Fans of Pokémon Go Crazy with Puns

I know. The title itself has a really bad pun. If you can’t stand it/don’t get it, I recommend you to turn back now and head back through the door that brought you here. Because seriously, you’re about about to see some really low-level jokes right now. 😛😄

It all started with the recent Pokémon Go craze and a certain Singaporean who was too eager to share his feelings on social media about how he is not able to get his hands on the game as of yet. Oh wait, that sounds familiar. 😉😄

Pokemon-Go-Puns

Alright that’s enough. Are you seeing this, Niantic? If you are, then you now know how not being able to play Pokémon Go has detrimental effects on the human brain; I urge you to release the Pokémon to Asia soon! 😥

For the rest of who are still here, thanks for bearing with this nonsense. 😛😄

The Test Continues

After 2 weeks of making an impact in Europe, my pastor is finally back home with us! And in case you do not yet know, Pastor How is currently on a new series – The Character Test, which will continue with a second part this weekend. Here are some clips from Part 1 if you missed it:

Enjoyed what you just watched? Well, those were only snippets of the message that we heard 3 weeks ago! And the good news is you can hear the next part for yourself in person. Visit Heart of God Church this weekend and experience it for yourself! 😉

The Character Test: Part 1

“Men of genius are admired, men of wealth are envied, men of power are feared; but only men of character are trusted.” – Alfred Adler

That was the quote Pastor How used to begin his sermon last weekend. He was starting a new series on character because it is one of our most important assets as human beings. And just as Billy Graham once said:

“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.” – Billy Graham

But how do we know if we truly have character? How do we know if it is lacking in some areas and we have to make a change for the better? Well, we just have to put it to the test and we will know. That is why this series is called The Character Test. There are a set of tests that we can put ourselves through, and by how we respond to these tests, we will have a clearer picture of our character. Our responses reveal the real us!

character-test

And it is so important for us to know our own character and the character of the people around us because all relationships are based on trust – every relationship. So if you have even a tinge of doubt about a person’s character, your relationship with him/her will be affected! This applies to God too! If we don’t know His character enough because we don’t read His Word enough or we don’t spend time with Him enough, then we will doubt even our perfect Heavenly Father!

And just like every relationship we have in life, our relationship with God is also based on trust; and trust is based on truth. If a person is always full of lies and deception, you will never trust him, would you? But because there is truth in our God, we can trust in Him and have a relationship with Him.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6

Now I must say at this point that this message isn’t for us to judge others and criticize their character; this is for us to look at ourselves in the mirror and become people of character. Because the depth of a relationship depends on the depth of trust present in that relationship! As much as we would like to have great friends, teammates, colleagues, bosses or even one day marry a person of character, we must first become a workmate, an employee, a leader, a friend and a person of character.

So how do we know if we are people of character and truth? We got to put ourselves through the following tests; because character is revealed by…

1. How we respond to failure

We are all humans, we are imperfect. And sometimes we make mistakes and fail terribly. But what do we do from there? That defines our character. Because we can either make progress and learn from our failures or make excuses and push the blame. It’s one or the other, we can’t do both!

So don’t push the blame to others, because we empower whoever we blame. If we blame someone else for our failures, we give them control over our lives & our destiny! If we blame the devil, we give him power. But if we take responsibility for our own actions, we will be able to control our lives and grow our character for the better! Because taking responsibility is the beginning of change, which will lead to progress.

Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”” – Genesis 3:12-13

Of course, it is not easy to take the blame. As seen in the scripture above, it is our human nature to blame. So we got to go against the human nature to be a man of character. That’s one way we can identify a person of character, when we observe him/her when they go through failures and mistakes.


#2 How we respond to success

“Don’t let success get to your head; don’t let failure get to your heart.”

You know, failure isn’t the only way that the devil can get to you. If the devil can’t get to you through failure, he will try to get to you by success. Success is a great thing, but we must guard our hearts and our minds when we are at the mountain tops. Because the danger of success is complacency and pride.

For simpletons turn away from me—to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.” – Proverbs 1:32 (NLT)

For us Christians, we must always remember to give glory back to God. Staying humble is so important because our talents, abilities, opportunities and education can get us to the top, but only our character keeps us at the top. So to see if a person has character, just look at him/her when they attain success!


#3 How we respond to temptation

Put it simply, if we cannot resist ice cream, we cannot resist the devil. 😄 Haha, I know it sounds funny but it’s true! If we can’t resist the everyday temptations of our lives, we will not be able to do great things. Ice cream is mostly just a harmless and relatable example that Pastor How is giving us, but it gives us a good illustration about character.

Because we need to have a characteristic of delayed gratification – the ability to resist what you want now in order to have what you want most. So for example, if you want to lose weight, you have to resist the temptation of eating your favorite ice cream! Or if you want to be successful one day, you got to resist having fun all the time and instead spend more time on studying and acquiring knowledge & wisdom! That is also how we can have character!


#4 Time

“In the short term, people are won over by charisma; in the mid term, people are won over by success; in the long term, people are won over by character.”

Relationships (like marriages) are supposed to be for the long term. Love at first sight usually never lasts. Because to know the character of a person takes time, and that is especially important when it comes to our future spouses. It takes time to know them, it takes time to reveal character. Beauty & charisma might catch attention, but it’s character that catches the heart.

For the potential husbands & wives, dating is the best time to watch the other person when he/she fails, succeeds or are tempted. Unfortunately, character is not revealed when everything is rosy and perfect. Real character is about consistency, which can only be revealed through time.

The difference between amateurs and professionals is consistency. Just like how we would want our favorite soccer team, hairstylist and local restaurant to be consistent, we should want to have character consistently.

character-test-2

And that is all for part 1 of The Character Test series! If you enjoyed reading this post, you will enjoy Part 2 even more hearing it in person. Come visit our church if you’re in Singapore! We’ll love having you with us, and you’ll definitely have a great experience too. Hope to see you soon! 😉

p.s. Pastor Tan Seow How & Pastor Cecilia Chan, more affectionately known as Pastor How & Pastor Lia are the senior pastors of Heart of God Church – my spiritual home.

Marvel Cinematic Universe for Beginners

Happy 1st of May everyone! It’s that time of the year again. That particular time of the year when adrenaline rushes through me as I walk pass the cinema in excitement BUT ALSO as I attempt to once again put together a comprehensive guide for a series of movies. That’s right. If you’ve been on Fool’s Bench for awhile now, you would probably remember Star Wars for Beginners, the result of my first shot at meeting the need of an average moviegoer.

Well today, I give you my second shot – this time for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Because even though the MCU has only existed for 8 years in contrast to the almost 40 years lifetime of Star Wars, it has birthed forth twice the number of films in one-fifth the time. And unless you are an expert in “MCU Studies” like me, you would find it hard naturally to catch up on all 12 films and digest everything before Captain America: Civil War, which may I add, is already showing in my country. So don’t even get me started on the TV series & shorts!

Once again, I must say that the highest motivating factor for me as I write these guides are my friends. I love them too much to see them walking into the cinema this weekend unprepared for Civil War like how a kid walks into the exam hall unprepared for the Mathematics paper. Okay, it’s not that bad. 😄😛

But how do you know whether this guide is for you? How do you know if you even need it? Well here are some indicators. One, you think that Captain America: Civil War is some sort of propaganda film filled with historical drama. Two, whenever you go watch an MCU film, you leave the theater as soon as the credits roll. Lastly, which is the worst of them all, you think that Iron Man and Batman are best buddies. Can relate to those examples or anything along those lines? This post is for you.

Okay! I am about to begin. But before that, I must warn you that beyond this paragraph lie potential spoilers for every single MCU film, short film and TV series before Captain America: Civil War. Of course, this article does not include every single detail there is. As much as I want to talk about every interesting fact, I also want to avoid giving you an information overload. So that is why, I have written this article in a way that relates the most to Captain America: Civil War, keeping it relevant to you now. If you find that there are missing information (which I have left out on purpose), you probably don’t need this post anyway. But for the rest of you, consider this your cheat sheet to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let’s first talk about the universe itself, shall we?


1. Film Rights, Studios and Universes

The first thing that we got to address is what films are in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and what films are not. Because as much as we’d like it to be, not every film that has a “Marvel” label slapped on its opening credits belong in the same shared universe. And this is due to different film studios owning the film rights to different Marvel Comics characters. So this means for example, if you and I own two different film studios, and I bought the rights to use Iron Man in my movies, you can’t. Because you don’t have the right to. Let me explain further with a few well-known examples – namely 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios.

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox owns the rights to all the X-Men characters, which is why every film in the X-Men film series are produced and distributed by them. Fox also owns the rights to the Fantastic Four. Unfortunately, these two groups of superheroes as of now do not belong in the same fictional universe. Here are all the films under 20th Century Fox:

fox-movies

Now I must make a special mention about one X-Men, and that is Quicksilver. This guy is a special case. He is the only character so far that exists (or existed) simultaneously in two universes – the X-Men film series and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The reason why this is possible could be because of the nature and history of the character itself. You see, in the comic books, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch hang out regularly with both the X-Men and the Avengers. So I guess you can’t completely own the twin characters even if your studio has the film rights to one of the super teams.

That’s not to say that there are no limitations to their usage in film though. For example, Marvel Studios cannot mention the word “mutants” or even talk about “Magneto” when handling the two characters, while Fox can’t link Quicksilver to the Avengers. You think that’s complicated? Wait till you hear about Spider-Man!

Sony Pictures Entertainment

This is where things get a little interesting. Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man and produces & distributes all of the character’s films through Columbia Pictures (one of their studios). The movies in the original Spider-Man trilogy, as well as those in the recent The Amazing Spider-Man film series belong to them. That is why you never see Peter Parker hanging around Tony Stark. Well that is, until now. Because just last year, Sony Pictures managed to strike a deal with Marvel Studios in a way that allows Spider-Man to be reintroduced again (but hey, I’m not complaining) within the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

Based on what I know, Sony still owns the character. But because of this collaboration with Marvel Studios, Spider-Man can now exist in the MCU with a brand new cast & story, which could be the best thing that has ever happened to Spidey! And that is all that matters now, right? So enjoy these following films if you will, but when Civil War comes out, just know that the new Spider-Man and his future movie(s) are unrelated to any of these past tales:

sony-movies

Marvel Studios

This film studio, now owned by Disney, is the one we want to focus on today. Because these are the guys that have brought us and will continue to expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe, our main topic of the day! “Which characters do Marvel Studios own?” Every character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Which characters or films are in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?” I am glad you asked.

Marvel-Cinematic-Universe

Now you see why you need this guide. Thankfully, unlike Star Wars, most if not all of the MCU stories are released and told chronologically. So there’s no confusion about that. Still, there’s just way too much content to digest in a short amount of time.  Of course, the best way to enjoy the entire MCU is to watch every single one of those movies and TV series above; or at least, all the movies. In fact, just watching all the movies would prepare you for Phase Three, which kicks off with Civil War. So if that’s your style, go ahead. You’ll understand every cross-reference, see every link, and be awed by every connection across the films. But once again, time is the problem.

If you just want to be ready for Captain America: Civil War however, I can recommend you to watch the following films. Just these 4 SHOULD be sufficient for you to fully enjoy Civil War:

prepare-for-war

Yet again if you’re reading this, why worry? 😉 Let’s get on with the real stuff today.


2. The World

The world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a big one. And though so far, most of its stories take place on Earth, some of them like Guardians of the Galaxy has increased the scale of this fictional universe. And sometimes, you might forget that these stories are actually interconnected even though sometimes they happen so far apart. So today before we focus on and talk about some of the more prominent characters & events in the MCU, let me first give you a general idea of the world in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“The Nine Realms”

9-realms-thor
Thor explaining the concept of the Nine Realms to Jane Foster

This interesting concept was first introduced by Thor when he was banished to Earth five years ago. It basically describes how nine different planets from separate distant star systems are aligned in a figurative tree known as Yggdrasil. And yes, Earth – just like Thor’s home world Asgard, is one of these planets. How far exactly these planets are apart from one another is unclear, but what we do know is that they are far enough to exist on different planes of space with their own laws of “science” that even the greatest scientists on Earth cannot explain/understand. But of course, these are not the only planets in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These are just nine of them that happened to be positioned in a certain way and in this case – in a tree-like alignment we call Yggdrasil. So definitely, there are many other planets and galaxies existing outside this alignment, which is what I am going to talk about next.

Neighboring Galaxies & Planets

Morag_1

Okay this is pretty simple. Our Earth is part of the Solar System. Our Solar System is part of a galaxy. Our galaxy is known as the Milky Way. The Milky Way is only one out of many many galaxies in the universe. All of that is real. What I’m about to say next is fictional. The Guardians of the Galaxy and all of their shenanigans, conflicts and battles are found in a neighboring galaxy to ours. In fact, we can safely say they are in the galaxy closest to our galaxy. But still, that is pretty far away! So now you understand, right? The Guardians of the Galaxy roam a galaxy with its own stars & planets that are all outside the Nine Realms. But despite all that, you must know that they together with the Nine Realms and Earth, all exist within the same universe. Now that all the dust is cleared up, let’s talk about our planet Earth and some of its important characters & events, the usual subjects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


3. Important Characters

There are a lot of characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it will be almost insane to introduce every one of them to you here. So today, I will be focusing on some of them who are more important in the MCU or more relevant to Civil War now. And I will try to keep the descriptions short! But come to think of it, who doesn’t know these guys?

Tony Stark / Iron Man

tony-stark-iron-man

A self-proclaimed genius, billionaire and philanthropist, Tony Stark’s life took a different turn when he was captured by terrorists 8 years ago. Forced to build a weapon of destruction, he witnessed first-hand the horrible possibilities & consequences that have resulted from weapons manufactured by his company. So instead, he built himself a mechanical suit of armor and escaped, leaving the man that he was behind; well for the most part, except his egoistic self. Eventually, he became the armored Avenger – Iron Man and continued to develop his suits & technology to fight the terrors of this world. When we last saw him in 2015, he accidentally unleashed an evil artificial intelligence named Ultron upon the world. Fortunately with the aid of all the Avengers, Ultron was stopped. Tony Stark will once again appear in Captain America: Civil War as the main man siding against the Captain.

Bruce Banner / The Hulk

bruce-banner

When an attempt to experiment and recreate a super soldier program from World War II goes terribly wrong, Dr. Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk – “an enormous green rage monster” whenever he gets angry, extremely stressed, or put directly into harm’s way. Originally choosing to live a life of isolation for the safety of others, Bruce Banner has since become a part of the Avengers, a team of remarkable people commonly known as “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”, who uses their unique abilities for the protection of the world. Banner has even recently learned to control and channel his inner monster and is able to use the Hulk to his advantage… most of the time. After the Battle of Sokovia against Ultron, the Hulk left the Avengers, leaving his current whereabouts and status unknown.

Thor

avengers-age-of-ultron-chris-hemsworth-image

Thor was once childish, arrogant and unwise. But after his father Odin banished him to Earth for provoking a war between Asgard and the Frost Giants, he realized his mistakes and has changed ever since. After regaining his powers and ability to wield the legendary hammer Mjölnir, he went on to fight numerous battles for the Nine Realms. Some of these battles even helped to protect Earth against its enemies. And that was also how Thor became part of the Avengers, when he joined the fight against the alien forces that invaded Earth during The Battle of New York. Last year, he teamed up once more with the heroes and defeated Ultron’s army. Afterwards, he returned to Asgard to investigate mysterious forces that seemed to have orchestrated recent events.

Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow

black-widow

Having been brought up in cruel ways to become a trained killer, Natasha Romanoff is an ex-assassin turned agent who worked for S.H.I.E.L.D as a highly-skilled spy until its fall in 2014. But more than that, she is an Avenger and was one of them who stood against both the aliens in 2012, and the robotic army of Ultron in 2015. Today, together with Captain Steve Rogers, she has trained up a new group of Avengers that we will see more of in Captain America: Civil War. Of course, she will be making an appearance as well; but from what we know, she is on Tony’s side.

Clint Barton / Hawkeye

null

Most commonly recognized with his trademark bow and arrow, Clint Barton was a S.H.I.E.L.D agent like Romanoff, but with skills in archery that have been trained to the peak of human ability. He has since joined the Avengers and have fought dangers no mere mortal should have ever encountered. During the period of their fight against Ultron, Clint reveals to the bewilderment of the team that he is both a husband and a father and has a family residing in a remote area. After the battle in which he nearly lost his life, Clint “retired” from the Avengers and committed himself to his family. In Captain America: Civil War however, we shall see him again fighting alongside Cap.

Steve Rogers / Captain America

steve-rogers

Alright, before we move on to talk about some newer characters, let’s first talk about the Captain, our titular character of Captain America: Civil War. Originally living in the time of World War II, Steve Rogers was just an ordinary man who wanted to serve in the military and help fight alongside his countrymen against the enemies. However, due to his extremely poor physical & health condition, it was impossible for him to do so. And it remained that way until he was chosen to be a subject for Project Rebirth – a secret super soldier program created for the Americans and their allies.

Steve Rogers then became the world’s first superhero and fought many battles during the war. He was also usually seen with his signature shield that was made out of vibranium – the strongest metal in the world. Eventually in one battle however, he sacrificed himself by crashing an explosive-rigged aircraft in the Arctic. Fortunately, he survived frozen in the ice and was kept in suspended animation until 70 years later when he was found and brought home by S.H.I.E.L.D. Soon after, the events of The Avengers unfolded and he became part of the team ever since.

Now, with all the original Avengers covered, it’s time to take a quick look at some of the more new/unfamiliar faces of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Sam Wilson / Falcon

sam-wilson

Being one of the new Avengers who are on Team Cap, Sam was first introduced during the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. By now, he has grown to become one of the most trusted & treasured comrades of Captain America. He wears a highly advanced wing pack and is most proficient in aerial combat.

James Rhodes / War Machine

war-machine

Alongside Tony Stark, James Rhodes is a character that has been with us since the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Also known as War Machine, he has been on countless adventures with Iron Man so obviously, you know whose team he is on. Most recently, he was seen undergoing training in the new Avengers facility.

James “Bucky” Barnes / The Winter Soldier

winter-soldier

Bucky was the closest friend that Steve Rogers ever had. After Captain Rogers witnessed his demise in World War II, he was thought to be dead until he showed up again in 2014 in Washington, D.C. It turns out that he survived his fall but was brainwashed, physically enhanced and used throughout history by the rogue organization HYDRA to sow chaos whenever & wherever needed. When he’s not needed however, HYDRA would put him back to sleep in suspended animation, similar to the state that Steve Rogers was in. The last time we saw him, Bucky almost killed Captain America, but instead saved his life, seemingly to have recovered his memories.

Scott Lang / Ant-Man

ant-man

Scott Lang was once a thief, but has now become the latest superhero to be introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His unique suit allows him to command armies of ants and also to shrink in size. When he is tiny & unnoticeable, his strength is retained & even multiplied to the point in which his tiny punch can feel “like a bullet”. He has had a previous encounter with Falcon and will be appearing in Civil War on the side of Steve Rogers.

Vision

null

The result of the combined efforts of Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and Thor, Vision is like the perfect version of Ultron without his twisted side. Bestowed with powers from the Mind Stone (the gem on his forehead) and created with a body laced with vibranium, Vision is also currently known as the only being other than Thor worthy of lifting Mjölnir. He is now a new Avenger siding with Tony Stark in Civil War.

Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch

wanda

Wanda Maximoff was a subject of HYDRA’s human experiments. This successfully granted her telekinetic & telepathic abilities, as well as powers of energy manipulation. After losing her twin brother in the Battle of Sokovia, she has since become an Avenger under the training of Captain Rogers and Agent Romanoff. She is also on Team Cap.

Sharon / Agent 13

sharon

In 2014, Sharon was a S.H.I.E.L.D agent tasked to live as a neighbor to Steve Rogers to watch over and protect him from any threats. But today, she works for the CIA and will also be appearing in Captain America: Civil War. As to which side she is on in the conflict, it is still currently unclear.

Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross

ross

Back in 2008, General Ross was the man who led the pursuit on Dr. Bruce Banner. But of course as we all know, his plans on capturing Banner did not come into fruition. 8 years later today, he makes an appearance once again in Civil War.

HYDRA

Hydra_logo

I’ve mentioned HYDRA a few times before, but let me explain now who they really are. Originally started as a cult, this rogue terrorist/criminal organization have turned into one of the greatest enemies of S.H.I.E.L.D and the world due to their extreme beliefs in world domination. Basically, these are the bad guys. After World War II, HYDRA was thought to have been extinguished until their re-emergence in 2014.

S.H.I.E.L.D

S.H.I.E.L.D._logo

Another organization that I’ve been talking about over and over is S.H.I.E.L.D. The Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division is an intelligence agency tasked with global security. Their job scope in recent years include protecting the world from the threats of super powered individuals. Even the knowledge of these people and their not-so-subtle activities have been successfully kept under wraps by S.H.I.E.L.D. But all these changed after some large-scale events in recent years, which I’ll be talking about now.


4. Important Events

Since Tony Stark first revealed to the world his superhero identity 8 years ago, many things have happened. But some of them I am about to list are probably considered the historical ones that have changed the world.

The Battle of New York

battle of new york

As I’ve said before, S.H.I.E.L.D has done a pretty good job over the years in keeping watch over the people who could be potential threats to the world. This includes individuals like Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, even though they might not have any ill intentions or whatsoever. More than that, they have also kept a lot of information about these people and their activities from the world – “classified” as they liked to say it. But all these efforts of keeping secrets went down the drain in 2012, when a hostile alien army invaded New York City.

Avengers_vs_Chitauri

This was the event that first united the Avengers against a common enemy, and introduced Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to the world. The battle that ensued also revealed to people across the globe that their world is even bigger and weirder than they have ever known. In the end, the Avengers successfully defeated the alien forces, though unfortunately, a trail of destruction was left behind and many still lost their lives.

The Fall of S.H.I.E.L.D

Battle_of_Triskelion_1

In 2014 – two years after the Battle of New York, Captain Steve Rogers & Agent Romanoff discovered to their horror that HYDRA never ceased to exist. In fact, it has been secretly operating and expanding within the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D. Together with Sam Wilson, they later helped prevent a global genocide in Washington, D.C and also exposed HYDRA to not just all legitimate S.H.I.E.L.D operatives, but to the general public and to the world. Once again, the battle in Washington, D.C resulted in much death and devastation. After this event, S.H.I.E.L.D was no more; at least to the world.

The Battle of Sokovia

sokovia

After the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D, the Avengers began operating independently on resources provided by Tony Stark. Specifically, they went on a hunt against HYDRA, in search of a dangerous alien scepter recovered from New York, but were now in the hands of these criminals. After a chain of events, Tony Stark created Ultron – an artificial intelligence that went sentient and turned against the Avengers. This eventually led to a catastrophic battle in Sokovia, the latest event involving our heroes a year ago. Although many lives were saved after that because of the Avengers’ victory, the Battle of Sokovia probably became one of the main triggers to the conflicts in Captain America: Civil War.


5. The Story

mcu-infinity-stones

Before I end my discussion today about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I would like to just bring us to an overview of the entire series so far. Because beyond what we’ve seen happening so far, there is a hidden, deeper overarching story.  If you have watched all the films in Phase One & Phase Two, you would realize that a lot of them are loosely connected by similar objects filled with incredible power. And from recent events, we can identify that the source of power within these objects are actually hidden gems called Infinity Stones. Let me take one of them – the Mind Stone as an example, just to talk about why these stones are labelled the most powerful objects in existence.

Chitauri_Scepter_HYDRA

The Mind Stone was found within the scepter that the Avengers recovered last year. And you know the things it can achieve. It allowed whoever that wielded the scepter to control the minds of people; it gave Wanda Maximoff her enhanced abilities and powers; it created the mind of Ultron but it also gave life and power to Vision. And all these are probably only some of the many feats that an Infinity Stone is capable of.

Vision_AoU
Notice the Mind Stone on Vision’s forehead

You must be wondering why we are talking about these Infinity Stones. The reason is because there a total of six Infinity Stones and so far, we’ve already found four of them. Why does that matter? Because I know that someone is looking for them – someone we still know almost nothing about. He is none other than Thanos, a cosmic figure apparently regarded as the most powerful being in the entire universe.

thanosthrone

If you’ve ever seen the mid-credits scene from The Avengers (that’s why you should always stay till the end), you would know that since the Battle of New York, Thanos has been the mysterious force pulling the strings in the background, directly and indirectly causing many of the events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For example, it was his army that invaded Earth in 2012 even though on the surface, it looked like it was Thor’s evil brother Loki leading the charge. His goal in doing things like that is to obtain all six Infinity Stones for his own desires. And when (not if) that happens, the entire universe will be in trouble because he will be unstoppable. Do you now see how the entire MCU has been leading us towards its climax in Phase 3 – Infinity War? And just saying, Thanos has become impatient and has planned to retrieve the Stones personally. Great danger awaits.

So as you can see, in a sense, Thanos was the one who has inadvertently caused the formation of the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. And though we have yet to see much of him, he is a looming threat that have caused and will continue to cause much opposition for our heroes. But for now, we got to first deal with what’s currently happening on Earth.

Captain America: Civil War kicks off Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and will show us some repercussions of things that have happened previously in Phase One & Two. And though our heroes were involved previously in disastrous events and will be blamed, I place all the fault on Thanos. It’s only because of his lust for power that all these bad things could happen. Unfortunately, no one in the MCU knows that yet.

And that is all I have for you now. Hopefully I have helped you have a better idea of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, prepared you for Phase Three and also excited you for Captain America: Civil War! Personally, I can’t wait to find out what Black Panther is all about and how Spider-Man is now going to fit into the entire universe. Last tip; and I can’t stress this enough guys – always stay till the end of any MCU film, after EVERY single credit has rolled. Have a great time in the cinema. 😉

The Fool’s Bench

jim-elliot_quote

Hi readers! Today marks the 7th month of Fool’s Bench existence! If you still remember, it was on 22nd of September last year that this site was launched. Ever since then, many people have visited and shown a lot of love and encouragement, and today if you’re one of them, I want to thank you for your support.

But today is not about celebrating another month of Fool’s Bench! Today is about going back to its origins. Because today is also the birthday of a woman who a year ago, preached a message that inspired the name of Fool’s Bench. If you’ve been here long enough, you would know that I am talking about my spiritual mother – Pastor Lia.

So as I was thinking over the past few days what I could write about today, I thought there could be nothing more appropriate than to share with all of you my notes that I took down for The Fool’s Bench message more than a year ago; since you know, today’s about Fool’s Bench and Pastor Lia (who preached about The Fool’s Bench). 😉 Haha, ready for a #throwback? I present to you, one of the most important messages I’ve ever heard – The Fool’s Bench.

“The Fool’s Bench” by Pastor Lia

The first thing I remember Pastor Lia saying was that if we want to be world-changers, there are 2 questions we need to ask ourselves.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:1-2

Am I a Thermostat or a Thermometer?

Because if we blindly follow everyone else in the world, how can we change it? There is a huge difference between a thermometer and a thermostat – a thermometer measures room temperature, whereas a thermostat controls the room temperature.

Just look up Roger Bannister as an example. He set the temperature, a new standard, a new record. He is a “thermostat”. He changed the “rules” of the mile run forever. But what about us? Are we blending into environments or are we showing others how to live? World-changers are thermostats no matter where they are! They hold on to their convictions despite peer pressure. And in fact under pressure, their convictions are strengthened.

Look up another hero named Samuel in the Bible. He lived in an environment of corruption, but kept himself pure. In a time when God was clouded out by the world, Samuel lived differently. He too was a thermostat.

Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.” – 1 Samuel 3:1

And because he was a thermostat, God noticed Samuel and called him when He wanted to change the world. Just as how Samuel was different from the people around him, we can be the same too.

that the Lord called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!”” – 1 Samuel 3:4

Am I Heavenly-minded or Earthly-minded?

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:2

My pastors always say that Christianity is not the removal of the mind, but the renewal of the mind. So we want to lift the thoughts of our minds towards the things of God. And as Christians, we got to ask ourselves what exactly is on God’s heart.

And it can be safe to say, knowing my God for a few years now, that His heart is always for others; especially those who do not yet know Him. So if we want to change the world, we got to start with the people in our world. We got to live for others, not for ourselves. Of course, it isn’t as easy as it seems. Sometimes we might even feel like fools for living for others, reaching out to them and loving them. But that is why we have to be heavenly-minded.

To many people out there, the idea of “living for others” is a foolish one. But to God and to those who are heavenly-minded, it is a beautiful thing. Because money, possessions & success on Earth cannot be kept forever. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in Heaven & Hell or not, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in Jesus or not. One thing is for sure – all of us will one day depart from this world in death and all those things we have accumulated for ourselves in our time on Earth will be left behind.

Now I do not mean that success isn’t important. However, we should have both success and significance in our lives. And this can be done by being the “fools” that people may see us as. But it’s all about perspective. We aren’t just any fool on the street. We are a special kind of fools – fools for Christ. And I truthfully believe up till this day that fools for Christ are amazing. They are willing to make a difference in any way they can and see it worth their efforts – even if it means only one person getting touched.

In closing, Pastor Lia shared with us a story of a certain church in South Barrington, Illinois that has interesting benches in its lobby. Every weekend, there will always be a handful of members from the church sitting there, waiting for their friend, relative or colleague to show up. They have probably earlier in the week invited someone to come join them in church to experience all that they have experienced, which has impacted their lives in a certain way.

Fifteen minutes passes. Half an hour passes. An hour passes. A lot of these people that they are waiting for have said “Yes” to their invitations. But some of them never show up.

Thus, these church members waiting on the benches sometimes end up looking & feeling like fools. But I’m sure if you visit that church the very next weekend, they will be there again at the very same spot on the same bench, waiting. Because they are heavenly-minded and they don’t mind it. They know that what they’re doing can possibly make a difference in a person’s life that money cannot buy, and death cannot take away.

And so after awhile, these lobby benches that these people sit on every weekend became known throughout the church as “The Fool’s Bench”. That is where the name originated from. It’s so inspiring, isn’t it? I want to be able to live like these heroes, who nobody might even know about, but are the real thermostats and heavenly minds that are changing our world for good & for God. I leave you today with one last quote by missionary Jim Elliot that perfectly sums up this entire message into one sentence: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”