Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Life Apps - part 1

We've started a new sermon series called "Life Apps". For four Sunday's we will be looking at ways we can become better at listening to and talking with God. This past Sunday, Caz talked about Lectio Divina, or 'divine reading'. This is a way of reading the Bible and letting God speak to you through the scripture passage.

Here's how you do it:
1) Get in a comfortable, quiet place where you won't be interupted for 10-15 minutes. Pray for God to be present with you.
2) Read the chosen scripture passage (2-3 verses) once. Think about which word or phrase catches your attention
3) Read the passage again. Think about how that word or phrase applies to your life currently.
4) Read the passage a third time. Listen for what God might be calling you to realize, change, or act upon in your life.

Pretty easy, huh? It can also be pretty profound. I have yet to do this and not feel God speaking to me through the verses.

Today, I want you to practice Lectio Divina. If a certain passage pops out at you when you open your Bible, great, do it with that verse. If it doesn't, try this one.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

Have a great conversation with God!



Monday, June 20, 2011

Dad's as heroes

In honor of the recent Father's Day weekend, I thought I would write my last "hero" blog on Dads.

Dads, just like moms, are human and flawed, but they are essential to our lives. God, himself, the perfect father, sets the example - and it is a hard one to follow. God not only created the world, but sustains and upholds it. God doesn't just love those he created, he sacrificed himself for us. God doesn't just give us directives, but he guides us and allows us to make and learn from our own mistakes. All of these things are a model for our earthly fathers to follow and it is not easy.

On Mother's Day, kids and dads are often told to love and do nice things for the moms in their life. On Father's Day, though, dads are most often told how important their role is and that, in so many words, they need to "step it up". I am not saying that a dad's role is more important than a mom's - it is just different. It is true that biblically speaking, men hold a greater amount of responsibility than women - something that I know is not a popular idea in our modern world of gender equality. God did create all humans equal - male and female. Gender equality, however, doesn't mean role equality. In our modern society, we often scoff at the idea of the father as 'head of the household' but this is a very important position in the Christian life.

In the Christian model of marriage, the man takes on the same role for the family as Jesus does for the Church. That is nothing to sneeze at. The man is responsible for leading his household in a manner that reflects well upon a follower of Jesus. This doesn't mean the dad gets to subjugate his wife and children and be bossy - it actually means that the dad has to 1) be an incredible example of leadership, integrity and faithfulness, 2) nurture and love his family in a sacrificial way, and 3) be accountable for the family's general well-being.

That is a job description that I don't think many people would voluntarily sign-up for, but it is the role that God has given to the husbands and fathers of this world. Every man who takes these responsibilities seriously is a hero.

And now for the part about what the women and children in the lives of these dads should do for them: Those of us who are lucky enough to be married to men of faith who try to seriously fulfill the role that God has given to them should pray everyday to be a person who loves a supporting role. We should love, respect, and honor our husbands and fathers because of the simple fact that they are living their lives out as a sacrifice for us - to love, care, and nurture us. Just as we honor, love, and respect God, our perfect father, we should also work towards honoring, loving, and respecting our husbands and fathers. This doesn't mean that we never have our own opinions or disagree with them - human fathers are not infallible - but it does mean that they deserve our respect.

Love and honor the husbands and fathers in your life - they have a seriously tough job to do every day.


"Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." -Colossians 3:18-21


Monday, June 13, 2011

What makes a hero?

I think one of the main characteristics of a hero is that of bravery. I have a very clear memory of my mother telling me as a child that being brave didn't mean doing something that was easy - it meant doing something that wasn't easy for you. Bravery was when you did what was necessary even when whatever needed to be done scared you.

Bravery is not a characteristic that is overabundant in our world and culture. We like to think that we are brave, but being brave is really a very difficult thing to do. Being brave means taking some personal risk - whether it is a physical, emotional, or social risk that is involved.

I think of the bravery displayed by those who risked their lives to help end slavery. Or those who risked their social standing (as well as their lives and the lives of their families) to speak out against Hitler and his political party. Many of these people were Christians who, following the example of Jesus, were willing to put their own lives at risk to do what they believed God wanted them to do in those situations.

Christianity is not a meek and quiet faith. Christianity is a strong and outspoken faith. A faith to which people have devoted their entire life in order to protect and proclaim it to the world.

It seems to me that from a biblical perspective, heroism begins with the quality of bravery - the ability to act even when scared. God has called all sorts of people throughout history to stand up and do brave acts that would change the course of God's history in this world. Look at the myriad of people He called in the bible - Noah, David, Esther, Mary, and Paul just to name a few. None of these people were 'ready' for what God called them to do but they did it because they knew it was the right thing and they somehow found it within themselves to follow God's leading no matter what might happen to them personally.

Hero's and heroine's in the Bible all have one thing in common - they listen for God.

I think God calls all of us to commit acts of bravery in his name - all we have to do is listen. The things that God calls us to be brave for might not be things that change the history of the world, but they are things that will change someone's history for the better.


" Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

There's Giants out there!

We all have our own giants to face. Sometimes they are things that seem silly and small to others but to us are enormously intimidating. Sometimes they are challenges that we have to face and overcome in order to become the people we want to be. In any case, giants are a subject that we can understand.

The subject of giants is not foreign to the Bible, either. We all know the story of David and Goliath in which a young boy conquors the mighty warrior of the opposing army. David is told that he cannot face Goliath - that he is too young, too small, too everything. He is told that he will lose. But David doesn't have faith in the those who tell him these things, he has faith in God. He goes to fight Goliath and says (in the words of my son's Bible): "You come to me with a spear and a sword, but I come to you in the name of the Lord!"

There is also the story of the 12 "spies" who were sent out by the Israelites to do a little reconnoitering in the Promised Land (Numbers 13). They came back and reported that the land promised to them by God was indeed a wonderful and fertile land but it was occupied by giants. The people became fearful and wanted to turn back but two of those who had gone to look at the land, Caleb and Joshua, told the people "...the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them." (Numbers 14:9)

God is with us at all times and with God we can accomplish anything. The only 'trick' is to make sure that we are pursuing the right course. That can only be known through prayer. Sometimes the only way we know we are on the right course is because we keep being able to move forward. (Conversely, if you are on the wrong course, often it is like banging your head against the wall!)

David, Caleb, and Joshua did not have super strength, wealth, power, or anything else. What they had was faith that God was leading them where they were supposed to go and they believed He would give them what they needed to do the tasks He set before them.

God will help you to overcome the giants in your life blocking your path, if it is truly the path God wants you to follow. Pray daily for his guidance in your life to help you choose the right path.


"The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” - 1 Samuel 17:37


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Who does the Bible say a Hero is?

When I was little I would pretend to be Wonder Woman. I had a Wonder Woman underoos outfit (remember those!:) ) and I would dress up in it with white knee socks (for her knee high boots), my mother's braclets shoved up on my arms (for my magic wrist bands) and a gold chain from my mother's evening purse as my golden lasso.

I am pretty sure pretending to be a super hero is a common childhood experience. It is a way for kids to feel powerful and big like the grown-ups around them. My son went through the "super hero" phase but tended to make up his own character and powers. It was really cute the way he would say he was going to be a Super Hero when he grew up. The only problem was that his belief in this tended to make him think he could handle situations that were beyond his age.

Whenever we discussed 'stranger danger' he would always say that he could "handle it himself because he was a super hero". I finally had to resort to telling him that he was a "super hero in training" and until he actually grew up and turned into one, there were certain situations he needed to get a grown up's help to handle.

As adults, we all want to be super heroes, too. We want to be able to handle anything that comes our way. Life however, isn't always manageable on our own. We need others to help us. Most important of all, we need Jesus to help us.

Jesus is the one, true superhero. Jesus used his Godly super powers to perform miracles and heal people. He used his power to transform peoples lives. Most important of all, Jesus used his power to take away all of our sin and shame by dying on a cross for each of us.

Just like my son, who believed himself to be a super hero, really needed my help, we need Jesus' help.

So talk to Jesus. Read about him in your Bible. Get to know this real super hero the way that he already knows you. He is just waiting for you to acknowledge that he is right beside you.


"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:7-8