X-MEN: FIRST CLASS – No “Better” Men

First Class PosterX-Men: First Class was a step in the right direction for this venerable superhero series when it was released. It’s entertaining, imaginative and fun. However, it’s not an exceptional film. Just…okay. The movie didn’t grab me like it should have.

In an effort to keep the franchise going after the not-so-great The Last Stand, 20th Century Fox opted to do a prequel – a tongue-in-cheek look at the origins of the Xavier’s group of strange heroes. It’s based in part on a story for a proposed X-Men Origins film about Magneto. One can still see the remnants of this plan, as Erik’s story is clearly at the center of the plot.

The growing conflict between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr is what keeps this movie interesting. It reflects a similar conflict of ideologies in a real historical struggle against bigotry, as well as spiritual truth about what part of a person truly matters.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

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Scriptural Smash-Up

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A few weeks ago, I heard Pastor Mike Breaux of Real Life Church summarize the nature of God in what he called a “scriptural smash-up” – a first-person summarization of who God is using Bible verses as its basis. It was a very powerful reminder of how much God loves us and what God does for you and I every day.

“I know you have become weary and feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. Come to Me and I will give you rest. Bring all your anxiety and fear to Me and leave them with Me. I will keep you in perfect peace when you keep your mind and trust on Me. I care about you. I keep track of all your sorrows and have collected all your tears. I have compassion for how you’ve been afflicted. I have not forgotten you. Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on her child? Here is my promise: though she may forget, I will not forget you!

The acceptance you find in everything under the sun is meaningless and temporary, but I have freely given you My acceptance. I do not give to you as the world gives…and then takes away. So do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid. I heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.”

Isaiah 26:3, Matthew 11:28, John 14:27, Psalm 56:8, Isaiah 49:13 & 15, Ecclesiastes 1:14, Psalm 147:3

“Before you were born, you were special to Me. I knew you before you were conceived in your mother’s womb. With My own hands I fearfully and wonderfully created every detail that makes you unique. I have watched you every day of your life, so I know you. I know where you have been, where you are, and where you are going.

If you only knew the thoughts I have toward you. Did you know that My thoughts for you outnumber the grains of sand on all the beaches of the world? You are the apple of my eye. I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

You did not earn My acceptance through anything you have done. You can’t take credit for it. It is a gift from Me. So it is not what you do that makes Me love you. For compared to what I deserve, your righteous acts are like filthy rags. But it is My love for you that makes you precious and honored in My sight. I created you for My glory, and I will never abandon what I have formed and made.”

Psalm 17:8, Psalm 23:6, Psalm 100:5, Psalm 138:8, Psalm 139:13-18, Isaiah 43:4 & 7, Ephesians 2:8-9, Isaiah 64:5, Isaiah 49:16, Jeremiah 1:5

“I am the eternal God, your refuge. And underneath you are My everlasting arms. My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness. So do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer, present your requests to Me. And My peace, which transcends all understanding, will stand guard over your heart and mind.

Rest, My child. For I have been good to you. You can trust Me. I have delivered your soul from death, your eyes from tears, and your feet from stumbling, so that you may walk before Me in the land of the living. When the cords of death entangle you, when you are overcome with trouble and sorrow, call upon My Name. I will reach down from on high and take hold of you. I will draw you out of the deep waters. I will rescue you from your powerful enemy. Though they confront you in the day of your disaster, I will be your support.

I will rescue you because I will delight in you. I will quiet you with My love. I will rejoice over you with singing. So, My loved one, rest secure in Me. For I will shield you all day long. You can trust in My unfailing love. You are the one I love. Come rest on My shoulders.”

Deuteronomy 33:12 & 27, Psalm 18:16-19, Psalm 116:3-5 & 6-9, Zephaniah 3:17, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 4:6-7, Psalm 13:5

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR – What is an ‘Avenger’?

Civil War PosterCaptain America: Civil War is one powerful movie. It is an awesome experience, jam-packed with what seems to be every Marvel geek’s fantasy. Cap, Black Widow, Iron Man, Black Panther, Spider-Man (SPIDER-MAN!!) – they’re all here. My mind constantly went back to my ten-year-old self, playing with superhero action figures and pitting them against each other.

Did it have the same dramatic weight and action polish as the perennially brilliant Captain America: The Winter Soldier (which Civil War directors Anthony and Joe Russo also helmed)? No. But it is still very entertaining, and now holds the number three spot on my top Marvel movie list.

Some wonder why this wasn’t considered just another Avengers movie. The Captain America title is definitely apt, though. Cap is the central character, and the film’s scope lacks the epic quality of the two previous Avengers films directed by Joss Whedon – and that is no doubt by design. What the Russos and scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have crafted is a small-scale film about an epic “family feud.” It is the culmination of a rift that has been felt between Captain America and Iron Man since they first met in The Avengers.

Civil War is one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most ideologically and thematically heavy films. It doesn’t have a James Spader-voiced robot waxing philosophically; it’s definitely more subtle. There are two very big ideas at play. The first is a question of government regulation, and its effectiveness at preventing collateral damage. The larger idea, however, is a spiritual one, and it drives almost all the central combatants in this story.

SPOILERS AHEAD

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Waiting for the Train

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“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

Before I got married, I lived in a place that was near railroad tracks. The tracks essentially bisected the city, blocking all north/south roads, save for two that traveled underneath the tracks via some impressive underpasses. I could hear the blare of the freight train horn going off at all hours of the day and night, though I didn’t mind it too much. In fact, some nights the sounds of the trains lulled me to sleep.

The trains became a nuisance when I was on my way someplace (be it work or some errand), drove to the railroad crossing, and there was an extremely long train slowly making its way across the tracks. This was especially aggravating when time was short, or I was tired and just wanted to go home. The train seemed to go on forever.

The tracks were so close to my house that when I went to my car to head out, I could already hear a train coming – as if to let me know that there would be a delay even before I left.

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