Thursday, January 25, 2018

Facing the Fire...

Do you remember what it is like to show up at a new job for the first time?  There is usually some confusion, waiting, and a lot of mistakes.  Personally, I’ve had a few jobs that started me off slowly and cautiously, and there have been other jobs where I was thrown straight into the fire.

Our scripture passage this week tells the story of Jesus’ first public appearance as a rabbi.  It is a moment of being thrown in the fire! When Jesus entered his local synagogue, he was confronted by a man that the Bible says was possessed by a demon.   From his very first day, Jesus was confronted by evil, and he had to find a way forward.

Out of all the jobs I’ve had, I will say that I have learned the most by the ones that threw me into the fire.  I learned what I was capable of and what I wasn’t.  I’ve learned how to succeed and how to fail.  Both of which were important.  I think we all face moments of testing in our lives, and we have to be able to acknowledge our weaknesses.  We will face troubles in this world, and we can’t back away from the fire forever.  Today I hope we can all take one step to stand up for God even when the world pushes back. 



Thursday, January 18, 2018

Awakening to New Life

Several years ago, I heard a story about a boy who was shot and killed over a pair of shoes.  The boy was shot right outside the house of a girl who was a part of the youth group I was leading.  The death shook the community, and it struck me because it was so senseless.  How could something so dreadful happen for such an irrational purpose?  Unfortunately, I realize that most of the terrible acts that are committed are done for rather absurd reasons.  Very few criminals are part of organized crime rings, or have spent any time thinking ahead at all.  Instead a person makes a choice that seems to feel right in the moment…

Sessions include team-building exercises to help foster group cohesion and respect.
Teens learning new was of looking at the world!
I thought of this story when I read an article entitled Therapy Helps Troubled Teens Rethink Crime, by Shankar Vedantam.  Affected teens in this study were simply shown how powerful their words could be.  For most of these kids, violence was the only way they had ever solved problems.  By opening the eyes of these teens to new tools and ways of looking at the world, researchers found they were 44% less likely to commit a crime.  However, if they didn’t continue to receive therapy or continued guidance they reverted back to their old habits within a year. 

This month we are looking at Epiphanies, or moments of awakening in the church.  I think we all need to believe there are skills and tools available to help us grow.  Today I wonder what you can do to sharpen your skills and open your eyes?  Perhaps we can take a little extra time for reflection, or maybe we can talk with a friend or counselor.  Growth is important for us all.  I hope we can all take time to grow this season!



Thursday, January 11, 2018

Come and See

It has been a while since I’ve written anything for this blog.  Between the busy atmosphere around Christmas, cold and flu season, and a trip with the youth group to Mexico, I haven’t had much extra time.  However, today I was drawn to three little words from our scripture reading from the Gospel of John:

Come and See
-1 John 1:46
These are the words that welcome the first followers of Jesus.  There is something about Christ that the people needed to experience, even if they did not have the words to verbalize exactly what was going on.  I wonder if there is anything that has ever made you so excited that you had to run to share the news…

I have been blessed with a number of wonderful experiences in my life.  However, there are times I can feel like I have lost some of my child like enthusiasm.  Christmas will come… then it will pass.  Seasons come and seasons go.  If we are not careful, life can begin to feel a little tired and worn out.  These are the moments we are invited to Come and See.  Jesus showed his first disciples the joy of God’s presence, and I believe we still need to remind ourselves of this.  A couple days ago, I was in a hurry to put my two year old child to bed.  However, he was in no rush.  Instead, he wanted to share a special song and dance he made up about the joy of pancakes…  I had to stop and laugh in the moment, because God was there in the beauty of our time together.  However, we all have a choice to see either daily frustration or God’s presence every day…

Today, I pray that you might be able to awaken a childlike curiosity inside of you.  I pray that we would also be able to share the joy we find with those around us.