Sunday Devotional: 1 Corinthians 1:4-9

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,  that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—  so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,  who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)

In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul right off the bat wanted to share with the members there his love and care for them.  He was very thankful for them and loved them very much.  He wanted them to know how much they meant to him and how much he wanted them to know the love of Jesus more fully and deeply.

Paul wanted the Corinthians to know how much Jesus loved them and that He was the sustainer of their lives.  Before getting into anything else, Paul made it a point to share this with the Corinthians.

The same is true for us today as well.  We should be grateful for the grace that has been given to us by God through Jesus Christ.  He is the one that sustains us and gives us hope.  He is the one that loves us so much and is faithful.

This week, let us live in that hope.  And more so let us share that hope with others.

Sunday Devotional: “I Saw The Light”

“I wandered so aimless life filled with sin
I wouldn’t let my dear savior in
Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I saw the light I saw the light
No more darkness no more night
Now I’m so happy no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

Just like a blind man I wandered along
Worries and fears I claimed for my own
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I saw the light I saw the light
No more darkness no more night
Now I’m so happy no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I was a fool to wander and a-stray
Straight is the gate and narrow the way
Now I have traded the wrong for the right
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I saw the light I saw the light
No more darkness no more night
Now I’m so happy no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light”  (“I Saw The Light”)

On this Resurrection Sunday, there is that great reminder that Jesus is the light of the world.  And when he rose from the grave, the light shown out from the darkness.  Death had no more victory.

Because of Resurrection Sunday, we are able to see the light.  We are able to not live in darkness anymore.  Jesus made a way.  And he loves us so much that He wants to bring us along.  Before Jesus, we are wandering in the dark.  But with Jesus we can live in the light.  We get to have that renewed relationship with the Father.

This week (and every week), let us be thankful that we have the hope of Resurrection Sunday.  Let us live in the light of Jesus.  And let us share the good news that we have seen the light.

When Inside Out Was There: Thoughts on When Marnie Was There and Inside Out

The last two films that I have seen in the theater have a lot of similarities.  But they also have some distinctive qualities that make them unique as well.  Those films?  They are When Marnie Was There and Inside Out

MarnieInside Out

Both are animated features.  Both feature young females in prominent roles.  Both have great voice casts.  And both are done by the best in animation (Studio Ghibli and Pixar).  They both tell compelling stories and are both worth the price of admission.

The differences speak to the art of animation, it’s past as well as it’s future.  When Marnie Was There, being a Studio Ghibli film, is more in the traditional ink and paint animation style.  Studio Ghibli has done some computer animation, they are most known for their traditional animation style (as well as telling great stories).  Pixar, on the other hand, has been known for it’s cutting edge CGI animation and Inside Out shows that off.

The stories the two films tell are also different in the sense of source material.  Inside Out is an original IP (intellectual property), which was a staple of Pixar films in the beginning (though you can’t fault them for sequels like Toy Story 2 & Toy Story 3).  When Marnie Was There is based on a book written by Joan G. Robinson.

Probably the one thing that stood out to me, now having watched both films was this.  When Marnie Was There is the end of an era.  It has the distinction of being (as of right now) the last feature film released by Studio Ghibli.  With the retirement of co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, news was released that the studio was taking a “hiatus” from feature films.  If this does end up being the last Studio Ghibli film, then they went out on a high note.  Inside Out, on the other hand, is the first Pixar feature film to be released in theaters in two years.  Anticipation was high prior to it’s release, and it has met (and some cases exceeded expectations).  Depending on how good The Good Dinosaur does come Thanksgiving, Pixar could have another resurgence.

Having seen both films, I can say two things.  1) I enjoyed both of them and the stories that they told.  2) If I had to choose which one I enjoyed more, I would have to say When Marnie Was There.  Granted I saw When Marnie Was There at the historic Belcourt Theater in Nashville and I am a huge Studio Ghibli fan, but for me that story resonated more with me.  I’ll say it was a very bittersweet feeling I had watching that film know that it could be the last Studio Ghibli film I see in a theater.  Those films never got the wide release in the States that other animated films get (though there were a few exceptions).

Given the box office that Inside Out had its opening weekend, I’m sure you have seen it (or are planning on seeing it).  But I would hope that if there is a theater in your area that’s showing When Marnie Was There that you check it out as well.  Both are great films (animated or not).

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 63

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;

    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
    beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
    in your name I will lift up my hands.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

But those who seek to destroy my life
    shall go down into the depths of the earth;
they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
    they shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God;
    all who swear by him shall exult,
    for the mouths of liars will be stopped.” (Psalm 63:1-11)

This week, let us seek the Lord out with all our heart and soul.  Let us be satisfied in Him.  Let us sing out like David did about how much we cling to Him.  Let us remember that is love is better than life.

Thoughts on Furious 7

Yesterday I went and saw Furious 7 at the movie theater.  I’m a fan of the franchise so it was a given that I was going to see this movie and wanted to share some thoughts about the film and franchise up to this point.

The film itself was good.  You know going into this film what it’s going to be like and true to form that’s what it was.  It continues the story of Fast & Furious 6 with Dom, Brian and the gang having to deal with the brother of the villain from the previous film.  The fact that it’s actor Jason Statham means it’s a villain to reckon with.

Like some of the recent previous films, there’s a lot of jet setting around the world with crazy stunts & fight scenes.  A lot of these center around revenge (Shaw getting revenge for his brother, Dom getting revenge for Han) and protection (protecting a hacker named Ramsey & protecting the family from Shaw and his “friends”).

I enjoyed the film for what it was and the story it told.  Granted, there were some nitpicking things.  One being that Dwayne Johnson was more of a cameo role of sorts and I like the character of Hobbs.  Though I will say he did have some good scenes in his limited role.  I guess the major nitpick thing was not what you would think.  Given that actor Paul Walker died while the film was in production (which led to the delay in it’s release), there was use of digital work and stunt doubles to help fill in scenes.  But honestly, I didn’t notice which ones they were.  What did stick out to me was a scene in Japan.

Those that know the franchise know that the last several films have been “prequels” in a sense.  In the timeline technically this film follows The Fast and the Furious:  Tokyo Drift (which came out in 2006).  The end of the film featured Dom in a drag race against Sean Boswell (played by Lucas Black) who was a friend of Han.  So in this film to tie it together, they bring back the scene from 2006 where Sean is told someone wants to race him.  Then a few seconds later (after the race) Dom and Sean are talking (filmed present day).  You can tell that Lucas Black has aged (and also cut his hair) but I guess if you weren’t paying attention you wouldn’t notice it but it just stood out to me.

Overall, I enjoyed the film and I enjoy the franchise.  It’s wild that the franchise started in 2001…when I was in college.  I remember going to the movie theater to see that one (well I’ve went to the movie theater to see all of them).  I will say the first film is good in it’s own right then it dropped off some before really gaining steam from the 4th movie onward.  I don’t know if they will continue to make films in this series (given Walker’s death but they did write off the character in a nice way, and I do think that would’ve been the plan anyway given the trajectory of the character of Brian and Mia) but if they do I’m on board for it.  They’re movies that you can take two hours and just go along for the ride (sort of speak).

If you’re curious, here is how I rank the film series including the newest film:

1) Fast Five

2) Fast & Furious 6

3) Furious 7

4) Fast & Furious

5) The Fast and The Furious

6) 2 Fast 2 Furious

7) The Fast and The Furious:  Tokyo Drift