Tag Archives: life

Trajectory of Engagement

trajectory of engagementIn The Social Media Gospel, author Meredith Gould talks about the trajectory of engagement. This is the movement from online communication to offline relationships.

This concept of the trajectory of engagement is having a large impact on the church today. Engagement on social media may be a good start when it comes to church relations. But it cannot be the end result. We, in the church, know that faith engagement must at some point be face-to-face, person-to person. The trajectory must go beyond technology to faith-based living in the family of God.

So how does this trajectory happen? It happens through concerted efforts to invite those who are engaged in conversations on a church’s social media platforms to join in events at church, be it worship, a small group Bible study, a soup supper, whatever opportunity for personal engagement at the church presents itself.

It is only in the actual presence of other people that the richness and vitality of the Christian Church can be seen and felt most fully by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I know for me in my life, so many conversations I have with people in the church are now through text messages, which can be great for sharing a quick story or an encouraging word but cannot replace being together in the pew or chatting over a cup of coffee at lunch. The online and the offline communication must work in tandom for a deeper connection to develop spiritually.

I often wonder what it would have been like if Jesus had been alive during this time of social media. My first thought would be that he would point us to the parable of the Good Samaritan. Would we be like the priest and the Levite who walked by the person in need right in front of us because we were texting our friends?

It’s time for us to look up from our phones and look at social media in the church not as an end in itself, but a beginning, a doorway, a portal into a life of more meaningful real-life personal relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Be social in life and not just a screen!

 

 

Repurposing

coffee table crateThere is a lot of interest and energy lately around the concept of repurposing. I confess that I watch a lot of home improvement shows and they are always repurposing old crates into rustic coffee tables or making bookshelves out of old school lockers, and things like that. In the art world, there are many artists who create interesting art pieces from old-fashioned kitchen utensils, tins, banks and toys found at flea markets or antique stores.

The concept of repurposing came to my mind recently when read again the story in Scripture of the conversion of St. Paul. Here was a man  was zealous in his persecution of Christians. But God repurposed this man’s zealousness to promote the Christian message instead. The story of the repurposing of Saul to Paul makes us realize that God can do dramatic things with what is put before him. Like a craftsperson at a workbench with various pieces laid out, God can create something beautiful and unexpected from the most random of things.

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Hidden with Christ

hidden Jesus faceIn the article “Grace Alone” in the September 2017 issue of Living Lutheran, theology professor John F. Hoffmeyer pointed readers to Colossians 3:3: “Your life is hidden with Christ in God.” “We can be assured that, in Christ, God refuses to live without us,” Hoffmeyer says. “Our lives are bound to Christ’s life—regardless. God regards us with the same unbounded love with which God regards Jesus” (Living Lutheran, September 2017, p. 45).

Something in those precious words clicked with me in a profound way, like with Martin Luther in his Tower Experience after reading Romans 1:17. Like Luther before me, I felt reborn in my faith.

It struck me that when God sees me, he doesn’t see just me, he sees Christ first, and then me, hidden with him. The concept of being hidden with Christ is compelling to me. I am part of him now because of his death and resurrection for me. I am forgiven, free and forever loved. I am embedded within him. No longer is my face the face people see first. It is now the face of Christ. And my life is behind that face of Christ.

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Cairns

cairnsWhen I was hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park and other places like it, I noticed stones stacked up into little towers along the way. I now know that those collections of rocks are called cairns and they are placed there by hikers to guide future hikers along the path to show them where to go. Over the centuries, cairns have also been used as landmarks and memorials.

I got to thinking that cairns of sorts were used in the Bible by Abraham, Moses and Jacob as altars. Check out these verses:

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. —Genesis 22:9

Abraham built this altar to acknowledge that God is God on his journey through his life, and he was saying through this cairn that he would obey God’s will. Of course, God would send an angel to stop Abraham from sacrificing his son. But later, God would sacrifice his own Son, Jesus, on the altar, the cairn, if you will, of the cross, which was erected on a rock hill called Golgotha.

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House of Bread

breadAs Christmas approaches, it is good for us to remember that the name Bethlehem means “house of bread.” Why is that significant? Because bread plays a important role in the life of Christ and in the Bible in general.

An article in the September 2017 Living Lutheran magazine points out that “bread is perhaps the easiest metaphor in the Bible. Almost all possible ingredients have a scriptural spotlight” (Kari Alice Olsen, Living Lutheran, September 2017, p. 20). Let’s take a look:

Water: Water symbolizes baptism that now saves you. —1 Peter 3:21

Yeast: What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough. —Luke 13:20-21

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A Ritual of Thanks

thanks ritual

One of our our most pervasive rituals of thanks is gathering for a feast with family and friends.

When we were little and someone gave us something or complimented us, our parents prompted us with, “Now what do you say?” We would dutifully say thank you (perhaps rather meekly and/or begrudgingly) and run away.

As adults, we often continue to need prompting from our heavenly Father to say thank you. As the Bible says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Scripture itself is encouraging us to develop a ritual of thanks in our lives. We are called to make thanksgiving a regular part of our every activity.

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Instant Gratification

shutterstock_577059676blogMore so than ever, we have a desire in our culture for instant gratification. Microwave ovens, the internet, remote control devices and electric garage door openers are just a few things that speak to our desire for instant gratification. We want what we want right now.

But ironically, with all these modern conveniences that are designed to save us time in theory, they have instead led to a more hectic lifestyle.

Geoffrey Godbey, a professor of leisure studies at Pennsylvania State University, states, “We want everything fast—fast food, eyeglasses in an hour … Internally, we are rushed.”

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Secular Humanism and the Church

globeProbably one of the most rampant worldviews in conflict with the Church today is secular humanism. This is the belief that there is no God, no spiritual direction, no afterlife. This world and this life is all there is to the secular humanist. There is no room for or need for God. Secular humanists rely solely on human reason.

The prevalence of secular humanism leads to a kind of elevation of humanity and a quest to live life to satisfy your own personal needs to the fullest, since this is all there is.

What can the Church do in the midst of secular humanism? One way is to gently point people to the Bible’s statements of the involvement of God in the world.

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Emboldened by Anonymity

laptopPastor Matthew Peeples talks about how people in our society today in the new realities of communication are emboldened by anonymity. Because we cannot physically see the people we are talking to on social media and other platforms, we often tend to say things we wouldn’t otherwise do in a public setting, Peeples explains, and so we share things publicly that we would normally  keep private.

We all know of situations or circumstances in which people perhaps “overshared” on social media which then led to some unintentional consequences or had unforeseen implications.

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The White Helmets

white helmetI watched a story on 60 Minutes in December 2016 on the White Helmets.

The White Helmets, officially called The Syrian Civil Defense, is a volunteer corps of Syrians who act as first responders in the Syrian civil war, which is now in its sixth year. The group’s charter is simple: to carry out search-and-rescue operations to save the maximum number of lives. The group has rescued more than 60,000 people.

At great risk to their own safety and lives, these men in white helmets scour the aftermaths of bombing, clawing through the rubble to see a hand waving or a tiny voice crying from a survivor.

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