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.

Adam’s Devotional – August 8-14, 2019

From Adam…

It’s a slight semantic decision, but it’s an important one. The question is not, why does God make bad things happen?  The question is, why does God let bad things happen? Answers to those questions often fall short in providing hope, encouragement, or comfort to the bereaved, because we really don’t know the answer. What do we know? We know that God doesn’t take away our pain. God doesn’t numb the nerves of our soul. God is not a painkiller. So what does God do? What does God do with all of that divine power and glory?  What does God do with all of that creative and unfathomable strength? What good is God if our suffering and pain remain? WHAT ARE YOU DOING GOD? WHERE ARE YOU? Remember what Jesus prays from the cross, “My God My God why have you forsaken me?” Remember what Jesus says to the disciples “this is my body broken for you.” Remember what Jesus says after the resurrection. “I am with you, even to the end of the age.” What does God do?  God Joins us. God meets us in the midst of grief with tears that have been flowing long before ours began. That’s the miracle, that neither heights nor depths, nor things present nor things to come, nor life nor death can ever separate us from God’s presence and love. God’s grieving . . . be a part of it. 

Adam’s Devotional – August 1-7, 2019

From Adam…

A being is free insofar as it can limit itself.  That’s what the famous theologian, Karl Barth says we find out about God on the 7th day of creation. God reveals that God can stop. God can rest. If you can’t stop doing something, you’re not free. Not being able to stop or limit your actions is closer to addiction than freedom. That’s why God’s freedom is revealed in God’s choice to rest on the 7th day. It’s weird to think about God being free. But one of the most profound realities about God is that God doesn’t have to be with us. God freely chooses to be God with us. In Exodus 20 when we hear the 4th commandment for the first time, we read, “Remember the Sabbath, and keep it holy” because God rested on the 7th day of creation. Our reason for resting is God’s choice to rest with us way back when this whole thing started. God invites us into a life that is free for relationship: relationship with God, relationship with ourselves, and relationship with each other.  Sometimes we define freedom as being able to do whatever we want. But a better definition of freedom would be being able to not do whatever we want. That’s what sabbath invites us into. We are truly free when we can say yes to less: less busyness, less stuff, less FOMO, less comparison, etc. The irony is that more often than not, when we say “yes” to less of the immediate thing we want, we are saying “yes” to more of God.  More of God means more of becoming ourselves. And more becoming ourselves means a greater capacity to be with others in relationship. God’s up to something . . . rest a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – July 18-24, 2019

From Adam…

(Excerpts from Ephesians 5:1-2)
“Follow God’s example”.Really? “As dearly loved children.” We are all children? We are all dearly loved? “And walk in the way of love.” What in the world does that mean? “Just as Christ loved us”. So we are supposed to love like Christ loves? We are supposed to follow God’s example? God? The creator of all that is seen and unseen. God, ultimate reality, more than can be known, source of all life, source of all that is? The great I am? We are supposed to follow that God’s example? How in the world are we supposed to do that? Could that be part of the reason why God put on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ? So that we had an example to follow. What would loving your family like Christ loves look like today? Would it look like forgiveness? What would loving your friends like Christ loves us look like today? Would it look like celebration instead of comparison? What would loving the stranger like Christ loves look like today? Would it look like giving the benefit of the doubt? Would it look like assuming those who are different than you having something to teach you? God only knows. God’s up to something … be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – July 11-17, 2019

From Adam…

You can learn all kinds of facts about a person. You can know how tall a person is, their eye color, shoe size, what school they go to, where they work, where they were born, contact information, what they like to wear, etc. You could even learn stories about this person: tragedies, victories, or embarrassing moments. You stalk them on social media and find out even more than all that. But no matter how many factoids you find out about a person, no matter how many stories you know, you don’t really know them until you meet. Even after the first meeting you don’t really know them.  Some one said once that you need 17 hours of face time with a person before you can start to really know them. Perhaps that why God wants to be with us. Maybe God wants us to get to know each other. Ever wonder what God is like? Have you settled for ideas and facts about God instead of actually getting to know each other. Scripture tells that in Christ the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. Maybe that’s why the Christian faith stresses a personal relationship with Christ. When we get to know Jesus Christ, we get to know God truly in the flesh. If you calculated all the time you’ve spent spending one on one soul time with God, would it equal 17 hours? God’s up to something . . . be in relationship.

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.

© 2019 First Presbyterian Church | 4815 Franklin Pike, Nashville, TN 37220 | (615) 383-1815
Website By Poka Yoke Design