Adam’s Devotional – October 17-23, 2019

From Adam…

When you’re in the hospital, what’s the first things the doctor asks you? “How would you rate your pain in a scale of 1 to 10?” It’s almost as if our modern healthcare system has redefined health to mean lack of pain. Maybe we’ve done the same thing with God. If good health equals pain free, then a good God should equal pain free, too . . . right? Perhaps that’s why we get so bent out of shape when it comes to the problem of God being good and bad things still happening. How often would we settle for a heavenly narcotic that numbs us to or (better yet) removes the tragedies of this life? Has it ever occurred to us that God never promised a pain free life? Has it ever dawned on anyone that Jesus never said, “Follow me, and you’ll never suffer again”? God is more than a glorified opioid and wants us to be more than a God user. Jesus said, “I have come that [we] might have life and have it to the full!” God wants full life for us and refuses to allow us to settle for less even if it hurts. How are you avoiding full life? What ways are you numbing yourself to the things which break God’s heart? What addiction is robbing you of God’s joy? Social media, entertainment, gossip, success, a scarcity mentality, a victim mentality, surface level relationships . . . what are you allowing to eclipse the grace of God’s presence in your life in the midst of pain. God’s up to something…even when it hurts.

Adam’s Devotional – October 10-16, 2019

From Adam…

What does God do with God’s power? If God is all powerful, why doesn’t God stop the pain in the world? If God has the ability to stop the pain, why doesn’t it stop? If it’s true, that Jesus Christ is the full and complete revelation of God with, for, and to us, then we can learn something about what God does with all that power if we look at Jesus. Jesus picks up children in his arms when adults want to send them away. Jesus speaks to women as if they were equals in a world where they weren’t. Jesus touches lepers. They were literally untouchable, and Jesus touches them. Jesus kneels next to a woman right in the middle of her execution and doesn’t leave her side until all her accusers walked away. Jesus washes his disciples’ feet. Jesus hangs on a cross and descends into hell. Again and again he uses his power and authority to descend to places of suffering, places of injustice, violence, and bigotry to be with the people society was pushing away and calling them “less than”. It would seem that Jesus is more interested in using his power to be with those who are suffering rather than stopping their pain. What does God do with God’s power? God chooses to come to us in places that feel like hell, to take us by the hand, and to say, “I’ve got somewhere I’d like us to go together!”  God’s up to something … be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – October 3, 2019

From Adam…

In the manger, on the cross, and in the tomb, God joins us in our brokenness through Jesus Christ.  But what about before that? Have you ever thought about the idea that God was the first one to whom bad things happened? Think about it.  God creates humanity to be in loving relationship with God and creates a place for us to be together. And it was good . . . for a while.  Then we break God’s heart by choosing to do life without God. That’s what Adam and Eve did. The first “bad thing” that happened was humanity breaking relationship with God. So, from the very beginning, God knows what it’s like to feel hurt. God knows what it’s like to vulnerably risk relationship with someone and have them turn you down. Isn’t that what happens to Jesus, too? He was betrayed and abandoned by those closest to him. Could it be, that when we find ourselves in moments of great loneliness and hurt and pain, that we are greeted by a God who’s already there waiting for us? Romans 8 tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Perhaps that’s true because Christ has already gone to every possible place we could run or be taken to and is waiting for us there. God’s up to something . . . you are not alone.

Adam’s Devotional – September 26 – October 2, 2019

From Adam…

That which breaks your heart also breaks mine. What do you think of the idea that God says this to us? Or what about this one: That which breaks your heart has already broken mine? Genesis tells us that we (female and male) are made in the image of God.  The fancy Latin phrase for that is the Imago Dei. We long for relationship because God longs for relationship.  We need to be known, loved, seen, and to belong because those needs are in the heart of God.  So when we experience anger and sadness at the injustice in the world (at the bad things that happen to good people), that sadness and anger has its genesis in the heart of God. God is also already grieving those tragedies. When we allow ourselves to really feel what we are feeling, we step into the flow of God’s passion, presence, and life. We feel angry about injustice because God feels angry about injustice. We feel hurt by betrayal because God feels hurt by betrayal. We are made in the image of God, so the things that break God’s heart also break ours. In many ways, the closer we grow in intimacy with God, the greater capacity we have to experience God’s joy, God’s sorrow, and God’s hope. That’s right, God’s hope! The good news of the cross, is that God can take the ultimate bad thing and redeem and transform it to bring blessing. We are not hopeless; the bad things do not have last word; God’s love and hope do. God’s up to something . . . feel a part of it. 

Adam’s Devotional – September 19-25, 2019

From Adam…

What are you going to do about it? Not sure if you noticed, but we’ve been doing a series on the question: “Why do bad things happen?” Also, not sure if you’ve noticed, we have a lot of responses, but words fail to offer a simple, satisfactory answer to that question. Why do bad things happen? On one level, that question is easy to ask because we know we don’t have the answer to it. A more difficult question to ask is: “What are you going to do about it?”  When you see someone hurt, what are you going to do about it?  When you hear of a tragedy that strikes a family member or a friend, what are you going to do about it?  When we cry out to God and say “Do something to make this better!” God responds to us by saying, “Why do you think I sent you?” For whatever reason, God does not take away the bad things that happen.  God does not remove the places that sometimes feel like hell in our lives. God meets us there and walks with us out of hell into places that feel like new life no matter how long it takes. If we are called to love one another the way Christ loves us, then that means we’re supposed to do something about it. So what are you going to do? Where are the places that bad things have happened? Who are the people who are feeling lonely, sad, angry and afraid? What would it look like for you to meet those people there?  God’s up to something . . . do something about it.

Adam’s Devotional – September 12-18, 2019

From Adam…

We have so many questions. Why do bad things happen to good people? What is God’s plan? Who is going to heaven? What about people from other religions? What about science and the Bible? How can we do this whole faith thing when we have so many unanswered questions? When the runaway Hebrew slaves were in the dessert, God fed them bread from heaven.  Scripture tells us that the bread they ate was called manna.  Manna literally means, “what is it?”  They survived on “what is it?” for 40 years. Scripture never tells us that the Israelites ever figured out what manna was. It was always a mystery. It was always a question. It was always, “what is it?” And it sustained and fed them throughout all their wanderings in the wilderness. What if our questions were actually signs that we are on the road of faith rather than wandering off it?  What if our questions actually fed us? Could our questions nourish our souls the same way manna nourished the Hebrew people in the dessert? What are the questions you are asking today?  Every day in the dessert, the Hebrews would gather their manna. What would it look like if you went out and gathered? Could the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” actually sustain your faith rather than push you away from it? God’s up to something . . . go out and gather.  

Adam’s Devotional – September 5-11, 2019

From Adam…

What would you say to a 5th grader who told you they just dropped out of school because they don’t understand quantum physics? Can you imagine how the conversation would go? “You are in 6th grade; what makes you think you should be able to understand quantum physics?” Then they’d respond, “It’s just not worth being a student if I can’t understand. If I can’t learn that in 5th grade, then I’ll never be able to learn it.”  Obviously, we’d encourage that kid to go back to school and continue their pursuit of quantum physics even if they don’t understand it by the end of 5th grade. It makes sense to us that we have to learn math before we learn algebra, before we learn calculus, before we learn quantum physics. Each grade level we learn more and more. Why do we not think similarly about our faith?  Why do we think we need to know the answers to everything right now? How often do we stop our search for truth when we don’t find it in whatever amount of time we’ve allotted? How tempted are we to say, “I just can’t believe in a God who lets bad things happen to good people.” How many people with elementary school faith stop practicing because they don’t understand quantum physics spirituality. Simply because we don’t understand today, doesn’t mean God won’t lead us into deeper and fuller understanding in the future.  Jesus even says to his disciples.  “Right now you do not understand what I am doing, but later you will understand.” God’s up to something . . . stay in school. 

Adam’s Devotional – August 29-September 4, 2019

From Adam…

Everything is memory.  Think about it. Memory is all brain development really is. You learn to roll over, crawl, and walk as a baby. As you develop muscle tone, you remember what worked before, and you add on to it until you’re walking.  In a very real sense, you don’t know how to walk, you remember how to walk. Everything we do is anchored in the recollection of what worked or didn’t work before. Why don’t you put your hand in a fire? Because you remember it burns you. What about the muscle memory of our souls? It seems like over and over again in scripture God is calling us to remember. Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt.  Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Take this bread, and drink this cup in remembrance of me. In a very real sense, we don’t know God is up to something, we remember that God is up to something. God calls us to remember because in remembering, we are being made new. We are a “new creation” as Paul put it to the Corinthians. God is literally re – membering us–forming and transforming us as we remember God. Could it be that one of the reasons God allows bad things to happen (notice I did not say “makes bad things happen”) is so that we can remember. We can remember that life continues after death. We can remember there is hope after despair.  We can learn and remember how to walk the path of grief and greet others on that path when they lose someone close to them. We can remember that there is a light shining in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.  Could it be that one of the reasons that God allowed Christ Jesus to suffer and die is so that we would remember that God is with us even in tragedies that make no sense? God is up to something . . . remember.

Adam’s Devotional – August 22-28, 2019

From Adam…

Why do bad things happen to good people?  Did you know that God actually answers this question?  That’s right . . . the question that plagues our minds and frustrates our souls, God actually answers.  But as with many of the Divine responses . . . it’s more than we bargained for and creates more curiosity than clarity.  God’s answer to “Why do bad things happen to good people?” is to become a good person that bad things happen to. God’s response to the question is to join us in the asking. God’s response is to put on human flesh, lie in the manger, live in creation, and die on a cross. God’s response is actually the Sunday school answer: Jesus. Remember Jesus cries out from the cross, “My God, my God, why . . .”, “MY GOD MY GOD WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” God knows what it’s like to be godforsaken. Crazy, right? The problem is, we don’t want that answer.  We want an answer that we can comprehend, understand, and file away for whenever and however tragedy and trauma strike.  But God’s answer isn’t that.  It’s a person.  The person of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, God incarnate, Who is dying to love us. Who is asking “Why do bad things happen to good people– why do bad things happen to me?” to love us.  Who is being forsaken for the sake of loving us and not leaving us alone in the asking. God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.   

Adam’s Devotional – August 15-21, 2019

From Adam…

Famous Theologian Ricky Bobby (comedian Will Ferrell in the movie Talladega Nights) once described God in this way: “Tiny baby Jesus in your tiny golden fleece diapers.” One of the paradoxes about God that we consistently miss is God’s choice to be vulnerable. Think about it, what could be more vulnerable than a “tiny baby Jesus”? We are far more comfortable with an all powerful removed God. We don’t know what to do with a God who chooses vulnerability, a God who risks and suffers for relationship. God chooses to suffer for us, in our place in some sense, but really and truly in order to vulnerably risk relationship with us. God has decided to be with us and for us and that means choosing to vulnerably be right alongside us. That’s what’s happening on the cross as well. A completely vulnerable and suffering God – human (in the person of Jesus Christ) arms stretched out, dying to love us. Why? God suffers because we suffer, and God consistently chooses to vulnerably go where we are, to seek us out, and to risk being with us, even if that means being with us in the place of our pain, shame, and hurt. The ironic thing about those places is that we can quickly convince ourselves that we are alone.  But that’s a lie.  We are not alone. God is with us and is not satisfied to leave us in places of death, but God takes us by the hand like a little child who wants to play, into places of resurrection and hope. God’s up to something . . . you are not alone.

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