Captain America and Jesus

Cassie and I went with some friends last week to see the latest Marvel film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I wasn’t a comic book fan growing up, but I’ve been hooked on the Marvel universe since the first Iron Man (I will neither confirm nor deny the amount of Avengers stuff in my home & work offices).

Overall, we enjoyed the film. Sometimes in life you just need to see things blow up and bad guys lose. That happens a lot (which really blesses my soul).  If you saw Avengers, then the overarching storyline of Captain America is similar: the fight of freedom against control. In this film in particular, the fight puts freedom against security. And after the film ended, I was reminded of Jesus.

When you saw the title, you probably thought “Wes, did you really write a blog saying Jesus is a better Captain America, like he is a better Joseph?” The answer is a simple: nope. That seems like an unnecessary observation, a failed attempt at cultural relevance. Continue reading

We All Need Leviticus

I am currently in my first semester of seminary work at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. My plan is to complete an M.A. degree in Ministry Leadership, then get a PhD from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Leadership (doesn’t Dr. Gay have such a nice ring to it?)

Since I haven’t done coursework in almost five years, I chose to take just two classes this semester. Online classes were never an option for me in college, so I didn’t want to overload my schedule with a new style of learning too. Oh, and we moved states and changed jobs this semester. So life was already a bit busy.

One class I am taking this semester is Old Testament I. Honestly it took a few weeks before I really got captivated by the content. One thing in particular that has resonated with me is the monumental importance of Leviticus. Continue reading

2013 Iron Bowl Reflections

As a non-Tide or Tiger fan (my Gators redefined struggling this year), it is a little easier for me to be objective during the spectacle that is the Iron Bowl. This single game unites and divides families, causes neighbors to war with each other, and even causes church people to forget the things the Bible tells them to do.

Some years the teams are both bad, some years the teams are both good, some years one team is clearly more dominant than the other. But when the two teams step onto the same field, that all goes away. Continue reading

The Stewardship of Freedom

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Today is veteran’s day, a day we as a country pause to remember the men and women who have sacrificed to protect and preserve the freedom of our nation. Our 237 year history as a country wouldn’t be the same without their willingness to fight for the virtue of freedom.

Personally, I’m grateful for the freedom we experience. I love this country. I get obnoxiously patriotic, especially during global events like the upcoming Winter Olympics (I get annoyed when the USA doesn’t take gold in everything, including curling).

But as much as I love this country, my faith in Jesus is above that. And because of my faith in Jesus, I have to look at all of life differently. This includes days like Veteran’s Day.

But how should we as Christians view Veteran’s Day? I think we ought to view it as a stewardship issue.

I know what you’re thinking: “But Wes, I thought stewardship was something we only talked when it was time to build a building or catch up on church budget.”  While that’s true, it’s not a complete definition of stewardship. Stewardship is about managing all of what you have well, not just your money.

So how do we steward this day well? We thank God for those who have fought in order for us to have freedom. But more importantly, let’s use this freedom well. Let’s use it the way Paul admonishes us to use our freedom from in Christ: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13, ESV)”

Our freedom as a nation (like the freedom we have in Jesus) shouldn’t be something we use to make our lives better. It should instead be something we use to better the lives of others.

As we celebrate Veteran’s Day today, thank God for those who have served to protect freedom.  But ask God to help you be a better steward of that freedom. Pray that God would show you how to use our national freedom to point people to that freedom that only Jesus brings.

Five Things Apple Won’t Announce Tomorrow

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The world wide interweb has been on fire lately with Apple rumors. But that is always expected right before an Apple event, which just so happens to be tomorrow.

Most of the rumors surrounding tomorrow’s event involve iPad & iPad Mini upgrades, an iOS update, more information on OS X Mavericks, and the release date of the Mac Pro. Some rumor sites claim the MacBook Pro and Apple TV will receive an update as well. No one knows what “We still have a lot to cover” actually means. Are they announcing a line of bedsheets? Maybe Tim Cook is in a cover band?

While I don’t have any Apple insiders to back me up, I can still say with confidence that none of the items on this list will be announced by Apple tomorrow: Continue reading

Few Thoughts for Friday….TV Shows

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image from By Takkk (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

My wife and I are the kind of people advertisers love: the ones who get hooked on a show and watch it all the time. Since we’ve been together we have changed which shows we watch, but here are a few thoughts on some shows we currently love:

- Restaurant Impossible (Food Network) Chef Robert Irvine has 2 days and $10,000 to remake a failing restaurants. While the show is incredibly fascinating, it will cause you to think about dumpy restaurants differently (and maybe even change your tastes). This show is great for heartwarming stories and gross restaurant conditions.

- Master Chef Junior (Fox) I’ve known who Chef Gordon Ramsay is, but this is the first show I’ve seen from him. They found the 24 best chefs in the country between the ages of 8-13. This show is great if you want to feel completely unaccomplished in life.

- Frasier (Netflix) Until recently the only Frasier episode I had ever seen was on a plane from South Africa ten years ago. Now I realize what I’ve been missing in my life. It’s one of the few clean & funny shows I’ve seen. This show is great if you like intelligent humor, including references you may not understand.

- White Collar (USA) I’ve been a fan of White Collar since Season 1. Once my wife got into it, we became big fans. Now my entire family watches it (that’s why we all got together last night for the Season 5 premiere). It’s a (generally) clean & entertaining crime show. This show is great if you want to learn how to be a world-class conman and world-class suit wearer.

- Once Upon a Time (ABC) Imagine every fairy tale character you know from childhood are all friends. Then imagine those same fairy tale characters have lives in both the Enchanted Forest and in a town in Maine. Then imagine every character being completely different from what you thought you knew. That’s what you get on Once Upon a Time. This show is great if you want to see the Snow White and Captain Hook join with Rumplestiltskin to defeat Peter Pan.

These are just a few of the shows we are currently watching. What are some of your favorite?

Work/Life Balance

My generation seems to blur the lines between work and private life. This is seen when private issues show up at the workplace, or when workplace issues show up at home. Always being connected via our smartphones doesn’t help the balance. The issue of work/life balance is one that my generation-really, all of us-need to address.

It’s also an issue that church staff members need to address. It’s too easy for home to come to church and church to come home. But that isn’t always healthy. Thankfully, the folks over at the Disney Institute Blow recently posted a helpful article on work/life balance. Check out the link below and leave your thoughts in the comments.

How Work-Life Balance is Shifting (And How to Keep it in Your Favor)

24 Day Challenge Update

Today marks Day 6 of my 24 Day Challenge, the nutritional reset program by Advocare. I began the challenge on Monday, and I’ve already felt results. This morning I am down 5 pounds and can already tell a positive difference in my overall energy.

More often than not I’m the cynical one in the crowd, and the challenge was no exception. I’ve seen friends on Facebook try the challenge for themselves and have great results. I wasn’t convinced I would have the same experience, but so far I am. Continue reading

A Few Thoughts for Friday….Coffee

I am a coffee fan. Coffee wasn’t something I enjoyed until the end of college. While I was doing my student teaching, I discovered to be the one thing that would help me survive the day. Since then, I have become a bit of a coffee snob. Here are a few random thoughts for both coffee lovers and coffee abstainers:

- I converted to French Press a couple years ago, and I’ve never looked back. If you enjoy a good cup of coffee, ditch the drip machine and get a French Press system (and if you were wondering what to get me for Christmas, then a new water kettle for the French press is a great choice).

- You mug matters. Not because it influences the taste, but because it helps you feel cooler. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll use anything you can to feel cooler than you actually are. Continue reading

Undercover Boss and the Need to Appreciate

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TV is a dangerous thing for me. It’s easy for me to get caught up in shows, especially reality shows. One show in particular that my wife and I both enjoy is Undercover Boss on CBS. So you could guess how excited we were to see the first 3 seasons recently appear on Netflix (as well as the shows from Canada, Australia, and the UK).

Over the last couple weeks we have been watching old episodes regularly. If you’ve never seen it, take 43 minutes and watch an episode on Netflix. You’ll thank me later. You may be so thankful that you name your first born Wes. Continue reading