Monday, December 22, 2008

Minority Report

Set in the future, this movie is about a "Pre-Crime" unit in Washington DC. Thanks to the "precogs", special people who can see into the future, the pre-crime unit can see images of a murder before it occurs, piece together clues, and arrest the would be perpetrator before the murder is committed. Tom Cruise plays John Anderton, a detective in the pre-crime unit who is deeply affected by a loss he suffered. He defends pre-crime though it is being challenged by other government officials. When something is revealed about Anderton's future, he must try to piece together what leads to future events and face the possibility that the system he has worked so hard for is flawed. This is a unique concept for a movie and it is very suspenseful throughout.

Psalm 118

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
2 Let Israel say: "His love endures forever."
3 Let the house of Aaron say: "His love endures forever."
4 Let those who fear the LORD say: "His love endures forever."
5 In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free.
6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
7 The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies.
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.
10 All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the LORD I cut them off.
11 They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the LORD I cut them off.
12 They swarmed around me like bees, but they died out as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off.
13 I was pushed back and about to fall, but the LORD helped me.
14 The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
15 Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: "The LORD's right hand has done mighty things!
16 The LORD's right hand is lifted high; the LORD's right hand has done mighty things!"
17 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
18 The LORD has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death.
19 Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter.
21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.
22 The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;
23 the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success.
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.
27 The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.
29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

"His love endures forever." What comforting words for us. No matter what, we can count on God's love. I really love v. 6.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snowflake Zip Cardigan (Eddie Bauer)

I love Eddie Bauer clothes though I don't shop there often because they're kind pricey. But thanks to some outstanding deals, I was able to order this fabulous sweater. It is such a fun winter sweater.

Psalm 116

1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD : "O LORD, save me!"
5 The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
6 The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.
7 Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.
8 For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

10 I believed; therefore I said, "I am greatly afflicted."
11 And in my dismay I said, "All men are liars."
12 How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
16 O LORD, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD—in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.

You can really hear and feel the anguish of the psalmist in this psalm. And we today can certainly relate to those feelings. The LORD does save us. He has compassion on us. In our darkest, most anguished moment, He is right there. That is why the psalmist, though he has been going through a lot of "stuff" can speak of the LORD'S goodness and want to offer thanksgiving and praise. God is good to His children. I especially love vs. 8 and 15.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Emperor's New Groove

This Disney movie is about an emperor, Kuzco, who initially cares only about himself. Shortly after he tells a peasant, Pacha, that he plans on building his vacation home on the site of Pacha's home, Kuzco is turned into a llama by the advisor he has just fired. Pacha ends up helping Kuzco, and along the way, Kuzco begins to genuinely care about other people feelings. David Spade is great voicing Kuzco. It's a funny movie.

"2000 Miles" The Pretenders

2000 Miles
By The Pretenders
Best Video Codes
The song was first released in 1983, but the Pretenders did a new arrangement of it in 2008. I like both versions. KT Tunstall also did a cover of it that is pretty good.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Psalm 115:1

1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

I know a pastor who when asked to pray would often use this Scripture in his prayer. When I hear it I think, "It's not about us." We are often full of ourselves and think better of ourselves than we ought. This passage points us to the LORD and how awesome He is. It reminds us of the love and faithfulness of our God.

Flashback by Gary Braver

Flashback is an awesome medical science thriller. One of the characters, Jack Koryan, is attacked by a school of jellyfish whose toxic stings send him into a coma. After being in a coma for 6 months, he awakes to find the toxins have helped him to have an extraordinary memory. But he also experiences disturbing flashbacks. Meanwhile, Rene Ballard, a pharmacologist, ends up working with a drug company claiming to have developed a cure for Alzheimer's. But the "miracle drug" is causing disturbing flashbacks in some of the elderly patients. The drug company is determined to move forward with the drug despite the issues and despite the concerns of Rene and others. Don't want to say more than that, so as not to ruin anything. This was one of those books I couldn't put down. It's very engaging and suspenseful.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Psalm 112:6-8

6 Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever.
7 He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
8 His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.

I think this passage is cool because in life it seems there is a lot of bad news. Every day we are bombarded by bad news of things happening in the world, and then sometimes we receive bad news in our personal lives. But this passage reminds us that for the Christian, we don't have to be afraid of bad news. Because of the Good News, we not fear bad news. Our God remembers us, He loves us, He helps us. That's what we hold on to.

The Lord's Prayer by Martin Chemnitz

Most Christians say the Lord's Prayer often. Christians need to take care that they don't start just saying the words without thinking about what those words really mean! The Small and Large Catechisms of course are wonderful resources that expounds on the meaning of the Lord's Prayer. And this book by Martin Chemnitz is another valuable resource. He analyzes the petitions of the Lord's Prayer and helps the reader to get a fuller understanding of why we address God the way we do and why we pray what we do in this prayer. It's very easy to read and has many insights.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bronner's--Frankenmuth, Michigan

Bronner's, billed as the World's largest Christmas store, was founded by Wally Bronner in 1945. It is quite incredible--all the ornaments, lights, nativities, trees, other decorations.

An awesome thing about Bronner's is the Silent Night Memorial Chapel. I'll always remember walking along the path outside the chapel and seeing the words of "Silent Night" in all different languages. Very powerful.

Frankenmuth, Michigan

I have such fond memories of visiting Frankenmuth, Michigan with my parents, and I can't wait to go back again. It is an awesome German town. The Bavarian Inn is great place to stay while there. There are wonderful restaurants like the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Zehnder's where you can get chicken dinners and other delicious food. Lots of great shopping--you can walk along the street and go into all sorts of neat little shops and get some tasty treats at the Cheese Haus or Fudge Kitchen. And of course Frankenmuth is famous for Bronner's, the World's largest Christmas store. At St. Julian Winery, you can sample various wines. And visiting St. Lorenz Lutheran church is a must. The stained glass windows there are beautiful. The church and town have a rich history.

Psalm 94:17-19

17 Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
18 When I said, "My foot is slipping," your love, O LORD, supported me.
19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.

I always thought this was so comforting. In life, don't we feel like we are slipping a lot? Don't we feel great anxiety? But the Lord never leaves us. He is always right there to support us and console us. Thus we can have joy even in the most difficult and challenging times of our lives.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Lord's Prayer, Chapter 2 "Our Father"--The Preface--Martin Chemnitz

"The title 'our Father' teaches us with what faith and confidence we are to pray to God. We are not to pray in proud and Pharisaic presumption based on our own justice or worthiness, or on the works and merits either of ourselves or others. We are to pray with the humble acknowledgement and confession of our own unworthiness. We are to pray with the merits and intercession of the only Son of God, our Mediator, through whom the Father has adopted us to be sons and heirs (Eph. 1:5).

Likewise, the fullness of this title 'Father' reminds us of a very sweet consolation. We have 'a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God' (Heb. 2:17). 'But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense...He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins' (1 John 2:1-2). 'He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them' (Heb. 7:25, cf. Heb. 9:24). He has received gifts from kings (Ps. 68:29), and he gives the same to us (Eph. 4:11). We are not commanded to call God a lord, just, great, almighty, or terrible, but our Father. By these words those who pray are confident that they will be heard and that they will obtain their requests. 'Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need' (Heb. 4:16)... The title 'Father' gives us confidence. As Christ himself declares in John 16:23, our prayers are neither grievous nor ungrateful to God. The Father so loves us that he is delighted with this our duty. When we come to him with our prayers, his fatherly mind is full of care for our necessities (Matt 6:32). Of his own accord he is ready and active to hear and to help us 'as a father has compassion on his children' (Ps 103:13; cf. Lk. 11:9)."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid

This was written and first performed in 1984 to raise money for relief of the 1984-85 Ethiopian famine. Artists such as Duran Duran, Phil Collins, George Michael, Bono, Paul Young, Sting, Kool and the Gang, and others participated. I dig when a bunch of artists get together like this and perform together, especially when it is for a good cause.

Growing up, I remember I would hear this song played on the radio after Thanksgiving each year. I always looked forward to hearing it, and eventually bought a copy of it. I never get tired of it. From beginning to the end "Feed the World" refrain, it's good stuff. Don't really care for the remakes really though. Especially the one in 2004--they changed it too much.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Lord's Prayer, Chapter 1 An Introduction (Words arouse our devotion)--Martin Chemnitz

"It is only rashness and impiety that disdains either the shortness or the simplicity of the Lord's Prayer as though you yourself could find or compose a better pattern of prayer. Yet the recitation of the Lord's Prayer must not be vain mumbling, as though the words uttered without understanding had some magical force. We must consider what the words signify. We must remind ourselves of how far they reach and how many things they contain so that we may pray with the spirit and with the mind (1 Cor. 14:15). In these petitions we include our wants. By these means, as it has been said, these words will arouse our devotion."

Wife Swap

It's interesting that I got so into this reality TV show. It's a show I first started watching only cause it happened to be on (it had replaced another show I watched at that time). And there are reruns of this all the time now on Lifetime--morning, afternoon, and night.

The premise of the show is that two families swap wives/mothers for two weeks. Usually the families are are extreme opposites in some way (eg. one wife is extremely neat and orderly while the other is extremely messy or one family has tons of rules while the other has no rules and the kids do whatever they want). So it's interesting. And then when you have say a family of clowns or family of pirates, it's really interesting. For the first week, the wife/mother has to abide by the rules of the house. The second week, she gets to set the rules that the family must follow. This is often very difficult for the family, taking them out of their comfort zone.

Though it's kind of disturbing sometimes to see how some people live, it's fascinating to watch, and it's actually quite touching at times, because often families really do learn something from each other. Sometimes the mom (or dad) sees she or he needs to spend more time with the kids, or sometimes they learn how to do something that makes the household run more efficiently. So it's kind of cool. Someone kind of laughed at me the other day for liking this show, but hey, I dig it.

John 1:16

16From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.

This verse has been going through my mind a lot lately. It was the theme verse of my Christmas letter in fact. Though this past year has had its challenges (as every year has its challenges), there have been so many blessings. And all blessings come from God. He is the Giver of all good things. Sometimes we are guilty of not recognizing the blessings or not expressing gratitude for His blessings. But He keeps on giving the blessings anyway. Because God gives not based on what we do or how "good" we are (thank God, since we are sinful to the core!). He gives purely out of grace. My friend Lisa, from when I first met her would say, "Blessings are chasing you down." That's always stuck with me. Of course the greatest blessing is that Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross so that we could be forgiven and have eternal life. Then there are the blessings of family, friends, vocation, house, food, clothing, music, and on and on and on. So many blessings! What a loving, awesome God we have!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

White Chocolate Shake (Steak n Shake)

This is usually only offered during holiday season, and I always look forward to getting one. It is delicious.

The Lord's Prayer, Chapter 1 An Introduction (We pray in faith that we would receive from God blessings)--Martin Chemnitz

"We also pray in faith that we would receive from God the blessings of this life and that by his blessings they may be profitable for us. Because God would have this glory given to himself as the Fountain, Author, and Giver of every good thing (James 1:17) and that we should wholly rely upon him, therefore we, in prayer, testify that we neither ascribe them to any other nor seek them elsewhere. We completely hope for, expect, and require the same from God alone. For God has promised that he will be ready and willing to help. In our prayers we lay our wants and needs before God, not as though he did not know them, but that by pouring out our cares into the Lord's bosom, we may unburden and comfort our souls. This promise is very sweet and comforting (Ps. 37:5; 55:22). 'Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you' (1 Pet. 5:7). Chrysostom adds this reason why we should pray: 'That by often calling upon God we may become familiar with him.' He urges prayer that we may more highly esteem and more reverently use that which God bestows upon us when we ask and knock."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Man Who Has Everything and Christ Quote--C.S. Lewis

"The man who has everything and Christ has no more than the man who has just Christ."
--C.S. Lewis