Kody’s Devotional – June 13-19, 2019

From Kody…

Jacob wrestling God is one of the strangest and most mysterious stories in all the Bible. In Genesis 32, God visits Jacob in the middle of the night and wrestles him until day break. As God departs the wrestling match, God dislocates Jacob’s hip then blesses Jacob and gives him a new name, Israel or one who wrestles with God. We are told that Jacob walks away from the scene with a limp after being blessed by this divine wrestler. The narrator then closes the story by telling us that this is why to this day that the Israelites, Jacob’s offspring, do not eat the thigh muscle on the hip. Wait a second. Jacob wrestles God and has his hip injured leaving him permanently maimed and the Israelites are celebrating it by not eating a particular kind of food? I would argue that this is the most important point in the story. It doesn’t matter that Jacob wrestled God if no one remembers it. The Israelites knew that. Our wrestles with God and experiences with the divine do not matter if we do not remember them.

We tend to think about faith and belief as being one in the same. We might experience God in a powerful way and we might say that it strengthened our belief. What we mean to say is that having those kinds of experiences makes it easier for us to believe in the moment. The truth is that belief and faith are not the same. Faith is a response to an experience with God. Faith is faithfulness to an experience with the divine. We might feel as though our belief is strengthened temporarily after an encounter with the divine but we will not stay on that mountain top high forever. We have to come down the mountain and in this way Faith is the art of remembering. How will we remember our experience when we are back down in the valleys of everyday life? How will we be faithful to when we wrestled with God and walked away blessed when things go back to feeling normal and we are back in our familiar routines?

The answer is simple and incredibly difficult, we just need to remember. When we come together in worship each Sunday we remember our shared experiences of God’s action in this world. When we share Communion we remember that God is in community with us and calls us to be in community with others. None of these practices are magical but they are meaningful only because they help us remember who we are and how God has acted in this world and in our lives. Our belief might wane after an incredible God moment but we can always remember. We remember our wrestling and our limping after an encounter with God because remembering together is what it truly means to have faith.

Adam’s Devotional – May 30-June 5, 2019

From Adam…

Do you know what the name Israel means? It means to fight or wrestle with God.  That’s the name God gives Jacob after they literally wrestle. Scripture isn’t clear about whether or not it’s an angel, a heavenly being, or God, but after their wrestling match, Jacob becomes Israel.  Have you ever thought about wrestling with God as a sign that you are doing something right in your faith? It’s easy to think that in order to do this faith thing “right” we should be at peace with God. We shouldn’t contend with or fight God.  But that’s exactly what the name Israel means. Perhaps God wants to be wrestled with. What are you wrestling with in your faith right now? What are the questions or ideas that are blocking you from experiencing relationship with God? Instead of allowing those things to block you, what would it look like if you put those questions in a headlock?  When Jacob is wrestling God, Jacob gets God in a hold and won’t let go. Eventually Jacob says, I will not let go until you bless me. What if we said that to our doubts? What if we said that to our questions? What if we said that to God? Maybe the life of faith we are called to live is not just one of constant clarity, peace, and blessed assurance.  Maybe God is calling us to wrestle, and not let go. God’s up to something . . . don’t let go.

Adam’s Devotional – May 23 – May 29, 2019

From Adam…

Youth Sunday was three weeks ago. In case you missed it, here’s what Andrew Sutphin said:
“Colossians 3:12 tells us to ‘clothe ourselves with compassion kindness humility gentleness and patience.’ [Growing up], I felt like I was being “dressed” by other people in my faith. After sitting down with this verse for a while, I began to see that this feeling was not one I should be ashamed of, but one I should learn from. I began to see that learning in my faith was just something that had to happen as I grew up.  We are not bad Christians for needing help in our faiths, be it in our early years or as we mature. Sometimes, I can’t do it by myself, and I need help from the Christian figures in my life, my family, coaches, and church leaders, to make it through the day. As I’m sent to Auburn University next year, away from these familiar figures, I hope to find new people that will help me put on these Godly garments. Not only that, but I hope to do the same for those around me. We all must do the same because church with no community is no church. Who can we help put on the clothes of God? How can we do this? What gives us the urge to do this? What can we do to put on the clothes of God every single day?”

Adam’s Devotional – May 16-23, 2019

From Adam…

Two weeks ago, we had Youth Sunday. In case you missed it, here’s what Anne Earthman said: When you hear the phrase, “perfect harmony,” what do you think of? Where are you? Who is with you?  These people and memories elicit the same joy in our hearts that exists when we ‘clothe ourselves with love.’ My sense of perfect harmony is on the lake dock at my camp in Brevard, NC, with a few of my best friends, sitting with our feet in the slightly grimey lake water. We are laughing about our days and talking about ‘God moments’, and for me, it is in this place that I am at peace knowing I am loved and known in this world. Imagine a loving world like that. As God’s ‘chosen ones,’ we are called to love in this way–love our God, love ourselves, love our neighbors. We are called to live through acts of love that declare we are chosen. Love is hard sometimes. Christine Caine states that since God was brave enough to put His reputation in our hands, it is our job as chosen ones to love as His message proclaims. I wonder what it would look for our actions alone to proclaim our faith. I wonder what it would look like to love as God loves us, the ones whom He chose.

Adam’s Devotional – May 9-14, 2019

From Adam…

What if loneliness is a sign you’re doing something right? You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.  That’s what Jesus said. Salt seasons. If you put all the salt in the same spot it’s not going to taste very good. If you put all the candles in your house in the same place, only one room will be lit up. Salt and light only work well when they are spread out. In other words, salt and light need to be alone to function properly.  Have you ever felt lonely because of your faith? Have you ever felt different because of the way you practice compassion? Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in because of the way you receive and offer God’s grace? Could it be that loneliness in those circumstances is a sign that we are actually practicing our faith? Perhaps loneliness in those moments means we are loving others the way Christ loves us. It takes courage to be salt.  It takes courage to be light. It takes courage to risk loneliness for the sake loving like Christ. Where are the relationships and spaces that you need to courageously risk loneliness and season this world with salt, light, and Christ like love? God’s up to something . . . be salt.

Adam’s Devotional – May 2-8, 2019

From Adam…

It’s Easter!  Did you think Easter was just one day?  Think again. It’s actually longer than Lent.  Lent is 40 days, but the season of Easter is 50 days long. We intentionally celebrate the resurrection longer than we prepare for it. Technically, we’re currently in the second week of Eastertide. Do you know where the disciples went after the first day of the first Easter? According to the gospel of John, they went back to what they were doing before they met Jesus. They went fishing. They went back to the way things were before Jesus. They didn’t know how to be Easter people. Then Jesus showed up on the beach, and he invited them to a fish breakfast.  Seriously, look in John 21. Have you gone back to the way things were before Jesus? How is your life different now because of Jesus? Nashville is pretty much land-locked, so Jesus won’t surprise you with breakfast on the beach. But where would you like Jesus to show up? When the disciples saw Jesus on the beach, they didn’t recognize him. Could it be that just like the disciples, you have a hard time recognizing Jesus? If you ran into Christ in the hallway at school, in your car, on the practice field, when you’re brushing your teeth, at work, when you get up in the morning, or in the middle of math class, what do you think Jesus would say?  What would you want to hear from the risen Christ? God’s up to something . . . it’s still Easter!

Adam’s Devotional – April 25-May 1, 2019

From Adam…

This is the last time.  Not for ever, but this is the last time for a long time.  This is the last weekly devotional about the temptations of Jesus Christ. Yes, Lent is over.  Yes, Easter has come. And yes, there is at least one more point to be made looking at the temptations.  Every temptation: turn rocks to bread, throw yourself off the temple so angels will catch you, bow down and worship the devil so you can be in charge of the whole world, and save yourself by getting off that cross . . . each one of those is about power.  The devil is tempting Jesus to misuse his power. How do you use your power? You have the power to accept or reject others. How do you use your power? You have the power to talk behind someone’s back or defend those who can’t defend themselves. How do you use your power?  You have the power to compare yourself to others or celebrate their success and grieve with them in their failure. How do you use your power? You have the power to practice gratitude or nurture entitlement? How do you use your power? You have more power than you think. God’s up to something . . . you have the power to be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – April 18-24, 2019

From Adam…

Do you know what worship services people are not lining up to go to? Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. On Maundy Thursday, we remember Jesus’ last supper, Jesus washing his disciples feet, and Judas betraying him. On Good Friday we remember that Jesus was abandoned by all his disciples; he was tried and then crucified. While you may not see many people in church Thursday or Friday, the place will be packed on Easter morning. It will take four services to handle the resurrection rush of Easter. Could it be that we are less interested in talking about how we betray one another? Perhaps we don’t want to be as gross and vulnerable as dirty bare feet; instead we’d prefer to put on our Easter best. Maybe we’d like to avoid abandonment and death altogether. We’d like to skip death and take a shortcut to the resurrection.  This Lent we have reflected on the four temptations of Jesus Christ according to Matthew. The common theme in all the temptations is the devil inviting Jesus to take a shortcut in relationship with us. The good news is that Jesus takes no shortcuts when it comes to loving us. Are we taking shortcuts by avoiding authentic intimacy, embarrassing vulnerability, and real reconciliation with God, ourselves and others? What would it look like for you to take the long way this year? Maybe you could go to the Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services somewhere. God’s up to something . . . dying to love you. 

Adam’s Devotional – April 11-17, 2019

From Adam
If you’re really the son of God, save yourself.  After the devil tempts Jesus the third time in the dessert, the devil leaves him, angels attend him, and Jesus begins his three years of ministry. Eventually, Jesus winds up on a cross. As he’s enduring a slow and painful death, he hears the fourth and final temptation. If you’re really the son of God, save yourself. And Jesus does something incredible . . . something unbelievable . . . something that 2,000 years have made normal. He stays on the cross.  He resists the fourth and final temptation and dies. That’s many people’s problem with Jesus. He dies. He doesn’t save everyone the way we want or expect. He’s not being the son of God we imagined.  He dies. He loses. He is totally exposed; his ministry has come to an end, and it’s over. Where are the places in your life that feel like failure? Where are the places in your life where you are totally exposed? And how do you feel about a God who loses?  Have you wanted God to be different or do things differently? Has God ever not done what you expected, imagined, or even wanted? God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – April 4-10, 2019

From Adam…

The devil did it!  We don’t really talk much about the devil.  Which could be a good thing, it could also be a bad thing.  After all, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled, was convincing the world he didn’t exist. (Thank you Usual Suspects, ask your parents) Jesus definitely thought the devil existed. Jesus was tempted by him in the desert right before he began his ministry. The third dessert temptation is all about power.  The devil offers Jesus all power and authority on earth. All it will cost is Jesus is his soul. All Jesus has to do is bow down and worship the devil. Obviously Jesus doesn’t do it, but how often do we face the same temptation? If we compromise our integrity to get ahead.  If we tell a little white lie here and there to get more influence and power. How much do we live and work to gain power, influence, and status, but along the way forfeit our own souls. Who or what are you worshiping right now? Is it power, popularity, and social status or is it God. God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

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