The Beginning of an Idea

This past Sunday morning was the first Sunday of Advent. With the season in mind, we kicked off a brand-new teaching series called, God with Us. For the next few weeks, we are going to take a look at this idea that Jesus was to be named Immanuel, which means, “God is with us.” Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll examine both the glorious and the humble aspects of this. Today, though, we’ll start with a look at where the idea came from in the first place. May this be the beginning of your preparing to receive Jesus as we move forward into this sweet, sweet season.

The Beginning of an Idea

One of the benefits of living in a culture steeped in nostalgia is that sometimes our forays into it can be pretty fun. One of the most classic sports movies when I was growing up was Disney’s The Mighty Ducks. It was one of those special movies that got everything just right. It certainly wasn’t going to win any awards, but it generated two sequels, both of which did reasonably well—especially once they left the theaters. More than that, the first film actually resulted in the naming of a new hockey team in the Los Angeles area that is still playing today: the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. I can’t think of another professional sports team that was named after a kids’ movie. Well, as Disney+ strives to attract subscribers by producing content intended for both kids and their parents who grew up in my generation, they are leaning pretty heavily on nostalgia to hook viewers and reel them in. One of the titles they have resurrected from the past in order to do this is none other than The Mighty Ducks. 

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Digging in Deeper: James 1:19-20

“My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever experienced the letdown of unmet expectations? I’m sure you have. We all do from time to time. Sometimes that’s our own fault because we placed too much hope in the wrong things. Sometimes it is the fault of someone else who sold us more than was available to buy. Oftentimes it’s a mixture of both. I recently experienced a theatrical letdown. My hopes were high for a great film, but it just didn’t deliver. This morning, we’re going to talk about the latest offering from Marvel Studios: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and why it just wasn’t what I expected. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, proceed with caution because I will include spoilers.

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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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Digging in Deeper: Matthew 22:37-40

“He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Confession time: I’m not much for trying new things. New things bring the possibility of failure, and I’m not much for failure. I’m more of a habit and routine guy. Once I find something that works – which, admittedly requires trying new things at least occasionally – you’re going to find me generally pretty difficult to break from it to try something else. Of course, new things also bring the possibility of experiencing success you wouldn’t otherwise experience. On the whole, it can pay big to step out and try something new. Let’s talk this morning about the latest new thing from Marvel Studios: She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.

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Digging in Deeper: Proverbs 10:18

“Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

When Paul was offering the Thessalonian believers encouragement when they were struggling with what to think about believing loved ones who had died before Jesus could return, he opened his thoughts to them by saying this: “We do not want you to be uninformed brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” His point, in a nutshell, is that he wanted these followers of Jesus to grieve like followers of Jesus and not as those who aren’t followers of Jesus. Grieving without hope is not a pretty experience. What’s more, people who grieve without hope know it isn’t pretty. But they don’t know what to do with it. As a result, they tell stories to make themselves feel better. Yet all of our stories are echoes of God’s great story, which means that the world’s stories about grieving often wind up coming close to the truth. In the latest Thor movie, Thor: Love and Thunder, Marvel offers us yet another example of the truth of this observation. I finally got to see it. Here are my thoughts…and by the way, if you haven’t seen it yet, I’m going to fill this with spoilers, so read at your own risk.

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