Archive for the ‘Devotionals’ Category

Friday, February 8th Devotion

Posted: February 8, 2013 by Disciples Young Adult Commission in Devotionals, Uncategorized, Young Adult Stories

Amy Austin
Global Ministries Short-Term Volunteer

~

“The time has come, the time is now, to stop and feel the pull of the Lord. O Shepherd speak to me”

I am a huge believer in Paulo Coelho’s quote from the Alchemist saying, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” However, what’s scary for me is the element of passivity required in this process, the opening and surrender to God’s ever creating presence. The control over every aspect of my life needs to leave my hands and be turned over to God. Because, as much as I feel I understand the desires of my heart, I must surrender to the Creator of those desires, the one who paints a picture larger than this moment can comprehend. It’s like throwing my life up into the air and waiting to see where it will land, with an ever present fear that it might all come crashing down on my head before it falls into place. But, it is exactly this throwing of life up into the air that creates space for sacred serendipity, for God’s overwhelming wisdom and creativity to take root.

As I find myself in a space of just having graduated from undergrad, it is all too tempting to put my nose to the grindstone and let my “accomplishment complex” take over to plan out what is next for my life. Yet, I feel God’s spirit stirring in me in ways that cause me to pause and take a little step of faith that maybe I don’t know everything about success, that maybe, just maybe, the universe is already conspiring.

One of the ways God seems to be at work in my life is by leading me to serve as a Global Ministries short-term volunteer next month in the Middle East. Fulfilling a childhood dream, I will spend a month teaching English in Nablus, Palestine through an organization called Project Hope. Yet, as I am scurrying around to get ready for my trip, cross items off my to-do list, and come up with creative lesson plans and gather materials, I am forced to remind myself that no amount of my own struggle and strife to be “ready” or “worthy” can compare to the quiet whisper that draws me to and through this experience. Even when I sense God’s direction in my life, it is easy for my “monkey-brain” to take over and to forget to rest in the knowing that I am called to be in this space, and that sometimes being in this present moment is enough. I have no way of predicting what will come next, or how this experience will shape me. All I know is that I am in the midst of a God of great wisdom and creativity who is continually at work within me and within the world to bring about goodness and wholeness. May it be so.

“The time has come, the time is now, to stop and feel the pull of the Lord. O Shepherd speak to me”

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Thursday, February 7th Devotional

Posted: February 7, 2013 by Disciples Young Adult Commission in Devotionals, Uncategorized, Young Adult Stories

Alison Lasher 
Student at Eureka College

~

There is nothing as valuable as a community of faith that contains your closest friends. I never intended to become such close friends with the other Disciple students, it just happened organically. It could be that we had similar ideologies, we both were far from home, or that we had a similar sense of humor. Maybe God just has a way of bringing friends together.

The second day of orientation week was very hectic. As I stood alone in the lunch line, I noticed the kid in front of me was wearing a shirt that said CYF on the back. I tapped him on the shoulder and mentioned the shirt. He smiled and let out one of his infectious laughs, starting in on the story of how he got the shirt at church camp. He invited me to sit with him and his friends at lunch, and I knew Alex Cooper and I would be good friends.

On the third day of orientation, there was a picnic lunch for new students. I got my meal and looked around for a friendly face to sit with when I spotted Alex and his roommate Isaac sitting in a group of students chatting effortlessly. I invited myself to sit with them, determined to be friends with them. After a pleasant lunch, Isaac invited me to go back to their room to hang out more.

Both Disciples, Alex and Isaac have been blessings in my life.

Wednesday, February 6th Devotional

Posted: February 6, 2013 by Disciples Young Adult Commission in Devotionals, Young Adult Stories

Ben Saunders
Disciples Peace Fellowship Intern 

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It was that summer of traveling to various summer camps talking about peace and justice issues that changed the entire course of my life. Though each summer intern for Disciples Peace Fellowship has a very different set of camps, people, and experiences overall, it can, somehow, still be classified as “the” DPF experience or “that” summer and be relatable to every peace intern that has embarked on that venture.

Similarly, something I appreciate about the Disciples, as a whole, is the diversity of identity. If each person connected with the Disciples of Christ were asked what it means to be DOC, there would be an equal number of responses as people. Yet, we are still one unified tradition. It’s why each General Assembly is a giant family reunion and it’s why we get giddy like little children when we meet another Disciple in a completely unexpected location. There’s something about the collective experience that binds us together.

Likewise, occupying space and existence on this planet, we share the lived experience and, especially as people, we share an understanding of what it means to find our identity as a human being. There may be differences that we have been taught to see, but every one of us has emotions and feelings. Everyone has the ability to give and receive love.

Just as the Disciples are unified by great diversity, let us come to understand the whole planet of people and creatures as one family. Let us truly be sisters and brothers. We share a collective experience and, subsequently, share responsibility for each other and should be held accountable for our actions. I believe that we can [and do] change the world every single day – it just depends whether we choose to do so in a positive or a negative way. How will you change the world today?

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How do your daily actions affect those around you?

 

What is it that drives you to be better and live more responsibly?

 

How do the ways in which you live your life exemplify your theology and understanding of God?

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Tuesday, February 5th Devotional

Posted: February 5, 2013 by Disciples Young Adult Commission in Devotionals, Young Adult Stories

Erin Taylor
Seminary Student at Brite Divinity School 

~

I think many of us would be interested in owning, or at least having access to a time machine. I have several places I would like to go including the Cane Ridge Revival and the day TCU won the Rose Bowl. One of my professors recently taught me that time traveling is indeed a possibility. During my ‘Foundations of Preaching’ class, our professor described the importance of thoroughly understanding the text before crafting a sermon. While I’ve always known that we should be competent in our preaching, the idea of being adventurous had never crossed my mind.

As preachers, as church-goers, as Bible readers and adventure seekers, we are able to open up so much more than just a narrative text. We are able to open up a whole different world and immerse ourselves into the rich word of God. For a moment, we transcend ourselves and become one with God’s word- God’s living, breathing, loving word. As we venture into the word of God we leave behind a world of broken promises, restless despair, and stumbling wonderers. Instead, we enter into a world of radical hospitality, unshakable hope, and a love that is much deeper than our human reasoning could ever grasp.

We go back to a time where God is made known through a burning bush, a buffet of fish and loaves, and a covenant made through bread and wine. We glimpse into a future when we shall no longer carry the weight of our burdens because Jesus has chosen to carry our baggage.

As we dig deeper into the Word of God, may we do so as adventure seekers, as time travelers, and as students of a prophetic teacher. May we immerse ourselves fully into the reality of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and everlasting hope.

pic4Dear God, show me anew how your word is adventurous. Stir me from the complacent spaces of my life into your radical and compelling love. Thank you for calling me again and again every day to journey this life with you. Amen

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Monday, February 4th Devotional

Posted: February 4, 2013 by Disciples Young Adult Commission in Devotionals, Young Adult Stories

Rev. Suzanne Kerr

Lee’s Summit Christian Church, Missouri

~

I was blessed to help lead a College Mission Trip to Chicago during Winter Break this January. This was an incredible group of Young Adults who served boldly, listened prayerfully to the needs and circumstances of the people we served alongside, and built a loving and silly community during these long days we shared together. It was great timing for the trip, since most college students have several weeks of break—many in our group shared that they were so thankful to be doing something meaningful during this break from school.

Three churches partnered together for this mission experience— Lee’s Summit Christian Church of Lee’s Summit, MO and First Christian Church & Broadway Christian Church both of Columbia, MO. We served in elementary schools each morning, reading with children and helping teachers with administrative tasks so that they could focus on their students. In the evenings we served in soup kitchens, preparing food and serving the guests who came to eat.

Each morning before we split into two groups to go out to our mission sites, we had a few moments of scripture and prayer to get our day started. One morning, one of the students led our devotional time. Jordan is on the journey of answering her call to ministry and is in discernment about which seminary to attend. The Scripture she chose to share with us was from Jude, a book that I honestly have not spent much time reading or studying.

Jude 1:17-24 from The Message

17-19 But remember, dear friends, that the apostles of our Master, Jesus Christ, told us this would happen: “In the last days there will be people who don’t take these things seriously anymore. They’ll treat them like a joke, and make a religion of their own whims and lusts.” These are the ones who split churches, thinking only of themselves. There’s nothing to them, no sign of the Spirit!

20-21 But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!

22-23 Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.

Do you ever feel like you are getting off-course on your faith journey, or that you are distant from God? Some of my college and young adult friends share that they often struggle with their faith. Many are in new cities, away from their family & their faith community and have a difficult time trying to connect to a new community of faith. It can be distressing to think about those weak spots in our faith. We face so many transitions and so much change in our young adult years, we might be wondering,

“Where is the solid ground?” Jude reminds us to stay in the center of God’s love. This is where faith, prayer, hope, & mercy reside. Go easy on yourself, show yourself grace, when you are wavering in your faith. Know that God loves you, and focus on centering yourself in that love.

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Dear God, call me back to you.

Give me patience and tenderness for

those who struggle with faith,

including myself. Center my life in

your love, hope, & mercy.

Amen

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Clear the Chaos

Posted: March 1, 2012 by abrownlaj in Church, Devotionals, Young Adult Stories

We are 9 days into the Lenten season. Typically Lent is a time of reflection, repentance, and renewal. However many of us might still find ourselves caught up in the chaos of the everyday. How can we seek to find the Divine in the midst of pandemonium and three ring circus behavior we see around us?  How can we spend time reflecting? How can we focus on what we have done and ask forgiveness?  How can we find a quiet moment to renew our spirits? I don’t have a clear cut straight forward answer to any of these questions. I struggle to answer them for myself almost daily. Little steps, deep breaths, and extreme amounts of coffee seem to work for me, some times.

In the introduction to the devotion book The Balancing Act: A Daily Rediscovering of Grace, Robert Schnase says “Living in fast-forward, we neglect the interior life and the spiritual journey and misperceive the signs of God’s presence.” This statement caused me to think about the times I should have slowed down, taken a deep breath, and noticed that God was working far more efficiently than I was. How do we answer the questions above? The tough answer-WE have to make the effort. WE have to make the time. WE (you and I) not God, not our family- WE have to do it. The easy answer- WE have to make the effort. WE have to make the time. WE (you and I) not God, not our family- WE have to do it.

One of the devotions in this book talks about walking a labyrinth as a spiritual discipline. Perhaps this Lenten season you are still looking for a way to reflect, repent, and renew your self. Try following the path of this Finger Labyrinth(there are instructions at the bottom once you click the link).

May you seek to find God in the ordinary. Little steps, deep breaths…the chaos will clear(eventually).

A Prayer to End the Week

Posted: February 11, 2012 by Disciples Young Adult Commission in Bible Study, Church, Devotionals, Prayer

Kathy Rothfus

My God,

Thank you for this opportunity to have come closer to you.  I am blessed to know that others have come to you through these devotions and your Scripture.  I am growing to know that I am not alone.  Thank you for each other.  Thank you for our Church.  Thank you for your Word.  Thank you for sending Christ Jesus.

I pray that each morning I wake not overwhelmed by tasks but reminded of your unconditional love.  I pray that each noon I hunger not for this world but for your Word.  I pray that each evening I settle not in contentment but I strive for more.  I pray that each evening I sleep not restlessly but in your comforting arms.

May I never stop leaning on you.  May I never stop thanking You.   Amen.

Let’s go and be reconciled

Posted: February 10, 2012 by Disciples Young Adult Commission in Bible Study, Church, Devotionals, Prayer

Jeremy Dewitt, YAC Member

The Offering Prerequisite                                       Matthew 5:23-24 NIV

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

I’ve grown up in the church. Church life (and all that goes with it) seems as natural to me as breathing. I love every aspect: the worship, the praise, the service, the preaching, the teaching, the special events, the ministry, and even the meetings to further the ministry. The only problem with all of this is that I have always done each of these things with people who look like me, who talk like me, who worship like me, who have the same musical tastes as me and expect the same call and response from the preacher as me. At times, I hear talks of our church reaching out to the community around us, but the fruits of the outreach oftentimes attract people who fit into the same cultural mold. This is despite the fact that our congregation sits in the middle of one of the most culturally diverse areas of the city of Memphis. However, the church continues to grow and add new members every week. That makes it okay, right?

Differences in culture and geographical origins in conjunction with historical strife have created chasms and scars that are deeply ingrained into our society. On the surface, we have been able to overcome the existence of the scars in many aspects of everyday life. However, Sunday morning worship continues to be the most segregated segment of many of our lives.  Taking this into consideration, we have to ask ourselves how valid our message of an inclusive God is when it is preached from segregated pews. We also must ask ourselves how valuable our offering of praise is when we haven’t reconciled with our brothers and sisters of different cultures.

Today, let’s take the first step. Let’s pray for the courage to reach out to those who may not look like us or speak like us. Let’s ask God for His divine power to heal the scars of history. Let’s go and be reconciled.

My New Babel Table Glasses

Posted: February 9, 2012 by Disciples Young Adult Commission in Bible Study, Church, Devotionals, Prayer

Aaron Jamison, YAC Member

I remember very clearly getting my first pair of glasses in the 3rd grade.  I remember how different the world looked when I put them on.  I could suddenly read signs, identify people, and witness God’s beautiful creations from a distance.  Even the night lights and stars in the sky looked different with my new glasses.  It was like I was given new eyes from which to view my world.  What a wondererous gift.

My latest pair of glasses can’t be bought at any eyeglass store though.  They can only be acquired through immersing yourself into discussions of racism, multiculturalism, and poverty.  This past summer I had such an experience through an event called Babel Table.

Bable Table brought together a diverse group of young adult Disciples to discuss and experience these topics firsthand.  The idea was to help young adults witness and understand how the world looks from different cultural perspectives so that we can help the church become more multicultural and inclusive.  The scriptural basis for Babel Table comes from the Tower of Babel story in Genesis.

Genes 11:5-9 (NSRV)

5 The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

One way to understand this passage is that multiculturalism is a gift from God meant to be shared and celebrated.

My Babel Table experience was one in which I will never forget.  The diverse cultural and racial experiences that each individual brought to the table expanded my understanding and thinking of multiculturalism.  There was open and safe conversation among us in sharing how our cultural experiences shaped our perception of the world around us.  The four day experience also included racism and poverty training as well as missional projects to further broaden our understandings.

The theme for this Young Adult Week is “Go and be Reconciled.”  The theme for the Young Adult Conference which is going to be held in Memphis from October 19th – 21st will also be a theme of Reconciliation.  The Babel Table’s goals of multiculturalism and inclusiveness in the church fits these themes of Reconciliation.  So I’m so very excited that the Young Adult Commission will be working in partnership with the Council on Christian Unity, Reconciliation Ministries, and other Disciple Ministries to take the Babel Table events to the regions beginning this fall.  This partnership will be exhibited at the Young Adult Conference in October which will include pieces of the Babel Table experience for young adults to get a taste of this experience.

As for me, I can confidently say that my new Babel Table glasses have changed my life.  I look at the world around me differently now than what I once did.  I can more easily recognize the systemic poverty and racism that continues to plague our society.  I can see how white privilege has shaped the communities that surround us.  Most importantly, though, I can see hope for a future of multiculturalism, inclusiveness, and reconciliation.  This movement needs to start in our churches and with the young adults of today that will be the future leaders of tomorrow.  My hope and my prayer is that as many of us as possible will get our own Babel Table glasses and that together we can make change happen in our own churches and communities.

I want to be reconciled

Posted: February 8, 2012 by Disciples Young Adult Commission in Bible Study, Church, Devotionals, Prayer

Alex McCauslin, YAC Member

 I want to be reconciled.

I hear the call.

But it’s so hard.

It’s hard because I have to open myself up to the reality that I have been broken. And more, that I continue to be broken.

Every conversation I enter about privilege breaks open for me another way in which I am complicit in systems of oppression.

Near: The University I attend operates on the backs of community members whose children will never be able to attend. They cook the food. They cut the grass. They clean the toilets. But they don’t make enough to pay this tuition.

(My parents are lawyers. I graduated from college debt-free.)

And far: The shirt on my back was made in a sweatshop. A rain forest was slashed and burned so I could eat a banana on my breakfast this morning.

(I learned these things at a recent dinner party, replying with a scandalized, “Oh gosh!” and then returning to my spinach and blue cheese salad.)

I know these things, but what can I do?

This much is certain: I can’t change anything by myself.

Reconciliation is about wholeness, and I am only a part. Jesus didn’t say discipleship would be easy, but he also didn’t say to do it alone. We need to meet, first in brokenness, me, you, our brothers, our neighbors, our enemies, and Jesus, and let’s do it around the Lord’s Table.