Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hacksaw Ridge Review

Disclaimer: I'm not a movie critic I'm just some dude on the internet who had an opportunity to see an early screening of Hacksaw Ridge and now I'm giving my thoughts on it (spoiler free).

The synopsis: WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people and becomes the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Hacksaw Ridge is a faith-based war movie, which sounds like a conundrum. And to our main protagonist (Desmond Doss) it absolutely was. The first two-thirds of the film sets up our main character and his fight to not bear arms despite voluntarily enlisting in the army. After being allowed to do so, not without many objections from both his peers and superiors, was "free to run into the hell fire of battle without a single weapon to protect" himself. The final act shows how one man's faithfulness to his conviction can alter the course of history.

The Bad

There are a couple of issues I have with this movie. First, although I believe Doss to have good intentions with his nonviolent stance, I believe the bible makes a clear distinction between warfare as a function of the state to protect the people and murder, which is often driven by the motive of personal vengeance or covetousness. This distinction was briefly addressed in a throwaway line and was never touched upon again. It's possible fleshing out this idea would've distracted from the main point of the story so I understand why it was underdeveloped.

The second issue I had with this film was Doss' faith itself, which is the main thrust of the movie. For us Christians we can understand what a personal relationship with the Lord looks like. We understand following deep conviction. However, for non-believers or people who are not deeply religious I'm not sure they would understand Doss' motive. There was a scene that attempted to reveal his motive for nonviolence but it didn't connect with me. I believe that particular scene could've been replace with a better one to illustrate how Doss developed his conviction. In addition, it would've enhanced Doss' faith if he were to quote a couple of bible passages applicable to arduous situations he found himself in by standing firm on his conviction. There were several scenes where he was simply sitting and reading his bible demonstrating his devotion but that was it. If Doss where to even whisper a couple of verses under his breath to show how he draws strength from his devotion it would've added flesh to his faith (see what I did there 😜). I have suggestions but I don't want to spoil anything.

The Good

Some may take this as a stance of anti-war. It is not. Doss himself said the war was a just cause and wanted to find ways he could serve. It was the bombing at Pearl Harbor that inspired him to enlist. He never came off with an unearned moral sense of superiority but with genuine humility and a deep desire to serve his country. As I mentioned before, Doss' faith is the main thrust of this film and although he is the protagonist his character largely remained static throughout the movie. Doss never wavered (although he had doubts) in his conviction, while they may somewhat be misguided, he remained true to himself in the face of mounting odds and strenuous circumstances. The true marvel of this film is first, Doss' perseverance and persistence to remain faithful to God regardless of the situation or consequences. The second, although Doss' character does not change in development, it's his unwavering commitment to what he believes to be right and the manner by which he lived out that conviction in the most dire of situations that changed everyone around him and ultimately inspired them into battle.

As a Christian, I left with a deeper sense of gratitude for the people who gave their life and limb in the serve of this country so we can be free and enjoy the comforts of our everyday lives. I can never be reminded too often of that sacrifice and never honor it enough when given the opportunity. But what truly sets this movie apart from "just another war movie" is how one man's faith saved countless lives and inspired others to achieve greater acts of valor where otherwise incapable. During basic training nearly Doss' entire unit hated him. They mocked him. They beat him. But when we arrive near the end of the final act with the battle reaching the tipping point every single man within Doss' entire battalion said, "We will not go without you."

It's the dramatic change in others around Doss and the journey to get there, which makes it riveting. I left wondering if I would ever have the fortitude to stand firm in my convictions even in the face of near certain death the same way Doss did. We hope to inspire and advance the cause for Christ but it's so abundantly clear it's not when things are easy but it's when the entire world is crumbling and we stand firm because we stand on a strength outside of ourselves and while standing on that strength is when the world will shout in unison saying, "We want that." It's a strength beyond human comprehension and a peace that surpasses understanding; a strength filled with compassion that prays, "Please Lord, let me get one more."

In short, there are some flaws within the film. But overall it's worth seeing. Go watch an amazing story and let me know what you think.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Words of Encouragement 10.01.2016

I received this from an email from one of my pastors at Grace EV Free La Mirada.

I’ve been greatly encouraged by Paul Miller in his book A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World. Here are a few stirring quotations:

"You need space to be together. Efficiency, multitasking, and busyness all kill intimacy. In short, you can’t get to know God on the fly."

"If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life. You’ll always be a little too tired, a little too busy. But if, like Jesus, you realize you can’t do life on your own, then no matter how busy, no matter how tired you are, you will find the time to pray."

"Get to bed. What you do in the evening will shape your morning.”

"We look at the inadequacy of our praying and give up, thinking something is wrong with us. God looks at the adequacy of his Son and delights in our sloppy, meandering prayers."
I always appreciate my Christian family sending out words of encouragement to inspire me and drive me to a deeper intimacy with the Almighty. I sent this out in a few text messages to other brothers in the faith and they were also encouraged. We can't do Christianity "on the fly."

It's impossible.

I've notice in my personal life the times I've experience the peace of God and the elation of His sovereign joy the most is when I can't get enough of His word, which causes me to contemplate His heart and mind in prayer. It produces an overflowing desire to love others through prayer and deed.

Conversely, the times when I am most stressful, irritated, and self-centered are the times when I am "a little too busy" or "a little too tired" to pursue God as I ought. The simple act of getting to bed at a decent hour so we can start the day in prayer and in His word is not overly complicated yet intricate because of the sinful nature. As a result, these reminders are essential in order to recalibrate our soul to what is proper and right. I thought it was worth posting here. Be encouraged and fight the good fight.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Good Moms Night Out

Every couple of months I meet up with my friend Jason Smith at Mike’s burgers to catch up on life. We attend the same church, however, we rarely get to talk on Sunday mornings because we’re too busy chasing our kids around making sure they don’t run into the parking lot or fall down the steep stairs in the entry way. As it turns out, Sunday mornings at church isn’t the best time to connect with people when you have small children.

Therefore, we try and connect over bacon and coffee and get into each other’s lives. A couple of months ago we talked about a variety of topics from the election and the state of the Middle East to our struggles and difficulties being a husband and father. There are certain individuals who I spend time with who build me up, and I always leave encouraged by their fellowship. Jason is one of them. During our time together we tried to figure out a way we can love our wives well.

Then it hit us.

I told him, “You know we are able to hang out right now because our wives are watching our children?” He replied with an uninspiring, “Yep.”

“Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you” (Prov. 4:6).

We then decided to arrange a night where our wives could have a free night to hang out with each other. The husbands coordinate a night where we can stay home with our kids and the women work out what they want to do. We are committed to doing this at least once a month. It has since grown to three or four wives getting together and fellowshipping with one another.

My reasons for wanting to do this are as followed:

1. As Christian men we are commended to love our wives well. This is one way to do it.

2. As a Christian man, I know I need other godly men in my life. This holds true with women as well. My hope would be the ladies in this group would leave encouraged and built up while they talk about their personal struggles. Hopefully they won’t complain about their husbands too much.

3. It fosters community within the body of Christ.

4. It’s not tied into an official ministry. I hope we get out of the mentality that we need some type of churched sanctioned infrastructure in order to love people well. We certainly need programs but I also believe we can be creative while being intentional about thinking outside our normal routines in order to build one another up.

5. I hope this inspires others within my own church (and other churches) to come together and figure out different ways to love one another with wisdom.

In doing this it has given me a deeper appreciation for my wife. While she’s out, and I get three children four years of age and under all screaming at the same time about different things I wonder what I got myself into. But I also wonder “How does my wife do this everyday? How does anyone do this?” I’m sure the other husbands going through the same thing will hate me for getting them into this. But look at this as a long-term investment. When your wife experiences the enrichment of being around other godly women on a consistent basis that’s going to directly impact you in a positive way. Maybe my wife will be more willing to make me a sandwich in the middle of the night when I get hungry. It’s a win-win.

Also, when I see the excitement of the women planning together knowing they’ll get a free night to themselves, it brings delight to my soul that I was able to be a part of facilitating the opportunity. I could only imagine how much it delights the Lord. It’s probably more delightful than a tasty sandwich in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What My Mom Taught Me About Politics Without Mentioning Politics

I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without my mom. Her endless devotion and tireless work ethic laid a solid foundation for my sister and I. My mom provided for us so we could go to school without worrying about our financial situation. We were able to attend and finish college in order to give us more opportunities when we entered the job market. But that’s not all my mom did, she taught me about politics without ever mentioning politics.


My mom came over as an immigrant (legally) because my biological father was abusive and didn’t provide for us. He kept gambling his money away and my mom couldn’t wait around for him to get his act together. She had children to support and provide for, so she came to the United States.

She didn’t know the language or the culture very well but had a relentless desire to make sure her children were provided for. She took odd jobs like waitressing, store clerk, etc. My uncle Mark had already bought into the 7-Eleven franchise and gave my mom the same idea. She never finished high school and only had an 8th grade education but that didn’t deter her. She would work 16-hour days and save up money in order to have enough equity to buy into her own store. I remember her sleeping in the back office on an awful uncomfortable folding steel recliner between shifts. It was probably worth no more than $0.99.

My mom was eligible for welfare but didn’t use it because she felt she could work and earn the money herself. I could imagine that when people would come into the store with their food stamps and buy a 0.25 pack of gum in order to collect the change and spend it on lottery tickets and liquor it would infuriate her. Were there people who really needed the assistance? Sure. But were there people that gamed the system? Absolutely. (The government has since gotten rid of the food stamp system, thankfully). My mom worked hard, became an American citizen, and paid her taxes like everyone else.


After many years, my mom finally saved enough money to purchase her own store. She did this through work hard. She didn’t complain about rich people not being taxed enough or spend any time figuring out ways to make them less successful in order for her life to be easier. She didn’t believe in the “Gender Wage Gap” myth. She didn’t believe external mystical forces were against her somehow oppressing her at every turn. Everywhere she worked she faced challenges. Men harassed her, angry customers used racial slurs against her, she didn’t know the language and the culture well, and she lacked the traditional education most people had. However, none of those things stopped her from working. Although my father abandoned us she never spoke ill of my father or played the victim card. She overcame every single hurdle through hard work and determination.

My mom finally became a business owner and ingratiated herself within the community. Everyone knew her by name. I’m sure if the Affordable Care Act and the minimum wage hike had been instituted back then they, would have been more hurdles for my mom to overcome (although I know she would’ve found a way).

I will forever be grateful for what she did for us. I know it couldn’t have been easy. She later told me two things when I become an adult that I’ll never forget. First, she told me how much she regretted “not being there for us” when we were children. I didn’t understand this initially because my sister and I always affirmed her and clearly told her we understood she had to provide for the family. It was only later I knew she meant that she missed out on “being a mom” and the joys of watching her children grow.

The second story she told me when I became an adult was a time she came to the end of her rope and parked the car and broke down emotionally. She was alone and had nothing. She contemplated suicide. The reason why she didn’t go through with it was the faint sounds of two small children in the back of the car saying, “Mom, were hungry. Can we have McDonalds?” She then realized that she couldn’t give up because it would be giving up on her children, so she continued to work.

When she became a Christian her business was up and running and she was doing well for herself. She was able to spend months at a time in Thailand visiting family and enjoying the motherland. She was one of the most generous people I’ve ever known. She spent more and more of her time sharing the gospel with people and inviting them to church because she didn’t have to work 16-hour days anymore. She also helped people in need because she lived below her means and was able to do so.

As a result, when I hear politicians (on either side) say they are going to fix our problems, I find it disingenuous. When they say “the system is rigged” or “you are an oppressed victim and we’ll fix it” I often think about my mother. I wonder how her life (and ours) would’ve turned out if she bought into those types of narratives and simply waited around for some politician to rescue her.

Final Thoughts:

Certainly the government has some role to play in our lives. We do need some regulations in order to prevent fraud and the breaking of contracts. My mom paid her taxes every year and enjoyed the community roads and local law enforcement to assist in neighborhood safety. She didn’t talk about politics much although she would mention her disdain of certain candidates here and there (she became a true American). I never heard her breakdown her philosophy of economics or any other political talking point for that matter. But her life made it abundantly clear what she believed. And when she passed away, it wasn’t only her friends and family who mourned but an entire community. People recognized her work ethic and gracious charity. Members of the community as well as local law enforcement attended her funeral. She did all this as a female, legal immigrant, single mother and with only an 8th grade education.

My sister has a beautiful picture of my mother in the office. The same office she slept in during those 16-hour shifts. It’s still difficult for me, to this day, to be in that office looking at that picture and realize she’s gone. My mother was a victim but never had the victim mentality. She didn’t demand “safe places” when her feelings were hurt, although I wish there had been “safe places” when my father beat her and when my stepfather continued to beat her. She didn’t have time to organize protest marches or figure out ways to disrupt other people’s lives in order to be “heard” but she paid her taxes and voted. In a lot of ways, considering the sad state of political affairs, I’m glad she’s home with Jesus. Of course I miss her dearly and her shining example is not lost on me.

Monday, July 11, 2016

40th Birthday

My wife has been asking me for weeks, "What do you want to do for your birthday?" I would apathetically response with, "I don't know. I haven't really thought about it." She would then ask, "But it's your 40th birthday. Don't you want to do something?" I would again apathetically reply, "I don't know. I haven't really thought about it."

I understand that turning 40 years old is a big deal but I haven't really cerebrated my birthday for years and didn't feel the urgency to put any thought on this particular one. I was perfectly content to let it go by like the rest of my birthdays. Unbeknownst to me, my wife decided to plan a surprise birthday party for me. A good thing for her I'm an idiot and didn't catch any of the clues that were littered all over the place.

First, she said a couple friend of ours, who recently got engaged, were having an "engagement party" and invited us. I just methodically put the event in my phone and said, "Ok" without taking the minute to think, "Wait a minute. People don't have 'engagement parties!'" During the same week of this party one of my best friends (Bryan), who lives in Portland, had to fly in for some "training for work." Another childhood friend (Dom) said he wanted to drop by and see the both of us. As it turns out, they were both in on this surprise party.

So the three us, along with several friends from high school, had a mini reunion and had a great time catching up. As it turns out, they were all in on it as well. I even mentioned to my buddies, "Hey do you want to go to this engagement party? My wife is making go." They were nice enough to attend. As we were pulling up the house, I noticed a lot of cars parked up and down the street. I said to myself, "They're never going to surprise Eric and Crista (the couple that was engaged) with these many cars parked in front of the house." As I was walking towards the backyard I notice the number "40" on table covers everywhere and thought, "What does that 40 mean? Why would Eric and Crista care about the number 40?" As I turned the corner there were about 35-40 people, including Eric and Crista, who yelled, "Surprise!!!"

It took a second to register (still). I know, I know, I'm a total idiot. My wife planned and organized the whole thing. It was incredible. There were friends and family all over the place. I was met with warm embraces, greetings, and hugs. Some of my friends I have not seen in a while and were absolutely elated to have them there. My daughters came running out greeting with complete excited yelling "Daddy, daddy!" Spending the rest of the evening with the friends and family and watching everyone enjoy themselves was a complete delight. There were several things going through my mind (some of which I'm still processing).

Here are some quick thoughts:

- The Journey to get here
People were invited to pray for me. Some of my closest friends took the charge and prayed and gave thanks to the Lord for the work He has done in my life. Different friends shared the different things God has worked in my life. There were prayers that mentioned me being a young angry boy, even being angry at God, to now becoming a man who stewards his time and family well and impacting so many lives it beyond the people who were there was extremely touching. When you fight everyday to simply be faithful each day you some times miss the big picture. Some times you miss the culmination of things. It's good to stop and reflect at what got you here and grow in appreciation of the journey.

- God's Grace
When I say "culmination" I, by no means, mean I'm at the highest point in my life. No way. I have a long way to go. But the present is a culmination of God's grace. As we continue to live in His grace we will continue to experience God's grace exponentially and ultimately culminate when we are in His presence. I got a glimpse of heavily fellowship. It's a birthday I'll never forget.

- My wife did this
No one has ever done anything like that for me before. I'm truly amazed at the beauty of my wife. She constantly reminds me of God's grace because of how undeserving I am to receive such a blessing. She put in the work weeks ago. When we stopped for the moment for her to greet everyone she said, "Knowing Junior, instead of receiving any type of gift(s) he would much rather be around the people he truly cares about. Thank you all for coming." I didn't say anything. I couldn't say anything. It was so clear that my wife loved me. I never had doubts about that but for her to go above and beyond the way she did was truly amazing.

I want to give a special thanks to my wife.

You've loved me well the moment you decided you wanted to be with me. I'm so deeply grateful at your daily work and sacrifice to serve our family. You are beautiful beyond measure. You are intelligent with precision. You are godly with a heart of worship. You could've been anything you wanted. And you wanted to be my wife and the mother of our children. You excel at it in ways I've lost count and even able to describe. Thank you again for this wonderful gift, the gift that will never be forgotten because it was from you. I love you (and I hope the party didn't cost too much).

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

It Was Another Day at the Gym. Until . . .

As I'm getting older I'm realizing more and more how sad the world truly is. You only have to follow the news or politics for about 20 minutes to realize that. As I'm finding the intrinsic value of being up on current events and political affairs I also find myself being weighed down with several hot topic issues. Sometimes I feel completely helpless with regards to truly impacting the world. I'm often left thinking, "Does my life really matter if I can't make an impact?" It's been depressing. I feel Christianity is losing and has lost cultural influence throughout the years and it only seems to be getting worse. I've even approached friends and mentors from church seeking how best to handling things.

Then yesterday happened. My normal routine is to go to the gym after work. Yesterday was no different. Once I arrived in the gym parking lot I realized I had absolutely no energy. I was down right exhausted and simply wanted to go home and take a nap. But I had this innate feeling I would regret it. So I dragged myself out of the car and begrudgingly grabbed my gym and started walking into the gym. It was "Leg Day" so it wasn't going to be an easy workout. My regular course of procedure commenced in the changing of my clothes, warming up, and wondering if I did the right thing by walking into the gym.

Afterwards, I began my workout and proceeded to greet several of the guys I bump into during that time at the gym. I greeted them by name and felt my acquaintances were usually high this day. I kept pushing through my workout and starting to gain more and more energy as I went. Finally, when I was done with my workout and started warming down I took a quick peek at the basketball courts to see who were playing. I ran into a couple of more acquaintances and we started chatting and talking about sports and different types of workouts.

Another individual approached us and joined the conservation. He and the person I was talking to started speaking about a mutual friend they had. This mutual friend just got out of jail and had some rough times. Both of them started saying how "thankful they were for God" then my ears perked up. I started listening more intently and they basically started sharing their testimony and how God saved them from a life of hardship by avoiding troubling situations and bad influences. They started preaching and I was the choir shouting "Amen!" All of us started nodding our heads like we were listening to Rap music. We were basking in the glory of God and what He saved us from. It was corporate worship at the basketball courts.

When I left the gym I couldn't help but kept thinking about that moment and the moments that led up to it. I walked into the gym discouraged about the state of the world and how I felt helpless to do anything about it. Then I greeted several people, people I have met over time by simply being at the gym consistently. I know their names and hear their stories and I realize there are "7,000 that have not bowed to Baal".

The fact that it was one of my better workouts was irrelevant. I was excited about meeting a couple of other brothers in Christ. And I look forward to hearing more about their story and hopefully get the opportunity to share that with others at the gym as well. No, I don't have to run for office or have a platform with thousands of people listening to make an impact. I've been able to build relationships naturally through being consistent over a long period of time. That's what being faithful is about; being consistent through long periods of time.

I was deeply encouraged by something so routine like going to the gym. It was an amazing reminder that it doesn't matter who we are or what kind of position we hold but who we have in Christ because He's the treasure we share and in the course of sharing that treasure we make an impact.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What College Kids Can do Now to help Prepare for a Successful Financial Future

I recently had the opportunity to do a quick write and offer some tips for colleges students regarding preparing them for a successful financial future. So I'll go ahead and post it here. I hope you find this helpful.


My name is Junior Jamreonvit. I've been a financial rep for 5 years now. I'm currently an independent broker/dealer at Capital Choice Financial Solutions. I've taken my Personal Finance classes at UCLA and currently hold my securities and insurance licenses. Finally, I am a Dave Ramsey Endorsed Local Provider for investing.

Addressing your topic, "What College Kids Can do Now to help Prepare for a Successful Financial Future":

- Have a Written Budget

You need to track your spending. You can either "tell your money where to go or wonder where it went." If you don't even know if you have a positive cash flow or not how are you ever going to get ahead with money? You need a budget. There are several apps you could download on your phone that could help you with this (e.g., YNAB - You Need A Budget). Be proactive at the beginning of each month have your categories down (e.g., expenses, food, etc) and know exactly where your money is going.

- Emergency Fund

This will be difficult for college students because you probably don't have a lot of money to spare to begin with but you need an emergency fund. Try and save anywhere between $300-$500 and put it in a savings account or money market. It's an account that is liquid so you can access it quickly. This money is for "emergencies" (e.g., car repair) because life happens. If you had a sudden car repair that required $250 but didn't have the money you would probably charge it on your credit card, which is probably charging you anywhere between 15-18%. If you had the cash you could save on the interest.

- Get Out of Debt Plan

If you're a college student you will probably have some form of debt (e.g., student loans, car payment, credit card, etc). Try and avoid debt when possible (look at the above example). Put all your debt on paper (this should be a part of your written budget) and line them up from smallest balance to the largest. If you could get extra work and make some extra or save some extra money somehow throw the extra into the smallest debt amount you have until it's gone then rollover that payment into the next debt. For example, if you had a $50 monthly payment on a credit card with a balance of $300 but you decided to pay $100 per month to pay it off quicker, once you pay off that credit card you rollover that $100 you just freed up into the next debt (e.g., car payment) in order to pay that off quicker. Dave Ramsey calls this the "Debt Snowball."

If you stick to these basic principles they don't change once you leave college. The numbers will change because you'll get a better paying job (hopefully) but if you stick to this plan you will have built into your habits financial success.