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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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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Morning Musing: Hebrews 9:11-12

“But Christ has appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), he entered the most holy place once for all time, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Last time, we talked about the fact taht the old covenant ministry, rooted as it was in the law, never really accomplished what we most needed it to accomplish. We’ll address that point a great deal more directly in a couple of weeks, Lord willing, as we get into chapter 10. That revelation, though, prompts a rather nagging question: How can we get our hands on what we most need? The author of Hebrews begins to answer that question here. Our next several conversations are going to be all about how the new covenant was made including, next week, a three-part look at specifically why it is better than the old. And rather than taking it in big sections like we bit off last week, I’m going to do my best to break it down into smaller bits. Let’s talk about the new covenant God made with us in Christ and how it came to be.

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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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Digging in Deeper: 2 Corinthians 7:8-10

“For even if I grieved you with my letter, I don’t regret it. And if I regretted it – since I saw that the letter grieved you, yet only for a while – I now rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

In a world without God, we are haunted by death. Let me be more specific: In a world without Christ, we are haunted by death. In his letter to the Thessalonian believers, the apostle Paul wrote encouraging them to grieve for their lost loved ones who died in Christ like the people of faith they were and not as those who had no hope. There is indeed a difference between the two. And if last year’s hit Disney+ series, Wandavision explored the process of grieving (something I wrote about here), this year’s latest Marvel movie, Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, helps to highlight the difference. Absent time to go see it in the theaters, the film final released on Disney+ this week, I have watched it from start to finish, and am at last ready to offer up some thoughts. If you haven’t seen the movie, this review is going to be full of spoilers, so proceed with caution. If you’ve already seen it, here’s what I think.

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