Learning Together

dog_on_computerfeature“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” is a saying that most of us have probably heard.  But, we are not dogs!  We are followers of Jesus.  We are people who continue to grow and learn until our lives are over.  The cartilage in our bodies continues to grow, including our noses and ears.  We also can continue to grow in wisdom and knowledge of God.

This spiritual discipline is an act of piety.  It allows us to reflect upon our lives and God.  These acts of reflection prepare us to receive God’s grace more fully.  Study allows our minds to grow.  When we study with a group of other people, we are able to grow even more because we have the benefit of their knowledge.  We can learn more when we study together.

We also have the chance to grow our relationships with others which is an added benefit growing-in-christ-300x200to becoming involved in a study or small group.  Church membership is not required to get involved.  Below are some of the types of classes and groups:

Bible Study:  God has given us the Bible so that we may learn about God.  There are many ways to study the Bible.  Some of these studies occur during a morning class such as Sunday school.  Some of these are long term studies.  Others focus on a specific biblical theme.

Virtual Classes: These on-line classes offer a digital class experience.  Some of the course are at a specific time and offer interaction with the group while others are done at your own pace and in your own time.  Many of these are offered through the United Methodist Church.

Workshops: These are usually one or two days and focus on a specific topic.  We often have workshops with outside trainers and teachers to gain new knowledge.

Book Study: The number of times these groups gather can vary.  Some will meet once to discuss a specific book while other groups will meet over a course of weeks to glean insight from a book.  These are great opportunities for those who like to have time to process information before sharing thoughts about the information presented.

Thematic Study: Sometimes we want to delve into a topic or theme.  These studies can vary in length, but they are usually focused around a specific topic.  Our church is focusing on spiritual disciplines, so we will have a study on prayer as well as Sabbath.

There are many types of classes and ways to get involved.  The important thing is that we never stop growing.  In order to grow, we must find time for growth, study, and fellowship.

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What are you not saying?

 

A wink is a type of gesture.

A wink is a type of gesture. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

We spend a lot of time not saying what we are thinking or feeling.  We exert energy in the repeated eye-rolls.  We tap our foot in restlessness.  We smirk.  We twirl our hair.  We bite our finger nails.  We cross our arms and tense our shoulders.  We also spend a lot of time not saying what we are thinking or feeling in other ways.  We smile.  We look directly into another person’s eyes.  We lean forward when someone is speaking.  We touch an arm or shoulder.  We allow the unshed tears to be visible in our eyes.  We cry.  We hug.  We wave.

 

 

 

While we may not be saying any words, we are definitely communicating.  Peter Drucker says, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”  What are you communicating as you go through your daily life?  Are you communicating your aggravation with your current situation, your desire to be anywhere else?  Are you showing up mentally as well as physically?  Do you ignore the other customers as you shop, or do you acknowledge their existence and value?

 

 

 

As disciples of Christ, what message are we sending?  Are we sending a message that we love other people?  Are we sending a message that we value other people?  Take the time to consider  your non-verbal communication this week because other people are listening to what you aren’t saying.

 

 

Comfort

Macaroni and cheese is an American comfort food

Image via Wikipedia

We all need or seek a certain amount of comfort.  To be comfortable means, at least to me, a chance to relax.  Comfort implies a safe place where we can be our true selves.  Sometimes comfort is much easier to talk about than to actually experience comfort.

We talk about things or situations that bring us comfort.  We acknowledge comfort foods, objects that bring comfort , or even comforting habits and rituals.  Yet sometimes these things are not enough.  In order to experience comfort, we need more than the macaroni and cheese, the familiar pajamas, the crackling fire, or twirling our hair around our finger.  We need something more.

We need other people.  Other people can offer comfort in a way that no object can do.  Another person can grant us permission, assurances, hope, and love.  Another person can offer care that comes in the form of a kind hug, a knowing look, or a home-cooked meal.  Another person can offer encouragement or consolation.  Another person can help us feel safe even when the world around us seems unstable and unsafe.

As Christians, we are called to offer comfort.  Comfort, O Comfort my people, God says to the prophet in Isaiah 40:1.  Are you providing comfort?  Are you creating a warm and nurturing environment for others?  Do others feel safe to be themselves around you?  By receiving God’s comfort, we are then able to comfort others.  We are able to offer comfort to friends, family, and strangers.  We are able to do the work of the kingdom – to comfort God’s people.

Take the time to consider how comforting you are, and take the time to offer comfort to God’s people.