Have you ever looked up the word ambassador? To be honest I hadn’t ever.
To me that used to be some governmental term that went in one ear and out the other. The term was covered in classes or appeared in sentences and I just assumed I knew enough about it and that it didn’t pertain to me at all. I wasn’t a history buff and didn’t care to know what was going on around the world (don’t worry, I am trying to work on this as I am now an “adult” in society’s eyes).
So what made me interested in something that left little spark in my mind previously?
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Joseph deserves more credit. I tend to be one of those people that skim over Joseph and continue on to the part about heavenly hosts and shepherds. Sure, I know he’s there and he does what God says and all that, but really, he doesn’t play that much of a part, right?
Over the past month leading up to Christmas, I’ve been reading all the different tellings of the Christmas story in my Bible, preparing my heart for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Over and over, I’ve noticed something I’ve never really noticed before. Joseph is one of the most incredible examples of faith, trust, and belief in the Bible.
The long awaited Christmas season has finally arrived—the Christmas music is playing
on our radios, our neighborhoods are slowly beginning to glow from Christmas trees shining through the windows, gift displays are filling the stores, and the Hallmark Christmas movies are in full swing.
Each year, I eagerly anticipate the arrival of Christmas season, excited for the cozy nights spent at home with family, the beautiful Christmas services at church, and the extra time to truly reflect on the reason for the season—the humble birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The Word becoming flesh. However, if you’re like me, it often seems that I reach the end of Christmas and look back thinking “I had such greater intentions for this Christmas season.” Maybe it’s the busy holiday schedules… maybe it’s the temptation to use Christmas break as a time to be lazy… maybe it’s the distraction of earthly gifts… maybe it’s just a big ole’ mix of all these things.
So the question that we must ask ourselves is: “How can I be proactive now in preparing myself and my heart for what God has planned to do in me and through me this Christmas?”
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Fall Retreat 2017
The theme of the retreat was Foundations. Through the sessions, praise and worship, community time and individual devotions, we sought to align ourselves with God’s Mission and what that should look like at the individual and communal level. We need to understand the foundation from which we live as we seek to image him in this world through word and deed.
Session 1: Concept of Covenant, Why Law = Life, The Law and Grace Interaction
Session 2: Covenant withing the History of Israel, Pentateuch and Joshua, Israel’s Role in God’s Mission
Session 3: Israel and the Church, Establishment of a New People, The Church’s Function
Session 4: What is the Point for Me? What is the Church Now? What does this mean for my life in Columbia?
We have many things and places we choose to run to for refuge, strength, and comfort. When we have a bad day, we post our plight on social media or text a friend to see if someone will commiserate; we look for distraction in binge-watching a favorite show; we search for comfort in unhealthy ways, like food, shopping or pleasure.
As we watch devastation around the world unfold on all of the many news mediums and deal with our own personal storms, we question if there’s a solution to the madness. I wrote in the previous post about finding our hope, peace, strength, and solution in Christ. I had begun to write a second part that contained more actionable steps, but for clarity and length decided to leave it out of that post and make it a separate one.
God is the great Author and He has given us the privilege of being a part of His great Story. He could leave us out of it. He could exist apart from this story, but He’s chosen to write this one and make us active participants, not just spectators. As part of His story, we’re charged to tell of the good news of salvation, love our neighbors, and relieve suffering. Yes, there’s conflict. That’s part of what makes a story. Characters have obstacles that they must overcome to achieve goals. In order to achieve our goals of loving others and spreading the gospel, here are three things that we can do.
“I didn’t want to hang out with you because you were kind of a bummer to be around.”
I can feel the scar where those words stabbed into me ten years ago. I had gone through an awful season of depression and was finally coming out of the tunnel and into the light. I was at a place to start confronting everything that I didn’t have the energy or emotional stamina to deal with while enduring that dark night of the soul. So I asked my close friend, the friend that I had invested much into, why she bailed on me the night that we were supposed to go to a concert that I had been looking forward to seeing. Well, the day that she bailed, she told me that she’d rather watch TV with another friend instead of going to the concert that she had agreed to attend with me. She didn’t even bother to make up a good excuse. She just bailed for something and someone more appealing. The anger and hurt from that rejection was difficult enough. I still tried to make excuses for my friend though. Maybe she didn’t realize that I was going through a tough time. I’ve always been the steady one. Perhaps she couldn’t see past what I was supposed to be. After confronting with my question of why, I realized that she did know what was going on. And she didn’t care. It about sent me through the roof.
If you take a look at the news or worse, dare to venture out into social media where every theory and opinion can be found, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that the world is falling apart. People seem to be losing their minds and the only thing certain is uncertainty. Anxiety, depression, and panic are prevalent because our culture lends its hands to these monsters. Courage and resiliency are fading in our rear view mirrors as we drive down destructive roads.