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August 2016 STREAMS OF THOUGHT
I recently started a devotional book by Ann Spangler titled Praying the Names of Jesus. The first name the author explores is Immanuel or "God with us;" found in Isaiah
7:14 & 8:8 and Matthew 1:22-23 this name reminds us God is always with
The Gospel of
Matthew, the only place in the New Testament where this name is found, starts and ends with the promise that God is with
us (1:22-23/28:20). God has always been with His people; the Old Testament records the rainbow after the
Flood, pillars of cloud and fire that led Israel through the desert after
her Exodus from Egypt, and the Ark of the Covenant as signs of God's presence with His people. Leaders like Moses,
Joshua, David, and the prophets were reminders of God's reality among His people.
Then came Jesus, God's most direct, in-your-face way of being present. The life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ
represents a shattering paradigm shift in the history of the world.
God Himself showed up in Jesus, living the same messy, earthy existence we live. The Son of God, the "Word who was
with God and was God...became flesh and lived for a while among us" (John
1:1-14). But it didn't end there; Jesus promised His disciples and His Church that even after He left this
earth He would still be with us through His Holy Spirit (John 16-17). That is the reality and
truth we live today; Jesus is still Immanuel, God with us, every minute, hour, day, week, month, year, decade.
What are some ways you feel
Jesus is with you?
July 2016 Streams of Thought:
We look forward to being in ministry with you. God is with us and will
guide us into the future as a community of Christian believers. I’d like to
talk about a hobby of mine that seems far removed from ministry but has
taught me much about life and ministry. I build scale models of military
vehicles, ships, and planes. I’ve learned some things in the 40 years I’ve
been doing this.
Lesson 1: it seems obvious but there is no such thing as absolute perfection. The ancient Greeks believed being perfect meant something fulfilled its intended purpose. And when Jesus said “be perfect
like Your heavenly Father” (Matt. 5:48) the idea is being complete in faith, living and
doing what God intends for us. One of my modeling buddies says, “Aim
for a ‘four-footer;’ if it looks good from 4 feet away you’ve done well.”
His finished models looked good from four inches away but I get it. My
hobby has blunted my perfectionism; I still struggle with “getting it right”
but I “sweat the small stuff” less.
Lesson 2: practice might not make perfect but it gives us confidence as
we gain proficiency; a model kit that seemed daunting 10 or 12 years ago I now feel confident tackling because my skills have improved. As we live
our faith on a daily basis we learn how to better resist temptation, curb a
bad attitude, stop gossiping, love those who rub us the wrong way, be
more confident in sharing our faith, or trust God more in uncertain times.
Lesson 3: when I’ve done all I can on a project I let it be. A song by the
late Keith Green talked about how God asks His people to do what wants
and then to let Him “take care of the rest.” Sometimes we fall in the
trap of thinking if we miss a detail or forget to say the “right thing” our
efforts will fail. I think God honors what we do when we do everything
we can in our human limitations then let go and let Him “take care of the
There are lessons we all have learned from a job, hobby, or other
experience that have helped our faith and life. Let’s thank God for those
lessons and continue applying them to our faith and ministry. God will honor that and continue to teach and lead us in His ways.