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.

Read the rest…

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.

Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Matthew 5:8

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever seen a movie that didn’t know what it was trying to be? That can be a frustrating experience. You want to enjoy the film, but you only want to enjoy one film, not three or four at the same time. Writing a story (or much of anything for that matter) can be tough. I can speak to this rather personally as I write a few thousand words every week. Not many of those words are for the purpose of telling a story, but writing a sermon requires the same kind of discipline. Too many potentially good sermons have fallen victim to the curse of not knowing what they are trying to be. The preacher starts out making one point, but then just can’t quite restrain himself from making two or three others. The jumbled mess that results from this may feel very inspiring in a moment, but doesn’t often stick beyond that. I recently finished watching a movie that suffers from this very thing. It’s too bad too, because I really wanted it to be good. Let’s talk this morning about the latest offering from the wizarding world of Harry Potter: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Secrets of Dumbledore.

Continue reading “Digging in Deeper: Matthew 5:8”

Digging in Deeper: Philippians 2:4

“Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

In a famous children’s story whose original form and meaning makes absolutely no sense in our modern culture, Peter Pan and the Lost Boys lived their lives in the blissful world of Neverland where they had an endless stream of adventures uniquely suited to tickle the fancies of young boys which worked out just fine because they never grew up. In Neverland you remained locked in childhood forever. The whole thing is made to sound terribly fun and romantic; something that everyone should want for themselves. By the time you reach the end of the story, though, you are left with the sense that in spite of Peter’s seemingly unending bliss, there is something he’s missing out on that would be an even grander adventure than he’s known before: growing up. In the culture of its day, the story was a reminder that while childhood is a wonderful time, it was not only necessary but good to grow up and experience the wonders of the world waiting on us there. Somewhere along the way, though, that final moral was lost from the story, and we embraced the supposed virtue of youth with gusto and have made living in a perpetual state of adolescence a goal worth achieving. I say all of that to make sense of the observation that the dream of Peter Pan is alive and well. We are living in a day when a great many of the movies being made are an attempt by filmmakers and moviegoers alike to relive their childhood adventures. Along the way, the younger members of Gen X and the older Millennials are inviting their kids into their adventures. I got to experience a taste of this last night as I watched the latest Sonic the Hedgehog movie with my boys. Let’s talk for a few minutes this morning about what I saw and heard.

Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Isaiah 9:6

“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What kind of a Savior do you want? Given that a Savior has already come, that may seem like a somewhat irrelevant question. After all, if the Savior has indeed come, the kind of Savior you want is a moot point. You get the Savior that is. But it is perhaps not so irrelevant a question as you might imagine. The thing or person we imagine will save us tends to become the object of our worship. The reason that matters is we gradually become like what we worship. I’m thinking about this today because I recently finished watching the latest science fiction film, Dune. Now, as a disclaimer, I haven’t read the book (although it is on my shelf and on my list). That simply means I’m pretty new to the story. I’ve seen most of the 1984 version of the movie, but don’t remember it. That being said, I know there’s a second movie coming eventually so there’s more story to come. Still, the idea very obviously driving the story so far is that the main character, Paul, is believed to be a messiah figure by many people. And the kind of messiah they believe him to be affects who they become. This morning let’s talk about the kind of things we want to save us, the kind of Messiah we have, and why this all matters so much.

Read the rest…