Here's a little of back-to-school humor for this back-to-school sort of week! Welcome back Viterbo and WTC students and best semester to all of you going back to school and or sending someone you love back to school.
So - I'm told - that not everyone watches Parks & Rec ... so here's a little more Monday Funday humor - but not based on Parks and Rec. I'm sure this will be a winner!
Summer puts me in a parks and recs sort of mood - so here are some funnies from the show - hope you all have a fantastic week!
Yay! What could be better for a Monday Funday post than a little Solo movie humor ... better late than never.
Enjoy some 4th of July themed funnies!
This week's Monday Funday is dedicated to the ultimate summer-time adventure: the family road-trip! Enjoy!
Here's your Monday Funday! Praying you all have a great week!
A special Father's Day edition of Monday Funday. Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there!
Another installment of Monday Funday! Praying you all had a great weekend and that it's a fantastic week for you!
A special edition installment of Monday Funday! Praying you're all having a marvelous week!
JC's Village will be meeting this summer on Wednesday evenings for meals, Bible study, discussion and fun. We've also got some fun events planned; canoeing, a trip to the pizza farm, s'more roasts, playing some four-square and more.
Our theme is Lake Galilee Summer Camp! Remember summer camp? New friends, adventure, new skills, fun, camp-fires, growth ... well we're going to be doing all that and some more. So many of the things we learned at summer camp as kids line up with awesome things we can learn about God - and ways we can grow our walk with Jesus even stronger.
If you're a college student in La Crosse this summer - whether you're enrolled or not - we'd love to have you come and join us. Feel free to bring a fiend along. We're going to squeeze every bit of growth and fun we can out of the months ahead and have a great summer while we're at it!
This week's Monday Funday honors moms of all kinds - praying you all have a wonderful week!
Happy Spring everyone! Seems like it's finally arrived.
Some Monday laughs for ya'll ... Tax-Day edition.
Spring is around the corner - and that means - we need some gardening and yard work humor!
So - we finished the For the Love series - or rather - we only have as much wrap-up as we want to under take left.
Occasionally over Lent I had a conversation or two with some of you about the series - and a few conversations with others not following the series - but who volunteered opinions on it. Reflecting back on those conversations - I'd group them into three categories: some folks responded with "Yay! God's love", some with "where's the obedience!" and some just kind of waited ... perhaps to see what was coming next.
Well ... what is next then?
If you know we just celebrated Easter - then you know that Easter - appeared to be an end on Good Friday (renamed, I imagine, quite a while after the first Easter - don't you think?) - but was probably referred to by the disciples as "The Worst Day In History". I imagine that when they mentioned amongst themselves - they paused to swallow golf-balls, deal with their sudden "allergy eyes" and so on.
But by Monday morning - if not Sunday lunch - it was pretty clear - things were different - and Easter was a glorious beginning.
Whether you've been following Jesus "practically forever" or - two minutes ago - there's always a new beginning available.
First - I want to clarify - that I believe we're in that third response group ... the group waiting to see what's next. We're not only in the "Yay! God's Love" group. We're not merely in the "where's the obedience group. We're in the group that feeds our souls nourishingly full at every "meal" - spiritually I mean of course - and then digests all day and lets God's love work through every cell of our being - and then obedience - is the uh ... er ... ahem ... natural by-product you might say.
Don't think about that too much.
And yet - please, please do realize that this really is how it works best. It's just a no good, horrifically disastrous mess if we try to aim at obedience by feasting on obedience itself instead of love. It just works so much better ... not actually totally and inescapably automatically with us spiritually ... but more-so-ish.
At least I do truly, truly believe that this is how it worked before the fall.
Since then though, things are well, just wonky. We don't "automatically" get obedience - we have to work at it.
But - I'll argue that love is still the ideal fuel.
So - now all fueled up on Love - what's next.
Well ... what is next for you?
In all likelihood - if you read this say ... today at some point ... then the "next" will come up for you when life starts to happen and you pause, and wonder "hmmm ... how do I do that?" Maybe that will happen around an unexpected expense, or an unexpected hic-up in some key relationship, or maybe you'll start to catch a cold, or maybe your "next" will happen in that part of the day when you're not at work, and not in bed - and you get to choose what to do with your time.
Whatever your next is - the fuller you are with God's love - the more happily nourished your soul is with God's love - the easier it will be to include Him - authentically, "naturally", and helpfully in that "next. Full of Love - secure in your supply of it - your "next meal" so to speak - it's easiest (though surely not easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy). It'll never be effortless - or thoughtless to include God in our "nexts" - but it'll be easier to do so freshly feasted on love than it will under any other circumstance.
Or at least - that is my experience - and I believe that is just my experience with what Scripture teaches.
So - full of God's love, we dialog with God (again - so to speak) as we enter that unexpected expense, the relationship hic-up, the cold, the down-time - and there it is ... our moment!
I used to imagine my moment would be when you hear that angel chorus start to sing opera and you receive some long-lost letter from the Apostle Paul and you're off to the races on some grand adventure.
Alas - that would be the spiritual equivalent of pushing back from your Easter feast and trotting out the door on a marathon.
Surely - if you've trained to run a marathon then the whole thing is a different matter though isn't it.
One of my first apps on my iPod touch - like - 10 or more years ago - was an app called "Couch to 5k" - designed to gradually grow your cardio-vascular stamina so you could "run" a 5k.
Well ... these moments listed up above - are like the initial 30-60 second bursts of "running" (read - jogging while panting) - on my old app. Not as sexy as running a marathon - but if you break it down - a marathon is just so many (sooooo many) minutes of jogging - all strung together. These moments are the exact same to our spiritual marathon. And sometimes - they leave you just as winded - though - I'd argue - rarely without a much much bigger sense of accomplishment when you complete them well.
The importance - the value of the fuel of God's love in those moments become soooo crucial. It's in those "next" moments that we actually do the heavy lifting of our walk with God. It's in those moments that we get to choose. Choose to trust and make the best choices we can about the unexpected expense, the relationship hic-up, the cold, the down-time.
In those moments when you have the whole world of options before you to choose from - including all God's ideals laid out in scripture, all your life-time's worth of habits, and all the notions (and sometimes nonsense) sprinkled in by media - we do what we do.
And then it's done.
It can't be undone.
All we can do is get ready for the next moment.
Going into those moments fueled on God's love - you're flush in all the things that give you courage - namely - love, grace, hope, encouragement ... and more besides - so you're in as good a shape as possible to make that leap forward.
I don't know about you - but sometimes I do okay. Sometimes ... not so much. Sometimes - all too rarely, I'm tempted to think at times, I look back at what I did and think "Wow!" and that's a good thing.
Whether I'm horrified or elated or just "meh" - again - God's love is the best way to process the process. Anything else - and you'll end up miserable - either in your soul or to be around.
So - what does that mean for our "For the Love" Lenten series?
Well - I'd recommend that you go back to your two or three favorite verses. Maybe write them out where you can see them regularly. Maybe think about what it is about the particular ones you chose that you like so much.
Graham Cooke says that the scriptures that speak to you - speak to you because they speak to why God made you - and made you just the way He made you. They're your inheritance with Him.
Quite a thought.
You might even want to meditate on those two or three verses. Maybe you want to even memorize your favorite -and then meditate on it some more. You might find that memorizing it makes meditating on it feel a little different. That's okay. That's normal for meditating. That's why memorization and meditation go together - like a right and left foot. Let that verse you memorized float into your head whenever it can. Use it as a "personalized ring-tone" so you'll know when God's "calling" you - not for rebuke, guilt, fear, or any of that ... but to remind you that long before Time was - God designed you - for your inheritance.
None of us - no matter how much we have and understand of God's love - will hit home-runs on every single one of those moments. But - fueled in this way - even the misses become something God can give us courage to learn from.
Try it out.
I'm going to do it too. My verse is Psalm 27:4 ... my all-time favorite.
Let me know what you think.
I'll be back in a few days with the next, next step.
ps ... if you want to make your own instagramy quote picture thingy - you can use Canva. It's free, there's a free phone app, and it's easy. There are lots of tools to use to make such a thing - but canva is a snap.
Happy Monday ya'll!!
Today's verse is a continuation from yesterday's - but the idea that John presents here is so astounding that I think it deserves consideration on its own.
This whole chapter is about God's love teaching us and motivating us to love others.
But this statement on John's part - is so shocking. So often when we're loved and liked - we can fall into a habit of putting on an act. In fact - society rewards us richly for putting on one act after another - so much so that it's rare for us to ever take off our mask - or maybe I should say - all of our masks - because some of wear many at a time.
John tells us that Jesus' love for us is so perfect - so unconditional - so steadfast that His love actually inspires us to take off our masks, and allow Him to just love us as we are - no masks. No fear. It's an act of extreme spiritual courage and maturity to willingly let Jesus' love prompt us to let our masks fall - to allow Him to love us - the real us - the one we protect 24/7 with all sorts of clever mechanisms. In the space of that tremendously freeing and empowering love - we let Jesus love all those bits of us that we defend tooth and nail. The same bits that are behind the thoughts and habits that make walking with Jesus challenging.
Jesus doesn't just want to do this once or twice.
This is the sort of relationship He longs to have with us - from now on into all eternity.
It's embracing that love - not once, or twice, but over and over, that allows us to start to really be able to love others in a way that is modeled after Jesus' love for us. Fearlessly.
That's the love Jesus "invented" so to speak - with His work on the cross.
That's the fuel that powers His kingdom.
Is this passage the Apostle John's plan for discipleship?
We can grow so much stronger in our faith together than we can on our own. The things that make community challenging - are the very same challenges that can be so helpful when it comes to discovering thoughts that hinder us from being blessed by community. When we humbly lean into those challenges - God can work in our hearts to transform us - nourish our souls, heal us.
It's so useful to be invested in growing our prayer times, Bible study times, meditation and worship times etc.
But there is something about those revealing moments - that demonstrate where my ego is still calling the shots, or my insecurities are getting in the way of loving others.
We could talk discipleship-theory all day - but John has cut to the chase here. He's stream-lined it. Simplified it and boiled down to its barest bones growing as a Christ-follower.
Love Jesus openly. Love others continuously. Then you'll be one with God and He will abide with you.
That was the whole goal wasn't it.
That's the Kingdom of God on earth.
That's what we get to offer with our gratitude for the work Christ's done in us.
Depending on which church tradition you grew up in - you might think of today as Maundy Thursday. Regardless of which tradition you grew up in - it was on this night so long ago that Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples. This would be the supper depicted by DaVinci in that incredible masterpiece which shows the Apostle John seated right next to Jesus - the same Apostle who self-identified as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 19:26, 21;7). This is the same Apostle John writing to us about love in this first of his three epistles.
And - this verse - maybe sums up John's experience as a Jesus' beloved disciple - turned Apostle - who outlived all his fellow disciples long enough to be exiled in his old age to the island of Patmos. John lived through an unbelievably wild slice of world history. Of all the things he could use pen and paper to record for us - this is what He has to say. John is an old man at this point - probably born around 10 years after Jesus was - in 6 a.d. Here is is around 95 a.d. - looking back over the better share of nine decades.
Perhaps - to John - this is his classic sermon, the way he told the gospel. When Jesus first called His disciples, He referred to John and his brother James as "sons of thunder" and while we don't know precisely what that means - one interpretation I grew up hearing was that John and his brother had a temper. Imagine - a young, hot-headed man, being so impressed with Jesus that after a long life of ministry and service - what he wants to tell us - is that Jesus loved us first.
Thank GOODNESS He did, too! We didn't have it in us to love Him - but that didn't stop Him from loving us - from introducing us to God's love, God's grace - and teaching us to love one another.