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Tuesday Tips

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OMW! It’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post. It’s been so long since I’ve written a recommendation list. What have I been doing? I don’t know. Things got crazy. Easter came and went. And it’s been raining for something like eight weeks. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating. But, seriously, a little sun for us SAD people.

The most FAQ I get is “what are you reading/listening/watching”? So here’s my latest list of things that are making me THINK!

Books:

I am reading Bored and Brillant by Manoush Zomorodi. You can also listen to her podcast called Note to Self. Manoush is charming and brilliant. The book deals with how technology is stripping us of our natural brilliance and problem-solving skills. If you’ve read Seven by Jen Hatmaker, then think of this as the same for technology.

I recently finished Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (audiobook) by Lori Gottlieb. The audiobook was read by the author and she did a fabulous job. I laughed and cried at her memoir about being a psychologist and seeing a psychologist. It’s poignant and will make you do some soulsearching.

Podcasts:

I have discovered some new podcasts and might be addicted. The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman is inspiring. If you struggle to make decisions, then this is the podcast for you. If you are a deliberative in the Strength Finders world (you know who you are), then you absolutely need to give it a listen. Freeman has recently released a book by the same title. I have not read it, but it’s on my list.

For all you Malcolm Gladwell fans, the fourth season of Revisionist History is coming in about one month. I am geeked and ready to binge listen. He is also co-hosting a new podcast called, Solvable. It’s about ideas and topics that have previously been considered unsolvable, but new breakthroughs are proving us wrong. Episode one discussed two cities who have conquered chronic homelessness.

Tools:

The most recent tool I have discovered is a calendar app called, Team Up. It is free and great for small churches, businesses, groups, etc. You create a calendar online, then download the app and enter the link. It allows us to coordinate several schedules at once. It has been most helpful for us in coordinating building usage. In addition, I can give different permission levels to different people. Our congregation has a “view only” permission that allows them to see if a date is available before they request a room.

Watching:

I’m not much of a TV or movie person. But I do get on a kick from time to time and then binge watch on a Sunday night. Hulu has me re-watching the show, Lie to Me. It’s about reading people’s micro-expressions to see if they are telling the truth. It’s a fictional show about real science. Basically, a crime-drama which is my go-to.

I also finished watching season one of A Million Little Things. It’s on Hulu and, good news, it’s coming back for a second season. Bad news…it’s a serious tear-jerker, not the stuff I usually watch.

Other Stuff:

It’s probably a good time to plug my own podcast, This is Her Story. We are also available on iTunes and GooglePlay now. I am editing the latest episode where I interview professor and seminary president, Dr. Barbara Brown Zikmund. It was so great meeting her that we talked for almost two hours. It might need to be a two-part episode.

Well, that’s all I have for you now. Please share what is making you think right now in the comments. What are you reading, listening to, watching? New tools and resources? I would love to hear from you.

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Lenten Devotional

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As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. – Luke 11:29-30

As the crowds increased…

Jesus was well along in his earthly ministry now. He had many followers and disciples. And, everywhere he went, he attracted a crowd. These crowds were increasing in size. There were various reasons that the crowds were increasing; as various as the people in the crowd itself. Some were curious. Some were desperate. Some came with a friend. Some were dragged by a friend. Literally. See Luke 5:18  And some came to test him.

After Jesus healed a man who couldn’t speak, some of the crowd kept asking for more and greater miracles. They wanted a “sign”. They were looking for something spectacular. They wanted a sign that would distinguish Jesus from other teachers and preachers. They also wanted a sign that would distinguish them from other generations; something that made them special.

As much as we like to fit in and feel like we belong, we equally want to feel special and important. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel special. It’s normal. It’s part of being human. And the crowds following Jesus wanted the same things you and I do. They wanted to know they mattered to other people and especially to God.

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At first glance, Jesus’ response sounds harsh. He identifies them as a “wicked generation”. We don’t really use that word today unless we’re talking about people like Adolph Hitler or serial killers. The word Jesus uses can be used to describe one’s moral character. But it is also used to describe an experience. Not “wicked good”, but “wicked bad”. As in a people who were feeling harassed and hard-pressed. It was a time of great hardship and the people felt helpless and hopeless.

I’ve been there. I’ve felt helpless and hopeless. And, in those times, I can remember crying out to God and asking Him for a sign that everything was going to be alright. Do you ever find yourself begging God to send you a sign? Do you wish He would send you a postcard in the mail telling you it’s going to be alright? I mean, couldn’t he just tweet something to let us know he’s got it under control? The people in that crowd felt like that too.

And Jesus understood.

He wasn’t condemning them for asking for a sign. He was showing them that he was the sign they were asking for. Jesus told them that “the Son of Man will be your sign”. You sort of need to know the Jonah story to be able to follow along. It’s okay if you don’t know the story. Jonah was a prophet from a long time ago who was swallowed by a giant fish. The story says that Jonah was in the belly of the fish for 3 days before he was spat up on the shore. And, just like Jonah, the Son of Man (Jesus) would also be in the belly of the earth for 3 days before he was raised from the dead. And this was the only sign that they needed.

Jesus came as the sign that they were special and important to God. He came so that all of us would know we are special and important to God. Of all the signs God could send, Jesus is the greatest of all. Jesus is God in the flesh. He walked among us to love us and teach us how to love. He came to remind us we are special and important because we are created in the image of God. And He came to take away our shame that we would no longer be people who feel harassed. Rather we would be people who know we have a purpose in this world.

Happy Lent and Happy Easter!

Remember, And Please Don’t Forget

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A year ago, my cousin (by marriage) died. She was thirty-one and died from complications with Cystic Fibrosis. It was long, painful, and arduous at the end. And she was a hero! Maggie wrote her own eulogy to be read at her memorial. It was hilarious and poignant and profound. I kept thinking that I hope it becomes a trend; this writing your own eulogy thing. And I knew her memory would live on.

Death seems so final. A year ago we were wrestling with much grief. You can read about it here. But, today, in my meditations, I was struck by how quickly memories can fade. I want to believe in the resurrection, and most days I do. But can I make a confession? Some days I cling to this belief with a mighty grip like a child holding tightly to her mama in a crowd. There are days when fear creeps in and along with it doubt, whispering haunting words to my soul.

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If we were honest, then we would admit that we wonder, we fear that we will be forgotten. We fear that we will all be forgotten. Is it not the reason we work so hard? We desperately want to leave a mark on the world in hopes they will remember and never forget.

I recently officiated a funeral for some friends. They were friends who buried their child way too soon. The greatest fear when we bury a loved one is that they lived in vain. We fear that others will forget while we sit and remember. Could it be this is why senior adults tell so many stories? Is it fear that if we forget, then maybe no one else will remember either? And, if we cannot remember, then the person might be lost forever.

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I have discovered that what we feel colors so much of what we believe. It shapes our perspective of the world and how we perceive it. In my own life, I am working to line up what I feel with what I know to be true. It involves meditating and visualizing the truth I see in scripture. It’s not enough to know the truth in our heads. We must visualize it and let it move to our hearts.

When I begin to wrestle with these doubts, I find myself drawn to the Gospels. I take comfort in Jesus as he also wrestled with Satan. But I also take comfort in what he did and said. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is on the cross hanging between two thieves. He declares to the one next to him that “today, you will be with me in paradise”. And that brings me hope when I start to forget.

I don’t know where paradise is or what it looks like, but Jesus is there and I am with him. In paradise, I am with Jesus. I am not alone and I am not forgotten. In paradise, my loved ones are not alone and they are not forgotten. Even if everyone else forgets, even if you forget or I forget, they are remembered. And they are not forgotten.

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.”

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