Read an Excerpt
NO CAPE REQUIRED
52 WAYS TO UNLEASH YOUR INNER HERO
By KRISTEN PARRISH
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2013 Kristen Parrish
All rights reserved.
The way of the just is uprightness.
It was not America's finest hour. The year was 1938; the nation was still stuck in the economic malaise following the Great Depression. Putting food on the table was tops on our minds, and those with decent jobs were among the lucky ones. Organized crime was in its heyday—justice was in short supply. To make matters even more ominous, another world war was hovering at the door and threatening to involve the nation again.
Into this depressing environment stepped—or was it flew?—a hero, someone who struck the chords of patriotism and ignited something in our hearts. Two men, artist Joe Shuster and writer Jerry Siegel, gave America Superman, a red, white, and blue crime fighter, right when we needed him most.
From that time through today, DC Comics' Superman has reigned supreme among our most beloved superheroes. His motto: "Truth, justice and the American way." It is the second of these honorable objectives that we saw our superhero pursue most actively in 1978's Superman: The Movie. After uttering these iconic words to Lois Lane during an interview, Superman busied himself rendering justice as he turned over to police a cat burglar escaping with jewelry, halted mobsters running away in a boat with their loot after a shootout, and thwarted the evil Lex Luthor's plot to annihilate California.
Our world today is actually very similar to that of 1938, with crime and poverty rampant, and we're no less in need of a hero to bring justice. Without a Superman in sight, though, it falls on each of us to bring justice to our little corner of the world. God says His way is uprightness (Isa. 26:7), and He is counting on us to do our part. As Christians we are to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Mic. 6:8). God laid it out so simply for us. It's certainly not hard to find people who could use our help. Defend the defenseless; help the oppressed; speak up for the weak! It's our job.
Lord, I may not be wealthy or powerful, but in Your will I, too, can work wonders. Please show me where I can bring justice to the people around me or provide support to those who do. Amen.
Log on to the website of the Fraternal Order of Police (www.fop.net) or your local police department's website and see what charities they are working with that you may want to support.
Make cookies for someone involved in civilian public safety—cops on the beat or 911 operators—just to let them know you appreciate what they do. If you have children, have them include a note or picture as appropriate for their age.
Get involved with the Neighborhood Watch group in your neighborhood or subdivision.
Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk, Star Trek
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.
What's the most famous friendship in the history of pop culture? My money is on Captain James T. Kirk and his Vulcan first officer, Mr. Spock, from Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek. Where the rugged captain played from his gut, often finding unique solutions to dangerous encounters, Spock was his ever-logical and supremely faithful counterpart. Whether they were facing Romulans or Klingons or nemeses like Khan Noonien Singh, together they made a whole. And their relationship has endured since the original television show premiered in 1966.
It is no small thing when in 1982's movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Mr. Spock faces his final moments separated from his friend by a clear wall. How does he end up stranded and alone? The wounded Enterprise is desperately trying to escape an exploding nebula, but without warp speed, they'll never make it. Spock quietly disappears from the bridge and descends to the engine room, where he restores the warp drive, knowing the leaking radiation will be fatal to him.
With the ship out of danger, now-Admiral Kirk rushes down to his friend but cannot even hold him as he dies, because of the radiation that has flooded the engine room.
"Spock!" Kirk cries.
"The ship ... out of danger?" asks his friend.
"Don't grieve, Admiral," Spock says weakly. "It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh—"
"—the needs of the few," supplies Kirk.
"Or the one ... I have been, and always shall be, your friend." Spock holds up his hand in the iconic Vulcan salute. "Live long and prosper."
Spock's dying statements to his friend mirror those found in Scripture. It is essentially the same message Jesus gave us in John 15:12–13, where He commanded us to love one another "as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends."
Friendship is a gift that God gives to us, just as He gave it to David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 18:1: "And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul" (KJV). These men were friends to the end, and after Jonathan was killed in battle, David took his friend's son into his household to raise as his own child.
Is your life rich with friendships? If you are one of the luckiest of us, you may have a friend whom you love as your own soul. Be sure to nurture that relationship and consider yourself a blessed person.
Dear Lord, thank You for friends. Help me appreciate them and not take them for granted. Show me who to offer my friendship. Amen.
Is there someone new in your community? Reach out the hand of friendship and welcome her or him.
Do you have old friendships you've allowed to wither away for lack of time? Reenergize them with a quick phone call, a Facebook message, or an e-mail, letting them know you're thinking about them.
Is there someone in your church or elsewhere in your daily life who doesn't have many friends because he or she is socially awkward or shy? Offer your friendship, and you may be surprised what a delight you are to that person.
Hope in Others
Belle, Beauty and the Beast
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
"I'm about ready to give up on this hunk of junk!" hollers Belle's father, kicking the mechanical invention he'd been working on.
"You always say that," replies Belle.
"I mean it, this time. I'll never get this boneheaded contraption to work."
"Yes, you will," she soothes. "And you'll win first prize at the fair tomorrow ... and become a world-famous inventor!"
"You really believe that?"
"I always have."
As we see in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, the beautiful and bookish Belle never gives up hope in those she loves. It's the theme on which her whole story turns, but, just like her father, she faces a situation in which it would have been easier to give up. Instead, she pushes through the difficulty and finds a way to hope in the most unlikely person of all.
Belle is imprisoned in the Beast's castle, held hostage for her father's freedom. Years before, a dark spell had been cast which transformed the prince into a monster and the castle into a dark and scary hold. Only true love can break the spell, and it doesn't look very likely that love will sprout between the young woman and the disagreeable Beast.
She determines to escape from the castle into the forest. Though daring, the move is foolish. As wolves close in for an attack, who rescues Belle at the risk of his own life? The Beast!
As the Beast's heart opens to Belle, he wants to give her something that would reach hers. He offers his library to her—a huge, wonderful room full to the ceiling with all the books she could dream of.
"There's something sweet about him," Belle muses in one song, wondering why she hadn't seen it in him before. It is a spark. She is beginning to hope in the Beast.
When the two discover her father is sick and alone, lost and looking for Belle, the Beast loves her enough to set her free to find her father. That's when she discovers that the townspeople, led by the evil Gaston, are setting out to kill the Beast.
"I know he looks vicious," she tries to assure them, "but he's really kind and gentle. He's my friend."
Urged on by Gaston, they ignore Belle and rush to the castle, where Gaston attacks the Beast and stabs him.
"No, no!" cries Belle as she finds the wounded and dying Beast. "Please! Please! Please don't leave me! I love you!"
Those are literally the magic words. The spell is broken, turning the Beast into a handsome prince, restoring the dark castle to its former bright, lustrous beauty—all because Belle wouldn't give up her hard-won hope in the Beast.
Like Belle, you have the power to turn darkness to light. In fact, it only takes the same words Belle used: "I love you." Loving someone breeds hope not only in your heart but in the other person's heart as well. And having love and consideration for others is something we are called to do. As we are loved by our heavenly Savior, Hebrews 10:24 tells us to "consider one another in order to stir up love and good works."
As you go about your day, consider in whom you might stir up hope and love with a few magic words of your own.
Dear Jesus, You have told us to love one another. Please show me if there's someone in my life who especially needs to see my love and hope today. Let me help stir up hope in his or her heart. Amen.
Someone in your life needs you to have hope for him or her. Pray for that person and let him know your heart is full of hope for him and for what's going on in his life.
Write notes of encouragement for those closest to you when they're going through tough times. Let them know you have hope for their situation and their future.
Mr. Miyagi, The Karate Kid
My son, pay attention to my wisdom; Lend your ear to my understanding, That you may preserve discretion, And your lips may keep knowledge.
Daniel LaRusso is having the worst week of his life. Newly arrived in California from New Jersey, the teenager finds himself experiencing the wrath of Johnny, a malicious young man who has a black belt and a bad attitude. At the beach Daniel meets an attractive young woman named Ali who recently dumped Johnny, and Johnny doesn't appreciate this newcomer infringing on "his" territory. Daniel is repeatedly roughed up by Johnny and his gang, all black belts at a local karate school.
But what is a skinny kid from Jersey to do? He needs help, and he finds it in the unlikely person of Mr. Miyagi, an old man who is the groundskeeper for the apartment complex where Daniel and his mother live. Originally from Okinawa, Mr. Miyagi learned karate from his father, and he reluctantly agrees to take on Daniel as a pupil. He is concerned, however, that Daniel's main reason for wanting to learn karate is revenge. "You look for revenge that way, start by digging two graves," says Mr. Miyagi in accented English. "Fighting always last answer to problem."
Nevertheless, the training begins, but not in the way Daniel expected. First Mr. Miyagi has Daniel wax his antique car collection. "Wax on, right hand. Wax off, left hand. Wax on, wax off." The next lesson, he has him sand his wooden floor. "Right circle, left circle. Breathe in, breathe out." Finally he has him paint his fence: "All in wrist. Wrist up. Wrist down." All of this frustrates Daniel to no end, but he is astounded when he realizes Mr. Miyagi has been training him all along in the basic moves of karate.
Mr. Miyagi finds an honorable way for Daniel to fight Johnny—at a karate tournament. And despite the fact that Johnny fights dirty and injures Daniel's leg, Daniel wins, using a midair kicking jump, Mr. Miyagi's "Crane" technique.
Many of us have had a Mr. Miyagi in our lives, and although we may not have faced off against someone in a karate tournament, our direction has been completely transformed by someone who took the time to invest in us. If you are a teenager or an adult, you have the opportunity to be someone's Mr. Miyagi. Have you ever considered mentoring a student at a local school? This one-on-one time can be as short as an hour a week and yet make an indelible impression on a youngster. Or perhaps you're called to something that takes a bigger commitment, like a Big Brother or Big Sister program. If you feel this tug toward mentoring, it may be God's way of saying, "Wax on, wax off," and preparing your heart for something new.
Dear Father, if You would have me mentor someone, please speak clearly to my heart and direct me in the path You would have me go. Amen.
Pray about becoming a mentor and see if God is pointing you in this direction.
Start right where you are. You can take a more intentional mentoring role right in your home with your own kids or younger siblings, or maybe someone from church or school.
If you think mentoring is for you, call a local school or the Boys & Girls Club and see if they have a mentoring program suited to your skills that you could take part in.
Excerpted from NO CAPE REQUIRED by KRISTEN PARRISH. Copyright © 2013 Kristen Parrish. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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