Tag Archives: Discipleship

Forgiveness


I have been learning more about prayer lately. The things I am learning are coming a lot from our time as a congregation praying. We have set aside time on Tuesday mornings to gather and pray. It has been incredible.Prayer

Learning to pray is significant. So significant that the disciples actually asked Jesus to teach them. Prayer was a very important part of Jesus’ activity. There are moments in scripture that describe him going off to pray all night. In Matthew 6, Jesus gives instructions on how to pray:

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:5-15 ESV)

I have to admit that I struggle with that last part…. The part about my forgiveness for others influencing God’s forgiveness of me. One of the readings I came across during this Lent season described the connection between prayer and forgiveness in a very good way. It helped me so I wanted to share it with you.

If prayer is about heaven and earth coming together at one time, in one place, within the lump of clay we call ‘me’, then it’s going to change this person called ‘me’. In particular, it’s going to make me a forgiver. Jesus was quite clear about this. All of us have been hurt, wounded, slighted, annoyed by other people. How much more have we ourselves done that to God! Yet we want him to be with us, to hear us, and — yes! — to forgive us. How can we not be forgivers too?(N.T. Wright, Lent For Everyone,Day 7)

God is willing to forgive me. So why would I not forgive others? And how could I approach God without humility, knowing I am forgiven? And if I have been forgiven, then as I pray, I am changed and forgiving others is a natural response from time spent talking to the one who forgives me.


Favorite Quotes and Smoothies


I have to tell you my favorite kid quote from this week. Over the last week we have been holding special worship services at church. In our kids’ lessons we have been taking a closer look at the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control). It was a good time! We had a few kids coming back each night and reporting how they were thinking through their day and how they could really show love or kindness towards their siblings. Some of them have really started to think about it!

To wrap up our lessons, we did an activity that has turned into one of my favorites. We made fruit smoothies. Here’s the connection: We really can’t have one characteristic of the Fruit of the Spirit without another. It becomes fairly impossible for us to develop love without developing patience and kindness or self-control. If we are going to pursue life in the Spirit, then all nine of those characteristics will begin to develop. So really, it’s not nine different fruits that are growing- it’s more of a mix, like a really good smoothie!

So we put all our ingredients in- strawberries represented love, pineapple was joy- and mixed it all together. Of course, you have to enjoy life in the Spirit, so we all enjoyed a bit of smoothie! As everyone was slurping down their smoothie, one of the five-year-olds declared very excitedly, “I can taste the Faithfulness!”

Of course, I laughed. It was so unexpected and his face was so excited! It was so funny! But then I started thinking: isn’t that how it should be? We pursue life in the Spirit and watch all the characteristics develop, but at certain points in life, there are characteristics that stand out more than others. My hope is that whoever is around me at that time the characteristic is needed can declare very loudly, “I can taste the Faithfulness!”

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Life and Death


Behind my home is a cemetery. Yes, as in a graveyard complete with headstones from the 1800’s, flags at Veteran’s Day, and the occasional graveside service. The cemetery has some of the best paths for running and walking. It’s generally empty, and if there are cars driving through, they drive pretty slow. The other day I was running through the cemetery and a song by Jon Foreman came on. Here are the lyrics:

I’m gonna miss you
I’m gonna miss you when you’re gone
She says, “I love you
I’m gonna miss hearing your songs”

And I said, “Please,
Don’t talk about the end
Don’t talk about how every living thing goes away”
She said, “Friend,
All along I thought I was learning how to take
How to bend not how to break
How to live not how to cry
But really I’ve been learning how to die
I’ve been learning how to die”

Hey everyone
I got nowhere to go
The grave is lazy
He takes our body slow

And I said, “Please,
Don’t talk about the end
Don’t talk about how every living thing goes away”
She said, “Friend,
All along I thought I was learning how to take
How to bend not how to break
How to laugh not how to cry
But really I’ve been learning how to die
I’ve been learning how to die”
Die…Die…
I’ve been learning how to die

[Learning How To Die; Jon Foreman]

Very recently, my friend and I were talking and somehow we ended up talking about death. We all know we are going to die, but everything changes when you begin to put a timetable or expectancy on death. It’s like knowing there is a bomb, but then having someone actually light the fuse. Living completely changes in that moment. Authenticity becomes a must. Goals are reprioritized. The trivial things of yesterday are viewed through a different lens. Hopefully, for the better. Being forced to think about what impact is left behind can frighten or challenge….

Challenge us to consider how our life might last beyond our death.

Just something I’ve been thinking about….


Legacy


I had a really awesome experience this morning. I get to spend the week at my grandparents. The rest of the family will be headed to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving on Thursday. But until then, it’s just me and the Grands! Love it!

So this morning after sleeping in for a while, I meandered downstairs and discovered that I was just in time to join Grandma and Grandpa for their morning scripture reading. Every morning, they sit down with their coffee, Bible, and copy of My Utmost for His Highest and read together. Grandpa opens up Utmost first and reads allowed the daily devotional. The devotional always starts with a scripture verse so when he is done reading the devotional, he opens the Bible to read the chapter from which the scripture came. After reading, the time always ends with Grandpa praying for the day’s events, family members, and God’s will to be done.

It was fantastic to listen to Grandpa read. His voice has become a bit more raspy over the years, but he still reads the entire thing out loud. Grandma would interject a statement here and there about a time that the particular verse just read was significant in her life. As I was listening to my Grandpa, considering the words written by Oswald Chambers, thinking about Grandma’s words, I was struck with how amazing the moment was.

I have always known that I am extremely blessed because of the family I am a part of. All of my grandparents have incredible relationships with Jesus, and today I was reminded about that. I remembered back over the years how every time I spent the night at one of the grandparent’s home, the morning time always included time reading scripture and praying. I don’t know how many times I’ve sat in on the grandparent’s devotion time…. today, though, I was completely overwhelmed with the thought of the legacy that has been passed on to me.

There were years and days that the grandparents could have given up on their diligence in developing their relationship with Jesus. But they didn’t. And because they have remained so faithful, I have been given a very rich and deep heritage. The legacy that they are passing onto me is the kind that will never fade. It’s an eternal legacy.

It’s the kind of legacy that fuels my passion to help other families see the value in building their legacy with their own family. It’s a big reason why I believe so strongly in things like the Walk and Talk family devotional from our church. Or being faithful to talk to our kids about Jesus. Or why I believe it is never to late for parents to disciple the hearts of their children. The kind of legacy that we should pass on needs to be the eternal kind. The kind that is a testimony to the faithfulness of Jesus. It doesn’t happen over night, but neither is it ever to late to start.

During this Thanksgiving week, I would encourage you to be thankful for the legacies that have been given to you and to take time to consider the legacy that you are passing on. Is it eternal? Is it the kind of testimony that other people will look at and think “Wow… God is faithful….”? I am extremely thankful for the legacy of my grandparents and parents and I hope that my legacy can be even a small bit like theirs!


Walk and Talk for this week


Here is the Walk and Talk for this week of Spiritual Renewal…

Remember together!

Start the week by remembering the Big Idea from Sunday and the spend time memorizing the scripture focus. Put the memory verse in a place that your family will see it through the week.

Big Idea: Discipleship: We are committed to following Jesus and helping others follow Jesus.

Memory Verse:  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

 

Read Together!

Spend time each day reading the passages for the week.

Monday: Matthew 28:1-19 (Resurrection & Great Commission)

Tuesday: Mark 16:9-15 (Great Commission)

Wednesday: John 5:16-30 (Jesus and the Father)

Thursday: John 14:5-21 (Jesus the Way and the Holy Spirit)

Friday: Luke 9:18-27 (Jesus is Christ)

Talk together!

Discover biblical truth by talking together about the scripture.

What does this passage teach you about following Jesus, being a disciple? Is there anything that surprises you or is new to you? What do you think about Jesus’ words in the passage? What challenge, encouragement, or application do you take away from this passage? What is Jesus saying to you through this passage?

Pray together!

Recording praises and requests in a journal will help you (and your family) continually recognize what God is doing!

What can you praise God for each day? Are you waiting to see God’s work in your life somewhere or in someone else’s life?

Pray God’s will for your child, your friends, your family, by praying scriptures. Insert someone’s name in the blank as you pray.

“Lord, you have told us, ‘If any one would come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’ These are your requirements for discipleship. May __________ be willing and ready to become your disciple.” (Matthew 16:24)


Worshiping Together


There is something incredibly significant about gathering all together to worship God. We miss out when we choose to not be part of a gathered community that worships God together and here is why I think that:

We need to know we are not alone. God did not intend for any of us to walk life alone. We need to know that there are others around us taking each day as it comes and choosing to follow Jesus. We need to see and hear one another praise God.

We need to hear from others what God is doing. If I was left on my own to remember and find how God is working in this world, I know I would not always find Him. There are many days I forget to look or my life is so clouded by life, that I cannot see what God is doing. That is when I need to hear from others what they see and believe God is doing.

You need to hear from what why I choose to praise God. As much as I rely on those around me, I also need to realize that they rely on me. There will be times when I will be excited about what God is doing and you may be fogged in by life. That is when I have a responsibility to you.

Those reasons feed into why we are beginning to purposefully include our children in our worship services at Ontario Nazarene. Psalm 145:3-4 says, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” The reasons I gave above for worshiping together are not confined to one generation. They are true across generations.

It is important that our children learn to worship God by being with and among us. It’s important for them to learn they are not alone; that God is doing great things around them; and that they are vital to the community’s experience of worship. This is a big shift in our Sunday experience, but it is on purpose. We believe it is a key part in discipling our children towards Jesus.


Summer Camp- church style


It is that time of year! It’s time for bug bites, sunburns, little-to-no sleep, smelling vans, and life changing moments. Yup, it is summer camp time. If you grew up with any sort of church or youth group experience, chances are really good that you know what I’m talking about!

Summer Church Camp is one of those experiences that leaves an impact. At times the impact is not exactly positive…. but they make for some wild stories! But those times aside, there are so many opportunities for life-changing, future-impacting moments during summer camp.

There is something about getting away from our normal rutines and settings that allows us to engage in learning and experiencing. Something about camp encourages us to get out of our box- like meeting and living for a week with new people. Often we are faced with challenges through a ropes course or group games. All of it offers fun and exciting experiences that leave us with incredible memories.

Then there is the unique experience we all call chapel. Music is loud and exciting, skits are hilarious (hopefully), and everyone seems more engaged than they ever on at Sunday morning church. And the speaker knows this. They know that (for the most part) this crowd of kids, teens, and adults are expecting something significant to happen. So they prepare some of the best stories, life lessons, and catchy phrases possible in an effort to make the most out of those moments called chapel. It is this experience that hopefully leaves an amazing impact on life.

But it is also this experience that makes me the most nervous about church camp. We need experiences that challenge us. We need times to get away and really focus. We need those mile-marker moments in our lives. But what makes me nervous is when we begin thinking that that moment is all it takes for a lifetime of following Jesus. I love that we give opportunities for moments of focus, but I think it is so important to have many little moments of following up after the experience.

So I guess I would say this: Weigh carefully if you are considering being part of the summer camp experience over the next couple of months. If you are part of that experience, then I believe you will have a bit of responsibility to be part of the moments to follow… It will mean being there for those kids and teens even after the camp experience. Being “available” look different for each of us, but it is still really important. What do you think?