Grace and Restoration

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Peter's Denial

This statue stands in the courtyard of the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu (or “cock’s crow”), which was built on the site of the Caiaphas’ House in Jerusalem where Jesus was held the night before his crucifixion and the site of Peter’s denial.

The inscription from Luke 22:57 “Non novi ileum” means “I do not know the man.”

It is a beautiful and moving depiction of Peter’s denial.  Take time to notice the various elements of the story that the sculptor artfully incorporates into the sculpture.

All is well,

Lisa

Rewire

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Even though there is one more discussion section for groups to discuss together on their own, Sunday night was the last teaching session for the Rewire series.

Thank you to everyone who worked behind the scenes to make Rewire possible.  From the booklet, to the stage design, to the music, to the many people who prayed…Rewire  was the result of hundreds of hours of work for the benefit of the Calvary community.

It was also encouraging to see so many people willing to dialogue together on the topic of technology.  It is wonderful to be part of a congregation that wants to engage on this challenging, but necessary, subject.

After we finalize the DVDs, the material will be available to small groups and we will post the availability on the blog.

As we bring Rewire to a close, remember:

Jesus was a carpenter, which means he built things.  Jesus sailed on boats.  Jesus wore clothing.   Jesus encouraged his disciples to use nets when fishing.  Jesus paid taxes with money.  Jesus mentioned barns, towers, swords, millstones, and ploughs in his teaching.  All of which shows that Jesus used technology.

He used technology for good, but did not give way to coveting and idolatry.  He used technology without speaking evil of others.  He used technology but resisted making his plans without God.  He used technology but refrained from being selfish, impatient or individualistic.  Much of what Jesus did was remarkably non-technological, but Jesus demonstrates that it is possible to live faithfully in a technological world.

May the use of technology be another aspect of life in which we follow his example.

Jim & Lisa

Girls Night Thank You

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Thank you for everyone that came to the Girls Night.  It was really encouraging to see so many friends.

Even though I was not able to answer all the questions that were submitted, I felt God allowed us to talk about the things that he had for us that night.

Several of you have asked for more information — especially related to two of the questions.

Question One

In response to a question about how Jim and I maintain our marriage, I said one topic I believe is vital to the discussion of cultivating good marriages is the importance of a healthy intimate relationship.  The church often does a great job of speaking about the boundaries of sexual intimacy before marriage but sometimes fails to provide support and encouragement to couples after marriage.

Sex is not the most important aspect of a marriage relationship but it is a central part of what it means to be married.  While God designed the gift of sex to be the “super glue” of relationships (see Jim’s sermon, “Sex in Marriage” from the 2009 series Like Christ:  Think. Love. Live.), it is a gift that takes work, sacrifice and time.  It is a gift that changes over the course of a marriage, and because sex reflects the core of who we are as women it often involves working through issues of how we view ourselves.

IssueOne good resource is Intimate Issues: 21 Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus.

These women candidly discuss the emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects of sex from a strong biblical basis.

Even though this book is helpful, don’t face this issue alone.   Pray for a friend or mentor that you can openly, but appropriately, discuss these issues so that Satan doesn’t end up manipulating God’s good gift for great harm.

 

Question Two

Sensible-Shoes-IVP-coverIf you are only able to read one book this year (although I would like to add the caveat to please, please read more than one book this year!!), my recommendation was Sensible Shoes:  A Story about the Spiritual Journey by Sharon Garlough Brown.

The book is a fictional account of four women, Hannah, Meg, Mara and Charissa, who do not know each other before God brings them to the shore of Lake Michigan to take them on a spiritual journey over the course of several Saturdays.

When we talk about spiritual disciplines, it can sometimes be confusing and overwhelming to know where to start.  Brown does a beautiful job of weaving together the successes, failures and heartbreaks of these four characters in a way that also provides a look at how the spiritual disciplines can allow God to transform us.

Brown also provides tools to help the reader learn along with the characters practices such as lectio divina, prayer of examen, wilderness prayer, praying with imagination and rule of life.   If these sound overwhelming or non-traditional, the book is a gentle guide to help you.

Sensible Shoes would also be worth reading and working through with a group of friends.

You can find out more about the book at sensibleshoesclub.com.

Thanks again for a fun evening together.

All is well,

Lisa

Anticipating Easter

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…that sanguine expectation of happiness which is happiness itself…

— Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Although the majority of Christians would agree that Easter is the most significant date on the Christian calendar, if we are honest it usually doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves.

Maybe because the date changes every year it is difficult to get into the rhythm every year to plan and prepare.  As a result, it can often feel as if Easter simply sneaks up on us.

And, part of the enjoyment of an event is the anticipation.

A child longing for the presents under the tree…the pregnant woman wanting to hold her baby…a baseball fan eager for opening day…an engaged couple counting down the days until the wedding.

Creating space in our busy lives to anticipate Easter is one of the benefits of Lent.  Although a completely optional spiritual practice, Lent reminds Christians that Easter is coming.  And the beauty of participating in the practice of Lent with our church community is that we can remind each other that Easter is coming.

This year, the church leadership wondered if asking everyone to give up something similar would help make this sometimes solitary spiritual discipline a community experience.

With the current dialogue at Calvary about technology through the Sunday night Rewire series, giving up some source of technology seemed to be a natural connection to what the Lord was teaching us a congregation.

How does technology help us anticipate Easter?

The pervasive and constant presence of technology in our lives makes giving up something technological a frequent and recurring reminder that Easter is coming.  If you usually post or check Facebook four times a day, you will now have the blessing of 160 reminders that Easter is coming.

Omitting a technology from our lives can force us to slow down and experience life.  As a family we gave up the dishwasher.  We now have several minutes every evening where we are all working together to complete the task of cleaning up from our day to remind each other that Easter is coming.

Technology whispers in our ear that we are independent of God, and turning off some form of technology allows the anticipation of Easter to shout that we are utterly dependent on our creator.

Technology always disappoints.  While great good has come of technology, few (if any) technologies live up to their promises.  Removing technology from our lives reminds us that because of the resurrection, Easter always satisfies.

Looking forward to Easter with you,

Jim and Lisa

Lent 2014

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As we begin Lent, Calvary’s devotional book encourages us to start by reading our benediction for the Refuge series, I Peter 5:10-11, every day this week.

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As we take time to reflect on the promise of this benediction, we remember that we cannot read the words of Peter without reflecting on the life of Peter.

Peter, writing to encourage us to be strong, firm and steadfast, knows what it means to sink under doubt and suffering (Matthew 14:22-33; Luke 22:54-62).

Peter, writing to let us know that God will himself restore us, knows what it means to experience that forgiveness (John 21).

As we reflect on God’s great promises, we hope this song, Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), will be a beautiful reminder of these truths this Lenten season.


May God bless you as we prepare for Easter.

Jim and Lisa

 
The verse design is from ToSuchAsTheseDesigns.

Hospitality

Our topic in church this week was hospitality.  Peter’s main idea behind his encouragement to practice hospitality is the emphasis on welcoming strangers into your life – especially the disadvantaged or suffering –  not on the basis of what they can provide to you, but on the basis of how you can serve them (Matthew 25:35, 43).

Historically, hospitality within the Christian community was absolutely essential in fostering family ties among new believers and reshaping their identities as Christians.   Hospitality also serves as a visual representation of the gospel, drawing non-believers toward faith as they see it practiced.

Making RoomIf the sermon about hospitality stirs in you a desire to want to study more about this ancient biblical practice, I encourage you to read Making Room:  Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition by Christine D. Pohl.

In this rich and profound book, Pohl traces the history of Christian hospitality from the Old Testament through contemporary expressions of this discipline.  She also provides a strong biblical theology of the biblical command from I Peter 4:9 to “offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

In her book, Pohl reminds us that:

As a way of life, an act of love, an expression of faith, our hospitality reflects and anticipates God’s welcome.  Simultaneously costly and wonderfully rewarding, hospitality often involves small deaths and little resurrections.  By God’s grace we can grow more willing, more eager, to open the door to a needy neighbor, a weary sister or brother, a stranger in distress.  Perhaps as we open that door more regularly, we will grow increasingly sensitive to the quiet knock of angels.  In the midst of a life-giving practice, we too might catch glimpses of Jesus who asks for our welcome and welcomes us home.

Blessings,

Jim