Justin Bieber’s ‘What Do You Mean,’ in GIFs from ‘The Office’

the office bj novak GIF

I had some time on my hands today, and I was listening to this song and texting my brother some lyrics with Office GIFs.

Enjoy.


What do you mean? Oh, oh
When you nod your head yes, but you wanna say no

What do you mean? Hey-ey
When you don’t want me to move, but you tell me to go

the office stanley GIF

What do you mean?
Oh, what do you mean?

the office GIF

Said you’re running outta time, what do you mean?
Oh, oh, oh, what do you mean?
Better make up your mind, what do you mean?

dead inside the office GIF

You’re so indecisive, what I’m saying
Tryna catch the beat, make up your heart

frustrated the office GIF

Don’t know if you’re happy or complaining
Don’t want for us to end, where do I start?

scared the office GIF

First you wanna go to the left then you wanna turn right

fail the office GIF by Cheezburger

Wanna argue all day, make love all night

the office nbc GIF

You’re overprotective when I’m leaving
Tryna compromise but I can’t win

the office nbc GIF

First you’re up, then you’re down and then between
Oh, I really wanna know…

the office television GIF

You wanna make a point, but you keep preaching
You had me from the start, won’t let this end

please stop the office GIF

First you wanna go to the left then you wanna turn right

running away the office GIF

Wanna argue all day, make love all night

finished the office GIF

First you’re up, then you’re down and then between
Oh, I really wanna know…

awkward harry styles GIF

What do you mean? Oh, oh
When you nod your head yes, but you wanna say no

Animated GIF

What do you mean? Hey-ey
When you don’t want me to move, but you tell me to go

the office television GIF

What do you mean? (I wanna know)
Oh, what do you mean? (Ooh)
Said you’re running outta time, what do you mean? (Oh baby)

the office GIF

Oh, oh, oh, what do you mean?
Better make up your mind, what do you mean?

hd wife GIF

Oh, oh
(Don’t be so selfish baby, yeah)

the office ugh GIF by Romy

When you nod your head yes
But you wanna say no

michael scott ok GIF

What do you mean? Hey-ey
(You’re so confusing baby)

confused michael scott GIF

When you don’t want me to move
But you tell me to go
What do you mean?

the office GIF

(Be more straight forward)

frustrated the office GIF

Oh, what do you mean?
Said you’re running outta time, what do you mean?
Oh, oh, oh, what do you mean?

michael scott GIF

Better make up your mind, what do you mean?

the office television GIF
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How Christianity Increased My Anxiety, and Why You Don’t Have to Have the Same Experience

I know the title of this post will make some people instantly protective. God’s not a God of confusion, they’ll say. How could you take something as clear as the Bible and get confused by that?

A few reasons: God may not be a God of confusion, but how we talk about Him often leaves me confused. And the Bible isn’t really all that clear, if we’re being honest.

It’s things like clarity and certainty that help people with anxiety, that give us a sense of peace and purpose in a crazy world. But the Christianity most of us follow do little to assuage those of us who think a lot and think deeply. 

The reality is that the Christianity that’s real, the Christianity that’s true, allows us freedom to follow God mostly on our terms, in our environments and personalities and likes and dislikes. Of course, that does not give us license to sin willy nilly. But I’ve found out more about following Jesus when I learn it myself in my circumstances and my reality instead of following someone else’s prescribed rules. 

The first key to finding this freedom is understanding what makes us a Christian. What does the Bible say? In Romans 10:9-10, Paul explains: “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believe and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

Being saved? Believe in Jesus and confess it. That’s it. There’s no list of stipulations we have to meet to be a Christian except for those things.

We get into trouble — and my anxiety ramps up — when we begin to place stipulations and clauses in our “contract for being a Christian.” We ask questions like, “How is your time in the Word?” And “how much are you praying?” 

Well, if I am spending time “in the word,” whatever that means, how much is enough? How do I know if I’ve met the requirement to satisfy whatever your desire is? Five minutes? Two pages of journal notes? 

If I am praying, how much is enough? Five minutes? Two pages of journal notes? 

Inevitably, I’m going to fall short. And in so much of modern Christianity, we define “how Christian we are” by how our actions seem to reflect our faith. While there is biblical basis for that understanding — James 2:17 states that “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” — there is no standard given. There’s no specific guidelines. So giving out specific guidelines, while it may be helpful, and implying that faithfulness is measured by a certain level of “obedience” is not biblical, and leads to more anxiety and confusion.

A list of stipulations shows us we will always fall short, and when we define our Christianity by our actions, we will always fall short of feeling that we’re a Christian. The Bible never defines our Christianity by our actions. James says that Abraham’s “faith was completed by his works” (2:22). Our actions are the out-working of our faith and being a Christian, not the essence of it.

The second key to finding this freedom is understanding what the Bible is. Other than the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic law, there is no list of rules in the Bible that tells people how to live their lives. Even if there was, the Bible wasn’t written directly for us. It was written for a different people in a different time. 

That doesn’t make it useless. In fact, the Bible is stock full of wisdom and guidance that we would do well to heed. But we need to understand that the Bible was not designed as a checklist of rule-keeping. It’s a bunch of letters, histories, prophecies, poetry, songs and advice. But there’s tons and tons of wisdom in there, in both the Old and New Testaments. 

And most of all, we have the Word of God, Jesus Christ (John 1:1). That Word “became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14). “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (1:17). 

The modern church has a long history of making the Bible a list of rules, but it’s conveniently left some things out. For instance, women are allowed to speak in church despite Paul’s instruction in 1 Timothy 2:11-12, and it seems that a woman not covering her head while praying is disgraceful and dishonoring according to 1 Corinthians 11:4-6. 

Since the Bible is not a list of rules, or even “God’s letter to us” — because it’s made up of letters to people from people — we’re freed to read it as it is and gain the wisdom and guidance we need to live as God’s people. 

The third key to finding this freedom is understanding who Jesus is. As already stated, the Bible says that Jesus is the “Word of God” (John 1:1), and is the “founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). But most importantly, a relationship with him looks like rest. He says it Himself in Matthew 1:28-30.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

That’s the words of God, in the person of Jesus. There seems to be some clarification here that when we come to Jesus, we don’t get a list of rules or a standard to uphold. We get rest. Taking his yoke upon us, it seems, leads to rest. It leads to learning. 

If we’re not getting that from following Jesus, we’re not following Jesus. We’re following some picture of Jesus that has been created by ourselves or the “Christian culture” around us. 

Re-Imaging the One Who Created the Image: A Review of Pete Enns’ “How the Bible Actually Works”

The Bible has been a part of my life as long as I can remember.

I don’t know how many I’ve owned over the years, but I feel that I’ve always perceived it one way: it’s God’s word, given to us from heaven, good for everything that we can ever come across.

Of course, that general view has been slightly altered at different times, but it’s generally been that way. However, in recent months, I’ve begun asking some questions about the Bible that I never asked before, and honestly, was afraid to ask.

Is all of it really from God? Should we trust every single word? Are there errors? Are some of the instructions and commandments morally or spiritually wrong?

It’s in that backdrop that I read Pete Enns’ “How the Bible Actually Works: In Which I Explain How an Ancient, Ambiguous, and Diverse book Leads Us to Wisdom Rather than Answers — and Why That’s Great News.” It’s available worldwide later this month, and you can read more about it here.

I’ll cover how I view it as a piece of literature — because I’m a writer, I have to do that — and then I’ll tackle the theological points posited.

Literary Value

Enns is a professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in Pennsylvania and host of the podcast “The Bible for Normal People.” His background includes Old Testament interpretation and a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard, and it shows, but in a way that’s digestable.

You might think a book that covers deep theological topics and translation issues might be difficult to read, and that would be perfectly understandable. I bet there are few Christian books that really cover those issues in the way that Enns does. He uses comparisons to his mailman, the New York Yankees and parenthood to get across his points, making the subject matter relatable and accessible. Enns also employs humor quite well most of the time, making even the footnotes worth the read for whatever fun fact might be found.

Enns flows from topic to topic fairly seamlessly, and it’s a fairly enjoyable read, but I do have one qualm with his writing. He often uses the word “reimagining” when it should be a different word, like “re-imaging,” that might get across his point better. And that brings us into the theological part of this review.

Theological Points

Enns’ point is best summed up this way: each book of the Bible was written to fit the culture in which it was written and is best used as a guide for wisdom, not a step-by-step instruction manual that provides a how-to for being a Christian.

When processed, that thought might be difficult for many Protestant Christians. After all, the Bible has been taught to us as God’s word, given to us, completely inspired and inerrant, perfect and completely applicable to us now. To take a different tact than that is in and of itself bold, but Enns’ argument is worth a listen.

Enns argues that the Bible is ancient, ambiguous and diverse, which means that we can’t take each and every command and directive and make it mean the same today as it did when it was written. He says that the Bible itself and the Jewish and Christian traditions that follow it have had the adaptive approach of what God was seen to be, a “reimagining” of who God is.

In the end, Enns says, that’s what his book and the Bible itself is about, seeing who God is through the lens of the author and their experiences and the culture around them. After all, we all do it.

“God is relentlessly reimagined all around us,” he writes. “American Christians have imagined God as feminist, environmentalist, capitalist, refugee, soldier, Republican, Democrat, socialist, and on and on. Some portraits of God I agree with more than others (and let the debates begin), but the act of reimagining God in ways that reflect our time in place is self-evident, unavoidable, and necessary” (157).

Enns cites seeming contradictions in the Bible as examples of that, not the least of which is a couple Christians today take for granted.

The Old Testament seems to describe the coming Messiah as a new king of Israel that will rule over its enemies and provide a land for them. The New Testament re-images that Messiah as Jesus Christ, the self-proclaimed Son of God whose kingdom is not of earth, but of a different realm (John 18:36).

The Old Testament commands that followers of Yahweh make animal sacrifices and men to be circumcised. In the New Testament, Paul re-images what God asks of His followers by saying we need to be circumcised of heart and that the sacrifice of animals was replaced by the eternal and sealing sacrifice of Jesus (just read all of Hebrews).

A Challenge

The practical outworking of some of these contradictions Enns presents, which he acknowledges, is that God is not the direct word-for-work speaker of these passages. It is the authors utilizing their wisdom, which the Bible provides, to re-image God for the time they live in.

Side note: Enns uses the term “reimagine,” which I feel doesn’t accurately capture his point. “Reimagine” almost intimates creating something new, while “re-imaging” means developing a new understanding of. I feel “re-imaging” is more to his point, but that’s just a small quarrel I have.

Anyway, this becomes a challenge for the evangelical reader that might pick up this book. Enns has been criticized in the past for his perspectives on the Bible, particularly his hint toward a lack of God-direct inspiration.

And I can understand the criticisms. Some of his arguments in How the Bible Actually Works seem a bit stretched to cover the Bible as a whole while they may only just apply to that one passage. And he consistently says something the effect of “and there are many more examples” without providing a list or passages to go to.

Perhaps this is an academic’s attempt to make his thoughts accessible to a common audience, and I don’t blame him for trying.

Something else that will also lose some audience is a failure to handle the verse most Christians go to, 2 Timothy 3:16, as the basis for their interpretation of Scripture.

Not One Way or the Other

I firmly believe that Enns doesn’t have the same perspective of the Bible as many people I know or those I grew up around. But I do believe his perspective can fit in or even go with most of what evangelical Christianity believes.

We generally believe that each book of the Bible needs to be read in the context of who wrote it, where it was written, when it was written, etc. So we don’t apply each of the Old Testament laws, but try to glean wisdom from them as necessary.

We also try often to understand what God or Jesus would say or think about a certain issue. We do it every time we answer a “why” question about a piece of Scripture that doesn’t have an obvious answer. Why does Paul say this, or why does David imply that?

I don’t think evangelical Christians need to completely dismiss Enns’ view out of hand. I think you can believe the tale of Jonah is a fictional account meant to encourage Israelites to accept outsiders and realize God cares for Gentiles, as Enns suggests, and still inspired by God.

And I think most, if not all, Christians can abide by Enns words near the end of the book:

“Whatever else we do, and especially with issues that generate so much conflict, wisdom must be pursued by all and invited to take a prominent place in these discussions — if only so that they may remain discussions and not an exercise in lobbing back and forth ‘clear’ Bible verses as grenades. Using Bible verses to end discussions on difficult and complex issues serves no one and fundamentally misses the dimension of wisdom that is at work anytime we open the Bible anywhere and read it.”

*Note: I received a free copy of the book from HarperOne as part of the book’s launch team. Thanks for that and for the encouragement of those who were part of the team, who encouraged me more than they know.

Social Media Drives Me Bonkers. But I’m Sticking with It. And I Think You Should Too.

As I perused Facebook and Twitter today, I got sick. I think I ate too much beef.

My feeds today were filled with all sorts of arguments, squabbles, disagreements, outrage and, as the kids say these days, “beef.”

Franklin Graham and Lady Gaga. Cardi B — I’m still not entirely sure who that is — and people who say her latest music video undermines the #MeToo movement. No female directors getting Oscar nominations. Taraji P. Henson making some comparison that got people all upset. 

There’s so much bad blood and people disagreeing over things and people mad at each other, politicians, musicians, actors, athletes. You name it, somebody’s mad at it. And all that madness and dispute and hatred festers on social media. 

I think it does that for a few reasons. There are millions of people on social media, so it’s where the world interacts with one another. Social media allows people to voice their opinions, however well thought out or flawed. There’s also little oversight or moderation, so we often get to see the worst in others. 

Today, I seriously considered quitting Facebook and Twitter. Honestly. I’ve thought about it hundreds of times, but it was fleeting thoughts. 

I don’t think I’m addicted to the outrage. I hope I’m not, at least. 

But I didn’t quit. For practical reasons, I have to use Facebook and Twitter for my employment as a reporter, but there’s one other major reason, and it goes back to why I got Facebook in the first place.

Becoming an Adult on Social

I almost completely missed MySpace — I had a page for about 90 days, then my parents made me delete it. I did get it kind of secretly, so maybe I deserved it.

I got on Facebook and Twitter during my freshman year of high school, 2007. So I spent the entirety of my high school and college years, save a few months, hooked into the machine. 

I used Facebook first. It became the platform for my day-to-day activities, random comments on Carolina Hurricanes games and eventually the venue for me to post links to my fledgling blog, which mostly featured movie reviews. I analyzed my classmates’ comments on what was obviously their romantic relationships and misjudged people’s statements to me. It was the Internet, after all. It’s the haven for misunderstandings.

Twitter became the place to follow bands and athletes to see what they were up to, to keep up with sports news and highlights and find out when the latest track was coming out. As I got further and further into my studies of journalism, I learned that Twitter was a tool for sharing news in real-time and live-tweeting from sports games, much to the annoyance of at least one college friend.

I graduated from college and, a couple years later, found myself utilizing social media in my most recent job, as a newspaper reporter in my hometown. On my professional account, I would tweet often the latest news and highlights from local government meetings while keeping up with the news of the day, local, state and national. On my personal account, I would keep up with my favorite sports teams, authors and musicians, just like before. I’d occasionally post comments about Arsenal Football Club, hoping against hope that one of them would go viral amongst the Gunners’ rabid social media-crazed fan base. None of them ever have, by the way.

I knew those crazies existed beyond Arsenal supporters. I’d see it in response to the latest political development or social event that captured eyes and ears. 

But over the last few months in particular — more or less revolving around the government shutdown, funny enough — I’ve gotten sick of it. It’s obnoxious. It’s hashtags and disses, beefs and slams. It’s trying to be first and trying to be funniest. In a lot of ways, social media shows the worst of us. We often take our gut reaction and make it public in the most public way: putting it on the Internet, unfiltered for all to see. 

I’m just as guilty, although it’s usually about something as petty as a professional sports team. And most of the time I feel like I display enough patience. (Judge for yourself: I’m at @zacharyhorner21.) I feel like I carry that to Facebook as well.

So while I know I’ve made good use of these platforms in the last 12 years, both personally and professionally, it’s so tempting to leave it all behind, to let the beefs be on buns only and not on my phone screen.

But, as stated previously, I can’t for practical reasons. But because it gives me a window into the world, I need it.

In It, Not of It, As It Were

One of the more popular phrases in Christendom is that we’re called to be “in the world, not of it.” I think it’s been over-used and misunderstood, personally, and we get to see what it really means by looking at Paul.

Paul’s ministry, as outlined in the book of Acts, is one of living, eating and speaking among the people, wherever they were. He went to the synagogues, to the temples and to the places where the intellectuals spent their time. It’s that latter one that’s my favorite.

In Acts 17, Paul is hanging out in Athens and while there, “his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols” (v. 16). So he begins talking to people in the synagogue and the marketplace. Verses 17-18 record that he spoke with Jews, “devout persons,” everyday people in the marketplace and Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. It’s the stark difference of his philosophy and religion that catches the eye of the intellectuals of the city, and they take him to the Areopagus, where “all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new” (v. 21). 

What Paul says at the Areopagus is worthy of reading itself. He speaks about Jesus, relating Him to the Athenians’ daily existence and their philosophy. 

But I want to key in on why Paul was there in the first place. He was out and about, listening to people, seeing people, learning from others about their lives and their existence. It’s because of that experience that he’s able to relate to those who spent their time at the Areopagus. 

In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, we get to see his philosophy and thinking behind his method:

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not myself being under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”

I love this so much because Paul tells us the key to his evangelism, and thus gives us an important piece of advice at winning the world to Christ. And for me, a reason to stay on social media.

A Snapshot of Reality

“Fake news” is everywhere. It’s in the media, it’s in the halls of politics, it’s in the corporate board rooms, the church sanctuaries. Yes, the church sanctuaries.

I’ve spent years in church, and one thing I’ve noted is that we seem to struggle at understanding why non-Christians do what they do. We care about them and we want to see them changed and following Jesus. And that’s amazing! That’s exactly what we should want. But far too often, we stop there without trying to understand their realities. 

When we see someone who identifies as LGBTQ, we want them to be straight without trying to learn why they became LGBTQ in the first place. When we see someone who’s left their spouse, we want them to reunite without figuring out what caused them to leave. When we see a skeptic, we want them to believe without attempting to understand their rationale for not believing. 

I’m not saying this is a universal thing, that all Christians and all churches are like this, but I believe that if we as the body of Christ adopted this method, we’d be able to shed the “fake news” we assume about the world and try to understand where people are really coming from. 

We assume people LGBTQ rights because they don’t believe in Jesus. We assume people leave their spouse because they’re sinful and lazy. We assume people are skeptical because they hate Jesus and God. While there might be some truths in there, it’s often more complicated than that. The LGBTQ people I’ve known have given differing reasons for their lifestyle choice, and it’s often not simple. 

I think of the recent controversy over the kids from the Catholic school and the protestors at the recent March for Life. I’m not going to weigh in on that controversy here, but in that scenario, we learned that it’s much better to wait, to understand what actually happened, where people were actually coming from, before assessing the situation and rendering a judgment. So many people, myself included, grew judgmental and critical of those in the situation before hearing the full story.

In the same way, we need to listen to others and understand their lives, their realities before creating one for them and approaching them based on what we’ve imposed on them ourselves. That’s what Paul did. He spent time in Athens, talked to people and then rendered his perspective and brought it back to the Gospel. 

A word about “echo chambers”: Paul didn’t live in one. He spent a lot of time with Christians, yes, but he clearly took the time to understand viewpoints he didn’t share. We should, ideally, do the same.

Dipping the Toes in to Get Wet

In the same way, we should stay on our social media platforms and exist on them each day long enough just to get a snapshot of reality, to see what the culture is like, what it’s doing and what it cares about.

Of course, some of us should set boundaries about how long we spend, what we do on that social media, etc. That’s not what this post is about, but I wanted to re-affirm good boundaries and limits because social media, like most things, can become addicting. 

Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. Odds are, you found this because I posted a link to it on social media.

Social media can serve a great purpose. We can use it to share about what God is doing in our lives, interact with fans of our favorite sports teams for fun conversations, showcase photos of our meals and new pets and, in some cases, express our opinion on a difficult or controversial topic. 

It’s up to you, of course, how much you share. But if you’re on social media now, I encourage you to stick with it. You never know what you’ll learn, and you’ll never know what you learn will mean down the road.

Why I Can’t Always Write About Jesus…and Why I Love the MCU

So I don’t write about things other than Jesus on this blog very often. And there’s a reason.

I want you to think that I’m super-spiritual, that I only think about Jesus and the Bible and God day and night and day and night.

But I’m gonna be honest with you: that’s not all I think about. Here’s a few other things that take up my mind, and honestly take more of my brain space than Jesus, right or wrong:

  • How am I progressing in my marriage?
  • Is Arsenal FC gonna figure their defense out before our next game?
  • Isn’t the way some Christians speak about “mainstream media” just shameful?

That’s just a few.

I recently read a blog post by entrepreneur Nicolas Cole in which he talks about what we really need to be asking ourselves when we think about our dream jobs – what do we enjoy doing on a daily basis?

…in order to find what your dream job really is, you can’t ask yourself what “end reward” you want.

That question is elusive, and often times leads you astray.

Instead, you need to ask what activities you enjoy doing on a daily basis.

I love writing, but I don’t always enjoy writing about Jesus. Sometimes it’s a drag to find something relevant to the Bible. Honestly. I don’t know whether that’s right or wrong, but here goes.

Today, I’m going to tell you five things about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, why I love it and why I think you should too:


The MCU has now spanned 10 years and more than 20 movies, from 2008’s Iron Man to this summer’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. I love it. I love reading theories about it, thinking about the characters, the stories, watching YouTube videos, all that.

I can’t watch Avengers: Infinity War, at least not all the way through, because the ending is too sad. I just can’t.

But I love it, and here’s five reasons why.

1. There are characters I relate to so well.

Captain America has become one of my favorite characters in all of fiction for a number of reasons. He doesn’t pretend to be perfect or pretend to be a Christian — although he did reference God in The Avengers. He’s Marvel’s equivalent to Superman in his pursuit of truth and justice and what’s right. You see that throughout all of his films that, even when there might be an easier way, he wants to do the right thing.

I desire my life to look like that — principled, assertive and direct, looking solely to what is right and what is just. There are a range of characters in the MCU like Captain America in which you can find yourself. You’ve just got to look.

2. There’s lots of mysteries.

Infinity War was not the first MCU movie to leave us wondering what was going to happen next. Each movie leads well into the next by leaving some holes and some questions for us to ponder and think about.

For instance, Doctor Strange, another one of my favorite MCU movies. After the day is saved — what, did you think the good doctor was going to lose in his first film? — one of the main characters is shown to be doing something quite dastardly. Sorry, minor spoiler alert. I’m left wondering what’s going to be next.

Not only is it a great business plan to keep people interested and buy more tickets, it’s a great narrative plan to keep the characters alive and the story going.

3. It’s flippin’ funny.

If everything in the MCU films was destruction and fights and mystery, that’d be OK, I suppose. But there are some movies in the franchise that are just too funny.

My favorite MCU movie, Thor: Ragnarok, is one of the best examples of this. Director Taika Waititi brings in his real-life goofiness — just watch this video — to the film in both the tone and words, as well as my favorite MCU character Korg, who is played by him. “Over here, the pile of rocks waving at you!”

If Thor doesn’t do it for you, check the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. Andy Dwyer from Parks and Recreation leads the gang, if that doesn’t tell you enough. If you need more, watch this.

4. The best actors flock to these movies.

Benedict Cumberbatch of the BBC’s Sherlock fame plays Doctor Strange. Michael B. Jordan is striking as Black Panther villain Erik Killmonger. Paul Rudd is perfect as criminal-turned-superhero Ant-Man. Tom Holland portrays a youthful and slightly naive but determined Spider-Man. Former WWE superstar Dave Bautista is an excellent Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy.

If you want to see good performances, see a Marvel movie.

5. The characters are flawed people doing good things.

Tony Stark/Iron Man is a narcissistic playboy. Bruce Banner/The Hulk has an anger problem. Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow has a shady past. Peter Quill/Star-Lord sleeps around and exhibits extreme selfishness at times. Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp lost her mom at a young age and holds great resentment for her father.

These are the people who are the heroes of the MCU. They’re not perfect, but they show redemptive qualities. Some even display incredible sacrificial selflessness in key moments.

In this way, they’re representative of what we can be as believers. (I guess I did have to Jesus juke this). They are not perfect, and while some of them are born with or unwittingly discover extraordinary gifts, they try to make the best of them while dealing with their flaws.

Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange is perhaps my favorite example. He’s an incredibly talented surgeon, the best in the world. And he knows it. He tells others it. But after a car accident leaves his precious fingers unusable, he reaches the bottom. Through the help of a teacher, he learns a new set of skills and powers and starts to use them to help others, selflessly and sacrificially.

Sounds like a believer after conversion, right?

That’s why I love the MCU. Plus, it’s just so much fun.

Do We Have It All Wrong About ‘Prosperity Teaching’?

It was a little past midnight.

Unable to go to sleep because I had taken a four-hour nap earlier in the day, I pulled out my Bible. I’ve been a little lax, to put it mildly, on Scripture reading in recent months, so I’ve decided to go back to my favorite chapters in the Bible to be reminded of why I liked them and liked reading Scripture in the first place.

At this moment, it was Proverbs 3. I’m daily reminded of that chapter because I get verses 5 and 6 as a reminder every day at 9 a.m. — “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

I kept going, but I stopped short at verses 9-10:

Honor the LORD with your wealth with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

I stopped because this sounded like the so-called “prosperity gospel.” It sounded like, “Give God money, and He’ll bless you unbelievably.”

This is the “prosperity gospel” that many evangelicals rail against, whose main proponents some criticize President Trump for hanging out with, which pastors can get congregational points for speaking ill of. This is what we think the Bible speaks directly against.

As I thought about these verses and this idea, a couple things came to mind (which is why I’m writing a blog post) and I was left with some questions that I’ll attempt to answer.

Is “Prosperity Gospel” Even the Right Phrase?

This is the common phraseology we use for the teachings of Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Creflo Dollar (a ridiculous name, by the way) and more.

But I don’t think that it’s the right verbiage. The teachings of the “prosperity gospel” have nothing to do with the act of being saved, with salvation. A quick peek at Osteen’s “What We Believe” page on his website shows that, in his beliefs about salvation, he doesn’t veer from what most evangelical Christians believe.

Perhaps the right language is “prosperity teachings.” It’s a look at the Bible that says that if we give and are obedient to God, we will receive health and wealth in return and be blessed. It’s not a matter of salvation, so “gospel” isn’t even the right word.

Are People Who Believe in “Prosperity Teachings” True Christians?

So the people who believe in “prosperity teachings” are still believers, I think. I was talking to my pastor about this today and he made a comment that some would say that those who believe in such teachings are going to hell. Well, he added, so are some of those who believe in what many believe are “right” teachings. As my mother has said many times, we’ll be surprised who’s there and who’s not there when we get to heaven.

Does the Bible Really Support the Idea of “Prosperity Teaching”?

I think the answer to this is yes.

Verses like Proverbs 3:9-10 prove it. There are many Scriptures that talk about God blessing the faithful with riches and asking for and receiving things. The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. John 10:10, about having life abundant. Matthew 7:7, ask and you shall receive. Matthew 21:22, you’ll receive what you ask for in prayer if you have faith.

Most of these are words of Jesus, and aren’t being taken out of context. So I think it’s safe to say that, in both the Old and New Testaments, there are verses that support the idea of prosperity for Christians.

Does the Bible Support All of “Prosperity Teaching”?

I don’t think so.

There are many Bible verses that talk about how suffering is a part of being both a human and a Christian. Just because you’re faithful doesn’t mean everything will go well. Jesus asks a young man to leave his wealth behind to follow Him. Jesus guarantees His disciples that they will suffer for claiming to believe Him, and that those later on will also.

So Have We Gotten “Prosperity Teaching” All Wrong?

Yes and no.

I think Christians often vilify the teaching, the teachers and followers unfairly.

Many prosperity teachers have massive amounts of wealth and some manipulate poor people in a horrible, non-Christian way. Just watch John Oliver’s piece on televangelists (it’s on HBO, so expect some profanity and inappropriateness) to see that. In those cases, they should be admonished and people should be warned about how harmful they can be.

But in other cases, maybe these teachers and followers understand something that we don’t. Maybe they believe the Bible (in certain places) more than we do. Maybe they are more cognizant of God’s blessings in their lives than we are because they’re looking for them and looking for a way to praise God in response.

I’m pretty confident that they’re believers, just as I am. But if they’re guilty of misreading Scripture in the intensity of their belief in “prosperity teachings,” I’m just as guilty of other sins. I’m no better.

I’m left with a lot of questions. How much of “prosperity teaching” is true? I think it’s a matter of some of it is right and some of it is wrong. Perhaps it’s a matter of finding the balance. We can ask God for things, and he will answer, and He does bless us for our obedience, but maybe it’s not in the volume prosperity teachers preach about.

We’re All Like iPhones. We Need Re-Charging Every Once in a While.

One of the marriage clichés I’ve heard a lot of in these last couple months is that marriage is not a 50-50 proposition, it’s 100-100.

You don’t give 50 percent of yourself and the other person gives the same amount. You both give everything you’ve got.

As I was talking about this idea with my fiancée, a thought occurred to us: it’s impossible to give 100 percent of yourself if you’re not 100 percent yourself.

How often is your cell phone battery at a fully-charged 100 percent? For some of us, it’s every morning when we wake up. We’ve been charging our phones over night, so when we get up in the morning it’s good to go. Some of us don’t charge our phones overnight, so we have to get to work, or get in our car so we can refuel it.

Using our phones suck the life out of them. In the same way, living life sucks the life out of us. It’s not a bad thing; it’s unavoidable. Every time we go to work, a percentage of us gets used. Every time we go exercise, a percentage of us gets used. Even when we go to church, a percentage of us gets used.

So we need to recharge, we need to refuel.

If we spend so much time working and not enough time recharging, we won’t be able to give everything we’ve got in whatever relationship we’re in, whether it’s with God or with man. That’s why rest is so important. That’s why we need to have times where we do things we enjoy that help us to rest and relax.

If you’re an introvert who needs time alone to recharge, do it! If you’re an extrovert who gets drained by alone time, get around people!

But just be aware: you need to be fully charged to give everything you’ve got. So plug in.