Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Big Ask: we should all be more like Leslie Knope

I was blessed by Caz’s sermon about asking God for big things. I loved hearing the amazing story of how we came together as a church to raise the funds to build our building. In the stories we focused on, Jesus asked big questions. John 5 is the story of the sick man at Bethesda, who spent years next to the healing waters of Bethesda. Caz said the waters may not have actually healed people, but it seems as if the man believed they healed. Some versions of the Bible have verses in brackets beginning in John 5:3 that the sick would be “[[c]waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.” (NASB). Early manuscripts do not have the portion in the brackets.
            As a poet, I prefer to believe an angel moved the water, and if you ask nicely I’ll show you a poem I wrote called “Bethesda.” However, either way, this man who was not able to get into the water was asked by Jesus if he wanted to get well. His answer focused on why he couldn’t get into the healing waters. Caz said we tend to focus on why our big dreams can’t happen instead of asking God for big things. We get comfortable living within sight of our dream or maybe don’t even have a big dream and are just trying to get by.
            At times I have asked God for bold things. And yet it occurred to me today that I don’t consistently ask God to help my 9 month old sleep through the night. Imagine how much more effective I would be in every area of my life and ministry if I slept through the night. Why am I not asking God every day for this? How do we get so comfortable being in sight of what we really want but assume we cannot have? What if we asked God for things we need but don’t think He’ll do, like take things off of our plate when we are carrying too much?
            Leslie Knope, the lead character of Parks and Recreation is one of my favorite fictional characters. She would dream big. She would boldly ask for land to be donated. Through persistence and ingenuity, she accomplished bigger and bigger dreams. Let’s borrow the tenacity of Leslie as we approach our grand opening and begin this new chapter in our church. Join me in continuing to ask God for big things: an abundance of enthusiastic volunteers, funds and vision for whatever ministry our church is supposed to have, and that the people who are supposed to be here will be here. Let us ask boldly for God to give us big dreams and then help us fulfill those dreams.
Beth Kropf


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

All children are our children: Introducing Ryan

        On Sunday Caz continued the series in Deuteronomy and talked about how we are called to pass down our faith through generations.  Deuteronomy 6:20 it says “0“When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the Lord our God commanded you?’ (NASB)  When our children ask questions like this, we are to respond by telling stories.
            Earlier in the chapter it talked about how we need to teach our children continuously “when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:7). This is about telling our stories to our kids. Those of you who were not there missed a tender moment when Caz brought his youngest child Auggie up as a visual reminder:

All children are God’s children. All children are our own children, and we need to tell them our stories. We need to tell them about how God has saved His people through the ages and how He has worked in our own lives. Caz said that we pass down faith through generations by being persistent (showing up!) and fighting for the hearts of our kids. I am about to witness a powerful example of this in my own family. After visiting from Ohio for Christmas, my brother Ryan decided to move to Austin to be more of a part of my daughters’ lives.  Not only is that a great testament to our parents passing down faith to us,  (I don't know many 25 year olds who have such a godly perspective) Ryan will be part of passing faith down to my daughters. He can tell them how God kept him safe in a car accident that totaled his car. He can tell them how God called him to Austin through a dream, 15 years after I was a called to Austin in a dream.
            Aside from the incredible blessing to my family, Ryan is being an example of passing down faith. God is calling all of us to do this, whether we uproot ourselves or not. We must actively teach our kids about our great God, at church and at home. In the morning and the evening! We are already blessed to be a church overrun with children. What a profound impact our children will be to the world if we take on this calling.
            Beth Kropf