Tag Archives: Community

A LOOK BACK: From Sand to Cement

Read Hebrews 10:24-25

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

For where two or three gather together as My followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20, NLT)

sandbags

Last weekend, while down at our Annual Conference down in Wildwood, NJ, I made sure that I got up at 6 am every morning to do one of my favorite things in the world. I would get up, get dressed, plug earphones into my music, and take a nice four mile jog on the beach. I just love going for a jog, no matter where I am; however, there is nothing quite like jogging along the shoreline, right by the water’s edge.

One of those mornings my oldest daughter came with me. We ran a good two or more miles South heading from Wildwood to Wildwood Crest. I was very proud of my daughter who jogged the first 2 miles with me. It’s amazing to see how much her endurance has grown over the past couple of years and it is a pleasure being able to share in a run with her, with both of us enjoying the time together and the time exercising.

On the way back, she asked me, “Dad, are we supposed to stay off the dunes?” I looked at her and smiled, while replying, “Yes, we should stay off the dunes.” She then asked me why that was. “Is it to protect the natural habitat of the animals,” she asked, rather wisely and inquisitively. “Yes,” I responded, “part of the reason is to protect the natural habitat; however, the dunes also play another important role. You see, they help to act as a natural barrier when storms cause the water to come this far up the beach. In a major hurricane they wouldn’t be large or strong enough, but they do act as a line of defense against storm surges.”

I then brought up the fact that whenever there is flooding, people will often build up walls of sand bags. My daughter was amazed at this. “How can sand really stop water from gushing out and flooding everything? Sand is so small and washes away so easily.” Her point was a valid one and, so, I responded, “Yes, loose sand is pretty small and insignificant. But when the sand is bound together in a bag, packed in tightly, it goes from being loose and wish-washy to being like a cement wall. One grain of sand is pretty insignificant; however, trillions upon trillions of grains of sand packed and working together is a force to be reckoned with!”

What an important lesson of us, as people of faith, to learn. We often think of doing BIG THINGS and CHANGING THE WORLD; however, when we head out there to do it we feel so small and insignificant. We often find ourselves wondering if we can really change anything. We become confused, discouraged, and we often end up feeling helpless and hopeless. What’s more tragic is that, in the end, we often give up on our call to be an agent of change.

But God has not called us to individual grains of sand. We are not called to be islands floating out in the middle of nowhere; rather, we have been called into community with one another. When Jesus was ministering to his people in ancient Israel (then known as the Roman Provence of Palestine), he did not do so alone. Instead, he gathered a group of twelve disciples and, actually, had many more disciples and followers than that.

Together, they were able to bring REAL change…REAL HOPE, HEALING, and WHOLENESS to the “least of these” in his community. That is what we are being called to do…not alone, but together as God’s children…as God’s community of faith. It is together, working as the hands and feet of Christ, that we really witness to the world the transforming POWER of God’s LOVE!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.” – Rollo May

PRAYER

Lord, bring me ever deeper into your community of followers so that I may be a blessing to them and, likewise, them to me. Guide us forward so that we may bring your transformative love into the lives of others, one person at a time. Amen.

Demon Hunters

Read Mark 5:1-13

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down at his feet and shouted, ‘You are God’s Son!’” (Mark‬ ‭3:11‬ ‭CEB)‬‬‬‬

  It is no secret to most people that one of my favorite metal bands is Demon Hunter. I love heavy metal, in general, because it often rages against the machine (so-to-speak), and the lyrics address issues within the status quo. Demon Hunter is certainly no exception to that; however, instead of just raging against political machines, it rages against the religious and social machine as well. What I mean by this is that Demon Hunter’s lyrics often speak out against the status quo within the church, as well as the status quo in society.

 They don’t do this just for the sake of being whiney against the way things are, but because they recognize that real people suffer in society and, in particular, in the church. What’s more, they also call out the fact that the church often turns it’s back on such people, and they seek to do differently in their lyrics. There song, “I Am You”, which I have already written another devotion on, speaks to the fact that they struggle like everyone else, and that they stand in solidarity with those who do struggle. The song, “I Will Fail You,” speaks to the fact that we should not put our faith in other people; rather, we should put our faith in God for, unlike people, God will not fail us.

Aside from their music, I also love the artwork on their albums, in particular, I love their band’s logo of which is the demon skull. One of my favorite Demon Hunter skulls is from their third album, “The Triptych”. The skull itself is pretty typical in that it has the uneven horns and is the skull of a goat that has a bullet hole in the forehead, which obviously symbolizes that the demon had been shot and slayed. But this is skull has something else going on. For one thing, the skull itself looks like it is made of some sort of armor, and it is pegged together by spikes. Also, there is a red and black snake slithering through the mouth, through one of the eye sockets, and up over the top of the skull.

As weird as this might say, it is a rather beautiful work of art. Granted it is dark, but there is something alluring about it. Beyond its aesthetics, however, it speaks a profound truth to me. You see, we often spend our lives running and hiding from our demons. With that said, even when we kill our demons and try to move beyond them, they never truly die. They often just lie dormant until something or someone triggers them back to life. Now, when I say demons, I am not thinking of the word in a literal sense, but more of a metaphorical sense. Demons can be personality and character flaws, it can be addiction, anger, bitterness, hatred, envy, or any of the things that possess us and rule our lives.

God is calling us all to be demon hunters, but we cannot be that on our own. The reality is that the things we struggle with will inevitably resurface in our lives. That is why it is so important for us to place our faith in God and to be a part of the community of Christ so that we are not alone in hunting our demons. The more we are surrounded by supportive people, the more likely we are able to overcome our demons and vanquish them. We all have demons, but they need not define who we are. Rather, allow God to help you vanquish your demons through a community that will stand in solidarity with you, support you, hold you accountable, and help you rise up in triumph over the things that have been pulling you down.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“If you don’t deal with your demons, they will deal with you, and it’s gonna hurt.” – Nikki Sixx

PRAYER

Lord, help me with my demons so that I may rise above them and defeat them. Amen.

From Sand to Cement

Read Hebrews 10:24-25

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

For where two or three gather together as My followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20, NLT)

sandbagsLast weekend, while down at our Annual Conference down in Wildwood, NJ, I made sure that I got up at 6 am every morning to do one of my favorite things in the world. I would get up, get dressed, plug earphones into my music, and take a nice four mile jog on the beach. I just love going for a jog, no matter where I am; however, there is nothing quite like jogging along the shoreline, right by the water’s edge.

One of those mornings my oldest daughter came with me. We ran a good two or more miles South heading from Wildwood to Wildwood Crest. I was very proud of my daughter who jogged the first 2 miles with me. It’s amazing to see how much her endurance has grown over the past couple of years and it is a pleasure being able to share in a run with her, with both of us enjoying the time together and the time exercising.

On the way back, she asked me, “Dad, are we supposed to stay off the dunes?” I looked at her and smiled, while replying, “Yes, we should stay off the dunes.” She then asked me why that was. “Is it to protect the natural habitat of the animals,” she asked, rather wisely and inquisitively. “Yes,” I responded, “part of the reason is to protect the natural habitat; however, the dunes also play another important role. You see, they help to act as a natural barrier when storms cause the water to come this far up the beach. In a major hurricane they wouldn’t be large or strong enough, but they do act as a line of defense against storm surges.”

I then brought up the fact that whenever there is flooding, people will often build up walls of sand bags. My daughter was amazed at this. “How can sand really stop water from gushing out and flooding everything? Sand is so small and washes away so easily.” Her point was a valid one and, so, I responded, “Yes, loose sand is pretty small and insignificant. But when the sand is bound together in a bag, packed in tightly, it goes from being loose and wish-washy to being like a cement wall. One grain of sand is pretty insignificant; however, trillions upon trillions of grains of sand packed and working together is a force to be reckoned with!”

What an important lesson of us, as people of faith, to learn. We often think of doing BIG THINGS and CHANGING THE WORLD; however, when we head out there to do it we feel so small and insignificant. We often find ourselves wondering if we can really change anything. We become confused, discouraged, and we often end up feeling helpless and hopeless. What’s more tragic is that, in the end, we often give up on our call to be an agent of change.

But God has not called us to individual grains of sand. We are not called to be islands floating out in the middle of nowhere; rather, we have been called into community with one another. When Jesus was ministering to his people in ancient Israel (then known as the Roman Provence of Palestine), he did not do so alone. Instead, he gathered a group of twelve disciples and, actually, had many more disciples and followers than that.

Together, they were able to bring REAL change…REAL HOPE, HEALING, and WHOLENESS to the “least of these” in his community. That is what we are being called to do…not alone, but together as God’s children…as God’s community of faith. It is together, working as the hands and feet of Christ, that we really witness to the world the transforming POWER of God’s LOVE!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.” – Rollo May

PRAYER

Lord, bring me ever deeper into your community of followers so that I may be a blessing to them and, likewise, them to me. Guide us forward so that we may bring your transformative love into the lives of others, one person at a time. Amen.