Thursday Quote Day: G.K. Chesterton

This week’s “Thursday Quote Day” features another quote from theologian G.K. Chesterton:

“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” (G.K. Chesterton)

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Sunday Devotional: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are irresponsible, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15)

Paul is writing to the Thessalonian church and in these verses here is finishing up the letter.  Like most of his letters to the various churches he helped to plant, he would finish his letters by encouraging and exhorting them to continue to do good and to follow Jesus.  Here is no exception.  Paul gave some practical applications to what he had shared with them throughout the letter and encouraged them to keep on being faithful.

He wanted the believers to encourage and give recognition to those who were leading them, their pastors and elders.  It is a tough job to minister and tend the flock and Paul wanted the people to acknowledge that and care for those in charge.  He wanted the believers to be at peace and to be agents of that to the world.  He wanted them to exhort, to comfort, to help, to be patient, and to pursue good.

We live very much in a time where it seems the discouraged aren’t being comforted, that the weak aren’t being helped, that there is no patience with people, that evil is being repaid with evil.  That should not be so with followers of Jesus.  We are called to love one another,especially fellow Christians.  We are called to be the light of the world, to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.  We are to be different in a way that stands out and points people to Jesus.

It is hard sometimes…a lot of the times to keep pursuing what is good.  It is hard when there is discouragement everywhere.  When God is mocked or hated and His people despised.  However, we are called to be faithful in continuing to do good, to seek justice and mercy, to show grace to one another, to love one another, to call out sin and to repent.  Let us keep doing just that.  Let us lean on Christ and keep pursuing good and being faithful to the calling that God has for us.

 

Sunday Devotional: Luke 11:1-4

“He was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.”

He said to them, “Whenever you pray, say:

Father,
Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves also forgive everyone
in debt to us.
And do not bring us into temptation.” (Luke 11:1-4)

These verses in Luke are part of the “Model Prayer” that Jesus shared with His disciples.  The disciples asked Jesus about prayer and how they should pray.  Jesus shares with them this short prayer as a model for how they should pray.  They should acknowledge God the Father as holy.  They should ask for daily provisions.  They should ask for forgiveness and repent of their sins and to show forgiveness to others. And they should ask for help in dealing with temptation.

We all have times when we struggle to pray.  Sometimes it is hard to have those moments to sit and pray.  But the good thing is God listens to our prayers big or small.  He wants us to have those conversations with Him.  And thankfully when we’re struggling with prayer, we have this model prayer that Jesus shared to go back to and have a starting point.

This week, let us commit to prayer. No matter how big or small, let us take time to have those conversations with the Lord.

Carrying Pain: Some Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I just saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and it did not disappoint.  There were a lot of great moments in the film and it reminded me why I loved the first one.  It has joy and heart and humor and when it’s serious it connects.  And at the heart of it is hope.

There are a lot of things that could be talked about in this film but there was one point that really resonated with me once I left the theater.  (Minor spoilers but nothing major)

One of the underlying plot points in the film carries over from the first film.  This is the rivalry/fight between Gamora & Nebula.  In the first Guardians, Gamora had the chance to kill Nebula and didn’t.  In this film, Nebula returns at the beginning.  She is first captured by the Guardians and then later escapes.  Later she finds Gamora with the expressed intent of “besting her”.  She comes in guns ablazing (literally) in a spaceship and crashes with Gamora having to save her again.

Later on, Nebula expresses all the rage and anger she had to Gamora was because Thanos would “repair” Nebula with cybernetics when she lost to Gamora and that’s why she hated Gamora.  Nebula raged because deep down she didn’t want to win.  She wanted a sister.  And so that pain built up inside Nebula and made her what she became in the 1st Guardians film and bled into this one.  And Gamora realizes that and tells Nebula that she was just trying to survive.  She didn’t mean to hurt Nebula.  And there’s a great scene where Gamora hugs Nebula and at first Nebula is stiff but finally she returns the hug.

Nebula still carries the pain of her past.  And at the end of the film, she doesn’t let it go just yet as she jets off to go after Thanos.  And Gamora lets her know that she’s welcome with them because she is family.

We all carry pain of some kind.  We are all hurt by people.  Sometimes the pain is unintentional and sometimes unfortunately it’s very intentional.  However we are hurt, we each carry that hurt with us.  Sometimes that pain can be used for good.  We see how we are hurt and we care for others so that they do not feel that kind of pain.  Peter Quill throughout the films carries the pain of seeing his mom die and fights for others.  Nebula rages with anger at the pain she carries and while she is not the same as she was at the beginning of the first film, she still is consumed by the pain and the anger that comes from it.

Like I said earlier, what I love about this series is that at the heart of the films is hope.  Hope for change.  Even if one carries such deep pain, there is hope for change.  I am very much looking forward to Vol. 3 and seeing how the character of Nebula is carrying her pain.  Because it reminds me of the pain that I carry and how I can’t let it carry me.

The Power Forgiveness Can Have: Rewatching The Prestige

Lately I’ve been going back and rewatching some of my favorite movies, especially ones that I have not seen in a long time.  Last week, I rewatched The Prestige.

the-prestige

The Prestige, which starred Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and Scarlett Johannson and directed by Christopher Nolan, tells the story of two magicians/illusionists and the rivalry that developed which turned very personal.  Both Robert Angier (Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Bale) wanted to be the best and would stop at nothing to do just that.  In the end, the price that they both paid not only cost them but those around them.

There’s a lot one can unpack from a Christopher Nolan film.  One could rewatch his films numerous times and pick up different things.  This time when I was watching the film there were two things that stood out and I tweeted about them while I was watching the film.  The first was this: “If there is a word that is an underlying theme in this film it is hubris.” The other thing was this: “And how forgiveness could’ve kept things from escalating as it did.”

Both men had a huge amount of pride.  They wanted to be the greatest magician/illusionist in the world.  And both of them felt they were better and smarter than the other.  This hubris blinded them to the damage they caused.  Borden made a mistake which led to the death of Angier’s wife.  Instead of being sorry or asking for forgiveness, Borden went on to become a solo act.  Instead of Angier not pursing revenge, he hijacked a performance and shot Borden which cost him two fingers.  And on and on until there was irreparable damage done to not just the two men but their wives, friends, colleagues and everyone around them.

Granted if one had shown grace and mercy to the other it would’ve been a very short film.  But the truth remains.  Their anger and thirst for revenge drove both men in ways that made the situation worse.  On the flip side, forgiveness was right there and could’ve stopped a lot of heartache for both men.

Forgiveness is such a beautiful thing but it also can be one of the hardest things to do.  It is so easy to hold onto hurts, to hold onto wrongs done.  But God calls us to forgive.  We are called to forgive because He has forgiven us.  He forgave us with great cost to Him with His son Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.  He chooses to forgive us even though we wrong Him with our sins.  That is the beauty of forgiveness, that restoring of relationship.

Angier and Borden could not forgive one another.  Each man wanted to prove he was better than the other.  In the end, they proved that their actions kept them from being the best that they could’ve been as well as hurting their relationships with those around them.  May we be people that forgive.  It may come as a great cost but the rewards are much greater.