Iron Man 2 and the message of God

So, I was watching Iron Man 2 the other night and got really caught up in the action. It was a great story of abuse of power, a loss of passion, and a struggle for peace. I enjoyed the acting, especially that of Robert Downey Jr. and really thought the special effects were well-done.

However, in one of the down scenes of the film when Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) was watching some old film of his father’s work there is an interesting scene that caused me to ponder God and His message to us through His Gospel. While watching, rather listening, to the film of his dad Stark was looking over paperwork and doing some note taking. Then, his dad began to speak directly to Tony.
His dad shares some insightful words to his son saying, and this is a paraphrase, “The technology of this day is not able to figure out what is needed. However, I know that you will be able to figure it out when you are older.” He then goes on to say these words, not paraphrased, “By far, the greatest creation I have ever made, is you.”

Now, the question is how could I think of God in those words. Well, the Old Testament gave some great insight in to how God was working. He was sharing His thoughts and guidance through prophets, but for some reason people didn’t get the message completely. Then, He sent His Son to deliver a stronger message. This is a message of redemption, love and grace. This message should have been easy to grasp, but some still neglected the message.

Now, I wonder if God is saying “At this time, people are not able to get it. The Church is still developing and the message is still spreading. However, when the Church gets bigger and heeds to the word of their Lord, the message will be able to be taught and discovered to the fullest.” I think He may even continue by saying “Please don’t forget, that the greatest creation I ever made…was YOU!”
More on this to come…gotta get to practice.

Responsibility

Well, I have found out that I am going to be a dad! This is awesome news and I am pumped! Since the two of you that actually read this probably know, this is not new news. However, this is something we have been waiting for a long time. Natasha is a great woman that has a compassionate heart and this child will be receiving a wonderful mother.

I am wondering about myself in the mix. I recognize that this is a great responsibility that God has placed in my hands. I need to be a leader for the family and be sure to lead with integrity and love. I am looking forward to this journey, but I want to make sure I am prepared. I have been reading books and what to expect and I’m not going to lie, it freaks me out just a bit. Not in a way that makes me want to run away, but freaked out in a way that makes me want to run toward it.

If this doesn’t make sense, hopefully this will make it clear. It’s like watching a roller coaster going 80 mph with crazy loops, cork screws, and wicked drops. This roller coaster freaks you out, but for some reason you keep walking towards it, get in line with your heart racing, palms sweating, and you can’t stop talking about how awesome this event is going to be. The only thing is this roller coaster lasts for easily 50-70 years (depending on how long God wants me here or if He returns before then).

Then you get on the ride and it is freakin’ awesome! You even take the time in the craziness to take that picture with a crazy face so you can remember what happened. Now, whether we know it or not responsibility is a part of every ride. We need to be sure to read all the instructions for riding the ride, which is our first step in being responsible. Second we don’t cut in line. We need to not rush the experience or try to steal it from anyone else, so we wait our turn, second step of responsibility.

Third, we find our section to sit in and get on the ride. Now, this is a very important part of the responsibility of riding. When you enter the ride you need to make sure you have all your belongings securely fastened, anything that can get lost or damaged you set to the side (another topic for next week), then you are responsible for securely fastening your seat belt and harness, if not, well, this could be a rough ride that you might not make it through. Don’t worry though someone will be there to make sure everything is secure (your parents, maybe friends), and then you are off.

The ride will be intense, twists and turns you aren’t ready for (unless you have been on before then you might be able to see some coming up ahead), and if you are lucky you didn’t hit your head too much on the harness and tried your best to follow the instructions and boom, the ride ends. Then, maybe you jump back in line for another go ’round (wink, wink).

I am hoping for a safe ride, a comfortable fit in the seat, and I am ready for take off. I trust God knows what He is doing allowing me to be the father of this child. I am praying now that I will be the best example I can be in my humanity for this child so that he/she may know their true Father in heaven. Thanks for the responsibility!

Memorial Day

This past weekend was Memorial Day weekend. Yesterday was Memorial Day. This is an interesting time to celebrate. I have always found it to be a bit of a dilemma to celebrate freedom given to us in our country by soldiers who valiantly fought for it. They fought for it and many lost their lives in for freedom to be achieved. I am not quite sure if I can say it was given, but I am sure it was achieved by the fighting and lives taken in order for me to have a barbecue with family and friends and extra day off from work.

This might seem cynical, but it is not. You see, for me I celebrate mentally and internally the fact that I have freedom. I can go to school, eat whenever I want, read whatever books I may choose to read (that includes The Hunger Games), and live a life with no restrictions. I thank every soldier that has come before and are currently fighting for that. However, I feel like there are many who view it the way I just put it in the first paragraph. They enjoy the day off, the drinking, the barbecue or family meal, but very rarely is it brought to the forefront the reason why they can enjoy that day.

This whole thing may offend people, but if you are one who celebrates it for the reason, then awesome, you shouldn’t be offended. If you aren’t, well be offended.

Now, let’s look to the biblical fact that rests in Memorial Day. It is a celebration of freedom. It is a time to look upon our lives and rejoice in the fact that we do not live under dictator rule or some crazy man. The fact of the matter is we had a savior who did the same thing. In our need for freedom God sent Jesus to die on the cross in order to give us a life that is to be lived freely. He even shares He came so that we may have life and life to the full.

Our Memorial Day should be spent remembering the soldiers who sacrificed for us, but even more importantly every day should be spent, if you are a follower of Christ, celebrating the freedom in life that has been given by the noblest of sacrifices on the cross. Let us always remember!

Photo Op

I just listened to another Lil’ Wayne song that made me think…I know, weird. Anyway, he says “How can you get the picture, if you don’t know who took it.” This, once again, is a pretty deep thought coming out of Mr. Carter’s mouth. He speaks the truth, probably without even realizing it.

How can you get the picture if you don’t know the one who took it? If we think we get the meaning of life or understand what is happening around us without knowing the One that has put everything into place, then do we really get it? God has created the world and everything in it. He has laid out our lives and He knows everything we face and is trying to reveal His purpose for us through everything we experience. His glory is being shown through our pain, our joy, our struggles, etc. and the only way we can see what is happening or “get the picture” is by knowing the One who controls the camera.

This is not to say that God is up there just watching us and waiting for stuff to happen, but He is really with us. He is watching at our birthday parties and creating the picture of our life as we reminisce, He is hanging out on the campus when we meet our future husband or wife creating the picture for love, and He is at the funeral home setting up the picture for memories of a life lived.

This picture of life is taken by God. He sets up the poses. He sets up the background. He sets up the action shots. He is in control of the photo shoot and we get to enjoy the picture when it is taken. To fully enjoy the picture for what it is worth we need to know the One who took it. Maybe it’s time for all of us to take some time to really get to know the photographer, especially since He will be following us around for awhile.

Planted

As Christians we have to find a balance living in the world and not being of the world. However, it can be a risky endeavor since we often times cannot find that balance. As I shared in my post last Tuesday, yeah sorry for missing Thursday I got real busy, I was at that concert. Was it wrong for me to be there? Should I have worn earplugs and only pulled them out to listen to music that was giving God the glory? I don’t think so. See, I feel the same way Paul did during his ministry. He had to interact with other people, Jew or Gentile, to do ministry. Now, I know I wasn’t doing ministry per se at this concert, but I was definitely learning about culture. There are people lost and seeking something and for some reason they have found their identity in this music and subculture. If we as Christians were or are supposed to stay away from that then I probably wouldn’t be here today. I had a friend, who was Christian that was willing to step into my life and care while I was dealing with my own mess. She took the time and risk to get to know me and show Christian love. Granted she was my girlfriend at the time, but her mom could have said “NO, he isn’t one of us!” and thank God she didn’t. I am going to suggest that the only reason I was able to make it at that concert and not be affected by the ways of the world there is because of my foundation in Christ. I think many times we flee from anything that may risk our faith because our faith is at risk. We do not have a firm foundation as to whom Christ has made us to be and the freedom He has given to us. He has given us life and life to the full and will be with us if we are with Him. My foundation in Christ is firm enough to keep me from being shaken. This firm foundation is what makes me available for ministry to anyone, anywhere, anytime. This is not a boast on my behalf because I couldn’t do it unless Christ was in me, which He is! I think this is why I can get along with people, Christian or non, and gain respect. It is not who I am, but who Christ has made me to be. I want everyone to hear the good news of Christ and I want them to know that I pass no judgment on whether or not they accept it. I am still walking in their midst as a Christian, a friend, a companion, firmly planted on the foundation of Jesus Christ. The One, and only One, that came to die for EVERYONE!

Jesus is a what?

This past weekend was very interesting. I was able to join a friend on a trip to the Carolina Rebellion, a concert that most Christians would probably stay away from. I actually enjoyed it. I mean, I don’t really grab onto the whole secular vs. sacred deal, but I do feel that there is music that destroys and music that uplifts. There was a good mix at this place. This post isn’t about the concert, but if you have questions feel free to ask. This is about a shirt I saw that made me ask a question. This guy walked by me and, as I do wherever I am, I look at people. I wonder stories and what’s happening in their life that is making them either smile, frown, yell, laugh, etc. Well, this guy’s shirt said something derogatory towards Jesus. Now, on the inside I was fuming. I wanted to go to that guy and say “Hey buddy take that off!” That would just cause more damage, mainly to my face, than I was willing to risk. After a minute or so of thinking that thought I had a new question come into my mind: “What Jesus does this guy know?” I mean, has he had any experience with the real Jesus? If so, then how can he wear such a shirt? If not, which is most likely the case, who has ruined his image of the Christ I know? That is the person that needs to be confronted in my opinion. This guy has probably experienced a judgmental Christian or angry Christian or a Christian that spewed hate and not love on his life choices. Maybe we need to quit jumping on and beating down those who don’t embrace Christ or put down our God and look to those who have influenced their negative view of Christ. We need to realize that our aroma is to be pleasing to God, but we must also be revealing a pleasing aroma to the world. We must be the salt and light, but we must be aware of the damage we cause when we make our Jesus out to be a jerk by acting like jerks ourselves. This is something I am working out. So Thursday will be interesting.

Who’s David?

I just had to write a devotional/short bible study for a friend of mine. She had asked because she was busy and I said I would love to since I really like doing that sort of thing. Right before we ended our conversation another friend shared something she had heard from a musician about David and Goliath and it totally was applicable.

So, I rewrote and added some other thoughts about David and Goliath. I thought I would share it for today’s post, especially since it fits with the idea of dying to self.

Here it is: 1 Samuel 17- Reference So we have all heard the story of David and Goliath. The whole idea of we need to be like David and be ready to conquer the giants in our lives and standing up to the sin that may be trying to devour us. Which is fine and all, but I am going to take it in a different direction…sort of.

 The story is a story of victory and strength. Strength to stand up against something bigger than we could ever imagine and the victory of a young man willing to face the odds with a sling and some stones while a group of grown men quivered behind him doubting what he could do and boy were they surprised when he took the giant out and cut off his head.

Maybe this story is about us, but in a different way.

Maybe we are the group of grown men quivering in the background and David represents someone bigger than us, possibly Jesus? David (Jesus) steps up to our sin which is bigger than we are, whips out His Jesus power and takes out the giant (sin). All the while we quiver from it doubting that God is bigger than what we face.

 However, when David took out that giant, what do we see? We find the crowd of warriors, who were once hiding in fear, running in ready to fight and to provide backup.

Maybe this is how we are which, isn’t such a bad thing.

Maybe we need to allow Christ to step up and conquer our fears, our giants, and quit trying to be David. When we try to do it, the giant seems to get back up and kick our butts, but if we allow Christ to be David…maybe that giant head can be on our mantle as a trophy of our God’s victory!

Running on E

I read today in Oswald Chambers book “Spiritual Leadership”, well many days ago, but I read it again today “As we become “empty of self and dependent on God, the Holy Spirit will use us”p.24). This is an interesting concept and it definitely falls in line with Scripture, of course. The question that comes to mind is “living and empty life can be rewarding?” I was driving my car the other day and my gas light came on. Now, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if I was in town, but I wasn’t. I was on a stretch of road with no gas station for at least 25 to 30 miles. The light comes on with 1.2 gallons left and I get 24 miles to the gallon on average. Do the math. I was a little scared, especially since this road is notorious for having surprise construction or accidents that pop up. I was praying! Now, in that “empty moment” I was depending more on God than on my own abilities because #1: Apparently my thoughts are not always the best due to the fact I knew I was close to empty and I thought I could make it and #2: Well, I can’t produce gasoline out of thin air. God had to get me to my destination and I could not trust my own thoughts or strength (I wasn’t about to push my car up hill to coast down to a gas station). When we allow ourselves to “run on empty” and not allow our own thoughts, abilities, or whatever we think are better control us, then God can really move. Sometimes it will take us making a dumb decision to allow the gas tank to run low, but God will come through and show His greatness. Matthew 16:24-25 says “If anyone should come after me he must first deny himself and take up his cross and follow. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (New International Bobby Version…close enough) We need to be willing to die to self and allow God to work through and in us. That is when power, strength, and greatness is realized because it is not our own. Maybe running on E isn’t so bad after all.

Just Dance

So dancing is on my mind for some reason and I like it! I think I have always enjoyed dancing, even as a little kid I loved to be on the dance floor. It was something about the rhythm of the song and getting my body to move with it, at least I think it did. Either way it was fun! Sometimes I would think I was in rhythm, but I would find out from someone soon I was completely off beat and was really ruining the dance floor. I remember when I was 7 or 8 I was dancing in a dancing section of an entertainment Place (I would name it but I can’t remember how to spell it) and I thought I was awesome. However, there was a point when I went for the jump split move (disclaimer: this is not the technical or professional term for this dance move). I saw on a movie that looked awesome. I was waiting for the perfect time and it came, so I went for it. I jumped, I split but the only difference between me and the guy on the movie is he got back up! I was stuck. I wasn’t ready for that level of dance difficulty. Then of course there was another guy, way older than I was, who came out and showed me up…he accomplished the jump and split and got back up. There are times where we think we can accomplish great things, well, because we are great. However, we may be great, but there are still limitations if we rest in our own abilities. We may even rush into things thinking we have enough experience to do so. I mean, c’mon, I was dancing for a solid 5 years amateurly in my living room, weddings, bathtubs, and along with music videos, I totally was qualified to do the jump and split. (insert sarcasm) In Scripture we find an encounter with Jesus and His disciples where they thought they were way more qualified than they really were. In Luke 9:37-43 we find Jesus encountering a boy who is demon possessed. The boy’s father brings him and asks Jesus to heal him because Jesus’ disciples tried, but could not do it. Jesus then says “O, unbelieving and perverse generation…how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?” These words are harsh, but Jesus knew the reason why they could not drive out the demon is because they did not have enough faith to do so. I am sure the disciples tried to do the deed in the name of Jesus, but they were not seasoned enough in their faith or their understanding of the power and authority given to them to do the work of Christ. We have the ability to do great things in Christ, but we need experience with Him. In order for me to do awesome things on the dance floor I think I needed a good instructor and the same in our faith walk. In order to accomplish great things in this world we need to depend on our great teacher in Christ Jesus. Our dance moves will be much better in this world as long as we dance closer with Christ. We need to learn from the master. My cousin ended up showing me how to accomplish the jump and split when I was a couple years older…and he apologized for showing me up when I was so inexperienced.

Get your groove on…keep it clean

When I was in school, middle school to be exact, there were dances. I loved going to dances, especially during the awkward times when I thought I was smooth and would ask a girl to dance. I remember asking this girl I had a huge crush on to dance with me and we had the best wrist dance ever! What’s a wrist dance you ask? Oh man, let me tell you! I go up to this girl and I ask her if she would like to dance. She looks at me with an awkward grin and says the magic words of “I guess”. Oh yeah, I’m in. So I am thinking I will be dancing with her like I see in the movies, hands together, close up, looking at each other, maybe her head will rest on my shoulder if she feels tired (because that’s what I thought that meant in middle school). My view was so wrong! She stuck her hands out and stayed approximately six inches or more from me, which forced me to grab her wrist. We moved slowly in a circle holding wrists looking awkwardly into each others eyes and the only time a head hit my shoulders was when I had to wipe the sweat off my head due to my nervousness. Yeah, I got my groove on…not so much! This awkward dance can be seen in our lives sometimes with each other and with God. I knew this girl pretty well, in fact I was at her house often and probably asked her out a million times plus one. However, for some reason, we felt awkward getting close in a dance, possibly due to the intimacy or some other reason. Either way, for Christians there might be a limitation to how close we want to dance with God. We want Him to be close with us, but not too close because that opens the door for too much intimacy. Our wrists are out, but He better not think He is getting any closer. We need to open our bodies up a bit. Allow Him to get closer and know us deeper. Maybe get to the point of hands on the hip and our hands on His shoulders (awkward dancing at its best) moving to a Tango! Yeah, imagine dancing so close with Jesus that He knows the steps we are taking next and we know His. We know when to spin and when to come in close. Imagine what kind of a dance that would look like. All eyes would be on us because they see that there is practice and there is a connection deeper than anyone has ever seen on the dance floor of life. This is how we get our groove on and people see we have moves, especially since we have an awesome partner that guides our every step. On Thursday…be ready for another dance thought