Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Comforting Words?

I have heard a number of people I’ve encountered recently say to me, “God only gives us what we can handle.” I know for many people these are comforting words. God will give us the strength to get through the current turmoil surrounding us. I often smile and nod when I hear these words. They are usually followed by a laundry list of health problems, financial problems, the growing pains of having children, broken relationships, and usually all of this has depression as the beautiful cherry on top. So in desperate need for comfort they say to me, “God only gives us what we can handle.” This means that whatever they are going through… God knows they can handle it, and it’ll be ok. Again, I smile and nod knowing there is something in this statement that gives them strength for the day.

Let me share a little insight into what’s going on inside my head when I hear the words, “God only gives us what we can handle.” I hear something completely uncomforting. I hear that every turmoil of life comes from God. God is out to test us and give us struggles so that we can grow stronger. God made you sick. God broke your relationship. God gave you depression. “God only gives us what we can handle.”

This often is followed by, “I know this will make me stronger.” Yes, it will make you stronger. I agree. However, that is because God is with you in the midst of the struggle. Not because you’re not strong enough yet. Not because God wants you to be some better version of yourself. Not because God is out to test your patience. You see, Jesus came to bring us life, not struggle. We are talking about a God of resurrection. A God who heals. A God who is the way, the truth, and the life. A God who humbled himself to wash feet. A God who took on death. A God who broke the veil between the Holy and the world. A God of resurrection and life. Now that’s something I find comforting! When we are surrounded by muck and mire we have a God who sets our feet on solid rock.

Happy Easter! God is with you.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Time is a Funny Thing

I can’t believe that I’ve only been in my new call for four months. I also can’t believe how fast the past four months have gone. Time is an interesting notion. Standing in the line at the grocery store five minutes can seem like twenty. Sitting next to a loved one you haven’t seen for awhile five minutes can seem like two seconds. I’m sure you’ve heard the quote or have even stated it before, “time is relative.”

A scientist would argue, what makes it relative starts with the assumption that the speed of light is the same for all observers… bare with me here. If a baseball was thrown by someone on a moving train, the speed of the ball depends upon the situation of the observer. Someone on the train would give one speed for the ball, while someone on the ground watching the train go by would give a different speed. The speed of light must be relative, depending upon the speed of the observer.

Are you still with me? Standing in line at the grocery store our mind is racing about everything else we could be doing. Sitting with a loved one our mind is in the moment and not wandering onto the next task. This changes our state of mind. Just as the speed of the ball depends on the speed of the observer; the speed of our day depends on our state of mind and if we are moving toward the future or living in the moment.

The Sunday this is published is Daylight Savings, we will change our clocks, and time will change. This year we experienced a leap year where we actually had Feb. 29, a way in which we try to catch up with lost time every four years. The structures in our world for time adjust. I believe many of us this Lent are working on some adjustments ourselves.

Maybe you gave something up encouraging yourself to be in prayer when you miss your old habit. Maybe you took something on trying to add a healthy habit to your life. These adjustments call us to experience our life in Christ differently. We live in time, but Christ lives in us. The truth of Christ living in us changes our essence. It means we live a resurrected life. We are Easter People!

Galatians 2:19-20 “…I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Poem

Man's essential pride
Seems to make him feel that the spot of the earth
Where he was born, learned to eat, sleep,
Speak, and think,
Was God's natural habitat,
And that to venture into another location
Or country,
Or, God forbid, another culture or social system,
Is to be in danger of entering the devil's territory.

But how exiting it is,
Once awakened to an awareness
Of the life of God within,
To look into the eyes of people
In the remotest corner of the world
And discover that there is no remote corners,
That all points are equideistant from center,
And to find oneself
Staring back at oneself,
Mirrors of this force of God
Called life.

Looking at people like that
Almost puts the devil out of business.

Faces of God (p. 94) by Gordon and Gladis DePree

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Behind the Altar as I removed the cover of the flagon to pour the wine into the chalice I noticed a little spider chilling on the spout. I looked at it briefly debating:
1. How to pour the wine without getting the spider in the chalice.
2. How not get the spider on me.

I realize the logical conclusion would be to smash the spider and again two thoughts:
1. I really don’t like spiders and am a little freaked out to kill them… if I had gathered the courage it would have included a little shriek that I’m pretty sure would have distracted the worshiping community.
2. There just seemed to be something wrong with killing a little spider at the Lord’s Table. I like to preach that all are welcome…

I did manage to not kill the spider and serve communion to the gathered congregation. However, in the midst of this the spider moved its way to my worship book. This is the book I carry with me during the service. I watched the spider closely as I held the book. I didn’t want to miss any move otherwise it might have ended up on me and a shriek – followed by some jumping and hitting myself would likely follow.

The spider and I made it through the rest of the service together sharing my book and trust me I knew where that spider was at all times.

In truth, I wish I spent that much focus and time paying attention to how God is at work in my life and in the world around me. So for this new church and calendar year, I give thanks for that spider who has inspired me to watch more attentively to the Spirits movement.

Baby Steps

November has long gone and December is nearing its end for the 2011 year. I guess that means my blogging starts anew with the new church year and soon the new calendar year. The transition in calls has been blessed and bumpy. Thank you, loyal readers, for your patience during this transition. I will most likely not start weekly blogging again until March which will hopefully be the launch of our new website at Immanuel!

As for now… I’ll blog as the inspiration hits… instead of forcing it to hit by Wednesday at 9 am. ;)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dear Friends

I write briefly today to inform my loyal readers that I am still alive despite not posting last week and posting later than normal today. However, I am in transition between saying goodbye to my current congregation at Christus Victor Lutheran Church and saying hello to a new call at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Michigan. I am not planning to post during this transition time unless the Spirit moves me otherwise. I hope to be back writing weekly devotionals starting in November. Thank you for being a loyal reader!! Please pray for me during this transition.

Pastor Dana

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ten Years Ago