Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wired - Are you a "Joseph"?

Joseph (the Old Testament great-grandson of Abraham, not the New Testament husband of Mary) has been the subject of many secular plays, movies, and stories because his fall and subsequent rise to power against all odds is quite dramatic and uplifting.

Joseph's story can be found in Genesis 37-50. If you are not familiar with his life, I encourage you to read it this week. In brief, Joseph is the favored son of Jacob and this favoritism leads to enmity between him and his 11 brothers who eventually fake his death and sell him into slavery. Joseph, through many crises, eventually rises to be the Egyptian Pharaoh's right hand man. When Joseph has the opportunity to save his family, he does so, saying they had meant their actions 'for evil, but God meant them for good.' (Gen 50-19-21 paraphrased)

We are told repeatedly throughout Joseph's story that God was with him in all that he did. No matter who had harmed him, lied about him or sold him out, God was working to redeem the negative events, not only for the good of Joseph but for many, many people.

If you are 'wired' like Joseph you:

-Feel God's presence most strongly during times of crisis.
-You care about your reputation and want others to respect you.
- You guard your integrity and try to avoid doing anything that will compromise it.
- You are a hard worker and  your boss (and your family) love you for it.
These are all positive traits but like all positive things, there is also a negative side that you have to watch out for. Because of your strong drive to succeed with integrity, you probably become easily annoyed by those who you don't feel work as hard as you do. This can lead you to be judgemental. Since you want to portray a positive outlook to the world, you also have a tendency to ignore or 'stuff' negative emotions and this can cut you off emotionally not only from the people around you, but from God.
In order to make the most of your positive traits and stay connected to God here are some things you might do:
-Practice not being perfect. Allow yourself to be vulnerable with trustworthy people in your life. Let something in your life be ‘messy’. It’s OK ;)
- Don’t overfill your life with activities. Allow space and time to sit, think, pray and just ‘be’.

- Let go of your own notions of who you are supposed to be and be open to the person God is molding you into.
- Remember that every emotion is created by God. It’s not whether you feel emotions that we, as humans, have labeled “positive or negative” – it what you do with them that matters.
- Don’t always do things because you are ‘supposed’ to or ‘have’ to. Responsibility is important but you also need to make sure you do things because you ‘want’ to.

If none of these things sound like you, that's OK. Stay tuned to the "Wired" series and maybe you'll find yourself in one of the next few sermons.

Chesney Szaniszlo

Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?   But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. - Genesis 50:19-21


Monday, May 21, 2012


We have 4 weeks left in our "wired" series. I hope that you have begun to wonder and think about how you and God connect with each other in specific and meaningful ways. This series is all about figuring out how to connect with God all the time - no matter where you are in your life and faith journey.

When you have time this week, think about when and how you feel God most directly. Also think about when God feels very distant.

 If you feel God more during times of trouble and stress, maybe there are pro-active ways you can begin to connect with God during times of peace. Some people can connect with God by writing in a "thankfulness journal" - taking time at the end of each day to write down something that you are thankful for from that day. Some people can connect with God by listening to music that reminds them of God's goodness and mercy.

If you are more likely to feel God's presence when things are going well, maybe you need to have a physical place you go when things aren't going well. In this place (a drawer, a file, etc), you can have a list of difficult events in your life that God has already brought you through. Or you can write down scritpures that remind you of God's faithfulness and steadfast love.

If you most often hear God's voice through friends and people around you, maybe you can pray about how you can be that kind of friend for someone God puts in your path.

God created us to be "wired" so that we can connect with Him at all times: in the good, in the bad, and in the ugly times. Let's work together to figure out how we can encourage each other to discover our 'frequency' and stay connected to God all the time.

Chesney Szaniszlo

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. - 1 Corinthians 15:58


Monday, May 14, 2012

Reflections on Motherhood

Since it was just Mother's Day, I am taking a break from my usual blog on Live Oak's sermon series to think about motherhood.

Many of you know that my mother died 8 years ago. While no one can replace my mother, I have been blessed by God to be surrounded by women in my peer group who have wisdom beyond their age and the ability to speak truthfully to me about my own worries, fears, and questions about my own mothering skills.

When I gave birth to that little 6 lb 11 ounce baby boy, I was terrified! He was so little I was afraid I would break him just by changing his diaper. But the women in my life stood in the gap left by my mother's absence and passed on to me the 'tricks' that they had learned and reassured me when I made mistakes or freaked out.

I have friends who told me that everyone will lose it with their kids, but as long as you know when to walk away and take a break, you (and your kids) will be fine.

I have friends who told me that everyone needs a jar you continually drop quarters into to pay for your kid's future 'therapy' because of what you do to them.

I have friends who will make me laugh as I call with stories of toilet explosions or 'crazy mommy' moments that were certainly not funny at the time.

I have friends who remind me that our moms were crazy, too, and we ended up being normal, productive citizens.

I have friends who constantly remind me that God stands in the gap between the mom I want to be and the mom I actually am.

And I have friends who ask me for advice and encouragment - showing me that I am doing a good job.

This Mother's Day, I am thankful, not only for my husband and son, who made me a mom, but for all the women God has put into my life who stand in the gap and are helping me become the mom I want to be.

Thank you!

Chesney Szaniszlo


Monday, May 7, 2012

Would Jesus be a Christian? - 4

We wrapped up this sermon series yesterday with the question of "How would Jesus vote?"

It's an interesting question if you step back from your particular affiliation and think about how Jesus treated people and what he taught.

As Christians, our allegiance to Christ comes before our allegiance to anything or anyone else. Through the Bible we are taught to care for the poor, respect government authority, treat others the way we want to be treated, and many other principles that we don't always see applied in politics - by either side.

It may or may not change the way you vote to think this way, but it can't hurt to be a thoughtful Christian when thinking through how you will vote in this or any year.

If nothing else came from this series, I hope all of us have learned to at least slow down and think about how we are portraying Christianity when we open our mouths to speak or make a movement with our bodies. Every action we do and every word we speak is seen or heard by someone. The way we give or do not give respect, grace, love and mercy to the world is our testament to Jesus.

Chesney Szaniszlo