Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hi/Lo Thursday

This post is part of "Hi/Lo Thursday" on the Riggs Family Blog. Check out their blog to read everyone else's "Hi/Lo" posts and get your link on their site.

For months now, i've been looking at all these cool options for things to write about on my blog. Nothing really ever stood out for me as I didn't feel the options really applied to my life. I mean truly, my is pretty mundane at the moment (praise God). Yet, I do have hi's and lo's so figured i'd give this a shot! We'll see how well I keep up with it. *smile*

HI: I am so escatic to say that Jamie, my sister, is coming into town today. She will be here for a month long visit. Being so far away from family can be very difficult. I've always been very close to them and living on the other side of the country is not ideal. I certainly feel called to minister in central PA but it does come with sacrifices. I miss being able to eat dinner with them, go to movies, have Sunday morning breakfast... all of those normal things we so often take for granted.

I love the fact that Jamie is able to take off so much time to visit. A week, two just isn't enough to really see one another. I love that with these long visits we don't have to pile all the fun stuff into a short period of time. We can be normal, have our space, and enjoy each others company. Plus, she can take my dog out on walks to give me a break! Always a gift.

We have so many fun activities planned while she is here. I'm excited she will be here for Holy Week to celebrate Easter with me. We are planning on going to a musical and are also going to try and fit a couple overnight camping trips in. My work schedule is packed, but with lots of fun activities she can join in on. This is definitely my high of the week. Please pray for safe travels for Jamie today. She is going through Colorado which is expecting a major snow storm. May she be blessed with a safe flight and a speedy trip.

LO: It is hard to come up with a Lo when i'm so excited to have Jamie coming in. I guess for this week it would be my headaches. I've struggle with chronic headaches since I fractured my jaw as a child. When I had the car accident in January my back and neck were affected and now the headaches are much stronger. Chiropractic care has helped, but they are currently out of town. It's been a week since I saw them and my head is reacting. I'm praying my neck calms down and i'm able to enjoy this weekend of ministry and time with my sister.

Alright, there is my HI/LO for the week! Hopefully i'll remember each thursday to do this; it was kind of fun!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Prayers for Stellan

There are so many kiddos out there who are struggling right now. As you know, I run the prayer website Asher and Jacob's Friends and every day there are dozens who are facing a new battle. While little Stellan is not on our Friends list, I do follow his Mama's blog and pray for their family. At the moment, Stellan is fighting to get a healthy heart rhythm and the situation is critical. His family is asking for everyone to spread the word of the need for prayer so that is what i'm doing. Please, drop what you are doing, head to his site, and say a prayer for him. And while your at it, please stop by Asher and Jacob's Friends and pray for the other children in need. There are many who are facing life and death situations as i'm writing this.

Creepy or Awesome....You Decide

Would you eat this???

Friday, March 20, 2009

Noah Sermon

I thought I would share a sermon I preached a couple weeks ago. Not the best one i've preached, but the Gospel nonetheless which is always a good thing. :) I will attempt to start posting more if you would like.

It is the typical Sunday school lesson. I sat and watched as a class of preschoolers learned about Noah and the ark. They sang and did motions to the “Rise and Shine, Arky Arky” song. They marched two by two throughout the classroom pretending to board the ark. They also finger painted together an ark, then adding different animals to it. It remained displayed in the classroom for the rest of the year.

I think many of us here today can remember such Sunday school lessons. It is one of the first stories children learn when they begin attending class. For many years, Noah and the ark has actually been one of the top selling nursery decorating kits. I remember when a good friend of mine was pregnant, it was her top choice. When we went to Baby’s ‘R Us, there was a huge section just for this design. There were cute animals, all two by two lining the shelves with beautiful rainbows and arks as the backdrop. It was sweeter than a chocolate chip cookie.

I remember the first time I heard this story as an adult. You see, even as a child who never went to Sunday school, I still new the story from television and my children’s books. But when I heard it as an adult, it seemed a very different version. It was dark, violent, scary to say the least. It perplexed me as to how such a difficult Bible story could become so soft and sweet.

Our lesson from Genesis is this dark and difficult story. It is one that is violent, God’s near genocide of the human race. It is one that calls us to see our sin, to recognize the dirt and filth of our behavior and our hearts. It is also, however, a lesson of how even in the midst of that, God chooses to offer us hope.

When we hear the story of Noah, it can make one uneasy. God is portrayed as an angry God, seeing good only in one family, in essence one man. God desired to wipe away the rest of the human race as we were full of sin and were useless in the eyes of the creator. The idea that the God we know now, the God who sacrificed himself on the cross at one point felt it necessary to cleanse the world and start over is something that is almost uncomprehensible. Yet it is what happened.

The focus of this story however, is not on the violence that can become so central. It is not a story to liven up fear in our hearts and minds, knowing that if God chose to do it again God could. No, the focus is on the covenant. It is on the fact that God chose to reject the ways of violence, giving up the method of flooding the world as a way of dealing with the evil that was so prevalent; instead giving us a covenant for all people.

The word covenant in the Hebrew language is berith. It is a word that means a contract, or better suited for this context to mean a promise. God gave us a covenant promise which was binding and would not be broken, stating that the ways of violence had ended in dealing with human sin. Rather than washing us through the waters of a flood God would wash us through the redeeming waters of baptism.

We see this promise lived out in our Gospel lesson. Jesus is first baptized with the Holy Spirit and proceeds out into the desert for forty days and nights. It is during this time that he is tested by Satan. Time and time again in the desert, Jesus is given opportunities to live out being the Messiah people expected. We hear more of this in Matthew. Jesus could have been the warrior Messiah, living for himself, commanding the world to do exactly as he chose. He could have ruled with power and violence, ridding everything of evil and making things exactly as he wanted. He could have given in to temptation, but he did not.

God would rather grieve the sin in this world than break the covenant promise given. Instead of wiping out sin in ways I could imagine would be easier for God, we are given a God who suffers death on the cross for our sake. Jesus embodies a new way of dealing with evil, one that is sacrificial, redemptive, and demonstrates to the world a suffering love. All for our sake.

The rainbow and the cross are truly intertwined. They demonstrate to us the covenant promise of God; one that chooses to take on the suffering of the world for our sake. We are blessed with a loving God who chooses us, who willingly grieves our sin and yet loves and forgives us nonetheless.

In this season of Lent, we live in the tension between the two: the rainbow and the cross. On Ash Wednesday, we began this journey. We entered with a promise of what is to come. It is the covenant promise that is the rainbow, guiding us along this forty day journey. On Ash Wednesday, we were reminded of why God flooded the world. We were reminded of our sin, our mortality, of our need for repentance. Even in that reminder, even with the ashes smudged on our foreheads, we still had that light, we still had the rainbow. We had the reminder that indeed, even as we walk this journey through the wilderness the covenant promise remains. God does not care for us through violence but through sacrificial love.

We are on this journey from the rainbow and to the cross. A journey that takes us through a time to walk through the wilderness, smudged with ashes remembering why we need a loving God. As we cross through this desert, we are to take time to meditate on the grief that God experiences for our sake. God chose to shed tears on our behalf giving us the flooding waters of baptism instead. God chooses us out of love; a love deeper, wider, greater than anything we can imagine.

This is why it is imperative for us to know the story of Noah. Not the story we see on the walls of nursery’s or hear in the words of the children’s songs. No, it is time we hear the story as it is meant to be; with the violence, with the heartache. It is time to hear it for its redemptive power. The rainbow’s significance is far more important than its visual beauty. For it is a reminder that God chooses not to take the easy way out. God chooses to grieve, God chooses to love, and God chooses to redeem. Thanks be to God. Amen

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Disney, Part II: A Unique Meetup

On our first day after we rested and got unpacked a bit, we decided to head on over to Downtown Disney. This was an extra-special trip, as our Aunt and Uncle from Utah would be in town! As it turns out, our trips overlapped by one day. Jamie and I had last seen them about 5 years prior, but Brenda hadn't seen them in over 15 years! So, this was a really cool opportunity to visit even if only for a few hours.

When we arrived, they were still out at Gator World (still makes me crack up ) so we had some time to kill. We visited a few shops and ended up buying things. I had promised myself I would have some restraint until the end of the trip, but that lasted only a few minutes! We loved the Christmas store and probably spent more money there than any other that day.

After around an hour, it was time for our visit!
My Aunt and Uncle don't look happy in the picture but I promise, the evening was filled with smiles and laughs!
Here's another picture of the three sisters in front of Stitch. I so wish Brenda or Jamie would have been spit on (Stitch spits water)!

We decided to ditch our original plans for Earl of Sandwich and went with T-Rex. You can read more about the food in my Dining Review, but I will say it's yummy food and the perfect atmosphere for Dino lovers!

Here's a picture from the inside of the restaurant:

After that, it was a few more shops. Jamie wasn't feeling well after her long, drawn out day of delays on the plane so she went back early. Brenda and I did a few more shops and then decided to call it an evening. It was a great first day and we couldn't wait to receive our wake up call and head out to the Magic Kingdom (or as Jamie says, "The Magical Kingdom)!

New Button!

I plan to post about our Disney trip tonight, but before I do I wanted to highlight a new feature on this site. I have created a new button for Asher and Jacob's Friends. While it is not the fanciest button in the world, it is a great way to bring awareness to families in need. If you are willing, please copy and paste the code found to your right and post it on your blog. The more people we bring to the site, hopefully the more prayers will go out to these amazing families.

Thank you!