A tough year…So lets read through Isaiah this Advent

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I will be honest. I am ready for Jesus to come back. This has been a rough year. This has been a year of anger, and hate. It has been a year of broken promises, divorces and all sorts of pain for many of us. It has been a year with very few moments of joy, and lots of moments as a parent trying to move our family forward. Sometimes it feels like we just have to ignore all the things we missed or weren’t the same. Even as we approach Thanksgiving, and plans change, I am looking at the one thing that helps me deal with all of this. I want to look at the promise of Jesus. Advent is a time to remember Jesus coming the first time, while also looking for His future coming.

I don’t know about you but I have really struggled to stay in the Word this past number of months. With School starting and the new rhythms of life being just as busy, I have found myself struggling to read through the scriptures this year. So as I get ready for Advent this year I decided I am going to read through Isaiah. It is 66 chapters about God’s people, judgement, and the promise of a Savior. I need that reminder.

God’s people waited for generations for his coming the first time. They went through trials, and tribulations during those times. God always provided a time for when he would come and be with them. We also wait for Jesus to come again. If you want to join me in reading through I Isaiah i made a reading plan for myself. I pray this may help us all find hope in His promises.

Come back to Church

So here is a blog post I just couldn’t write. I had to make a video because I felt the words would get lost. This is to everyone who needs to be reminded to come back. I pray this is a blessing and nudge of the Holy Spirit.

22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:22-25 ESV

Life isn’t this simple. We don’t live in a meme life

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I can’t take it anymore. I know I am not alone in this, but the one thing I hate about Facebook/Social media is the amount of time friends, family, and others try to make a major social issue of our day into a simple meme. Life just isn’t that simple. It never has been, and it is hurtful when others try to post something to make it seem like it is. Life is messy, complicated, and tough. The answers are messy, complicated and tough as well.

Christians today are falling into the trap of trying to make our faith response to those around us simple as well. We can post things that seem like a gotcha moment. It almost never is. Most of the time we either get angry at you, ignore you, block your posts, or say something to you. Obviously this is complicated in any Christian’s life.

Over this past week, I know I have struggled to not respond to former students, family and friends who either post a meme thinking they got someone else, or that they are somehow a better Christian by using the right words with the right hashtag. Let’s be honest. Jesus spoke in words that were much more complicated than a simple meme.

I will be honest. This summer I am going to miss one of the things that allows me to see the world in a longer form story. You see, this summer, I don’t get to do a Group Mission trip. I don’t get to take students into communities for the deep dive into a week in the lives of people different from them. In communities where a simple meme doesn’t mean that much. People who have lost everything because of illness, or life. Where the Church serves people outside of political posturing, or right words. We just sit, listen, and serve. I am going to miss it. No short term mission trips don’t let us know all the problems but they are much better than a meme.

So here’s hoping that, like you, I can stop posting memes to make a point. Here’s hoping that more of us will actually have a conversation and talk about the depth of the problems and solutions. Here is praying for solutions that will actually work, not just pie in the sky dreams. Life with people is complicated and messy. Jesus did it with people. He always said a lot and didn’t over simplify it. We can disagree about what Jesus would do in these situations as we try to be a follower of Jesus.

Lastly, if you want to post something, maybe do what my friend Tim does and post funny stuff. Seriously, the guy has deep opinions, but if you need a break to process and just laugh, Tim’s Facebook page has all the funny memes all the time. He will talk about real stuff but facebook is for the funnies!

When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:

26 “‘Go to this people, and say,
“You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
27 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
    and with their ears they can barely hear,
    and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
    and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
    and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”[f]

30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense,[g] and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Acts 28:24-30 ESV

Lets stop, listen, ask questions and act!

I have to admit I don’t like to listen. I am an extreme extrovert so listening doesn’t come naturally. But seriously I think more of us need to listen. I mean really listen. Here is the thing I think many of us have forgotten how to listen.

Listening is not just sitting back and accepting what others are saying. It is trying to understand. I feel as though many of us have lost this in today’s world. This past week has been tough. It has been hard for many on both sides of almost all the debates. Stay home orders, Black Lives Matter, riots, protests, violent police, these topics have truly brought many of us to blows on social media, with family, with friends and even people we have never met.

As a Christian I have no problem with The Truth. I have no problem with their being absolute truth. I do however as a Christian know that because of my sinful self-centered nature I can never see any of this through a perfect lens. I am going to get many things wrong, I may use wrong words or wrong comparisons or examples but I know it is important to keep listening and ask questions.

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance

Proverbs 1:5 NIV

What does it look like to listen? I think it is hearing points of view I don’t agree with. We all need to stop speaking in absolutes. Memes are not about listening but often about mocking another point of view. Lastly too often all I see is the tag line if you don’t agree, shut up, or shout it so those in the back stop talking. I dont find this helpful. I want to listen and I want to ask questions. I want you challenge me and I want to challenge you. But first I have to listen and then ask questions. Some of those questions will seem accusatory, I am sorry. I think it important to ask. When I ask those questions I know i need to keep listening. Listen so you can hear the people around you. So you can help and maybe become more empathetic to those who think, act and walk differently than you do. Lets be people who listen, ask questions, and finally act to change our world one person at a time.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:34-40 NIV