Monthly Themes

The Discipleship Adventure

When we consider God’s invitation to go make disciples, we tend to think of a program to mature us in the faith. Or maybe we think of a process to educate others into the Christian faith. These thoughts are not wrong. We need organized programs that invite change and maturity. We need a clear processes of education to learn and grow. However, in this series we will also explore the adventure of discipleship. This life-long adventure that God invites us to experience together.

Adventure: An unusual and exciting, typically hazardous experience or activity. 

August 2 - So Much with So Little

The familiar story of the feeding of the 5,000 will jolt the heart if we pay attention. We’re often caught up in the extraordinary awe of the miracle, and this story is certainly that. Yet, it is also a revelation of what Jesus does with so little, and how, with the trusting faith of those who shared what they had, something great began to unfold. When it comes to such a reliant trust, we become afraid when there’s a call to share resources, because we’ve come to trust in these rather than in God’s everlasting care. This story shows the heart of God for all, how he intends to care for all and provide for all, and how he enlists us in the care of one another and others around us. There’s a sign of relief in our hearts the moment we see Jesus use what we offer up. We see his grace in motion for all of us, uniting us closer to himself and to one another. 

Readings: Isaiah 55:1-5; Matthew 14:13-21

August 9  -  It’s Jesus

Once again, as we progress through the gospel of Matthew, we may be familiar with the story of Jesus walking on the water.  Another extraordinary miracle that fills us with awe.  Yet as we pause to reflect on this miracle today, we find the disciples terrified, fearful, and doubting His identity.  We might find ourselves in troubled times, and longing to see and hear the One that is Lord of all creation.  We pray that we would have eyes that see Him, and ears that hear Him, even when the world around us seems to be filled with chaos. 

Readings: Job 38:4-18; Matthew 14:22-33

August 16  - Jesus' Surprising Compassion Toward an Outsider 

Today's reading feels jarring. Jesus shows an unexpected posture and response to a woman coming for help. There's something about Jesus's response that feels like a test, probably for his disciples. The disciples would have felt well-schooled in pre-judging people based on their place of origin, backgrounds, religion, or other orientations that were different than their own. Yet, Jesus shows great compassion, especially as the woman speaks a remarkable word of faith, that even dogs get the crumbs. 

Who do we catch ourselves pre-judging as beyond the compassion of God? Who do we feel we have to go against so that we can be about our sense of forward? How might Jesus challenge us to a greater perspective?

Readings: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Matthew 15:21-28

August 23  - Who Is Jesus to You?

Some of us have journeyed with Jesus a long time. For others, it's been a shorter time. But we all face the same question, and it's a question that's repeated as our journey goes along. Jesus will ask you and me, "Who do people around you say that I am?" and more directly, "Who do YOU say that I am?" Right in the middle of our journey, we face a centering question that turns us toward Jesus, wondering what he's about and what he wants with our life. Notice Peter's response, his declaration of Jesus' lordship over his life, over all things. (Next week, spoiler alert, we'll see that Peter's perspective about what that means still had a lot of growing to do, just like yours and mine.) 

The passage from Isaiah brings much depth to what the great, hoped-for messiah was coming to do. However, people would often get mixed up on just how the messiah was going to do this. We're still confused and learning. 

Readings: Isaiah 51:1-6; Matthew 16:13-20

Sunday, August 30  - When You Think You've Got it Figured Out...

We heard Peter's great confession last week. Now this week, we see how much unlearning Peter still has to do, just like us. What he thought Jesus was about was distorted, and he and Jesus get into a scuffle about it. Jesus speaks a harsh, sharp rebuke toward Peter, which must have stung bad. Then, Jesus speaks a guiding, corrective word to his disciples and to you and me, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me." While this might feel like a harsh word still, it's also a living, life-giving word, for Jesus wants to set us free, open our eyes and our hearts, and align us with what is true and living. Often, we get things mixed up and want God to bless what we want to see happen. But here, Jesus is showing a greater way and calling us along into that way. "Turn from your self-centered ways and come over here. I've got something eternal waiting for you." 

How can we listen to Jesus call here and release our self-centered ways, take up our cross and follow him? Are we able to see the good news in releasing the life we think we want in order to save the life Jesus wants to establish in us? How might God's Spirit work within us? 

Readings: Jeremiah 15:15-21; Matthew 16:21-28