Redefining Good

We all want good. Bad is, well…bad.

But what is good? Is it universal or different for everyone? Is there a secret to getting what is really “good”?

More importantly, what does God say is good and is it the same as what I think is good?

In this week’s video lesson we’ll dig in to Scripture so we can begin to redefine what is good, based on God’s Word, rather than our own fleeting feelings and opinions.

You can find the video link for the lesson here:

 Good Gifts Live Week 1 Video Link

Share the following meme with friends on social media, during your church announcements, or through a method that is private to share the burdens of life together and offer them up through the Good Gift of prayer.

To our friends and our church family on Moving Eve

Packing up over a decade of your life into boxes with tape and marked with sharpies seems oversimplified. Staring out at the sea of boxes you wonder where all those years flew by, where you put all the meals and all the laughter, all those shared tears, and the days that seemed to be to mediocre to remember before, but now you feel desperate to never forget.

You can’t box up twelve years of your life. You can only box up possessions: photos, a few greeting cards, a special coffee mug, little pieces of memories of a life shared together.

You can’t box up people and take them with you. I promise you that if this were a possibility I would have duct taped and labeled more than a few individuals with a tag that said “Living Room: friends, must enjoy more often!”

So, instead as we transition to something new, a new day, a new challenge, a new journey, I will only say these few words for our church and our friends. We have lived life well together, in close proximity, and we will live a life well, though there be miles between.

First, Love one another.

Not just love a little. It’s so tempting.

It’s so tempting to show care and concern and stop short of deep and meaningful love. This Love is wonderful and painful. We avoid it because it means knitting little pieces of ourself into others and they into us. The stitching involves recognizing where we have failed, where we are imperfect. It means confession and forgiveness, recognizing what they know and do better than us, and rejoicing that we don’t know everything, that we need one another.

Loving also means listening, really listening. I do this utterly imperfectly. I like my words, but every day I learn a little more what it means to listen to understand rather listen to be heard. By listening, we hear who people really are, not who we think they are, or who we’d like them to be. This is Christ’s perfect love for us in action. While we were still sinners, He walked among us, loved wholeheartedly, and chose the cross rather than losing us in eternity.

Second, be kind.

In 12+ years of ministry I am shocked by the absolute care and affection that God shares through His people. Our body of believers in our local congregation and communities really is family. We have been cared for and loved on and have been blessed to share in life’s greatest moments of joy and sorrow with you all.

That said, I am also shocked by people’s ability to say hurtful things. The human person’s desperation that runs so deep as to destroy another standing right in front of them. Speak well of each other. Speak well to one another. Please speak well of us as we leave. Speak well of the next pastor and their family. We’re all in this together. Those outside the Church on Earth do not know what they are missing in this beautiful Family of God, but they will never know if we only show them our grouchies. Be kind.

And lastly, invite one another in.

It’s so tempting to be private. To keep our dark stuff and our hard stuff to ourselves, and even life’s everyday joys tucked in. If we don’t share, then it might be less embarrassing, less intimidating, but guess what, life doesn’t actually hurt any less. It hurts more. We were intended to share the burden. To walk together. Don’t keep it to yourself. Share it with the person sitting next to you, share it with your pastor, share it with your sister. Going it alone works for a very little while, but if we had known the struggles and gifts and joys that we know after twelve years with one another, imagine what God could do with that! It robs each of us of time and energy, hiding our best and our worst selves.

Let people know you are hurting, you’re sick, or you’re disappointed, in your family, at your work, at church. Don’t hold it all in. Don’t try to manage. This, my friends, this is what the family of God is for – confession, forgiveness, life together, life testifying where in the world Christ is at in the middle of it all, with and for one another.

If I could pack you all up with me, I would. If I could have all those I love in one small commune in the middle of the cornfields, with Ohio sunsets and Nebraska hills, I would. But He has other plans, so I will embrace them wholeheartedly, when it hurts, and when it’s good…and when it’s all of the above, boxed together, closed with packing tape, and marked up with a sharpie.

Knowing who’s the potter and who’s the clay

There are things in this life that people try to explain to me that I simply will never understand. Radio waves and how sound travels, I just don’t get it. Anything beyond the very basic laws of physics – nope, don’t understand it. Abstract art, for the most part, you could explain it until the day is long, but I still miss the point most times.

I’ve made peace with this. At 37 years, I’m just old enough to know that life is short, and young enough to still be going full throttle. While I want to understand things, I can accurately identify when to say, “I’m so thankful other people understand that. Thank you, Lord, for the diversity of the human mind.” Sometimes it’s ok to just be perplexed. It feels really good. It means that there is something bigger than us, that we don’t know everything, nor are we intended to, that we need each other, and one another’s gifts, God is God in His courts, and I am not He.

Today, we will learn that, as clay, there is freedom in understanding. We have a place in this art of understanding.

Please read Isaiah 29:15-19 –

Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel,
    whose deeds are in the dark,
    and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?”
16 You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,
that the thing made should say of its maker,
    “He did not make me”;
or the thing formed say of him who formed it,
    “He has no understanding”?

17 Is it not yet a very little while
    until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field,
    and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest?
18 In that day the deaf shall hear
    the words of a book,
and out of their gloom and darkness
    the eyes of the blind shall see.
19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord,
    and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.

So often in this world, we want to be the potter and not the clay.

We want to know, but on our own time, our own topics, in our own place. We are the hiders from the Lord’s counsel (v. 15). We think we know, when really we just don’t. We turn things upside down.

Look up these supporting passages to get a fuller picture of wisdom and understanding from the Biblical perspective.

Proverbs 1:7

1 Corinthians 1:25

Colossians 2:2-3 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

And God does open our eyes and our ears, our hearts, and our minds. He is our potter, and He works the clay and turns the wheel in ways we least expect it. Colossians above tells us that we won’t just receive understanding from knowledge, but that we will receive understanding from encouragement and unity and love.

We become a fruitful field like Lebanon in Isaiah 29:17.

We obtain fresh joy (v. 19).

Why? Because we opened a Book.

When we come together in community around the Word there is no understanding quite like it. God opens minds, and God alone. Drugs are created and healing happens because God ordained it. Radio waves collect together across space and do whatever they do because God wants us to hear. Art becomes art because we were gifted with vision and color and talent from a Creative God. But no wisdom, no understanding is quite as magical as the beauty of the blind seeing and the deaf hearing (Isaiah 29:18) because the people of God gathered round to hear the words of the Bible. This brings us out of darkness into the light of understanding.

Lord, open our eyes, open our ears to Your wisdom. Give us hearts that are encouraged and minds that fire neurons that are continuously growing in You. You, oh Father, are our Potter. You, Jesus, mold us in Your image every day. Spirit, grant that our knowledge would always be accompanied by the Love and Unity with Your people. Lord, help us each day, that what we learn and grow in may always glorify You and lead us in Your truth and lead others to Salvation in Your Word. In Jesus name we pray, by the power of the good and gracious Holy Spirit. Amen. 

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*photo made with the retype app
Exploration:

What leaves you perplexed in this world?

What connection do you see between knowledge, understanding, and love?

How does God work understanding when people study the Bible together or offer one another Christian wisdom?

He Calls Me Loved Live Archive

 

Enjoy a good video Bible study? Like to listen to podcasts on the road, while exercising, cleaning, anytime?

Hungry for a different way to get in the Word?

Thursday night we broadcasted two bonus video segments of our online Bible study through Facebook Live.

You can still see the He Calls Me Loved Live videos by archive at the links below, either in video or audio.

Video segments are about 40 minutes each, audio segments are about 15 minutes each.

He Calls Me Loved Live- Part One, Neighbor

He Calls Me Loved Live- Part Two, Helper and Rebel

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I also wanted to take a moment to thank you for studying with me. I hope you enjoy this journey together as much as I do. Join in the rest of the study by searching He Calls Me Loved in the I Love My Shepherd search field. You can work through the book of Isaiah at your own pace this way. Look for a print version of the study to come in 2018!

He calls you loved. He surely does. ❤️

Podcast Episodes for He Calls Me Loved Live

Segment 1 – He Calls Me Loved

Segment 2 – He Calls Me Neighbor

Segment 3 – He Calls Me Helper

Segment 4 – He Calls Me Rebel

Loving on our Church Work Kids – NYG Edition

It’s almost National Youth Gathering time! Approximately 25,000 Lutheran youth and their adult chaperones, a seas of yellow shirted volunteers passionate for building up youth in our churches, another sea of orange shirted young adults passionately serving Him in New Orleans, it sounds absolutely wonderful to me. I can not wait!

This year, I get to bring my oldest daughter. If you can not tell, this mom is super pumped. I’m sure that some of you remember sharing a “first” faith milestone with a child – the first time they went up for the children’s message, the first time they could speak the Lord’s Prayer, the first time they belted out a song or hymn with the whole congregation of God. It’s exciting when God gives us these glimpses of His work in them. This milestone, my daughter’s first national youth gathering feels like a big one. I’m not sure who is more excited- her or me. 😉

One reason I am looking forward to NYG for her is that she has the opportunity to be swept up in the largeness of the Body of Christ. She gets to see the wider expanse of the people of God coming together. On any given Sunday, Macee only sees the Church from the perspective of our congregation in Northwest Ohio. It is a wonderful congregation, but I want her to understand the full diversity of the church – different sights, different sounds, different people in fellowship, in the Word, and in worship.

For all of us, but for teens in particular, this is a unique opportunity to understand the scale of the church and say,

I’m not in this alone! This walk…we’re in it together.

I have decided that this is particularly important for a PK or other church work kid. There is an ugly factor in the church that these kids see, no matter what protection factors we put into place. There are also occasionally weird expectations for these kids within their home congregations, that they can shake free of at a mass event or program at NYG, in a way they may not be able to at home. For this time, they get to be one of the crowd.

And the crowd…it may seem like a small thing, but it isn’t. At our small church, sometimes Macee is the only one at youth night or her Sunday School class. The crowd is a gift that I can’t give her within our normal life. Even this, this is a blessing for us.

And so, I’m setting out to love on some PKs, DCEKs, DeaconessKs, LutheranTeacherKs, any church work k’s at the National Youth Gathering. It’s part of my mission in life to love on our PKs and encourage them. This builds up our church work families and also builds up our churches. I do not know the statistics, but I personally know countless stories of church work kids walking away from the church or at least the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and if I can do one tiny thing to help them to stay, to share with them the beauty of this Body together, as broken as we all are, to share with them that they are loved and valued members of the body of Christ, I’ll do it, however I can.

Church work kids – find me at NYG! This should be a challenge, given the other 25,000 people traveling the streets together, but I think you are up for it! I will have a giant orange sunhat to identify me. Inside my backpack I have a thank you gift for you from myself and Grace Place Wellness Ministries. This is what we do – support and build up church work families, helping to keep vitality and joy in ministry.

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What’s the present??? Hmmmm….should I tell? I can’t decide. My daughter assures me it’s cool. It is consumable and substantial, but easy to carry. Any guesses? 😉

I can’t wait to see you at NYG. I can’t wait to say thank you and take a minute to acknowledge that we’re in this together – all for His glory. Visit me! Pass the word around, otherwise, no one will know I have treats. 😉 If you’d like to be involved in loving on some church work kids this summer, give me a holler.

See you in July!

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