Holy Heroes: Thor

If you’re just joining us, last Sunday I explained that Blooming Grove is going to be entering a float in this year’s Halloween Parade in Carlinville. The theme for the parade is Superhero Celebration and we’re looking for brave souls to dress up as superheroes—something that my family has been doing for years—and walk or ride in the parade with us. I’m excited about this parade because I’m convinced that comic-book heroes can teach some valuable spiritual lessons. In fact, I like to think of superheroes as modern-day parables. Jesus used parables—that is, fictional stories—to illustrate spiritual truths. I believe that the stories of comic-book heroes like Batman, Spider-man, Iron-Man and others can help us better understand some very Biblical concepts.

In the comic-book industry there are two powerhouse publishers—DC Comic and Marvel Comics. While Superman is the strongest one there is in the DC universe, Thor is earth’s mightiest hero in the Marvel Universe. Fans of DC and Marvel have debated for decades which superhero is really more powerful—Superman or Thor. In fact, a friend of mine, Josh Boultinghouse, even starred in a short fan-film series titled Super Power Beat Down, which pitted the Man of Steel against the Prince of Thunder. The outcome was determined by fan vote and while Thor put up an epic battle, it was Superman who stood victorious in the end.


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Holy Heroes: Superman

Most of you have probably figured out by now that I’m a really big geek.

I wear that name like a badge of honor because I’ve earned it. I started collecting comic-books almost as soon as I could read. Wednesdays were my favorite day of the week because that was new comic-book day. Each week I would ride my bike to the comic-book store in the Piggly-Wiggle strip plaza to see what new comics had come out. And even before that I spent countless Saturday mornings laying belly-down on the carpet of our living watching the Super Friends and other Hanna-Barbera cartoons like Space Ghost and Birdman. 


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Then Sings My Soul: All to Jesus I Surrender

If you’re still new to the Grove, you may not have noticed it yet, but we’re a pretty subtle group of worshippers. And by that I mean there’s not a lot hand raising that goes on here. I don’t know why that is. Ashley and I have been to Christian concerts or conferences where everyone is raising their hands in worship, but here at home it seems like maybe we’re not comfortable raising our hands in worship. I think maybe the reason we’re uncomfortable with it is just because we don’t know what we’re doing. So, I’m going to have Tim Hawkins walk you through the art of hand raising in worship.


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Then Sings My Soul: Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

 

This husband and wife had recently been remodeling their kitchen and one day the wife came home to find her husband in the kitchen, shaking frantically with what looked like a wire running from his waist to the electric coffeepot he had in his hand. Her adrenaline kicked in at the thought of her husband being electrocuted, so she grabbed a nearby 2×4 and whacked him hard, intending to jolt him away from the deadly current. She managed to knock him clear across the room, breaking his arm in two places. She later she found out that, up until that moment, he had been happily listening to his iPod. What looked like electrocution were actually his best dance moves.

Music has a way making you move, doesn’t it? Even worship music. Maybe you like to tap your foot or raise your hand while you’re singing in church. David danced before the Lord in his underwear. Whatever you do at least you can be grateful that you’ve never been whacked with a 2×4 while dancing in your kitchen!


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Then Sings My Soul: A Mighty Fortress

A growing church held a special song service to raise money for their new singles ministry. The worship leader announced that for a $20 donation you could pick out one hymn, and for a $50 donation you could pick out three hymns. “So who’s going to start us off?” he asked. Then a single lady in the back started waving her hand. “I will! I will!” she said. Excitedly, she ran down the aisle and put her $50 in the collection plate. The worship leader said, “Thank you so much. Go ahead and pick out three hymns.” She turned and looked over the congregation and said “All right. I’ll take him, him and him!”


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Then Sings My Soul: How Great Thou Art

When humans first learned to sing, they expressed in music everything that meant something to them in life. People sang about family and friends. They sang when marching off to work or to war. And the greatest thing mankind had to sing about was God. As they sang, the Creator of cosmos listened with pleasure.

It didn’t take long though for people to start arguing about which songs to sing, how loud to sing them, whether or not they should be accompanied and what instruments should be used! There’s often been this divide between those who crave contemporary worship music and those who long for the sturdy old hymns of the past.

Have you wondered about the difference between the two?


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Then Sings My Soul: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

A prominent figure once complained about the impact of music upon our young people. He said, “This new music is promoting the moral degeneracy of our adolescents.” We might think this statement was made by someone within the past fifty years, but it’s actually a quote of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato.

Without question, music has a profound impact on human beings. Music continues to shape and add color to the most important moments of our lives. Spouses have favorite songs that conjure up happy memories of courtship. Certain compositions are immediately associated with specific holidays or other special occasions. Music can be used to change or reflect different moods. Even King Solomon enjoyed listening to David play his harp. It helped him find peace when he was angry or depressed. Music still has that effect on people today, especially spiritual music.


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Then Sings My Soul: Amazing Grace

Almost everybody loves music. People prefer different artists and styles, but it would be tough to find someone who doesn’t care for any of it. The combination of melody and lyrics captures a person’s innermost thoughts and emotions that are difficult to express in any other form. People identify with their favorite songs and develop a connection to others who share their feelings. We often recognize our favorite song just from the first few notes. And the last song we heard can often get stuck in our heads all day. Music has a way of touching the heart as nothing else can.

And this is especially true of spiritual music. Unfortunately, there’s no quicker way to turn holy ground into a battle ground than to bring up the topic of music in the church. Some people want only new contemporary music, others want fine-old hymns. Personally, I love the new praise and worship music. I sing it enthusiastically at church and I listen to contemporary Christian music on the radio. But as we sing a new song to the Lord, I think it’s important that we not forget the old ones.


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Real Love (part 4)

There’s an old song that says, “Love is a many-splendored thing.” The very concept of love is one of the most permeating themes in the world today. The Beatles sang about in the sixties. Their message to a hurt and frightened world was, “love is all you need.” According the New York Public Library database, there are at least 35,533 books currently in print with the word “love” in the title and over 12,958 music CDs. If you Google the word love on the internet, you’ll find at least 11,160,000,000 web-sites that that use “love” as one of their key words, including lovecalculator.com, which calculates the probability of a successful relationship between two people. All you do is type in two names, click “calculate” and Dr. Love will tell you the likelihood of a lasting relationship. I couldn’t help myself, so I typed in mine and Ashley’s names and according to Dr. Love we have a 61% chance of things working out. I thought maybe that was because we have the same last name, so I tried again with Ashley’s maiden name, but then it dropped to 47%!


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Real Love (part 3)

The Bible has a lot to say about love. Jesus said that the greatest commands ever given were to love the Lord with all you heart and to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:29). Paul wrote, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT). Peter said, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV).

In fact, the word love appears over 600 times in the Bible and no one in the Bible has more to say about it than the apostle John. He’s even called the apostle of love and his first letter is often referred to as the epistle of love. 


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