I stood in my kitchen, dirty dishes piled up on every counter. Water was leaking from under the sink, from under the dishwasher, all over my hardwood floor. Just another Saturday, I thought as I rolled my eyes and tried to take calming breaths. We did the dishes in the bathtub, only to make dinner which of course, led to more dirty dishes piled up again.
As followers of Christ or even those of us who are searching, we want to experience God's presence in our lives. This is manifested in different ways. Sometimes we want to experience His power, His peace, His direction, His healing, His hope, or His wisdom. However, no matter how much we want those things or even pray for those things, we still aren't experiencing God in the way we want.
The season of Lent starts today. Lent is the 40 days that lead up to Good Friday, the day we recognize Jesus’ death on the cross. I’ve always looked at Lent as a very “religious” thing; something “religious” people do. I’ve been challenged to “give things up” for Lent. In the past, I’ve tried and failed to sacrifice things like soda (“pop” for the natives) and watching hockey. My heart has never really been in it.
For over two years I’ve had a lot of back and SI joint pain, sometimes severe, often just uncomfortable and annoying. Because this has been going on awhile, I started accepting this pain as something I might deal with for the rest of my life (often people do). As a physical therapist, in some ways I think I’ve gotten hardened by seeing and hearing stories of people having chronic back pain. Despite my efforts to treat it myself, it has never gone completely away.
After 40 years of wandering in the desert, you’d think that the Israelites would have learned their lesson. In the book of Numbers, we see the Israelites leaving Egypt behind, as they were challenged to obey God’s commands, have faith, and trust Him through what seemed like impossible circumstances. Miracles were performed before their very eyes, God Himself provided their daily needs, and the Promised Land was so very near. Yet, the Israelites complained and grumbled about their journey in the desert.
One of our greatest desires as Relevant Community Church is to be a difference-making church. There are some key differences between people who “go” to church (“churchy people”) and people who are the church (“difference makers”). If we really want to be difference makers and be a difference-making church, we need to take a long, hard look at our lives and consider whether we are living as churchy people or as difference makers.
We all screw up and sin…in relationships, with our families, at work, on the weekends, on weekdays, all the time, repeatedly. Sin causes us to be “unfaithful”. All throughout the Bible, sin is described as faithlessness toward or a breaking of faith with God. The posture of sin is the same posture unfaithfulness in any relationship…turning our back on. Sin is TURNING OUR BACK on God himself…thus separating ourselves from Him.
There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.”
Your family. Your job. Your husband or wife. The latest fashions. Your favorite sports team. TV series. Food. Sex. Money. Success. Yourself. These are things we place value in. These things we hold as “important”. We were all made to worship. It’s in our DNA. The question is…who or what will be the object of your worship?
This letter was sent to us during our inaugural year for Vacation Bible School (which we now call Summer Blast). Such a powerful story of how God transforms lives during this week for our children. Dear Relevant VBS Volunteers, I just had to write and tell you all thank you. I know this past week at VBS has meant many very late and stressful nights, busy days, time off work, time away from your children, and busy, hot, chaotic days with 100 young children!
“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still SINNERS, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8). In case you missed that, read it again. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were still sinners – literally, ENEMIES of God – Christ died for us. Have you thought about that?
What if I told you there is ONE THING that would… Transform you? Draw you closer to God? Lead you to experience His active presence in your life more? Improve your relationships? Proclaim the good news and love of Jesus in the world louder than anything else? Would you want to know what that one thing is? Would you do it?
We all envision our lives going a certain way. We have so much hope that our lives will be great. But rarely does it go that way. In John 16:33, Jesus says: “In this world you WILL have trouble.” But He doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Troubles in this life – even the worst imaginable type – are inevitable. Jesus promised that we would have troubles. When in the midst of our troubles, we have a choice how we will respond to them.
For us, change is inevitable. Time, people, past experiences, current circumstances, our environment, our education, even God Himself causes us to change. Sometimes we change in the blink of an eye, and sometimes we change gradually over years. Regardless, we are all changing—in good ways and not so good ways.
God appeared to Moses – an old murderer, liar, and coward who was doing the lowly job of a shepherd – in a burning bush. He told Moses about His big plan: freeing the Hebrew people from slavery and leading them to land He had promised them they would possess long before. AND then…God said something Moses never saw coming…