“Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.” Matthew 26:3-4 NIV
Some of Jesus’ biggest antagonists in the Bible were the Pharisees. The Pharisees (or teachers of the law) were the people who knew scripture the BEST. They had devoted their lives to studying Biblical law. They were expecting a messiah (Savior King) like all of the other Israelites. But when Jesus came, they rejected Him. Why?
The Pharisees expected a conqueror. When Jesus came in peace–as a suffering Servant-King, they couldn’t comprehend how this man could possibly be their Messiah. Jesus didn’t live up to their expectations. So, these chief priests and teachers of the law wanted Jesus dead. Instead of changing their hopes, they wanted to change Jesus. Spoiler alert: They end up killing Jesus, the true Messiah, because The Man that came didn’t match the man they expected.
Like the Pharisees, often we have very specific expectations. When things don’t turn out how we hoped or expected, our whole world turns upside down. We believe we are right about a matter, and when evidence presents itself otherwise–we reject it as impossible or even crazy. Instead of humbling ourselves and following Jesus, we end up going down a self-centered path because we cannot admit we might have been wrong.
As children of God, we need to be fiercely humbled by the Holy Spirit. We must recognize when we are wrong, say sorry, and investigate other answers. We are called to give over our plans to the Lord in humility, instead of getting wrecked every time something doesn’t turn out how we thought. None of us actually know what lies around the corner, shall we stop pretending that we do?
What have you received recently that didn’t match your expectations? What did you learn from that experience? How do we try to fit Jesus into our lives, instead of trying to fit our life into Jesus?
“I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! For I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Trouble is literally defined as “difficulty or problems.” Trouble looks different for each and every person. For you, it may look like an untimely injury in the middle of an important athletic season. Trouble could look like a family member battling cancer, or mental illness. For others, trouble could be a relationship or financial crisis. Right now, trouble in our world looks like a whole lot of uncertainty, chaos, illness, and fear. It’s easy to take on the world’s problems and let them become all-consuming. Chaos is flooding our world, but it doesn’t have to consume our souls.
Breathe. That’s right, inhale, exhale. You are not the one who is in control.
Jesus tells us in the book of John that we will have trouble. It’s not an if statement. In this world, we will have trouble, but He has overcome the world. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with control. I don’t want anything left to chance so I will do all I can to avoid uncertainty. It is times like these when I have to throw in the towel and surrender my entire life over again to the Lord. I cannot control the world around me, but my Savior can. I cannot control what will happen tomorrow, but my God has been ready for this moment since the creation of the world. Today I find peace in my God, who is constant in the midst of chaos. I can rest in the Lord who is in control, even when the world around me is filled to the brim with uncertainty. I trust you, Jesus, with my trouble, please use it to shape me into a better reflection of you. Today I find peace in my God, who is constant in the midst of chaos.
What is the first thing you turn to in times of uncertainty? What are you holding on to that you need to release to the care of the Creator? What is one thing you can do today to encourage someone who is facing trouble or hardship?
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” Hebrews 13:7-8 (NIV).
Let’s not forget who Jesus is.
We tend to get in the thick of life and get so busy that we forget to slow down and look back. We neglect reflecting on life–seeing where we came from and where we are going. I think spiritual life is similar. We get caught up in trying to make it to church or bible study before going to work or hitting the mountain. Let’s take a step back and remember who Jesus is in our life.
There is this saying that I remembering hearing for the first time in high school, Jesus is RAD. I loved it so much that I got it printed on my arm. As we take a step back, let’s see who and where the foundation of our faith has come from. Jesus is R- Righteous, A- Available, D- Direct.
Righteous, 2 Corinthians 5 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus was made perfect. He was made righteous to cover our unrighteousness. His shed blood is the only thing that enables our fellowship with Him. Jesus sacrificed himself so that we could be his homies.
Available, Mathew 11 says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus has made himself readily available to us. He wants us to rest in Him and wants us so badly to have a relationship with Him.
Direct, John 14 says, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He is pretty straight forward with how he talks to us. He is filled with intention and purpose and slaps us with the truth, even in a single sentence.
These powerful attributes of Jesus were set in the Holy Word for a reason. Let Him change how we live our lives constantly and how we passionately share His love with those around us. We can use this to tell people about Him on the chairlift or at work. We should be as direct and intentional with homies at the skatepark, coworkers, and housemates as He is with us.
– How does this change your view of Jesus? – Who can you tell about Jesus’ radness this week? – Learn from Jesus’ characteristics that we tend to look past and forget about. Let them enter your life so deeply that we can love those around just as He would.
These past few weeks have been absolutely bonkers for me and probably for you reading this as well. The reasoning for all this craziness in my life is not just because of COVID-19, but also because of what God has been teaching me and what He has been doing in my heart. What I’m learning and what’s happening in this world with COVID-19 goes hand in hand and I felt called to write about it.
A few weeks ago, I went on a surf trip on the Oregon Coast. On the way there I decided to stop in Portland to see my friend. Mike’s always been a mentor to me, by encouraging and challenging me to grow in my faith. As per usual, we started reflecting on our lives and what God has been teaching us.
I just finished my college career and haven’t really figured out what’s next. Mike is in the same boat. He starts talking about “perfect peace” and what the bible says about it. I defined it as a condition of freedom from disturbance within the soul; perfect harmony reigning within. Isaiah 26:3 nails it on the head. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” It’s the whole idea of being a son/daughter of God and having complete trust and confidence in His word and will for our lives.
This is a heavy thing to do that is yet so practical. Since I am still learning what this means, I’ve just been asking God each day “what is your will for me today?” By doing this I have noticed two major things that are changing in my heart: an absence of fear and the presence of the spirit. Philippians 2:13 says “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” My fear is gone. I am no longer having anxiety and being worried about my future. Whatever happens, whatever I do, whatever I go through, it is going to be good. Listening to the Spirit is new for me as well. Once I started understanding “perfect peace”, I’ve noticed that I have more room for the Spirit to move in me. I have been able to receive words from the Lord for myself and others
As I enter into this new chapter of my life, I decided to just give it all to God and take it day by day–listening to His spirit and asking Him to show me His will for my life. With this step of faith, I have found both hope and love. I will never fully understand what God’s “perfect peace” is but I am committing myself to unpack its outgrowth in my life and I encourage you to do the same. It all starts with a little ask and God will answer in a big way.
While I’ve been contemplating the concept of “perfect peace”, COVID-19 slams into us like a crashing wave. While there is a lot to be said, it is important to note that nothing is too big or too gnarly for God. This pandemic has brought on a lot of fear and uncertainty to our world. I’m reminded of one of my favorite stories in the Bible where Jesus calms the storm.
This story is such a good example of what is going on today. Instead of putting all our energy into being scared of this virus, as Christians, we are called to put our energy into trusting Him. Romans 8:18-28 says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us… and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” I believe that he is working through this virus and wants to change people’s hearts. A lot of people’s hearts are empty and hopeless. This opens up so much opportunity for His glory to be revealed His peace to conquer all. He wants to infect people with His freely given love. I’m praying heavily for it.
So, what can we do? Pray! Pray for the hearts of the hopeless to be impacted by Jesus. Pray for leaders that they make good decisions. Pray for churches to keep impacting their communities. Pray for health. Our God is a healing God. Pray for people that have lost their jobs during this time. Pray for God’s provision in financial situations. We are also missing out on our normal spring activities, so be praying for our mental health as well.
A lot of us weren’t expecting to end our season so soon. How can we still be involved in reaching people? Here are some ideas that you guys can be doing. If you are sick, PLEASE stay home and rest! Dive into the word. Call your friends and family. Check-in on them and pray with them. If you’re healthy, go ski touring with one or two friends an maintain social distancing (6ft space and washing hands). Spend time in God’s creation while getting a good workout. Dust off the bike and start pedaling with a couple of friends, that’s what I’ve been doing. Support your local businesses. Be kind to the people working to be open even though their businesses are being unconventionally limited. It’s a bummer that the end of the season didn’t go as planned but there are still plenty of opportunities to love on people. Jesus works in quick interactions too. Ministry never stops. We can all be seeking out alternative ways to build the kingdom.
I painted this lighthouse about to be taken over by a wave. Lighthouses are built to withstand gnarly swells and storms. No matter how crazy the storms are, it’s always going to be guiding ships home. Yet, even the wind and the seas obey Him.
God’s working through this. God’s got this! We got this!
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”John 14:27 NIV
It’s spring! Spring is an interesting time of year for us as skiers/snowboarders. The days get sunnier and warmer, resorts throw end-of-the-season parties, seasonal employees we have befriended begin to leave and we get to watch others attempt the always entertaining slosh pit! Although we are sad about resorts beginning to close (especially those of us in the Midwest/Lower East who only got a two-and-a-half-month season☹) we get to look forward to the beauty of spring.
This year, spring brings new challenges as both the COVID-19 and fear spread across the country. Although it is still too early to know what the results of this virus will be, many of us have already been affected. Currently, in Ohio, schools are closed, no events over 100 people are allowed to occur, and essential groceries and household items can be difficult to get a hold of…if you’re even willing to brave the stores!
Jesus needs to be our source of peace. We are feeling so much uncertainty. There are large scale shutdowns of everything from schools to sporting events. A very real sense of fear is being felt by many. Peace sometimes seems like it’s hanging out on the moon, completely out of our reach. Thankfully, Jesus left HIS peace with us (can you imagine how much peace the guy who controls EVERYTHING feels??). When Jesus gives us anything, it’s perfect.
I pray we find God’s perfect peace during these times of uncertainty. Let me remind you of the second half of John 14:27 “…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” I pray against fear and that we would trust God to take away our troubles. No matter how the Coronavirus impacts your lives, know Jesus is in complete control and left us with perfect peace to combat the peace the world gives us.
– Are you troubled or afraid of anything right now? – If Jesus were doing everyday life with you right now, and told you he was completely peaceful about everything happening, would you believe Him and find peace yourself? – If you know Jesus brings peace, who else can you share this peace with?
In light of the spread of COVID-19 and statements from many of the institutions around, it seems like the right time for the SFC Support Office to comment on the issue. While the community that we serve and interact with tends to fit into the healthier and less vulnerable categories of the health spectrum, it is important to consider the implications of SFC activities to the community as a whole. Some of the attendees of SFC activities could be interacting with those in their community with compromised immune systems, or the elderly. These have been found to be of the most vulnerable to the disease. Our goal is always to love and serve those around us well, both in the shred community and beyond.
Our team is working to follow the best advice from sound minds in crafting suggestions for the SFC Community moving forward. Here is a guide for Christian leaders we found particularly helpful from thought leader and journalist, Andy Crouch. Love in the Time of Coronavirus – Andy Crouch
As our winter ministry season wraps up, and in the spirit of loving the vulnerable people around us well, we have these suggestions for SFC activities for the remainder of the season:
– Consider limiting remaining activities to smaller-scale meetings of 50 people or less. – When possible, show up early to clean your location, shared surfaces, doorknobs, etc. – Wash your hands before and after activities, and strongly suggest participants do the same. – Limit any food service to individually wrapped items when possible, and have your team serve them while wearing gloves instead of offering self-service options. – Consider social distancing options when possible in the way rooms are arranged. Give people more space to sit and even consider limiting or stopping handshakes or high fives. – On-hill shred activities remain a great way to connect. Gloves, goggles, etc. should assist in limiting the potential spread of the virus. – Limit non-essential travel for the coming weeks. – Show love, grace, and compassion to those that choose to not attend an activity because of precautionary measures.
We are not encouraging anyone to put a halt on their “relationship-building”, but we are encouraging that it happens in a different way than we might have planned. We understand that these precautions may feel over-the-top to some, but we feel that making small sacrifices like these for a short time in order to love our neighbors well is worth the inconvenience. What we choose to do (or not do) in order to protect our community at this moment will greatly impact our witness, testimony, and reach both now and into the future.
We are also presented with a great opportunity.
It is thought that one of the greatest advancements in the early Church came during the plagues when Christians chose not to flee city centers to protect themselves, as many in the day did. Instead, they made the sacrificial decision to stay and care for the sick and vulnerable. This meant a greater risk of harm, but it also modeled Christ-like sacrifice. We have such great hope in Jesus that we don’t have to be afraid. We have the opportunity at this moment in time to serve and protect our communities (especially the vulnerable) and share the great hope that we have, even in an age of uncertainty and fear.
Please, go boldly and wisely into the remainder of this season.
If you have questions or concerns feel free to reach out to Randy at [email protected] or 612-850-1816.
In this chapter, Pharisees (or teachers of the law) challenge Jesus regarding his disciples and their non-adherence to long-standing church tradition. In this instance, the disciples fail to wash their hands before eating (come on fishermen, learn some hand-hygiene!). While as a nurse I must agree with these church leaders in advocating handwashing–Jesus’ response is just as critical.
The teachers of the law challenge Jesus for not following tradition, Jesus rebuts with a question: “Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3). Jesus then gives an instance where the Pharisees bend rules of scripture for the sake of their traditions and quotes Isaiah saying, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules” (Isaiah 29:13).
When you suck at bowling as I do, bumpers become very necessary. They are walls that bump us back on course when we slip or start heading in the wrong direction. Yet, if you rely too heavily on them, you end up off course. Your ball ricochets back and forth between unforgiving metal walls, spinning out of control and forgetting what its destination was in the first place. If your bumpers are broken and crooked, even if you use them correctly–you end up on the other side of the bowling alley instead of knocking down your pins.
Traditions are so valuable. Like bumpers–they are guidelines that help us create healthy habits and build a community that supports each other and builds each other up. Yet, if we rely too heavily on the traditions that set up our religious institutions, we can forget the truth of scripture and the actual words of God. We get off course by seeking affirmation for following human rules. We must be careful not to follow blindly into something simply because it has been done before–but seek wisdom and understanding in the truth of scripture.
What traditions or habits have you found helpful as you seek Jesus in your personal faith? What traditions have you seen that “bump you the wrong way?” and what does the Bible say about it? When have you changed your tradition (or way of thinking) after it bumped up against Scripture?
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. ” Matthew 6:1-4 (CSB)
These verses hit me hard, just like the tree I ran into earlier. Not only are people selfish, but that they already have their reward. Their reward is only found on earth and let me tell you, it does not feel like a reward, but a slap in the face. Matthew 6:1-18 describes how to be humble, kind-hearted, living a Godly life for God and not for others.
“So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward.” (Mt. 6:2 CSB).
This is a prime example of our culture today. We do something to get applause from others on earth, not our Heavenly Father. We strive every day to get a certain amount of likes or followers or we get specific gear to be seen as “cool” or “good at snowboarding or skiing.” But our Father says to be a light on the hill, to be disciples and take in younger people to pour into/mentor, and to point his sons and daughters back to Him. So, “don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him.” (Mt. 6:8)
How many times have we wanted to be socially accepted and applauded for what we did? Too many to count. Making disciples or leaders starts with us. Let God refine you like gold until he sees his own image in you. Ask God to show you who has their reward on earth and who look towards their peers for identity. If we practice receiving our recognition from the Father, we can then minister to the lost sons and daughters who want to be socially accepted. We can model what it looks like to be proud of who we are because God created us with a great and holy purpose–not because of human affirmation. Making disciples or leaders starts with us. Realign yourself with Our Father to pour into your neighbors.
I challenge you to ask the Lord to show you where you seek reward. Don’t be afraid to let him make you uncomfy because that’s where the real growing and discipleship making starts.
Are you doing anything in your life for others to see? So that maybe you get applauded or praised for what you did or said? Do you feel as if you already have your “reward”? If so, what is your reward? Do you believe that you are made for a great and holy purpose?
“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 NLT
We all get things backward sometimes; this passage comes from the context of Jesus speaking to Martha, who was so focused on making a large dinner for everyone that she felt frustrated with her sister Mary, who simply sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to his speaking.
Reflecting back on my roles in skateboard and snowboard ministry events or camps in the past, I’m a definite Martha-type: desiring to serve and make an amazing event for everyone, yet often realizing in hindsight that I might have missed the mark after all.
There are times when I feel so frustrated and tired–because I’ve been serving in order to make Jesus happy or to get affirmation from God. The truth is, the place where I (and you) need to be is at the feet of Jesus, listening to his words and dwelling in friendship with him, just like Mary was doing. That’s where true rest, joy, and peace can be found.
What a rad reminder that God doesn’t want anything from us, and that all he wants is to be with us: to be our friend, father, and king. That’s the God we serve and get to share with people even on a crazy chairlift somewhere.
Serving isn’t bad, we just have things backward. My prayer for all you fellow SCFer’s out there is that we’d walk in deep relationship with God as Abba, our dear father–that our service in our communities would be a natural overflow of this.
-Have you ever felt fatigued, frustrated or bummed after an outreach event or time of service? If so, what do you think made you think this way? -We all have different “sacred spaces” in our lives where we best connect with God (hiking etc.). When’s the last time you just spent time with Jesus in one of these spaces? -Have you ever felt God’s rest and peace even in a time that was inherently stressful or taxing? It might be worthwhile to pray and ask God to reveal times when he’s really shown up for you.
“Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.” Ecclesiastes 5: 18 (ESV)
King Solomon was possibly one of the biggest and baddest dudes to ever walk this Earth. He had crazy wisdom, mad power, and everything under the sun. He “did it all” and spent much of his life building an incredible kingdom. However, he knew none of that would last. Everything he built was pointless, and it saddened him in his last days. He gives us some awesome perspectives we should keep as we walk through the days God has given us on this earth. I know sometimes as a snowboarder, I feel guilty for pursuing pleasure instead of helping some orphan on the other side of the globe. I am not saying don’t take care of the orphan because that is a command from God. I am addressing our work and our pleasures. God has placed us in this world for a short time where we will work hard and play hard. But, know we can’t take any of it with us where we are going.
Each day will have its challenges, and we are to enjoy the passions, the work, the family, the task, the ministry, and the people God has put in our lives.
-What is the point of this life if it all goes away? -Are you praising God for where you are in life, whether you are in a van down by the river or working some top floor job in the city? -Are you using your passions to glorify God or are they pulling you away from God?