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.

Together

Group 6

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We do not want to be alone.  We, us humans, want others around us.  We want to be a part of the group.  We want to belong.  Some of us may want more togetherness than others, but we all want to feel that we have the proverbial place where, “everyone knows our name”.  Yet there are times in our lives we feel  isolated.  We are not a part of the group.  We feel like the outsider looking in.  Sometimes we choose this isolation.  Sometimes it is forced upon us.  No matter how the isolation comes, we have to figure out how to deal with it.  We have to figure out how to use the times of feeling alone to help us grow.

 

First, these times of isolation can help us to appreciate what it is to be a part of the group.  When we don’t feel a sense of belonging, it makes us acutely aware of the times that we did feel that we were a part of the group.  The times of not having allow us to appreciate the times of having more.

 

The times of perceived isolation also allow us to define for  ourselves what we want and who we are.  When we belong to the group, we often let the group think for us.  We do not think as much for ourselves.  The group decides many things for  us.  If there is no group, then  we must decide for ourselves.  Knowing who we are and what we want is one the important life lessons.

 

Finally, being outside of the group allows us to experience our relationship with God in a unique way.  We are able to depend more on that relationship, hopefully realizing that we are never truly alone.  While none of us want to feel like an outsider, it happens in all of our lives.  As we experience time of isolation, they can be times of growth, including spiritual growth.  Sometimes are most challenging times are times of greatest learning.  Times of not being together can be times of being together with God.

Marriage and Other Relationships


This weekend my cousin got getting married.  As I pack for his wedding, I am reminded of the sermon preached at my wedding.  While many of the details of my wedding are a blur, I remember the sermon.  The lessons of that sermon are good for marriage and for all of life.  The pastor, Rev. Richard Stetler, said that we should remember  three “C”s for a good marriage.  The three “C”s are: commitment, Christ, and communication.

 

Communication is essential to any relationship, especially marriage.  So often we think that communication is getting our message heard and understood by the other party.  A large part of communication is understanding the message that is being sent to us.  Can we move beyond the poor attitude to hear what is really being said.  When one spouse is complaining because of the others work hours, can the underlying need for attention or loneliness be heard?  Do you know what kind of support is most helpful to your partner?  Yes, you know what you would like, but have you paid enough attention to your spouse to know what he or she needs?

 

Commitment is often lacking in our world today, but it is needed to have a successful marriage.  Do you stay committed to your relationships, or do you walk away when they become difficult, uncomfortable, or boring?  Commitment means that you stay and have the difficult conversations, you stay when things are at a low point, and you invest yourself in the relationship.  We are a society that is quick to turn away from relationships that become difficult or uncomfortable,  but a marriage is a lifetime commitment.

 

Finally, Christ should be a part of marriage.  Prayer should be a part of your life together.  You should pray for those you care about.  Spending time together in God’s presence should be something that is a part of your marriage.  We celebrate Christian marriage because we believe that this is a relationship which God blesses.  God will strengthen our marriage, if we allow God to be a part of the relationship.

 

Marriage is a relationship that takes two people working together on the relationship as well as on themselves to make things work.  It is also a relationship that needs God at the center helping the individuals be their best selves.  Congratulations to the newlyweds, and may we all remember the three “C”s.

Go Grow!

You can almost see the grass growphoto © 2007 Louise Docker | more info (via: Wylio)
It is spring here, and we were somehow surprised by it. Yes, it seemed to take a while for the warmer weather to appear, but we knew that it would. All sorts of life are springing forth. I captured a blue-tailed skink behind the love seat in our family room and invited him outside. I’ve watched the tulips move from tiny tips of green peeking through the mulch to full-blooming purple. I have also watched the grass grow ever taller in our backyard. The lawn mower is broken.

This is not a rant about who should be getting the lawn mower repaired or when they should do it. I have noticed that no one in our household bothered to check to see if the lawn mower was in working order. We did not check its function all winter or even in March. When the tulip leaves started pushing through the mulch we went along blissfully unaware of the lawn mower. We just did not think about it. We did not look ahead. We did not prepare. We now have very tall grass.

Thinking ahead would have helped our grass situation. Thinking ahead helps us in most of life. We tend to go along handling the day-to-day activities without a thought about what might be coming. Then, even the expected things catch us by surprise. We are not ready. We are not prepared. We have not checked our equipment. A key to successful living is looking ahead. No, we cannot be prepared for every foreseeable possibility, but we do know to expect some things. We know that there are seasons of growth and new life as well as seasons of dormancy. In the seasons of dormancy, we need to be getting ready for the growth seasons. We need to make sure that we are ready when the growth happens. We need to check and see if our lawn mowers or anything else is ready for our growing seasons. The preparation gives us a chance to enjoy the growth all the more. Go Grow!