Monday, March 29, 2021- Holy Week

Here we are, entering into Holy Week, and as we enter into this week we will find ourselves going back over the story from the beginning. To understand the events of the cross we have to understand that, “the Word became human and made his home amount us” (John 1:14). At the core of the Gospel is that God came to walk with humanity. That God lived through everything you and I live through, he experienced everything that we experience, but he did it in a perfect way. The first Adam choose the path that ultimately led to spiritual death whereas the second Adam, walked the path that led to physical death, but to abundant life. The second Adam also broke the chains of death that keep us from life, so that we too can now experience full and abundant life.

Read: John 1:1-18

Questions to Consider:

  1. What does it mean for us that through Jesus we have received one gracious blessing after another? (Vs. 16)
  2. What does it mean to you that the Word gave life to everything that was created? 

So What Activity:   As you begin this Holy Week, take time to read through this passage slowly three times. The first time you read through focus on the whole narrative of the story being shared. Then for the second time listen for anything that God puts on your heart, a line or a phrase that sticks out and write it down. Finally for the last time look for a word that sticks out and write that word down. Then spend time in prayer praising God for what he is showing you as you begin this Holy Week.

Blessings, 

Saturday, March 13, 2021 – Emotions

Lazarus is sick. Lazarus dies. Lazarus is resurrected by Jesus. The array of emotions in today’s short reading is too much to be grasped in these few verses. Anxiety, sadness, grief, amazement, wonder, delight, joy, anger… they are all there in this recap of this event. There are many participants besides Jesus: disciples, Mary and Martha, Lazarus, neighbors, relatives, priests, the high priest Caiaphas, and maybe even others. All these characters experienced many different emotions through this episode. The disciples were anxious about Jesus going toward Jerusalem, Mary and Martha were joyful and the Pharisees were angry. 

Did you know that there is really no scientific consensus on a true definition for emotions? I am not a doctor nor a psychologist, but I know we all experience emotions. Emotions are messages from our brain that guide how we react to events happening around us, and what an impact they have on us. Sometimes, we become “too emotional,” while other times, we might be “hiding our emotions.” One thing I know for sure, is that we were created in the image of God, and Jesus himself in his humanity experienced emotions. Therefore, I can allow emotions to help me as I live my daily life. Maybe joyful one day, a little sad the next. What do you think? As you read this scripture, see if you can observe the shifts in emotional levels as the story unfolds.

Read: John 11:17-57

Questions to Consider:

1. Do you know someone who hardly ever shows any emotions? Do you know someone who is very expressive with their emotions?

2. What about people who are totally controlled by their emotions? How could we be helpful in their lives?

3. How can we  commit our own emotions to the work of the Holy Spirit within us?

So What Activity:   Today, thank God for your emotions and then ask the Holy Spirit to help you keep those emotions in check. Be aware of what your emotions tell you about how you are abiding in Christ for your every-day living.

Blessings,

March 3, 2021 – Defection, Deterioration and Determination

Greetings Lake Deaton Family,

I hope you are all well. I had my surgical procedure on Monday, and all went well. I will now wait until next week to find out if the cancer had spread through my lymph nodes, but I am anticipating that it had remained localized and that all is complete. Thank you all so much for your prayers and cards!!!

The scripture from yesterday’s and today’s reading is pretty much in-your-face Jesus 101! The people want Jesus to perform miracles like he is a carnival side show. Jesus is trying to point them to real life, which is found through complete surrender to Himself. Often, we read things like this and think those people are all messed up, don’t they know who it is standing before them? But I think we haven’t changed much in 2,000 years. Today we are looking at a different kind of show, but many of us still are in it for the show. We talk about the music, it was too loud, or not loud enough, it didn’t speak to me, or the pastor’s comments didn’t grab me. The list can go on and on. We live in a consumerist world and we take our consumerism with us as we enter into the church. 

You may need to read the first part of John chapter 6 again today, before reading the scripture below. As you read think about why some people left Jesus, and then think about what Jesus was offering to the people that we might desperately need today. 

As you read, I invite you to open your heart to being messed with. Maybe some of us are looking at Jesus and wanting the wrong thing, let’s open our hearts to the real Jesus and the real message of the Gospel. 

Read: John 6:60-71

Questions to Consider:

  1. Why did the people leave Jesus? (Vs 66)
  2. What do you think it means when Jesus says that he is the bread of life and that unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood, we cannot have eternal life?
  3. What would it mean for you today to eat his flesh and drink his blood? What does that look like in the 21st century?

So What Activity:   Spend some time today in quiet meditation before Jesus. As you spend this time write down any areas in your life where you feel you may be looking at Jesus (or the church) as a carnival side show. Then write down what Jesus is asking of you in order to move into a deeper surrender into discipleship. 

Blessings, 

Huldah

Here is a warning! Today’s reading is a little long, so I will not say much. Honestly, though, I don’t remember reading about Huldah before. I remember the story of Josiah, the 8-year-old boy who became King and wanted to serve God. However, hidden toward the end of this chapter is a woman: a prophet. When the books of the Torah are found, King Josiah wants someone consulted on how to go about being faithful to God. The temple workers know to consult with Huldah, the prophet. What is unusual is that she gives two answers: one of what will happen if they do not obey God and the other message directed to King Josiah sharing with him what good will come for Israel if they head God’s Word. Not much is heard about Huldah after that. She is not a main character in the story, she is not ever mentioned again, but she shared what God had placed in her heart at the time that was needed. This should encourage all of us that often we do not have major roles to play, but God lead us to share a small word of truth, encouragement, or compassion at the right time and the result can be transformational for someone else. So, friends, go out today and be ready to listen; there might be a Huldah out there speaking words of wisdom that you need to heed. God bless!

Read: 2 Chronicles 34

Watch Video:

Questions to Consider:

  1. Have you given permission to someone in your life to speak truth openly and honestly?
  2. What is something that sticks out to you from today’s reading?

Prayer: Lord, Thank you for the many Huldah’s you have placed in our lives. Some we might not remember, but have spoken to us or led us into truth. Help us today to be good listeners to words of truth and wisdom you might have for us. Amen!

Blessings, 

Go Big or Go Home!

Sarah and Abraham both struggled with their call to be the couple from whom God would produce his nation, mainly, as we have seen, because of their age. They simply could not put their minds around having a child at their advanced age!

I have become convinced that God loves to do things that are much bigger than we could ever imagine. God does this so that we know that it is God doing the work and not us. Almost twenty years when I was beginning the process of launching my Coffee Pub ministry one of my church members sent me a card that said: “Attempt something large enough that failure is guaranteed…  unless God steps in.” 

That card came on a day when everything was going wrong and the crazy idea that God had placed in my head to start a coffee shop as a church seemed like the idea of a nut! I can remember reading the card and having the realization come back to me that the call of starting a coffee shop was God’s idea and not mine. If it was God’s idea then it was God’s to decide if it would fail or if it would succeed.  

That day I gave the Coffee Pub back over to God and I praise God that today this ministry, now called RedEye is still going strong in Tallahassee, Florida and that many lives have been impacted around the world because I was faithful to follow God, even when the path seemed like a path towards failure.  

Read: Genesis 17

Questions to Consider:

  1. What is God calling you to do that is beyond what you could ever imagine on your own?
  2. Could God, even at your age, ask you to do something for him?
  3. What is keeping you from launching out into God’s call?

Prayer: Lord help us to learn from Sarah to always be ready to do something bigger than ourselves for you. Help us to live our whole lives with hearts open to whatever new mission you bring our way and help us to step out in faith as we follow you. Amen.

Blessings,

The Right Attire

As a little girl I attended a school that required us to wear a uniform. All schools, public and private in Honduras, require a uniform. My teacher always checked that we had the correct uniform, not a shirt that looked similar to the uniform, but the one required. It was part of our daily chores to make sure we had our uniform so we could “enter” school. Many a times our parents received a note saying that for some reason or another, we did not have the proper attire. These three Psalms, written by David, are very candid conversations and David directs his questions, doubts, fears, and requests to God. In Psalm 15, David asks the question that many of us have asked, “Who can enter and worship in your sanctuary?” David’s answer seems to rule humanity out, “Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,” and then proceeds to describe what he means by “those who do what is right.” The problem is that sometimes I do what is right and sometimes I don’t. I wonder if David ever dreamed that Jesus would come precisely to cover us in God’s righteousness. Did David receive an idea that one day, we might be able to enter God’s presence, not because we can do what is right, but because God provided what was needed? I don’t know the answer to that, but I am certainly glad that we have been made right with God because of the work of Jesus Christ.

Read: Psalms 13, 14, and 15

Questions to Consider:

1.    Can you think of a time that you were not dressed appropriately for an occasion? How did you feel?

2.    What do these three Psalms tell you about David? What do they tell you about God?

3.    Can you write one or two questions you would ask God?

Prayer: Lord God today we thank you that you are a loving God. You have provided all that is needed for our journey. Thank you Lord, Amen!

Activity for the Day:  Notice those who wear uniforms: waiters, grocery store workers, nurses, police officers, post office workers. Today write a short prayer of thanksgiving for their daily work. 

Blessings, 

Happy 4th of July

One of my favorite stories to hear a child was of the birth of my grandmother Schesser. Grandma Schesser was born on the Fourth of July, in Horton, Kansas. Even though I had heard the story several times, I was blessed to have my great-grandmother Small (Grandma Schesser’s mother) tell me the story just months before she passed away. Even though she was in her 90’s she could still remember the story with great accuracy, she told how in the middle of the annual city Fourth of July picnic, on the edge of town, she began to have contractions and got my great-grandad to take her home in the buggy so that my grandmother could be born.

Grandma Schesser was always very proud of being born on Independence Day and was a very patriotic American. She was proud of my Grandad’s service in WW II, and of my uncle Rich’s service in Viet Nam. One of the blessings of my life was that she was much prouder of another birth in her life, that of being born again as a child of God through Jesus Christ. While Grandma Schesser was a proud American, she was a much much prouder Christian, and I was blessed as a young man to have the influence of grandparents that saw our God as so much bigger than our town, or our state or our nation. They saw Christ as the true savior of the whole world. They taught us as children that no matter what was going on in our lives, we had a God who was bigger than our problems, a God we could go to and openly share all of our struggles and a God who would listen to us with love.

Today, on the Fourth of July, I will celebrate the legacy of so many great Americans who have come before me, especially Verna Schesser, my grandmother! I will celebrate our great nation as well but more than all this I will give praise for a God who is above nations and came to restore all humanity into relationship with the God of the universe.

Read: Psalms 10, 11 and 12

Questions to Consider: 

1.    Consider where you are this Fourth of July weekend; is this a year of celebration or a year of struggle? Are you finding joy in the place of life you find yourself in or are you in pain over the issues going on all around us? 

2.    What does the writer of Psalm 10 have to say to God about their struggles? Write in your own words what this writer is saying to God.

3.    In Psalms 11 and 12 how does King David express his struggles to God?

Activity for the Day:  Take time today to write a letter to God. Tell God what is going on in your life. As you write, you can even tell God where you may be struggling, angry or having doubt. End the letter by reaffirming your trust that even in your doubts (if you have any) or your anger (if you have anger) you trust that God will lead us through.  

Have a blessed and safe Independence Day celebration today!

Blessings, 

What Are Mere Mortals?

This is my favorite Psalm.  Three days in and we are already to my favorite Psalm.  I am wondering if you have a favorite Psalm.  If you don’t this study is a great chance to find a favorite one.  If one strikes you as a favorite, note it down in your journal and then when the study is over go back and look at all the ones you marked and pick out your all time favorite. Today you will be reading Psalms 7, 8 and 9, this will be the regular pattern, three Psalms a day.  

Read: Psalms 7, 8, and 9

Questions to Consider:

1.    What is your favorite part of God’s creation?

2.    What does it mean to you to have dominion over the handiwork of God? 

Activity for the Day: Do something today to care for creation.  

Blessings, 

Heal Me

Happy Wednesday!  If you watched the video I linked yesterday on the Bible Project website you will know that as we read the Psalms we will read a lot of laments, especially in the beginning.  This is what we have today in Psalm 6.  However, I think this is a good thing, because all these laments teach us that it is okay to cry out to God.  They teach us the we don’t always have to be happy and pleasant before God.  The prayers of the Psalms are prayers were we can lay it all before God.

Read: Psalms 4, 5, and 6

Questions to Consider:

1.    Have there been times in your life when you have been angry at someone for something they have done to you? Write about this in your journal.

2.   Has there been a time in your life when someone has been angry at your for something you have done to them? Write about this in your journal.

3.   Is forgiveness to be given or an apology to be offered either of these situations?

Activity for the Day:  Can you make the commitment to try and not just read the Psalms each day, but read them as if they are prayer?  

Blessings, 

A Word About Psalms

Welcome to the first day of our Summer Study! I hope that you have your Bible and journal ready to go.  Well actually you don’t have to have an actual Bible, you can just click the hyperlink below to read the Psalms for the day.  I personally like to have my own Bible to read from because I like to make notes in the margins.  Before you start reading please click on this link on the Bible Project website.  I suggest reading the information on the page but I highly recommend making sure you watch the video!  It will give you some great background to get started.   

Read:  Psalms 1, 2, and 3 (click on the link or use your own Bible)

Questions to Consider:

1.     Why did you sign up for this study? 

2.    Do you have a personal goal for this study?

3.    How would you rate you prayer life today?  Describe your prayer life in your journal.  

Activity for the Day:  Start your Summer Study Journal Today.  

Blessings,