Leslie’s Learnings: I thought a thought last night that I’ve never thought before. As my precious Frank and I climbed into bed, I thought, “I don’t want to say goodnight to today.” It was the most wonderful day. Full of memories for daydreaming moments. I close my eyes and smile picturing Tiffany, Heather and Danielle boldly standing on the altar and wooing our hearts as they share about their first week as minimalists. The need for new hangers sparks the realization that the need is not for more hangers, but less clothes.. The cleaning out of a forgotten drawer reveals a thought-to-be-lost-forever diamond earring. And money earned to buy more for self is given generously to offer hope for another. Together, we celebrate getting rid of the old stuff. Then almost in the same breath, our breath is taken away as our Ms. Opal walks down the aisle to meet her future husband in a church decorated by her great granddaughter. “Morning has Broken” fills the air, and together, with weepy eyes, we honor and stand in awe of the old. Heads bow reverently. The words to an old poem are put to song by young Alejandro and a prayer is prayed for our precious couple. Holy happens. It’s true. I didn’t want to say goodnight to yesterday. But oh what delicious memories I have for today. For this, O Lord, I give you thanks! [Today is Day 7 in our minimalist journey. If you want to join us, PLEASE give us a call and we would love to send you a thirty day prayerbook/journal, which you can begin on any day. Blessings!]
Learning’s from Luke…. By Rachel Roussel “I cried out, ‘I am slipping!’ But your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalm 94:18-19 Each day we each struggle with worries that can produce anxiety and fear. Maybe it’s personal or the economy, jobless rate, murder rate, or other problem. But recently I heard a pastor say, “worry is meditating on words that are not God’s word.” What can we meditate on instead? God’s word tells us to think on good things, to fear not and be anxious for nothing. God’s word says that he’s our provider, our fortress, our shield, our present help in time of need. God’s word says that when you cry out that you are slipping that he will grab you and hold on until you get back on your feet, and he gives us renewed hope when all hope seems lost, and renewed cheer. Cheer? This simple word at the end of the verse can easily be overlooked, but it’s important to remember that God always comforts us and carries us through times of trouble back to the place of joy. In Matthew 6:25 God tells us to stop worrying about our lives. Instead, focus on what God is doing today, and on what we can do today to help bring his plans into being. Because as Romans 8:39 says, “Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.”
A learning at Luke 10:27 By Becky Walding In a world of uncertainty I often find myself looking ahead and wondering about all the what if’s and things to come whether they are good or bad, most often bad. I get so caught up in the unknown that I allow myself to get to a state of worry and then fear enters without even realizing it. Once in that place I become so frozen that I can’t or won’t allow myself to savor all that life is offering at this moment. I become so fearful it literally stops me from seeing anything good in my life because I am so focused on the if’s. This morning in my quiet time with Jesus, I asked him a question, “What do you want me to learn today?” this is what I heard.. “Be content- live for today, enjoy each moment. Do not worry about things to come, instead put all your trust in ME and I will guide you and keep you safe. I just love how he knows just what we need and when we need it. Feast on these verses. Philippians 4:11 I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 37:24 …though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord upholds them with his hand. Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. So today I am leaning into these truths and trusting. Father God, I want to savor each day with you and cherish every moment with the people in my life. Thank you for your sweet way of talking to us and reassuring us that you are right there with us every step of the way. I pray that as I savor all you have to offer that I will continue to grow closer and closer to you each day. Love you so much. Your servant, Becky
It was a Freudian slip. An error in speech due to an unconscious wish. His prayer during our worship service was coming to an end. “in the name of Jesus we play. Amen.” We play?! I love it! Praying is playing with God. Wow! That’s no Freudian slip. That’s divine revelation. God wants to play with us. I’ve prayed with prayer shawls and prayer books, but never with play dough. The unconventional thought seeped into my soul. Pray with play dough? Preposterous. Call out to God with a crayon? Absurd. Seek the Lord in sand? Strange. But not according to recent research in the field of Social Sciences . Studies of the brain prompt Neuropsychologist R. Joseph to say, “The limbic system (of the brain) may well be the seat of the soul or may serve as the neuro transmitter to God.” We are wired to connect with God. Creative arts heighten that connection by offering a “slow-paced setting conducive to reflection.” John Berryman, author of Godly Play, encourages us to be in the presence of Godly laughter. “Godly laughter,” writes Berryman, “is that of creation and play.” So, here’s to pink play dough, a pack of colored pencils, a sack of sand and a box of crayons. Teach us to pray, Lord. Teach us to play. . . . . with You! We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
I wish you could experience my daughter-in-law, Kathryn, tell this story. She’s such a gifted storyteller. During Sunday School this past Sunday I wanted our children (ages 3-12, a most amazing, delightful blend) to experience the omnipresence of God, i.e. God is always present everywhere. As a part of our exercise Kathryn took three different age groups to play Hide and Seek in the sanctuary. First, they entered the sanctuary like little, noiseless ninjas. Next, they silently sought their hideout while the “seeker” counted. When the seeker was ready to seek he/she whispered the scripture, “If you seek me, you will find me.” After a couple of solo rounds the seeker said softly “If you seek Me,” and the hiders gently joined in, “you will find Me,” until all had been found. The following point was to be made: Even though we can’t see God, God is here. When Kathryn got to the “God is here” part, she heard an audible gasp. There stood her stunned daughter, Caroline, age 3. Body motionless. Eyes as wide as saucers. Disbelief refusing to flee from her face. S-l-o-w-l-y . . . three very BIG words came out of her tiny, petite mouth. “G-O-D is H-E-R-E?!!!” Incredible! Unbelievable! The Big guy?! The One I talk to every night?! He’s here?! WOW! Utterly, totally amazing!! No wonder Jesus said, “Unless you become like a child you will not enter the Kingdom of God.” Help us get this, Lord. Grow us younger, Grow us smaller. Grow us into a deeper understanding that wherever we are, You are. Y-O-U are H-E-R-E!! Incredible! Amazing! What are You seeing? What are You hearing? What are You longing to be for us? We adore You, O Christ, now and forever.
Unhurried intimacy with Christ. Like a salmon swimming upstream it’s a daunting task. Why? Why is it so difficult to linger in God’s presence? Why is it so hard to just hang with the One who knows us better and loves us stronger than anyone? When I was growing up my Mom had a mantra: “Leslie, slow down!” I wish I had been a better listener. Have you ever noticed how the beautiful things in God’s creation take their time? Slowly, insistently light defies darkness as the sun rises. A baby is born. A flower blooms. An oak tree looms large in our yard. Each formation takes the path of gradual growth. Each formation experiences barely perceptible change from one day to the next. I think God likes unhurried. Today, Lord, help us linger in Your Love. Give us the courage to challenge “busy” and “not enough time” by spending gentle, relaxed time with You, the One who saves us from ourselves. We get that it’s going to take us time to learn how to take time. So, bless us with persistent patience, Jesus. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Today, Lord, How many faces will we see? How many words will we read? How much time will we spend with our family and friends? As our fingers type and swipe Bring us, Love, into Your Light. Yours is the Face we want to see when we strike a messaging key. Love listens. Love learns. Love forgives a wrong turn. Love seeks to always find something good – something kind. Love never wants to turn away from what His people have to say. Love gives us space to make a fuss refusing to give up on us. So, today, Lord, may Your Face fill the space between us and our friends. May Your Love from above be our button marked “Send.”
“I want to pray, but I don’t know how.” “Who has time? I sure don’t.” “I just do it while I’m doing things.” Common thoughts for an uncommon practice. Uncommon because prayer is a sacred encounter with the One who created us. A listening for holy whispers. A transforming power to change direction, change one’s heart, and change the world. It’s God’s way of intimacy with us. It’s One being one with us. Leading us. Convicting us. Loving us. So let’s learn about it. I’m SO excited about the series we’re doing at Luke on Sunday mornings: Being with Jesus to be sent out. Each week, along with the sermon, we’re receiving a WayCard. The WayCards contain specific ways to experience intimacy with the One who thinks we’re His best idea ever. For these first ten weeks we’re learning how to be with Jesus. Our being with Him informs out doing for Him. If we don’t get this order right, being before doing, we end up like a chicken running around with her head cut off. Busy, but dead. The following weeks we’ll experience being sent out in ministry of service, finances, and relationships (with particular focus on strengthening our marriages). It’s a breathtaking experience to be with Jesus and to be sent out by Him to help build His kingdom. So, let’s learn how to do it together! You are our King, Lord. We stand in awe that you want to come close to us. Help us create space in our busy lives to love You,. . . to serve You, . . .to just be with You. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Rory’s Learning . . . Ownership I like people who rent. Please do not assume that I do not like people who own…that’s certainly not the case. The truth is that none of us really own anything…well, except one thing but I’ll get to that later. People who rent have a sense of freedom from their stuff. Whatever it is they are renting…they can look at it and be like “hey stuff…guess what, you don’t control me”. Need an example? Okay…here we go. In a few seconds I’m about to make you feel, with only two words, absolutely carefree. When you read these simple two words your mind will be at ease, your spirits will rise, and a sense of freedom will instill in your soul……………rental car. How many times have you heard “it’s okay it’s only a rental.” Or a human being is actually stepping up to drive a group of other human being’s somewhere, with a big toothy human being smile, saying “Guys don’t worry I’d be happy to drive! It’s a rental!” Then all the other human beings are now smiling too, because they do not have to drive the cars they think they own…everyone’s smiling Now stop. You’re having too much fun. I’ve got to bring you back to earth. Way too much smiling…in a few seconds, I’m going to give you another word that will put you back at your desk. One word that’ll bring you to reality, cause a little crick in your neck, tighten your collar a bit, and add some sweat to your brow……………mortgage. Ugh, yeah, I feel like I need to get up and stretch a bit. Mortgage sounds like Mordred…or the kingdom of Mordor or even Mortal. How morbid. The more I feel like I own something…the more that thing actually owns me. I was watching Andy Stanley the other night, and he said something I really dug. “I never buy anything that I feel like I couldn’t lend to someone else.” Wow! I started thinking…hey I could let that person borrow this and that… I was getting a real sense of ‘alright! My stuff doesn’t own me!’ Then ironically I looked back at the TV Andy was on and thought…if someone came in right now, and asked to borrow my only TV…I’d say no. Yeah…I’m still dealing with that one. I also really like how Jesus deals with the issue of ownership. There was this super rich ruler who asked Jesus what he needed to do to get into heaven? Jesus said just do what God tells you. The ruler said, I do all those things but what else? So Jesus said sell all of your possessions; give everything to the poor and come follow me. The rich ruler couldn’t go there and left. Right there, the heart of it…the one thing I actually own! Choice. I do not own stuff, I either outlive my stuff or it outlives me. I do not own my name…probably 1 maybe 2 generations after I die, my name will most likely be gone from this planet. Eventually all names fade. The only thing I own is what I choose to do now. On the surface it may seem cruel to ask what Jesus asked of the rich ruler…but think about it for a second. Jesus didn’t say, okay sell everything you own…bring it back here, give it to me and I’ll take care of you. Or, sell everything you own, give it to me and I’m going to equally disperse it among my disciples and we are going to fund this really cool new movement! Jesus didn’t choose the ruler’s money……………Jesus chose the ruler. Jesus doesn’t want our money, he wants us. Jesus knows the only thing we own, is our choice. How we choose to give…how we choose to love…how we chose to live…how we choose people over stuff……………I need to go back and rethink the whole TV thing. In he who chooses me, Rory
Rory’s Learning . . . (Ms Leslie’s son 🙂 ) Is God my friend? Nope. I bet that shocks a lot of people? Growing up I was taught to have a personal relationship with God, I did…but I ended up creating God in my image. I fell in love with Jesus, however…whenever I sinned I would find my buddy God telling me “it’s okay, we’ll just keep working on this together”. My main man would give me a very nice comfortable pat on the back and nod of the head towards my sin. I could not have been more wrong. You see there is a reason Christ refers to God throughout scriptures as Abba…or father…not buddy, the dude, big guy, or even brother. Even though as a Christian you could argue if any one person who’s been on this planet could refer to God as a peer he could, but he didn’t…why? Christ wanted to impart the parental relationship we have with our father…he is our father, we are his children. In case you have a problem with this relationship, let me put it in another light. Some of you can remember your teenage years, and some of you reading this may be going through them now. Say when you were a teenager…you were super lucky to have that one Jimmeney Cricket friend. That one friend who didn’t give into peer pressure, didn’t look at you with rose colored glasses, and told you right from wrong. Now, say you find yourself in a situation where you are about to do something you know is wrong and your with Jimmeny. Jimmeny kindly reminds you hey you know this is not good…but there is no real strength behind it and you do it anyways. Now, say you are in that same situation…but your dad is standing behind you. Need something else? Okay…because it goes both ways. The football player falls in a heap on the field. He’s lying there writhing in pain. You see his fist pound the turf, PT’s are surrounding him. You can sense the complete anguish in his face. His best friend Jimmeny is in the stands thinking “oh man that had to hurt, it’s okay he’ll get better and we’ll work on this first thing tomorrow morning!” But there is someone else in the stands. The crowd of 92,000 is deathly quiet…yet you can hear this one fan’s heart beating like a bass drum. This fan is the only one standing, eyes fixed on the player…so much so that the 92,000 have completely disappeared. He’s defining every second of movement, totally encompassed with the situation. With every ounce of his essence he is shouting inside…”GET UP!”… Dad. God is not Jimmeny Cricket. Today I challenge us (you and I) that before we fall in our sin to not think “okay, the big guy knows I’m struggling with this”…but to know that our heavenly father is looking at us with the most passionate love and his heart is shouting…GET UP! In Christ and Love, Rory
Do you ever feel alone? No one understands your pain? No one gets what it’s like to be you? Too much to carry. Too heavy a load. Too tough to handle. Wherever you are – whoever you are – this is for you. God gets you. You were His idea. You were His thought. He thought you were such a good thought that He made you. Very intentionally He made you. You weren’t a mistake. You were an inspiration! He loved the idea of you so much that He crafted you and placed you on this planet to be in a relationship with Him and with those around you. You know that chair you’re sitting in right now – floor you’re standing on – bed you’re resting in? God is more real than any of those, and God is right there to offer you greater support. It’s hard to have a meaningful relationship with someone you can’t see, isn’t it? Right now you can’t see the specific spot on which your body is resting. But you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is supporting you. You can’t see the One who thought you were one of His best ideas ever. But you can see what He created. Take just a second to look at one finger. It’s amazing! It bends, extends bleeds, feels, lifts, points and touches. It contains bones, tissue, tendons, nerve endings, blood vessels and a print that identifies you as you. All that in a few short inches! He’s an amazing God! He loves your finger. He loves that it makes a print – an impression that no one else in the entire world can make. And He loves you! He loves that you are right where you are, making an impression that no one else in the entire world can make. The people around you? They’re there for you to love. No one can love them like you can. That’s why you are there. It will be hard sometimes. Love takes courage and guts. You have to choose to be patient and kind. To not keep a record of their wrongs against you. But the one who gave you that fantastic finger is right there with you. That’s why He’s there. To help you do what He created you to do. Love. You can do it. And most of all . . . so can He! We’re leaning on You, Lord, because You are strong enough, wise enough, powerful enough to catch us when we fall. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
God I love life. I love how wine becomes the blood of Christ and bread breaks into His broken body. Jesus, the Christ, the Living Lord and Loving Savior sits at our table and becomes our banquet. Heads bow. Hands open. We sip. We chew. We remember. . . . . what He did, what He is doing and what He will always do. Starving souls are satisfied. Weary hearts find rest. I love watching water drip down the head of an infant on an altar. God begins the conversation and declares across the universe, “This one is mine. I knew him before he was born. I formed him in his mother’s womb. Nothing absolutely nothing can take him away from My love.” And, the people of God respond. “We promise to live lives that will lead him to Your love.” I love how a man and a woman come together in holy union and end up reflecting the image of God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit become One. A relationship is created to create. Likewise, man and woman become on. And a relationship is created to create. A relationship of giving, not taking. A relationship of receiving, not demanding. I love how God’s breath created a universe that takes our breath away. Its magnificence makes words meaningless. You are amazing, God! Thank you for life . . . . a glimpse of eternity with You. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Catastrophes. Crises. Concerns. They insist on being a part of our days. They are exhausting. Distracting. Anxiety producing. Had any of those lately? I sure have. You can’t control them. And you want desperately for them to not control you. But they refuse to be ignored. They tug at your heart and taunt your expectations. “I thought things were okay.” But they’re not. “Everything seemed great.” But it’s not. And so we worry. Fear manifests itself in high blood pressure and sweaty palms. We wonder how things will possibly work out. Solutions sneer and stand beyond our grasp. Then suddenly, unexpectedly enters God. The enormous, all powerful, all knowing, everywhere present God makes His presence known to you and to me. And the demons of despair tremble. A promise shouts across the universe. “ALL THINGS – ALL THINGS” – ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD FOR THOSE WHO LOVE THE LORD!” Romans 8:28 A new reality reveals itself. God is in control. Perfect Love proclaims, “I love you. I’ve got your back. And the ones you love? I’ve got theirs too. Trust me. Keep talking with me about it. I will give you strength to persevere. Wisdom to see what others can’t. And a peace that passes understanding. I will use this for good. As wretched and wrecked as this situation seems, trust Me. I will use it for good.” Help us, Lord. Help us look to You in trust, rather than to circumstances in fear. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Has the Lord placed a troubled child in your path? Maybe a step child – grandchild – neighbor’s child – your child. Their needs are beyond you. Their behavior frustrates you. You want to ease their pain, but you can’t. Short term or long term, their problem poses a problem in your life. Guilt holds your heart. Heavy rides your back. And confusion clouds your mind. That’s how I went to bed last night. Aching for a child I love, but cannot help. All night I tossed. All night I turned. And, all night I heard the same six words sung over and over again in my sleepy soul. “Our God is mighty to save.” “Our God is mighty to save.” “Our God is mighty to save.” It’s true He is. We aren’t. But there is one thing we can do that He can’t. We can bring the children to Him. He already knows them. He already loves them. But He needs us to let go of them and leave them with the One who knows and loves them perfectly. If God has placed a child with a problem in your path, as He has mine, believe it or not, it’s a privilege. He’s trusting you and He’s trusting me to persistently, insistently “Let the children come to me.” How? When our eyes look into theirs, PRAY. When our hands fold their clothes, PRAY. When our hearts hear their name, PRAY. Why? He is able to do what we can’t. “My Savior, He can move the mountains, My God is Mighty to save, He is Mighty to save.” Move the mountains, Lord. Ease our children’s pain. Help us flee fear. And give us the courage to leave the ones we love with the One who loves them most. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Have you read Psalm 19 lately? It’s a magnificent message about God revealing Himself to His creation. This morning, when my heart was overflowing with gratitude to the Lord for our softball team, I didn’t understand why I kept hearing Psalm 19. So I read it. And immediately I understood. David, the author of the psalm, is about to burst with wisdom and insight. He gets how God makes Himself known to humanity and it practically undoes him. With arms wide open he shouts, “You go God. I love how You use the mind boggling splendor of the stars and sun to expose Your excellence. I totally get how You make Your nature known through Your law. You are awesome . . . amazing!” And then suddenly without any warning a painful awareness silences the praise. An incredulous thought crosses his mind. “Humanity knows You because of Your heavens, because of Your law . . . and because of me?! You want to use me to reveal Yourself to Your creation?!” Weak knees wobble. Holy hands tremble. An outstretched body bends. And a humbled soul confesses. “Help me, Lord. I am a sinner.” And, the praiser pleads to the One he loves. “Please, Lord, help me. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You, my strength and my Redeemer.” My heart felt “strangely warmed”. Three thousand years collapsed into one moment with a realization. God delights in revealing Himself to His creation through ten men and women on a softball field. With their favorite scripture shouting from their backs and words of encouragement pouring from their mouths the Apostles softball team declare the reality of the One they love. It’s what God wants to do with each of us. He yearns to use our words and our actions to make Himself known to His creation. Love. Grace. Mercy. They are ours to give that others may live. Please, Lord, help us. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to You, our strength and our Redeemer.” We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
When someone hurts us we want to hurt back. It’s a natural instinct. Animalistic actually. A dog is bitten. A dog bites back. A dog is beaten. A dog fights back. But when a dog is beaten until it’s broken, the dog cowers in fear hurting itself more than the assailant. Naturally we humans view this behavior as normal. People hurt us. We hurt them. With our words. Our actions. We want them to hurt. And we want it now. But we have an amazing God who is asking us to fight, not others, but our own natural instincts. To let love become our natural response to hate. To separate ourselves in the animal kingdom. Behave differently. Refuse to attack. Refuse to cower. Remain constant in patience and kindness. Trash the records of others’ wrong doings. He knows it’s against our nature. And He knows we need Him – the One whose name is Love – to help us fight right. We are His wounded warriors. We reject revenge. We relinquish it to our Captain. (Romans 12:19) We bend low in love. And hold on valiantly to the hope for His Kingdom. So, onward Lord!!! Lead us into a land where love lives triumphantly! We are Yours now and forever! So be it!