Movie Review: Iron Man 3

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We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all done wrong. In doing so, we’ve made demons. That is, negative consequences for the choices we have made.

Tony Stark is no exception. “I’m Tony Stark. I build neat stuff, got a great girl, occasionally save the world. So why can’t I sleep?” Tony has a lot of trials he’s facing in life. Ever since the Avenger initiative, things haven’t been the same. He tasted death and he doesn’t like it. Not. One. Bit. He spends days on end “tinkering” on his Iron man suit, making it better, adding cybernetics to himself, and testing new ideas. Locked away in his shop, he comes out to be with his girl, and occasionally make a trip to the local bar.

Until that is, a terrorist force grips America in fear. The government is powerless to stop a teacher called “The Mandarin”. What’s more, strange explosions, with no evidence of bomb material are occurring throughout the world. Tony decides to make the fight personal. He challenges The Mandarin to try to take him out and makes a promise Ironman will remove this blemish from the face of the earth.

The Mandarin strikes first, and as seen in the trailer, destroys tony’s multibillion dollar home, and everything along with it. Now without a functional suit, superhuman killers hunting him, and a girl to protect, Tony learns even Ironman isn’t invincible.

And Demons, can come back to haunt you.

Things I liked

Tony Stark is a pained man in this movie. He struggles with anxiety, pride, and purpose. Sadly, he fails to recognize any of those. One of the most powerful lessons in this film, is that of what pride can do to a man. “Pride goes before a fall” The scriptures say… And boy. Do we see Tony fall. Because of his pride he loses his home, his health for a time, his suits, and more. Because of his pride, he created a demon years ago which now comes back to bite him in a very painful way. Pride is the great destroyer in this movie, and Tony has to stoop low and ask for help from common people, even a boy, if he is to fix the monster he unknowingly created. Does he learn the value of humility  Quite honestly, no. He doesn’t. But we can, and it is painful to watch his fall, and see him learn the hard way.

What is the measure of a man? Certainly not a fancy suit which can fly. We see that here. Tony relies on technology so much in his life, we see how dangerous it is to learn to lean on things, which can break, instead of people. Tony finds he must ask others for help instead of a computer program. That he has to use his own mind, instead of letting a algorithm do it for him. In our age of smartphones, tablets, and the internet I find it fitting to see a message of how important it is not to base our sustenance off these things.

Another great lesson taught is the importance of every interaction we have with others. Because of the way Tony treated one man years ago, the terrible threat he faces today is the result.  It was a great reminder, every person we come into contact with we share Christ as a witness, or not. And every interaction has ramifications, either good or bad.

Every great thing begins with an idea, then is eventually destroyed by compromise. That’s what the movie says anyway. Compromising on principles and values are shown to have devastating consequences. We also see some genetic manipulation of people result in terrible effects as well, showing what happens when you try to make God’s creation into something it wasn’t meant to be.

Things I Didn’t Like

Even though Tony goes most of the film without his suit, the violence and body count is extremely and grossly high. Terrorists vaporize civilians with a new technology. A bodyguard, the lone survivor, is shown badly burned, scarred, and bloody. The technology is, quite simply, using people as bombs. They heat up and then… explode. The pain in their face is shown as they become bright hot and then… Boom.

A woman who is enhanced genetically attacks Tony in a bar, and a vicious fight ensues. In the aftermath we see her body hanging from electric lines. A man is shot through the chest with tony’s Arc Reactor. Dozens of soliders and public officials are gunned down, beat up, shot, and shot again. A civilian is shot in the head on live TV.

Stark’s enemies wind up facing Tony in his suit, and he shows no mercy. They are killed in many ways… Being shot, broken, tossed, drowned, vaporized…. the list goes on. Because of their inhuman enhancements, we are tempted to forget they are still human… but they are, and they die in many painful ways at the hands of ironman.

Tony and Pepper are living together, yet not married… But that is just the start of a lot of sensual stuff that isn’t extreme, but most definitely unneeded. Girls are displayed in Bikinis and lingerie more than a few times in the film. A one night stand is talked about and there is a flashback about that. There is also a lot of innuendo about certain actions.

The language was very frustrating in this film, mainly because there was an attempt at humour through it. God’s name is used in vain various times. The S, A, D, P, B and many other crude words are used… many times.

Closing Thoughts

“Ladies, children, sheep… Some people call me a terrorist. I consider myself a teacher. Lesson number one: Heroes, there is no such thing.” ~The Mandarin~

What makes a one a Hero? A hero is one who has incredible qualities worthy of emulation. Qualities of selflessness, courage, and service to others- No matter what the cost. A hero is one who takes whatever they have, and uses it for the benefit of others to the point where they themselves, have given everything they have in the process of helping another. Christ, of course, is the only perfect Hero.

Ironman 3 gives Tony Stark  a chance to become a true hero. In the previous two films he has done his thing of zipping around, beating up a few bad guys, and calling it a day. In this movie, it is different. Tony doesn’t always have his suit, and the bad guys aren’t exactly easy to find or beat up. Tony discovers something in this film that he hadn’t realized years past.

“My suit was never a distraction or a hobby. It was a cocoon. And I’m a new man.” ~Tony Stark~

To be honest, I wanted to like this movie. I wanted to see Tony becoming a hero we could emulate, like we see in The Dark Knight Rises. I wanted to see that new man who choose once, just once, to do something not for himself. After pondering this film over the weekend with the various quotes and actions Tony makes, I can say this new man isn’t really that new. Refurbished might be the better term. In reality, Tony is the same guy, just humbled and puts himself back together again. I look at his actions for Pepper, and see they are self serving, not self sacrificial.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie has some excellent teaching points regarding pride, the importance of our interactions with others, and the destruction greed can bring. It brings up interesting points on Bioethics, government, and business. Conversely, It also reveals foolish sensuality, crude speech, and ups the ante yet again in terms of violent content.

So if you go see this movie, don’t go expecting to see Ironman turned into a true superhero, like I did. But rather, Expect to see Ironman made into… a man. A man who learns he isn’t invincible, but fails to realize the value of selfless living. That’s what makes this movie, more or less, like the suits Tony tinkers with. Sure they have purpose, they teach lessons, and they have the flash, bang, and sizzle we’ve come to expect from films like this. But open the suit up, and instead of  finding a hero just as incredible as the suit, you’ll find it hollow. Wanting of someone more than the person who made it.

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Chick-fil-a Leadercast Recap: Andy Stanley

Leadercast

Chick-fil-a Leadercast is a one day conference which is broadcast live across the country. This year I was priveledged to attend and glean some excellent wisdom on personal and professional leadership. I thought I would recap the main speakers for you over the next few days and share their insights. This year’s theme was “Simply Lead.” Which focused on taking the unnecessary complexities of business, and making it simple.

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The Power of Simplicity

Andy Stanley has authored more than 20 best selling books, founded North Point Ministries, and is the senior pastor of many churches in the Georgia area. Stanley started off the day by establishing the humility needed to lead and also addressing the core questions of any business, ministry, or activity. Here is what he said about being a leader, and yet not knowing it all…

“I’m never the smartest person in the room. I’m just the leader.”

“Level 5 leaders have the humility to admit they are the dumbest person in the room.”

“Surround yourself with people smarter than you are.”

All of this was based upon the context of knowing that you don’t have to know it all to effectively lead people. It isn’t your job to know it all, because you never will. They second you think you have it all figured out… That’s the second your leadership begins to fail. Great leaders are humble, imperfect, and acknowledge that freely.

Stanley’s second point was that of determining direction in your business, ministry, or even personal life. He created these questions when he was overwhelmed one day at his workplace. They are excellent to ask whenever you feel overwhelmed or losing focus. These create the cornerstones of your business. Ready? :)

1. What Are We Doing?

This question asks “What is important”. What products are we going to sell? What services are we going to offer? It makes you redirect your focus to the core reason the business was started. What are we here to do?

2. Why Are We Doing It?

Everything in life has to has purpose. Without purpose, a job is just a way to make money. A life is just something to live aimlessly. If you can’t answer why you are working somewhere, then it truly is just a job to make money. Jobs are meant to be more than that. Answering this question solves that problem many companies face.

3. Where Do I Fit In?

Stanley made it clear, this was not your job description. It is a question of what am I supposed to be doing to help this business. What is your critical role? What is your unique contribution? and What is your core responsibility? Answering these questions help you to find exactly how you fit into a business.

“If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re going to have a hard time doing it.”

Pulling it all together

It is the goal of every person and business to grow. However, with that growth, comes complexity, which requires simplicity. Andy Stanley communicated three simple questions which we can ask ourselves when we need to refocus and redirect the business (or ourselves) when we feel overwhelmed. One application he gave, which I encourage you all to implement, is to create a one sentence job description of where you work. Here is the example of Stanley’s job description.

“To inspire our staff and congregations to be fully engaged in our mission and strategy.”

This one sentence clearly defines the what, why, and where questions he asked. I’d challenge you to write a well thought out one sentence job description, and then post it below in the comments to share with us. This will give you a clear direction when things are crazy.

Stanley closed with a quote, so I thought it would be fitting to do so here as well. When Steve Jobs came back to Apple, he provided a clear focus. Anything that detracted from that goal and purpose was removed. What he said was so simple, yet still gave clear direction in the way the business should go. Clearly, his statement has worked, as Apple is now one of the largest companies in the world. This one statement changed not only the company of Apple, but one could argue the entire technological world.

“We are going to make easy to use computers. Any Questions?”

That’s the power of Simplicity.

Self Defense… Part 2. ;)

It seems I have opened a pandora’s box of various opinions here, and in my G+ stream. Actually, people on both sides misunderstood me, which I found ironically humorous.

But mainly, I did not communicate clearly enough. (No surprise there ;) ) See, I realized re-reading through past comments it seems a crucial phrase was missed, and then, because that was missed…. The main point was missed. Let me quote it here for you.

“Self Defense” can mean many things on many levels. It can mean defending your life, or just protecting yourself from another giving you physical harm.When I speak of Self defense, I speak of using lethal force. “

As I contemplated all the responses, I figured I would go to one man I highly respect as a teacher and a Christian, and look to see what he said. Surprisingly to me, as so many people outcried against my post, he and I agreed on this issue.

That man, is John Piper. And here is the point which he so incredibly and concisely communicated, and which I failed to do so.  I hope after you watch this, and then re-read my post, you will more fully understand where I am coming from. :)

Movie Review: A Knight’s Tale

Knight's-tale

William has one goal. One desire he inherited from his father when he was sent away as a young boy. That is to change his stars. It isn’t easy for him to do though, being the son of a roof thatcher, one of the lowest rungs in the english feudal system. However, when the knight he serves dies from a jousting tournament, he decided to risk his neck and attempt to change his stars… And win the jousting tournament with a fake name, fake papers, and more.

With the unlikely help of his fellow men, a penless (and moneyless) writer, a woman blacksmith, and a noblewoman named Jocelyn. William and his team embark against all odds to prove one doesn’t have to be a knight to be noble, and certainly not a knight to win the joust. William has decided to change his stars. Is it possible to do so though in a society set in bloodlines, titles, and kings?

Things I liked

William is in character a knight in peasant’s clothing. He is loyal and brave. He is willing to stand against the wrongs of the feudal system which enslave millions of common people, even if it costs him his life. He acts not for himself, but for the wishes of his father. That’s what drives him to the extremely dangerous path of competing as a non-exsistent knight “Ulrich von Leichtenstein.” He perseveres in the face of certain failure, and refuses to run from what he believes.

The bond of friendship between a host of unlikely characters make not only for some hilarious moments, but also some fairly deep ones. They sew him clothes, they try to teach him to dance, they pool all their money for the tournament… More importantly though, they are there for William in his most dire times. William’s friends may not be the brightest of the bunch, but they are some of the most loyal I’ve seen in a movie. They go hungry, take hits, and endager themselves, all for the sake of William and the dream of something better. They are painfully honest with William, which makes him grow. They are also protective of him, when he is in trouble.

William enlists the help of a writer who lost everything (including his clothes) to gambling. When he does so again, William shows mercy and saves him from being skinned alive. We see the dangers of gambling and how it can indeed take everything you have, down to the clothes off your back.

Love is portrayed in manner which I found quite surprising. A noblewoman catches William’s eye and he pursues her with all his heart. At first, it looks like a cliche hollywood romance, but then we see it turn into a relationship which isn’t based upon  physical beauty, but upon selfless unconditional love. William loses a tournament for her, instead of winning it for her. She is willing to leave all she has and live with pigs in a hovel in the country in order to help William. The relationship, while flawed biblically (more on that to come) does have redeeming points as well. I liked seeing that relationship grow into something more than just physical attraction.

I will say as well, this movie is funny. I don’t normally laugh at flicks, but this one indeed got me to chuckle more than a few times. The wordplay is fast, witty, and well written. As far as production goes, this comedy is top notch in terms of originality and humour.

Things I didn’t Like

The most disappointing thing about this movie is the amount of crude humor shown and implied/innuendoes of sexual content. The writer is first seen fully nude from the rear (including his derrière . As he has lost all his clothes from gambling, he shamefully has nothing to cover himself with. This is shown in a negative light, but still unnecessary and tactless. Again, a second time, when he loses everything again, same deal. Many crude comments are made about various body parts and functions by William’s friends. He himself says quite a few things about the noblewoman he admires. The Noblewoman wears an outfit which reveals way to much cleavage. She also approaches him in his tent. They kiss and the scene goes to black, but much is implied through that clip.

When The noblewoman gives a kiss to the messenger for William. The messenger gives it to William, promptly spitting on the ground afterwards and being thoroughly grossed out. Indeed, we are too.

Crude language is used throughout the film, mostly variations of the S word. God’s name is never used in vain though, which I appreciated.

Closing Thoughts

Your men love you. If I knew nothing else about you, that would be enough.” ~Prince Edward~

A Knights tale is a rough and tumble comedy which has many high points, but several lows as well. The value in this movie comes from William’s men, and the redemption he has after being caught. (you knew it had to happen. ;) )  William’s drive is about changing his stars to honor his father. He doesn’t really care about riches or castles. He care about the people in his life, and doing what he can to make them happy and successful  even if that pursuit costs him his life. He proves being a true knight isn’t something on paper, but something which is in the heart.

I’ll be honest with you all, I enjoyed this movie for the tale it told of camaraderie and selflessness. It is funny with solid messages on not only standing for what is right, but on what lasting relationships are made of as well. To quote the film however…

You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting.

While this tale is packed with great messages, it is also packed with a lot of unnecessary crude and sexual garbage. Because of this junk, A Knight’s Tale falls from being a royal feast, to a moldy loaf of bread. There is nourishment there, but you will have chew through quite a bit of filth to get to it. Add to the list quite a bit of coarse speech and joking… This film, which has a lot of potential, is definitely found wanting of something more… Knightly.

To live is Christ, and to Defend is gain?

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It seems everywhere you look today, there is the topic of gun control being discussed. What should be controlled? What shouldn’t be controlled? Background Checks? Should the 3D Printing of guns be legal?

In addition specifically to this post, that of concealed carry and the right to defend yourself.

It is fascinating to me the stance many professing christians have taken on guns in general and that of self defense. I have been reading scripture a lot these days on the subject of self defense because of these concealed carry laws and how Christians are rallying behind them.

When I look into topics like this, I have to define my terms for clarity of reasoning and thought. “Self Defense” can mean many things on many levels. It can mean defending your life, or just protecting yourself from another giving you physical harm.When I speak of Self defense, I speak of using lethal force.  Each situation involving personal endangerment can be nitpicked upon, and I’ve seen it been done. So I decided to instead look for situational solutions in certain verses, to look for overarching truths communicated throughout the entire bible. So let’s take a look at what scripture says on the idea of self defense. With, or without a gun.

“I have a right to defend myself from others and government.”

Ever heard that one before? It sounds bold, strong, and so American! According to our constitution we do indeed have the right, given by the law of this Nation, to protect ourselves from individuals. Isn’t it marvelous though, that we are not first bound to a Nation’s laws? Rather, it is so liberating to have the responsibility to “Obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29). So what does God, Christ, and Scripture say, truly, about protecting oneself from harm?

To be frank, I can find nowhere in scripture where self defense is condoned.

Rather, I see it condemned.

Where do I find such things? Here are a few passages which include teachings on the subject.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” ~Mathew 5:38-48~

Throughout the gospels, I see only the example of Christ’s love and non-violence taught and demonstrated through his actions. Not once did he encourage self defense. Rather, he commanded the opposite. To love those who persecute you, even to death.

Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,having the same conflict which you saw in me and now here is in me. ~Phillipians 1:15-30~

See, our knee jerk natural reaction to self defense, and pacifism, is “No Way! We have a right to defend ourselves!” and so, with that desired, preconceived notion, we search for scriptures to suit our purposes and take them out of context. Scriptures like Exodus 22:2 and 1 Timothy 5:8 for example. These two verses have been taken and propped up and misconstrued to create an entire ideology based on “Clinging to my guns and my bible” to defend against the intruder or Government. The Christians in Rome didn’t defend themselves, and what an incredible impact they made for Christ.

Shouldn’t our natural response be a red flag though? Our nature is self preservation. Flesh and Spirit are always diametrically opposed in scripture. Every. Single. Time. Our instinct is to kill someone to save someone else. That’s emotional self preservation. You want to show you love your family or others? Die for them. Sacrifice yourself. Christ’s example was to sacrifice himself out of love… See where I’m going with this?

In realty, it isn’t about our life, or other’s lives. It is about our witness for Christ.

The ultimate issue here is not “What to do in ______” situation. The ultimate issue, is yet again, one of the heart. It lies in trusting if God is really in control. Self-Defense boils down to everything else in life. That everything we do is to bring glory and honor to God and Jesus Christ. Fatally shooting someone, or injuring them out of a desire for self preservation hardly follows Christ’s commands. How is defending yourself against an unbeliever being a witness for Christ’s love?

I see many professing Christians where Christ is not the focus in this arena of discussion. Instead I see them fighting to protect their rights to own and use a gun against others. I see them proudly displaying a gun on their Bible like it is some sort of symbol of biblical freedom. I’m not saying owning a gun is bad. Not at all. I am saying it is bad when the motivation for ownership is for use against other human beings.

Do we really, truly, deep down believe ‘To Live is Christ and die is gain.’?

I’m not sure we do. Rather, sadly I see a culture of professing Christians where “To live is Christ, and Defend is gain.” Something which is against every teaching of Christ and in scripture. It honestly comes down to love. The only way we cannot defend ourselves is by loving the other. Self defense is not an action ruled by love, but one ruled by force, fear, or selfishness. Love is what we are commanded to strive towards, to be as gentle as doves, yet wise as serpents. And love, unlike a safety, is something which never fails.

I Don’t Believe in Benchwarmers

Frisbee Blog
A frisbee flashback of myself and some team members from 2012.

Our annual Ultimate Frisbee League season kicks off tomorrow, and to say I would be excited would be an understatement.

Granted, it is a small league, but we play competitively and is governed by the Spirit of the Game, which makes every game not only challenging on a physical level, but on a spiritual level as well. I strive to play every game to the glory of Christ, and the encouragement of others.Speaking of encouragement, as a captain of a team, I’ll play the role or coach and mentor quite a bit this season. I thought I would share a philosophy of mine regarding sports and teams in general.

In short, I don’t believe in benchwarmers.

You know what I mean right? Those players that are just on the team because they signed up, but aren’t incredibly or even mildy talented as far as skills of the game. They sit on the bench, playing one or two minutes each game… They are known as the benchwarmer. Personally, if any coach establishes a standard of a person being a benchwarmer, they aren’t being a coach. They are being a boss.

What’s the difference? So glad you asked. See, when you think of the word coach, what do you think of? Leader? Mentor? Counselor? Friend? Now, what do you think of when you hear the word boss? Controller? Dictator? See the difference? In essence, a coach cares more about the people, whereas the boss cares more about results. I see sports as a tool. A tool for use in building, training, and encouraging all the players. Not just in skill (although definitely it is important) but moreso in character and sportsmanlike conduct.

Because that character and conduct- that’s what is eternal. 

Now I’m not saying to sacrifice the entire team for one individual. Or to put a person of benchwarmer caliber on some self esteem building pedestal. That would be just as flawed, as a good coach also uses discernment in how to make the team as a whole succeed as well. I’m not saying one should throw out strategy, or to toss the goal of winning for one person.

I am saying, that when the results of the game becomes more important than any person… You’re doing it wrong.

The true goal of anything for a Christian is not “The best results” but rather creating “The most impact for Christ” in people. This is found not only in the medium of sports, but also work, education, etc… It isn’t how good or bad the player or worker is. If they have a heart to serve their team, it is about developing them and equipping them to succeed on and off the field.

That’s the job of a coach. To encourage, not distain. To Build up, not tear down. To equip, not deny. To leave someone out of a game, because they lack physical prowess, shows the coach’s focus. A focus turned to results rather than the individual. Results- those aren’t eternal. They aren’t lasting. They honestly aren’t even important in the grand scheme of things. It doesn’t matter the skill level of your people. If you equip them with a heart to serve Christ the best they can, you’ve got a winning team eternally. That is a greater win than all the Gold medals in the olympics, because that win is something which lasts.

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” ~Colossians 3:17~

Suppose We Have?

Suppose we have

The Chronicles of Narnia is one of my favorite book series. The writing is so simple, yet so deep as C.S. Lewis conveys his worldview through these novels. The valuable quotes are many, and the books are well worth reading.

One quote in particular I enjoy comes from a marshwiggle who’s name is puddleglum. To give context, Marshwiggles have a serious view of life. “If it can go wrong, it will go wrong” is their worldview. Surprisingly though, they are not pessimistic about life in the grand context of purpose and meaning. This is because they have faith in Aslan, who parallels Christ in hundreds of different ways throughout the books.

In the book, The Silver Chair, a witch tells them quite convincingly through logic and potion that what they believe is false. Puddleglum responds to the witch in this way:

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.

I think the truth of this quote resonates so clearly today. What does the world have to offer. Really? Temporary pleasure? Things which break down or go out of date? The American Dream?

All for what?

Nothing.

C.S. Lewis, through puddleglum, communicates a point in one minute which people have been struggling all their lives against or to understand. When we live for Christ, we have a purpose grounded not only in faith, but in sound thinking. Suppose all the things we hold to as truth have been made up? Like puddleglum says… Living and dying for such is small loss, as this world indeed has so little to offer.

I Was Just Joking! (Said the Fool)

I'm just joking

Ever hear that one before?

Some guy or gal pulls a joke out of midair which is inappropriate, crude, derogatory,  or otherwise awkward in the situation with your friends. Then, you muster up some bravery and call them on it. Then we hear them say

“Aw, I was just joking! You need to lighten up and stop taking things so seriously!”

Then, usually in front of a crowd, you are shamed and viewed as the one who can’t take a joke. You’ve been there, I’ve been there… Anyone who has stood for what is right has been there. It is frustrating to no end, especially among trusted peers to see a joke take precedent over what is honorable, lovely, pure, etc… all those things found in Philippians 4:8. Why? Because of course, it is “Just a Joke”. Harmless, meaningless, or just for fun. I’ve heard that one a lot too, and am guilty of this myself…

“Oh, I just do it for fun. It doesn’t really mean anything.”

We are called, according to scripture, to do everything in the name of Christ.

 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

Every word we say, every song we listen to, every movie we watch, and every joke we make. I’m by no means saying I’ve got it all figured out, because I fail in this area at times too. The point is to be thinking. Thinking and constantly asking “Am I doing this for Christ?“. There is no middle ground or just for fun things in this world. Either is is for Christ, or it is for self. Neutrality is not an option.

When someone says “I’m just joking”, these verses comes to mind.

Like a foolish madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, Is the man who deceives his neighbor, And says, “I was only joking!” ~Proverbs 26: 18-19~

Be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. ~Ephesians 5:1-4~

Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for humour and good jokes. God gave us the gift humour, being able to laugh, and the ability to use speech in a manner which is funny and glorifying to Him. I am all for making a person laugh, and laughing at a funny person, but not at the expense of God’s glory and honor. That’s where we, as Christians have to draw the line and go “Not funny dude, that was not uplifting.

And in application to self, which is the most important, this has been working well for me- When I say “Just joking” or “It is just for fun.” I have been adding this little bit to the end in my head “Said the fool.” Because according to proverbs, when we do joke like that, we are acting as fools, not imitators as Christ.

So what are your thoughts? Have you experienced this? Do you suffer from this like I do? Comment below and let me know what you think. :)

Movie Review: The Croods

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It’s not easy being a Crood. With your neighbors killed by wild beasts, food scarce, and the climate rather inhospitable, there is a reason you value your home so much, even if it is just a cave. There’s just one problem. The world is coming apart at the seams, the Pangea seams that is, and the Croods are right on top of those places where the continents decide to come apart. Soon their entire world is rocked to the core. Their cave is destroyed, their land crumbled to bits, and Grug (Mr. Crood) is responsible for finding his family a new home.

This is easier said than done. Not only does he have to protect his family, but he has a curious daughter (Eep) who is itching for something new. New things however, and curiosity, can get you killed. “Never not be afraid” that’s Grug’s motto, and it has kept his family alive and healthy in the past years. Now however there’s new territory, new animals, and a new guy (who’s name is… Guy) who all challenge his tried and true saying.

The world is coming apart, Eep is chasing this Guy who has these things called “ideas”. Somehow, someway, Grug has got to keep his family alive through it all.

Things I Liked

If this movie could have another working title, it would be called “Mr. Crood” because indeed, he is the focus of the movie. Grug embraces everything a father should be though, perhaps at times, a little to hard. He lives a life of sacrifice for his family by eating after everyone else, putting his life on the line every-time he leaves the cave, and is surprisingly open about how he is feeling. He is brave, loyal, and loving. We know without a doubt he would give anything to protect and provide for his family. Grug is not without his faults however, he worries constantly and rejects and sort of change. Just like all dads today, he has the right intentions, but is having trouble how to carry them out in this new land and trials.

Guy is a young man who has new ideas. Something Grug, nor any of his family have ever dreamed of, because of course, new is bad. Guy shares these ideas like fire, shoes, and sleds with the Grug family freely to help with their survival. Even though he has both his eyes on Eep, he does stick with and help the whole family, rather than running off with the young lass. It was great to see Guy attracted to Eep, but not abandoning the family and usurping Grug’s authority in that process.

We see both Guy and Grug have an emotionally raw and honest conversation. As opposite as the two are, both come to not only trust and learn from each other, but compliment each other as leaders of the same family. Speaking of which, the entire movie is about family. This family fights, just like all of us. They also persevere and look out for each other. Seeing a family, albeit a bit unorthodox, stick and work together as a unit was an additional theme I enjoyed.

In addition to having some solid family values, this movie is quite honestly very funny. Watching the Croods learn and experience new ideas such as fire, shoes, belts, and more was a great way to add humour into the film without detracting from the overall focus. This flick is also beautifully animated, rivaling Disney in epic landscapes and attention to detail.

Things I Didn’t Like

This movie clearly operates under the belief of evolutionary thinking. The Croods are cavemen, there are dozens of animals which would be classified as “missing links” in evolutionary circles. This movie presents without question a way the world could have been a couple million years ago. It is an underlying message that seems innocent, but can erode the shallow foundation of any child quite easily.

Eep is rebellious. Pure and simple. She doesn’t like the cave, or the rules, or the way things have always been the same. She wants more and disobeys her father, much like Ariel in the Little Mermaid, to find it. This puts herself and others at risk all the time. She also is rather aggressive in being with Guy. While he respects her father, she disregards Grug’s wishes consistently. In the end, there is resolution and both admit their faults, but this is not nearly as focused on as Eep’s seemingly justified quest to fulfill her curiosity above her father’s wishes. I asked a younger sibling of mine I took to see this movie what they thought of it. They said “It was kinda crazy and the dad was Mr. Worry and very mean.” I think it is worth noting that while Grug is completely selfless in all his actions, he is cast in a light which is dark. Then Eep, who is disobedient, is cast in the favorable light. This is something to be aware of.

Eep and Guy come very close to kissing in the movie, but never do. They do hug, touch, and generally stand extremely close to each other. There is a bit of crude humor, as we see Grug’s boxers the only thing left on his derrière after an extremely close encounter with a cat. All the characters in the movie are not very well or modestly dressed, granted it is an animated movie, but want to make sure you know all the same.

There is a lot of comic violence in the movie. While I did not mind this much, I want to be sure of inform you of the large amount of slapstick humour in the movie. The Croods continually hit each other with sticks, rocks, bones… pretty much anything they can find. They tumble, roll, slide, skid, are crushed, and bruised… yet come out just fine time after time. Much like the Tom and Jerry cartoons of the past, anything can happen to this family and they come out unharmed. That’s not to say however, the danger of death isn’t present. To the contrary, there are some quite intense moments of near death. Rocks and the earth tear apart, huge feral cats chase the Crood family, and casms reaching to the earth’s inner crust are present many times. Several times my younger sibling put their head on my arm because of the intensity of some earthquake scenes… Also something to bear in mind if taking a younger child to see this movie.

Closing Thoughts

“What is the purpose of staying alive if we can’t live?!?”

Eep asks this question when her father speaks of the importance of the cave, the place of safety. Indeed, staying alive offers very little motive when one is not allowed to live. See, everyone has their own individual purpose in this beginning of the film. Grug’s is to protect his family. Eep’s is to discover and explore. Guy’s is to innovate and come up with new ideas. All of these purposes we see create clashes in the family as far as relationships and pursuits.

Until that is, Guy introduces a new purpose. One called “Tomorrow” This tomorrow is filled with hope, promise of something better, and a continual pursuing of “the light”. This light for the Croods is the sun, and the promise of tomorrow the sun brings. Now, clearly any mention of God or Christ is lacking in this movie. That does not mean however, we cannot take a biblical truth from this movie and see it applied. Once the Croods, one by one, embrace this hope of tomorrow  they no longer act as cavemen, but as modern men, like Guy. They become new creatures, and through this much strife and conflict is resolved.

That’s where the value and true strength of this movie lies. Yes Grug is a commendable father figure in the end, yes there is self sacrifice, perseverance, and loyalty… But truly deep down, the movie adresses the issue of living. It makes the point it isn’t just enough to survive, we have to live. And the only way we can do that is through purpose. For the Crood’s it was hope in tomorrow. Which leads to an excellent question to ask any person who has thought about this movie… Where is your hope, and where is it leading you?

That’s what surprised me about this movie. It is more than just a funny family adventure (though it is for sure), it quest of purpose rooted in hope and faith. Without that hope, they would have failed. Without that faith, they would have remained afraid. I can honestly say this movie reminded me of the hope and faith I am to have in Christ, and if I don’t, just like the Croods,- how little I will accomplish in this world.