Adam’s Devotional – November 14-20, 2019

From Adam…

As promised, here’s the second reason the Bible gives for sabbath. We receive sabbath rest because we were once slaves in Egypt, but God freed us, and we’re no longer slaves. We rest because we are free to rest. Rest proves our freedom. We don’t have to earn it.  We don’t deserve it; our freedom to rest is evidence of the transformative reality of God’s grace in our lives. We are transformed from fearful, scrambling slaves into content, free people. When we receive sabbath rest, we are saying, “yes” to the freedom extended to us in God’s grace. In other words, we are called to join in God’s rest in the world just as much as we are called to join in God’s work in the world. Sabbath reminds us of our real identity. A slave’s worth is in what he/she does and produces. A free person’s value is in who he/she is. Slavery requires you to scramble and hustle for your very life. God’s freedom gives permission to be who you are. Ever heard the phrase, we are human beings, not human doings? Sabbath reminds us that our identity is not in what we do or produce. Where’s your identity right now? Is it in your performance? Are you saying, “yes” to slavery or are you saying, “yes” to freedom? Are you scrambling for others’ approval? Are you changing the way you act, dress, or speak to fit in? What would it look like for you to receive Sabbath rest? You don’t have to change who you are to say, “yes” to freedom in God’s grace; you just need to be who you are. God’s up to something . . . rest a part of it. 

Adam’s Devotional – November 7-13, 2019

From Adam…

Did you know the Bible gives two different reasons for why we practice receiving Sabbath rest?  Number 1: that’s what God did on the 7th day of creation. We rest with God because God rested with us. Sabbath rest, being with God, anchoring ourselves in the ultimate reality of God’s grace filled, creative, and loving presence is a part of how we were created to live from the very beginning. Think about it for just a second. Before sin entered the world, we were made with a need for rest. St. Augustine writes, “our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Needing and receiving rest with God is a part of who we were meant to be and how we were meant to live. Stopping and being who we are with God is a part of how we were made. Crazy, right?  Are you exhausted?  Are you burning out? Is the burden of school, life, work, schedule, getting a little too heavy? Are you tired of having to perform? Are you restless? When was the last time you rested?  –not numbing or vegging out on the couch or scrolling through your feed–  When was the last time you actually allowed yourself to rest with God? Was it in the last 7 days? What would it look like if you said, “yes” to rest with God every week?  Every day?  Stop what you’re doing, right now for one minute and simply be in God’s presence.  God’s up to something . . . rest. What a second! What about the second reason? You’ll just have to wait until next week.  

Adam’s Devotional – October 31-November 6, 2019

From Adam…

We’re finally done talking about why bad things happen to good people.  Well, technically we’ll never be done wrestling with that question. And that’s the key.  Keep on talking with God. Keep on getting curious about what God could possibly be up to. Remember three things. First, God is not the author of evil. God doesn’t make bad things happen, so you’ll learn a lesson. The fact that we learn and grow through hardship is a sign of God’s active presence with us. Scripture tells us that God makes all things work together for good. So when good comes out of bad, that doesn’t mean God made the bad, it means God made the good. Second, when your heart is breaking, God’s heart is already broken, and God is grieving with you.  There is no place where you can go that God is not already waiting for you. Jesus Christ on the cross is God’s declaration to us saying, “I am with you. I am your God, and you are my beloved.” Third, remember the story of the prodigal son.  Both of the father’s sons leave the father at some point in the story.  And the father responds to both the same way. He runs out to meet them and invites them to come inside and celebrate. No matter what is happening in your life, the good, the bad, or the ugly, God is running out to meet you, inviting you to come inside and to rejoice in hope. Where is it the hardest to believe that God could be waiting for you? How could God possibly be running out to meet you? And where are the places in your life that are most difficult to hope? God is inviting us to join in making all things work together toward good. God’s up to something good . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – October 24-30, 2019

From Adam…

Perhaps one of the great barriers to authentic relationships is the idea that others (friends, family, romances, followers, likes etc.) are there to take away or lessen our pain. Maybe we even measure the quality or merit of relationships on their capacity to mitigate pain. Does God do the opposite? God risks true, genuine, -in the manger and on the cross- painful and messy relationship with us. As one theologian puts it, “God is dying to love us.” God’s refusal to remove pain points to God’s commitment to be with us. When we learn how God is with us, we learn how to be with others without feeling like we have to fix them. Do you know what psychologists say our primary needs are? To be seen, to be known, to belong, and to be loved. Do you know what’s not on that list? To be fixed! When we measure our relationships by our capacity to fix or be fixed by others, we are not really being together; we’re just seeing what we can get from one another. We are settling for transaction rather than receiving transformation. We are transformed by the radical grace of God that doesn’t need us to change who we are but calls us to be who we are (see Brené Brown). We are invited to love each other the way God loves us. Are you asking people to change who they are before you welcome and accept them? Are people who are supposed to be your friends asking you to change? In other words, who are you trying to fix, and who is trying to fix you? What would it look like today, if you accepted the grace of Jesus Christ that calls you to courageously be who you are with God and others? God’s up to something…be who you are.

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.  

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