Making Do

I love it when various conversations in my life converge and especially when it has to do with an upcoming sermon! As we continue our sermon series this week on John Ortberg’s If You Want to Walk on Water You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat, we will talk about the scary prospects of taking risks and needing help. But today my thoughts have been on the idea of what happens when we don’t think we have what it takes to handle what lies before us.  We worry that we won’t be able to continue on or take the risk.  We worry that we just aren’t the right person.  Or we have gotten ourselves into a sticky wicket and we need help getting out of it.  So many different scenarios where we aren’t brave, and we cry out for help because we have little confidence that we can handle it.

I have been thinking all day today on a quote from my morning devotional A Guide To Prayer For All Who Walk With God.  The quote was from early 20th Century author Evelyn Underhill:

We can never forecast the path God’s energy of rescue will take.  It is never any use saying to God, “I am getting desperate!  Please answer my prayer by the next mail and please send a blank check” God will answer but not necessarily like that; more probably God will transform and use the unlikely looking material already in hand- the loves and the tiny fishes- looking up to Heaven and blessing it and making it do after all.   – Evelyn Underhill, The Soul’s Delight

th-3Making do.  I love this perspective on the “path God’s energy of rescue will take” in our lives.  How often did we have exactly what we needed from the very beginning.  We look at ourselves as unlikely material.  Even this week I had conversation with a person who was not feeling particularly confident about her ideas.  But then when in a group setting in the midst of an important conversation in a meeting, she asked a wonderful question in a wonderful way so that her risky idea was well received.  I thought then how God used that person who felt like “unlikely material” in order to start an important conversation.  Making do with the material in hand.

Let’s not underestimate ourselves.  More accurately, let’s not underestimate what God can do with and through us.  Let’s not resist what God is trying to do through us.  Otherwise we will block the most amazing transformation that only God can orchestrate.  When life is asking us to take a risk- that might very well be the path of God’s energy getting ready to pulse into our heart beat in order to transform us into a moment of amazement.

Instead of listing all the reasons why not, let’s focus on all of the reasons why.  After all, God has gifted each and every one of us in some way.  Add to that giftedness a little bit of faith in God and confidence in God’s ways and we have an opportunity for some Holy Spirit magic.  But we have to be willing to take a bit of risk.  We have to be willing to risk failing.  With that, we have to recognize that failing is not always a bad thing.  God’s wisdom often times comes in the lessons learned from falling down.  But when we fail or fall down, I hang on to the following Scripture as encouragement to get back up and a source of strength to carry on.  May it offer you the same.

We don’t preach about ourselves. Instead, we preach about Jesus Christ as Lord, and we describe ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. 8 We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out....14 We do this because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus, and he will bring us into his presence along with you. 15 All these things are for your benefit. As grace increases to benefit more and more people, it will cause gratitude to increase, which results in God’s glory.   – 2 Corinthians 4:5-9, 14-15 (CEB)

Grace and Peace,

Lory Beth

Walking on Water

John Ortberg wrote a really good book several years ago called If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat.  It’s about the famous story of Peter trying to walk on the water to get to Jesus. (Matthew 14:25-32)  There are so many interesting perspectives in this story.  What was Peter thinking when he tried to do the impossible?  Well, he was thinking originally that he was going to be faithful and obedient and take a risk.  313620

Ortberg says “You need only enough faith to take the net step.”  How many times do we look at the big picture and completely psych ourselves out?  If we are trying to do something big and important and meaningful, often times that means it’s hard.  It can overwhelm us and cause us to freeze up.

We can learn a lot from Jesus and from Peter in this story.  For the next 4 weeks we will talk about having courage and taking risks as Jesus calls out to us.  We will talk about what we can learn from failure.  Failure is not the worst thing in the world to have happen to us even though it can feel pretty rotten.  We will talk about what extreme discipleship looks like and keeping our eye on Jesus.

So for you to ponder this weekend, what is your next step?  Can you see Jesus in front of you?  Do you have Jesus in your line of vision?  How far is he from you?  So what does that next step look like for you?

I don’t know about you but when I take a moment to reflect on these questions I have a lot in the way between me and Jesus at the moment.  I am working on clearing out some of the obstacles, because I’m pretty sure that none of them are nearly as important as I might think they are.  And if they aren’t stepping stones, than they are obstacles to be worked around.  But before I get overwhelmed, I remind myself of Ortberg’s encouragement I only need enough faith to the next step in front of me.  That, I can do.

If we want to be with Jesus, and being with Jesus is the best and most amazing place we can be, we are going to have to get our feet wet.  After all, Jesus is in the water.  Man, do we have lots to talk about this month!  Hope to see you in worship or on our Lifestream.

Grace and Peace,

Lory Beth

Remembering Your Baptism

Water.  A simple substance.  2 atoms of Hydrogen and 1 atom of Oxygen.  Absolutely necessary for our body to survive.  We can survive longer without food than we ever could without water.  Life giving substance not only for humans but for all creation.  And the vehicle by which God offers us renewing grace.  Cleansing grace.  Fresh start grace. Child claiming grace.

imagesDo you happen to remember your baptism if you have ever been baptized?  If you grew up United Methodist like me (or Lutheran or Presbyterian or Episcopal) the answer is probably no because we baptize infants.  I’ll talk about why that is this Sunday at worship.  But we do have an option for those of us who don’t have that memory.  We have a beautiful service of remembering your baptism.  A chance to remember the promises that were made for us or by us if we were youth or adults.  It’s one of my favorite Sunday’s of the year and I can’t wait for this Sunday.

One of my most precious memories was when we did this at Centenary for the first time 3 years ago and one of the older ladies came through my line to touch the water, receive a shell and a blessing.  She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said in 80 years she had never participated in a service like this before and how powerful it was to reconnect with something so important that happened in her childhood.  A life well lived as a faithful child of God, marked by the grace of baptism, reignited in her heart again.  That’s the stuff that makes us pastors act like a cat high on catnip!

Remembering the faith of our childhood might be a beautiful thing for some.  A terrible or painful memory for others.  Or increasingly a non-existent one for others. But when we remember our baptism, we are not remembering what we have done.  We are not even remembering what the church has done.  We are remembering what God has done on our behalf.  It is a gift of grace that lays claim to us and says we are a Child of God.  It is a grace given to us that says we are offered a life with Christ and a death and resurrection with Christ.  It is a grace that acknowledges God has the power to forgive us and renew and wash us from the sin and evil in this world.  And finally, it is a grace that is given with the touch of hands and an offering of the Holy Spirit to enter into our lives each and every day.

Almighty God, the life you birthed in us
by baptism into Jesus Christ
will never die.
Your justice never fails.
Your mercy is everlasting.

Your healing river flows.
Your Spirit blows where you will.
We cannot stop you, God!

But sometimes we try.
We try to block the flow,
we redirect the winds of the Spirit,
or we walk so far away from the life-giving Stream
that we do not hear its sound,
and we forget its power.
We parch ourselves.

We are dry and thirsty, O God.
Come, refresh us!

Come upon us, Holy Spirit!                                                                                                 Come upon these waters.                                                                                                            Let these waters be to us drops of your mercy.
Let these waters remind us of your righteousness and justice.
Let these waters renew in us the resurrection power of Jesus.
Let these waters make us long for your coming reign.

Amen.                                                 (United Methodist Baptismal Liturgy)

Water.  It cleanses.  It refreshes.  It sustains.  It’s powerful.  It’s calming.  It is one of the ways in which God offers you grace.  I invite you to join us Sunday and let the grace filled waters of Jesus once again renew your spirit, cleanse your soul, give you new life.

Grace and Peace,

Lory Beth