This past Sunday morning, Aaron asked the question, “What is a disciple?” We talked about how a disciple is (spoiler alert) a learner, or a student. As Christ-followers, we are learners (students) of Jesus.
Now I don't know if Aaron intentionally scheduled this message to line up with the Back to School season, but it was a helpful reminder that – no matter how “senior” we are - we are all still learning.
Schools now are realizing that different people learn in different ways, and I have to agree. For instance, I like to learn something in private; I practice it a million times until I've perfected it, and then present it to the public as if it were a natural gifting God has blessed me with.
Which makes learning in community kind of a kick-in-the-teeth for me.
Because the process of learning can be incredibly humbling.
As someone who started attending church in diapers I feel like there isn't much I shouldn't already know.
I've recited all the memory verses, I've sung all the Bible songs, what's left to learn??
(As I write this, Job 38 comes to mind and at any moment I'm sure I will hear God's booming voice putting me in my place)
Of course, the short answer is, there is loads left to learn! God's Word is alive and will continue to speak to us as we grow in Him. And God makes Himself known in many other ways.
One of them being you.
Take a look in the mirror, and know that God is working in you, and He wants to make Himself known through you.
We all have stories of God at work in our lives; times He has given us strength in moments of weakness, patience in periods of uncertainty, and comfort in the midst of deep sorrow. When we come out of these times, and share our experience, we are proclaiming God, we are making Him known!
Praise God that we don’t get through each day on our own strength, but on His!
This week I was reminded of Psalm 9, where David exclaims, “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”
As a church – as a body of believers – let’s make Christ known through His saving work in our lives.
“Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.” – Psalm 111:1-3
Jolene Sanders, Director of Worship
September means back to school, and back to school brings big changes for many parents. Young ones heading off to their first days of nursery school or kindergarten, or older kids moving on to elementary school or high school, or even beyond, and each new stage brings change and challenge.
I used to naively think that once my kids were older they wouldn’t need us as much. How wrong I was! The older the kids get, the more it seems they need their parents. Not just for me to teach them my exceptional dance moves, or for Kevin to provide free math tutoring services, but they just generally need us more.
More talking. More time. More money (that’s a given!). We give them more responsibility but at the same time we give them more space. It’s a strange dance we perform as we sway together to the music of “adolescence-turn-adulthood”, and I feel like I’m always tripping over myself.
This year our oldest began college, and every one of the pre-college parent sessions reminded us sharply that they might be our kids, but once in college they were adults in both form and function.
Translation: Back off.
I thought I’d be okay with this, but as my friends and my son can attest, the first week of assignments came home and I lost my mind a little bit. “When is this due?” “Where do you upload your assignments?” “What are you doing between classes?” “Where are you eating your lunch?” “Who do you talk to on the bus?” “Write in pencil, not pen!” "Don't forget to bring your computer to class!"
It turns out that parenting an adult is way harder than I thought it would be. Do you know why? Because you have to be prepared for them to get it wrong. To fail. To miss the deadline or to fail to grasp the point of the assignment, and to just watch it happen.
When I think about how frustrated I am already when reading papers that need some serious proofreading, or seeing from the syllabus that he missed the mark on some of his assignments, I think of my own spiritual journey and how the Father views me. How often I get it wrong. How I missed opportunities to speak up, or I spoke up when I should have shut up. How hindsight showed me how far I missed the mark of the task the Lord had given me.
So… is this the point where I draw a direct line from my own parenting skills to those of the Heavenly Father and tell myself that the Lord has to back off and let me make my own mistakes?
Does the Lord “back off”? Well, sure he gave me free will to worship or to walk away, but I think in this context the threads holding together that particular parenting argument are quite weak.
Scripture tells me that God relentlessly pursues me (Luke 15:8-10) and rejoices over me. That he sent a Messiah who saves me completely. He provides Scripture not just to teach me, but to rebuke me and correct me (2 Tim 3:16). And when I fail (as I often do), Jesus Christ advocates on my behalf before the Father. God is accessible at a moment’s notice (Hebrews 4:16), and I am assured that nothing can remove me from the love of God (Rom 8:38-39).
God will not back off or leave you to your own decisions. He does not watch you make poor choices and think, “Well, they’ll soon regret those choices, but what are ya gonna do?” (insert heavenly shrug here).
Maybe you don’t have adult children, or perhaps you have no children at all. Regardless I challenge you to remember that God has not left you to your own devices or washed his hands of you. When you are tempted to believe that God has fallen silent and is leaving you to suffer your choices in a hopeless state, name that as a lie and instead remind yourself that God will continue to pursue you until your time on this earth is done.
And now, if you need me, I'll be silently reading assignments over my son's shoulder and sitting on my hands so I don't correct his
Have you ever been asked to do something you have never done before and was beyond your comfort zone? Recently my daughter asked me to build a set of benches. I have never built furniture from scratch, so we spent time planning out the design and the materials we’d need. After the planning, the time came when I had to actually take the saw off the shelf and make the first cut. Then the second. And so on.
Since I had to build two benches, I learned from the first. Cutting the timbers for the second bench was not as intimidating because we had gained the confidence from the first.
Once we assembled the bench, we realized that additional support was needed so more material was bought and more cuts were made. We adjusted. It was a lot of effort but when we look at the final product, we are glad that we took the initiative to build these benches.
In the past year, Calvary Burlington has supported three missions trips for people who were going to places and doing things outside of their comfort zone. We also just completed a week of Forest Cliff Day Camp, where kids from the schools surrounding our church had the opportunity (some for the first time!) to hear about Jesus. These outreaches are all part of the disciple-making process.
The fall is upon us. Let’s get serious about our Lord’s command to make disciples. Let’s come out to Equip on the first Wednesday night of the month to learn more about the four core habits that help people grow (based out of Darryl Dash’s book). Get involved in Lifegroups to spur one another on to grow. Ladies, join the Tuesday evening Bible study to be built up in the faith. Men, start rubbing shoulders with other men through our monthly men’s ministry. Students, you have an incredible Wednesday night program to help you grow. Do one task in the church. Start serving in one ministry. Do one thing.
This fall, let’s build a bench. Start by making the first cut and go from there. If it works, you will have a bench. If not, ask others for help. Make adjustments. Buy more lumber. Just like I got better at making benches by doing, together we’ll get better at making disciples when we step out in faith and begin.
Peter Klahsen, Elder Chair
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