Love Brave with Us

(Exciting news! This blog is co-written by Heidi Goehmann and Matt Schuler. Words in bold are written by Heidi. Words in italics are written by Matt. Everything else is co-written. Matt and Heidi will co-author this Fall’s online study, Love Brave.)


Loving brave is something I’ve had to learn.


Loving brave is something I’m still learning, every day. It feels like loving brave has a million teachers. I learn from my wife, from my kids, my parents, and everyone around me.

The fool says loving brave comes naturally. And the fool lives up to his name.

Natural is tucking yourself into your own little life. Natural means pretending we like one another with a smile and a wave, but never knowing one another’s stories. We naturally put up walls, and peek out from our parapets, reluctant to reveal our true selves out of fear.

Natural is playing it safe and keeping thoughts and feelings locked inside because sharing means maybe rejection, maybe shame, and we have plenty of that in our world to go around already. We naturally avoid real relationships because real relationships come with drama and sometimes the only drama we feel like we can handle is handled in sixty-minute chunks on TV.

Men and women alike walk wounded for lack of community and real relationships. Our hearts hurt, we have no idea how to respond to issues like school shootings and mental health struggles. We might be surrounded by people, and might even have one or two real, deep connections, but we want more, not just in quantity, but in quality. We want more for ourselves, for our families, our friends, our churches, our neighbors, and our world.

There are better answers than going it alone. It’s time to learn to love brave together. This is the place where the I Love My Shepherd Fall Online Study comes from.

Join us for a six week online study:

Love Brave: Risk and Real Relationship

We will open challenging conversations about what love is and does, what real relationship is and does, and discover how connection to God and one another offers real healing, real hope, and real meaning.

This study will offer both women and men a place to have real conversations about how we can share truth, faith, and hope together and Love Brave with our families, friends, classmates, coworkers and each person we meet.

Love Brave is meant for all people in all walks with Jesus, those who share life with Him every day, those who don’t quite know where to put Him, and those with an eye on Him from afar. We’ll be asking honest questions, and seeking truth in conversation, empowered by God’s Word. You’ll find the same depth and practicality of all I Love My Shepherd studies, with care and attention for those who are open to having a conversation about God, but are cautious because of accusations and assumptions. We’ll wrestle with truth, love, faith, and hope together here.

What to expect — Six Weeks of study starting September 16th, including:

Videos

Matt and Heidi will start every week with a video of honest conversation addressing an everyday topic and the challenge of loving brave, particularly the balance between sharing God’s love and God’s truth with one another. Videos will post every Sunday of the study at 6am on the I Love My Shepherd YouTube channel but you can watch them any time.

Blog posts

We’ll walk through 1 Corinthians 13, words that may be familiar about active faith, hope, and love. There will be blog posts Monday-Thursday to wrestle with ideas involving love and bravery, loving when it’s easy, loving when it’s hard, and the uncomfortable sacrifices love requires.

Groups

We’re encouraging you to invite two or more people into deeper relationships with you and with God. Gather people you know and want to know better. Eat, drink and be merry, and use the time to love brave together. Talk about the challenges of life and where and how you want to love brave. Cheer one another on and pray for each other. Use the blog posts or videos to spur discussion, or share the real-life moments you’re walking through together.

Extras

Every week, we’ll have resources designed by teacher and artist, Jennifer Carlisle, for taking notes, sharing encouragement, and recording your brave thoughts and moments. Look for samples with sign up in early August. Sarah from PiecefulJoy will also have some optional reminders we can use in our homes and places. We all need as many reminders as we can get on this road to bravery, don’t we?

Summer Recess

To prepare for Love Brave and to make the resources and community at I Love My Shepherd more accessible, we’ll be taking the summer off of writing new articles and podcasts to do a website redesign. Look for an all new, beautiful, and easy to use website come August. You can still find I Love My Shepherd daily on our Facebook Page, Instagram, and Twitter throughout June and July. Go follow us and say hello!

A Final Thought

Are you hungry for something real for yourself and the people in your life?

How do we get past living anonymously near one another and arrive at the place of sharing our true selves and our real lives?

What risks in love, life, and relationships scare you?

How can we our relationships grow from love instead of frustration, in our homes and our communities?

Share your thoughts in the comments, or a simple shout out to let us know you can’t wait until September.

This fall we’ll learn, gather, talk, love, and be real.

Prepare to Love Brave with us this Fall.

See you soon!

Write What You Have Seen (My Redeemer Lives 8:1)

I pretty much live to hear the Word at this point.

Life has thrown enough yuck in my general direction that I just don’t know how anyone lives without it. I lap it up, sloppily, desperately, like my labradoodle trying to drink from his water bowl in the middle of July.

I’m so thirsty. It’s never enough in one sense, while it’s still completely and utterly enough in another sense. Jesus’ love and forgiveness, the removal of my shame that I find in His death and resurrection, the value He places on me in everything He does, are absolutely my fuel for this life, for this day.

And while I’m thirsty, He quenches.

While I’m imperfect, His strength burns purpose into my weaknesses.

While I and all that is around me is mortal, His immortality is the cloak that warms my soul to find hope, to share Hope each day.

Thank you, dear Job, for taking one for the team and constantly reminding us in God’s Iron Ink of Biblical Truth:

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I shall see God,
27 whom I shall see for myself,
    and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
    My heart faints within me! (Job 19:25-27)

If you have learned anything from this study, I pray that it is this:

We live in the Resurrection.

Resurrection overflows life into our lives in the same way that Christ’s sacrifice brings absolute forgiveness into our days. Without the resurrection, so much of life feels like heavy shame. It may be called Good Friday, but the weight we carry for putting Jesus on the tree is far too heavy to ever feel good. We weren’t meant to live there, friends.

Resurrection dawns.

Easter morning’s Resurrection sometimes feels far off, but it works in everything. It changes everything about how we live, think, and believe!

Today looks different, heart-faintingly different, because Jesus rose.

Sometimes this difference is obvious:

Forgiveness and grace spoken aloud in our homes when we really don’t feel like giving it.

Giving and stewarding a little more time and energy from what would be an empty cup without Resurrection Joy.

Breaking bread and sharing space with people we may not have otherwise because Jesus is alive among us.

Sometimes the difference is not so obvious, and so we need constant reminders. As we leave this study, let us remind one another. I’d like to do this in two ways.

First, in the comments, share with us what you will walk away with from this study.

Were there any surprises for you? Any resurrections you were unfamiliar with?

Where have you seen resurrection in your own life in the last weeks, and over the course of your walk with God?

What one lesson, one truth, one piece of hope over everything else and all my zillion words will stick with you?

Next, I want to share one last passage of resurrection with you. One not-so-final glimpse of our Resurrected Savior in Revelation 1:4-7 –

John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

Jesus is the firstborn from the dead, the Resurrected One, Savior, Restorer.

He’s also our Faithful Witness, the Faithful Witness. He witnesses to us what He’s done and Who He is in His Word. When we hear it, we are renewed because in that place our story connects with His Story, giving our story meaning, and firm footing. This place of hope and life, that’s His story working out in our story. What was John’s response to Jesus’ witness? He wrote His story down. He shared his story with Christ as the centerpiece.

So let us keep sharing the resurrection, connecting to the resurrection, and in and with that…sharing our stories alongside His story.

To make this a little more concrete for you, a little easier to share also, I created a resurrection Scripture writing plan. You can download the thirty-day plan from the link below and print it or screen shot it to use to keep His story close to you, to cement it in your heart by simply reading or reading and writing the passage, or by giving to a friend, sharing at Sunday School, or creating a challenge in your group.

Write His Story: Resurrection Reading and Writing Plan

As you read or write the story of resurrection within the Scriptures, simply ask yourselves these questions:

How can we begin to tell our story, really tell it, to God?

How can we make our homes open places to tell our stories?

How can we make our churches open places to tell our stories?

Keep it simple and just ask the questions before God, around His Word, and let Him answer. He will tell His story in you, in your home, and in your community…and what a story it is! Salvation, grace, restoration, heartache, waiting, failure, fear, death, life, darkness, light, glory, healing, and so much more yet to be told.

Savior – You have written Your story. Continue to write Your story in each of our lives. We tear down all that is not in You, all that doesn’t point to You. We lay all those things before You…Resurrect it, Lord. Resurrect.

Thank you for studying with me. I hope you’ll join me for our Fall Study…

(drumroll!)

This study is especially meant to reach those on the fringes of a relationship with God. Those who may know about Jesus but don’t know where to put Him. Those who know there is something better, something more in this life, but don’t know what it is. For others of you, this study will open the door to defining what real relationship looks like, what our hungry hearts truly long for, and why we so often feel disappointed with our relationships one moment and ecstatic about them the next. It will introduce you to a Hope that brings better and more to our relationships with those around us and to a God who loves brave all the way – brave enough to sacrifice everything for you in Faith, Hope, and Love.

In the meantime, as always, look for more articles, podcasts, resources, and encouragement every week at ilovemyshepherd.com.