Standing in His Shadow

This week is the penultimate stop in our series, Plugged In. Last week, we started a conversation about what it looks like for us to get staying plugged in to Jesus right. It wasn’t all that encouraging. In fact, it was a bit of a downer. If we live our lives plugged in to Jesus, the world is going to make us pay for it. But that’s not the end of the story. The beginning of the rest comes here. The world may be coming after us for following Jesus, but He has already overcome. What this means for us is what I want to talk about. Thanks for reading and sharing.

Standing in His Shadow

All degree programs have certain courses that everyone has to take. More than that, most colleges and universities have certain classes that they want all their students to take regardless of their degree program. For my undergrad, it was a JINS class—Junior Interdisciplinary Seminar. Being an officially liberal arts university, they wanted students to take a course that touched on two different academic disciplines so we were well-rounded. Apparently one course is enough to hit the mark. There were a variety of JINS courses as most professors had to teach one. I took one called The Ethical Implications of the Human Genome Project with Dr. Ryan who also happened to be my Calc 3 professor. I loved the course, but then, I’m a huge nerd, so of course I would. 

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Digging in Deeper: Judges 21:25

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What would you do if you had an animal inside waiting to come out? I don’t just mean that you have a bit of a wild streak you let hang out on occasion. I mean you have a literal animal spirit inside of you that can turn you into said animal at will…once you learn how to control it with the help of some friends. And what if this animal happened to be a 10-foot tall, fluffy, red panda? Well, I suppose in that case you would have Pixar make an animated movie telling your story. We are a couple of weeks past the small-screen opening of the latest Disney-Pixar movie, Turning Red, and it has so far managed to generate a whole lot more conversation and criticism than just about any of its predecessors. The reasons for this are many. Some of the criticism hasn’t been particularly thoughtful, but a fair bit of it has made some pretty sound points. Let’s talk this morning about the movie, the good, the bad, and whether it’s worth your time.

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Morning Musing: Psalms 56:3-4

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Do you ever remember feeling invincible? I remember being at one of my sister’s softball games when we were growing up. I wasn’t actually watching the game, but the softball complex she played at was in a wonderfully wooded area with several of the big limestone boulders that are so common to that part of the country, and which make fantastic natural playgrounds. On this particular day, I was jumping from the top of one boulder to the other – in flip-flops, no less – and landing my jumps perfectly every single time. I felt like I could do anything on that day. But while those kinds of experiences are fun, if we’re being honest, they tend to be the exception to the rule. And the rule is that on most days we not only don’t feel invincible, we feel downright defeated. We carry a ton of fear of what the day might bring and who might be bringing it. As normal as that kind of feeling is, though, it’s not how life was designed to be lived. Let’s talk this morning about how to get rid of fear and live with the kind of confidence a ten-year-old boy lost in a fantasy playground has in spades.

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Morning Musing: Matthew 26:39

“Going a little farther, he fell facedown and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

There are some parts of the Christian life that are pretty easy to sell. The love and forgiveness and eternal life practically offer themselves to newcomers. Having God on your side and with you all the time doesn’t hurt either. There are some parts, though, that are a little less customer-friendly sounding. One of those is put on display here in Jesus’ conversation with His Father shortly before going to the cross. Let’s talk this morning about what happens when our will and God’s will aren’t the same.

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Digging in Deeper: Luke 1:34-38

“Mary asked the angel, ‘How can this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?’ The angel replied to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. And consider your relative Elizabeth – even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ ‘See, I am the Lord’s servant,’ said Mary. ‘May it happen to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been asked to do something that seemed impossible? How about this: Have you ever been asked to do something that was going to cause serious disruption to your life? The first you can’t do. The second you perhaps can, but you don’t want to. It is not impossible for you to accomplish, but rather is impossible for you to consider. Mary was asked to do both. What the angel asked of her on God’s behalf was both impossible as far as she knew, and the furthest thing from what she would have wanted to do given the plans she no doubt had for her life. How she responded has something powerful to say when God calls us to do hard things in our own lives. Let’s continue our Advent journey this morning by looking at what Mary was called to do, and what she did about it.

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