Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Things I Wish I Never Said Part 2: Love Your Enemies

4 Things I Wish Jesus Never Said” Part 2      

Most people would not describe me as a vindictive, hateful person. But I have enemies. I do not want to love them.  The enemies in our lives are not usually over-the-top villains with black capes. They can be anyone who leaves us angry or hurt.   
            I don’t like that Jesus said to love your enemies. But I am glad Caz pointed us to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  As he said, loving enemies does not accepting any behavior. Dr. King fought systematic oppression while still loving individuals. Imagine how hard that must have been. 
            So, what does this look like for us? How do we love those who don’t agree with us politically? How do we love those whose lives are outside of what we deem right or acceptable? This is difficult to navigate. Caz reminded us that we need to consider the perspective. We have all sinned. We have all been an enemy to someone.    
   We are children of God whether we love our enemies or not. And yet, when we love our enemies, we reflect our Father.  Maybe some of our enemies just need to see God’s reflection more. Maybe we all do.

Beth Kropf


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Things I wish Jesus Never Said: Part 1

Things I Wish Jesus Never Said, Part 1: Give Up Everything

            Jesus was a terrible sales person. He does not give any warm fuzzies for following Him. He says in Luke 14:27 “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (NIV) Why does discipleship cost so much? Why does God make everything so uncomfortable and inconvenient?            
                Discipleship is messy and hard to measure. For New Years, I am one of those chipper, motivated people who likes to make resolutions. This year, my goal is to run a half marathon at a 12 minute pace. I would also say I want to get closer to God. But that is not easy to quantify. We can say we will spend more time in prayer or reading Scripture. While that is a great practice, that alone can become routine and lack meaning.  It can be hard to measure progress in our walk with God, and it is impossible to count the cost.
                And yet, we want to build. We want to create a life where God can lead us. We want to have a plan that allows us to hear God, to see the opportunities we should accept.  We want to continue to build a church that has an impact in the community.  As Caz talked about, there is a cost of not becoming a disciple.  We don’t want to reach the end of our lives and realize we did not have the impact we wanted, or that we did not draw as close to God as we could have. It is not enough to think about what we want to build with our lives.
                I like that Caz had us walk through a reflection called the Prayer of Examen.  As an English instructor, my students have weekly reflections. I teach online but I can feel their eyes rolling. They hate them. They think they are a waste of time.  But reflection is learning. There is not learning without reflection (Read more here:  .
These are the steps Caz walked us through:

1.       Ask God for vision
2.       Give thanks
3.       Review the day
4.       Face your shortcomings
5.       Look ahead

Let us dream and pray about the kind of lives we want to build and the kind of church we want to become. Let us be honest about where we are failing.  Let us look ahead, roll up our sleeves, and build.

Beth Kropf