Cast Away, a lesson on change

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Day 4 – Cast Away, a lesson on change


I love throwing stuff away. It’s an actual problem. One time I threw away a small pile of bills that Dave had set on the counter to pay. He was not very happy with me and several years down the road, my family still reminds me to “check first, throw away later.” Thank you, family. Thank you.

The idea of simplifying, as you can probably tell, then speaks to the inner me. What can we get rid of? What around me is piling up and creating internal anxiety seeping in from my external world? The question I am not so great at addressing is not what needs to go then, but what is God calling me to keep? We need to be aware of both of these questions before we begin casting away.

The two stories that comes to mind when I think of the word “casting” are as different as night and day, at first glance. I think they can help us begin to delve into these questions in our own life, what is God calling me to keep? What is God calling me to cast away? So keep those two questions in mind as you read below.

First, read Luke 4:31-37 –
And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching themon the Sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.
Jesus calls us to cast the things out of our lives that are in opposition to Him. Jesus, himself, casted demons out of people, because he cared for them. As the body of believers, we have the difficult responsibility of helping one another identify and cast out the “demons” in our own lives. Addiction, selfishness, greed, lust, hatred, bitterness, slander, gossip, envy, hurtful words, discontent. This list is not exhaustive. The problem is very complex, this casing off with our neighbor, because we constantly also need to be doing this in our own life for any of our good intentions with one another to be heard. Verse 36, above, is not to be missed, “They were all amazed and said to one another, ‘What is this word?’” What is this Word? Who is this Jesus that we have to share with one another that casts out the hurt and the wounding words, the resentfulness from our lives? When we testify about His Word to one another, this work of casting out is done together, in Him.

Second, let’s read John 21:1-12 –

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way.  Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together.  Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?”They answered him, “No.”  He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.  That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread.  Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”  So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn.  Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.


Highlight or underline the word “cast” within this passage in your Bible.
Read those particular verses again.

This is an invitation to change something up.

The Hebrew word for cast away in Ecclesiastes 3:6b can also be translated to throw or to fling. It immediately brought to mind the men casting out those nets, throwing them into the water and continuously coming up with nothing. Hearts confused after Jesus’s death and resurrection, searching for answers, and deciding to go back to the same ol’, same ol’.

Many people have this experience in their walk of faith, in the searching. We know that we have a God who finds, who seeks us, but that doesn’t stop us from casting our nets out into the world, searching, hoping, waiting, seeking. While that sounds negative, I don’t believe that it necessarily has to be. God has placed that internal desire to seek and search in us, because we exist in this recepricol relationship with Him. We live as found people, able to move to the other side of the boat, to throw our nets of fear, and struggle, and doubt into other waters because He is the same God on both sides, and the same Jesus is waiting on the beach to rejoice with us over breakfast at the miraculous catch of His work in our lives.

Praise Jesus! Praise Him! Can you see the nets, stretched taunt with the fish of His faithfulness, His goodness. Be warned, that abundant catch may look a lot more like struggle from the world’s perspective. Our catch that we await isn’t necessarily a bigger house, or a brand new BFF that adds sunshine and joy to our daily lives. It might be, but in God’s economy, it might also be a challenging new ministry opportunity, a new insight that causes us to change something that prunes us, or time spent on a relationship that takes time and energy.

How do we decide when something needs to be cast away or our nets cast into different waters?

We pray. We read His Word.

There is this therapeutic idea called “giving it space.” This is when something in life is pressing in, a decision, a relationship, a discussion. Sometimes we don’t have an answer, a solution, and God calls us to wait. We can give it space, give it breathing room. We can pray and seek His word. We needn’t press down on the issue and squeeze the life out of it, as I am so often guilty of. We can let it sit. God has is in His hands, and He will alert us when the time comes to cast away. And when that time comes, let’s do it! Let’s be faithful and strong in heart in the Lord.

In it together, sisters, whether in the waiting or in the casting away. In it together.  

Discussion questions:
Are you a keeper or do you easily throw things away?
What was something you have gotten rid of that you wish you would have kept?
When have you had to change something up in life, and it wasn’t easy?

*All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV translation. 

Love, assumption, and discernment

photo made with the #vrsly app, photo subject…a very much loved Zeke-y. 🙂
                            
Day 5 – Discernment is Excellent
So much is excellent in our lives. We know that every good and perfect gift is from above. All the gifts we have come from the Lord. Look around you, take a moment, and praise Him by lifting up some things, some people, and some moments in life you are thankful for. He is truly an Awesome God.
Today we are going to reflect on one more form of “excellent.”
Philippians 1:9-11 tells us that we can approve what is excellent, we can discern that which is excellent:
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Again Romans 2:17-23 reflects the same phrasing:
“But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.” 
I added the emphasis in the ESV translations above, but can you see the similar phrases stick out this way?
The Greek word in these passages for excellent is diapheronta, which means to carry through, to show what is different, to surpass or excel. Let’s use Scripture to interpret Scripture.
I love the way the passage in Philippians says, “that your love may abound more and more…so that you may approve what is excellent…”
It is in love that we are able to see what is excellent. When we look at everything around us. We look with the rose colored glasses of God’s love for His people.
Occasionally, our zeal for the law, our legalism for things that are, in fact, excellent and righteous even, blind us to being able to see what is Christ. Certainly the Gospel cannot be understood apart from the Law, but we can be so wrapped up in how we think the law or the gospel should look, that we miss it standing in front of us. Let’s let our discernment be Christ’s discernment in us, not our ideas about what is right and wrong, but firmly planted in God’s Justice and God’s Grace, revealed in His Word.
Romans 2:21 above, asks, “you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself?” It is only in being the constant learner that we can discern. 
We identify our assumptions and call them out for what they are. We approve what is excellent by sitting as Mary sat at Jesus’s feet, by letting Grace sweep over us; letting dishes stay unwashed and work left undone. We daily are invited to pick up the Word, and use a moment to bask in His purity, His goodness, and His Words of Excellence.
Excellence in the passages today is discerned in the daily life with Christ. It’s not found in the Sunday morning box we check, but in the authenticity of the journey because we firmly believe in an authentic God, and He gives us His authentic Word to learn and grow and love.
What, therefore, is excellent to you? What do you see around you that surpasses because it is of Him? That may be your church (It is excellent! He created it!). It may also be your garden, it may be the laughter in your home or the tears of a friend shed over a shared life. It changes our idea of what is excellent, because to be excellent, it simply needs to be touched by Him, redeemed by His Grace.
Go and discern, ladies. We have something a little different to share. Something that will carry us through. This life, this walk…excellent.   

Defying Shame

Those who look to Him are radiant; and their faces are never covered in shame.

                                           Psalm 34:5
 
Shame. It’s often described as a blanket. It kind of wraps around you. The devil fools you thinking it’s comfortable, it’s where you belong. 
 
We experience shame for any number of things. Our past haunts us, our marriages feel like they’re failing, we never measure up. Sometimes we put shame on ourselves. The guilt sits long enough and we don’t even notice it’s there. The devil tricks us into believing that it’s part of who we are, what we deserve. That it may be, what we deserve. But that’s not grace and it’s not the way we were intended to live.
 
Shame is all around us. It’s so much a part of our culture that we normalize it. We judge ourselves in accordance with what the person next to us is doing. We’re either “not as bad as all that” or “I’ll never measure up to that.” We turn on the tv and judge our bodies based on false images, and feel the shame creep in. We hide our whole selves, only letting pieces out, because we know that judgement eventually looms with each person we meet. 
 
Shame is worst when it comes from a brother. How often do we give someone the benefit of the doubt, or see the story behind the pain. People everywhere are afraid to walk into churches (including Jesus-loving, church girls…even pastor’s wives), because shame waits.
 
Half of it is a lie of the devil, and half of it is a lie of our culture. Church isn’t for looking a certain way or getting it together so we can meet with God. Church is for the abused and the abuser. Church is for the faith-filled and the faithless. Church is for the hurting and those who have hurt. 
 
It’s time to throw off the shame. It’s time to defy it. As a person, as a church, as a culture. 

As a woman, I have a battle with shame. I don’t feel beautiful enough, smart enough, good enough, or just plain enough. So, I get up each morning and defy shame. You are not a part of me, shame. You are not invited to this party. Christ promises me in John 8 and Romans 8 that he doesn’t condemn me and who else should? No one. I’m throwing off the blanket and letting my whole self out. I’ll mess up, as I have in the past. I’ll say words that should have been more careful, but relationships will be healed because I will be real. I’m not enough, but Christ in me is. 

He looks on me and I am radiant. He tells me I will never be in shame. I’m going to believe His promise.


* This is my good friend, Erin. Who lovingly reminds me everyday that shame has no place in my life. We all need an Erin.