Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Well-ness to come

I've been looking back through old sermons and articles and found this one from a Newsletter Article in February of 2014.  Perhaps the blessing for my readers can be passed on to this present Kati reading today and looking for "well"-ness.  May it be a soothing message for your soul as well.

After observing God's love for the little hazelnut, Julian of Norwich reflects on the similar care of the creator for humankind: 
If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.
― Julian of Norwich

As we enter this month of love, we are surrounded by images of "perfect love" which transports us above the troubles in life into perfect bliss. Just as love between humans is not always "perfect" in this way, God's love for us isn't always filled with chocolate and diamonds. Julian of Norwhich lived as a Benedictine nun in the late 1300's in England, and her book "The Revelations of Divine Love" is believed to be the oldest surviving manuscript of literature written by a woman in English. She is well remembered because she wrote about God's love in a way that was different than other theologians. Many spoke of the evil nature of humans, who God could only love because of Christ's sacrifice.  She spoke of a romantic and extravagant love from a creator for the created, and she explained suffering as a fact of life and not a punishment for falling out of this love with God. She had survived a terrible sickness and had seen many, most likely her entire family, suffer from the Bubonic Plaugue which had spread all across Europe. The church had diagnosed this sickness as punishment for wicked living, but she spoke about suffering as a pathway of union with Christ, through whom God connects with us in our pain. 

Many people know her famous quote which says that, "All manner of things shall be well." A better translation reveals a message she received from God, where she heard a voice say this: "I may make all things well, I can make all thing well, and I will make all thing well, and I shall make all things well, and you shall see yourself that all manner of things shall be well". God's love is so powerful that we can't imagine the ways that all things will be made well, but we believe through faith, that they shall be. 

I write this as a young wife-to-be, who is entering into marriage with an open and joyful heart. I love Robbie with my whole being, and the more we get to know each other, the more we love each other. Even though we have our "love to keep us warm", we know there will be storms of life ahead as there are for all of us. Just as Julian described, I look forward to the troubles not as trials to pass or fail, but opportunities to grow closer to each other and to God. Whatever season you find yourself in, winter, spring, summer or fall, I pray that you will discover the relentless love of our creator and redeemer, who wants to make all things well in our lives. I pray that you too will see it in your life!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Living in the In-Between

According to Facebook, we’ve been having an awesome summer.  Last weekend we went to the Lavender Festival in Bennington, the weekend before we were in Salina for the Smokey Hill River Festival, before that we were in Kansas City for an awesome Royals WIN with stellar outfield seats right in the Gordon/Cain Fan section.  I’ve been running and jamming out to awesome music in our beautiful Kansas weather.

Inside my heart, I’ve been living in the the In-Between, remembering our loss, stuck waiting for what is to come, trusting that God’s call on my life is leading me forward.  But it’s hard.  Every day I have to choose which present I dwell in.  Do I dwell in the world of loss, stuck staring at my empty arms? Or do I dwell in the world of promise with the beautiful sun that keeps on shining, the nourishing rain that keeps on flowing, the colorful flower that keeps on blooming?

Sometimes the sadness is overwhelming. I am learning to trust my body again.  I am learning to trust myself again.  I am learning to trust God again.  People love to tell me stories about this person who experienced lost and then God provided this gain.  The stories are endless of God’s providence, but what about the stories of those of us stuck in-between?  My faith is still getting stronger every day, and I am still waiting for that promise, and at the same time, I know that God doesn’t promise to fill my heart when I have a baby or when this or that finally turns out right.  God promises to fill my heart, now.  Now.  Every morning, every middle of the night.  Not when I wish my life was different, but when I see that my life is actually awesome, and I actually choose to LIVE in the In-Between, like Job, Jacob, David, Esther, Mary, they all had to have faith in what was to come by choosing to live each day based on the future, not the past.

What if we told our own stories this way? Instead of our testimonies being based on the amazing miracles that God has already done in our lives, what if we told our stories with the hope and passion of Mary’s song, which tells about the promises of what God would do in her life as if it already happened.

God is bringing life to all of the people around us, and we can choose to live in the world where God is at work, or the deceptive one where God is powerless.  I will choose to live in the world where Jesus is up to something.  Come and work your stuff, Jesus.  Make my day;) This is the day that the Lord has made. Alleluia, Amen.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Top Ten and Thanksgiving for Dads

The two most influential men in my life have been my dad and papa(mom's dad). Today I've been reflecting on all that I have learned from them, and I realized how thankful I am for how they have shaped the way that I see the world. Earl and Bill set a standard for what I feel it means to be a good man, husband, Christian, American, and father. I know they influenced my choice for the man with whom I make decisions and confront challenges in my daily life, and I am grateful for how my husband Robbie lives by these same ideals.  May we all seek to follow in their footsteps, and laugh along the way.

1) Make friends with everyone. 

2) Sometimes you have to get lost to find your way.

3) Sometimes it's better to lose than to win.

4) A quick nap does more than a cup of coffee.

5) A quick nap and then a cup of coffee is even better.

6) Sometimes you have to take something apart to get it to work right.

7) Laughter goes further than a strong word.

8) American flag shirts and ties are cool.

9) Always remember to change your oil and check your tires.

10) Bacon and/or Ice Cream can turn an ordinary day into a special one.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Thursday/Friday: God made you for a purpose and will always love you.

On Thursday, or Jesus day, as I like to call it, Skyler the Bower Bird will remind us: God will always love you!

Our kids will memorize the verse from Psalm 89: "Your unfailing love will last forever.”

This is the time to teach kids about God’s never failing forgiveness. Even when we think we have done something unforgivable, Jesus came to die in our place and be raised to life, so that we might know that God wants us to live as forgiven people, not to die as sinners. Jesus wants to be our friend and teacher, even when we make mistakes.  Jesus wants our kids to know about the forgiveness available to them now, and he wants them to be included in our challenge to love one another.

Friday’s theme will build on this with the final message: God made you for a reason.

Abbee the Bee will share the final verse: For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Remind our kids that they don’t have to wait until they grow up to begin living for Jesus, they can do it right now.  Helping others, loving our neighbors, asking for forgiveness and giving out forgiveness, these are all things they can do now. God trusts us to do the work, let’s trust in God!

Thank you for sharing your week with these kids! Remember God has made you for a purpose, too! Join us for worship on Sunday at 10:30am and help us tell the rest of our congregation about what we’ve learned this week. May God use this week to do a “good work” in your heart, too!

Grace and Peace, 
Pastor Kati

Wednesday: God is always with you!

Wednesday we’ll learn about Gideon. You might not recognize his name, but I bet you have asked God some of these same questions in your life.  Here’s a brief section from Judges 6:

11 The angel of the Lord came. He sat down under an oak tree in Ophrah. The tree belonged to Joash. He was from the family line of Abiezer. Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress at Ophrah. He was the son of Joash. Gideon was threshing in a winepress to hide the wheat from the Midianites. 12 The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon. He said, “Mighty warrior, the Lord is with you.”
13 “Pardon me, sir,” Gideon replied, “you say the Lord is with us. Then why has all this happened to us? Where are all the wonderful things he has done? Our people of long ago told us about them. They said, ‘Didn’t the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has deserted us. He has handed us over to Midian.”
14 The Lord turned to Gideon. He said to him, “You are strong. Go and save Israel from the power of Midian. I am sending you.”
15 “Pardon me, sir,” Gideon replied, “but how can I possibly save Israel? My family group is the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh. And I’m the least important member of my family.”
16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you.”

On “humpday” Bubba the Humpback Whale will remind us: God is always with you!

Key verse: “The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Gideon wasn’t so sure of that.  He had seen his people persecuted and wondered where was God? Maybe you have wondered that in your life.

Gideon asked a lot of questions and really tested God, even though he had seen the face of God and heard the voice of God, he wasn’t sure he believed God could save his people, he wasn’t sure he was the man to do it either.

Gideon reminds us that God wants to hear our doubts and our questions. God wants us to pray in anger and in thanksgiving. God promises that even and especially when we are in trouble, we are never alone.

Encourage your kids to ask questions, but don’t try to answer all of them. Encourage them to bring their questions to God in prayer, and let God show up in front of us.

If Jesus showed up for dinner at your house, what questions would you ask?

Tuesday: God is For You!

"Looking out it’s a big, big world, where do I go, how do I fit in, gotta keep this one thing on my mind, the maker of all the universe is on my side. If God is for me, who can be against me!”

This is the first verse and chorus for one of our songs this week. You can find it on YouTube or follow our playlist on Spotify:

On Tuesday Tina the Termite will remind us: God is for you!

Bible verse: "If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

We will tell the kids about Joshua and Rehab, how a stranger to God’s people(Rehab—a powerful woman) had protected them(Joshua and his men) in a life threatening experience.  Trusting in God also means trusting in the people that God sends to help us.  We are trusting in you, our volunteers and parents, to encourage and challenge our kids this week, and you will have the opportunity to trust each other as you travel, learn, worship and work together.  

Who do you need to trust so that you can follow your dreams and/or do what God has called you to do? Is it someone in your family? Is it someone in your school or workplace? Is it someone in your church? 

To read more about the bible story, follow the link below and have a great day!

God is For You!

Pastor Kati