AVENGING: What Does It Take To Be An Avenger?

If you look at the definition of the word, “Avenge,” it is similar to the word “Revenge” but on its positive sense. Yes, it means vindication! But I am not here to explain this stuff, so let’s forget about that!

I won’t say how many times I’ve watched the “Age of Ultron” but I’d say enough for me to be able to write a blog about it, even enough for me to be able to write 3 things I’ve learned from it:
1. Let’s do things together.

One of the best reasons to watch the Avengers movie than watching just each individual characters titular stint is seeing them together in action. More than the fact of having the all-star cast in just one movie, what is exciting in an Avengers movie is having all the interaction and conflict zeroing on the team as a whole. I like this dialogue in the movie, that part after the team met and first fought with Ultron, talking together where Iron Man got the hot seat as he was the one responsible of creating Ultron:
Tony Stark: How can we defeat them?
Steve Rogers: Together.
Tony Stark: What if we lose?
Steve Rogers: Then, we’ll do that together, too!
Those are Facebook-worthy quotations, I believe! Winning and losing are entirely different things, but if done together, result doesn’t really matter. I am not discouraging everyone to dream big and have a goal of winning. In fact, I love winning, and I believe most people do (if not all). If you look at it on a different perspective though, having to do anything as a team is already a win.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV
“[9] Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: [10] If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. [11] Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? [12] Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

[SPOILER ALERT]
Just another Facebook-worthy quotation at the final battle:
Tony Stark: Like the old man say, TOGETHER!
Alas! not really a spoiler, it was TOGETHER that they won! Not everyone made it alive though. Whoops! Don’t hate me. I expect everyone to have watched the movie by now on its second week.
2. The fear of an individual affects the entire team.
 
This 2nd Avengers installment finally features metahumans (X-Men’s mutants), Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, both of which were popular X-men characters, but the movie decided to have their backstories differ from the comic book to fit for the movie’s entire universe story. Anyhow, Scarlet Witch has a creepy yet cool superpower to manipulate the mind of a human and have it immersed to that human’s own deepest fear. In short, the movie made use of this character’s power to hurt every Avenger (but not all) thereby affecting the entire team’s resolve and push.
True it is that hurt people hurt other people, consciously or unconsciously. Fear makes us humans human. As normal as fear is, that doesn’t mean we have to be overcome by it. It’s not easy to fight fear. Most of the time, fear will still be there even if you find courage and drive to do what you’re supposed to do. Courage, big word! “Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage assumes fear.” (Andy Stanley, Next Generation Leader)

Joshua 1:9 NIV
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

And to us Christians, our courage does not come from our own ability, but from the confidence that we have God with us wherever we go.
3. A team needs a leader.
I have always been an avid fan of Marvel and DC. *In fact, when I was a kid,  I used to watch television cartoon series, read few comic books and even get to see fewer movies (during that time). However, that’s the time when I really didn’t get Captain America. I found his abilities weak and not super enough. His position of leadership confused me even more. But growing up, I have come to understand why, even more after learning his backstory. He is a leader! He is undoubtedly, A LEADER. And the leader the Avengers need!
Don’t get me wrong, the other Avengers have each of their own good traits, but not one who is calm (Hulk, ehy?), smart (I question Thor’s non-human knowledge), selfless (as seen in the film, Iron Man can be selfish) and one who always initiates and drives the direction of the team towards the goal. Steve Rogers may not always know what to do, but he always knows that someone has to do something. And I loved how Age Of Ultron showed and magnified his trait. Really, it is because of his impeccable leadership that makes the team feel safe, driven and secured. Any team (may it be a family, a school project group, or a business company) would need a leader like that…would want a leader like that…would love a leader like that.
We don’t need to be a superhero to be a leader though. But like Captain America, we can lead. Whether we like it or not, we have influence, and so we have to use this influence to lead right.
We  can lead by being self-controlled.

Proverbs 25:28 ESV
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

We can lead by serving and being selfless.

Mark 10:45 ESV
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

And the best thing is that we have Christ as our example of leadership.

John 13:12-16 NIV
[12] When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. [13] “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. [14] Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. [15] I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. [16] Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

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‘Everything is Awesome’ in ‘The Lego Movie’

I remember more than a decade ago when all I did was study. I was the boring one in school. Most of my classmates back then probably thought I was never into fun. What they didn’t know is that there were times that deep inside of me I wanted to never care about what people would think if I just close the book I’m reading then go on the side dancing like there’s no tomorrow or even do all my voice impersonations. It was all in my head though. I felt I was forced to “grow up” even if I wanted to take my time, just because I cared what people think. The-Lego-Movie-2014-image

Oh wait! Let’s talk about the movie. All the ranting in my intro was just to explain how the movie brought back the “kid” in me, or should I write, the “kid” I should have been. Nah, don’t get me wrong. I am grateful that I was that child who every parent wants to have but every kid does not want to associate with. OK, I regret not being playful and creative, but I’m still very much grateful because at the end of the day, it is not my past that defines me. In fact, my past has taught me a lot that molded me to who I am now. I thank God for orchestrating my life the way it is. And as I have figured out that my identity is in Christ, I may not go back to my childish days again, but what I can bring about is the childlike faith I have.

That’s what the movie did for me. It gave me a retrospect. Emmett, the main Lego character, who was just a construction worker like almost everybody else in his village, a thought-out nobody in general, became somebody special after a series of unfortunate events. He was not like Batman or Superman or even Green Lantern. But what he has was drive… passion… purpose. In this sense, he is like everyone else — like you and me. We all have a purpose, but when we don’t realize it, we either just go with the flow or rebel against it. This purpose though cannot come from us. As Jeremiah 1:5 puts it, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” God has a vision, a purpose, and a plan for our lives. We only know our purpose when we know our God and we allow Him to work in our lives. Also in the book of Jeremiah where we find that God’s plan for us is to prosper us and give us hope and a future. Nothing and no one can give that security to us. Only God!

The movie then transformed from animation to real life to feature the father-son drama (played by the voiceovers of Emmett and Lord Business) and illustrate the two ends of how-Lego-is-played spectrum. This climax worked for the movie, and at the same time worked for establishing both ends of the Lego-play spectrum. Neither was deemed to be the right one, but what has been portrayed was a perfect meeting of both ends; that we can either be playful and creative or structured and by-the-book so long as we understand who we are as how we are designed to be. My design? Personally, I know I am still a work in progress and far from perfection, that is why all the more, I need God. After all, God is the one who designed me, my Creator! And so I let Him be God over my life. In my pursuit of what He has planned for my life, I stand by this verse in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Unlike before when I used to think what other people think of me, I now only care for what God thinks of me.

So if you’re looking for the perfect feel-good movie, watch it! ‘Wreck-it Ralph’ meets ‘The Little Prince’, yes, this one’s for you. And like what the addictive official soundtrack sings, “everything is awesome” here 🙂

Flap It Like A Flappy Bird

A game so seemingly simple can test your character–that’s what this new game craze did for me. I found the gameplay and graphics of this app a joke, but seriously, once I tried playing it, I was challenged to surpass my previous score (as I wrote this, my highest score is, ehem; 146!) even after millions of successive tries (I’m exaggerating, of course). I guess that’s the hook of this new bird game.flappy bird highest score

This then made me realize that in life, just like how we play the game, we encounter failures, and so we either give up or go on! Giving up is always the easy option, but this doesn’t mean it’s wrong. On the other hand, persisting to do it all over again is not always the right thing to do. In fact, repeated failures from the same thing can even mean frustration, and to some, it is foolish to do it again expecting a different result.

What then should you do? You may ask. Back in college, even with my usual optimistic point of view, I experienced a grave financial struggle that almost made me stop schooling. What has driven me to do otherwise is when I held on to God’s promise for me, to push through with what He has called me to do. I persevered!

PERSEVERANCE. Big word! In Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” God has given us a unique calling and vision, and once we know it as God reveals it through His Word, we will be able to set our priorities and overcome any obstacles. Therefore, if you know that where you are headed is where God called you to be, press on! You may fail at first but so long as you are in the middle of God’s will, press on! Even when the pressure is on, press on! And the reason why we can press on, just like what the verse says, is because we win in Christ Jesus! Knowing this, we do not have another option but to PRESS ON!

Every new task is a challenge. In every task, let’s flap it like a flappy bird, press on and persevere! Without God, it can be frightening. But with God, it can be a great adventure!  God’s promise is that just as He was with Joshua, He is with us in all these new challenges. And having Him assures us victory, 101%! [Read Joshua 1:5]. And God is faithful, just as He was in the past, He is the same today and forever!

NOW? Since it’s not from God, go delete the app, or you’d be addicted, just kidding

3 Things I’ve Learned From ‘Bride For Rent’

Disclaimer:

This is not a movie review. I watched the movie with an original intention of learning about pop culture (‘palusot!’) but little did I know, I actually learned some other things from it (ehem):

 

Image

 

 WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!!!

 

1. Marriage works!

-Rocco, the male protagonist in the movie, has lived his life NOT believing the words COMMITMENT and FOREVER, until of course he was entangled in a relationship with Rocky, the quirky and relatable female lead. I personally like the inclusion of real life couples talking about what make their marriages work, which I believe helps convey the message of the movie, though it feels a bit forced or unwelcomed. And indeed, even if marriage has continually been attacked today, we have to understand that marriage is something we need to protect. God’s plan of relationships is not from friendship ring to courtship ring to engagement ring to wedding ring to suffering. Marriage is not supposed to happen like that. Because marriage is first and foremost God’s idea. It is orchestrated by God. God caused it! Also, as a single man, I have to know that the heart of marriage is a covenant. And so as I look forward to it, I should know that for marriage to work, I should be willing to sacrifice my personal needs for the good of the relationship, because marriage is being one [Read Genesis 2:24]. 

 

2. Relationships are supposed to be built on trust.

-The movie centraled on this concept of relationships being broken because of people being strangled by a web of lies. “The world is full of people who have been hurt by those who were supposed to love them–people they should have been able to trust. Before churches will be heard, they must re-establish trust.” (Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson, The Externally Focused Church) Trust is the foundation of any relationship. People usually want people who may be imperfect but can be trusted! From what I learned from Ptr. Joey Bonifacio’s The Lego Principle, to be trusted, we have to be truthful, reliable, unified and have godly standards that is built over time.

 

3. There’s hope in people.

-Major spoiler (like duh! in most Filipino feel-good movies): the male protagonist had a change of heart at the latter part of the movie. And just like in the movie (and other movies), people can change, either for the better or for the worse. And truth be told, even if we may want to give up on people, especially those we love, as they continue to do countless mistakes repetitively, there’s still hope in them. My favorite biblical example is Paul, who was once Saul, one of the main persecutors of Christianity became the author of most of the books in the New Testament. So as God has called you, persevere in praying (and encouraging) for those people you think who have no hope left anymore because you never know, they might be the next Paul one day! 

 

P. S.

I am surprised I got to write a blog again, and more surprised because what catalyzed it was a movie I never wanted to watch in the first place (seriously…)

Paano ba Manligaw?

A student asked me: “Paano ba manligaw?”
At first, I didn’t know how to respond for two reasons.

First: because I never courted a girl yet now that people deemed my age to be the right time for it.
And second: he’s still a high school student.

So what’s my answer? I told him it was not yet the right time for it so I can’t help.

And it dawned on me: I am grateful that a lot of people mentored me (and continues to mentor me) in this area since I was a student. I have learned to wait and set my standards as young as I was before. Of course, I had that vision of marriage and I had inspirations along the way, but by the grace of God, I never compromised. You know, students think “sayang yung time” or “sayang siya”, but they fail to recognise that they even get to respect the girl and be a gentleman when they do not stir her heart (kilig) and even do the moves for her at the wrong time. It’s about knowing and respecting your season and the opposite gender’s season. At the end of it all, it’s about _MG_0844 in the way you relate to people and be a good steward in the season that you have at the moment.

#GuardYourHeart

FOUR

I now present to you four of my four-liner poems back in college. I know I know…a bit emo right there! But hey, I’m still proud of these as these kept me grounded with my passion in writing and somehow, a way of escape, IYKWIM, and so without further ado, here is the valiant warrior uncovered:

DUSK

The curtain falls again…

Silence and loneliness came…

The next days were not the same…

And I hate this grievous game…

PERFECT

What you see may not be what you get…

But fraud and disguise I can’t let…

Must dig down inside and discover…

To be the man that understands better…

ABSOLUTE

The Earth’s still spinning, never shallow…

Even if the never-ending pace is still slow…

I kept asking and continue living,

Faith does answer it all, never dying…

BLURRY

It’s so happen that I’m with her today…

Indeed, im happy yet I don’t know exactly…

I’m lovin’ to leave the question behind…

But I cant get it out of my mind…

P.S.

For a very long time, I haven’t made any four-liner poems and haikus. Hmmm, writer’s block? Oh well… if you have any ideas for me to write about ranging from freestyle poems to leadership articles to pop culture reviews, feel free to comment below.

We Are Never Ever Getting Gangnam Style While We’re Young [Music Bible 1]

As a young campus missionary, it has been my day-to-day task to be updated with pop culture, and in as much as I can use the knowledge to be able to connect more effectively with the students I am ministering, there is that danger of being one who patronises or tolerates those that can actually be harmful in their spiritual feeding (and even mine). It is not being legalistic, but I believe there is a need for us to be careful in what we take in for our learning (or for entertainment), as it says in:

 1Corinthians 10:23

“Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial…”

In that case, I decided to look into songs that are popular nowadays through their lyrics (and maybe the videos as well) and study them from a Bible standpoint as I could. I will try my best to comment more frequent as I get to be updated with more new popular songs that the youth of today rave about. For the first edition, I picked 3 of the hottest songs both on tv and radio:

 We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift

This song is obviously a reinforcement of girl power (which a lot of this generation’s songs tackled and already overused). I don’t have any problem with Swift’s ranting and finally deciding to end everything from the same guy who hurt her countless times. I guess, the only throwoff is that there is TOO MUCH hate on the lyrics (and even the cutesy video showed it). Sure there is a need to tell the guy to stop bothering anymore and move on because you are already fed up, but I believe this should still be done in a nice way (or even the most formal way you can do). The relationship (which is proven to not work) has to stop at some point, but forgiveness should always be an applied option. Matthew 18:21-22 discusses how we should forgive, that no matter how many times someone sins against you, you always have to be ready to forgive. Just take that initiative to forgive, and it is God who will refresh and restore you eventually. Trusting the same person though will depend on you, and this I believe takes a really long time. More on trust, maybe in my next blog.

Verdict: The song is upbeat and though the lyrics prove to be bitter, the melody is ironically uplifting. I should say this song is safe to stay on your playlist, unless you just had a fresh break up.

Gangnam Style by Psy

I know you can’t get off listening and dancing to this song that hooked you because of its ridiculously random viral video, even though you don’t understand 95% of it. The video itself is funny and there might be scenes that are a bit off to kids, it still is laughable in a way. What is interesting though is that the lyrics is all about a man bragging about his style and what he knows about where true beauty can be seen. Yes, that’s how optimistic and sensible the song really is. For those of you who don’t know, Gangnam is an urban place in South Korea, more like Eastwood or Rockwell here in the Philippines. I personally approve the lyrics of the song; wherein he points out that one is more beautiful (or sexier, in his language) not on his/her fashion sense, but rather on his personality. This reminds me of one of my favorite verses (and maybe yours) in the Bible:

1Samuel 16:7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

So what do I think?

Verdict: Continue listening and horse-riding along to this song to your heart’s content.

Live While We’re Young by One Direction

Here is another one of those songs from them that makes no direct sense to me. I know the song is all about celebration, and having fun while still young, but I think a lot of things are taken out of the lyrics, I guess their management wants them to attract a wide range of audience, both “conservative” and “liberated”. And that is why I am having a problem if I should recommend this song or not. This decision I leave it to you, but might as well I’ll leave a verse to take into context what true celebration is all about:

 John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

God has given everyone of us a unique vision and purpose, and we can indeed live life to the full if we’re living it with Him. Enough said.

Verdict: Remember John 10:10 as you listen to it!