Friday, March 25, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Summary: Why are you reading this? Go to the movie!

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice running length is about two and a half hours, but it sure didn't seem like it to me. 

Whisked into the world of cinema, I felt they finished it just a bit too soon. I wanted to see more.

More Batman! Ben Affleck did a great job.
More Superman! Henry Cavill - nothing else to say.
More Wonder Woman! Gal Gadot - perfect casting.
All the rest of the cast brought the movie exactly the tenor it needed. (Jeremy Irons did a superb job as Alfred.)
There was a lot more, but ... spoilers. 

The reviewers that complain - well, I read those reviews and think they need to go watch it again. I think they might be disappointed if someone gave them cotton candy and a free trip to the fair. Don't trust them. Trust me.

The movie transported me to the story, and that's what movies are supposed to do.

So go see it.
Thanks for reading, though.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Worry Not, Young Monkey

Did you ever notice how we worry over things that haven't happened?

Even in the Bible, Jesus himself said "do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Like many things in the Bible, that one is easier said than done. I struggle with it, as do most people I know.

Here are three tips that might help.

  1. Is there is anything you can actually do about your worry? If so, you can use problem solving methods to resolve the issue. If not, then remind yourself that you are wasting energy in needless worry.
  2. Do something physical when you are worrying. Go for a walk. Do some deep knee bends. Do something that gets your cardio working. Consciously take some deep breaths.
  3. Listen to your favorite music. I don't know if that helps you, but it sure helps me.

Our Pastor said something the other day that got me thinking about worry. He gave the Biblical view, of course, but listen to his words.

"Pay someone to worry for you. If you can't afford to pay someone, let them worry about it."

There you go. Think about that for a bit.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I am a Christian

The Apostle's Creed sums up the Christian belief.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church, *
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

*To avoid a sticky point on this, I believe “Catholic” refers to the Merriam-Websterdefinition meaning “of, relating to, or forming the church universal” instead of the Roman Catholic church.

There's an even nicer song about Christian beliefs sung by Hillsong Worship.

I think there is a life beyond this pale plane of existence, something possibly brighter and more wonderful than my mind can fathom. People in my past have pitied me because of such a parochial view. After all, I'm an engineer, a scientist. Surely I cannot fall for the tall tales of an ancient and dusty religion.

Yet I do believe in God the Almighty, His son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. In a way that I cannot wrap my mind around, these three are one entity. I pondered that for many years, and I will in the future. Just because I cannot explain something doesn't make it untrue. There is a lot in my religion I cannot explain.

I choose to believe. 

Sometimes we have to choose to believe things, even though they might not be true, but because they should be true. Might doesn't make right. Good always defeats evil. People have good hearts. Love conquers all.

In the case of God's existence I sincerely believe it is true.

In my case I have a personal and ongoing relationship with a living Jesus Christ. Too many stories in my life are only explained by His holy presence and intervention. Ask me about them sometime.

Of course, since I believe in Heaven (and angels), I also believe in Hell (and demons). I don't think Hell is in the center of the Earth. I do think it is an eternal separation from the God that I worship. To me, that brings visions of eternal loneliness and pain.

This is true of most Christians. (I don't know all Christians; I might be wrong.)

Because Christians feel this way, they are concerned about the people they love. After all, since there is a choice between a joyful and happy eternity or a miserable one, we want the people we love to go to the happy one. This is why Christians talk about their faith.

However, to my fellow Christians, remember the story of Jesus and the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22 (KJV).

And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, "Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said unto him, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother." And he answered and said unto him, "Master, all these have I observed from my youth." Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, "One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me." And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

Jesus looked on the young ruler and loved him, as God loves everyone on the planet (hard for me to fathom) and as we are called to love everyone (hard for me to do). However, when the young man walked away Jesus did not yell after him and did not chase him down. Jesus let him walk away.

I grew up with a great love for Saint Francis of Assisi. If I might paraphrase, he once told his followers that they were to go to town and preach the Gospel (the Good News), and if necessary, use words.

My fellow Christians, it is your actions that tell how wonderful a personal relationship with the living Christ is on this earth. Then when people ask why you're so happy, tell them. If they listen and choose Heaven – rejoice. If they do not, let them walk away. Remember, that was once you.

It is God who prompts the hearts of men and women to follow Him. Pray, unceasing. Love your neighbor.

We are called to do so.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Priscilla Shirer The Armor of God Part Two

Priscilla Shirer Armor of God Week 3
During the third week in her book The Armor of God, Priscilla Shirer gets to the heart of the matter: The Breastplate of Righteousness.

Righteousness literally means justice, and is the quality of being upright. Righteousness aligns with God's expectations of us, but not on our own.

The Belt (previously discussed) affirms God's standard. The Breastplate aligns your life to it.

Unrighteousness creates an environment that invites Satan to move into your life.

Humans are made of three parts - body, spirit and soul. The soul is composed of mind ( your thoughts), will (your ambition), emotion (your feelings) and conscience (your moral compass). The intersection of these four internal characteristics is your Biblical heart. The heart is the centerpiece of the soul.

I liked this description better than any other "you are a three-part being" description I've heard in the past.

Day 2
God is perfect, and that's His standard of righteousness, yet we are not righteous. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Rom 3:23
Part of the Roman Road. 

The enemy wants us to chase perfectionism instead of God. We can be just as bound by the pursuit of perfectionism as by any addiction. I know many who pursue perfectionism instead of God. We can only do what we can do.

How, then, can we be righteous?
We could lower God's standard, and it is tempting to do so. People do it all the time.
Comparison with others keeps us looking at others instead of God.
Yet the only correct response is imputed righteousness. The debt for our imperfect and sinful lives is paid on the cross by Jesus; we are innocent by declaration. Regardless of how much bad we've done, true contrition and making Jesus Lord of our lives imputes us with the Righteousness of God, something we cannot achieve on our own.

Day 3
Practice makes perfect - but not spiritually. When we practice the elusive pursuit of perfection...
Each of the pieces of spiritual armor were mnemonic devices.
In Ephesians 4, Paul introduced Practical Righteousness. Put off your old self by:

  • Speak the truth (do not lie)
  • Be angry and do not sin
  • Do not steal, do honest work
  • Let no foul language come from your mouth
  • Don't grieve the Holy Spirit
  • Avoid sexual impurity and immorality, greed, coarse and foolish talk, crude jokes.

Rather, give thanks.

Put on: humility, gentleness, patience, love, truth, kindness, and compassion.

Practice doesn't make perfect. In the spiritual realm, perfect makes practice.
The perfection (of Jesus) that we cannot achieve on our own makes us desire to practice doing good.

Day 4
One of the sneaky tactics of the enemy is to get us to sink our energy into changing instead of focusing on cultivating health and wellness in Christ.
If we concentrate on having a vibrant, healthy spiritual life, we'll automatically grow and change as a result.
Attitudes, Actions, Interests, Desires, Ambitions, perspectives, Sanctification is the process by which you are converted into an image of Christ and aligned with God's heart.
You will sense peace and divine approval when you're acting in a way that's pleasing to God and uneasiness when you're not. If you feel that inner apprehension about your actions, that is conviction.

Look to God.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Priscilla Shirer The Armor of God Part One

(This is a reschedule of a post from last October. The next part will post tomorrow.)
Darling is doing a new Bible study. This one is by Priscilla Shirer and is called The Armor of God. Darling is letting me read through the study with her.

I'll post my notes for the study, but please bear in mind that most of what I'm writing is directly from Priscilla Shirer's book. I'll italicize when the thoughts are mine.

Week One was a summary with background information. Priscilla Shirer is an author and an actress in the amazing movie The War Room.

If you are not familiar with the Armor of God passages in the Bible, you probably already quit reading. Here's the NIV version of the passage from Ephesians 6.

The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Her first week reminded me of something an African missionary said: "The African people see it clearly. We are spiritual beings in a physical world, not the other way around." Most people I know battle in the physical world when they should battle in the spiritual world. I'm as guilty as anyone of that.

The enemy is invisible, but he is not fictional.

We overestimate Satan's impact on our lives and therefore we live in fear.

We underestimate Satan and miscalculate his impact on our lives.

I tend to ignore Satan unless I feel temptations, then I call on God. That isn't always successful because I am not prepared.

We are unaware of Satan's conspiracies in our lives because he appears as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). Let's face it; if Satan appeared like the ugly caricatures we have of him, we'd know to run. He always wraps his attacks in deception. He cannot help it. He is, after all, the Father of lies. But he is very, very good at what he does, and he knows what bait attracts each of us.

The Enemy (Satan) has strategies against your1. Passion2. Focus3. Identity4. Family5. Confidence6. Calling7. Purity8. Rest and Contentment9. Heart10. Relationships.

I have to admit, as I look through the list, I see a lot of areas where I was attacked - and still am.


With the standard of truth in place, you can adjust everything else in your life - your ambitions, choices, and feelings; your mind, will and emotions - until all of it is "tuned" correctly. When you have a strong, stable, well-supported core you can't easily be led astray by the enemy's clever lies. Gird yourself with truth ...

You uphold and affirm the standard – the truth and boundaries set by God in scripture. You commit yourself to them and resolve to teach them to your family.

You daily, systematically, repeatedly begin letting God help you align your decisions and responses, even your attitudes and ambitions, alongside His benchmark of truth.

You continually learn about the character and purposes of God – both from the Bible and from His Spirit. Then you unapologetically synchronize your convictions, even when you find it hard or unpopular to do so.

You filter every circumstance, personally and culturally, through the prism of His Word instead of merely leaning on your feelings, political correctness, or the opinions of others.

Truth becomes your starting place ...

Sensitivity taking offense is one of the key ways Satan traps believers in his web of deception.

The soldier's belt secured several pieces of his armor, which are listed in the rest of the passage in Ephesians 6:
  • Righteousness means right living.
  • Peace is a deep, inner, eternal stability by virtue of our relationship with Jesus.
  • Faith is an application of what we believe.
  • Salvation is our eternal security as well as full inheritance.
  • The word of God is the Bible and God's Spirit.
  • Finally, we use prayer to communicate with God and access the promises of God.

Watch out for deception, because is a lie cloaked in a tweaked version of truth.

Without truth - without an absolute, non-negotiable standard - there is no real liberty. Most people don't understand that and think that by accepting Jesus as their Lord they give up their freedom. Exactly the opposite is true.

In John 8:31-32, Jesus says if we abide in His word the truth will set us free.

Accumulated knowledge is not truth. You can learn things that are untrue - and choose to believe them. Also, knowing things about God does not mean the same as honoring Him as your Lord.

Truth is God's absolute standard, and you do not know truth unless you know God. A knowledge of God is found in the Bible, and imparted by the Holy Spirit.

Me: Wow, Priscilla Shirer really knows her stuff… I'll post more from her book in the future. Until then, God bless you.