SOMETHING that ENDED on a FRIDAY

It’s not going to happen. Friday 12-21-12 will be a pretty standard Friday for most of us. I for one will be glad to have it behind us. But what if it were actually going to all go away tomorrow? What if today was the last day you ever had? Are you satisfied with how your final moments played out? Did you do something worthwhile? Did you give yourself in something meaningful?

The main idea here is that days like Mayan Apocalypse Day should, besides generating a ton of sarcastic humor, cause us to reflect on our lives. Days like these should make us stop and ask ourselves a few questions, not because we actually believe that the world is about to end, but because we believe that it will not. Are we satisfied with who we are, where we are, and how we are? What would we do to change any of it?

Jesus did something to change it. In fact, the first part of the most important moment in human history (the crucifixion of Christ) is widely believed to have happened on a Friday. Tomorrow is supposed to be a scary Friday. Jesus faced the scariest Friday ever. He did it with a willing commitment we will never be able to understand. He did it for you and for me, and to glorify the Father. He lived life free of regret, full of purpose, and focused on God. What about you?

Search Engine Queries

Search engines are great. You can type pretty much anything you can think of into one and it will probably connect you with something that lines up pretty well with your query. My blog host allows me to track all of the web searches that result in a hit on the site. This is a list of some of the humorous 2012 web searches that lead to nathanology. They are only funny because they are completely removed from the context of the article they arrived at. I hope you enjoy. These are completely unedited.

1. the face book post about hanging jesus for being a hippie liberal

2. slacktivism christianity

3. God hiking

4. where do liberals hang out on facebook

5. oh you have swag i bet that looks great on a resume

6. merica

7. what does “situation number 2” mean in storytelling?

8. huckleberry finn moral maturity

9. things that can be learned from spiderman

10. exploded brain

11. what in the heck is a doily

12. blistering sword

13. windows8 eats your soul

14. comic character in speedo

15. know me for my idiosyncrasies

16. football is idolatry

17. picture of the people walking with problems

18. who is francis chan going to vote for

19. they are just humanity’s way of trying to rationalize our own selfishness

20. people who pick up trash

Salvation: Christ Alone

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

I didn’t do it. You didn’t do it. We simply cannot do it. There is no saving ourselves because, in fact, we are exactly who it is we need saving from. There is a fallen nature and we all exhibit it. We do have a very real enemy in the Devil; but I have found that so often his chief means of destruction is to entice us with our own willful self-destruction.

God graciously intervenes in the self-destruction process. The entire Bible is a written record of that continued intervention process. Jesus Christ is the sole means by which God intervenes in our destruction. In an unsurpassable act of grace God became one of us—He became Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. It was, and is, grace that opened the way to reconciliation to God, and salvation from our self-imposed damnation. This happens when we place our faith in God’s work on our behalf, not on our work to reach God.

Jesus Christ alone saves us. God’s grace made incarnate, is Jesus. Faith alone connects us to Him. Christ alone is the intermediary between our death, hell, sin, the eternal grave, and life everlasting given only by grace from God.

We can’t work it off, work up to it, or work it out on our own. We can’t run to an alternate path, cash in Karma, call in a divine favor, or ascend to a place of Nirvana. There is a real Heaven, and a real Hell, and the only path to God lies through Jesus Christ.

We live in a time when that statement is offensive, but that makes it no less true. Christ alone is the path to God. His words are better than mine always, so I’ll wrap it up with an excerpt from John’s Gospel…

Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

More in this series.

Grace Alone
Faith Alone
Christ Alone

Review: The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey (No Spoilers)

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A spoiler free review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey from a lifelong Tolkien fan.

I grew up with hobbits, goblins, elves, and dwarves. Early in life I had the chance to see the classic Hobbit animated film, a movie which still holds a special place in my heart. Ever since the final credits rolled on Peter Jackson’s 2003 version of Return of the King I have deeply desired to see The Hobbit get the feature film treatment. In anticipation of this film I have watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy in its entirety twice in the last month. I was excited for tonight. So how did The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hold up against my nearly lifelong expectations?

Thematically An Unexpected Journey sets a familiar tone for fans of Peter Jackson’s previous forays into Middle Earth, at least at the outset of the film. Fans of the written fiction who expect to find a more light-hearted approach need not fret, this movie does not stray far from its roots. There are embellishments, alterations, and frequent expoundings upon but all serve to enhance the story being told.

The tale itself is one that instantly feels incredibly familiar, and yet fresh. The cinematography is what you might expect from a journey to Middle-Earth; full of wide shots and stretching landscapes. What you might not expect is all of the color. Where The Lord of the Rings trilogy was frequently washed in grayish drab color, An Unexpected Journey rarely gets lost in greyscale. The special effects were top notch, although I chose to view the film in 2D for my initial viewing. My biggest delights in the film were the soundtrack and the frequent nods to the written fiction. For the former there are familiar tunes and to the latter it put a smile on my face every time.

This is a well adapted tale, that at nearly three hours long, never felt slow or dry. It is a grand adventure that somehow manages to continue the legacy for Jackson’s interpretation of Middle-Earth while preceding that which has come before. All in all The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was almost exactly what I expected it to be; a charming fun adventure full of both nostalgia and suspense for what’s to come. It feels good to spend time in Middle-Earth again.

10 Things We Say & What We Really Mean

Life usually doesn’t fit into nice neat little lists, but that doesn’t keep me from trying. Welcome to my Tuesday 10, where I try to fit the messiness of life into a list of ten.

We have a lot of little things we say that don’t really mean what a careful interpretation of the words would lead someone to believe. Whether they are catch phrases, idioms, web/text speak, shorthand, or whatever. Here are ten things we say and what they actually mean.

1. “Maybe.” — “I don’t really want to commit myself to anything.”

2. “This goes without saying, but…” — “I really think this is important enough that you should know what I’m about to say before I even say it, but I am going to say it anyways. Probably because I like the sound of my own voice.”

3. “Lol” — “I have nothing else to say, but I want the conversation to continue.”

4. “Yeah … yes …. uh-huh” — “I’m not paying attention to you.”

5. “I just want to be me.” — “I just want to be who I think everyone wants me to be.” or “I want to be as strange as humanly possible and get a lot of attention.”

6. “I’m starving.” — “It’s been at least an hour since I ate an extra large double cheeseburger.”

7. “I love (nonhuman variable)!” — “I have an unhealthy affinity for (nonhuman variable)!”

8. “It’s good to see you this morning.” — “Oh, hey we are passing each other in the hall at church again this week.”

9. “That is so EPIC!” — “I don’t know what an epic is!”

10. “Outreach” — “We want people to come to an event at our church on a night not typically associated with going to church.”

Salvation: Faith Alone

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

Faith is a powerful thing. It is a miraculous thing. It is the hopeful belief in something that is beyond us for good or for ill.

Many people in the Bible demonstrated faith. You know people in your own life that no doubt demonstrate faith in something, even if it is something not altogether worthy of being a recipient of their faith. God is always a worthy recipient of our faith.

It is a simple acknowledgement placing your faith in God. It means developing a hopeful belief that He will, can, and has provided an alternative to your sinful nature. It is this faith at work in us that, when combined by the extended grace of God, ushers us into salvation.

Some would teach that you can only be saved by showing some outward sign, perhaps baptism, or the demonstration of some spiritual gift. It is my belief, and the clear point of this passage in Ephesians 2, that the only condition for salvation is faith. Simply put, you must acknowledge and want God alone as the source, recipient, and channel for your belief.

Faith is a many-faceted thing. It creates a mountain of possibilities in our lives, but its principle purpose is straight forward. Faith is the Holy Spirit working in our heart, mind, soul, and strength in a way that empowers us to trust in God beyond our own means. Grace alone from God received by Faith alone. That is salvation at work in us.

More in this series.
Grace Alone
Christ Alone