Digging in Deeper: Matthew 5:43-44

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I was a cartoon fanatic when I was a kid. I still love good, animated movies and TV shows. There were a few cartoons growing up, though, that were my all-time favorites. I could (and did) go back and watch episodes and storylines again and again and again. One of these was the original X-Men cartoon series. The Dark Phoenix and Apocalypse storylines in particular I must have watched a dozen times apiece. I have been most excited recently about the news of Disney+ doing a reboot of the series picking up right where the original left off. Another favorite was Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. From the original Batman the Animated Series to the more recent Young Justice, I can’t think of a cartoon universe that has as many different series that all draw on the same characters. While Marvel may be the king of live action, DC owns the animation wars. But the series that is still my favorite of all time was Spider-Man. There’s just something about Spider-Man that makes everyone a fan. As he has been taken from the small screen to the big screen, I’ve been there for all of his adventures. So, when the latest movie came out just before Christmas, my family made our first trip to the movie theater since before Covid started. Let’s talk about why Spider-Man: No Way Home was so good.

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Digging in Deeper: Matthew 5:43-47

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what are you doing out of the ordinary?” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Two things for you this morning right out of the gate. First, an update, then a more normal introduction. Here’s the update: This will not be yesterday’s sermon this morning. Yesterday we had a special service called Celebrate Sunday. We took the morning to delight in what God has been doing in and through our community over past year. We had special guests and a fantastic testimony from some of our newer members, and generally a lot of fun. I shared many of the things God has done in the last year rather than giving a formal sermon. Thus no sermon to post here. But, it would be worth your time to go and watch the service for the stories alone. You can do that on our YouTube channel here.

Just because I don’t have a sermon, though, doesn’t mean I don’t have anything for you this morning. Normally I have been taking Fridays to engage on various cultural happenings (especially from the big and small screen) and where they intersect with the Scriptures. And, when I’m watching a whole season of a particular series, I’ll usually wait until the end of the season to reflect on the whole thing. But as I’ve been watching the latest season of Cobra Kai on Netflix, I can’t help but offer some observations after watching episode 4 last night. Cobra Kai, of course, is a continuing of the story of the classic movie, Karate Kid, into the modern day. In the original film and the third of the series, the good guys and the bad guys were clear. Mr. Miyagi and his style of karate are good, John Kreese and his Cobra Kai dojo are bad. In the new series, especially as the story has developed, things are less clear than that. But rather than this being a mere modern, relativistic, woke attempt to obscure moral lines or to otherwise pretend they don’t exist, season 4 is so far displaying real life through a lens that, if not strictly Gospel-oriented, is certainly shaped by it. Let’s talk this morning about Cobra Kai and loving our enemies.

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Big Things from Small Places

This week we finally wrap up our Advent – and now Christmas – teaching series, The World Turned Upside Down. All this month we have been taking a journey through Luke’s telling of the story of the birth of Jesus. It has been a powerful journey, and there have been several new things to learn from these old and familiar stories. This week is no different. While the stories of Jesus’ birth and other heroes of the faith are flashy and impressive, we live most of our lives in the mundane. The trick is: so did they. Their ability to have the giant impact they had came out of their faithfulness in these mundane moments. Let’s dig in and talk about it together. As one more note, this will be the only post for this week. I’m taking this week off to spend extra time with my family. I look forward to being back together with you again in the New Year.

Big Things from Small Places

Have you noticed lately how few truly new television shows there are? The same thing goes with movies. Now, don’t get me wrong, many of the remakes and relaunches and revivals they have done have been terrific. Nostalgia is a terrible god to worship, but it makes for some really fun media content to enjoy. Season 4 of Cobra Kai comes out this week on Netflix and I am about as excited as I can be for that one. If you haven’t seen it, it’s basically a modern day continuation of the Karate Kid story from the super popular 1980s film franchise. Now, as a bit of a warning before you go check it out if you haven’t, the language of the series is pretty awful, but the redemption element of the story and the way the writers keep weaving in Gospel concepts has been pretty cool to see. 

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