Thursday Quote Day: G.K. Chesterton

This week’s “Thursday Quote Day” features another quote from theologian G.K. Chesterton:

“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” (G.K. Chesterton)

Sunday Devotional: Hebrews 6:13-20

“For when God made a promise to Abraham, since He had no one greater to swear by, He swore by Himself:

I will indeed bless you,
and I will greatly multiply you.

And so, after waiting patiently, Abraham obtained the promise. For men swear by something greater than themselves, and for them a confirming oath ends every dispute. Because God wanted to show His unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise, He guaranteed it with an oath,  so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us.  We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.  Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because He has become a high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:13-20)

Promises.  When God makes a promise, He delivers.  He is always faithful to deliver.  We may have to wait for His timing but God is faithful.  We see here in Hebrews the writer talk about God’s promise to Abraham.  God’s promise was fulfilled in full to Abraham.  Likewise, when Jesus came, God’s promise of redemption was fulfilled.  And someday Jesus will return just like was promised.

Whether you are going through a season of waiting (like I am) or you’re about to enter that time, remember God’s promises.  Remember God’s faithfulness.  We have a hope in Jesus.  We have an anchor that secures our faith.  Let us continue to trust and be faithful in the wait and trust in the promises that God has given to us.

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 147

“Hallelujah!
How good it is to sing to our God,
for praise is pleasant and lovely.

The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem;
He gathers Israel’s exiled people.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars;
He gives names to all of them.
Our Lord is great, vast in power;
His understanding is infinite.
The Lord helps the afflicted
but brings the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
play the lyre to our God,
who covers the sky with clouds,
prepares rain for the earth,
and causes grass to grow on the hills.
He provides the animals with their food,
and the young ravens, what they cry for.

He is not impressed by the strength of a horse;
He does not value the power of a man.
The Lord values those who fear Him,
those who put their hope in His faithful love.

Exalt the Lord, Jerusalem;
praise your God, Zion!
For He strengthens the bars of your gates
and blesses your children within you.
He endows your territory with prosperity;
He satisfies you with the finest wheat.

He sends His command throughout the earth;
His word runs swiftly.
He spreads snow like wool;
He scatters frost like ashes;
He throws His hailstones like crumbs.
Who can withstand His cold?
He sends His word and melts them;
He unleashes His winds, and the waters flow.

He declares His word to Jacob,
His statutes and judgments to Israel.
He has not done this for any nation;
they do not know His judgments.
Hallelujah!” (Psalm 147)

In times of discouragement and suffering it’s important to remember a psalm like this one.  It reminds us again of who God is and what He has done/is doing.  He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  He is abundant in strength.  He brings peace where peace is needed.  He takes care of those who are His.

We have so much to be thankful for even in the midst of trials and tribulations.  This week let us be reminded of this so that we can share with others the hope that we have.

 

MoviePass Adventures: Month 1

I recently signed up for MoviePass.  For those that don’t know, MoviePass is a monthly subscription program that allows one to see a film (2D film) once a day in the movie theater.  I knew about the program for years back when it was first announced but the price point was something that wasn’t worth it.  However back in August, the company announced they were dropping the price down to $9.99 a month.  And as soon as the price jumped, there was a huge rush of people signing up.  I waited on signing up thinking it might be good to wait and see how things go.  I had a friend who signed up for it and liked it so I decided to do the same.

It took about a month or so to get my card.  How it works is you sign up and you get a debit card.  When you get to the theater you go on the app and check in to the movie you want to see.  You then use the debit card to pay for the movie.  The hardest thing was getting the card.  The initial wait time is supposed to be 5-7 days but given the huge demand it took a month (there are many that are still waiting for cards which has been a sticking point with some people).

I have now had the card for a month and have seen 8 films with it.  I thought I would document here the films I’ve seen and some brief thoughts on each one.

1.) Blade Runner 2049

The sequel to the original Blade Runner, I was looking forward to seeing this film.  Overall, I really liked it. Probably better than the original but definitely can feel and see the influences in it.

2.) Mark Felt

Based on the true story of Mark Felt, aka “Deep Throat”.  It tells the story of the man who helped expose the Watergate scandal.  It’s one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from Liam Neeson.

3.) Marshall

Marshall is another based on a true story.  This time it tells the story of Thurgood Marshall, eventual Supreme Court Justice, and the time he defended an accused rapist in Connecticut.  The cast is tremendous in this film and Chadwick Boseman ranks at the top of the list.

4.) Thor: Ragnarok

I did an entire blog post on my thoughts on Thor: Ragnarok so you can go check it out.  I will say I was reminded again how Phase 3 of the MCU has been way better than Phase 2.

5.) Goodbye Christopher Robin

This film is also a “based on a true story”.  It tells the story of A.A. Milne and his family.  Milne was the author of the Winnie the Pooh books and those books were based on his son Christopher Robin Milne and his interaction with the world.  The acting was tremendous and heartrenching.  Domhall Gleeson and Margot Robbie were great and Kelly Macdonald was a showstealer as well.

6.) Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express is the newest film adaption to the novel written by Agatha Christie.  I really enjoyed the film.  The ensemble cast was great and the visuals were breathtaking.

7.) Only The Brave

Only the Brave is another “based on a true story” this one of the Granite Mountain hotshots.  They were a firefighting group in Arizona that would be helping to fight some of the deadliest wildfires.  A great cast and a compelling story.

8.) Justice League

Justice League is the big DC superhero team up film.  Overall I thought the film was fine.  I enjoyed the cast and the performance for the most part was good.  It could’ve been better but on the flip side it could’ve been worse.  It was at least a step forward for DC in the film universe.

There are some films that are coming out in the next month or so that I’m excited to see so I’m sure my MoviePass will definitely come in handy.

Thursday Quote Day: A.W. Tozer

This week’s “Thursday Quote Day” features a quote from pastor and author A.W. Tozer:

“The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God and the church is famishing for want of His presence.  The instant cure of most of our religious ills would be to enter the Presence in spiritual experience, to become suddenly aware that we are in God and that God is in us. This would…cause our hearts to be enlarged…” (A.W. Tozer)

Sunday Devotional: Revelation 22:20-21

 “He who testifies about these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.”

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.” (Revelation 22:20-21)

These are the last words written in the New Testament.  The apostle John wrote these words while sitting in exile on the island of Patmos.  With all the struggles and the persecution that the church was facing at that time, John had hope.  Because he held firm to the belief that Jesus was returning.

We as part of the church today hold that belief as well.  We also know that God’s timing is not the same as our timing.  We do not know the exact day or hour but Jesus has promised He will return.  And as we go through living our lives and following the calling that God has for each of us individually and collectively, we echo the words that John wrote here: “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

This week, let us cling to that hope.  Let us in the midst of hardships and struggles cry out to God.  And let us share the hope that we have even in the midst of suffering.  Jesus is coming again.

Sunday Devotional: John 16:31-33

“Jesus responded to them, “Do you now believe? Look: An hour is coming, and has come, when each of you will be scattered to his own home, and you will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”  (John 16:31-33)

Jesus always made it a point to tell His disciples how hard the road would be in following Him  He never sugarcoated it.  It was a path of struggle and pain and loneliness.  But it was all worth it because of who it was they were following.

Here as the days were drawing closer to Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, Jesus tells them of what was to come.  Even in the midst of turmoil, Jesus brings peace.  Even in the midst of suffering, Jesus brings hope.

I’m reminded today of all the heartache and struggles that these words still resonate.  Even though there is immense suffering in this world, we can take heart.  Jesus has overcome the world!  So as we endure the trials and tribulations of this world, let us keep on the path of following Jesus.  Let us be courageous in following Him.

Michael’s Rankings: Updated Marvel Cinematic Universe Films

Having just seen Thor: Ragnarok I was thinking about where it ranks as far as MCU films and then I realized that I haven’t updated them since 2015.  There have been several MCU films released since then as part of Phase 3.  So here I go with an “updated” listing.  There will be a little bit of changes to fit the new films in but my guess is the top film and the bottom film will probably still be the same. And I’m sure I will revisit this list and adjust accordingly as time goes on and even more films are released.  So here is the list (from least favorite to favorite):

17.) Thor:  The Dark World

The sequel to Thor resides at the bottom of the list.  Nothing against this film.  I enjoyed it but compared to the rest of the MCU and specifically to the first one, this one isn’t as good.  To me, the plot felt kinda disjointed and the Dark Elves could’ve been used better (or at least have potential to carry over into future films).  As you will probably notice in this list, Phase 2 films will occupy a lot of the lower ends of this list.  I’ll address that more here in a little bit.

16.)  Iron Man 3

While I do enjoy the reference to Tennessee in this film (though there is no location in Tennessee where Tony Stark visits), Iron Man 3 is the least enjoyable of the Iron Man trilogy.  I give it credit, it does reference The Avengers in trying to tie the story in the aftermath of those events on Stark.  However, it feels disjointed and the ending, while makes sense if you look at it as just an Iron Man trilogy, does not make sense when you look at the bigger MCU picture.  Hence, why it’s so far down on my list.

15.) Iron Man 2

The lowest film in Phase 1, Iron Man 2 is better than Iron Man 3 but compared to the rest of the MCU films, it’s not as enjoyable for me.  It does have the debut of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and she does a great job.  But when compared to the first Iron Man, this one misses the mark.

Captain America:  Civil War

I mentioned before (and will again shortly) about some films being higher on other people’s lists and some being lower.  This is one that probably for a lot of people would be higher but not on my list.  Like Winter Soldier, I’m not a big fan of the tone of this film.  I’m not a big fan of the impetus for the big clash between Cap & Stark.  I’m not a big fan in general of the portrayal of many of the characters in this film with the exception of Black Panther & Spider-Man.  So Avengers 2.5 as I’ve liked to call it is this far down on the list.

13.) Captain America:  The Winter Soldier

This will be the film that most will be higher on their lists.  Why is it so low on my list?  There are a couple of reasons.  One, I don’t like that they blew up S.H.I.E.L.D..  I get why they did it but I think there were a lot of miles they could’ve traveled with S.H.I.E.L.D. still working and on top of that I didn’t like that they said Hydra was pretty much around inside S.H.I.E.L.D. nearly the entire time of existence.  Two, compared to the first Captain America film, I didn’t necessarily like the tone.  Granted, I’m in the minority on that thought but that’s just me.  It’s a good film and probably out of all the Phase 2 films, it ties most into Avengers:  Age of Ultron the best.  But if I am going to choose between which Captain America film I’m going to watch, this one wouldn’t be my first choice.

12.) Thor

Out of the origin story films, Thor is the lowest.  I like Thor but again compared to other MCU films, it ranks lower.  I like the tone of this film better than The Dark World.  It helps that Loki is more prominent in this film as opposed to the sequel.  I will say the next several films are tough to rank because they are all kinda bunched up together.

11.) Avengers:  Age of Ultron

I’m sure that this film will be one that will be higher on other lists.  And I enjoyed it when I saw it in the theater.  However, the main problem that I had with the film is what made it less enjoyable than some other films.  That problem was continuity.  If you view the film on its own, it’s fine.  However, when you tie it in to the other MCU films, there are problems.  One of the main problems is the end of Iron Man 3 and zero explanation of how Stark went from the end of that film to Age of Ultron.  Hydra is barely around in the film and is a secondary villain at best.  The action scenes were great and I really like that they gave Hawkeye some quality screen time.  He was probably the best character in the film.  I’m going on record as saying this will probably be my least favorite Avengers film.

10.) Thor: Ragnarok

The newest MCU film as of this writing.  You can go back to my recent post to see my overall thoughts on the film.  In regards to this ranking, it is the best of the “trilogy” films so far and the best Thor film.  But in trying to be a Thor film, a Guardians film & a Hulk film, it finds itself here.  I like it better than Age of Ultron which has now become the MCU baseline film for these rankings.

9.) The Incredible Hulk

This will be the film that is lower on a lot of lists.  But I really enjoyed this film.  And I thought Edward Norton did a great job as Bruce Banner/The Hulk and I loved Liv Tyler as Betty Ross (which is another complaint about Age of Ultron, they dismiss Ross and have Banner together with Romanov…but given that Barton is married in MCU, that option wasn’t available, anyway…).  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Mark Ruffalo fan and what he’s done with the role.  But this film tells a really good story.  I do hope at some point there is another Hulk standalone film.  But until then, this is the one.

8.) Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

Guardians Volume 2 is the highest ranking sequel on the list.  It did a great job of taking a lot of what worked in the first film and furthering the story along.  It hits the right tones of action, drama & comedy and ties things together with the first film.

7.) Ant-Man

Since the last ranking, Ant-Man dropped out of the top 5 because there were two good films that I liked more but it was tough.  I would definitely say the second half of this top 10 are really bunched together.  I’ll mention again why I really enjoyed this film is that it has the same beats as the first Iron Man.  Paul Rudd is Scott Lang & that totally is what makes the film work so well.

6.) Spider-Man:  Homecoming

These next two films were so hard to rank.  I almost could’ve went with a tie for fifth.  But I decided to go the first MCU Spider-Man film or as I also like to call it “The Redemption of Tony Stark”.  This film not only fully introduced Spider-Man into the MCU but redeemed Tony Stark after the events of Civil War.  It is one of the best Spider-Man films (which reminds me I should rank those at some point) and right up there in the MCU.

5.) Doctor Strange

I would guess this film might rank lower in some lists but I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange was great (even though it’s still weird hearing him with an American accent).  The vibe and feel of the film work well together and the story is compelling.  I would highly recommend watching the film while listening to the director’s commentary.  That is probably one of the best commentaries I’ve ever heard for a film.  So far this would be my favorite Phase 3 film and it does show that for the most part I’ve enjoyed the Phase 3 films more than Phase 2.

4.) Captain America:  The First Avenger

Captain America is one of my favorite superhero characters.  And I love the retro feel of this film.  In many ways those two characteristics are what make this film more enjoyable in my mind than The Winter Soldier and Civil War.  I wish though that the Red Skull had survived (and maybe he did, who knows?) but the tone of this film makes the rewatchability more enjoyable.

3.) Guardians of the Galaxy

The best Phase 2 film to me, this film was a lot of fun.  Of course the cast of characters makes the film that much enjoyable.  The film was unlike any other Marvel film up to that point and it’s charm and quirkyness make it stand out to me.  If there is one Phase 2 film I could watch, this would be the one.

2.) Iron Man

The original classic.  The one that started the whole thing.  I love the first Iron Man.  The story it tells is great.  If one goes back and rewatches it now one can see how dated it was.  There was talk of MySpace and there weren’t really any smart phones and a digital camera was used to take a picture.  But it still holds up really well.

1.) The Avengers

To me, the first Avengers film is my favorite.  I love the action.  I love the story.  I love the soundtrack.  It is an awesome film.  If I’m choosing Avengers films, this is the one I’m more likely to go with (that may change when Infinity War comes around but as of right now this is it).

So that’s my list.  Like I said, it’s a ranking of which ones I enjoy the most.  All of them are good films and can watch them again and again.  There was some shuffling around and obviously next year there will be even more shuffling.