Weekly Devotional from Caroline Stanley – April 12-18, 2018

From Caroline Stanley’s Lenten devo
God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

When I look closely at the last section of The Lord’s Prayer, I feel hope.  A few years ago I never would have been able to say that.

I didn’t believe in hope because I thought it was some fake optimistic idea that it was all going to be alright.  That was one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made.  Have you ever given up on hope because you were angry at God?

Hope is often hard to reach and can sometimes feel unattainable.  Hope can be lost when going through tough times, but it is the idea of believing with confidence that those dark days will come to an end.

Pain is real, but so is hope.  The good news is that God’s goodness lasts forever.  No matter if you lose hope, His glory continues on.  What would our lives look like if we found hope in God?

It is so easy for us to harden our hearts when we lose hope, but God’s love endures and is stronger than any battle we are going through.  What do you think of the idea that hope doesn’t disappoint?

Hope in God is a place of peace– a place that will always be there.  The next time you hear the last part of The Lord’s Prayer, imagine the hope that comes form God’s endless love, and hold onto it.”

Adam’s Weekly Devotional – April 5-11, 2018

From Adam…

Last week was Holy Week.  The week we watch the joyful shouts of Hosanna mutate into the hateful cries of Crucify!  Last week, like this life, is a paradoxical alchemy of celebration and mourning. We remember the way we uniquely encounter God’s yes to us in Jesus Christ. And we reflect upon our no to God as we put the Son on the cross. The good news of Holy Week is that God says yes to us even though we say no to God. In what ways have you been saying no to God’s love in your life? In what ways have you been saying no to God’s love of others?  And how have you killed hope, love, and grace in yourself, in your relationships, and in your community? Maybe you haven’t killed those things. Perhaps you’ve just stood idly by as hope, love, and grace suffocate nearby while skepticism , resentment, and self-pity take their place. Grateful that Easter has come.  God knows we need it. God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Weekly Devotional – March 22-28, 2018 : (excerpt from Jackson Singer’s devo)

Weekly Devotional:
(excerpt from Jackson Singer’s devo)

I feel that in order for someone to not dive into the temptations that Satan brings to the table, he or she has to put his or her life in God’s hand, trust in Him, and always stay second to Him.  And when we fall into the traps that Satan sets out for us, God will deliver us from that evil.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This verse has meant a lot to me because I have endured many things that have made an impact on my life.
Even though God allows horrible things to happen, God’s purpose is not to harm us.  A pop culture reference comes from a song called “Human” by Christina Perri.
All throughout the song, you feel how she hurts and wants to change, but she struggles because she is only human.  She sings about the mistakes that humans make.  We all have committed countless sins, and God will always be there for us.
Perfect? Not even close!  But, God will always love us. God is up to something… be a part of it.

Weekly Devotional- March 15-21, 2018

Weekly Devotional:
(excerpt from Mary Caroline Carney’s devo)

I have still found that it is much easier for us as humans to ask for forgiveness than it is for us to be forgiving ourselves.  Often, we get caught up in the idea that hte person in need of forgiveness is someone that does not deserve our forgiveness.  We feel that the sin that this person has done to hurt us is not equivalent to any sin we have done ourselves. Sometimes, it is hard to forgive others because they refuse to forgive us.
But through this prayer, God charges us as Christians to forgive, even when it is hard and goes against how we may feel.  When we are able to forgive others, we experience the ultimate good news truth that God is all-forgiving and merciful to everyone.
If God can forgive all 7 billion people on the planet for sinning so much every single day, we as followers of Christ can afford to show grace and forgiveness to people when they sin against us.  By God’s grace, we have the ability to forgive and to love others in the way that God does.
So, the next time your find yourself in a situation where you are not wanting to forgive someone, try and forgive.  But you don’t have to forget the way you felt about the situation.  Use it to be gracious and merciful to others in the future. God is up to something… be a part of it.

Weekly Devotional – March 8-14, 2018

Weekly Devotional…

You know that smell of fresh bread being made?  I can always tell when there’s a Subway within walking distance by catching even the slightest whiff of baking bread.
There’s something about that smell that brings excitement, even if we know that we’re not actually going to eat at Subway. Just knowing that it’s there, our bodies and minds tell us it’s a good thing.
God acts the same way by giving us our “daily bread.”
When reading The Lord’s Prayer recently, these lines struck me in a way that they never had before. Similar to many people my age, I imagine, The Lord’s Prayer has always been something I was taught, not something that I paid attention to when saying it.
However as I dove into the actual verses of the prayer, it began to become more a prayer than a recitation.  Matthew 6:11 in particular, struck me, “give us this day our daily bread.”
God calls us every day to receive his gifts, be they physical ones, or more importantly, the spiritual gift that we get to call him our Father.  Each day God makes us anew, a gift more precious than any physical gift we could ever receive.
What’s so great about this prayer is that no matter what happened yesterday, or what happens today, we will always have God, and we will always have another day he gives us, be it here on earth or with him in Heaven.  The Lord’s Prayer is both a fact and a promise, encouraging us day by day.
By it, we are challenged each day to seek out both the gifts and the tests that it brings. So I encourage you and I encourage myself and I encourage everyone who will listen, to wake up each day and live with this fervent passion to find the “daily bread” that God provides.” God is up to something… be a part of it. 

Adam’s Devotional – March 1-7, 2018

From Adam…

Two words. With just two words, Jesus teaches us that we can’t do this faith thing alone, that we are all a part of the same family, and Jesus completely transforms how we relate to God.  During the season of Lent, our church is spending some quality time on the Lord’s prayer.  Todd is preaching on the prayer every sunday and small groups are focusing their discussions on the Lord’s prayer every week.  It’s with the first two words of the Lord’s prayer that Jesus completely shifts the way we think about God, ourselves, and one another.  OUR FATHER. “Our” we are called to this life of faith together. How often do you treat your faith as something private instead of something communal? Who is God calling you to do faith with? “Father” we are beloved daughters and sons of God. Who are the people, where are the places, and what are the things that you try to get your identity from that are not God? Do you believe that who you are at your very core is God’s beloved child? But God’s not the only one who’s family.  Everyone else is family too.  How often do you treat those around you as if they were less than you?  Who do you think God could be calling you to treat like family?  God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – February 22-28, 2018

From Adam

Why does everything have to happen for a reason?  Why can some things just happen? It’s easy to think that if there’s a reason behind pain, then it makes that pain okay or even makes it worth it. Maybe it’s the other way around.  If there is no reason, if the cause of pain is senseless . . . then it hurts all the more. And what about God?  Where is God in the pain of unexplainable death? These questions might not have answers on this side of heaven. But what we see on the cross is a God Who is also suffering, Who doesn’t try to explain grief away, and Who hangs as the victim of unspeakable and unexplainable death. So whenever we are in a place of deep hurt, grief, and mourning, it is not God who joins us there but actually God who is already there waiting for us. Good grief is hard to come by.  But when we enter into it, we are met there by a God who is already grieving- a God who has been grieving with and for us since we separated from God in the garden. The good news is that God is with us in our grief and our mourning, and that death does not have the last word.  God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – February 15-21, 2018

From Adam

Proximity plus play prevents prejudice . . . probably. Think about it, walls between people come down when we play together. When you are holding hands playing red rover, you’re not thinking about what is better or worse about you compared to someone else; you’re just bracing for impact . . . hoping that your arm doesn’t come out of socket as this high school linebacker runs full speed right into your team’s line. Our youth ministry value statement reads: We are committed to be a Christ centered community marked by compassion, brokenness, grace, worship, mission, and play. Play is the practice of agendaless and imaginative communion with one another. In real play we enter in a grace filled, judgment free atmosphere where laughter and joy replace fear and judgment.  When is the last time you just played with your family?  When is the last time you felt vulnerable and free enough to just be silly?  What do you think of the idea that God is willing to be silly with us? The most vulnerable and hope filled question that children often say is “Do you want to play with me?” Who is asking you to play? God’s up to something . . . play. 

Adam’s Devotional- February 8-14, 2018

From Adam

Did you hear about that kid that made the varsity team as a freshman? The kid went to practice every week, was put on the starting lineup, but never showed up for a single game. That is what happens when we profess our Christian faith and go to church on a regular basis–but never participate in mission.  Our youth ministry value statement reads, “We are committed to being a Christ-centered community marked by brokenness, compassion, grace, worship, and mission”.  Mission means that we don’t just join the team; we actually play on the field. How have you gotten on the mission field lately? When’s the last time you felt the Holy Spirit nudging you to do something or say something, and you did it? When’s the last time you went out of you way to be with and for someone else? In the same way that God sent the Son into the world to reveal God’s love to us, God has sent you to reveal God’s love in your homes, schools, church, workplaces, and world. What could joining in Christ’s mission to reveal God’s love look like in your life. God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional- February 1-7, 2018

From Adam

Interesting statistic:  There are more church’s per capita in Tennessee than anywhere else in the world.  Whether or not you know what a capita is, that’s a whole lot of churches.  “Church shopping” is a common practice in Nashville. We hear these spiritual shoppers say, “I just don’t get anything out of their service.” It makes sense to find a faith community that is right for you. However, when we shop for a faith community,  it changes from being a community to being a commodity. We move from being a congregant into a consumer, and worship becomes a product.  Worship is not a product. It is not something we are supposed to consume and get something out of. Instead, it’s an offering of ourselves to God.  We practice offering ourselves to God because God offers all of God’s Self to us. In what ways have you looked at worship in general, or at your faith in particular, as something to be consumed? How are you offering yourself to God instead of just expecting God to offer a Divine Product to you?  How could a new understanding of worship change the way you participate in the worshipping community?
God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

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