Digging in Deeper: 1 Peter 4:14-17

Thanks for coming back with me this week. We had a terrific time away and now I’m ready to hit the ground running.

“If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. But if anyone suffers as a Chrisitan, let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God in having that name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What would you do if you suddenly discovered that your parents are not really your parents? I think we can safely say at the very least that this would be a pretty major shock to your system. Let’s add one more layer to this, though: What if your discovery and shock were shared by your parents? A recent documentary film on Netflix pursues this very question in a true crime story that didn’t even have to be designed to shock and disturb. The story Our Father tells does those two things on its own. Yet the story itself isn’t the thing that most got my attention and sparked my writing this morning. That prize goes to the particular angle the director chose to take with the storytelling. It offers a good reminder of where the culture is when it comes to the church and why getting the life of Christ right is so important for followers of Jesus.

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Digging in Deeper: Galatians 6:2

“Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We are moving into the summer season and that means one thing more than any other: movies. Summer is the season for blockbusters. All the biggest, most fun, most exciting films seem to come out in the summer. The Top Gun sequel started things off this past weekend to great acclaim. The third installment in the Jurassic World franchise (which is really just a continuation of the Jurassic Park franchise) is next week. The fourth addition to Marvel’s Thor storyline is next month. Lots and lots to see. Perhaps the only thing you can’t see during the summer anymore are big budget original stories. That’s a criticism for another time. In addition to all of this, though, with the rise of digital streaming, the small screen is being treated to more and more must-see fare as well. Disney+ has just started its Obi-Wan series and will premier its Ms. Marvel series next week. But what is perhaps the summer’s number one show to stream is Netflix’s fourth season of Stranger Things. With Part 1 out now (which I haven’t quite watched in its totality), and Part 2 coming in July, let’s take a few minutes today and reflect on a powerful theme that has already made itself clear in the series.

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Digging in Deeper: Matthew 12:33

“Either make the tree good and its fruit will be good, or make the tree bad and its fruit will be bad; for a tree will be known by its fruit.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

It’s hard sometimes to know who people really are. In our digital world, we have become incredibly adept at hiding ourselves. Our disguises may not be elaborate, but they don’t have to be. Superman fooled everyone with a pair of glasses. We just want people to think the best of us whether we deserve it or not. Given this, how can we really know who the people around us are? Jesus told us: A tree is eventually known by its fruits. Sometimes, though, the world tells us that isn’t really true. A recent show from Netflix tries this very thing. The result is something that could be great, but settles for just being good. Let’s talk today about Sweet Magnolias.

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Digging in Deeper: Matthew 5:43-47

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what are you doing out of the ordinary?” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Two things for you this morning right out of the gate. First, an update, then a more normal introduction. Here’s the update: This will not be yesterday’s sermon this morning. Yesterday we had a special service called Celebrate Sunday. We took the morning to delight in what God has been doing in and through our community over past year. We had special guests and a fantastic testimony from some of our newer members, and generally a lot of fun. I shared many of the things God has done in the last year rather than giving a formal sermon. Thus no sermon to post here. But, it would be worth your time to go and watch the service for the stories alone. You can do that on our YouTube channel here.

Just because I don’t have a sermon, though, doesn’t mean I don’t have anything for you this morning. Normally I have been taking Fridays to engage on various cultural happenings (especially from the big and small screen) and where they intersect with the Scriptures. And, when I’m watching a whole season of a particular series, I’ll usually wait until the end of the season to reflect on the whole thing. But as I’ve been watching the latest season of Cobra Kai on Netflix, I can’t help but offer some observations after watching episode 4 last night. Cobra Kai, of course, is a continuing of the story of the classic movie, Karate Kid, into the modern day. In the original film and the third of the series, the good guys and the bad guys were clear. Mr. Miyagi and his style of karate are good, John Kreese and his Cobra Kai dojo are bad. In the new series, especially as the story has developed, things are less clear than that. But rather than this being a mere modern, relativistic, woke attempt to obscure moral lines or to otherwise pretend they don’t exist, season 4 is so far displaying real life through a lens that, if not strictly Gospel-oriented, is certainly shaped by it. Let’s talk this morning about Cobra Kai and loving our enemies.

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Morning Musing: 1 Thessalonians 4:13

“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.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Last week we talked about the Netflix series, Virgin River. I don’t usually come back to talk about the same series so soon after hitting it once, but as I watched the penultimate episode of season three last night, I was bothered enough I couldn’t ignore it. And I was going to wait until tomorrow like I usually do, but events in my own life lined up such that today is the right day for it. We’ll go back to Mark tomorrow instead. Today, we need to talk about a funeral.

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