Does God take vacation?
Have you ever had a crazy-busy season of life after which you just wanted to take a vacation and get some rest? That’s kinda what it can be like around a church office the week after Easter.
We just finished the biggest event of the year, with four gatherings and almost 1500 people. We wrapped up a week-long Spring Break camp that turned our normally quiet building into a hotbed of activities, games, fun, learning, and very loud groups of kids. And we pulled out all the stops for a powerful, multi-sensory Good Friday experience. It’s enough to make our staff want to take some much-deserved vacation.
Which got me thinking. Does God take vacation? Jesus made this statement during his ministry on earth.
My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working. John 5:17
Apparently God is NOT taking vacation just yet.
Ever wonder what God does when he works? Is he fixing things? (sorta) Is he building things (sorta) Is he solving problems? (sorta) The short answer is, he’s working on you. And me. Yep, we’re his project. And he wakes up in the morning thinking about you, thinking about how to get you closer to his original design.
That journey, from who we are, to who God longs for us to be, that’s the journey of transformation. And that’s the journey we’re committed to walking with you. Our mission at Seneca Creek is “To develop fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.” IOW, to help you experience God’s transformational work in your life.
One of the ways we try to help is through our Rooted Experience and Converge Groups. (I know, shameless plug here.) So as you think about where your life is, and where you long for it to be, just remember that God longs to work in you and on you. And since one of the best ways to participate in that work is in community, why not consider signing up for Rooted, or (if you’ve already gone thru Rooted) for one of our Converge Groups for this Spring. It just might be one of the best choices you make in 2018.
God is always at work. He’s not on vacation. Are you giving him room to work in your life?
P.S. Speaking of work, I worked on a list of resources to share last Sunday, then forgot to mention it. So if you have questions about the Resurrection, or if you know someone who does and you’re trying to help them, check out this list of resources.
Resolutions: love ‘em or hate ‘em!
If you hate resolutions and New Year’s promises, then read no further. Otherwise, here are a couple thoughts as we start off 2018.
You may be the kind of person who sincerely wants to make some changes in your overall well-being this year, including your spiritual life. The biggest challenges we often run into are:
- Trying to change everything all at once. (E.g. trying to read the entire Bible in a month, praying for one hour a day, etc.) We get overwhelmed, get discouraged, and give up. Which then leads to…
- Believing that it’s futile to try to change at all.
Here are some practical ways to take manageable steps toward a better year:
- Participate in our MLK Day of Service next Monday (assuming you have the day off work).
- Take your daughter to the Father-Daughter dance and create that memory you know you want to have.
- Improve your leadership skills at the two day “Lead Like Jesus” conference in February.
- Experience Rooted, just like hundreds of others at Seneca Creek. Find out what the buzz it about, and connect with God, with the church, and with your purpose.
- Try out a 10 week Converge group during the dead of winter.
Each of these are doable, time-limited, and sure to improve your spiritual health as you plunge into 2018.
If you try something not on this list, I’d love to hear what it is and how it’s working. Use the comment section below.
I’m praying for you to have a God-filled 2018!
P.S. Here’s a crazy list of New Year’s resolutions from philosophers throughout history, if you want to be stretched in other areas.
P.P.S. If you want to try a Bible reading program, there are hundreds of options at YouVersion.com. (Or check out the Bible app on your smartphone.)
Rethinking your Christmas gift list
I’ll admit it: My family creates gift lists for Christmas. They’re a guideline, not a mandate. And they serve a useful purpose. But there’s a problem, maybe two problems with them.
The first problem is that they reduce the surprise factor. I mean, if the gifts you unwrap are the ones you requested, it’s not super-surprising. Enjoyable, but not shocking.
But the second (real) problem is that the gifts on the list aren’t the ones we really want. Yes, we might desire those items, but the gifts that would truly satisfy and surprise us are seldom on the list. Gifts like:
- Deep and enduring joy
- Freedom from destructive habits
- Profound sense of purpose
- Life-giving relationships
- Healing from the wounds that cut to the soul
- The ability to accept ourselves for who God made us to be
You actually can put these on a Christmas list. But then give the list to the right person. Give it to God. Why not spend a little time “wishing” for these things (a.k.a. prayer) from your Heavenly Father? He is, after all, the giver of all good gifts.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)
You could use a prayer like this: “Heavenly Father, here are some things I could really, really use right now in my life…”
And as we discovered last Sunday in listening to Mary’s song (Magnificat),
He has filled the hungry with good things. (Luke 1:53)
I know it’s a busy season. But all the more reason to seek the gifts that we truly long for. We need those “good things” now more than ever.
P.S. Keep leaning into the Advent Devotional. It’s a powerful, simple, daily way to make this a December that’s better than ever.
P.P.S. If you want a jump-start in 2018 for acquiring the kinds of gifts on the list above, let me encourage you to register for our next Rooted Experience which starts on January 16th. Details are here.
When is the best time to stop learning?
School’s back in session in our region. Busses are rolling, teachers are prepped and ready, all so the students can continue learning. But when does it stop?
Back to school season is a great time for all of us to pause and ponder this question: When should we stop learning? Does learning end when you receive your diploma? Does it end when you settle down to raise a family? When you reach middle age? When you retire?
The question might sound silly but what’s even sillier is that we can miss out on opportunities to actually help us grow. Your employer might send you for the latest certification, or your job might require you to accumulate continuing education credits. But beyond that, what can you to do keep learning?
May I suggest Rooted? It’s an opportunity to learn the way most of us learn best, not by LISTENING but by DOING. It’s not for nothing that it’s called the “Rooted Experience.” You’ll learn how to connect better with God, with your church family, and with your God-given purpose.
If you’ve already taken Rooted, may I ask you to encourage a friend to follow in your footsteps? Share with them the impact it had on your life.
If you’ve NOT already taken Rooted, may I encourage you to register for the Fall session? (Click HERE to register.) It starts next Tuesday, September 12th at 7 pm. I promise you it will kick-start your learning. And you’ll never be the same because of it. (Check out what others have said after taking Rooted here.)
I hope to see many of you there. And regardless of your Rooted engagement this Fall, this is not the time to stop learning. In the words of another preacher, “If you ain’t dead, you ain’t done.”
P.S. If you missed last weekend we talked about the role of the Holy Spirit in helping us learn. Check out the podcast HERE.
Two opportunities to know about right now
Whenever a disaster strikes, we’re prompted to ask, “How can we help.” May I suggest the following?
First, we are part of an association of 1200 churches that is mobilizing not only financial resources, but actual “on the ground” teams to help with the arduous task of restoring and rebuilding homes and lives. We participated together during the aftermath of Katrina, and this is another opportunity to work together to make a difference.
If you’d like to make a financial donation to assist with the needs, you can click here. As the details and opportunities become clearer in the coming days, we’ll keep you informed about opportunities for teams of volunteers to assist in other ways, such as collecting needed goods, and/or sending teams to the affected areas.
The second opportunity is not about people in Texas, but people right here in Maryland. I’m referring to our Rooted Experience which starts again on September 12th. You may have already heard about it. If not, it’s a 10-week experience designed to help you connect with God, connect with the church, and connect with your purpose. And boy oh boy, it will do that and more! Listen to the comments of some of the hundreds of people at Seneca Creek who’ve already taken this step:
I struggled all my life with depression and being afraid. Fear would take me into a vicious cycle of depression that would be hard to escape. I have been on so many medications trying to find the right one that would agree with me. Being stuck in that dark hole was overwhelming and seemingly never ending. But I hid it well so others wouldn’t know and hold it against me.
Rooted changed me and it changed my outlook on God… Rooted helped me learn some very important truths about the God who loves me and what His purpose is for me…
I didn’t want to attend Rooted. I thought it was only for people who were new Christians or new to the church or needed a little extra help in their walk with the Lord. I was afraid it would be a waste of my time. Pride, I guess… Rooted was more than learning the basics about Christianity, faith, and God. It helped me connect with other women in the church, break strongholds and shame from my past, and gave me the confidence and clarity to pursue my calling. I started the group not having any connections in the church. I felt like if I didn’t show up one week, no one would even notice. Even though I had been attending the church for over three years, I just wasn’t connected. Rooted changed that. Today, I am still very close to the women in that group. We pray, share and eat together. They are my sisters, and I know that they would drop everything and pray for me (and I for them).
God used these women to help me break strongholds and a pattern of shame from my past… I really felt God’s Spirit set me free from negative patterns I had struggled with for years. Without…Rooted, I’m not sure how much longer I would have been stuck in pain, shame, and darkness. I am so much freer, happier, and confident now… I can genuinely say my life was changed.
Rooted left me feeling empowered the most. I know that seems like an odd word to use, but the reason is because before Rooted I was still a very, very new Christian. I didn’t know too much but I did know that I was a believer. I have learned so much in Rooted about myself, other people in my group, and most importantly I learned more about God.
Before Rooted…I was a believer but still had trouble sharing that with some people because although not proud, I used to refer to people that were believers as, ” Holy Rollers, and Bible Pushers” because I was ignorant. And because of the person I was, I was scared to tell people I believed in Jesus and the Christian life.
Rooted made me be proud to tell people about my faith and took the fear of being made fun of for it away! For that reason… I used the word EMPOWERED.
I thought it would be a great way to move deeper into my relationship with Jesus Christ and at the same time for me to get to know others in the church beyond the weekly “meet and greet” handshake… Rooted was just what I needed at the time. A safe place to share concerns, worries and blessings with others who also were working through their journeys as well… I loved going every week-and I was sad when it ended. I still feel fellowship and friendship with the individuals in my group and have moved into small group ministries with several of them.
Rooted is a place where true friendship and bonding are fostered more effortlessly. Some of my most profound relationships began in Rooted. It kept me connected, energized and emboldened. I look forward to more experiences like Rooted.
You have an opportunity to start writing your own Rooted story. Click here now to register for this life-changing experience! You will not regret it.