Being Brothers and Sisters

xmen

Ah, the X-men.
 
They were always my favorite conglomeration of characters within the Marvel universe.  Their back story of how they got their superpowers was the most simple: They were just born that way!  These characters were only limited by the expansive imagination of their creator Stan Lee.  He could take X-men storylines anywhere!
One of the main topics that the X-men regularly breech with readers is that of discrimination.  Here we have a group of people, who happen to have been born with a genetic mutation, that need to find solace and acceptance in each other because the outside world cannot and will not understand them.  Some mutants appear normal and can assimilate into society to a degree.  Others have an aberrant appearance and are forced to hide away.
Take Nightcrawler for example. 

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Humble Heroes

SpiderMan
We all have talents, gifts and abilities.  Part of the joy of life is finding out what you’re good at and figuring out how to get paid for doing it.  Although, if you enjoy what you do enough, you would do it whether or not a check were attached.  As humans, we like to engage in activities that we are good at.  It feels good to excel and bad to struggle…that just makes sense.  What happens when we, or our kids, begin to go beyond talent and enter into egoism?  How can we encourage them in their skills, while keeping them away from boasting?  How do you teach humility anyway?
 
In one of the many iterations of Spider-Man in Saturday morning cartoon format, Spidey, as mild-mannered high school student Peter Parker, decides to support his friend Harry and together they try out for the football team.  Peter has superhuman skills.  If he can handle supervillains, he can certainly handle football players.  He shines on the field and impresses everyone.

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Marital Struggles, Part 2

“A sensitive answer turns back wrath, but an offensive word stirs up anger.” -Proverbs 15:1
 
Fourth: Speak of your struggles only to those who support your marriage. Resist the desire to “bleed” on others around you, telling them how hard you have it and how difficult your spouse has been. This is so easy to do, as you get justification for your pain, and you can feel validated. But resist! Only speak of your marriage struggles just to anybody. Find someone you can talk to who can be your support. Someone who is strongly committed to the success of your marriage, who will NOT join with you in tearing down your spouse, but who will call you to “man up” and strive to continue doing the right thing. This is not someone you can badmouth your spouse to, but a person who will help you see how you can behave better, regardless of what your spouse does. This may mean a frank conversation with someone you want to be your support, something like, “Man, I need someone to talk to about my marriage, but I got to have someone who will help my marriage. Would it be OK if we talked from time to time, but I need you to always steer me back to doing what helps my marriage. Don’t let me ever play a victim!”
 

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Marital Struggles – Part 1

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:31
 
The husband of a couple whose wedding ceremony I performed a few years ago emailed me about the struggles they were going through. They both were thinking of ending their marriage. As I thought about the conversations we’ve had, it seemed that I often was talking to me as well–I needed to hear what I was saying. So, perhaps this can be of help to you, too. Twenty years into marriage and pastoral counseling, here is a summary of how I try to frame marital struggles. I highlight seven points, but please realize this is not a complete answer to anything. It’s a good starting point, if anything.

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We’ve Been Given Superpowers

Thing
 
The title of this blog has been stolen from the chorus of a Five Iron Frenzy song called “Superpowers”.  It was a humorous take on the rigors and insanity of trying to live out their grueling tour schedule.  In the end, singer Reese Roper concludes that they must have been given superpowers in order to survive it all.  Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvUyglWB2Fo

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Living Heroic Lives

“We who are powerful need to be patient with the weakness of those who don’t have power, and not please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good in order to build them up.” -Romans 15:1-2

Heroes went super with Action Comics #1 in 1938. Until that time heroes were ordinary people who did extraordinary things (Dick Tracy, The Lone Ranger, Flash Gordon, etc.). Superman was the first superhero, a hero with super powers. Since then, a myriad of “supers” have come on the scene.  There are two main comic book “worlds.” DC, or Detective Comics, introduced Superman, but soon added Batman, Aquaman, WonderWoman, The Flash, The Justice League, etc. The other is Marvel Comics, whose superheroes include Spiderman, Captain America, the Hulk, the X-men and Thor.
 
I have always been a Marvel-man, myself, and I used to have quite an extensive comic book collection before I was married (my favorite superhero was Dr. Strange). I have really enjoyed the new genre of Marvel-world superhero movies: Spiderman, Captain America, Fantastic Four, Avengers, Thor, Iron Man, and most recently Ant Man (an excellent movie, I must say!).

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Rich…in what?

Rich...inwhat

 

This is a picture of a little girl taking a stroll through a garbage dump that is her backyard.  She has to share this space with the rooting pigs as she attempts to keep her new dress in pristine condition.  She lives in Haiti, an island of Caribbean beauty and crippling poverty.  The vast majority of Haitians live on less than two dollars a day and half of children under 5 are malnourished.
 
What can I do? 
 
What do I do with my vague guilt that I set aside now and then?  What do I do about world poverty?  It’s such a huge problem…

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Investment Parenting

gold coins
 
I brought some plastic gold coins to church the other day and we read through the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30).  The kids played out the roles of the master and the three servants.  They were happy and willing to play along and to pretend that they were receiving something of real value.  The fun wore off a bit however as the story progressed. 
 
If you remember the tale, Jesus paints a picture of three servants and a master who is departing on a long trip.  The master entrusts some of his wealth to these three servants.  Two of them get to work and end up doubling what was given them.  The last servant buries his master’s money in the ground. 

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The Prayer Room

“But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:6

Last week I went to see the movie, The War Room. Provident Films released this next film from the Kendrick brothers, makers of Fireproof and Courageous. As before it tackles real life issues we are all struggling with, offers biblical principles to apply to our lives, and shows them modeled in a personal setting. This movie, in my opinion, is far better in its acting, script, and cinematography. Go see the movie! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIl-XY9t_Lw

Without giving too much away, it’s about a wife and husband who think they’re Christians, but who still try to live their lives their own way. Their marriage struggles, as well as their family and the rest of their lives. But an elderly prayer warrior teaches the wife how to fight using prayer.

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Money, Money, Money…Moneigh!

money
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Money is the root of all evil, right?  Well, actually it is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10).  But when we live in the midst of such a consumeristic culture, how can we help but fall in love with the green? 
 
This mindset does not just develop over time…our kids are targets for just as many ad campaigns as anyone else.  They are having their thoughts about money formed just as soon as their eyes clear up in the hospital and they overhear mom and dad’s surprised remarks at the amount of the bill.

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