So we are just now starting to hear about the country opening back up to a more normal state of being. I imagine many of us are thinking about the things we cant wait to get back to. Hugging loved ones, going to the beach, playing group sports and most important of them all sitting at the bar talking about how amazing the Star-wars movies really are…ok maybe not that last one but you get the point. I have been online and seen a number of people posting about all the things they a can’t wait to do again.
Last week I was on the phone with a parent and she said something that made me think. She talked about with all the things wiped clean from her schedule what things was she doing now that she wants to keep after the quarantine has ended? So here is our question. What things are you going to keep? Is it going to be sitting with family for meals. Maybe checking in our your parents, friends or family. Maybe you have been better about going to worship every week, it was in your pj’s, but you have been consistent. Maybe it is getting more exercise by taking walks as a family. I know the dog would love for less than 7 a day but maybe keeping up with it as family on a daily basis is more doable now. We all have things we have changed over these past weeks maybe we can keep some of the good habits going.
For me it is going to be reading my bible. I also want to help my family make this a new habit as well. I want us to get in the word and talk about it on a weekly basis and really see what God has to say. So here is my challenge to all of you if you are looking for this as I am. Would you join us? I am going to be starting an online bible study for families on Thursday nights at 6:30pm. All you need is a bible and a computer/phone. It will be a time to get in the word. You can join us on a zoom call if you want or you can read with us and submit me some questions at a later point. The first 5 weeks are going to be on Galatians. We start Thursday April 30th. Lets start a new pattern in the word together as a family. You certainly don’t have to but do keep up going to Church at least, even if it is in your pj’s!
Is forgiveness truly incredible? Am I living a life that shows I know that God’s forgiveness for me through Jesus is the most incredible thing in the world? Today while preparing for a message, I came across this passage of scripture – Luke 5:17-26.
This is one of those interesting stories in scripture about Jesus. It is a story I have come to love over the years. First you see a man who is paralyzed; he can’t walk. His friends bring him to the home where Jesus is teaching because they want their friend healed. They climb to the top of the house, break open the roof, and lower him down. This is shocking for so many reasons I don’t want to get into, but just know that these guys were nuts about their friend meeting Jesus.
Here is the part of the story I want to focus on. Jesus looks at the man and you expect Him to have pity on him and heal him. I mean, this is what Jesus does. He feels for the sick and lame, and He heals them. It happens over and over again in the Bible. Instead, Jesus does something different. He offers the man forgiveness. It was shocking and maybe even underwhelming to the man’s friends, and possibly to the poor paralytic. Here is the thing I struggled with today as I read this. Do we as Christians, when we hear “forgiveness”, miss how amazing it truly is? You see, I think many times we rush by this part and want to get to the healing. Maybe we want to get to the part where we see God do something amazing in someone’s life.
Here is the thing about this paralytic. You see, as a man paralyzed, he would not be allowed to go to temple. He would never have been able to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem and hear of God’s forgiveness of His people. You see, this man was missing the love of God. When Jesus looks this man in the eye and says “you are forgiven”, it may have been the first time he ever heard those words. It may have been the first time he knew God loved him. This truly is incredible forgiveness.
Today in your own life, you may have just skipped over the forgiveness part of this story. You may, like me, want to see God do good in your life and never stop to experience the greatest good we have ever experienced – the goodness of God in sending Jesus to die on a cross and forgive our sins. When we enter worship on Sundays and hear of that forgiveness, do we sit and want something more? Do we want to be healed, or do we want our lives put back together? Maybe instead we need to come and hear those simple words… “You are forgiven!” These are truly incredible words.
Because you are forgiven I would ask one thing. Share that forgiveness with those around you. Maybe it will be the first time they ever experience that forgiveness and it can change their lives forever. You have been forgiven and as you experience that forgiveness, go and forgive others.
This weekend our congregation is going to be sharing the next steps of an initiative with the goal of campus renovation and expansion, in order to expand mission and ministry. It is called ONE Legacy. I started thinking about this weekend and what I want my kids to know about being generous with our finances for God’s ministry, and that prayer is important in our families life.
I was thinking, “What do I want my kids to learn from this moment?”. Often as a parent it is easy to go through the moment of growth and forget about what it is teaching your kids. I want to think, “How am I teaching my kids through this moment?”. My kids see me put something in the offering plate each week – they see me giving to God. Yet don’t want them to think of generosity as only being a ‘parent thing’, but rather that as a part of the community here at St. John, we are all called to share the gifts God has given us.
So here is what we are doing. We are going to have a conversation this weekend at the dinner table. We are going to pray. We are going to think about what are the things in our life we can let go of so that we can help our Church reach many with the Gospel. We may talk about giving up going out to dinner once a month. We may talk about using birthday and Christmas money for ONE Legacy instead, we may pray about giving up cable or Netflix or Slurpee’s!! Honestly I don’t know what it might look like. But seriously I want them to be a part of this moment.
Read John 6:1-13
I love this story because of one very important fact. In this version of the story we find out where the disciples got the five loaves and two fish. It came from a boy. It came from a kid. He had so little to offer and I am sure Jesus looked that boy in the eyes and said with your small gift I am going to change the world. I don’t need your small item to change the world but I am going to use your small sacrifice so that people can know of my love.
Talk with your kids this weekend. Talk with your kids about being generous in this moment. The Lord has given our family so much. It is a great conversation to have and so important as a part of the body of Christ.
School is coming…For some it is already here…For some parents it is a great day, for some parents their will be tears . For some kids it is a struggle filled with anxiety and for some kids they just cant wait to be back at school with their friends. It is a mix of anxiety, joy, fear, and excitement for a new year.
One things we will all experience this year is the busyness that comes with a new school year. It seems to me that every year, sports gets more intense, classes get harder for kids, the schedule for ministry even seems to get more and more intense. All these things may be amazing opportunities for learning, exercise, friendships, and fun. These things can make it almost impossible to have opportunities to share a meal, share your day, or just find times to be home and slowing down together with your family.
Somewhere as a family we all learned that to be the best parents we have to run, run, run. We have to be in everything, be there for everyone, and give our kids the most experiences possible. I am here to tell you we are all wrong on this front. Yes experiences for our kids are great. It is important to give them times to succeed, and fail, to find joy, and sadness so we can help them navigate those moments before they become adults. The thing I think we miss is how can we also teach them to rest. How do we teach them to slow down enjoy life with the people God has put in our lives.
This fall our Church is starting something new. We are calling it Family rest nights. The second and forth Wednesdays of each month during the school year we have opened the school and Church schedule so that no events happen in the building after 4pm. We want to model for families to be home and with each other gathered around His word. I love food so for us it will include a meal. We plan to send out emails with devotional questions, scripture readings, and prayers for the family. The goal is to help model family times of rest. My prayers is this will help families slow down and be. Slow down and be in the presence of each other and Jesus. I know I need to have those times of rest. Join us in resting in Jesus and growing together as a family.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42 NIV)