Sunday Devotional: Psalm 63

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;

    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
    beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
    in your name I will lift up my hands.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

But those who seek to destroy my life
    shall go down into the depths of the earth;
they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
    they shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God;
    all who swear by him shall exult,
    for the mouths of liars will be stopped.” (Psalm 63:1-11)

This week, let us seek the Lord out with all our heart and soul.  Let us be satisfied in Him.  Let us sing out like David did about how much we cling to Him.  Let us remember that is love is better than life.

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Thoughts on Furious 7

Yesterday I went and saw Furious 7 at the movie theater.  I’m a fan of the franchise so it was a given that I was going to see this movie and wanted to share some thoughts about the film and franchise up to this point.

The film itself was good.  You know going into this film what it’s going to be like and true to form that’s what it was.  It continues the story of Fast & Furious 6 with Dom, Brian and the gang having to deal with the brother of the villain from the previous film.  The fact that it’s actor Jason Statham means it’s a villain to reckon with.

Like some of the recent previous films, there’s a lot of jet setting around the world with crazy stunts & fight scenes.  A lot of these center around revenge (Shaw getting revenge for his brother, Dom getting revenge for Han) and protection (protecting a hacker named Ramsey & protecting the family from Shaw and his “friends”).

I enjoyed the film for what it was and the story it told.  Granted, there were some nitpicking things.  One being that Dwayne Johnson was more of a cameo role of sorts and I like the character of Hobbs.  Though I will say he did have some good scenes in his limited role.  I guess the major nitpick thing was not what you would think.  Given that actor Paul Walker died while the film was in production (which led to the delay in it’s release), there was use of digital work and stunt doubles to help fill in scenes.  But honestly, I didn’t notice which ones they were.  What did stick out to me was a scene in Japan.

Those that know the franchise know that the last several films have been “prequels” in a sense.  In the timeline technically this film follows The Fast and the Furious:  Tokyo Drift (which came out in 2006).  The end of the film featured Dom in a drag race against Sean Boswell (played by Lucas Black) who was a friend of Han.  So in this film to tie it together, they bring back the scene from 2006 where Sean is told someone wants to race him.  Then a few seconds later (after the race) Dom and Sean are talking (filmed present day).  You can tell that Lucas Black has aged (and also cut his hair) but I guess if you weren’t paying attention you wouldn’t notice it but it just stood out to me.

Overall, I enjoyed the film and I enjoy the franchise.  It’s wild that the franchise started in 2001…when I was in college.  I remember going to the movie theater to see that one (well I’ve went to the movie theater to see all of them).  I will say the first film is good in it’s own right then it dropped off some before really gaining steam from the 4th movie onward.  I don’t know if they will continue to make films in this series (given Walker’s death but they did write off the character in a nice way, and I do think that would’ve been the plan anyway given the trajectory of the character of Brian and Mia) but if they do I’m on board for it.  They’re movies that you can take two hours and just go along for the ride (sort of speak).

If you’re curious, here is how I rank the film series including the newest film:

1) Fast Five

2) Fast & Furious 6

3) Furious 7

4) Fast & Furious

5) The Fast and The Furious

6) 2 Fast 2 Furious

7) The Fast and The Furious:  Tokyo Drift

Sunday Devotional: Matthew 28:1-10

“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:1-10)

Today is Resurrection Sunday.  Today is the day that we as followers of Jesus celebrate the hope of new life because of Christ rising from the dead.  He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

Sunday Devotional: Nehemiah 8:9-12

“And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.  Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.”  And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.” (Nehemiah 8:9-12)

The people were returning to Jerusalem.  The temple was rebuilt.  The walls around the city were rebuilt.  But more importantly, hearts were turning back to God.  The people realized their wrong and wept for it.  But the great thing was that God forgave.  Nehemiah and Ezra told the people to worship and celebrate God for all that He had done.  He had protected them in their time of exile.  He brought them back to their home.  And He stood ready to forgive them.  Because of this, the people could eat and drink and celebrate, because they had something to truly celebrate.

This week, remember all that God has done.  More importantly, remember that He stands ready when you want to repent and turn back to Him.  He is waiting with open arms.

Remembering Auschwitz

Auschwitz Gate

Today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp from the Nazis by the Soviet Army.  It was at Auschwitz that over a million people including Jews, Poles, Roma (Gypsies), prisoners of war & others were tortured and killed.  It is one of the most despicable acts done in history.

Auschwitz Sign

I visited the city of Oswiecim where the remnants of Auschwitz back in 2009.  I was in Poland for that summer as an intern as part of my work for my master’s of divinity.  There was a group of us that worked together that took a trip down from Krakow where we were working to visit Auschwitz.

It was an eerie feeling to say the least.  I remember walking through the camp and just feeling sadness and remorse.  My heart broke for all those lives that were lost there.  I was angry at the Nazis for what they had done.  I didn’t say much throughout our time there.  I just took it all in and contemplated.

It was a place that was a stark reminder of the depravity of sin.  It was also a reminder of the hope that exists even in the midst of such darkness.  Even in such a place as this, God was still there.  He was still in control.  Like how the Nazis were eventually defeated, sin will ultimately be defeated because of the work that Jesus did on the cross.

To this day, I still remember my visit to Auschwitz.  It is something that will always be a part of me.  On a day like today, I’m reminded again of its significance.  May we never forget.

Auschwitz