Jesus the King…

One of the best books I have read this year was Timothy Keller’s Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of of the Son of God.  Yet another reason why Keller is one of my favorite authors, pastors, and theologians.  He has the ability to invite the reader into the story of Scripture without compromising the loving-truth of who Christ was and is.

A few of my favorite quotes can be found on Twitter.  This definitely will be one of my complimentary resources for when we begin our sixteen-week study on the Gospel of Mark this coming Easter at Blue Bridge Church (our longest sermon series to date).

Jesus the King…

Back To School…

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There just seems to be something special about a new school year.  The first day brings new wardrobes, school supplies, teachers, and classmates.  Such promise – a fresh start.

My prayer for my children comes from the words of King David who once wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.  He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength.  He guides me along right paths bringing honor to his name.  Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.  You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.  You honor me by anointing my head with oil.  My cup overflows with blessings.  Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:1-6, NLT).

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As they enter into those halls, may they hear and know the voice of God.  I know that Jesus Christ will show himself to be their Good Shepherd…

  • Guiding them. They will go where he asks them to go and do what he asks them to do – regardless of the cost to themselves.  More importantly than the exact direction and destination is who he is making them to be all along the way.
  • Providing for them.  He will give them exactly what they need when they need it.  He will be their Source – Water and Bread of life.  In his goodness, he will give them the desires of their heart – because over time their hearts will surely align with his.
  • Protecting them.  Nowhere better than to be in his presence. They have wisdom to know what’s right and courage to do what’s right.  He offers a way out of temptation.

I am excited about the people they will meet, the lessons they will learn, and the experiences they will share.

Back To School…

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story…

I recently listened to (and would recommend) Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.  Just for the record, my favorite Marvel hero is Captain America (second overall only to DC’s Superman).   Honestly, I was a bit disappointed the book did not invest more time on the actual storylines of premier characters (and more importantly, what motivated the writers, artists, and editors to go in the various directions in which they went.

That being said, some of the most intriguing topics that were covered would be…

  • Censorship.  The comic industry pushed the envelope at times – whether it be including sex and violence or addressing the sociopolitical tension of the day
  • Conflicts.  Marvel went from an underdog to an empire.  They constantly found themselves not only at war with the competition but also from within.  There were always battles – especially concerning who had rights to the characters.
  • Over-Saturation.  There were often far too many titles, characters, and storylines – especially in the ’90s.  However, for one reason or another, the industry refused to die (even with the rise of other media forms).
  • Marvel Films.  Stan Lee dreamed of seeing their universe on the big screen.  Nobody dreamed that they would have the large-scale success that they presently enjoy.

Overall, a fun (and extensive) look into a company.  Though it is not that high on my “to-read” list, I do plan to eventually pick up this book on the story behind Superman.

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story…

Blockchains…

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What is the blockchain? If you don’t know, you should; if you do, chances are you still need some clarification on how it actually works.  Don Tapscott is here to help, demystifying this world-changing, trust-building technology which, he says, represents nothing less than the second generation of the internet and holds the potential to transform money, business, government and society.  Watch this TED Talk and share your thoughts….

Blockchains…

It’s In the Game…

My earliest memories of video games began in the arcade of the neighborhood Pietro’s Pizza or in our family room watching my father and sister endlessly jostle back-and-forth for the high score on an Atari 2600 game like Pole Position, Frogger, or Ms. Pac-man.  

However, Christmas of my fourth grade year, I received my very own NES (complete with a copy of Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros.).  Now it was about beating the game itself.  Though my brother and I would later move on to Sega Genesis and Sonic the HedgehogI would never really be caught up  in the gaming culture (first-person shooters and the like).  My fondest experience, in fact, was when I received my very own Nintendo Game Boy (featuring the original green-screen) and discovered the brilliance of Tecmo Super Bowl.  From that day forward, sports video games would forever hold a special place in my heart.

Though I did not own a home gaming system for well over two decades, one of my first acts after trading in a few of my books for an Xbox (for my four children, of course – wink, wink), was to pick up the latest edition of Madden.  Though the gameplay is nearly always the same and the graphics are only mildly improved, there are very few things as promising as beginning a new season with a new roster.  For a moment, I’m in the game.

It’s In the Game…

The Good Old Days…

 “Don’t long for ‘the good old days.’  This is not wise” (Ecclesiastes 7:10, NLT).

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One commentator suggests, “This verse picks up on the previous text: it is pointless to look back to the good old days when corruption was not so common. Such days never existed. At the same time, v. 10 anticipates the following passage, which deals with economic cycles. It is foolish to long for the days of prosperity. Apart from the fact that such longing does no one any good, every period has its hardships and opportunities.”

I once read in one of Mark Batterson’s books that there comes a time in our neurological development that we tend to transition (or default) from the right-brain (imagination) to the left-brain (logic).  In other words, we stop envisioning our world for what it could become and instead criticizing our word for what it has become.  We focus our attention on wanting to go back rather than on moving forward.  Optimism is replaced by cynicism.

Too often we see the troubles, trials, and tribulations of our day and we chalk them up as further signs that we live in the last days.  However, Jesus taught that these signs would always be with us – visible and viable reminders that the last days began at the resurrection – now we anxiously await the last of the last days (and his return).  Christ followers, especially, have this tendency to view history as a constant downward spiral – as if the human condition is constantly regressing.  An good hard look of the Bible would discount such a perspective.  There are ebbs and flows – each generation having their own fair share of challenges – regime changes, rebellions, repentance, and even revivals.

I remind our church often to not only love the city they live but the times they find themselves in.  Sure, we are surrounded by our fair share challenges of obstacles and opposition to the good news of Jesus Christ.  What generation didn’t have one form or another of hurts and hindrances to the mission?  God did not make a mistake when he planted us right where we are, to reach who we are with, and all with what we have.

At the risk of appearing too political, I take issue with a campaign slogan like “Make America Great Again.”  I understand why political figures use the mantra (one of this year’s candidates is not the first).  The statement insinuates a return to a greater era.  But how do we define (or measure) great?  Each generation has indeed had amazing accomplishments – many by making indescribable sacrifices (the Builder Generation being a shining example of fortitude – being raised in the end of the Great Depression only to undergo the horrors of World War II).  That being said, consider that there have also been chapters in our nation’s history that we wish were not included.  Even then, to think that someone stood up and spoke up first (many of which were followers of Jesus) and said that injustice and immorality needed to stop.  That is where the greatness of our nation (and really the greatness of God’s work in anyone willing to trust and obey) is to be found.

Often when someone says they wish to see the return of the good old days (or the greatness of a period or people), they are actually longing for comfort, stability, and predictability.  At least we know what to expect from our past experiences.  But in so doing, we will only miss the possibility and promise of God to be realized in our day.  Instead, I pray for our unchanging God to be revealed in our changing times.

The Good Old Days…