Movie Review: Everyone’s Hero

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Yankee Irving has always wanted to make the big hit. The swing that wins the game. The run that will make him a hero. Sadly however, on a sandlot with kids twice his age, that chance doesn’t come often. Then when it does, he fails. Miserably.

Depressed more than usual one night, his dad decides to show him Babe Ruth’s bat. The legendary “Darlin’ “. Yankee adores Babe Ruth, and loves the opportunity to view it. The next day, it is found the bat is stolen, and his dad is fired because of it. With some deductive skills and some baseball cards, Yankee figures out that the opposing team’s pitcher- Lefty MacGinnis stole the bat to keep the Yankees from winning the world series.

No one believes him however, so he sets off to recover the bat himself and get his dad’s job back. With the help of a wisecracking baseball, he finds his way to the thief. But when the time comes to step up to the plate and save his dad’s job, will he make that hit he has dreamed of? Or strike out like he always has before?

Things I Liked

Yankee is a young boy with whom many people can relate. He wants to make the big play and help his team, but he always winds up hurting them instead. Through the movie we see him over and over fail in his attempts to help others. We see however, failure isn’t permanent, and shouldn’t put you down. Yankee learns this from his parents and several others along his path of rescuing Darlin’. Yankee’s motivation in this movie is not fame, glamour, or riches… It is simply to get his dad’s job back by finding the stolen bat. He loves his parents, and goes across the US to help them.

Speaking of parents, Yankee’s are quite a commendable mother and father. This family isn’t broken, divorced, or angry. It is a simple one where the mom encourages and the dad teaches. Yankee loves them immensely and is respectful. He obeys and takes a punishment even though he knows he did nothing wrong. It is a great lesson and example to young kids regarding submission to those in authority over you. That they aren’t always right, but we should obey them anyway.

Many people are encouragers in this movie. Older folks teach and encourage Yankee to continue doing what he is doing. A girl gives him support when some bullies come around to give Yankee trouble. Even Yankee gives encouragement and hope to Screwy the baseball and Darlin’. When Yankee meets Babe Ruth, we see Babe also support and encourage Yankee in actions which some say are ridiculous. The power of sweet words is shown all throughout the movie.

Things I Didn’t Like

While this movie is mostly clean, there is a bit of crude humour and violence to be aware of. Lefty gets beaten up quite a bit via comic style violence. He is shocked with lightning, takes a couple crotch shots, slams into poles, chokes on a clothesline, and get run over by a train (not shown). He makes it out every-time with some bruising and dirt on his face.

Screwy makes some crude jokes about beans and the underwear drawer. There isn’t any profanity, but rude words are used occasionally such moron, jerk, butt, name calling, etc. Lefty has a “booger ball” as one of his pitches, which he blows his nose on the baseball. We see Screwy covered in snot.

Yankee runs away from home to rescue Darlin’ and leaves a note explaining where he has gone. This opens up good opportunities to discuss with kids why/if they would run away from home. It should be noted this is something which is not encouraged, but justified in the movie.

Closing thoughts

 “You can be the smallest, you can be the weakest, you can be the worst player on the field, but when people tell you you’re no good, and say you should give it up, you know what you do? You just keep on swinging.”

Everyone’s hero is a film with a message of perseverance and endurance of character. We see the message of never giving up. Unlike other films though, which focus on a single hero making it, for the most part, on his own. This movie takes a refreshing turn and demonstrates just how important encouragement and mentoring is for a young person’s success. Without the dozens of people involved in helping Yankee in his trek, he would have given up a long time ago.

Kids too, can benefit from watching this movie in seeing a kid they can relate to submitting to those above him, and wanting to help his family. Then, seeing the reward which comes from doing the right thing… Even when it is hard.

This movie isn’t as well animated as Pixar films, it isn’t as funny, it isn’t as compelling either. However, it tells an exceptionally clean and rewarding story about a boy and his desire to serve others. It is because of that story, that Everyone’s hero is indeed a Home Run. A movie which the entire family can enjoy, and everyone- adults included, can learn from.

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Change and Conflict Make the World go ’round

Perhaps the two things I dislike on a personal level is change and conflict. Change is difficult, inconvenient, and unknown. Yet, it is the only constant thing in life. Conflict is awkward and creates strife. Yet, it is often through conflict are problems resolved and new ideas born.

In life, I’m learning a lot about these two things right now. Change is happening all over the place with work, my small business, and living on my own. Conflict in work policies and for what I believe also occurring  Some people don’t want to change, which creates conflict. And as a believer of Christ, it is pretty clear in scripture that is going to create conflict.

But while these things are not fun, they are necessarily bad either. Without change, how would anyone get better? How would things improve? Change isn’t bad. It is good! But just because something is good doesn’t make it easy. We love to settle in our own personal boxes, and would live there the rest of our lives if we didn’t have an outside force pushing us to change for the better.

That’s where conflict comes in. Conflict and change often go together like butter and biscuits. Except they are a lot less savory. ;) I have yet to see a change occur in any part of my life without conflict. People who love you, and push for that change (whatever it is) are creating conflict out of concern. (Hm, another “C” word) Something I am terribly guilty of is rejecting the change because of the conflict which will occur. Why do we reject this? Why do we fight?

Simply put, we don’t trust enough. When we lead a life on our own, and those changes come, we react in fear or pride. We’re either afraid to change, or to stubborn to change. Trusting- really trusting that God’s got it under control would solve so many of these issues. But we don’t, so they aren’t.

The solution is simply said, but incredibly difficult to do. Because it isn’t our nature. At all. Through prayer and fellowship we can begin to trust more and worry about change less. But we can’t do it on our own and have a constantly godly response.

Don’t fear change. Embrace loving conflict. They will help you to grow in Christ. God is the one thing we can trust, because unlike everything else- He never changes.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

~Hebrews 13:8~

 

Flashback: The Witness of Deborah

This is a hard post to read, and while I strive to make the majority of my posts family friendly, this one may not be so as much.

Zambia taught me many things. In a previous flashback I mentioned the incredible, yet simple tale of Boope’- and how I learned the hard way God’s plan is always best. Even if it doesn’t make sense. I’d like to share with you another lesson I learned in those past six weeks. It starts with a group of four guys going out to share Christ on the streets of Kitway after dark.

The first week I arrived in Zambia, Mr. Matt told me we were going to share the gospel on the streets of Kitway at night. They called “Night evangelism”, as many of the people who needed to hear about Christ slept during the day and came out at night. To be perfectly honest, the thought terrified me. I mean, here I am a young white guy in the depths of Africa with no experience in this kind of thing… And now I’m going to go out with a Zambian I met yesterday to share Christ with the folks who only come out at night to do who knows what? I didn’t want to go at all, but I didn’t say anything. I sucked it up and somehow managed to pray “Your will be done God.

So on the night we decided- Matt and Blessed paired off and went one way. Benwell and I went the other. We agreed to meet back at the bajero at 9:30PM. Benwell and I spent the time talking to people, and through that time my fear lessened and I felt energy start flowing through me. It was pretty amazing actually, but not the point of this story. At 9:30 we come back to the car and Matt and Blessed aren’t there. 9:45… Still not there. 10:00… still missing. At this point, even Benwell started to look a little worried. At 10:15, he said we needed to go look for them, but as we started to walk, we saw Matt and Blessed come around the corner. Following them was a young woman. Her name was Deborah.

Matt found Deborah standing alone in the city, so he and Blessed decided to talk to her. They asked what she was doing  out so late, and she said she was “Selling”. When they inquired as to what she was selling, Blessed told me she started crying. She was in fact, selling herself and her services. It was how she fed herself and survived. Matt and Blessed immediately shared Christ, and spent extra time talking to her and explaining what it truly means to be a Christian. That night, Deborah accepted Christ into her life.

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Deborah helping with a building in the orphanage.

There is a terrible misconception that once you accept Christ as your savior, everything goes all hunkydory and happy ever after ending. This is not the case. In fact, once you accept Christ, the life on earth just got immensely less hunkydory, because you just declared war against the place in which you live. Deborah had to fight that war, and the way Matt and I watched her fight was one of the most incredible witnesses I’ve ever seen.

See, once Deborah choose to stop living the way she was, and making money the way she did, she choose to no longer be self sustaining. She no longer had a way to feed herself or make money. She was at the mercy of those around her for simple things like food or a place to sleep. For the next weeks Matt and I worked to help her in her new life, but told her she needed to go back to her grandparents. She didn’t want to do that, as that would mean school. After another few weeks, God showed her that she needed to submit (that’s what she said at least) and go back home. We drove her back, and after a day of hard conversation with her grandparents and her, she promised everyone, including Christ, she would stay home and attend school. That’s where we left her, and to be honest, I have no idea how or where she is now.

But Deborah taught me so many things in her witness of choosing to live for Christ. First and foremost, seeing firsthand Christ really does forgive everyone. You hear that in church, you read that in scripture, but seeing a person truly be forgiven in that lifestyle… Is incredible to say the least. Deborah showed me also what true perseverance in Christ was. There were times when she relapsed over the night, and then tell us the next day. There were times when she said she couldn’t “Do this for Christ” anymore. But after the crying subsided, a resolve settled into her eyes and she continued pursuing Christ. She dug through the New Testament everyday and had questions for us every afternoon. I am fairly certain she grew more in those six weeks than I had in the past six years.

Deborah taught me that a witness isn’t just your “Coming to Jesus” story. It is your life lived for Him each and everyday. Shamelessly and eagerly so. A witness like that is a powerful one indeed. DSCN4798

Movie Review: Man of Steel

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“What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended? What if a child aspired to something greater?” ~ Jor-El ~

In the final dying throes of Krypton, a baby is launched to a new planet. The planet called earth. The child is named Clark, found and adopted by two parent from Kansas. He grows up in conflit with who he is. He has the power to save people, but his father tells him he shouldn’t. Not yet. He believes the world isn’t ready, and in part, he is right.

So Clark lives a life of anonymity. He works for a fishing rig, as a waiter, or some other “low status” job. Always traveling. Always moving. This continues until General Zod arrives. He declares he is going to destroy the earth, even after Clark turns himself in.

At that moment, Clark makes a choice. He chooses to become superman, and attempt to save the people he has committed himself to serve.

Things I Liked

Clark is one of the most upstanding characters I have ever seen in a movie. The amount of positive traits shown through his actions and words truly is… Super. Early in life clark is bullied.  We see him not only refrain from beating the kids up, but save some who are in desperate trouble. As he grows, the values instilled by his parents are shown as he works in a diner. He called out a man for being a bit to agressive towards a lady. When the man attacks him- Clark does nothing but walk away. (I’d like to note he does get back- just not physically) Just because a man has the power to fight back, doesn’t mean he should. Clark displays this excellently.

Clark’s father is a man of incredible wisdom, humility, and kindess. He never denies the fact Clark is different, but rather tell him he was sent for a reason. And that “You owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is.” Clark’s Mother also give him the perspective of how important life is. When some damage is done to the home due to Clark, he apologizes. His mother hugs him and says “It’s just stuff. Stuff can be replaced. You can’t.

When Clark is grown into Superman, General Zod comes to earth and demands the return of Superman. Or else the world will face destruction. Superman, without hesitation, turns himself into the US military to save earth. When asked why he did it, he says: “I’m not surrendering to Zod. I’m surrendering to the people.” In that small statement, we see a man who could destroy all of earth, choose to be a man of service to the people on the planet.

Superman is well known to be a Christ-Figure. This movie is one of the most nods towards that idea that I have seen. Clark is 33 when he puts on the suit. When he talks to a priest, we see a Painting of Christ behind him who looks quite similar. When Clark leaves a ship, he falls out in the shape of a cross. He is the first natural birth on Krypton in centuries… And more. One quote in particular I liked regarding this topic

“Sometimes, you have to take a leap of Faith. The trust comes later.”

A solider fighting against Superman rashly declares “Why are you fighting? It is useless. We are more evolved than you. And Evolution always wins.” We see and learn Krypton was destroyed by genetic engineering of their people to fill an exact role and purpose. Because of that, They have no choice in life, as their destiny’s are chosen for them. This creates the strife which takes place in Man of Steel. What is fascinating though, is we see character and good morals in Superman win out over science and evolution in General Zod and his soliders. We see Evolution, in fact doesn’t win.

Things I Didn’t Like

“For every one person you save- we will kill a million more.”

While I knew there would be a certain amount of smashing up in this film, I did not expect the amount of destruction actually shown. Aside from the standards explosions of gas stations, trains, cars, and more. Zod launches a “terra-former” to level earth and establish his world. Sykscrapers full of people are flattened instantaneously. The people fleeing from the machine are lifted from the ground, and slammed into the cement below. Zod’s soliders dispatch the  American military savagely and easily. We see arms broken, and faces punched. The death count in this movie, counting all the people in the buildings which are leveled, is unfathomably high. At one point, I was actually getting bored watching the amount of destruction occurring through the CGI lens. For me, it was over the top, and unnecessary at the level by which it was portrayed.

But perhaps the most disturbing scene of all is when Superman kills another, to protect a woman and her child. He choose one life over another- and a situation like that is always lose-lose. After he snaps the person’s neck (we see and hear the sickening crunch), we watch Superman cry out, devastated by what he has done. It is heart and gut wrenching to see him not only kill someone, but be torn apart on the inside by that action. This is not the original superman of earlier days. This is darker, made to fit our modern day culture.

Clark and Louis Lane kiss in one scene.

There are half a dozen uses of profanity and some crude sexual references regarding the measuring of certain body parts. God’s name is taken in vain three times.

Closing thoughts

You’re not just anyone. One day, you’re going to have to make a choice. You’ll have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be. Whoever that man is, good character or bad, he’s going to change the world. ~Jonathan Kent~

Man of Steel is an excellent story which commends an incredible amount of biblical character traits. It is said the meek shall inherit the earth, and in this movie, Superman is the most meek hero and character I have ever seen to touch the big screen. He is almost flawless in courage, compassion, humility, submission, and sincerity. I say almost, because as a mortal being, he has a few flaws. But that just makes him all the more real.

I recommend Man of Steel to any older person without hesitation. It is a moving story of  a boy who is taught by his parent to serve, and through those teachings, saves humanity. The apocalyptic violence is intense at times without doubt. And superman killing someone… That still disagrees with me immensely.

However, this movie isn’t complicated. It is one of a man with incredible strength, who uses that strength to save the world- After he first surrendered to those he choose to protect. Man of Steel will probably be my favorite movie of the 2013 year. It is simply- Super.

Why Abortion is Acceptable

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PhotoCredit: Religionlink.com

I told myself I would never write about this topic. But today I saw one hateful picture to many. You know- the kind which sarcastically and hatefully tell you “If you got an abortion, Congrats! you just got away with murder.” Derogatory and demeaning pictures which tear a person down in their choices. No shown love, no sympathetic grace, no kind forgiveness.

Let me tell you why abortion is acceptable in our culture today.

The Problem isn’t Abortion

When you ask someone why Abortion is OK, and they are in favor of the action. They say “A woman has a right to choose.” or “Women have rights over their bodies.” etc etc. They don’t address the child inside the woman, because to them, it isn’t a child.

And that’s where the problem lies.

See, if everyone thought the children in a womb really were children, you would have to be devoid of any kind of conscience to actively support abortion. Indeed, I know people who are not Christians, but do not support this practice. Why? Because they believe it is a  living child. If one believes that the thing inside a woman’s body is a fetus without life, then why would it be wrong to remove it? The fact of reality, based on both scripture and science, is children are indeed alive when in a womb. However, the large majority people don’t recognize this.

Abortion isn’t a choice problem, it is a heart problem.

When I see these terrible pics, these destructive videos, and prideful posts condemning the people who have abortions- delighting in arguing with people who disagree with them, I am saddened. They aren’t focusing on the heart. They are focusing on the agenda. Until people are talked on a person to person level about the importance of the child, not their choice, things are not going to change. Not focusing on “proof”, but focusing on the individual’s situation.

Until love starts to be shown to people regarding this topic, we Christians are like it says in 1 Corinthians. How about we actively start engaging people in love, not through hateful pictures and internet arguments?

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poorand give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Of Life, Lessons, and Changes

I don’t normally post about what’s going on in my personal life. Mainly because I’m afraid it will bore you. ;) A lot has been going on lately though, and I’ve been learning a lot of stuff. So here are some things I’ve been doing outside the ramblings here.

It is such a blessing to be able to have jobs to work. My car, the Matador, got painted last week. It is so exciting to finally be in the homestretch. After hundreds of labor hours put into this car to get it to this point- the fruits of the labor are finally becoming visible. I’ll start putting doors, bumpers, and windows back together this week, and it will be finished very soon! I don’t have pics, mainly because I want to be sure and document everything in a chronological manner here. As soon as it is finished, I’ll be going through a couple thousand pics and finish posting the entire process for you all to see. Can you tell I’m excited about that? ;)

The Car is not the only place which is thriving, the custom saber business I started a few years ago has grown so much I’ve been able to offer services which I want to do, and nothing more. There is a Kickstarter run of affordable sabers in the works, and I’ve got part time work until January of next year. Who would of thought glorified flashlights would be so popular?

Being a manager and Marketing Director at chick-fil-a has yielded a lot of learning experiences. I’ve learned how to add sales to your business, how to delegate tasks (instead of doing it all myself), how to respond to angry customers, and more. I’ve got a lot to improve on, and have a bunch more to learn. It is great going everyday and being challenged in a work environment which encourages everyone to grow.

Perhaps the biggest change however, is the fact I’m now living by myself, as the family has moved to a really cool farmhouse and beginning some dreams they’ve had for a long time. It is weird, a place being so quiet- absent of talking, laughing, or just moving around.  On the one hand, I do miss hanging out with the family when I would be home, a lot sometimes. (I’m being honest mom- if you read this. ;) ). It is cool though, to finally be in a place where I’m learning lessons of budgeting and attempting to manage a house- even if I am the only one living there.

So there you have it, a small glimpse into what I am being taught and what’s going on in life. Do you have any recently learned lessons that you’d like to share? If so, leave them below and I’d  enjoy reading them. :)

Alien Apocalypse: We Are Not Alone

Illustration from HG Welles "War of the Worlds"
Illustration from HG Wells’ “War of the Worlds”

The is my second, long overdue, response to the American Apocalypse obsession. Aliens are a word and concept everyone knows about. If you’ve read any sci-fi, or watched any movies, you’ll know Aliens can look like us… Or look like something which we dream about in our nightmares.

Why do Americans, even many professing Christians I talk to, embrace the idea of life on other planets? Why do some people believe Aliens will be returning soon to harvest the life they have planted? What does scripture have to say about this? I hope to adequately adress all these questions in the course of this article.

What is an Alien?

Let’s start with a foundation. What do we mean by Alien? What constitutes life on other planets? When I talk about aliens, and when many others do as well, usually the context is of sentient life. Sentient life is that which knows right and wrong, which has and holds to morals. Life which possesses a soul. If such life existed  it would destroy the credibility of scripture as we know it.

What Difference Does This Make?

So why worry about this ideology and mindset? I hold to the belief sentient life as we know it, on other planets, (ie Aliens) is not supported with science, nor scripture. One common belief which incorporates evolution is a long time ago, advanced aliens planted bacteria here and created a soup for life to grow in. This started the evolutionary chain, and thus solving the issue “how did life begin on earth”.

This belief puts faith in an unknown interstellar race for our origins. This belief takes just as much faith, if not more, than believing the biblical account of creation as shown in Genesis. Genesis is the foundation for the purpose of Christ, the state of man, and the state of this universe. Remove, or twist Genesis, and you have removed the cornerstone of what Christians believe, and all hope for redemption and a perfect ending to this world. The idea Aliens live somewhere else, planted us here for an unknown reason, and will be coming back to destroy most of us when we finish our task, is hopeless and sad.

One common thread I see when talking to some people who quite honestly believe this worldview, is the incredible amount of faith, or rejection of God, they have. Evidence comes not from science, but from YouTube Videos, the History Channel speculatory  series called “Ancient Aliens“, and blogs. To base a life truth off of youtube videos and such, especially ones involving conspiracies and fallacies like this, is like putting faith in a dinghy to make it safely across the ocean. Tragically foolish and unfounded.

Responding with Grace

Faith in Aliens as our creator, redeemer, and destroyer is based upon a desire to reject God with something more real and tangible. Even if that thing is evil or brings destruction. A valid and common question asked by those who believe this is regarding the size of the universe. Something so large has to be filled with other life. Right? Why else would it be so huge? Why would God create something so vast for one species?

One thing which makes me disheartened in the common professing Christian is when these questions are asked, they are offended and say something to the effect “I have faith” or, they confess they have no idea and that there might be truth in what the other says. I see this especially in the area of Space and Aliens. With Star Wars, Star Trek, and other popular series, believing life could exist elsewhere isn’t so hard to do when you don’t think about it. But in the words of Bill Jack-

“Too often Christians today are not only soft headed, but they are also hard hearted.”

This is one worldview we as Christians have to engage the culture in a way which is intelligent, yet kind. Scripture defends itself in this area. I’ll be honest, nowhere does it say “Sentient Life does not exist save for earth.” However, it does say a lot about the reason of the universe and why it exists like it does. In a future article I will adress these points more directly, with verses and answers. I challenge you in the mean time, to look up answers for yourself. To ask those hard questions like “Is it really so wrong to believe Aliens exist?” And come up with passages pertaining to that topic.

I’ll close with this. Just like the Zombie worldview, this belief of Aliens leaves people ultimately, without hope for a better life now, or in the future. Christ provides that hope, and that is always where we must guide every conversation in these areas of topics. Aliens are just a cover people wear to keep themselves from waking up. Sometimes, covers need to be ripped off, so the person sleeping will start their day. In the same way, these worldviews need to be exposed for what they truly are.

That is, unfounded on speculation and rejection of the life of hope found in Jesus Christ.

Movie Review: Nacho Libre

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What do you get when you cross a Christian Brother, with Mexican masked wrestling, a Skinny Sidekick, and a nun which this brother is attracted to?

You get the life of Nacho. He dreams of becoming a pro luchador, for the fame and glory the title possesses. He also wants to help the orphans too, and of course impress the Sister Encarnación. Unfortunately, going pro is a bit harder than anticipated, and believe it or not, the church looks down upon the violent sport.

Will Nacho succeed in his quest for fame and food for orphans? Only through his stretchy pants and the Lucha mask will we find out.

Things I Liked

Nacho has a heart to serve the orphans which live at his parish. While a bit of what he does is for the glory, it is clear throughout the film his heart lies in making it possible for the orphans to live a better life.

What is a hero without a sidekick? For Nacho, not much. Esqueleto is that sidekick. He is loyal as a dog, and honestly, portrayed not to be much smarter than one. When everyone abandons Nacho in his quest, his friend sticks with him and provides words which encourage Nacho to continue on and persevere.

Things I Didn’t Like

One of the foremost things I did not like was Nacho does things which are wrong, to help “the greater good”. That good being the orphans. He lies, steals, cheats, and breaks his oath in fighting in the wrestling matches. He isn’t a hero we should admire. He pride himself in gags and passing gas. He is rude with food and possesses poor manners, if any at all. Immature, boisterous, rebellious, and crude. Nacho is all of these things.

Then comes in Sister Encarnación, and things get, quite frankly, grossly sticky in terms of innuendo and tension. Nacho is infatuated with the nun, and asks her personal questions which are grossly uncomfortable. He displays his body in front of her, especially his gluteus maximus, and talks about breaking their solemn vows to run away and start a family. In addition to that, at a party an aggressive woman chases Esqueleto in order to love him. We see him being dragged across the floor to her.

The violence in this film dips to the grade school level. Crotch shots, hair pulling, biting, and other forms of slapstick beat up Nacho and his sidekick quite soundly. Early in the film, we see two men tussle in the dirt like school boys over some chips. A man is smacked on the head with a cello… Overall the violence can be described as a crudely twisted humour which is meant to be funny, but winds up just losing the match. This movie is gross- and that grossness is meant to be funny? Nacho eats a raw eagle egg. Or at least tries. He snorts food out of his nose, he accentuates the fact he is overweight, and more.

The dirty language in this flick includes a lot of implied cursing, but it is never actually spoke. A man is called a douche, boyish insults fly constantly, and trash talk is exchanged in the ring.

Closing thoughts

With any Jack Black movie you can pretty much expect the following: Crass slapstick humour, a bumbling hero, and a weak message.

Indeed, we find all of these in this movie too. I watched this at the recommendations of some adult friends, who guaranteed me it was “Hilarious”. Expecting something different than what I had watched earlier (School of Rock), and knowing the rich culture behind Mexican Free Fighting, I thought this would be more mature, more refined.

I was wrong.

Nacho Libre is a  crude comedy which dabbles in just enough innuendo to remain “harmless”, yet imply exactly what is meant to be conveyed. Ridiculous half naked fat stunt men slam, smack, and bite each other in clearly fake wrestling matches, meant to be funny I assume… And the “hero” is given justification for stealing and breaking his oath for the “greater good”.

The little light in the move is, as I have mentioned, the care about the orphans. But that light is dim compared to the rest of the film.

So what’s the point of the movie? I’m not sure really, but I’m calling this one pinned. Pinned by the depths of  gross humor, the crude sexual jargon, and immature violence. Don’t waste your Libre (freedom) on this film, or at least, know that is is not funny as the fans make it out to be.

How to Start a Simple Business

idea_bulbI want to start off by saying by no means am I an expert in the area of business, nor do I profess to have all the answers in this area. I have however, successfully started a simple small business, and thought I would share how I did it. I broke it down into 6 “Ps”, because we can never have enough alliteration. Right? ;)

These are meant to be in a general order, but some may happen before others. A business will vary based upon the person running it, so these results will look different to each person. These business tips are also meant for one product or service sold but one person. In other words, a sole proprietorship.

Business opportunities are everywhere. In America we have an incredible privilege in having an opportunity to make money how we choose. This can be working for someone, working for ourselves, or both. I’ve started a very successful business in the last four years, and also had a failed business. I wanted to share some things with you all which I have learned.

Product

Before even thinking about starting a business, you have to have a  product, or a service which is of value to other people.  For me, I discovered a rather large, but niche market of prop collectors. Then I worked up to a point where I could offer quality custom Saber props for sale based on commission. That’s what anyone who wants to start a business has to do. They have to be able to present something of value which people are interested in buying.

What product can you offer? Do you have artistic skill? A passion for outdoor work? Handy with a hammer and tools? Enjoy fixing electronics? All these things can be turned into businesses, and are just a few examples.

Purpose

So you have a product, and have some folks interested in buying your work. When founding a business,  asking yourself “Why am I doing ____?” is a great idea. If your sole purpose of a business is to make money, it is going to be hard to make it successful. Don’t get me wrong, making money should be a goal, but not the main one, if that makes sense. ;)

This purpose can and should be translated into a mission statement. This provides the framework for your operations, If you ever wonder “should I do this”, go back to the mission statement and see if it lines up. That’s where the power of purpose comes in.

Promotion

Now that you have sold a few things to your family and friends, you find you like this extra money and desire more sales. This is where promotion comes in, and honestly the remaining “Ps” are going to be under this catagory. Esentially, if people don’t know you are selling something, then they can’t buy it. I personally recommend every business setup a website with their own domain name. It is extremely cheap, and with a backstage wordpress editor, extremely easy to do. Don’t settle only for a cliche’ facebook page, look legit and pro by buying your own domain and setting up a site. This shows potential customers you are much more serious than the other folks who have only social media pages.

People

It is important to consider the type of people you will be selling to, and then cater  and advertise to those needs. This can be something like stylistic touches to your site, the way your describe your product, and more. You want to make it as appealing as possible to the people you are selling to. For instance, I wouldn’t have a lacy and frilly site for my saber business, because my demographic is not attracted to that style. In the same way, if one is selling knit scarves, and they have a dark sci-fi look to their site, people are not going to be as attracted, as it usually doesn’t match the buyers tastes in that area.

Place

This is important to consider, but once you are started up in your business, where are you going to keep your supplies? Do your work? Keep your inventory? Having a place to setup and store your supplies is a great way to increase efficiency and relieve frustration of all items being all over the place. Don’t be afraid to invest in some containers  or even a desk if the need arises. And a comfy chair. Those are very important. ;)

Profit

In doing business you have been making money. If you haven’t, you might want to reconsider if your business is a viable one or not. The time period to recoup your investment costs will vary based on the amount of capital needed to produce a product. For my business, it took me about a year and a half to get back into the green and make money. A game plan is crucial to properly managing your profits.

Money is active, and if you don’t manage it, the funds will go nowhere and be wasted. First thing you want to do is make sure and keep your business and personal accounts separate. You want to register your business with the county, and make sure you pay taxes if you do over $400 in sales. An Employer Identification Number is pretty handy as well, as it allows you to make bank accounts and other things without having to use your social number.

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Hopefully some of those tips that I have learned over the past few years were helpful to you. Owning a small business is a wonderful opportunity to learn how economics works, puts a little extra cash in your pocket, and also looks great on a resume. If you’ve started a small business be sure to leave your tips in the comments below!

Why Do We Love Angry Birds?

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Those pesky pigs… Thousands of slingshot pulls and hundreds of birds later, they are still stealing those eggs and wreaking havoc in the Angry Bird Universe. You’d think a more efficient technology would be developed…

With the introduction of smartphones into the 21st century culture and lifestyle, a new style of games and gaming have developed. It is called Casual Gaming, and has become a multi-million dollar industry full of games like “Angry Birds” “Cut the Rope” “Bejeweled” “Fruit Ninja” “Tiny Wings”and more.

And yes, I confess- All of these are on my iPhone.

I’ve been wondering lately, why do people love these games so much?

To be honest, I think these games are like the arcade games of past. Games like Pac-man, DigDug, Asteroids, Tetris, etc… Easy to learn, but always different, and always a better high-score to beat. We hear about our dads spending afternoons in the Arcade with friends playing all these games. The difference is for us today, we have them with us all the time.

Perhaps the reason people enjoy these games so much is their simplicity. The vast majority of the population is not a gamer which desires to use both thumbs, index fingers, and more simultaneously. Most don’t want to spend months in an in-depth story arch where you are immersed in a tale which rivals most movies. Most just want a simple, non-stressful way to enjoy themselves. Angry Birds does this.

Unlike In-Depth games, Casual games are simple to learn, often taking less than a minute to learn. They have no negative effects if you lose. You don’t “lose a life”, your partner doesn’t die with you, and you don’t have to start back at square one. Rather, you simply try again to beat your best high score, or play the level over again. It is a no risk situation, albeit a virtual one.

Casual Games also fit our culture’s “Disposal” Mentality. As minimal investment is put into these games ($.99 or even Free) There is no stress in the “what if I don’t like it?!” mindset. Since the games are easily beatable, there isn’t a lot of time spent replaying levels once you reach a certain score point. This minimal time investment, rewarded with a high level success rate, lends a positive mental association with the game. Not because anything of value was really accomplished, but a feeling of accomplishment was given through the game.

The main reason though I believe people love Angry Birds so much is not because it is cheap, easy, or quick to play. People love Angry Birds because it provides and escape. Just like any other video game out there. It allows people, even if it is for a few minutes, to step outside the real world, and feel like they have accomplished something of worth through this game. That accomplishment comes quickly, and easily, which makes a person feel good. It can also lead to addiction, which I have seen, and am sure you have seen as well.

So where am I going with this?

One reaction I commonly hear when thinking out loud about this topic, is the question “So are you saying we shouldn’t play Angry birds?” So I’ll answer that query, as I bet some of you are thinking that. ;) Casual Games like Angry birds and the like can be a great source of fun, and cultural connection points to start larger conversations. So no, I don’t think it is wrong to play casual games at all.

I will say we do need to be cautious and intentional when playing those games. It is so easy to use these games as an escape of life, and to use it for comfort. That, I do believe is wrong. When our provisions of comfort, security, and sanity come from anything other than Christ, we have an idol. And while that game may provide help for a time, it is going to fade. Christ is the only thing which can provide a peace that passes all understanding for eternity, not a .99 cent game.