Digging in Deeper: Matthew 10:28-31

“Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

The horror genre has been popular on the big screen, the small screen, in video games, and even in person for a very long time. There’s just something about being scared that attracts an audience. People are drawn to the adrenaline rush that comes from being put into situations that leave us feeling just a little bit out of control without actually giving up control. The major currency of the horror genre is the startling moment. It’s that moment just as the door opens and the villain jumps out from his hiding place. The best entries in the genre, though, don’t rely only on those moments. They go beyond that to build a whole story world in which everything we think we can count on for safety and security has been stripped away and we are left on our own to battle some great nemesis. A recent horror/suspense series from HBO that is itself an adaptation of a horror-themed video game has so far proven to be great new addition to the genre. Let’s talk today about The Last of Us and how it intersects with the Gospel.

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Morning Musing: Isaiah 43:1

“Now this is what the Lord says – the one who created you, Jacob, and the one who formed you, Israel – ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

My Sunday school group is currently going through a series about fear and the role it should play in our lives. The very first lesson was all about our fear of the Lord. We are told over and over in the Scriptures to fear the Lord. Yet in passages like this one, we also find Him over and over again telling us to nor fear. Which is it? And what does any of this have to do with Advent? Let’s explore that together this morning.

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Morning Musing: Matthew 6:31-33

“So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will be eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What is the organizing principle of your life? If you are feeling particularly spiritual as you answer, you might say, “Jesus.” If you are feeling a bit more normal, though, you might be more inclined to admit it is something else. Perhaps there is a person (other than Jesus) on whom your life is centered. It could be a certain activity is the thing that drives everything else. Hopefully your life isn’t driven by an addiction of some kind. More likely than any of these things, though, is simply your desire to eat decent food, wear clothes, and sleep indoors. And that makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Those things are all basic needs everyone has. But what if there was another way to organize our lives that consistently put us in contact with what we need most of all? Let’s talk this morning about organizing our lives and making space for what matters most.

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Digging in Deeper: Psalms 34:4

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and rescued me from all my fears.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What do you do when you are afraid? I don’t think many people actually have a strategy for that. Fear isn’t exactly something we count on. As a result, we are far more likely to be reactive than proactive in those times. And, when we are being reactive, we don’t tend to make the best decisions. Some people shut down when they are afraid. They are functionally incapacitated until the fear passes. Others take the path of the ostrich, hiding their eyes from it and pretending nothing is wrong. Some get angry and lash out at those around them to cover up the fact that they are afraid. Still others handle it in more productive ways. Perhaps a better question here is how you get out of a fearful situation. David offers one option here that is worth considering. Let’s talk about what it is and why it works.

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Morning Musing: Psalms 118:6-7

“The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid. What can a mere mortal do to me? The Lord is my helper; therefore, I will look in triumph on those who hate me.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What is it that motivates you to courage? Is there anything in particular? Some people seem to have a natural bent toward courage. Some, not so much. But all of us have something we are willing to fight to protect. It may be something genuinely worth protecting, or we may have our priorities wildly out of balance, but we all have that thing. One of the great challenges of our life is to find that protective spirit, that willingness to put ourselves on the line for what we believe is right, harness it, and have it ready to call upon in a variety of different situations. What the psalmist offers us right here is something that can inspire courage in us no matter what our situation may be. Let’s talk about what it is and why it matters.

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