First Steps – March 18, 2019

John Wesley thought Thomas a’ Kempis’ Imitation of Christ was a core holding for anyone’s library.  Written in the 15th Century, a Kempis’ work sought to help all Christians by modeling Jesus Christ.  Recently, I found this exert from a’ Kempis that I thought was interesting; particularly in light of the fluidity of life with all its transitions.   

“So you feel one way today!  You will feel another way tomorrow.  Like it or not, you will be somewhat manic-depressive as long as you live.  

Some days you will be happy and other days you will be sad, 
Some days calm and other days troubled,
Some days faithful and other days faithless,
Some days vigorous and other days sluggish,
Some days solemn and other days lighthearted.
But if you are well taught by the Spirit, you will live above such changes.  You will pass through your various moods unshaken and push on toward your goal of seeking God only.

The clearer your target, the better you will weather emotional storms”

Often, when you read devotionals, there is a tendency to paint an unrealistic rosy picture of life.  Just trust God and everything will be okay.  Though it sounds good and ultimately it is true, there can be an unintended conclusion that all is to be well…all the time.  Even the Wisdom writers understood that there are different seasons to life (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).  With each season, there are different life emotions.

a’ Kempis said something important for us:  Have a clear target!  Our target is to follow a consistent God that is omnipotent and empathic.  God’s unchanging purpose is a covenant love (Hesed).  In the Old Testament, it is the “steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.”  This love never diminishes or falters.  Therefore, let us anchor ourselves in God’s love and allow it to hold us in the midst of changing storms.  

I often remind myself of this anchor when life around me spins out-of-control.  It not only keeps me centered but it helps me focus on my role as a follower of Christ.  As followers of Christ, we are all redeemed disciples commissioned for evangelism.  


  • This week’s reading:
    Monday – Luke 16
    Tuesday – Luke 17
    Wednesday – Luke 18
    Thursday – Luke 19
    Friday – Luke 20

  • Please Pray for:
    Those who are grieving and depressed.
    Those who are unwillingly absent.
    Our families, homes, workplace, church, and community.
    Our nation and our leaders.
    Ongoing Building Renovations, Modifications, and Phase 3: Completion of New Youth Building and rear parking.
    The United Methodist Church.

First Steps – March 11, 2019

This past week I have been thinking about God’s faithfulness. What does it mean for one to be faithful? Most of the time, faithfulness is tied to a consistency of action. One is faithful when one consistently does what one says he/she will do. It is like a promise. One will gladly trust in a promise if the person consistently fulfills what is promised.

With God, it is no different. God’s faithfulness is tied to a trust in the fact that God will perform what has been promised. For God, what is at stake is not only a consistency of action but God’s very nature. Who God Is Determines What God Does. Therefore, for God to not do what was promised is for God’s very nature to be in jeopardy. When you are asked to trust in God’s faithfulness, you are asked to trust God’s very nature.

When Joshua inherited the mantle of leadership, he was commanded to trust…to trust in what God promised. What was that promise? It was that God would be with him. It is the same for you: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged for the LORD your God will be with wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Trust in the faithfulness of God by trusting in God’s very nature.

 


This week’s reading:

  • Monday – Luke 11
  • Tuesday – Luke 12
  • Wednesday – Luke 13
  • Thursday – Luke 14
  • Friday – Luke 15


    Please Pray for:
  • For the family, friends and loved ones of those precious lives lost in the recent storms.
  • The United Methodist Church and Post-General Conference Information Session, March 9, 2019 in Tifton, Georgia.
  • Our families, homes, workplace, church, and community.
  • Our nation and our leaders.
  • Those who are grieving and depressed.
  • Those who are unwillingly absent.
  • ​Ongoing Building Renovations, Modifications, and Phase 3: Completion of New Youth Building and rear parking.

First Steps – March 4, 2019

C. S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

What do you think of Lewis’ statement? Is he right? I believe he is. Often faith blossoms in difficulty. I wish it were the other way around so when one is at ease that faith would stretch and mature. It would be nice. Boy, wouldn’t that be great? However, there is something about human nature that longs for status quo, homeostasis. Pleasure by nature is easy, anxiety free, and doesn’t require levels of change. When life is easy, we simply stay put.  Build a nest, settle down and don’t grow. Pain is the opposite and by nature necessitates change that provides the best environment for growth.

However, don’t assume God is the cause of pain; that conclusion would be contrary to his nature. But God can use a painful experience that already exists so that the parties involved can learn, grow, and mature. Ultimately, God wants the nature of Christ formed in all of us. Granted, there are times when the forming of Christ’s nature naturally fits. For those times, give thanks. On the other hand, there are times the round peg is trying to fit into a square hole. In those painful experiences, see beyond the pain and what ultimately can come from it.
 

 


This week’s reading:
  • Monday – Luke 6
  • Tuesday – Luke 7
  • Wednesday – Luke 8
  • Thursday – Luke 9
  • Friday – Luke 10
 
Please Pray for:
  • The United Methodist Church and General Conference, March 9, 2019 in Tifton, Georgia.
  • Our families, homes, workplace, church, and community.
  • Our nation and our leaders.
  • Those suffering due to catastrophic natural disasters.
  • Those who are grieving and depressed.
  • Those who are unwillingly absent.
  • ​Ongoing Building Renovations, Modifications, and Phase 3: Completion of New Youth Building and rear parking.