Sunday Devotional: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12

“For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.  You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers.  For you know how, like a father with his children,  we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”  (1 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Paul loved the Thessalonians.  The brief time he was in the city, he worked hard and loved on the people there.  They bore witness to the work that Paul and Silas did in sharing the Good News and making disciples.  And he wanted them to follow in his footsteps.  He cared for them like a father to his children.

Let us this week care for those around us like that.  Let us work hard and love on the people around us.  Let us share the Good News and be about making disciples and encouraging others to do the same.

Updated 2015 Book List

Here is the latest update for the 2015 Book List:

Recovering Redemption: A Gospel-Saturated Perspective on How to Change by Matt Chandler and Michael Snetzer
Wrestling for My Life by Shawn Michaels
Scary Close by Donald Miller
Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne
Follow Me David Platt
Pop Goes the Church: Should the Church Engage Pop Culture? by Tim Stevens
Bigger on the Inside:  Christianity and Doctor Who by Gregory Thornbury and Ned Bustard
More Than a Season: Building a Championship Culture by Dayton Moore
The Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight

Sunday Devotional: 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.  For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.  For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6-10)

The Thessalonian church made an impact.  They received the Gospel from Paul and accepted it.  Not only did they accept it, they shared it as well.  They became “an example” as Paul mentions in his letter to all the believers in the region.  People throughout Macedonia and Achaia knew of the work and the faith that the Thessalonians had.  They were faithful in the Gospel.  They were strong believers in Jesus Christ.  They were persevering through persecution.

This week, let us be like the Thessalonians.  Let us love others with the love of Christ.  Let us go out and share all that Jesus has done for us.  At let us persevere in serving and loving God with all we are.

Friday Favorite: Favorite Movie

You know how sometimes you just get inspiration to write?  Well this was one of those times.  I thought about adding another regular writing series to this blog.  I was inspired to write about my favorites so now we will have “Friday Favorite”.  I don’t know if it will be a weekly thing of or just some Fridays but you have to start somewhere right?

Seeing as how I’m a movie guy, I thought I would start with my favorite movie.  Now I have a lot of films that I love.  I have a lot of film franchises/series that I love.  But my favorite film series of all is the Star Wars saga.  And my favorite of the Star Wars saga is The Empire Strikes Back

Empire Strikes Back Poster

This film is my favorite of the Star Wars saga.  Now I will say that A New Hope and Return of the Jedi are right up there.  But The Empire Strikes Back has a special place in my heart.  As a kid there was three reasons why I loved Empire:  AT-ATs, Boba Fett & Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber duel with Vader.

AT-AT

The All Terrain Armored Transport (or AT-AT) was the coolest vehicle the Imperials had.  They were massive and they were awesome.  The Battle of Hoth was the only one the Imperials won in the trilogy (though one could say the Rebels won because their main objective was getting off the planet) and it was due in large part to the AT-ATs.  If there was any Imperial vehicle I wanted, it was the AT-AT.

Boba Fett

Boba Fett.  As a kid, he was simply one of the coolest guys ever saw in a movie.  I guess you could still say I still think he’s one of the coolest.  He wasn’t necessarily a bad guy.  He just wasn’t a good guy.  He was simply doing a job and getting paid.  But he was bad because he wanted Han Solo to take back to Jabba the Hutt.  Even Vader respected Fett.  One thing about Boba Fett, he was a bounty hunter you did not want to mess with.

Luke vs Vader

Luke vs. Vader.  Growing up, this was the lightsaber fight.  It’s hard to compare this one to the one in Return of the Jedi.  But this one had the raw emotion.  Luke was still trying to find himself as a Jedi.  And he had to learn from this experience.  But it was a really cool fight with some really cool fight scenes.

The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve found other things I appreciate.  I love the interaction and banter between Han and Leia.  I became a huge fan of Wedge and loved when he took down the AT-AT with his snowspeeder.  I appreciated that it wasn’t a “happy” ending but a “hopeful” ending.

The Empire Strikes Back is my go-to film.  It is a great way to start off this “Friday Favorite” series.

Sunday Devotional: Philemon 1:15-19

“For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me.  If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.  I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self.  Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.”  (Philemon 1:15-19)

Reconciliation.  If there is any word that sums up the book of Philemon it’s that one.  Paul is writing to a fellow believer in Philemon in hopes that there will be reconciliation between Philemon and Onesimus.  Paul knows (and wants Philemon to know) that it is important in the life of a believer that there is peace among other believers.

Onesimus was a slave of Philemon’s who ran away and ended up in Rome where he heard the gospel preached by Paul and became a Christian.  As much as Paul would’ve loved to have Onesimus stay with him in Rome, he knew that Onesimus needed to go back to Colosse and reconcile with Philemon.  Paul also knew that Philemon needed to receive Onesimus not as a slave but as a brother in Christ.  Philemon needed to do the right thing and Paul trusted that Philemon would do that.

Reconciliation is important in the life of a Christian today.  We need to be reconciled to God and we need to be reconciled to fellow believers.  We are only able to do that because of Jesus.  When we do reconcile, our relationships are restored and we’re able to follow Jesus better.  This week, let us seek to restore our relationships with God and with one another.

My Star Wars Trilogy

Star Wars

Last night, I was having a twitter conversation with a new twitter friend and it got me to thinking (which has led to this post).  The topic was about Star Wars (of course) and was about in part the new film that’s coming out in December.  It was also about the previous films as well.

Now for context, my twitter friend tweeted about how there is anxiety over the new film because of the response that most have towards the prequel trilogy.  This led to a good twitter discussion about the prequels, the original trilogy and the future films.

It really got me to think.  At this point now there are several generations of Star Wars fans.  There’s the generation (of which I am a part of) that grew up with the original trilogy.  That is my Star Wars Trilogy.  There is also a generation that grew up with the prequel trilogy.  That is their Star Wars Trilogy.  And something I’ve learned recently is the feelings that I have for the original trilogy, those are the same feelings that those who grew up with the prequel trilogy.

Now I’m of the same thought as many in my Star Wars Trilogy generation that the prequels aren’t as good compared to the original trilogy.  There are a lot of faults in the prequels and such.  But, I also recognize that there are some good things in the prequels.  There are some really cool and memorable moments in the prequels.  And talking with those that the prequel trilogy is their Star Wars Trilogy it is a good reminder of that.

As far as the concern about the new film, I wrote that those who were of the prequel trilogy being their Star Wars Trilogy will have the same joy that those who were of the original trilogy had when the first prequel debuted.  Those of us of the original trilogy had to wait 16 years between new films (of course I was barely old enough when Jedi debuted that I barely remember seeing it in the theater and I went and saw it a year after it debuted).  Those of the prequel trilogy will have had to wait 10 years between new films.  And the cool thing is there will be kids now where the new trilogy will be their Star Wars Trilogy.

We all have our Star Wars Trilogy.  We all have our three films that we know and love and cherish and quote incessantly.  And come December, we will have the start of more films that will be loved and cherished and quoted incessantly.  And whether we love or don’t love this new trilogy time will tell.  But there will be those that will love them because they grew up on them and they will say that the sequel trilogy is “My Star Wars Trilogy”.

Sunday Devotional: 3 John

“The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.  For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth.  I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.  For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.  Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.  So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.  Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.

I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink.  I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.

Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, each by name.”

3 John is a letter that gives a practical example for followers of Jesus showing love in truth.  John, the apostle, wrote the letter to Gaius.  Gaius was a leader in the church of his city and he had received a group of traveling missionaries.  He took care of these missionaries while they were in the city and John wanted to thank Gaius and encourage him to keep serving the Lord in this way.

Gaius was loving on these missionaries and through this was able to take part in the work that they were doing in spreading the Gospel.  This week, let us love on those around us in truth.  Let us encourage those whom God has called to serve around the world.  And let us be a part of the work that God has called us to do in sharing the Good News.