After Jesus was baptized by His cousin, John the Baptist, in the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit led Him out into the wilderness/desert for a period of forty days. While He was there, He didn't eat or drink anything- NOTHING at all for almost 6 weeks! And during this time, both Luke and Matthew tell us that the devil came to Jesus and tempted Him with several things- power, luxury, and food.
After 40 days, any of us would be starving, and probably willing to do just about anything to fill our bellies with something. Satan comes to Jesus and tells Him to prove He is the Son of God by turning some stones on the ground around Him into bread to eat.
What is a jerk? Webster's dictionary defines a jerk as a stupid person, or a person who is not well-liked or who treats people badly. Google has a more succinct description: a contemptibly obnoxious person. Or, as I said on Sunday, a jerk is often just "a big meanie-head!"
We all know someone who would be described by those definitions; someone who is just a jerk, and we really don't like being around them, whether they are at our jobs, in our families, or part of our church.
But this week, we're not looking at how to get THEM to stop being jerks. We're looking at how WE- Me and You- can go about not being a Jerk!
I remember very well the first words my daughter learned how to say, "No!" followed very soon by "mama!" (I would have preferred a different order on those, but...) She picked up on the whole talking thing very quickly, just like most of us do.
Talking comes naturally to us humans. But talking well, in ways that are holy, that build people up? That takes more work.
So we need to learn how to do it, and how to do it well. It takes practice. It takes grace. And it takes a willingness to look at ourselves humbly and honestly, because what we say, how we say it, and why we say it matters!
I was driving in the car this morning listening to yet another discussion about the death of the beloved lion Cecil in Zimbabwe this month. The amount of hatred being spewed against the man who killed this majestic animal, for sport, was immense. I get it. It was very terrible what this man has done. I'm not sure how I feel about hunting for sport as it is, let alone all the lengths it appears he went to to bag this mighty beast.
But as I was driving down the highway listening to the radio hosts talk about how we should all be appalled and up-in-arms about this atrocity, my mind was quickly filled with other images.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” This passage has a lot to teach us, as individuals, and as a church body.
It’s pretty easy to get weighed down by the struggles we go through, and those things that just don’t seem to go our way. When life gets tough, we get anxious, and even start fearing the worst. It’s natural. We worry that, because things look like they’re going badly, we’ve messed up, or that something is broken, or there’s nothing we can do to fix it, and we get tempted to give up. This happens in our lives, and it happens in the church.
Know Your Story: Church Traditions
If you were to enter the sanctuary of a Roman Catholic cathedral, or an Easter Orthodox church, you would most likely be met with many beautifully ornate images of people and symbols all over the place. These images are called icons, and they are sacred images that have added to the faith and story of Christians for centuries. They are viewed as an image of another reality, of a person, a time, and a place that is more real than here and now. More than art, icons have an important spiritual role; an icon is “theology in imagery, the icon expressed through color what the Gospel proclaims in words.”
Know Your Story: Christian Traditions
Colors of the Christian Calendar
Just like we use our typical January-December Gregorian Calendar to designate different times of the year, to mark holidays and special events, the Christian Church has, for many centuries, used the Christian Calendar to demark seasons and holidays in the life of the Church. This calendar is made up of seven season, with special days being observed throughout those seasons. These seasons and days honor the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the Kingdom of God. We use these seasons and special days to remind us of the events that are important to our lives and story as Christians. They tell us the story of our faith year after year and help us structure our worship services.
Know Your Story: Christian Traditions
Christian traditions are those things that have been done in the Church for a long time, and which are a vital part of the worship and practice of many Christians. There are lots of traditions throughout the history of the Church that have played a vital role in the development, growth, and transmission of the Christian faith to people all over the globe. Some have been a part of Christian practice since the formation of the Church, and some have been around for only a few decades. But what they all hold in common is that each helps to add to and deepen the faith and spiritual walk of individual believers and Christian communities all over the globe.
Here’s a simple truth for you: God can be trusted! God is reliable, good, honest, and worthy of our trust!
In fact, the Bible is full of examples of God being trustworthy- of God following through with what He says He will do. Unfortunately, it’s also filled with stories of people not trusting God, and then having to deal with the reality of those choices.
Proverbs 3:5 tells us that we should, “Trust in the Lord with all [our] heart; don’t depend on [our] own understanding.” The writer goes on to remind us that, if we seek God’s will in all we do, then God will show us what path to take. Basically, the writer’s telling us to trust God. God has promised to work for our good in all things (Romans 8:28).
I’ve been the pastor of this church for just shy of two years. I can’t believe it has been that long already, and yet, it still feels like I just started yesterday! In the time I’ve been here, I have met some amazing people, and learned a lot about their lives and the life of this church.
I have also heard about a lot of the conflicts and problems that have gone on in this church over the years. Thankfully, many of those have been resolved, and unity was restored, and growth came out of those situations. Sadly, some of those conflicts did not find resolution, and they resulted in people leaving the church, cutting off ties with the people, and harboring bitterness even to this day.