Morning Musing: Matthew 5:14-16

“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of the strangest amusement park rides I’ve ever been on was at Fuji-Q Highland in Japan. The park at the base of the famous Mount Fuji is home to what was once the tallest, fastest roller coaster in the world, Fujiyama (which I rode, but that’s another story). For this ride…attraction, really…you sit down in a room that looks like an old, run-down barn, in a high-backed chair up against a wall with a little ledge in front of you. On the ledge is a pair of headphones. When the experience begins, you put on the headphones and the room goes completely pitch black. From there, a sound track plays and the floor vibrates with what sounds like a person being horribly beaten by a torturer of some kind. At the end of the recording, a sinister voice says, “You’re next,” in Japanese (my host family translated for me afterwards). Now, if you take the headphones off, all you hear is a roomful of actual screaming people, unnerved by the sounds, the vibrations, and the lack of light. And really, that’s the key to the ride: the darkness. Light is a powerful thing. It is far more powerful than we normally imagine it to be. And in a world awash in darkness, it is something Jesus’ followers have been called to be. Let’s talk about it.

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Morning Musing: Matthew 6:7-8

“When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

This week we are talking about prayer. Specifically, we are looking at some of Jesus’ thoughts on prayer from the Sermon on the Mount. When He starts talking about prayer in the middle of His sermon, His first comments are focused on what not to do. After that He shifts gears to giving us an example to follow in our own praying. Yesterday we looked at the first example of what not to do. Specifically, we are not to use prayer as a means of self-advancement. Prayer is about building and developing our relationship with Jesus. Anything less and it won’t do us any good. This morning, let’s take a look at His second caution. If His first caution was focused on why we pray, this one focuses more on the how.

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Morning Musing: Matthew 16:24-25

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Christianity is a religion of paradoxes. It is a worldview filled with ideas that seem on their face to not make any sense. We claim things as true that a little bit of thought suggests aren’t even remotely true. A little more thought, though, reveals them to be firmly grounded in reality after all. As we move this morning to another lie the world tells us, let’s take a look at some of these paradoxes, starting with this one.

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Digging in Deeper: Matthew 10:29-31

“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 wroth more than many sparrows.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What would happen if someone knew everything? I mean everything. Every decision you make; every word you speak; all known completely before you do them. What would that mean for your life? Would you really have any free will? Or would you simply be doing what this person wanted you to do? This week the latest Marvel Disney+ series, Loki came to an end. As has become the case for nearly all of their work, the show’s creators invited viewers into Marvel’s fantastically impossible world of superheroes and villains, of incredible technology and magic (but I repeat myself), and now of time travel and multiple realities. The story the comics giant has been telling for 13 years was not just continued, but launched in a whole new universe of directions. It personally left me as excited as I can be for what comes next. But as is equally true for nearly all of their content, it invited viewers to consider some of the big questions of life. Specifically, what would it mean for our lives if there was someone who was truly sovereign over them? This morning, let’s talk about Loki and how we as Christians should think about the questions it asked. By the way, this conversation will be filled with spoilers for the last episode, so if you plan on watching it, go do that first.

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Digging in Deeper: Matthew 19:30

“But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We live in a day when everything old is being made new again. Now, on the one hand, this isn’t such a good thing. For instance, it is a symptom of our culture’s decadence. We aren’t creating truly new stories anymore. When cultures stop telling new stories, that’s a signal they aren’t really looking or thinking toward the future any longer, but living just for today. That’s not a good place for a culture to be because it is much more likely to be caught flatfooted and overwhelmed by unexpected challenges. Another example of not quite the same significance: mullets are back. And in case this isn’t clear: They look just as ridiculous now as they did on their first appearance. On the other hand, though, this trend does provide some pleasant trips into nostalgia. One of the most pleasant of these I have experienced in a long time just finished its run last Friday. As promised a couple of weeks ago, here is my review of the Disney+ series, Mighty Ducks: Game Changers.

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