Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Sense of Humor by Max Elliot Anderson

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (NLT)

Max Elliot Anderson breaks out his typical genre of pre-teen mystery and adventure novels with The Sense of Humor. The first half is dedicated to a thorough study of positive effects humor has on the physical body. The second half provides almost two hundred pages of a variety of jokes appropriate for family, work, ministry and much more.

I am very pleased to see this book come into existence, because it has always been my firm belief that the emotional and the physical are linked.

The three year period between graduating college and getting married was the most depressing and stressful time in my life. I suffered from daily twitched and frequent stomach pains. 

Now, I proudly frequent YouTube for stand up comedy routines and funny clips after a stressful or infuriating day at work. I even keep comedy routines on my mp3 player. My husband's natural prone to comedy keeps my mood from slipping into that old depression, which is easy for me due to my thyroid condition.

The Sense of Humor confirms my belief beyond a shadow of a doubt. In a time of great stress and uncertainty in a terrible economy, it is easy to forget to take care of ourselves and forget to focus on little pleasures. They seem frivolous in the bigger picture of surviving. On the contrary, little pleasures are essential.

I applaud Max Elliot Anderson for his work on this study on humor essential role in physical health. The Sense of Humor is a must for every book shelf. Let us all learn from it for the sake of our emotional and physical welfare.

Find it on Amazon.

Also, visit Max Elliot Anderson's blog: http://yourhumorsense.blogspot.com/

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Christ In Culture Under Attack


Psalm 91:1-3 says, "Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease." (NLT)

These past several weeks have been an emotional, spiritual, and physical drain on me. My proudest creation, Christ In Culture, has been hacked and infiltrated. Hundreds of Japanese ad pages were added ranging from children's toys to adult content. The webmaster and I have been working tirelessly to clean the site of this garbage and set up every possible security to prevent any further hacks. So, far it has worked. I changed my password to an impossible guess, the website has been cleaned, and Google cleared as a safe site once again.

Now, we must deal with their nonstop attempts to re-hack Christ In Culture. We have shut them out completely, and they are furious. This morning, I met the day with an email alert that there have been non-stop hack attempts from early this morning until this very moment.

For years, I have struggled to understand what they wanted from me. Christ In Culture makes no money. It is a place for people to express the positive in modern art and current event. A place to receive affirmation, love, and acceptance. So, what could these devilish scammers hope to accomplish with me?

This experience told me everything.

Since there is no money to steal, they want what I hold dearest. My clean reputation, and thus, my integrity. They tried to use Christ In Culture's good name to advertise their garbage, so they can make their own money.

I WILL NOT BE USED.

SATAN WILL NOT PREVAIL.

For those of you who frequent Christ in Culture know that there are few things that boil my blood more than scammers and hackers.

Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4, Link 5

These people spend their precious time on this Earth to avoid an honest living at all cost by stealing from those of us who do work hard. If not our money, then our reputation.

To these hackers who have been launching an endless stream of assaults on my dearest brain child:

How dare you? 

Who do you think you are?

You will NEVER take hold of my brain child again. 

Give it up.

I don't care if I have to spend the rest of my life fighting you. It will be worth every ounce of effort knowing that hackers can fail, that the devil that drives you failed. For I am a servant of Jesus Christ As long as I belong to him, the devil cannot hurt me.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Alice: Through the Looking Glass (2016)

Romans 12:6-7 says, "In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well." (NLT)

When first we met Alice, she is a girl facing an undesirable future. Desperate to escape, she runs after a curious looking white rabbit and finds herself on a hero's journey in Underland (aka Wonderland). She returns home after learning to accept herself, her dreams, and her drive to make a difference in the world.

In this fantastic sequel, she returns to Underland after experiencing another personal crisis. Despite her accomplishments, society remains against her. Her seeks comfort in her fashion. She seeks fulfillment beyond marriage and motherhood. She seeks to carry on the legacy of her father.

However, no one in society supports her. No one acknowledges her accomplishments. No one understands her ambitions. Not even her mother. She is even committed to an asylum after she is witnessed crawling under furniture. Thus, she is diagnosed with female hysteria, described as "excitable, emotional, and prone to fantasy."

This presents an intriguing question not mentioned in the first Alice: Is Underland real or is Underland in her head?

Here is what we know.

Underland calls to her in times of crisis.

Alice: She falls into Underland during her engagement party. Her engagement is arranged, and she has no desire to marry. She wants to follow in her father's footsteps and make a difference. Marriage would have restricted her from her goals. From freedom itself.

Looking Glass: She falls into Underland during her ex-fiance's party where she learns he seeks to take her father's ship. He presents her with an ultimatum to hand over the ship or lose her house. He strips her of her title as Captain and bullies her into the position of clerk. That would be enough to distress any strong woman.

In Underland, she embarks on a quest that teaches her a valuable life lesson.

Alice: Her quest is to fight the Jabberwocky and restore the White Queen to the throne. In doing so, she proves that she is capable of anything. She emerges with the strength to stand up for her calling to follow in her father's footsteps. Instead of settling for the marriage she dreads, she embarks on a quest to honor the legacy of her father.

Looking Glass: Her quest is to save the Hatter's life and find his family. Again she finds herself in a battle against the Red Queen, but emerges victorious with a sacrificial heart. Having saved the Hatter's family from the Red Queen, she then makes a sacrifice to protect her mother.

Whether it's real or not, Underland serves as a positive influence in her life.

"The only thing worth doing is what we do for others," she affirms.

This is her primary motto that she applies to everyone in her life from the Hatter to her mother. It gives her the strength she needs to own her personality, follow her calling, and ultimately fight for the family she loves.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Martian (2015) Overcoming Adversity

The Martian, based on the novel, is a story set in the future about Botanist and Astronaut Mark Watney becomes the first man to colonize the freezing, hostile, and uninhabited planet of Mars.

He begins as a member of a six person crew who visit the planet to collect soil samples for study. Unfortunately, a terrible storm disrupts their mission, and the crew faces an emergency evacuation under the impression that Watney perishes in the storm. With no other choice, they leave him behind and set into motion his fight for survival unlike anything the world has ever seen.

The following are only some of the troubles he suffers in the 551 sols (Martian days) he spends on Mars and how he manages to overcome them:

Injuries: He is fatally injured during the storm in which he is left behind. His bodice is penetrated by a pole. First order of business is to remove it and close the wound. His habitat is fortunately stocked with medical supplies and he has the training required to perform his own surgery.

Limited Resources: Also stocked in his habitat are rations and equipment necessary to sustain his body. However, they are limited. In order for him to sustain himself in the time required to wait for rescue, he finds a way to create more sustenance. As a botanist, he would know how. He builds a green house and plants potatoes.

Communication Restrictions: The next big obstacle is to get a message to NASA that he is indeed alive. Only by dumb luck and an intitive NASA employee do they come to that realization. From there, Watney finds a way to communicate through an old rover and signs. Over time, it improves to the equivalent of interplanetary instant message.

Authoritative Restrictions: NASA then wastes no time hatching a plan to launch a mission to bring him home, but it is a sweet and sour relationship. They proceed to micro-manage his crops and rations, and Watney is not the type that takes orders and criticism well. Yet, he follows orders, because he knows he has no other choice if he is to achieve survival.

The worst thing about NASA’s decision making is their refusal to allow his crew to turn around for him. They recognize that such an act is mutiny and treason, but their love for Watney overrides their own sense of self-preservation. They come to understand that turning back for him is the the best option for Watney at great risk to their own survival and reputations. Love turns them around.

Loneliness: Despite support from NASA, no amount of instant message can take the place of face-to-face companionship. He spends almost two years with none. How can a man stay sane without any other human soul with whom to interact? Again, Watney uses what is at his disposal: video logs. He talks to a camera every day, detailing every step of his journey beginning moments after surgery until moments before climbs on the ship that takes him off Mars. He leaves no opinion, feeling, plan, or achievement restrained. Of course, the camera cannot talk back, but it is enough to keep him sane and his communication skills sharp.

Fear/Depression: There is no denying the amount of fear, loss, hopelessness, and depression putting stress on his body and mind. There are times he almost reserves himself to possible demise. He even writes a message to his crew requesting they contact his loved ones in case he doesn’t make it. Words cannot even express the severity of Watney’s feelings, because no one else on Earth can share his experience. However, he matches these feelings with wit, humor, outright defiance, and the unquenchable urge to return home.

Scripture says in James 1:2-4, “…when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

There is no story like The Martian. It takes a series of life’s adversities to a whole new level and characterizes a man who is able to rise above them all using a unique mix of faith, intelligence, skill, bravery, and wit.

Bottom line: Mark Watney is the ultimate survivor.

He is an inspiration. He defies every single odd against him. With the help of his team. With the help of his colleagues. With the help of his intuition. With the help of his drive to survive.

Let us all take inspiration from this story and remember God is with us during the good and the bad. Trust in him and persevere.

The Last Witch Hunter (2015) The Power of Purpose

The Last Witch Hunter is a film based on the role playing game, Dungeons and Dragons, and the main character Kaulder is based on Vin Diesel’s role playing character.

One of the primary rules of writing fantasy is not to base the story off of a role playing game. However, there are exceptions to every rule. This is happily one of those exceptions. The story holds its own along with subtle nods to the game. Unlike its fantastical D&D based relatives, it is well-written and well-acted with amazing CGI effects.

The hero, Kaulder, is an immortal human fighter whose soul purpose becomes to manage (ranging from confiscating artifacts and inspecting witch’s establishments to arresting and killing rogue witches) the supernatural world of witches who agree to peaceful cohabitation with humans.

However, that doesn’t bode well of one witch in particular. The same witch who in her dying breath robs Kaulder of his heart’s greatest desire: to reunite with his family in the afterlife. Believed to be dead, she lies in wait to be resurrected and finish her intention to annihilate the human race with the Black Death.

This film is very unique with portrayal of immortality. It becomes a curse upon hero instead of a lust for the villain. It being a curse, Kaulder would have happily given it up to be with his family in the afterlife. His heart aches for them, thus nullifying it as a sacrifice.

His true sacrifice is the decision to stay alive. He is the only one in the world with the skills, knowledge, and strength to protect the world from the evil that seeks to destroy it. The decision, though heartbreaking, is necessary, and he makes it willingly.

Proverbs 19:21 says, “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” (NLT)

What a profound reminder to the rest of us. We only have one life to live with limited time to find and achieve our divine calling. Unlike Kaulder, we don’t have centuries at our disposal.

Have you discovered your calling? How much of your valuable time are you spending to achieve it?

Allegiant (2016) Message of Salvation

Allegiant, the third part of the Divergent film series premiered March 18. The story continues with the brave Divergent couple and their friends venturing outside the walls of Chicago in search of outside life, help with the massacres, and answers to the question of their origin.

What they find is completely unexpected, They are taken to a small medical facility with advanced technology, a militarized CPS, and questionable intentions for Chicago.

Through his field experience and his protective instincts for Tris, Four immediately goes to work to solve the following puzzles:

Why do they favor Tris?

What does the facility do?

Why do they steal children?

What is the future of Chicago?

He is mortified at what he discovers, and it drives him back into the city that he fled in order to save it. He becomes the messenger bringing truth and offering salvation. Unfortunately, his message falls on deaf ears, and he is beaten and imprisoned. Because the people do not listen, they nearly suffer a terrible fate.

In the meantime, Tris also discovers the truth about her supposed colleagues’ intentions for Chicago. In their opinion, Chicago becomes nothing more than a failed experiment after Tris is safely delivered. She is placed on an unnecessary pedestal while every other citizen of Chicago is labeled “damaged”.

That does not sit well with Tris. In spite of her “pure” DNA, she understands what the facility does not. She knows the people of Chicago are all equal and deserve to be treated as such. They deserve life, they deserve regard, and they deserve salvation. Her message also falls on deaf ears.

So, she does the only thing she can do. She joins to save the people of Chicago herself.

All along the way, Four and Tris encounter incredible obstacles during their campaign to save the people of Chicago including imprisonment, beatings, lies and temptation. However, they do not falter in their efforts. They understand that we are all equal children of God, all damaged but worthy of life.
For we are all damaged through sin, but we are all loved and sought after by God. Through Christ we find salvation.

Romans 3:23-24 says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” (NLT)

Together with their friends, Four and Tris spare the city of losing their knowledge of the truth. They achieve victory. However, the facility is still out there and remains in power. There is more the come.

The final part of the Divergent film series, Ascendant, premieres June 7, 2017. What fate will Chicago meet? With Four and Tris willing to fight, it will be a grand battle, indeed.

Hope in Front of Me: Find Purpose in Your Darkest Moments (2016)

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God!” (NLT)

Danny Gokey, American Idol finalist, Country music star, and founder of the charity “Sophia’s Heart”, sets a prime example of dealing with tragedy in his new book, Hope in Front of Me: Find Purpose in Your Darkest Moments.

It is an enthralling read that details his many hardships through life. More importantly, he explains his motivation and efforts to overcome his grief. In fact, he does more than overcome. He excels. No matter what happens, he follows his passion for music.

The most devastating of these hardships is the illness and death of his wife. Being the loyal, loving, and supportive husband that he is, he takes the loss hard. However, he does not allow it to destroy him.

He carries on, and he remains open to God’s plan. He follows God down a purposeful path, which leads to the founding of “Sophia’s Heart”, a place among finalists on American Idol, a successful music career, and a second chance at marriage.

Much like Finding Hope, this book is prime example of a humble believe overcoming hardship. Danny Gokey proves he would not be defined by his circumstances. Instead, he defined himself through his love for his wife and his faith in God.

It is a must-read.

Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or on the Danny Gokey website.


The Peanuts Movie (2015) How is Charlie Brown Worthy?

The remake of this absolute classic series of stories that date back to the 1950 through comics strips, television, and animated movies has come to life on the silver screen in 3D animation where iconic character Charlie Brown embarks on a semester-long journey of self discovery.

He is a sweet-natured boy, but he plagued with clumsiness. In fact, he redefines the word clumsy, which is unfortunate for his friends and classmates. They are unfortunately on the receiving end of his messy blunders.

So, why do they keep him around?

Perhaps, they see the many admirable qualities the Little Red-Haired Girl sees.

Charlie Brown’s many defining qualities:

PATIENCE:
He is a loyal friend, brother, and pet owner. He never loses his patience with anyone, even Lucy who often treats him with judgement and cruelty. He is exceedingly sweet to everyone around him.

HONESTY:
Charlie faces an ultimate test of honesty. Through a simple mistake, he is given credit for a high academic award that belongs to Peppermint Patty. He chooses to give her the credit instead of taking for himself, and he does so in front of the entire school.

CHIVALRY:
He is an ultimate -throughout the film. In fact, there is hardly a moment in the film when his does a selfish deed. He carries a heavy punch bowl into the gym for Marci. He takes over an entire group assignment when his partner is unavailable. Finally, his sister Sally wins the talent competition with his humiliating assistance.

HUMILITY:
He is humble and polite. One could argue that his humility takes a depressing turn to low self esteem, which is true at times. Other times, we can see he is the only student in class who doesn’t complain about assignments. He is polite to the Little Redheaded Girl’s mother.

SUPPORTIVE:
Snoopy is clearly not an average dog. When he explores many projects including story writing, dancing, singing and role play, Charlie Brown is surprisingly accepting of these endeavors. Snoopy is free to come and go, but he is remains undeniably loyal to the master he loves. Wherever Charlie goes, Snoopy is by his side…

or tries to be.

Who is Charlie Brown?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (NLT)

Charlie Brown is love.

He makes strong impressions to everyone around him. He capture the hearts of the audience as well as his friends, family, and pet.

The Peanuts Movie is an incredible remake of this classic cartoon and gives every viewer (both young and old) an joyful, exciting experience.