We had fun making this video for the kids and I thought you might enjoy it.
Cathy’s message at Tyner UMC today was titled “Masks Off!” She shared that there is no need (or use) to pretend when it comes to God. In fact, it is better to come to Him honestly just as we are.
We had fun making this video for the kids and I thought you might enjoy it.
Last Sunday I was invited to preach at nearby Donaldson Evangelical Covenant Church. It was a wonderful experience. I have found great people at every church I’ve gone to, and Sunday was no different! Worshiping with new people in a new setting is one way God gives us fresh eyes to see Him and renews our hearts spiritually. I recommend it!
Decades ago, I came back to the Church after a few years not attending worship services regularly. Cathy and I knew we needed to get involved with a church family and form new routines and habits for our good both as individuals and as a couple. One of the habits we developed was worshiping with others every Sunday.
Even if we didn’t know it at the time, we were seeking to find spiritual disciplines to help us change from the people we were into the people we really wanted to become. More accurately, we desired to grow more into the people God wanted us to be. I assure you we are still on that journey!!!
Cathy is leading a worship series at Tyner UMC focused on spiritual disciplines. Practicing spiritual disciples like praying, worshiping, studying scripture, giving, serving, and taking Communion are part of the journey of spiritual formation. Robert Mulholland Jr. defines spiritual formation as "the process of being formed in the image of Christ for the sake of others."
The Indiana Methodist Church is placing a focus on spiritual disciplines this year. So for our Methodist readers, consider this:
Spiritual discipline involves daily, weekly, or at least periodic routines. Routines are not always exciting or fun. But becoming better in any area of life, be it physically, academically, financially, or spiritually, depends on the routines we put in place to achieve our goals.
So how often should you go to worship services? How often should you pray, read your Bible, attend a small group? How much should you give or serve your church or community? Would a spiritual retreat of some kind be beneficial? I suggest you not look for the easiest or hardest spiritual discipline to practice. My advice would be to seriously seek the spiritual routine that helps you become closer to Jesus and more like Him. There is no way to avoid the truth. It takes being intentional and disciplined if we want to be more like Jesus.
A saying I like for any area in life is “work your routine until your routine doesn’t work for you.” Sometimes routines actually deaden us spiritually! A short break or a slight change may be all it takes to renew the value of a spiritual practice. But if we aren’t growing to be more like Jesus, it might be time for us to look for a new spiritual routine.
I heard the following story from Ryan Holiday of the Daily Stoic. I wonder if you can see yourself in it as much as I did.
Ryan and his wife were taking their two young boys on a camping trip. Somewhere in Arizona a tire blew out and they was were stuck in a small town while the local garage replaced it. Getting the tire was going to take a couple hours and because of COVID Ryan’s family couldn’t stay in the shop. They walked to a nearby cemetery to have lunch and wait until they could pick up their car.
Ryan was agitated because of the blow out, concerned about buying a new tire, worried about being behind schedule and wondering where they would stay that night. I certainly identify with that reaction! However, Ryan noticed his young boys assumed the experience was part of the trip. Though they were hot from being out in Arizona in the middle of the day, they thought they were just having a picnic in an interesting, if unusual, park. The boys were actually enjoying their lunch and the time they had to play!
I know when I get too set on what I want to happen I can get agitated, concerned, and even worried when things don't go as planned. James reminded disciples in the early church:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
James 3:13-14 (NIV)
Life goes by so quickly. Maybe we would do well to think of life’s breakdowns and detours as just part of the journey. Some of the most important lessons and experiences are found in the breakdowns and detours life throws at us. Like Ryan’s boys may we find little ways to appreciate life even when the unexpected comes our way.
Last week my wife, Cathy, and I got away to Potato Creek State Park. We spent time with our parents and my brother and sister in a family cabin. It was wonderful! There were chances to hike trails, do a little biking, and play cornhole, but mostly we talked and ate. No one ever goes hungry when our families get together!
The hardest part of the whole trip? Finding the time a cabin was available when people could make it, and then going ahead making the reservation and arrangements.
While together we talked about possible future getaways or adventures. My dad, who just celebrated his 87th birthday, said he had already taken his big "bucket list" trips. He and my mom traveled extensively in the United States and even overseas. They were able to do most of the things they wanted to do. It took planning and saving for their adventures. But the most important thing is they pulled the trigger. They went on their adventures! “No regrets,” my dad said.
Research indicates when people look back on their lives, more people regret not doing the things they wanted to do than regret doing things they wish they hadn’t.
Are there any things that you feel you should do? Want to do? In particular, as a disciple of Jesus, are there any things you sense God is calling you to do? If so, I encourage you to do them. You may regret not doing them when you had the chance.
Cathy is spending today helping her mom celebrate her birthday. I’ve got a couple things to do today, but Cathy encouraged me to make a lunch, head to a park, and spend some time outside on this beautiful fall day. She told me to take a good book or my Bible and recharge my soul. She reminded me opportunities like this are one of the main reasons I decided not to work full time this year.
I've got other things to do. There is always other things to do! And an hour or two outside is really not a big deal. But when the cold and cloudy days come, I think I would regret not having enjoyed this beautiful day.
How about you? Is there something you are feeling called to do today? Something that would give you joy? It doesn’t have to be big. I encourage you not to put it off. Let’s make it a no regret day!
Now I’m off to pack a lunch and get outside.
A couple of our Bethel students were arguing about the correct format for a paper they are writing in our Written Composition class. Though they were arguing mostly in fun, neither student would give an inch. The volume escalated, each getting more insistent as they each repeatedly voiced what they thought was right.
I found it amusing because the right answer had already been decided by the Modern Language Association (MLA) in its format for Written Composition papers.
It made me wonder how often followers of Jesus argue over truths that are not really ours to decide. Who are we trying to convince? The truth is the truth whether we yell louder or whether we repeat our position over and over. We may think it is “the other side” we are trying to convince but I wonder if we are really trying to convince ourselves or “our side” that we are the ones who are right. (And how effective is yelling anyway?) Sometimes I fear we may even be trying to convince God we are on the right side.
My friend, Ruben, thinks the biggest issue in the Church may be our need to be right all the time. While the Truth is central to all things Christian, I’m reminded of an Oswald Chambers’ quote. “Jesus said go and make disciples, not go and make converts to your opinion.”
Pastor Craig Groeschel wonders if in our efforts to convince people of the truth of Jesus we have forgotten to live the way Jesus lived. (John 14:6) I think he is on to something. If we lived more like Jesus lived, the Truth will probably be able to take care of itself.
How about you? Are you more worried about being right than being the right person? How important is it to win conflicts? In my family relations classes I sometimes say “You may be right, but it is possible to ‘right’ yourself right out of a relationship. Might it be possible that how we handle disagreements is at least as important as winning them, especially when we are trying to represent Jesus well?
Jeff likes to connect ideas from scripture, education, sociology, and church to life--and BoLD living.