Thursday, July 9, 2020

"I have faith" - Peggy Carter

By Guest Writer: C.L. Shoemaker

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” - Hebrews 11:1
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In Marvel’s film Captain America Steve Rogers, an army hopeful during WWII, is consistently rejected when enlisting due to his medical issues. Desperate to serve his country, he jumps at a chance to test a new super soldier serum. Yet, when the lead scientist on Project Rebirth is assassinated, and the only serum destroyed, Steve remains the project’s sole success. Relegated to selling war bonds and promoting the American troops, Rogers is dejected at his inability to make a difference. He has superhuman strength, intelligence and agility yet, he’s reduced to a performing puppet for the army instead of fighting on the front lines.



It isn’t until Steve befriends Agent Peggy Carter that he is challenged to think beyond the identity imposed on him. After watching Steve’s USO show for the surviving members of the 107th Peggy sees through his fa├žade and questions his role as “America’s new hope” asking, are “these are your only two options? A lab rat or a dancing monkey? You were meant for more than this you know.” Peggy has faith that Steve can be better because at heart he is a good man. She isn’t counting on his super soldier abilities (speed, agility, strength). She knows what makes Steve special is his character and his heart. He may have changed physically but internally, he’s still the same, good man, and he needs to see his value. Peggy sees his potential and his ability to have a higher purpose. She understands his desire to use his gifts to do good and help. While others have mocked Steve as a glorified chorus girl, Peggy knows that he was chosen for a greater purpose. He only needs to see it and step out in faith.

It isn’t until Steve learns that his best friend, Sgt. Bucky Barnes and his squadron were captured that Steve decides to take action. He will no longer hide behind his shield, but he will use it as a weapon to protect others. Despite assumptions that Barnes is dead, Steve has faith that his friend is alive. Steve believes he can make a difference even as Peggy, his previous cheerleader, protests, 

Peggy: “You heard the Colonel. Your friend is most likely dead.” 
Steve: “You don’t know that.”
Peggy: “Even so, [the Colonel’s] devising a strategy.”
Steve: “By the time he does that it could be too late.”
Spurred on by the knowledge of men captured behind enemy lines, Steve grabs his shield, a leather jacket and prepares to steal an army jeep. Before leaving he turns to Peggy, who has followed him with protests, and asks if she still believes in him: 
Steve: “You told me you thought I was meant for more than this. 
Did you mean that?”
Peggy: [without a pause] “Every word.”
Steve: “Then you gotta let me go.”

On the encouragement of one woman and a threat to his friend’s life, Steve changes from a man trapped by circumstance and without purpose to a man driven by faith towards a life changing goal. There is no proof that Bucky is still alive and no scientific data that claims Steve will be able to rescue anyone, but he believes he can achieve, and he is willing to act on that faith. He also listens to Peggy’s advice, that he was created for more and embraces the knowledge that perhaps he was made “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). If anyone has the abilities, strength and knowledge to save the 107th it’s Steve Rogers, a superpowered super soldier with an “I can do this all day” attitude. Steve is self-sacrificial and willing to put others first even risking his own life. It is this goodness and sacrifice that earned Steve the coveted spot in Project Rebirth (the super soldier program).

Working with Agent Carter and Howard Stark to pilot a plane, Steve is dead dropped into the middle of enemy territory and then there is silence … for days. When we next see Peggy Carter she is bringing the Colonel images from the last surveillance flight. There is nothing to report. Steve has disappeared. While she is berated for her actions and blamed for the death of Captain America and the lost 107th, Peggy’s response is simple. Faith. She had and still has faith in Steve Rogers. She believes he is meant to do great things and that he will come back. When everyone else has given up hope, Peggy’s faith still endures.


Peggy: “With respect sir, I don’t regret my actions and I don’t think Captain Rogers did either”
Col. Phillips: “I took a chance with you Agent Carter and now America’s golden boy and a lot of other good men are dead because you had a crush.”
Peggy: “It wasn’t that. I had faith” 
Col. Phillips: “Well I hope that’s a big comfort to you when they shut this division down.”

At that moment a commotion occurs as soldiers run from their tents to see Captain America and the rescued 107th march into the camp. Some are injured, others healthy enough to walk while some ride on an army tank. Col. Phillips looks over at Peggy and says two words, “Faith, huh?”

It only took one person to see the potential in Steve Rogers after Project Rebirth was shut down and he was delegated to war bond duty. Agent Carter knew Steve’s true value was in his strong character and heart, and she helped him to see his role, as the man he longed to be and the hero he wanted to become. The serum enhanced Steve’s abilities, but it was a woman of faith who helped Steve Rogers take his first step as Captain America. 

Believers could learn a lot from Agent Carter's faith. Scripture says, "The righteous will live by faith" (Romans 1:17). Just as Peggy had faith in Steve's ability to become a hero and rescue his fellow soldiers, let us have faith in our heavenly Hero, Jesus Christ, who rescues the captives, heals the broken hearted and saves the day!

Friday, June 5, 2020

I Was Made For This!

During a pivotal scene in Avengers: Endgame, Hulk delivers one of the most profound and powerful lines of the movie. After successfully gathering all of the Infinity Stones and returning to their own time, a brief argument breaks out over who will wear the Infinity Gauntlet and undo the death and destruction wrought by Thanos. Thor insists on being the one, saying, “I’m the strongest Avenger, okay. So, this responsibility falls upon me.” When Tony objects, Thor persists, “What do you think is coursing through my veins right now? Lightning!” That’s when Hulk steps in, saying, “Lightning won’t help you, pal. It’s got to be me. You saw what those stones did to Thanos. They almost killed him. None of you could survive… The radiation is mostly gamma. It’s like… I was made for this.” In that moment, Hulk recognized a preordained, perhaps even divine, purpose to his life. He didn’t always recognize his purpose, though.

Way back in the first Avengers movie, Tony and Bruce have a conversation about Bruce’s hatred of the Hulk. Tony says, “Hey, I’ve read all about your accident. That much gamma exposure should have killed you.” Bruce replies, “So you're saying that the Hulk... the other guy... saved my life? That's nice. It's a nice sentiment. Saved it for what?” Tony smirks and says, “I guess we'll find out.” Seven years and several movies later, Bruce finally found out what he was saved to do. He discovered his purpose.

Have you discovered yours? Like Bruce Banner, you and I were created for a purpose and saved for a purpose. Pastor and author, Rick Warren, writes, “The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”

Scripture continually confirms this claim. God told the displaced people of Israel, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). Likewise, the New Testament assures Christian, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 NLT). And, similarly, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT).

 God has a purpose and plan for each one of us. Like Bruce Banner, you may not be aware of your purpose at first. But, if you will seek God and search the Scriptures, then you’ll discover God’s purpose and plan for your life and you’ll be able to join Hulk in saying, “I was made for this.”



This post is an excerpt from my latest book, Endgame: Finding God Among Earth's Mightest Heroes, available on Amazon! 

Monday, May 25, 2020

A Mighty Hero!

Excerpted from my upcoming book, Holy Heroes of the Bible:

Marvel's Avengers are knowns as "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" and, among them, Thor holds the title of "the mightiest Avenger." Yet, even the mightiest of Earth's mightiest heroes recognizes a Hero far mightier than himself. In The Mighty Thor Annual #14, the son of Odin confesses, "Even I, son of one of the mightiest gods, find it impossible to conceive of such levels of power! And 'tis a humbling thought to consider how much greater the Creator of all universes must be than that of all His creations combined!"[1]

As Thor points out, nothing reveals God's inconceivable might more clearly than the creation of the universe. Genesis 1 sums up the creation of the cosmos in the very first sentence: "God created the heavens and the earth." The phrase "the heavens and the earth" encompasses all of creation—the entire universe: quarks, neutrons, hydrogen, stars, planets, galaxies, gravity, even time and space. The sheer vastness of the universe boggles the mind. Just think about the stars for a moment. Those gleaming lights twinkling against a black velvet sky are overwhelming not just in splendor, but in number. Have you ever tried counting the stars? Three hundred years ago astronomers believed there were just over a thousand stars in the universe, today we know that there are as many as 300,000,000,000 stars in our galaxy alone, which is just one of billions more galaxies stretched across the cosmos. Reflecting on the cosmic creation event, the psalmist wrote, "The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born" (Psalm 33:6 NLT). As Thor admitted, it seems "impossible to conceive of such levels of power." Yet, verse one is just the beginning. The rest of the chapter zeroes in on the creation of the earth and everything in it—the oceans, rivers, land, mountains, trees, plants, animals, and even human beings. God is big enough to breathe out stars, yet delicate enough to fashion together the trillions of cells that make up every facet of who you are. And with each act of creation, the Bible tells us, "God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1:10,12,18,21,25).

Let's conduct an experiment. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Now, create and ocean. Can't do it? Try something smaller, like a gazelle or giraffe. Still nothing? How about something super simple like an ameba or an atom? Didn't work, did it? That's because human beings don't possess the power to create something out of nothing. Only God does!

Speaking of all the wonders God wrought on earth and throughout the heavens, Job says, “These are just the beginning of all that he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of his power?” (Job 26:14 NLT). Even today with our ever-expanding knowledge of the universe and the atom, we’re still just seeing a whisper of his power, "the outer fringe of his works" (NIV).

Scripture frequently speaks of God's "mighty power" (Exodus 14:31) and "the power of his mighty hand" (Exodus 13:14). The Bible says, "He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God" (Deuteronomy 10:17) and "The Lord, the Mighty One, is God!" (Joshua 22:22). As evidenced by his incredible creation, God is a mighty hero. In fact, God isn't just a mighty hero, he's the Almighty Hero!




[1] Marvel Comics. The Mighty Thor Annual (Vol 1) #14 (1989)

Friday, July 5, 2019

A Tangled Web!


I took my son and daughter to see Spider-man: Far from Home yesterday, and the movie far exceeded our expectations. This angsty, action-packed sequel picks up where Avengers: Endgame left off and follows Peter Parker on a humorous and heartfelt European vacation. But it’s the villain of the story who really steals the spotlight.

Spoiler Warning

When four elemental monsters begin wreaking havoc all across Europe, a mysterious new hero emerges claiming, “I’m here to save your world.” This courageous new hero, dubbed Mysterio by Peter and his classmates, fends off the elemental monsters at great personal risk while simultaneously forming a friendship with Peter. Believing Mysterio to be much more capable and competent than himself, Peter gives Mysterio control of EDITH—a billion-dollar tactical system embedded in a pair of sunglasses that he inherited from Tony Stark. Not surprisingly, Mysterio isn’t what he seems.

To his horror, Peter discovers that Mysterio, Quentin Beck, isn’t a hero at all. Rather, Beck turns out to be a brilliant but unbalanced ex-employee of Stark Industries. Beck utilizes advanced technology to create incredible illusions. The elemental monsters are nothing more than holographic projections and special effects. Beck desperately wants the world to believe that he is an Avenger’s level hero and he’s willing to orchestrate cataclysmic disasters to accomplish his goals. With EDITH now under Beck’s control, he plans another duplicitous demonstration of daring-do that will level half of London, and it’s up to Spider-man to stop him.

Mysterio reminds me a great deal of a man we read about in the Bible named Jacob. Much like Mysterio does with Peter, Jacob once tricked his older brother, Esau, into handing over his inheritance. Later, Jacob disguised himself as Esau in order to deceive their father, Isaac, into giving him the family blessing too. Jacob eventually repented and became a godly man, but the world remains replete with people who pretend to be something they aren’t in order to deceive others.

Jesus warned his followers, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves” (Matthew 7:15 NLT). The Apostle Paul also warned about false prophets, saying, “They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 NLT). Satan and his servants can deceive people by appearing to be attractive, upright and virtuous. Many unsuspecting believers have followed smooth-talking, Bible-quoting leaders into destructive heresies or dangerous cults. This is why it’s important for Christians to be watchful and wary.

Peter Parker learned the hard way that appearances can be deceiving. Thankfully, Mysterio’s evil scheme failed and Spider-man won in the end. Christians can take heart that even though deceitful schemers may fool us on occasion, God will never be fooled and, like Spidey, God always wins in the end.  


Saturday, June 29, 2019

The New 42: God Terraforms All Things


I just finished reading The New 42: God Terraforms All Things, written by two of my fellow godly geeks, Eric Anderson and Nathan Marchand, and wanted to take a moment to recommend it to everyone reading this.

The New 42 is a fun-filled, faith-fueled adventure, exploring the depth and breadth of geekdom and the gospel. What impressed me most is the broad scope of fantasy and fandom contemplated throughout the book. Perusing these pages, you’ll find insights drawn from Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate SG-1, Doctor Who, both Marvel and DC Comics, Minecraft, Firefly, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Heroscape, Godzilla, Disney, and a variety of anime. Similarly, The New 42 spans the full scope of Scripture. It starts “in the beginning” and weaves through the Bible before climaxing in the book of Revelation. While both authors offer valuable contributions, Nathan Marchand’s writing really sings. He has a knack for succinctly summarizing stories in such a way that make the reader feel familiar with them even if they’ve never heard of, for instance, Full Metal Alchemist or Bulletproof Monk. Ultimately, The New 42 will appeal to Christ-following nerds and geeks whatever their fandom.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Avengers: Endgame - Not Us

Guest Writer: Nathan Marchand

With Avengers: Endgame re-releasing this weekend (my birthday, no less!), a couple friends and I decided to write a trilogy of devotional blog posts centered on the characters in the film. What follows is my contribution. Be sure to check out the other two here and hereAlso, it should go without saying, but SPOILER WARNING!

On the surface, it looks like Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) is coping with Thanos’ victory in Avengers: Infinity War pretty well, though perhaps in an unexpected way. He becomes a grief counselor. During the session, one man says, “So I, uh... Went on a date the other day. First time in five years, you know? Sit there, dinner.... I didn't know what to talk about.”

“What did you talk about?” Steve asks.

“Same old crap, you know? How things have changed, and...my job, his job.... How much we miss the Mets. Then things get quiet.... He cried as they were serving the salads.”

“How about you?”

“I cried...just before dessert. But I'm seeing him tomorrow, so....”

“That's great. You did the hardest part. You took the jump, you didn't know where you were gonna come down. And that's it. That's those little brave baby steps you gotta take. To try and become whole again. To try and find purpose. I went in the ice in forty-five right after I met the love of my life. Woke up seventy years later. You got to move on. Got to move on. The world is in our hands. It's left to us guys, and we have to do something with it. Otherwise...Thanos should have killed all of us.”
In the very next scene, though, he meets a frazzled, half-blonde Natasha Romanov (aka Black Widow) in her makeshift office as she coordinates heroes across the galaxy. After some chitchat, Steve admits that he can’t take his own advice. “I keep telling everybody they should move on. Some do, but not us.”

In the five years since “the Snap,” Steve hasn’t been able to accept their failure—his failure—to stop it. He hasn’t been able to accept the fractured universe the Mad Titan left in his wake. Even Thanos’ execution by Thor couldn’t satisfy Steve’s sense of justice. That universal genocide shouldn’t have happened. The misery he encountered every day because of it shouldn’t exist. The man who never backed down from a bully, whether he met him in an alley or the battlefield, regretted there was one he couldn’t stop.

Hence why when Scott Lang (aka Ant-Man) escapes the Microverse and tells him about his “twelve percent of a plan” to travel back in time to gather the Infinity Stones and use them to undo Thanos’ handiwork, Steve leaps at the chance. It’s a longshot, but it’s a shot. The colossal wrong could be made right.

Perhaps that’s why, in one of the most epic moments I’ve ever seen on film, Steve was worthy to wield Mjolnir when he faced Thanos again.



In 2 Kings 22, we meet Josiah, a boy who ascended to the throne of Judah at age eight. Unlike his evil grandfather Manasseh, “[h]e did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left” (v. 2). As an adult, he sent his secretary, Shaphan, to attend to business at the temple. While there, he learned the high priest, Hilkiah, had discovered the Book of the Law, which had gone missing for decades, if not longer. Shaphan returned to the king and read from the Book. Josiah’s reaction was visceral:

When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us” (2 Kings 22:11-13).

Josiah then sent Shaphan and the priests to inquire the prophetess Huldah concerning this. Thankfully, she said the Lord was pleased with Josiah’s humility, so Josiah wouldn’t see the disaster 

He would bring upon Judah.

In the following chapter, Josiah gathered his people and read from the Book of the Covenant. “The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant” (2 King 23:3). This marked the beginning of a massive reform. All the pagan objects in the temple were removed. Idols and Asherah poles were removed from sacred places and smashed. Mediums and spiritists were cast out. Verse 25 tells us, “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.”

There is much evil in the world. There has been since Adam and Eve ate that forbidden fruit. In their heart of hearts, every human who has ever lived carries the echoes of Eden. They know the world is not right, even if they don’t say they do. Christians, though, are fully aware of it, and our hearts burn with a righteous indignation. It’s the fire that burns when we hear about things like sex trafficking. It compels us to act, to fight against the evil. This “holy discontent” makes us refuse to accept this as “normal,” because it was never part of God’s design, and we know this. We can’t simply “move on” with our lives as if nothing happened. Just like “the Snap” drastically altered the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so the Fall of Man changed ours. Now we must take back what we lost by taking Gospel to the ends of the Earth, and through its power undo the evils of sin.

Captain America and King Josiah couldn’t stand by while evil pervaded the world, and neither can we.

It’s time we all lift Mjolnir, my friends.

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Holy Heroes Devotional Promo Video!



My new book, The Holy Heroes Devotional, is now available on Amazon! The Holy Heroes Devotional is a forty-day devotional that finds spiritual meaning in superhero movies and empowers believers to know Christ better through comic books!

You'll find devotions on some of the most iconic superheroes in theaters today, like Shazam, Captain Marvel, and Aquaman. But you'll also learn lessons from lesser-known comic book characters like the guardian angel Zauriel and the glory-hound Booster Gold. Each devotion concludes with a series of questions to ponder and a prayer. You'll discover surprisingly relevant and relatable life lessons and biblical truth buried in the stories of your favorite superheroes, and you'll be encouraged to embrace Jesus as the world's greatest hero!