Midday Connection

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Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Listener blog: Hidden

We live in an age where technology is the order of the day. Anything you want, you can get at the drop of a hat. You almost don’t need to retain information in your brain because there is some device, gadget or app that will retain it for you. For example, my parents have a new residential phone number. I have no clue what it is. It’s stored in my mobile phone if I need to dial them, but without my phone I would be unable to reach them. Sadly, if my head was on the chopping block and I had to recite my parents’ home phone number or else, I would end up shorter by a head.

This made me realize that sometimes we do that with the Word of God. YouVersion has a great Bible app that is searchable, provides study tools and it even reads to you. There are a million and one (only a slight exaggeration) online sites that will allow you to find a verse with a few keystrokes. You can even google a phrase from a scripture and find out the passage reference in less than the time it would take to locate a physical Bible.

All of this is wonderful…but it makes me sad. We’re not hiding the word in our hearts anymore. Just like phone numbers, we feel like we don’t have to memorize scripture anymore because we can always find what we need in a flash. But the writer of Psalm 119 reminds us in verse 11 that hiding God’s word in our hearts will keep us from sinning against God. In that moment when we are tempted, the Spirit of God will call back the Word to remembrance. Imagine if you had to find your app first…

It might be inconvenient, but hiding the Word in our hearts through scripture memorization will strengthen our walk. Let’s endeavour to keep God’s word hidden in our hearts.


Josie James, a Jamaican-native, was raised in South Florida. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from the University of Florida. After graduation, she did translation work for the Precision Response Corporation for a year and half before working with needy families at Family Central, Inc.  She later earned her law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, VA. She now does civil litigation contract work for corporations such as Google, Oracle and Bank of America. Academic and professional achievements aside, Josie is most proud of the work that she does as the director of the Drama Ministry at Gateway Church, where she has attended since 1980. Above all else, Josie loves the Lord and seeks to please Him in all her endeavours.  Read more at Josie’s blog: http://inconvenenientwalk.blogspot.com

Midday blog: Nature

Connecting with God in nature is important to me. Gary Thomas’s book Sacred Pathways has an assessment tool helpful for determining ways you best connect with God. Two primary God connections for me are silence and solitude and nature. Sometimes they go hand in hand.

This past August I had the opportunity to head to northern Maine to the small town of Littleton. It is the place I call home. If you are around me for any length of time the subject of Maine pops up. Sometimes I wonder why this geographical spot is so important to me. What I do know is that it holds physical and spiritual significance in my life.

Forty two years ago my father with the help of my two brothers built a small log home on a lake there. Believe it or not my family is the only family to populate the lake. I guess solitude was built into me at a very young age. And then there is nature. Each year in late spring I find myself craving the pine, cedar, and white birch laden forests that surround the lake I call home.  If I head to Maine early enough I can still get in on eating fiddleheads, the fern you pick in early spring when it curls up tight. Any other time of year and it is poisonous to eat.

Foliage is not the only part of nature that speaks to me. The moose and bear, the loons, great blue herons and eagles all speak of our creator in ways to numerous to elaborate in this short post.

I read a blogpost recently from the Henri Nouwen Society that asks helpful questions about how we relate to creation. “How do we live in creation?  Do we relate to it as a place full of “things” we can use for whatever need we want to fulfill and whatever goal we wish to accomplish?   Or do we see creation first of all as a sacramental reality, a sacred space where God reveals to us the immense beauty of the Divine?” 

God’s handiwork is sacred and it can be a sanctuary for us to spend time in worship and adoration of our Almighty God. Whether through a small leaf or a beautiful sunset, spend some time discovering the beauty of God through his creation this week.

 
Anita LustreaAnita Lustrea is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and has worked for Moody Radio since 1984. She is a sought-after conference and retreat speaker and loves to connect with Midday Connection listeners face-to-face. Anita lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Mike, and her son, John. To learn more about Anita, her speaking schedule and her blog, please visit her website.

Listener blog: How to Leave Your Stress at the Throne

I sat stunned with my cell phone in hand after a conference call with my boss. He dropped a bomb on the team and announced companywide layoffs. For two days after the call, I operated on autopilot and lived paralyzed with fear. Money was the factor at the forefront of my mind.

How would I pay my bills? Would I be forced to give up my favorite things like my fancy smart phone? Stress swirled in my mind, throwing questions around I was incapable of handling well.

How do you deal with stress?

Some of my friends handle their stress by eating a quart of Ben & Jerry’s, others by going on shopping sprees. Or, as a girlfriend of mine reminded me, we can respond as Hebrews 4:16 suggests, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

The image of our powerful King Jesus on His throne captivates me and gives me a sense of calm confidence when I bring Him my stress. Even more encouraging is that we can approach our King 24/7 with anything and everything.

I’ve decided that instead of allowing stress to rule my life, I will:

~Worship at the throne of the King and praise Him even when I just don’t feel like it.

~Wait at the throne of the King and dig into the Bible for encouragement and answers to questions that surround my stress.

~Focus on Him alone and not allow the twists and turns of life to deter me from finding my peace in Christ.

This formula helps me order my life when stress threatens to throw me into turmoil. Though the Lord never promises an easy life, He does promise to never leave nor forsake us, even in the midst of life’s greatest drama.{Hebrews 13:5} I hope you’ll approach the King’s throne of grace with your stress—whether money, relationship, career, you fill in the blank–and find confidence that your He will bring you through it.

Sarah Francis Martin is the author of Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties In A Decade Of Drama (Thomas Nelson, June 2012), and blogs at www.liveitoutblog.com.

Midday Blog: Loose Thoughts: Books

I told Lori that I would write a blog post for today and I keep running into a wall, so after several false starts I decided I would just throw out some random thoughts, not necessarily in any order, about reading and books.

I love books.  I just finished re-reading Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card for a book club that I’m in, such…a…good…book.

While I own an e-reader and use it regularly I’m still not sure how I feel about e-reading.

Pros:

+  You can store a lot of books in a small space

+  Convenient

+  Can always have a new book with you

+  Lighter than some books that might be on it

+  Classics are free!

+  You can adjust the font size

+  You can easily search the book (very helpful during book club discussions)

Cons:

–  You forget what books you have

–  It’s harder to remember the contents of a book as less of your senses are engaged in reading

–  I just like the feel of a physical book

–  Depending on the type of screen, reading right before bed makes it harder for you to get to sleep

(I just realized that the first sentence of this post is probably technically a run-on sentence…oops.)

I have a shelf-full of biographies that I need to read…what’s your favorite biography?

Why read? To go on adventures, to learn new things, to make new friends, to gain a mentor, to be warned about things, to travel around the world, to be challenged, to learn that evil exists but that it can and will be defeated, to escape for a little while, because reading is a good thing to do.

This post pretty much shows the state of my mind right now, slightly scattered and trying to hold on to my sanity. The joys of doing grad school, working full time, and leading a small group all at the same time. I hope you enjoyed this peek into the brain of Josh.

 

Josh Klos is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute with a degree in Radio Communications, he has served as the engineer for Midday Connection since 2010. He is also a part of the volunteer College & 20’s group staff at his church and enjoys spending time outside, as well as at libraries, bookstores and various coffee shops. He’s busy these days with graduate school, where he studying communication and culture.

To learn more about Josh and read his blog, please visit his website.

Listener blog: Managing Guilt

“Managing guilt,” I said to my friend,  “is one of our jobs as women.”

She stared at me.

“I never thought about it that way.  But it’s so true!”

It was my turn to stare.  My friend has grandchildren older than my children.  She and her husband are retired.  If anyone in my life had no reason to feel guilt, it was her.

And yet, even she felt guilty.  Why?

I’m convinced our guilt is rooted in unrealistic expectations and comparisons.

Expectations come from many different places:

Our family of origin: “My mom always worked, so I expect I will work.”

  • What other people think or want: “My sister expects me to host our family gatherings.”
  • Media: “The family in this magazine has a beautifully decorated home.  I expect I’ll have the same.”   
  • Our perceptions of what’s acceptable: “Good Christian women always stay home with their children.”

When we fail to live up to expectations, we feel guilty.

Comparisons are closely related to expectations.  We can feel guilty when we compare ourselves to someone else, or to an ideal.

  • Mary homeschools seven children and is active in ministry.  I feel guilty I barely manage to attend Sunday morning services!
  • This parenting magazine has great ideas for crafts with children.  I feel guilty I hate to craft!
  • Researchers say I need to read every day with my children.  I feel guilty because I only read to them five days a week!

 Whenever we feel guilty, we need to ask “why?”  Is it because of an unrealistic expectation I have?  Or is it because I’m comparing myself to someone else?

As we “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5), we will begin to eliminate those imagined guilts, not just manage them.

Michelle Leichty has been desperately trying to manage guilt since her first child was born 14 years ago.  She teaches her children at home, runs a writing business, and is involved at her church.  Sometimes she even squeezes in time for herself – and tries not to feel guilty about it.

Midday blog: And Then What Will Happen?

“And then what will happen?”

I’ve understood the wisdom in asking myself that brief question when something seems scary or causes me anxiety.  It looks like this:

“Well then _______ might _______.” (e.g. fill in the blanks with a name and their perceived scary response)

Ok. And then what will happen?

I keep going with that. Naming what I perceive might happen and then simply asking, “And then what?”

When I get to the end of that chain and I can no longer imagine the worst, I always end up with… Jesus. It looks like this:

“And then what will happen? I guess Jesus will have to help me do it, comfort me, give me an answer, provide for me, etc. and I’ll get to be more intimate with Him and know Him better.”

And thenI have to ask, “So that’s the worst thing that will happen here? I’ll know Jesus better and feel loved and comforted by Him and I’ll watch Him provide for me in a new way?” Huh. Doesn’t sound so bad.

Deeply held fears and anxieties often don’t evaporate quickly, and their intensity (especially if it’s a phobia) can be palpable. But asking myself, “And then what will happen?” helps me to see my fears more clearly, and, at times, see the ridiculousness of my fears! And when I discover Jesus waiting at the end of my fear-chain, I’m taken aback that a smiling, loving, all-powerful, deeply caring Presence of God awaits me. I can’t do much more than walk away and be amazed and humbled and bit more courageous.

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”  Proverbs 25:29 (ESV)

Melinda SchmidtMelinda Schmidt is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and holds a Broadcasting/Bible degree from Calvary Bible College. She has served with Moody Radio since 1980 in various hosting capacities. Married with two young adult children, Melinda lives outside Chicago, loves reading, developing her creative interests and hopes to be a life-long learner. To learn more about Melinda, her speaking schedule and her blog please visit her website.

Listener Blog: Exposed

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)

When taking a photograph, the length of time the film is exposed to light will determine whether a picture will be underexposed, overexposed or exposed just enough to provide what we perceive to be a normal image contrast. Digital photographic tricks can further manipulate images. Filters are hyperreality at it’s best! At the end, it’s still just giving us a simulation, an angle, a moment in the life of a subject matter and not a true depiction of its totality or even more significant—its inner workings.

We tend to make snap judgments of each other, as well. They range from the superficial to that of a person’s character. Matthew 7:1 warns us not to do so unless we want to condemn ourselves. We’re all guilty of sin. When we judge someone, we’re trespassing on God’s domain. We’re essentially saying, I’m blameless. I’m omniscient. I know your every thought, and what’s in your heart. Therefore, I have a right to judge you. Let’s not make that grave mistake!

Listen, God’s vision is like a spiritual x-ray. He can see beyond the outer shell and into the deep crevices of our hearts. And if we remove the log from our own eye instead of trying to take the speck out of another’s eye, our vision will also become clearer.

Is it possible for us to see our hearts exposed? Absolutely. God’s word sheds light in our hearts. The word of God is like a series of snapshots of our true self. The more we look into it like we do a mirror, the more it peels off the layers before our spiritual eyes— bringing us face to face with the reflection of who we have become. Yet God’s merciful love also presents a gracious revelation of who we are in Christ. And that’s no optical illusion!


Ibelisse Sánchez-Sanders is a writer and a visual artist. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Master of Divinity and a Master of Social Work in Chicago, where she resides with her husband Merwyn. She blogs and is currently writing her first devotional book.

Midday blog: Guilt

Recently I was exploring the vast recesses of the internet and stumbled upon information about a biblically-themed amusement park, and coupling a photograph of a reenactment of the crucifixion read the caption, “Instead of roller-coasters, you get guilt.”

Guilt.

Is that what people consider the point of the cross? Though I am imperfect and have certainly missed several words and facts in Scripture over the years, I’m confident that there is nowhere in the Bible that calls us to find guilt as the end result of Christ’s death on the cross. In fact, over and over we are reminded that Jesus died to bring us new life (2 Corinthians 5:17), freedom(Galatians 5:1), true fellowship (Ephesians 2:13-16), hope (2 Corinthians 4:16)  an assurance of undeserved eternity in Heaven (John 3:16), and so, so much more.

About a year ago I sat under the teaching of a Pastor who ventured even so far as to say that guilt is not a Biblical concept to a world in which Christ died. The Father sent the Son to die for us, and He did so willingly. It was God’s love for His created humankind that Christ died, and we have no need to find guilt in that. There is far too much forgiveness and grace in the cross for us to waste time dwelling on the things He washed out with His blood.

The Bible does not call for us to find guilt in the cross, but it certainly desires a different kind of lifestyle.  Friends, let us go forth not in guilt, but in redemption. Let us live our lives as though we have been died for, as though we have something to live for, as though we are set apart from the rest of the world because of the hope within us.

 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)

Elizabeth DooganElizabeth (Liz) is a student at Moody Bible Institute, majoring in Radio and Social Media. She has spent the last year working with Midday Connection as Office Assistant. Elizabeth hopes to pursue a career in radio, and works with Moody Campus Radio as its Program Director. In her free time she loves to disciple young girls, tweet, and explore Chicago.

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