Iron Man 3 was a blast. It was humorous, action packed, full of cool new gadgets and upgrades, and had a solid and unexpected twist. It was inappropriate at times with language and sexuality, which is pretty much par for the course with Tony Stark. I was mildly annoyed twice when Tony is saved by gadgets he happened to have on him the whole time. This installment of Iron Man was quite different from the last two in the way it was directed, narrated, and even the plot structure and camera angles. It was a lot of fun, but there is something about it that left me unsure how I'd rate it. For now I'm thinking it was better than the sequel but not as good as part one. Vague Spoilers Follow...
Did you know that Easter is bigger than Christmas? I know it may not seem like it. For Christmas, we spend months decorating, planning, and shopping. We dish out a thousand or more dollars to buy gifts and host huge parties. We go on vacations and return home to visit family. We tell elaborate stories about Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty and we might even set up a Nativity scene and go to midnight mass or service.
On Easter, we paint eggs, eat candy, have dinner, and call it a day. But I'm telling you, Easter is bigger than Christmas. Easter is the biggest day of the year for Christians. It's our Super Bowl Sunday. Why?
Well let me ask you this: What's more important, the day Frodo is given the ring or the day he drops it into the fires of Mount Doom? What's more significant, the day Tony Stark built his first Iron Man suit or the day he saved the world from an alien invasion? The day the plan for Argo was drafted by Tony Mendez or the day those Americans made it back home? The day Abraham Lincoln was born or the day he issued the Emancipation Proclamation?
Enough comparisons, let's get back to Jesus. What's bigger, the day the Savior was born or the day the Savior actually triumphed?
There is no bigger day for Christianity than Easter! In fact, it's so important that Paul says that if Jesus didn't rise from the dead then you're faith is useless (1 Cor 15:14 and 17). On Easter, we celebrate that Jesus not only was born, not only lived a great life, not only died in our place, but that Jesus was victorious! By His resurrection, Jesus proved that He had conquered all of our great enemies.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep... But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Corinthians 15:20, 58
Jesus conquered Satan by His resurrection and showed that He is the King of this world and His power is greater than the evil one's. We don't have to be afraid of the devil anymore. Our King is bigger and better and stronger. No plan or scheme of the enemy can ever harm a child of God. Our God lives! Our God is victorious!
Jesus conquered sin by His resurrection and proved that we can be forgiven through Him and freed from the bondage of sin. We no longer have to live in fear of God's judgment or feel wracked with guilt for our mistakes. We no longer have to struggle without hope against our secret sins whether they be pride, gossip, pornography, alcohol, drugs, sleeping around, or whatever. There is freedom and a way out. Sin has been defeated. Our God lives! Our God is victorious!
Jesus conquered death by His resurrection and wrenched us from the grip of our greatest and oldest foe. We no longer live in fear of that day that's coming for us all. When a Christian dies, it's as much a party as it is a funeral because we know that death is not the end. Death cannot hold us because it could not hold Him. The grave doesn't have the final word, Jesus does. To us, death is sad but it is also overwhelmingly joyous because to die is to be alive with Christ forevermore. We Christians can look death in the face and ask, "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1 Cor 15:54b-55) Our God lives! Our God is victorious!
Easter is our Super Bowl Sunday because it is the day we celebrate that Jesus is victorious and, for those of us who have put our faith in Him, so are we. We have victory over Satan because Jesus conquered him. We have victory over sin because Jesus broke its chains. We have victory over death because Jesus rose again!
Do you have that victory? If you'd like to be free from Satan, sin, and death, you can. If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. -- Romans 10:9-10 If you've put your faith in Jesus today, let me or a Christian friend know so we can help you take your first steps of faith.
I hope these truths settle in you deeply this week and that you have a Happy Easter as you celebrate Jesus' victory!
Spiders. Crazed gunman. Car accidents. Public embarrassment. The dark. Each of us is afraid of something. What are your fears? Better yet, how do you deal with them? There is a Bible verse that I've known for years that tells us we were not given a spirit of fear but a spirit of adoption. Michaela did something that made a light bulb come on in my head in regard to that verse.
"The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." -- Romans 8:15
Lovely picture isn't it? Michaela typically only cries like that for two reasons. As was the case in the picture, she gets like this when she is very tired from sleeping badly the night before or missing a midday nap (often both). We call her Grumpy Brunke. The other situation that causes her to lose her mind like this is when she is scared. She doesn't get scared of a lot of things. Big dogs don't bother her. Loud trucks don't scare her. Strangers are her biggest fear. If she hasn't spent a lot of quality time with you, you can cause a Michaela meltdown just by trying to pick her up.
A few weeks ago at church, Michaela was playing near me. Someone she doesn't know very well walked up to her, bent down, and started talking to her and squeezing her cheeks. Her face immediately distorted into the look of terror as tears tumbled down her cheeks. She cried. LOUDLY. She spun around a few times until her eyes locked on me standing ten feet away. She walked around the stranger and cut a straight path to me, crying all the while. She reached her hand out and grabbed my leg. Her crying stopped almost as soon as she touched me. She sobbed a few more times as she caught her breath. She looked up, her cheeks covered in tears but with a smile on her face as she said two words: "Daddy. Up."
I couldn't help but laugh as I picked her up. She had gone from meltdown to happy in just 0.9 seconds. She was scared of the stranger but she knew that I would take care of her. Once she had made it to Daddy, she knew everything would be alright. I was her safe zone. She handled her fear in the best way she knew how. Run to Daddy.
If you've trusted Christ as your Savior, you were not give a spirit of fear, but a spirit of adoption. Almighty God has adopted you as His son or daughter. You are a child of God. He loves you deeply. You can cry out to God as a child cries out for their daddy. God wants you to realize that He is more than just the man in the sky who is in charge. He is your loving Daddy.
What troubles you? What scares you? What causes you to cry? What leaves you worried? Courage is not the answer. Manning up and saying, "I'm not scared. I can do this," is not the way to conquer fear. The cure for fear is not courage and trusting in yourself. The cure for fear is Daddy. Would you give that a shot next time you are afraid? Would you run to your Heavenly Daddy in prayer? Would you grab onto His leg and ask Him to pick you up? He loves you. He cares for you. He is bigger than those strangers that are scaring you. He wants to take care of you. He will walk alongside of you. Run to him with trust and faith and watch your fears melt away in 0.9 seconds.
Kirk taking the Kobayashi Maru test.Christy and I were watching the episode Junior Salesman of the show The Office the other night. On the show, Dwight is interviewing Clark and he presents him with this awful hypothetical where there seems to be no good option because he wants Clark to answer poorly. Instead, Clark says, "Sounds like your classic no-win situation. So I'd Kobayashi Maru it."
This is the fourth video in this training series. You can find the previous videos in the links below.
To recap, penal substitutionary atonement is a fancy theological term that answers the question, "What did Jesus do by dying on the cross?" The word penal tells us that His death on the cross was the just penalty for the crime of sin. The word substitutionary tells us that His death was actually paying the penalty for our crimes and sins. Jesus traded places with us sinners. Today's video will focus on the word atonement.
Yeah... I want to watch this...Just a simple thought today. Last night, after Christy and I had finished an episode of Bones, I was skimming through the Netlix menu. I spotted TinkerBell and the Secret of Wings and my reaction surprised Christy and actually embarrassed me if I'm honest. I saw it and said something along the lines of, "Sweet! I haven't seen this one yet. I'll have to watch it."
Now, before you think I've lost my mind, let me inform you that I meant that I would have to watch it with Michaela, you know, my 17 month old daughter who is in love with TinkerBell. However, if I'm totally honest, I find myself legitimately interested in seeing this next movie. I've seen two of them already and want to see how the next portion of the tinker fairy's saga plays out.
This is the third video I've put up to discuss the theological concept of Penal Substitutionary Atonement. If you're just joining in, you can find the INTRO HERE and PART 1: DEFINING PENAL HERE.
As a recap, we have learned that phrases like "Jesus died for your sins" are often misunderstood by non-Christians and not necessarily fully understood by Christians either. Penal Substitutionary Atonement is a theological term used to address the issue of what exactly Jesus' death did. The word Penal is used to convey that His death on the cross was related to the crime of sin and the just penalty for sin which is death. Today's video will hopefully explain the second word: Substitutionary.
As I mentioned last week, I've created some training videos for people at my church. You can find my quick intro HERE.
Before you hear what I have to say, take a look at the following Scriptures.
I'm going through Judges with the youth group and came across a really rough story that gave me a pretty strong warning. Judges is a tough book to study and go through because it was a time when everyone, including most of God's people, had turned away from God and were living in tremendous sin. The time period is summed up at the end of Judges with its final verse.
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)
Imagine a world where nobody cared what God or anyone else thought. Imagine a place where everyone did whatever they wanted and whatever they thought was right. People took what they wanted and only looked out for themselves. This is the time of the judges.
Its in that place and time that the Bible gives us a brief story of a man named Adoni-Bezek (actually, that's more like his title meaning lord/king of Bezek). He was the ruler of a pagan city that God's people had conquered. Here is what happened...
**Teensy Weensy Spoiler Alert: I'm gonna use a quote from the movie but nothing that really ruins the plot. Just wanted to give fair warning to my spoiler paranoid friends.
Finally, a movie that has it all! Its been a long time since I saw a movie this good. Obviously,Avengers is an action packed flick with loads of special effects and crazy combat scenes. But its more than just an explosion fest to herald in the epic summer movie season. This movie actually has substance. The dialogue is great and the movie touches on some great themes such as the strength of teamwork and the question of what makes a true hero. Be warned, there is some swearing and obviously violence, but nothing over the top. I highly recommend it and give it two thumbs up!
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.