Monday, July 28, 2008

Be Prepared

For the next three weeks we will continue a series of messages about moving from the deserts in our spiritual lives to the oasis. We will be looking at Luke 4:1-13 for keys to not only surviving in the desert, but thriving in them.
I shared yesterday a story about a time I had my wrists duct taped around a tree when playing a water gun battle game with some older kids. The guy thought he took away any tools I might use to escape, but he missed my secret pocketknife in my sock. I mentioned how I had that pocketknife placed in my sock for just such an occasion and how I always wanted to be prepared for any situation.
Last I was remember how many times I put that pocketknife into my sock and did not need to use it. Actually that is the only time I remember needing to use that pocketknife, but if I had given up early on putting that pocketknife in my sock then it would not have been there this one time I needed it.
Have you ever felt in your spiritual life that you are learning lessons or continuing disciplines that you are sure you will ever use? I remember thinking that way in school. When in "real life" am I actually going to need to know how to solve a quadratic equation? (I don't know I have directly used that outside of school, but I do use principles I learned with that math in my life.) And you might have asked me when would I ever really need a pocketknife in my sock? Now I can say, when you are duct taped to a tree.
It is the same in our spiritual lives. There are lessons to learn and disciplines to practice because God uses them to develop our faith and there may be a specific time in the future those lessons and disciplines will carry us through. That is why we need to be in small groups, we need to be reading our Bibles and we need to have daily time of prayer and devotion. Maybe you do not see the results you want right now, but God will use those preparations to work in your life.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hold Together

I can't believe it has been two weeks since I last blogged. Since then I have been to Tennessee and Summer Games University at Grinnell College. Since I have been gone much has been in moving our offices from the Church Center into our new church building. The church building is coming along great and it is exciting to finally be all in one place.

However, since I was not here for all of the moving I am still looking for everything and trying to settle into my office. I have realized a couple of things. First, I have a lot of stuff. I am trying to clean out my draws and files because I tend to be a pack rat and think I might need something in the future. As I was looking at the stuff that was brought to my new office I was looking through my old 3.5 inch floppy disks with all of my college and seminary homework on them. Now seminary could be useful (although I doubt I would go back to it) but my college homework was mostly in business classes and I doubt I will ever look back over that stuff. Of course I still kept it for now, but shortly our computers will not even have a disk drive for them anymore. Then I might be able to part with it.

The second thing I learned is that I like everything in its place. I had found a spot for everything in my old office and now I will need to find a new spot for all my stuff. I will have to relearn my office and figure out where everything belongs.

In the midst of all of this upheaval and I reminded of God's consistency. God is still holding all things together. I have been sharing about laminin to everyone lately and this will be my last time in case you missed it. Laminin is a protein found in our bodies that holds our body together and gives it some structure. It is often called the glue of our bodies. Here is a diagram of what laminin would look like.
Laminin, in the shape of the cross holds our bodies together, just as God will hold us together as we feel pulled apart. I have been running raged these past few weeks, but the Lord has brought me through in one piece. I pray for some quieter time to gather myself and remember Christ is holding me together to continue his work.
You to can know the laminin in your body is a reminder of God's sacrificial love always being with you. No matter what you are facing God is there.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Flood Recovery

I thought Dave and Rhonda Heck had some great thoughts to share yesterday in the service about their experience with losing their home to the flood. Dave talked about putting faith in other places besides God and how important it is in the midst of loss to have faith God is there. Rhonda mentioned the difference between offering a helping hand and receiving a helping hand. How humbling it is to receive help from others.
My question still for our congregation is what will our continued response be to the floods? We have taken two offerings specifically for flood relief and given generously with almost $4,000, but is that all we are going to do? Are we just going to offer money?
I had a pastor friend from seminary call from New Jersey last night asking how he can organize a group to come to Iowa and help. I heard from Brother Dave that the church we served in Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina is planning a trip up here in August. If these groups are coming 1,000 miles to help can't we go 30 or 40 miles?
These questions are somewhat rhetorical because I know we will go and help, but we first need someone or a group of people to lead us in this work. We have been busy with our new building and there is still work to be done there, but we have more able bodies. I personally can not try to organize anything more than I am right because I have too much as it is.
So what will be our next steps? Who can we ask to organize us for action?