Harry Potter starts his story as an unwanted nephew living in a storage space under his abusive family's stairs. He ends up the most famous, respected, and powerful wizard in the world. Aladdin begins as a street rat who's gotta steal to eat and gotta eat to live while Jafar is the second most powerful man in Agraba using the Sultan as his puppet. By the end of the tale, Jafar is imprisoned and destined for servitude but Aladdin gets the girl and will one day be the ruler of the kingdom. We love a good flip-flop in a story. One story in the Bible is absolutely filled with them.
*Warning: Minor spoilers below (Very minor)*
Chances are you haven't seen John Carter. There was a lot of hype and many trailers building up the latest sci-fi movie. But sadly, very few people were lured into the theaters to watch the man on Mars. In fact, its been reported that Disney expects to lose $250 million dollars on the movie!!! As a movie, I thought it was pretty good and entertaining. However, a lot of the women are scantily clothed so depending on your maturity and weaknesses in that area, you may want just want to avoid seeing it.
*I've decided to move Theology Thursday to Theology Tuesday (or maybe Tough Tuesday...). Thursdays have become a more and more busy day for me lately with meetings and weekend preparations. Tuesdays are less packed and it will be easier to tackle the tough questions then. So, Proving God Exists Part 6 will be up on Tuesday.*
I was reading a bit in Colossians today when an old verse struck me in a new way.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men... -- Colossians 3:23
My Great Aunt Mona passed away last weekend. Death is usually such a sad thing and often it can be tragic. But the passing of Aunt Mona was different. Mona was 92 years young. She was always out and about, making phone calls, and was even driving until a few months ago! She was much loved with family that adored her and many who were blessed by her life. She went peacefully in her sleep.
Just knowing those things makes her death more sweet than sad. Our memories are of a healthy, strong, and loving woman. There was no pain. She really lived a full life.
But what really turns this time of loss into a time of celebration is her faith. Mona didn't just go to church, she knew God. She was a woman of prayer. She spoke often of God and the Bible. She knew where she was going when she died because she had trusted Jesus Christ as her Savior. Mona is not dead. She is alive and well with her Heavenly Father. She has been separated from us, but she has been united with Christ.
Have you been watching Steven Spielberg's new masterpiece? If you catch Terra Nova on Fox, you're in for breathtaking nature scenes, futuristic technology, and, best of all, dinosaur-packed action!
Enough Sci-Fi, did you know the Bible talks about a Terra Nova?
Even if you haven't been watching America's Got Talent, you've probably at least seen a youtube clip or heard talk about the Frank Sinatra singer with dreadlocks. Just a few weeks ago, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. went from being a full time car washer with a failing music career to nationally famous with a hot new gig in Vegas. I'll be honest, he wasn't my first choice on the show this season. I was rooting for the Silhouettes at the end there. But I still find his victory heart warming. Don't you?
Its Monday again. This post will be more of a mix of my own commentary and thoughts than a devotional. If you like that sort of thing, then dig in. If not, normal devotionals start again tomorrow.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
In the previous verses, Paul identifies himself and then prays for a blessing for the saints in Ephesus, namely that they would receive peace and grace from God. Here, instead of praying for a blessing, He declares "blessed be God". He isn't praying a blessing over God, He is saying that God is blessed. The word for "blessed" here is "eulogetos" which can also be translated "praised". He is saying that God is praised and blessed. This is a mini declaration of worship from Paul who is honoring God with his words.
Its interesting where the definite article comes in that sentence. (Definite article = "the"). It doesn't say "Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Instead, it says "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." With this sentence construction, it implies that the Person we are talking about here is not only the Father of Jesus Christ but also the God of Jesus Christ. There is plenty of biblical support for the Trinity and we know that Jesus is the second member of the Trinity and therefore He is very God. But what we see here is that even though Jesus is equal in power, authority, eternality, glory, creativity, knowledge, and every way with the Father, He submits to the Father. This is a really big truth tucked away in this little positioning of the word "the." This fact that an equal can submit to an equal will come up later in Ephesians in regards to marriage, work, and family.
When you speak of God, do you bless and praise Him? Do you make sure to say something wonderful about Him or just toss His name out carelessly?
As a youth pastor, I work with a lot of kids and teens. When I notice a problem or fault or mistake of one of the kids, there are different ways to approach the problem. You can just tell the kid what they did wrong and how to fix it. You can just ignore it and let it slide. One tactic I like is, for lack of a better title, the Nudge Method.
The Nudge Method is when you ask key questions or say wise things that will help the child to recognize his own mistake and develop a solution by himself. Last week, a teen came to church very tired and asked for prayer in staying awake during the service. I started the Nudge Method by asking, "What time did you go to sleep last night?" He responded that he had no idea. I asked, "Did you go to sleep at 7 PM?" He responded no quite emphatically. "So you have some idea," I said. He eventually shared that he went to sleep around 1 or 2 in the morning and everyone knew where I was going with that. That's the Nudge Method.
Mark has been happily married for five years, has a year and a half old daughter, and serves as a youth and children pastor in Oak Park.