This is my 555th post here. It’s also my last.
I’m moving on to my new digs at JasonTheDCE.com. Go check it out. If you’re reading this via email or an RSS reader, it means you need to go to the new site and update your subscription.
We continue with our Giving Up series this weekend, focusing on expectations. Some expectations are good, but when we expect God to conform to our expectations of Him, we are walking a dangerous path. Read on for this week’s cover article for the announcements page.
What do you expect of God? Who do you expect Him to be? I’d really like God to conform to my expectations of who He should be. It’s much easier for me to understand God when I decide who and what He is. It’s much more comfortable for me when I define God, rather than allowing God to define me.
I’d like God to conform to my expectations because then there are no hard truths to face. Things like John 14:6:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
It’s a hard teaching that only Jesus brings eternal life. I’d love to be able to tell people that if they just believe in something, they’d get to experience eternal life.
But fortunately for me, I don’t get to define God. Because every day I serve the false gods that I create. Every day, I worship the “expected” god instead of the true God. And my “expected” god is not a good god. Because only the God revealed in the scriptures is a good God.
God wants to shatter our false expectations and replace them with truth. He wants to replace them with The Truth, his Son Jesus. And when we give up our expectations, we might just find that the God we serve is indeed good, even if it’s not always comfortable walking with Him.
I’m not really big on giving things up for Lent. I understand the practice, and can even see value in it, it’s just never really been for me. This week we start, as we start our journey to Easter, we start a new series about giving up. Read on for the front page of this week’s announcements as you prepare for the sermon this weekend.
There are times when wars end in a stalemate, where both sides just decide to stop fighting, but more often they end when one side surrenders. Generally speaking, you don’t want to be on the side that surrenders, because surrendering means defeat. It means the victor gets to impose their will on yours. But in God’s upside-down view of things, surrendering is actually the path to victory.
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Romans 7:22-23
There is a war waging inside us. It’s a war between our own sinful nature and the Spirit of God. The Spirit is calling for our complete surrender. No terms. No demands. But total surrender. And in return, the Spirit offers freedom. It is only through surrendering to God that we can win the war raging in our body. Paradoxically, surrender leads to victory.
This week we start a new series about surrendering, about Giving Up those things in our lives that keep us from God. Check inside for a complete list of what we’re called to give up. This Lent, we walk with Jesus towards Golgotha, the hill on which He would surrender His very life to win our freedom. This Lent, we give up more than chocolate, TV or some other bad habit. This Lent, we heed the Spirit’s call to wave the white flag. This Lent, we surrender and experience true freedom in the process.
Here’s a small preview of the graphics that are in this post, all available for download from my other site.
We wrap up our Pain Killer series this weekend talking about the Pain of Rejection. As I reflect on this pain, I’m reminded of the pain God experiences when we reject Him, and how he continually takes us back. Read on for the front page of this week’s announcements as you prepare for the sermon this weekend.
Nobody likes to be rejected. Whether it’s applying for a job and not getting it or asking a girl or guy out on a date, only to get the cold shoulder. Rejection hurts. After several rejections, it’s easy to just give up and not try anymore. How many times can I hear the word “no” and still keep going? Eventually, it’s just easier to give up and not risk rejection.
Have you ever considered how God feels about rejection? He calls us to Himself, to trust Him more than anything else, yet we continually reject Him. Jesus lamented this on His way into Jerusalem:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Matthew 23:37
God is continually inviting us into His loving arms and we are continually turning our backs on Him. But He is a loving God. Unlike us, He doesn’t get tired of inviting. He doesn’t give up on us because we continually reject Him. He keeps inviting us, drawing us back to Him. And when we do return, He’s waiting with open arms. In the parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15, we see a picture of the Father’s love for us. When the son finally decides to return to the father, we hear of the father’s great love:
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. Luke 15:20
As you struggle with the pain of rejection, maybe it’s time to return to your loving Father. He’s waiting for you, with open arms, ready to forgive all the times you’ve rejected Him.
One of the things we learned from our Spiritual Life Survey (results here) is the importance of embedding God’s Word everywhere we can. Sue approached me with a project a while back for posters that would have the books of the Bible on them to hang in the classrooms at First Trinity. We also wanted a matching bookmark to accompany them. Here’s what we came up with:
We went with white text on black to improve readability from a distance, but I also liked the contrast of mostly black/white with a splash of color on each. Both the plan and the water convey life, which connects nicely with God’s Word being our primary source of life. The green and blue colors are also reminiscent of our logo, which has a leaf-like shape with green on top and blue on the bottom.
We’re currently in the bidding process to get the posters and bookmarks made and hope to have them available by Spring, assuming the cost is right.
We continue our series titled Pain Killer this week, focusing on the pain of suffering. Read on for this week’s announcement front page.
Lent is fast approaching. In about 10 days, we will “celebrate” Ash Wednesday, a solemn time to remember that we are sinful people. Lent is traditionally a time to focus on the passion—or suffering—of Jesus. If only we could talk about suffering without actually living it.
I once thought that becoming a Christian meant that I wouldn’t suffer any more. No more emotional pain. No more physical suffering. No more hurt. I’ve learned, however, that this is simply not the case.
I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Suffering is a natural consequence of sin. It’s wrapped up in who we are as sinful people. Jesus warns us that we’ll be facing some tough times, even some suffering. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to be hard. You won’t want to walk this path. But thankfully, you don’t walk it alone.
Jesus has overcome the world, and eventually, those who trust in Him will truly have all their pain and suffering wiped away, never to be experienced again. But in the journey, we experience the pain of suffering with one who walked it before us 2,000 years ago. He’s walking through it with us today. We are not alone. Take heart! He has overcome the world!