The Threads Blog
Maybe you’ve been there—sitting alone, asking God to speak to you, because you’ve got a decision to make. This decision would be easy if one of the options clearly violated the commands of God. Say for example, the decision in question was whether or not you should go to your small group or rob the convenience store down the street. Answer’s pretty obvious. But not this situation. In this instance, you’ve got to choose between two good things—this major or that one, this job or that one, this city or that one. And so you come to God, looking for wisdom.
Wisdom is a difficult concept for me to grasp. The truth is that when I pray for wisdom, I’m really asking for a burning bush, a message in my Alphabits cereal, or a song on the radio with the perfect lyrics. I don’t want wisdom, per sey, I want answers. But if you’ve sat in that position, wanting answers from God, you know it doesn’t work like that most of the time.
Another thing God showed me this week is that His arms are always open. I know the Bible talks about that, but in my mind it seems like there should be a limit on how many times you can ask for forgiveness for the same thing. Certainly, God does not give us a license to live in sin, but there is no limit to the forgiveness available to His children. He taught me this lesson very vividly this week. My daughter is 2 and a half and is fully embracing the “terrible twos.” It is unbelievable really. She is the sweetest, cutest girl on the planet (shameless daddy plug) one minute and then she turns into another creature instantly. There’s a lot of kicking and screaming, flailing around on the floor, and sometimes a bit of foaming at the mouth. To say it is frustrating dealing with it would be an understatement. No matter how frustrated I get, when the “episode” is over, she always runs to me and says sorry, and wipes her snotty nose and tear-stained face on my shirt. And no matter how many times it has happened that day, my arms open wide and a smile spreads across my face.
I have heard about the need for change a lot since I came to work at LifeWay. My job initially was to help build a Bible study for young adults. LifeMatters was created and was sent out to young adult groups around the country. My hope and prayer was simple, “Let this study speak to my generation.” In the months that have followed, I have been overwhelmed by the encouragement I’ve received from leaders teaching the material as well as from young adults using the study. One leader in particular I met at Catalyst last year has stayed in touch since that meeting. When we met, Carissa was searching for a study for her class to use in Sunday School and had been looking for something for awhile. Hearing her describe her struggles with young adult ministry and with finding materials to help her teach in ways that combined God’s truth with meaningful application reminded me of what I felt as I began work on LifeMatters. Our goal was to provide a study that taught the Bible in a way that connected the culture we grew up in with the faith spoken of by Christ. A faith that would allow us to reach people for Christ. A faith that would not withdraw from culture but rather engage culture.
One Jan term in college I decided I wanted to travel, so I went to Myanmar with a group from my college and spent a month there. I decided to go because Myanmar is the type of place it’s hard to travel to on your own. I came back having experienced God in a way that will never be replicated. There is a spiritual darkness that surrounds that country, and I could literally feel heaviness all the time, especially when I walked through temples and saw children mimicking their parents’ worship of gold-leafed statues. The faces of the Burmese are beautiful, but they are filled with desperation. God alone is powerful enough to penetrate Myanmar’s darkness, and the testimonies of believers I met in that country are evidence that He is already doing so.
One of the premises we have built Threads around is authenticity. So, in order to make sure I’m staying authentic, I am going to reveal something about myself: I love “Survivor.” I’ve pretty much watched every episode of every season since the beginning. I remember seeing Richard wearing that blurry circle for most of the first season. I remember Rupert and his tie-dye shirts, Johnny Fairplay and his “dying” grandmother charade. I guess for me there is something about the whole thing of balancing manipulation and trust with people that I like. The whole game is spent making alliances and then breaking them. I just want to see one group stick with each other no matter how tempting the other options look. And after watching this past season I want to see some guys who can withstand the schemes of women. The ladies literally toyed with and then destroyed the guys. Seeing poor little Eric buy into their plan was just painful. They dangled the apple, and he bit. I guess some things simply never change!
We like things tough. At least we seem to, and maybe that’s a mark of our generation. We want to live deeply, think deeply, experience deeply. And while that might mean a little something different to everybody, as a whole, it seems to mean that we want to engage the Bible and God at a level that moves well past the surface. That’s the underlying reason behind these Bible studies, The Tough Sayings of Jesus I and II. I firmly believe it is by asking questions that we get a bigger and more intimate glimpse of Christ. It’s great to see how well The Tough Sayings have been received across the country. My hope and prayer continues to be that these Bible studies challenge the way we think and walk with Christ. Things seem to be moving that direction.
A new month is beginning and so begins a new study. I hope the Lord has blessed the past two months worth of study as there have been some excellent passages and topics covered. This month the goodness continues as we get to do a little studying on relationships. Now before you close Internet Explorer and decide to do something else these next few weeks out of fear of relationship studies, take a deep breath and sit back down. These lessons are going to be looking at relationships from a completely different angle. We are going to look at four very distinct elements that will be present in all lasting relationships. So don’t worry. There will be no talk of how to be a better spouse. There will be no mention of kissing dating goodbye. We will not make you write any letters to your parents thanking them for messing you up or any other fun ideas like those. Instead, we will start by looking at “Appreciation.”