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Devotionals

Pouring from an Empty Cup

5th Sunday after Epiphany Mark 1:29-39

“Jesus replied ‘Let us go somewhere else- to the nearby villages- so I can preach there also. That is why I have come'” – Mark 1:38

This week has been tough, for those of you who have been following along you know I lost someone close to me recently. Well, life doesn’t stop for grief, and this past week my Grandmother was admitted to the hospital with heart and lung problems. So the trite cliche is ever so true here… when it rains it pours.

However, Jesus was no stranger to the outpouring of problems. People sought him out to heal their illnesses, drive out demons, and to learn anything they could from his teaching. In this passage he heals the mother-in-law of Simon, as well as many more people who showed up at the door for his healing touch.

Its no surprise that in the morning the disciples couldn’t find him, because he had gone to pray alone. The phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup” has become widely used in the conversation surrounding self-care. In fact, self-care has become a hot topic in our society as of late. I’m not talking about getting massages, or taking long hot baths (although that sounds great), I’m talking about actually making sure you are taking care of yourself.

Are you eating foods that fuel your body? Are you making sure your muscles get used instead of atrophy? Has your mind been engaged with a good book or intellectual conversation? Do you have time to check in with your soul, or talk to someone about your spiritual life? Unfortunately for many of us the answer is no.

For those of us who are caretakers, of small children or those of us in sandwich generations who care for small children and adults in our lives, we often don’t take time for self-care. We tell ourselves the needs of others come before our own, and in some cases that’s true. I’m not going to read my book while my baby cries in his crib, but I can turn off the tv later in the day and read it while he plays. I’m not going to skip hospital visits to make sure I eat right, but I can make better choices before I leave the house instead of stoping for fast food.

Jesus took time alone, to fill up his own cup before he poured out blessings on other people. Find your time. Carve it out wherever you can get it, and fill up with whatever you need, so you can pour out to others in your life.

Authority

4th Sunday after Epiphany Mark 1:21-28

This week’s lectionary gospel begins with Jesus teaching in the synagogue. Scribes often taught in the synagogue, but scribes had to receive their authority from following the law. Jesus teaches with authority not given to him by the law. His authority is a divine authority and the people around him are beginning to realize it.

They wonder how he has this authority, and why he does what he does. And then someone comes along to prove Jesus’ authority. A man with an unclean spirit approaches Jesus and the demon engages the divine. The demon even knows that Jesus is the Son of God, and says so in front of everyone.

“I know who you are, you are the Holy one from God”

We forget sometimes, that there was a time Jesus walked this earth, and people didn’t know who he was. We know the end of the story, but contemporaries of Jesus did not.

Jesus didn’t have any earthly authority. He wasn’t a political figure, or a military force that was going to save his people. But he did have divine authority. He had authority to teach the will of God to his people, and to cast out demons. He has the authority to calm the storms, to perform miracles, and to heal the sick. His was an authority of service.

Do our leaders serve? Do those around us, politicians, teachers, pastors, law enforcement, judges, even parents… do any of us with authority over others remember that despite Jesus’ divine authority, he lived a life of service to others?

We don’t have the same authority as Jesus, as we are human as we are full of flaws and prone to sin. But we are capable of recognizing that Jesus’ authority to forgive sins extends to us. That our sins are forgiven and we are free to live a life of service to others because we have a savior who showed us the way.

Fishing For People

3rd Sunday After Epiphany Mark 1:14-20

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people” -Mark 1:17

This week has been rough. My very dear friend passed away on Saturday after her battle with cancer. I met Lauren when I moved to Covington TN in 2013 for my placement at a church where I would serve as the youth minister while in seminary. Lauren was in the next town south of me and was so excited to have another female youth minister and seminarian that she showed up the very first day to help me move my furniture. From that point on we were together.

We got mistaken for sisters a lot, which was fun for us two only children. We shared a love of Mexican food, Chacos, coffee and youth ministry. The closest Starbucks was 25 minutes away from my house, and Lauren was conveniently on the way, so once, or twice, or many times a week I would pick her up and we would ride down to properly caffeinate ourselves before beginning our day. Even though both of us would “pre-game” (her term) with our own coffee at home.

We took joint mission trips with our youth groups, had combined youth group once a month, and generally shared a love of ministry together that was unparalleled. She would joke that we should go work for a church together where I could be in charge of games and lessons and she could do what she loved, be the master organizer of all things.

So what does this have to do with fishing for people? There was no better fisher in the world. Lauren reached into your soul and pulled you into her world, which was full of a deep love for Jesus. When she got her hook in you she didn’t let go, and you never wanted her to. My boys called her “aunt Lauren” as did many other kids in her sphere of influence.

She cast a wide net in her youth ministry, and her kids loved her fiercely. She caught sports stars, singers, instrumentalists, and kids who might have never felt at home anywhere, but they had a home with Lauren.

What I learned from Lauren would fill volumes, but for now, I’ll just say, go fishing. Catch people and tell them about the love of Jesus, maybe you go to church together, or maybe you just go out for tacos. Either way, be like Lauren, reel ’em in and never let go.

IMG_20150822_105639.jpg
Aunt Lauren and AJ at Build a Bear for his 11th birthday.

Come and See

2nd Sunday After Epiphany

John 1:43-51

 

“Follow me.”

These are the all too familiar words Jesus speaks to Philip, a man of the same town as Andrew and Peter. I love when these two words come up in scripture, because they are always followed by… well… following. The author simply moves on with the story with the new disciples following their teacher.

Wait. What?

They just follow. There’s no inner turmoil over leaving family, or obligations, or various fishing equipment, just following. In the case of Philip here in the Gospel of John, he runs to get Nathanael as well. He tells Nathanael they have found the one of whom Moses wrote, Joseph’s boy from Nazareth.

Continue reading “Come and See”

All Shook Up

Lectionary for the Baptism of the Lord- Psalm 29

Psalm 29:8

“The Voice of the Lord shakes the desert, the lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.”

Sometimes I wish I could hear God’s voice. A real audible voice that would just tell me what to do. Then I remember that I’m pretty stubborn and I’d probably just argue with the voice and sometimes, perhaps, put my fingers in my ear and just turn away, like the petulant child I’ve been known to be.

Then I read Psalm 29 and I think about the voice of the Lord. The psalmist tells us its “powerful, majestic, breaks the cedars of Lebanon, strikes with flashes of lightening, shakes the desert, and twists the oaks, and strips the forests bare.”

Continue reading “All Shook Up”

Listening for God’s Plan: A devotional

God's Plan Devotional

I’m a planner. I like to plan out my day, my vacations (thanks mom), my possible job opportunities including the rental costs associated with each job in each city. Planning comforts me, it makes me feel like everything is going to be ok.

But sometimes we don’t get to plan it all out do we? Or if we do, it doesn’t always go the way we planned. My husband recently lost his job at the church where he served as the youth minister. I still have one more year of seminary, so moving wasn’t an option for our whole family, but ministry jobs were scarce in our area.

Continue reading “Listening for God’s Plan: A devotional”

Must Be Nice

This is the last of my four devotionals written for the Young People’s Ministry. If you’d like to read more great devotionals, please visit their website and read from the other great contributors. 

Global Young People Devotions

Must Be Nice…

If you do a Google search for bible verses about money, you’ll find an abundance of them.

“For the love of money is the root of all evil” – 1 Timothy 6:10

“Whoever loves money never has enough, whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” – Ecclesiastes 5:10

“For where your treasure is there your heart will be also” – Matthew 6:21

Continue reading “Must Be Nice”

Just Say No: A Young Adult Devotional

This devotional is the third of four I wrote for the Young People’s Ministries of the United Methodist Church. If you care to read all of them together, you can find them under the Devotional page here or follow the link below to the Young People’s Ministries webpage and you can read not only mine but other young writers.

Global Young People

When I was in elementary school we were expected to participate in the D.A.R.E. program. If you are unfamiliar with the program, D.A.R.E. stands for Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education, and was implemented as a program to get us to Just Say No to drugs. To our suburban selves this seemed pretty obvious. This idea of just saying no was really easy because it wasn’t ever a temptation. Nobody we knew did drugs, no one offered us drugs, so it was pretty easy to just say no.

Continue reading “Just Say No: A Young Adult Devotional”

Caring for Those who Journey With Us

Here is another link to my 2nd devotional written for Young People’s Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Hope you enjoy it.

Caring for Those who Journey With Us

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