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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Communication Tool

Communication

Communication (Photo credit: P Shanks)

This week ends the Easter  season in the life of the church.  While many of us have long since put away our Easter baskets and chocolate bunnies, the church celebrates for 50 days.  In this time, the church celebrates the new life offered in Jesus Christ who has conquered death.  The season ends as we celebrate Pentecost Sunday.  We celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit came  upon the disciples as well as the people who happened to be present in the town that day.

The Spirit allowed Peter to speak to everyone in a way that they could understand.  The Spirit allowed the people to understand what Peter was saying.  Even though this was a multicultural gathering of people who spoke different languages, the Spirit allowed comprehension.  One of the first gifts of the Holy Spirit was effective communication. More often than not, we need divine intervention for effective communication. This is a gift that is available to all, but we often try to rely on our own abilities.

Consider the typical behavior when we encounter someone who speaks another language.  We speak more slowly and more loudly.  Somehow we think that this will bring comprehension to the listener.  We do the same thing, at times, with those who disagree with us.  We decide that they would agree with us if they understood our point.  So we repeat our point.  We continue to repeat our point, convinced that the listener was just not paying attention.  Instead of these pointless repetitions, we need divine intervention.  We need the Spirit to come and flow through both the speaker and the listener.  We need new ears for hearing as well as a new voice for speaking.

  May the wind of the Holy Spirit come into all of your communications and create more effective communication.

Do Something

Jesus Christ Crucifix

Jesus Christ Crucifix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever noticed how much we can talk about something without actually doing anything about it?  I remember one incident in particular.  I was in the Emergency Room.  I was having my first and only gall bladder attack.  The health care professionals were waiting to decide if I would be having surgery that day.  I was miserable.  I was in that state where you are wishing for everyone to go away and stop talking.  My husband was with me, and he was quiet.  However, I was separated from the next patient by a thin  curtain.  I never saw her and the woman with her.  I just heard their conversation.

 

She was talking and talking and talking about various lifestyle changes she should make.  The woman with her was agreeing with the assessments.  As I listened to this other patient talk about a need to drink more water, eat more fiber, etc. I wondered how likely she would be to make the life style changes.  She is probably like most of us.  We talk far more than we do.  We say that we want to make life style changes, but we don’t actually make them.  We stay that we will keep in touch, but we do not put forth the effort to remain in contact.  We say that we want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, but we do not do anything about it.

 

During this week before Easter, we remember what God did and does for us in the person of Jesus.  We recall his passion and death which was an act of grace for us.  As we think about this, let us do more than just think and talk.  Let’s do something in response to God’s love and action.

Hero or Savior

Cristo Redentor, statue on Corcovado mountain ...

Cristo Redentor, statue on Corcovado mountain in Rio de Janeiro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bonnie Tyler sang “Holding Out for a Hero”.  She first released the song in 1984, but I remember it most from the soundtrack of the movie “Footloose”.  Some days I feel that is my song, or at least my desire.  I want someone to come and take care of all the things in my life that seem to be overwhelming me.  Maybe you know this feeling.  She is looking for Superman.  She is looking for the cowboy-in-white-hat who will rescue her.  I imagine that most of us, if not all of us, have a dream that there is one who will come and rescue us.  We want a hero who will clean up our mess, shoulder some of our burden, help us out, and generally relieve some of our stress.

 

We want to be saved from our to-do lists, our work, our chores, our responsibilities, and our lives.  I think we are looking for a savior more than a hero.  We want someone to save us from ourselves.  We want someone to save us from the tidal wave of responsibilities and work that threaten to overcome us.

 

We already have a Savior, but we sometimes forget that our Savior is not the bust-down-the-door type of Savior.  Our Savior is often waiting and wanting to be included in our lives.  Our Savior helps us realize that while there are many things we need to do, this is all temporary.  Our lives are bigger than the daily demands we and others put upon ourselves.  We are a part of the kingdom of God.  The things of this world are all temporary.  We have a Savior who has conquered even death itself, so we don’t need to allow the things of this life to overwhelm us.  We have Jesus Christ, a Savior.  Allow your desires for a hero to be shared with Jesus.  Allow the Savior to share your burdens.  In this sharing, we find comfort, peace, and a new perspective.  Hold out for more than a hero.  Hold out for a Savior.

Yes, you can

 

English: Bull riding, Walcha Rodeo.
Image via Wikipedia

Children’s Hospital Heroes: Rebecca Shumaker.

 

We focus on our limitations.  We say there is no way that we can change the world.  We look at our limitations and say that we are confined.  Yet the truth is that with God all things are possible.  Rebecca Shumaker is living her possibilities.  She is a 16 year old girl with some health issues that require her to be in a wheel chair.  She is also a stock contractor.  She has bulls that are bucking bulls and competing.  She is living her dream.

Her parents are helping her with this dream.  Her dad says that faith is the key to life.  So, who are you helping?  Is there someone who has a vision that you could assist?  Is there a child in your community with a dream?  Use the skills that you do have to help change the world for at least that person.  Reach out to others.  Pray for them to have a dream.  Pray for them to realize their dream.  Pray for them to experience the transformative power of hope in Jesus Christ.

What about you?  Do you have a dream?  Do you have a vision for something more than you life now?  If God has given you a dream, why aren’t  you pursuing that dream?  What is holding you back?  Sometimes our fear of the unknown holds us back.  Sometimes other people hold  us back.  Do not be afraid.  Nothing is impossible with God.  Just ask Rebecca.

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Playtime

swingingAs we leave childhood, somehow we start to believe that we must no longer play.  Grown ups don’t play.  We put away our dolls, cars, and items for make-believe.  We stop with playing house, and we start our real lives.  We are no longer playing.  We are grown-up.  We don’t swing on swings.  We don’t giggle.  We are adults.

 

Maybe that is something that needs to change.  Instead of being so grown up, maybe we need more play in our lives.  Instead of being so very grown up all of the time, maybe we need to allow more play time.  This is not to suggest that we revert to the toys of childhood, but it may be.  Those simple activities of childhood are often activities that allow us to engage in a new way.  We can color a picture to engage our mind in a new way, to use that other side that allows our creativity to flow.

 

We can find the old ways as well as the new ways of playing to engage us in new ways, to discover more joy in our lives, and to transform us.  Jesus played.  Jesus played with children, words, and enjoyed life.  We are called to follow Jesus.  Go and play today.