry, but the salt is the most important spice in our seasoning. The spiciness among the body may cause friction, but when the Chef blends us just right, we can take on alien armies.

Black Panther represents the Christian who is trying to find his own faith. It’s not that he doubts his faith, but life forced him to make it personal, make it real, which required him to break familial curses, finding his own strength. Those of us like this avenger, the Black Panther Christians, are just trying to make our mark in this world and fully understand the mantle the Lord has given us, which forces us to get out of the bubble we grew up in and allow God to do new things, greater still is that the Lord will place people around us to encourage us and hold us accountable to do better and be better.

Scarlett Witch represents one of those persons who have been blessed with heavy gifts, like seeing in the Spirit, but used it in darkness with out the apart from the Spirit. Because her gifts were so unique and so powerful, it caused others to fear her, misunderstand her, and shun her because of them, something that happens too often in the church. But, when this type of Christian gives her gifts over to the Lord, she not only finds her own freedom, demons tremble and the heaviest chains are broken. Most important, it is imperative that she surrounds herself with people who will encourage her and cover her with prayer, and angel armies will protect her.

The Hulk went from one extreme to the other. Originally he was ashamed and timid of the power and gift and did not embrace that which was within him. As we see his character develop, he was in a place where his gift was taken advantage of and his pride got the best of him and he actually lost who he was. He never lost his gifting, but he lost sight of what mattered and what his purpose was. Therefore, when an Enemy came that was bigger and stronger, he wasn’t prepared and he got scared. However, he is on the journey of rediscovering himself and we will wait and see what the Lord does.

Spiderman Christians are the newbies who have no idea about the Christian walk, but have the heart and desire to make a difference and be apart of God’s avenger team, making plenty of mistakes. What keeps this Christian from spiraling is a mentor, someone to come alongside him as Iron Man did, helping him grow and mature in Christ.

Gamora is the Christian who is just trying to escape her past, but around every corner is a reminder of her bondage. She has tried to reconcile, but her bitterness limited her ability to love, though she desired relationship, but we do see her growth and her strength. However, it’s her anger and inability to forgive that is her downfall, but thankfully, in Christ there is always restoration; He can reach down deep in the bottom of the pit through the thickest muck and darkness and lift us out.

Star-Lord is the guy who came to church because of a girl and found redemption. He experienced terrible loss and has yet to really deal with what happened in his past, so that when a similar situation occurs in his present, he loses focus, creating a heavier burden for those fighting with him. This Christian wants to be better, he just has to be more intentional and deliberate and not get in his own way, especially with his mouth.

Black Widow found her way. In my first avengers blog, she was the one working for her salvation. At this point, this lady avenger found her groove and though she still had some difficult decisions to make in her redemption journey, her heart was softened and she was able to love and receive love for the first time. She stopped working for salvation and accepted the gift, as one accepts God’s gift, and continued her work because she finally received and became confident in her salvation.

Dr. Strange is like the church usher who takes his job way too seriously. Granted, ushers are important and often times determine if a person returns to the church or not, but like Captain America, when these Christians recognize that people matter more than ministry, that love is more important than their gift, they are able to draw so many more people to the foot of the cross.

The White Wolf is the Christian that just needs some extra grace. He had a rough past that some church people won’t accept, but we must embrace him and remind him of God’s love. He wants to be please God and tries with all he’s got, but if we are deliberate enough to reach out and love him no matter what, this Christian will become a mighty force in the Kingdom, if we don’t we will lose him forever.

These individuals all have their unique strengths and unbecoming tendencies, however, we don’t have to be super rich or super smart to be a super hero, nor do we need some scientific enhancement, intentional or otherwise. We are superheroes when we allow God to use the little we are to do super things out of the regular things. We are of another world, like Gamora, and require training and discipline like Dr. Strange. and if we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us daily, our power and impact on the world around us will be far above what we could dream.

We are in fact avengers for those who have gone before us, avenging the world that was once perfect, but tainted by sin, ruled by Satan, and it’s the Holy Spirit presence that keeps the Enemy at bay, but there is still so much work to do; in one way or another we fight every single day. Just keep being you for a purpose, the superhero you already are.

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Zero to Hero

hercules

As I was eating Chipotle and admiring the voices of the muses, the story of Hercules is one that isn’t necessarily uncommon, but watching Disney’s rendition I just wanted to reflect upon and prayerfully encourage you in the process.

Although Hercules was born a god, we were made in the image of God purposed for the extraordinary, but the Devil, like Hades, has other plans for our lives and does all he can to destroy us and mess up God’s plans, ultimately trying to gain control. Through the temptation that led to sin, we were stripped of our immortality and we are always at war with the Devil who tries to rule, though he is well aware of what will happen to him in the end, similar to the movie.

Nevertheless, I want to continue with Hercules, as seen in the movie from the beginning, his parents knew something was special about him and as he grew up his strength grew, yet still he was immature and lacked self-control. As a result, others weren’t too fond of him or took well to his gifts and so he was often left out, misunderstood, and put in awkward situations. Sounds like me, and I’m sure sounds like you, even a little bit, which makes me so thankful for those who encourage me, pray for me, and help me to nurture the gifts and strengths I have. Then there are the times when people doubt what you are able to do time after time again in addition to training like Hercules, praying, fasting, and seeking His face. But you have to remain faithful, even when the Lord shows you glimpses of the hero you will become. And yeah, there are times we get anxious, get in way over our head, forget some of the things we learned, but victory is not always perfect and pretty. This takes time and a decision to develop and become all of who God intended you to be, and usually when you are least expecting it to happen, God opens a door and people begin to believe who you are and the power of your gift, whatever it may be, but beware of the Achilles’ heel of pride.

As we see in the movie (I won’t spoil it), the greatest way to demonstrate and or mirror the image of God, is humility. Jesus himself was the humblest and greatest hero in being the ultimate sacrifice for us as wretched as we are, in the same manner we have to die to ourselves daily and put others’ needs ahead of our own.

All in all, I just wanted to encourage you to stay the course and don’t run from your gift or your God-given strengths no matter how misunderstood you are or how little confidence others have in you. Take the story of Hercules and know that your time is coming, but it will take heart and patience to truly be you for a purpose and be what Heaven intended.

Gothel

gothel

I can’t believe I am saying this, but “Tangled” has become one of my favorite Disney princess movies. However when I watch it, I am reminded of how damaged many of them were because of things that were told to them by those closest to them, which today would be easily called emotional abuse. Nonetheless, the last time I was watching it, I was again drawn to the character of Gothel, Rapunzel’s “mother.”

The story’s focus is on the sun and how a piece of it fell from the heavens and could bring healing and restoration. You may already see where I am going with this. Needless to say, that’s the exact thing that the Son did, he came down from the heavens and brought healing and restoration to whoever was in need, and that awesome power is still available today. The problem though, is that there are way too many Gothels, because if you remember the movie, she did everything she could to hide it and didn’t even consider the queen worthy enough to receive its gift. She wanted to keep it all to herself, like so many of us.

Too often those of us that know of the healing and saving power of the Rose of Sharon, just as the special golden flower in the movie, refuse to share it and instead hide Christ. We want Jesus all to ourselves or we falsely make judgments of who deserves his power and salvation, and as a result, the world around us suffers greatly. I mean just look around and listen to the news; it really is depressing. It’s as if people have truly lost their minds and it’s only getting worse. The world is in need of serious healing, and like the people in the movie, the world is searching for a miracle that only heaven can bring, because time in fact is running out. The world is desperately looking for a savior, and as a believer, we have what this sick land needs, but we hide it.

For some strange reason, like Gothel we hoard Christ and put him in this box of what he can and should do, limiting his expanse throughout the nations. Like Gothel, maybe we are afraid that someone will take our gift away and we will lose access to it, or the power will run out, or it will get in the wrong hands, or perhaps we are just greedy or prideful, let alone understand the greatness of what it is we possess. The awesome thing about the gift of the Son from the heavens is that his power stretches far beyond Rapunzel’s; he will never lose power and we will always have access to him no matter how much we share him with others. No one can separate us from his love or snatch us out of his hand. And all that he does is for our good, no one can misuse or manipulate him no matter how much they try. However, when we refuse to share the gift and the power that has been given to us, we in turn become powerless, because the more we pour out the more he will fill us up and the more we are able to see the awesome of the power of the Son. There is no reason to be stingy, hold out, contain it, or confine Jesus to one thing, like Gothel did in trying to stay young. Far too many are dying without the golden flower, the Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the Valley. Don’t let that blood be on your hands because you want things your way.

The world as I already said is in need of a drop of Son-light from Heaven; it’s crying out for a miracle, and we have it in our possession as followers of Christ.  So being you for a purpose is simply sharing the gift of Heaven however you can so that others can be healed and saved physically, mentally, emotionally, and especially spiritually. Being you for a purpose is realizing that you are the hope and the light the world is searching for, so let the Son use you to spread his power. After all, that is what we were commanded to do.

 

What Else is There?

It’s a safe bet to say that my favorite princess movie ever is “The Swan Princess,” and if you haven’t seen it, your life is not complete. One of the the reasons I love it so much is that Princess Odette is her own person and not flaky nor superficial. How? When the Prince Derek announces his decision to marry her, she proceeded to ask him what else other than her beauty did he like about her, to which he responded “What else is there?” Heartbroken, she leaves and the wedding, as you may guess, was called off.

When I think of those exchanging of questions, it reminds me of a passage I recently read in John chapter six. In the particular conversation, Jesus I believe is a bit frustrated, disappointed, and possibly even hurt, because many of his followers were leaving him because what he was preaching was hard to accept, let alone follow. It happens so often today still, those that started off with Christ, the Enemy comes and chokes out the word because they get discouraged or it seems too overwhelming and people give up on God, and they turn back. Even as those who actually witnessed Jesus and saw him perform miracles and heard God in the flesh, the creator of the universe speak and teach, if so many would turn, why would it be any different now? However, what makes me think Jesus was somewhat hurt is the question that he would then ask his disciples.

“You do not want to leave me too, do you?”

I can very well be wrong, but to me it seems that the emotion of Jesus was so heartfelt and real and it’s a question I think so many, including myself, have asked. Especially when you choose to be yourself for a purpose, people will walk away and you may have to walk away from some people, and truth be told you may lose more than you expected and it gets to the point where you ask “are you going to leave me too?” The problem is that when you give people real, in this case meaning exemplifying the person God has called you to be, not everyone can and will accept it, but you must go on, even if that means you have to walk alone sometimes, believing that in His time and in His way He will put the right people to walk alongside of you on the journey toward your destiny. It’s so real and I love Jesus even more, because he really did have emotions, those that are genuine and very relatable, considering how he still recognized the fact that though not everyone would walk away from him, at least one would betray him and hurt him even more than those who walked away, but yet, he was not deterred from the assignment he had to complete. He knew he couldn’t change who he was nor the calling and purpose given to him, which is a message to me to keep going and being what God has called me to be for a purpose, because my purpose is so much greater than me and I can’t let emotions or other the misunderstanding and unwillingness of other people sway what I know to be true. But, getting back to the story, the crux of why I alluded to the “Swan Princess” is in the response of Peter to Jesus.

“Lord, to whom shall we go?”

“What else is there?” asked Prince Derek. Though the motive and reasoning is different, same idea applies. What other choice do you have? Where else can you go? What else has such significance? What else is important enough to even consider another? What else matters? Not so much for Derek, which he did come to realize, but Peter was exactly right. The truth is that apart from Jesus, nothing else matters. It is he and he alone that we are able to be who we are, because he is the one that created us. It is he and he alone who gives us meaning and purpose in life. Apart from him, there is no hope, there is no future, and there is no life, just emptiness and unwavering void. One thing I tend to say is that without him I can do nothing; without him I am nothing. It all starts and ends with him. It all revolves around him, his will, and his eternal word.

Consequently, “what else is there?” Other than being all that you were called, created, and destined to be, what else is there that will give you such satisfaction, peace of mind, completion, joy, and significance and make you irreplaceable? Settling for something less than God’s absolute best, or choosing to clone another person or a culture or the world will demean and limit the power of God in your life to do all that He so desperately desires to do. I mean seriously, the Jesus, the God who spoke the very world into existence, the same one who created the universes with his very word, the same one who controls the seas and the wind, and the same one who by touching the very hem of his garment a woman was healed, is the same one who took His precious time and thought in designing and crafting you specifically with a purpose in mind. Say what?? That is so mind-blowing to me. I mean, why would anyone not choose to live the life that was awesomely and uniquely tailor made for them by that same God who not only placed the stars in the sky, but knows them all, each by name? Like the song says, I have no other choice.

Truly, there is nothing else than to just be you for the purpose that God intended.

Ephialtes

300

So, if you know me, you that one of my absolutely favorite movies of all times, though it is rated R, is 300. If you have seen it, I don’t need to explain why; if you haven’t seen it, I won’t explain, just rent it and you will understand the greatness of this movie. There are amazing and dynamic characters and so many great one-liners, and truth be told, I considered it before, but not until I last watched it that I finally was able to put thoughts together to write.

With all that being said, it is one specific character that caught my attention, whose story reflects what I attempt to share as I write. Ephialtes. He was a deformed Spartan whose hearts desire was to fight like his father, however when he approached King Leonidas, Leonidas respectfully denied, yet gave him another option to aid in the battle for freedom, which Ephialtes did not like. Thus, he betrayed his allegiance and long story short went to the enemy’s camp, Xerxes, god-king of Persia, to get the “honor” he wanted.

It made me think, so often we have in mind what we want to do solely on the culture around us; we want to fit in. However, God tells us no, we get upset, frustrated, and tend to do stupid things. However, like Leonidas, God will tell us or show us where how He can best use us, highlighting our strengths, but because sometimes it is too “small of a task” we take things into our own hands, we don’t like the background, we want to be in the front. The problem is that these “big tasks” can’t function, let alone succeed without those behind the scenes, those bandaging the wounded and giving them water or collecting dead bodies. Just like a body, every enzyme not seen with the naked eye is significant, and without it we would falter gravely. Ephialtes was blinded to this by his pride. As a result, he did the worse possible thing.

He went to Xerxes, asking for the same thing as Leonidas, and like Satan, Xerxes played to his pleasures and stroked his ego, and all he had to do was kneel, the exact same way that Devil tempted Jesus. This kneeling was not out of reverence or love, but of greed, arrogance, and manipulation. The Devil comes the same way, as an angel of light, appealing to our desires and pride, but it is not in God’s will or timing, thus we need to run far from it. Like Xerxes, the only thing Satan has in mind is destruction, giving in to those temptations is what damages our relationship with God, families, reputation, honor, and testimony. The problem is that we want when we want it how we want it.

If you look back in the conversation Ephialtes had with King Leonidas, you notice that he asked him to stand. That is so profound to me, because God has called us to stand, to be strong in Him and confident to face whatever Hell has to throw at us, trusting in His power and love, His mercy and grace, His provision and protection. Kneeling before Him and worship is a given, but it’s a choice we make on our own; those under Leonidas’ rule gladly knelt before him out of respect and a genuine love for him, Xerxes on the other hand, if not coerced, they just did so out of duty and to keep “getting.” Like the Devil, Xerxes just gave him what he wanted so he could get what he wanted, not because he actually cared, but he wanted to destroy the other kingdom.

So many get caught in that web and we miss the great opportunity that God has for us in serving Him in a way that brings out the best in us; we want someone else’s gift and hinder God from using us and Him shining through us. Like God sees in us, Leonidas saw the best in Ephialtes and catered toward his strength; like Satan does to us, Xerxes saw the worse in Ephialtes and played to his weakness. It wasn’t until he sees Leonidas again face-to-face that he realizes how completely wrong he was, just through Leonidas’ compassion; he still blessed Leonidas. In the same way whenever we come back to the loving arms of our King, His arms are open and He still desires to bless us, even though it was our betrayal that lead Him to a glorious death on the as was Leonidas. As well, pleasure and satisfaction only lasts temporarily when Satan gives it to you, operating outside of purpose and your function, and the aftermath is destruction, brokenness, emptiness, ineffectiveness, and guilt.

Being you for a purpose is accepting and embracing the strengths God has given you, not being prideful or jealous of other people’s gifts. God already knows how He can and wants to use you, and in whatever way, big or small, it will bring glory and you will shine in your differences, so don’t try to blend in; God doesn’t like to use blenders. God wants the best for us, and He truly cares and sees the best in us, even when we don’t; He knows how we can be most effective for His kingdom. He does not try to manipulate us or have impure motives. Trust the wisdom and knowledge of God, don’t do as Ephialtes did and compromise who you are and minimize who you were created to be because things don’t go your way and or God doesn’t do as you wanted Him to. Our king, like Leonidas, has been doing this for a while and has a pretty good track record, so I think He knows what He is doing. Just trust His judgment.

Be you for a purpose, not only yours, but other people’s freedom depends on it.