Saturday, July 20, 2013
Special, I Guess They Wouldn't "Get It" Edition
So, I'm researching the next bad guy for this bi-weekly feature and I run into stories like this and this explaining who that guy was that showed up in the "Easter egg" after part of the credits in last summers Avengers movie.
Now, if you attended the initial screening I did - you would have know because I shouted his name out instantly when I saw him. If you read this space routinely, you's know because, well, you'd be smarter than the average comic person. SO, I guess at first it struck me as odd that some journalist would have to go out of the way to explain it. But then I guess I am not your average attender of these movies.
Sometime I forget that even people that attend the films and are reasonable comic fans are not serious comic fans. Sure they read them when they were kids and sure they may have had a moderate pile in their room when they went off to college. Thus they know who the Avengers are and they feel at home with the characters. But my pile, which still grows, could hardly be described as "moderate."
I have actually been told by more than one specialty comic retailer that my collection exceeds their inventory. Does that make me a geek?
Anyway, back to ther hidden baddie - THANOS. He would not have been my first choice for the next Avengers villain (think Kang, time travel, a multi-movie deal and a chance to explore different Avengers line-ups) but Thanos is a fine choice. Given that the is a Guardians of the Galaxy tie-in (Latest incarnation, not the guardians of my youth) one must wonder if the Infinity Gauntlet is in the mix. (If you don't know what that is, look it up, it;s well worth it.) And if the IG is involved is Adam Warlock anywhere around. Warlock is my absolute favorite of the obscure types in the Marvel Universe.
comic art comic books comics movies villains
Friday, July 19, 2013
1. The midsize congregation will disappear.I look at that and I see two basic trends - church more to be consumed than participated in and church giving up its cultural influence. (It takes something as big as as a denomination to really influence culture.) I think this picture is accurate and I don't much like it.
2. An explosion of satellite campuses and microchurches
3. A small number of cutting-edge megachurches led by amazingly talented communicators.
4. No denominations.
5. America will have about 200 well-known preachers by 2062.
6. More money spent on mission.
7. We’ll need a lot fewer preachers.
8. We’ll need a lot more campus pastors.
9. Small group ministry will be more important in 60 years than it is today.
10. Microchurches and megachurches will cooperate for programs like youth and children’s ministries across cities.
What to do? I think get even smaller. Christ changed the world by developing the RIGHT leaders. We need to get serious about choosing people and we need to get serious about training them to lead.
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Thursday, July 18, 2013
Pray for Depth
May God bless you:
With a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
With holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people
With the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hands to comfort them and transform their pain into joy
With enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world, so that you can, with God’s grace, do what others claim cannot be done.Note how that prayer doesn't seek things and it doesn't seek relief - it seeks character. I am struck by the fact that maturity seems to be less about what we do and more about who we are when we do whatever it is we do.
Have you ever asked God for character traits? I have and sometimes I fear to ever do it again. God always answers prayer and shaping character often involves some pretty rough stuff.
It's an old analogy, but imagine being the clay on the potters wheel - it gets tossed, punched, abraded, and abused before it finally ends up in the shape the potter desires. When we seek character from God - that's what we are asking for.
But then people often abuse their bodies to "get into shape." If we do this physically, why not on the character level as well?
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013
To begin, you might try imitating Paul's example of nonstop thanksgiving. When he says that he has "not stopped giving thanks," Paul does not mean that he is literally praying every moment. Rather, he's speaking of a thankful frame of mind that finds expression in consistent prayers of gratitude. Perhaps daily, or perhaps several times throughout the day, Paul briefly thanked the Lord for those believers who were faithfully living as God's people in the world.
I try to structure my life with regular times of gratitude each day, including morning devotions, praying before meals, and evening prayers. But, often my prayers of thanksgiving are brief and relatively predictable. How might my prayers be different, I wonder, if I spent a few additional moments thinking about how God has blessed me? What would happen if I asked the Holy Spirit to bring to mind blessings I had never even considered before? What if I asked the Lord to help me live each day with a consistent sense of gratitude? What if I paid attention to each gift of the day, offering thanks to the Lord? How different my faith would be! How different my life would be!It dawned on me that being consistently thankful is an important part of being reliant on God in all things. In thankfulness we grant that God is in fact responsible for all that we have.
Many people talk about "stepping out" in reliance, but often it is simply a matter of learning that we are reliant right where we are. The way we express that is by being thankful. What we have is gift, not entitlement. All that we have, all that we are is because God has made it so. We do not need to "step out."
Having trouble with the whole learning how to rely on God thing? Stop trying to learn and start being thankful. You already are reliant - you just need to acknowledge it.
faith reliance thanksgiving
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Adversity by its very nature is the removal of things on which our comfort and hope have rested and so it will either result in anger toward God or greater reliance on him alone for our peace.
And his purpose for us in adversity is not that we get angry or discouraged, but that our hope shift off earthly things onto God.
God’s main purpose in all adversity is to make us stop trusting in ourselves or any man.Piper is commenting on 2 Cor. 1:9.
Reliance on God - absolutely. God is at work in our adversity - absolutely. However, sometimes I think God gives us earthly things as a reminder of His comfort and our reliance on Him. Sometimes, those things are removed not because God is removing them to increase our reliance upon Him - sometimes those things are removed by the forces that oppose God in order to give themselves room to maneuver.
Our response remains to remain reliant; however, it is important to remember that blithe acceptance of such circumstances can fail to recognize they forces that are at work. Sometimes we are called to be warriors, and that requires a great deal of reliance.
circumstance faith reliance
Monday, July 15, 2013
While biblical faith always has theological content, it is not simply giving assent to what is true. Rather, biblical faith is going a step further. It is, for example, not simply believing that Jesus is Savior and Lord. Rather, it is also putting your trust in Jesus to be your Savior and your Lord. When you read the word "faith" in the New Testament, you should think of it in terms of trust that includes belief but goes beyond belief.
For example, several years ago my friend Eric took me rock climbing. He was an experienced rock climber and instructor. It was my very first time out. Eric set up an elaborate rope system which was supposed to guarantee my safety. Now, I knew that Eric was experienced and wise. I had faith, so to speak, in his ability to devise an excellent belaying system using strong ropes. Yet, I did not have faith in Eric in the biblical sense until I actually starting climbing up the rock face, putting my life in Eric's hands. On the basis of what I believed about him and his equipment, I had faith in him. I trusted him. And I lived to tell the story.For faith to be real it must be more than mere intellectual ascension.
Is your faith real?
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