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Lent Day 39 – The Passion of Christ

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Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Heather Novak – Director of Connections / Valpo FUMC

The awkward phrase “sex lust” mentioned in the opener as modern day hijacking of the definition of “passion” distracted me from much of this days devotion. It was such a graphic and awkward wording of what I wondered after all along: Why is Christ’s death called “The Passion”? The somber truth of it seems to be the opposite: passionless. Death. Sorrow. Absence.

I remain, as many people remain, deeply spiritually uncomfortable with the necessity of atonement. I feel conflicted that I need a savior. I feel faintly skeptical that a man hung on a cross more than two thousand years ago because I needed a moral reckoning to connect to God.

The first time I struggled with Christianity, with the weight of this truth I chose to believe in faith, God brought me to my bible. As I fumbled through the book of John, chapter 20, I was amazed that this man Thomas who walked with Jesus on a daily basis wouldn’t believe the other disciples when they said Jesus was alive. In John chapter 20:26 Thomas says, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” At this time of crisis in my faith I felt clearly God was showing me that he could handle my struggle and he was not surprised if I had doubts. My faith was renewed.

HN

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Lent Day 33 – Raised with Christ

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Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Heather Novak – Director of Connections / Valpo FUMC

I heard a joke about a lady with Christian bumper stickers all over her car and a cross swinging from the rearview mirror. She was driving the speed limit, but was demonstrating road rage at the slower drivers as she tried to hurry around them. When the police officer pulled her over, she was confused since she hadn’t been speeding. The officer explained he had thought the car was stolen, since she was screaming and making obscene gestures while driving the car of a Godly person.

I wonder if I look like a Christian as I go through my day? I cuss like a sailor, even though I am embarrassed to be so base. I loose my temper and holler. I do not live a life fully dedicated to Christ. What then does’ the cross of Christ imprint onto my life, if anything?

I guess I can honestly say my love for Jesus, in the midst of my imperfect devotion, shows the cross on my life. I talk with believers and non-believers alike about how God works in my life, how he blesses me and corrects me. I can, because of my imperfections (my super obvious and gross imperfections) offer others a Jesus who doesn’t need our perfection, just our interest, our openness. The cross is ugly, and messy, and full of real life meeting God’s perfect love. I think my life reflects that. I hope it does.

HN

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Lent Day 27 – The Need for Self-Judgment

Blocks Spelling Faith Falling Over As Symbol for Lack Of Trust
Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Heather Novak – Director of Connections / Valpo FUMC

“This is a mystery too high for us, and we honor God more by believing without understanding than by trying to understand.” This is how A.W. Tozer explains it today. This is SO HARD! We all want to KNOW the things. We want to be understood. We want to UNDERSTAND. I believe even the deepest Christ follower struggles with doubt at times. I believe that this insecurity, this questioning makes our choice to BELIVE that much more meaningful. At least that is what I hope to be true.

Further along in todays’ devotion Tozer says “…the kindly law of the Father’s heart that requires and expects of his children lives lived in conformity to the commandments of Christ.” Our Father REQUIRES and EXPECTS us to follow Christ. That sits heavy with me as I know I do not do a solid job on this. I struggle and wander around in order to please myself…wandering back to God here and there.

What would it look like if I lived all out just to please God?

HN

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Lent Day 21 – Mortify the Flesh

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nsights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Heather Novak – Director of Connections / Valpo FUMC

This topic makes me think of food, and how church folks are known by their potlucks, Sunday morning donuts, etc. We don’t talk of Gluttony because it makes people unhappy. I justify my hobby of buying new clothes before my current ones are unraveling because I’m not as bad as some “other people”. I brag that I only have five pairs of pants, but ask me about skirts and dresses.

Tozer says, “But you will never be a spiritual man until God reduces you to your proper size.” This is truth. I have been privileged to be whittled down by my sweet Lord many times. I eat crow and I apologize quickly and then I do it all over again. Tozer later states “Either we mortify the flesh or the flesh will harm us to a point where we have no power, no joy, no fruit, no usefulness, no victory.”

Even the secular folks know this statement to be true; just look at the rise of mindfulness and minimalism lately. In our souls we know less is more. We know slowing down and letting go of too much allows us to live a better life. Advertisers tell us we need all the things, but God wants us to have Him. God needs us to focus on him and serving others. Yes, we get joy and pleasures, but only enough to enjoy, not so much to be burdened down by piles and excess.

I am mortified, but now, once again, my flesh needs to be too.

HN

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Lent Day 15 – The Great Disparity

Beautiful woman looking on the lipstick. Focus on lipstick
Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Heather Novak – Director of Connections / Valpo FUMC

“It is the glaring disparity between theology and practice among Professing Christians.” This again? Didn’t this topic just slay me a few days ago? I believe God will bring a thought to us in many different forms until we pick it up and understand it is Him speaking to us. Obviously there is something for me here, what about you, Dear Reader?

We like the pretty music, the love God has for us, the truth that we matter and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We do not like the truth in this painfully apt quote from Mother Theresa; “It is a poverty to decide that child must die so that you may live as you wish.” If I am to get closer to Christ, I must face the fact that my choices indirectly damage other people, both through my actions and my inactions.

“Show me your checkbook, and I will see what you care about”- Gloria Steinem
My checkbook will say lipstick is important to me, and dining out. I care about World Vision a little bit, and my church…but I spend most of my disposable income on buying things I won’t use, need or care about in a few months.

Do I love God? Do I love God in a way that makes a difference? Do I ruin another’s view of who Jesus Christ is by the way I live my life(No matter what I usually tell myself?) Do I?

HN

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Lent Day 9 – True Faith Brings Commitment

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Insights on From the Grave: A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Heather Novak – Director of Connections/Valpo FUMC

Millions of professed believers talk as if He were real but act as if He were not. And always our actual position is to be discovered by the way we act not by the way we talk. (A.W. Tozer)

This strengthens me and convicts me too. As I look at others I wish would help and volunteer more, I wonder about their faith. When I look at myself, however, I need to confront the same things. I judge people, I am critical and I am selfish. Some days I do not want to grow closer to God because I understand the sacrifices I would need to make to honor him….and I do not want to change.

How can I both lean in to God, study his word, pray and ache to hear from him in tangible ways…but still buy more than I need, eat more than would sustain me, speak words that do not encourage or uplift? How can I be aware of the discord within my own faith journey…and do very little to fix it?

Can I trust God to be God?

HN

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Lent Day 3 – The Uses of Suffering

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Insights on From the Grave:A 40-Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer

by Heather Novak – Director of Communications/Valpo FUMC

One of the hardest things to comprehend is how a loving and perfect God could allow pain and suffering. During Modern Moms this was the first question asked when we talked about God, Scripture, and Christian Life.

In todays’ passage I feel Tozer is simply saying we can bend our own suffering to honor God. When I answered the question that day in moms group, I said I liked the scripture passage Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

The example I used in my own life of God using suffering for good was when we had a miscarriage. Having two healthy children softens the blow, but my experience of it helps me lead our moms group. It gives me a tender underbelly of common pain and loss that brings me closer to other women. I’d rather not have that loss, of course, but long after it happened I do see how God uses all things for his good.

HN