Tag Archives: learning

Today’s Blog is Brought to You by….

Do you remember watching Sesame Street as a kid? Or maybe now you have a kid who enjoys a bit of time “where the air is sweet.” Either way, if you ever visited Sesame Street, then you know how nearly every episode is “Brought to you by the letter __.” One of the most famous letter sponsorships is the letter C. Cookie Monster is a serious star when the episode is brought Letter Cto us by the letter C! So each episode would emphasize learning a specific letter or number and it would show up in various segments through out the time. Quite cleaver teaching, really!

Recently I have felt like God has been trying to teach me something and it is like my life is being “brought to me by….” It amazes me and I really enjoy watching common themes rise to the surface of life (must be my Connectedness strength). Lately, I have thought that if someone could look into the lesson God has been teaching me, they could say, “This season of life is brought to you by PRAYER.”

Learning more about prayer has come up in so many pockets lately. Nothing extravagantly new has arisen. But the deep significance and importance of prayer is inescapable.

I found this in one of my readings during this Lent season. It’s an excerpt from a devotional by N.T. Wright, Lent for Everyone. It has been one of the things that is challenging me to take seriously my time in prayer.

Faith is like a small window through which you can see a vast landscape, and the landscape in question is the sovereign power of the creator God and the overwhelming glory of Jesus himself…. We stand at that window, doing our best to wipe it clean from the condensation of our own unbelieving breath, and holding on, as we do so, to those for whom we want to pray. When you read the stories of remarkable Christians down the years, and in our own time too, again and again you find tales of people who have stood at that window, gazing out on the landscape of God’s power and love, and gradually bringing the rest of the world, and the people for whom they were praying, into healing focus in relation to it. We need more people like that.

The most important Christians are not the ones who preach great sermons and write great books, but the ones who pray, and pray, and pray some more, sharing the quiet but effective victory of Jesus over all that defaces God’s creation.

What I have realized again, is that unless I actually make time, on purpose, to pray, it will not happen. That is kind of an obvious statement. But I have to admit that I am often guilty of saying I will pray about something, but then just thinking about it really quick while I’m headed to the next “thing.”  But if I do not make time to pray, then how can I ever help bring those around me into healing focus? Seeing God’s healing and restoration is something that I want to see! I believe I can help bring it about- but only by prayer.

You know, at the end of it, I think I my great hope is that when I reach the end of a day I can actually say, “Today was brought to you by PRAYER.” That would be pretty awesome.

Deeper Issue

There are parts of learning that I really like. Sometimes the process of learning is very difficult, but for the most part, I enjoy it. I enjoy knowing intricacies and details. I think part of why is because learning more helps me feel better prepared to make decisions.  I also just really enjoy making a new discovery. This is one of the things I really appreciate about scripture. No matter how often I have read a passage, God will almost always teach me something new or show me a new detail.

Today I was reading in John 5 and part of the story recorded in this chapter stood out to me in a new way. The main story in the chapter is about Jesus healing a man who is described as an invalid for 38 years. Jesus heals him and then disappears in the crowd. Later, Jesus finds him in the temple and makes a very powerful statement. This is what stood out to me today. Jesus says, “Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”

What struck me about this statement was the truth of how powerful the effects sin are. It is nothing really new to me- it did not take me very long in life to realize the damage that sin causes- but there was a new comparison for me in this story that made the truth come alive. The impression left on me is that Jesus was saying to the man, “You thought being a lame, invalid for 38 years was bad… Sin is much more devastating.”

I know that “the wages of sin is death.” I know it destroys relationships and causes pain. But something about comparing the outcomes of sin to being worse than living an invalid… that connected to me. It would be really bad to be in that guy’s situation- an invalid with no help, no hope, continually being overlooked, and no one who cares. It’s a bad place to live. But Jesus says living in sin is worse…. There is a deeper issue than just being sick and invalid.

This has caused me to stop and think. During this season of Lent, part of the focus is to realize the gravity of our sin and what it cost Jesus to overcome it. This passage, in a new and fresh way, is helping me focus. I hope it maybe stands out to you as well.

One Word

Today’s Lent reading comes from Numbers 21:4-9. I must admit that it has been a very long time since I read a passage from Numbers! But the passage very quickly became significant to me. Before I share about that part, I want to share with you something I read not long ago. It’s part of a letter Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote to his brother-in-law in 1936. I share it because what he describes in his letter is connected to my experience today as I read this passage.

One cannot simply read the Bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself. Only if we expect from it the ultimate answer, shall we receive it. That is because in the Bible God speaks to us. And one cannot simply think about God in one’s own strength, one has to enquire of him. Only if we seek him, will he answer us. Of course it is possible to read the Bible like any other book, that is to say from the point of view of textual criticism, etc., there is nothing to be said against that. Only that that is not the method which will reveal to us the heart of the Bible, but only the surface, just as we do not grasp the words of someone we love by taking them to bits, but by simply receiving them, so that for days they go on lingering in our minds, simply because they are the words of a person we love; and just as these words reveal more and more of the person who said them as we go on, like Mary, “pondering them in our heart,” so it will be with the words of the Bible. Only if we will venture to enter into the words of the Bible, as though in them this God were speaking to us who loves us and does not will to leave us alone with our questions, only so shall we learn to rejoice in the Bible. (Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas)

As I approached the passage today, there was one word that totally stood out to me. That was all it took… one word and I knew what Jesus was trying to communicate to me. It made the passage come alive. I approached without my own idea of what the passage would say, and expecting to hear from Jesus- to hear from one I love. In doing so, I believe I heard his words. I believe that because his word caught me off guard and pointed out to me what I know in my heart I need to submit to Him. It was a powerful time with Jesus’ words…

Wondering what word stood out to me? Well, I’m not going to tell you! I think you should read the passage without my idea of what it says. You should read it and just listen for what Jesus wants to say to you. What stands out to you? What stops you in your tracks? What is it that comes alive to you and how is Jesus using that to communicate with you? What are the words from the one who loves you? Ponder them today….

One Year

Today marks one year that I have officially been Ontario Nazarene’s Pastor to Children and Families. So naturally, I’ve been reflecting on everything that has happened over this last year. Anniversaries kind of force us to do that… reflect and remember. I’m glad they cause us to do that. It causes me to think about what I have learned, the good moments, the challenges, and all that God has done. So here are a few of my thoughts about the past year…

  • Moving all your stuff from one place to another is really frustrating. Especially when you realize everything you own you purchased because it fit your previous place. Everything had a place to belong but after moving into a new place, nothing seemed to below anywhere! That was frustrating. But after a while, it seemed to start working out.
  • The smell of onions is the smell of money… at least around here anyway!
  • I have learned to appreciate something that I never thought I would since moving to Ontario. Running. I have never liked running, but over this last year, I have developed a great appreciation for it. I have learned so much through the process too. It’s amazing. And I can honestly say I never expected it.
  • Nothing says “Welcome Home” like a road sign that says, “Correctional Institution” this way…
  • Time really does fly by- and it’s not always fun. But time really does go quickly. In a lot of ways, it seems like I’ve been here for a long time. But on the other hand, it’s hard to believe a whole year is now complete. Which kind of leads me to my ultimate reflection for this past year…

Everything really comes down to making the most of every opportunity. Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

Life goes by quickly and what I have learned this year is that it really is worth taking the moment and just going for it. I have made some amazing relationships over the last year and been a part of awesome God moments. It amazes me. I think what it came down to was the choice to make the most of every moment. To make these moments count in view of what really matters- eternity.

We may be in unexpected places in our lives. (I can honestly say I never expected to be where I am at!) But making the most of every opportunity makes the place (or circumstance) fade in light of what God can do with that moment. I think that often God is waiting to do amazing things for us, and through us, if we will just take the moment we have, commit it to Him, and make the most of it. That’s what I’ve been learning. And that is how I hope to live in this next year….

Post #200

This is a mile-marker I feel. It is my 200th blog post. Yup, I think it’s a good day.

When I realized I was coming up to the 200 marker, I started thinking: I should make this a really good post!  I thought through the different things I could write about in this post. I thought about sharing some my personal journey over the last 9 months. Moving from the city to a town and all the different experiences and adjustments that have come with that transition… I mean Target used to be in my backyard and now there is a cemetery. There’s gotta be a good post about that!

Then I though about posting something about why I blog. Why I want to help resource people with ideas, humor, and encouragement… Why I set up a place to subject people to my random thoughts and opinions… But that started sounds rather egocentric- which I guess at the end of the day, all bloggers are dealing with their own egocentrism- wanting people to pay attention to their ideas and thoughts. But I don’t really want to deal with that, so let’s not go there.

I also thought about just allowing the next Engage The Word post to be number 200. It’s an great journey we are on at ONC. We started at the beginning of the Bible and have been moving through some of the major stories. We’ll finish up right before the Christmas season starts. I am loving the experience! So I thought maybe just allowing the next Engage post take the position of post #200.

But then I realized something. I managed to fill an entire post with complete ramblings and you would probably not want to read anything of significance after all that! So I will just close my 200th post with this:

Thank you for reading. I do hope that this is a place for you to find new ideas, inspiration, humor, and encouragement. I especially hope that in some small way these posts enhances your pursuit of learning about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and life because of Them.

So thank you for reading and I hope you’ll continue to read and respond for the next 200 posts!