Taking up your cross and Christian Discipleship

We are called to be counter cultural, as Christians. We must not put our focus on the world behind us, but rather focus on what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13).  The Apostle Paul said, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Col 3:2)   He even went so far as to say, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3.3).          The Christian is called to both faithfully accept our Lord and Savior, and his teachings and commandments. One of these such things he commands us is that Jesus taught if one wants to be his disciple, he must take up his cross, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24  If we want to follow Christ, we must be serious about Him being LORD of our lives for we know that he was serious about us and doing the Father’s will, so much so that it cost him his life to the cross.  For many, the teaching of taking up the cross is the hardest one.  Including in scripture, where we are blessed to have many examples of people inquiring information about our LORD and wanting to become followers of His.  One such story that comes to mind, is the rich young ruler.    

“As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words [a]he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

23 And Jesus, looking around, *said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus *answered again and *said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “[b]Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus *said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”   So see, like the rich young ruler in this story many of us want to be saved, to have eternal life but we want it without following Jesus and keeping his commands.  And we know what Jesus says about keeping his commands,  John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”  And earlier, in John 8:31 Jesus said to the Jews, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” John 8:31 


Thor: Ragnarok thoughts

The previous Thor movies were easily some of the weakest of all the MCU films, but Thor: Ragnarok (3rd in the Thor series) is different from the previous Thor movies.  The movie includes a pretty nice cast including Jeff Goldblum, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, and Cate Blanchett among others.     This is one of the things I enjoyed about the movie: Everyone plays their parts great, and create for an enjoyable movie viewing experience.  The movie has plenty of action, and humor, and in that aspect it reminded me much of  the Guardians of the Galaxy movies which are both highly enjoyable.           It’s  really a comedy first, and than an action movie second.  Don’t get me wrong though, it is it’s own movie.  This is the 17th MCU movie, and at some point you think they would make fun of themselves, and here they sort of do that, and  it doesn’t come off weirdly either, but is done so nicely.   Some may critique the use of humor where they think it may not belong, as there is a lot of it, but I think it makes up for the past Thor movies where we didn’t get such a strong culmination.   Overall, Thor: Ragnarok is everything this viewer wants to see from a superhero film, and thinks it is easily the best in the Thor series. You would be making a mistake if you don’t see it so I would give it an 8.4/10 rating.

Stars TNA never believed in

#4 Booker T

Indeed, Booker T has had a notable wrestling career, and a corridor of notoriety commendable one as well, regardless of that, Booker simply didn’t put his earnest attempts forward in the organization, as he regarded his stay in TNA as an excursion, in this manner prompting why he is on the rundown. One title he failed to catch here was the TNA World Title.

#3 Scott Steiner

TNA depended on legends from the past to create name quality and acknowledgment for their item. Scott Steiner worked for TNA under a couple unique administrations and gave stimulation, every time. Steiner was set in a couple of headliner storylines, working with Kurt Angle, Sting, and Christian Cage, yet never entered the world title picture, which is a touch of astounding considering the 90’s stars that  have held the title.

#2 Kazarian

While numerous youthful, crisp ability in TNA were dynamite, tragically just not very many could push through to make it. One X-Division star had what numerous felt was a breakout execution, when Kazarian had a break out singles coordinate that didn’t go anyplace. He would have a breakout match with Christian Cage in a ladder match, which numerous thought would prompt a singles push. Once more, however Kazarian would at the end of the day end up at a glass ceiling. He was never regarded as a sensible contender for the World Title.

#1 ChristCDanielsopher Daniels

While the “Phenomenal One” AJ Styles and Samoa Joe deservedly earned the recognition as top stars of the organization being in must see matches on each PPV and Impact, Daniels effortlessly fits into this comparison. The three took TNA to new statures in the mid 2000’s with their exhibitions. Daniels was an unwavering and enormous wrestler for TNA, however was never given the distinctions of winning the world title. It didn’t make a difference how often Daniels was enhanced, or rebranded, TNA never had faith in him enough. It is such a disgrace.

Top 5 Daniel Bryan matches

It is the end of a chapter, a career, a special one.  Former WWE World Heavyweight champion and WrestleMania main eventer,  Daniel Bryan announced his retirement in front of his hometown in Seattle, on Monday Night’s RAW.   Bryan may not have been the default favorite big and buff wrestler like a Brock Lesnar, but what he lacked in size he more than made up for in ring, having proved this many times.   Without further ado, here is my list of the best of the best  Daniel Bryan matches from his WWE career.
#5  vs CM Punk MITB 2012
This one had all the potential elements of a classic wrestling match, and it delivered.   Not only were the two arguably the best mat wrestlers as they had already proven before that year in a plethora of great matches, but throw in the addition of a no disqualifications stipulation and a since of unpredictability with AJ Lee as the special referee and you have a classic.
#4  vs. Randy Orton and Batista WrestleMania 30
Probably one of the most memorable main events to take place at WrestleMania, and what a WrestleMania it was, too.  The build up reminds  me of the weak link storyline in that Bryan was proving himself here once again, only  this time at the grandest stage. The match ended with Bryan making Batista tap out.   This match was not perfect, but like I said a quite memorable one.
#3 vs Sheamus Extreme Rules 2013
After losing his (then) World Heavy Weight Championship to Sheamus on the grandest stage of them all, many were hoping to get a classic out of these two at some point.  Despite not being at WrestleMania, the Keltic warrior and Bryan did just that at the following PPV in an instant 2/3 falls classic.
#2 vs CM Punk  Over The Limit 2012
I first started watching WWE in 2012, and immediately gravitated towards these two guys because,  they were pure wrestlers as far as an in ring standard goes.  Anyway, enough about me.  Pro Wresting fans were dying to see a feud between CM Punk and Daniel Bryan in WWE, and thankfully got one.  Maybe the feud itself left some to be desired, but there is not any question this match fixed that.
#1  vs. John Cena SummerSlam 2013
 John Cena, once again proved that he capable of wrestling an awesome match, and you have to give just as much credit to his opponent, Daniel Bryan.  Really, my only gripe about this match is that it was a predictable one, as we expected Cena was temporarily leaving for triceps surgery, and I do not think Randy Orton cashing in was a stunner to fans, either.  If you have not seen this match, you definitely should.
Thanks for reading, and thank you Daniel Bryan for sacrificing so much. We love you (as wrestling fans) and wish only the best in whatever you do next!

Best movie sequels (My list)

A lot goes into making just one film, the amount of work and production required for a film, even today with the technology available is likely stressful as it demands a rigorous schedule, and deep commitment. Moreover, making one successful is not an easy task. Only a handful of movie (film sagas, etc) have truly ascended to the tops of Hollywood, and in some cases, some work is under looked perhaps, to often in the business. When looking at Hollywood’s best, we sometimes fail to remember that though not very often, there have been (some) sequels that are in that category, of upper echelon. Without further ado, Here is my list.
#5 The Dark Knight (2009): Loaded with stars, including a show stealing act, and arguably one of the best performances in Cinema history by Heath Ledger, as the Joker and Christian Bale reprising his role as the Batman, in this 2009 sequel. The second installment builds on an already successful super-hero saga. Also starring: Morgan Freeman, Micheal Caine.
What made it great? Action, Suspense, Dark, Thriller, Great acting, great cast.
#4 Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015): Same crew as the first one, and different villain. Same problem, well, sort of anyway.. Saving the world. Look, probably the ultimate reason this makes the cut is simply this: It is not a film of a single super hero, rather a team, which I do obviously realize it’s predecessor did. I should let you know, some of my favorite movies feature a team of super heroes, and this one happens to be one of them. How can you not find the Avengers, I don’t know uhhh… AWESOME?
What makes it great: The Avengers are back, and this time taking on what I understand to be an accident experiment, and they are literally fighting to save the world.
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans.
#3 Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (2015)
I wonder how many people are actually aware that this is a sequel, seriously. Shifting to more serious discussions on this movie, the old crew (Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Mark Hamil (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (COMMANDER Leia), Peter Mayhew (Chewie), Anthony Daniels (C3PO), and Kenny Baker (R2-D2) all reprising their roles from the Original Trilogy. Let’s not forget to mention the new cast, which features Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Fin), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron).
This does not need an explanation. Director J.J. Abrams manages to bring some of the old, and put in some of the new in this EPIC continuation of the Star Wars saga. If you have not seen it, I BEG you to stop reading this (yes, you read that right) and go and see it NOW!
Also starring: Gwendolyn Christie (Captain Phasma), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux)
#2 Toy Story 2 (1999)
I grew up watching Disney movies. It was my childhood. I can’t tell you how many times I got a new Woody, or Buzz, but that is kind of besides the point here. Yes, you might say some of the reason this is on here is because of that, but Tom Hanks (Woody), and Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear) give me most my reasoning, and yes of course it wouldn’t entirely be Toy Story without the others.
I think the impressive thing about the Toy Story saga, to me is that they are able to successfully recreate some of what they have already done in the movies in that the same thing happens: The toys get captured and or try to escape from somewhere. If you loved the first one, you will love this and the 3rd one. On a side note, I hear there is going to be a 4rth.
What makes it great: I kind of already told you, didn’t I?
Also starring: Don Rickles (Mr Pottato Head), Wallace Shawn (Rex) , John Ratzenberger (Ham), Jim Varney (Slinky)
#1 Star Wars Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The magic of the first, and original Star Wars film is back and better than ever. Director, George Lucas stepped down from the director position, but was still very much involved. Irvin Kershner was the one directing, this time and it may have been for the better not just for this film, but possibly the whole Star Wars saga that this decision was made.
Kershner knew EXACTLY what this film needed, and like all the other films on this list, that is a challenge to put together in a sequel. The stakes were high, and it was a gamble because the existence of Star Wars was depending on this movie. It had to be better than “A New Hope” it at least had to be different. It was. Yes, the whole entire crew from the original is back here, and a couple new characters.
What makes it great: For some of the reasons I wrote in the above, and let’s not forget to mention two of some of the most Oscar worthiest performances I have ever seen in cinema.. James Earl Jones, who voiced Darth Vader, and perhaps most memorable was Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda, and Mark Hamil deserves some recognition, because without his performance Yoda is not authentic.
Starring: Mark Hamil (Luke) Harrison Ford (Han Solo) Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Peter Mayhew (Chewie) Anthony Daniels (C3PO), Kenny Baker (R2D2), James Earl Jones and David Prowse (Darth Vader) Frank Oz (Yoda) Jeremy Bulloch, and Jason Wingreen (Boba Fett)

Calvinism and evangelizing

If Calvinism were true, if our fates are pre determined, and if there is absolutely nothing we can do about anything because God is sovereign (which I do agree with) than what is the point of any of life?  What is the point of doing ministry, evangelizing?   That is my understanding of the doctrine, if it is a faulty one, please correct me.  This is just something that has been on my mind, lately.  I wanted to address this and what it means in terms of evangelizing, as this is a must for every Christ follower.   I have yet to come to a complete understanding of the subject of God’s sovereignty, myself, but have an idea or Biblical understanding, myself.

God is sovereign, he does not force his will or ways on his creation (man) because he respects and loves us all.  God gives us free will.  (Prov 16:9, Rev 3:20, Prov 16:1, Deut 11:26-28, 2 Peter 3:9)

The retreat

OK, I realize it’s been a while since I posted on here. I apologize for that.  Just as I wrote the last time, and (for those who  know me)  would expect, I’m in college. When we last left off, I had asked for you to pray for me as I was going on a retreat.

Now that we have laid that out, I first want to thank you for your prayers.   Now onto the main subject of this post: The retreat.  Here I am, 3 weeks later finally writing about the amazing retreat I was on.

I really don’t know where to start off with this, so I guess I will just write.  I went with a friend’s college BSM, during the weekend of October 3-4. The weekend featured plenty of fellowship, food, worship, small group, personal quiet time with God, testimonies, preaching, and group/teamwork.

As you might expect, it featured many of the things most retreats do.  It’s always awesome to see God at work (in any way, I should add) but especially in retreats.  It was a time we got to spend away from the community, and left behind many of the normal everyday distractions that often compete with our attention to God.

 Here are a  couple things I feel I should add:  Retreats are necessary for the Christian, especially today now more than ever with all the distractions in our world. Retreats are necessary, yes, and you probably get what you would call a “Spiritual high” after attending these, but don’t live based solely off of emotions. The Christian’s relationship with God the Father shouldn’t be like a Middle School relationship.  Delight daily in Christ, and hide yourself in his word each day, and learn to number your days, for we know not our timetables.