Morning Musing: Genesis 1:27-28

“So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Last week I told you that I would be pursuing three different occasional series through the beginning of this year. The first I introduced you to was a walkthrough the prophetic record of Amos. The third will be focused on managing the resources God has put within our sphere of influence well. Today, I want to introduce you to the second one. For the next several weeks, we are going to be taking a look at several different places in the Scriptures to get a better sense of God’s heart for the weak, vulnerable, oppressed, and rejected members of society. These folks come in many different forms, but every culture has them. Very often they are the ones who weren’t born there, but have arrived later in life for a variety of reasons. We are going to examine several passages throughout the Scriptures that help us better understand God’s passion for them. For this first part, we are going to look at the passage that ultimately grounds God’s compassion and love for all people. We’ve seen this one before, of course, but never from quite this angle. Let’s take a look.

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Morning Musing: Matthew 6:1

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

This past Friday we talked about righteousness. I shared some of the thoughts I had first shared with our Bible study group here a couple of days before. The conclusion then was that righteousness is a status that is given to us by Christ when we place our faith in Him. We cannot achieve it on our own, and there is nothing we can do toward that end – and especially no religious deeds – that will change that. Well, if religious deeds can’t move us in the direction of righteousness, why bother doing them? More than that, why bother with religion in the first place? Who needs the Christian religion or any other religion when what we really need is just a relationship with Jesus? This morning, let me share a few more thoughts on the purpose and value of religion in light of the truth about righteousness.

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Morning Musing: 2 Timothy 4:3-4

“For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We live in a day when two competing trends are holding sway in our storytelling. The first is the fact that we love stories with happy endings. We want heroes to win and bad guys to lose. The second trend is our belief that there really aren’t any bad guys. In order to prove this, as we have made stories about all the heroes, film studios hoping to make some more money have started taking characters who were villains and attempting to rehabilitate them by having them star in stories as the sort of good guys. A recent and highly anticipated film on Disney+ not only puts these trends on display, but also reveals how silly this trend is. Let’s talk today about Hocus Pocus 2 and Disney’s loss of any kind of a meaningful moral vision.

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Morning Musing: Matthew 28:19-20

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

The day is almost here. We’ve been waiting for it for what seems like ages. It almost seemed like it was never going to arrive. Three more sleeps and we will wake up to all of the energy and excitement of…the first day of school (imagine loud cheers and applause in the background). What? Did you think I was talking about Christmas morning? Well, minus the whole Jesus thing, the first day of school is kind of like Christmas morning for parents. Don’t get me wrong: I love my boys. But the consistency the school schedule brings back to our lives is awfully nice. And, I know we’ll be counting down to the end of school with the same energy and excitement on the other side of the school year, but for now, we’re just going to enjoy this moment to the fullest. The start of school in a couple of days, though, got me thinking this morning. This is one of the times of the year the church can really shine. Let’s talk about why.

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Digging in Deeper: Philippians 2:4

“Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

In a famous children’s story whose original form and meaning makes absolutely no sense in our modern culture, Peter Pan and the Lost Boys lived their lives in the blissful world of Neverland where they had an endless stream of adventures uniquely suited to tickle the fancies of young boys which worked out just fine because they never grew up. In Neverland you remained locked in childhood forever. The whole thing is made to sound terribly fun and romantic; something that everyone should want for themselves. By the time you reach the end of the story, though, you are left with the sense that in spite of Peter’s seemingly unending bliss, there is something he’s missing out on that would be an even grander adventure than he’s known before: growing up. In the culture of its day, the story was a reminder that while childhood is a wonderful time, it was not only necessary but good to grow up and experience the wonders of the world waiting on us there. Somewhere along the way, though, that final moral was lost from the story, and we embraced the supposed virtue of youth with gusto and have made living in a perpetual state of adolescence a goal worth achieving. I say all of that to make sense of the observation that the dream of Peter Pan is alive and well. We are living in a day when a great many of the movies being made are an attempt by filmmakers and moviegoers alike to relive their childhood adventures. Along the way, the younger members of Gen X and the older Millennials are inviting their kids into their adventures. I got to experience a taste of this last night as I watched the latest Sonic the Hedgehog movie with my boys. Let’s talk for a few minutes this morning about what I saw and heard.

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