Midday Connection

A safe place to process your story.

Archive for the month “March, 2013”

Midday blog: Sitting in Darkness

This Friday I will end up sitting in the dark for a while. My church does a tenebrae style service for Good Friday. For those unfamiliar with this style, it slowly gets darker throughout the service as candles are extinguished, until at the end the sanctuary is in complete darkness.

Going to Good Friday services was not something that I experienced growing up, however I have grown to appreciate in recent years the role that a Good Friday service plays in the liturgical calendar. We seem to often skim over the fact that Christ died as we rush toward His resurrection. Stop and think about that, the son of God…the creator of the world…died. This was a real death, and so I’ve learned that by celebrating “Passion Week” in more of it’s fullness, I understand that better.

This Friday I will end up sitting in darkness, a period to reflect on the death of Christ, and to mourn His death. Part of mourning His death involves reflecting on the reason that it was necessary. Sitting with the gravity and weight of this event is important. It makes the light that is coming on Sunday morning that much more joyful. There is a day though in-between Friday and Sunday, and I try to make a point of continuing to focus on remembering Christ’s death on Saturday as well because Easter is not here yet…it’s coming, the light is starting to break through.

This is a time when we can also look forward to our eternal hope, right now much of our world is still shrouded in darkness…but we can see cracks of light breaking through and in the end, we will live in a world that is encompassed in light. In the meantime we must be the light of the world. So while we sit in the darkness, let us contemplate Christ, the great cost that he paid, and look for those points of light.

As one song I appreciate puts it:

Deep in the darkest night,

when there’s no spark of hope,

we must be points of light

piercing the darkness.

Bright as the dazzling stars

in an indifferent sky

and in our cruelest hour when hope is gone,

we’ll raise our heads

and we’ll journey on.

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.

Guest blog: Where Do You Need a Resurrection?

Ever had a crisis of faith? I have. 
I’m pretty sure that Jairus, a synagogue ruler, had a crisis of faith. His story is found in Luke 8:40-56. Pull out your Bible and take a look. Jesus had promised to come and heal Jairus’ sick daughter. But along the way to Jairus’ house, Jesus stopped and healed a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. Imagine Jairus’ disappointment when a servant came and said, “Your daughter is dead. Don’t bother the teacher any more” (Luke 8:49). I wonder if Jairus thought, “Really Jesus? You promised, but obviously, I can’t count on you!”  He must have had a major crisis of faith.
In that moment, Jesus looked deep into the eyes of Jairus and said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe and she will be healed” (Luke 46:50). Don’t you wonder what was going through Jairus’ mind? If I had been Jairus, I would have felt petrified! Somehow he mustered the faith to follow Jesus back to his home where he witnessed Jesus tenderly inviting his daughter back to life. 
If I were to invite you to find yourself in this story, I wonder whom you would relate to the most? Maybe like Jairus you are in a crisis of faith, and you’re feeling disappointed with God. Maybe you identify best with the little girl. You feel dead and wonder where all your passion has gone.
May I offer you this encouragement? The same Jesus who raised Jairus’ daughter can bring about a resurrection in your life, because He’s alive! Where do you need a resurrection? Do you need hope restored? Joy replenished? Strength renewed? Passion revived? Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and He delights in bringing life to the parts of our soul that feel dead!
Take a moment, and write a prayer to God. Praise Him that Jesus is alive, that He has conquered death for all time. Then pour out your heart to Him, and ask him to resurrect in you whatever feels dead.
 
Questions for Further Reflection
  • What broken dreams have you experienced lately?
  • How might God want to resurrect those dreams?
  • What does it look like for you to embrace the hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in your own life?

Becky Harling is a pastor’s wife, mom, author and speaker.  As a breast cancer survivor and childhood sexual abuse survivor, Becky is passionate about helping women. You can learn more at her website: www.beckyharling.com

Midday blog: Pilates Lessons

Pilates

I recently started doing Pilates again. The instructor on the DVD tells me to keep my leg muscles loose as I do seemingly impossible leg stretches. Yeah, right! 🙂  But, I notice that when I relax and keep my muscles loose, I can stretch more and the whole practice is much more enjoyable. When I’m tense (which seems to be my natural reaction when I exercise), it feels like I’m fighting my own body and just making it harder on myself.

Then, I noticed as I walk a couple miles to/from work that my entire body – back, legs, neck, fists – often tenses up when I’m stressed or in a hurry. So, I tried bringing the “stay loose” concept there. When I purposefully concentrate on keeping my legs, back, neck, and arms loose, I’m still walking quickly, but my body is much more relaxed and it signals to my mind to relax. I’m expending less energy and I can feel my body working well – and the walk is much more enjoyable.

The other day I was feeling stressed about a busy day ahead. I suddenly wondered if I could translate this “stay loose” concept to how I approach my day. Could I relax and just ease into my day, taking one thing at a time? Could I just ease into my day, bringing all of who God made me to be into my day – moving forward, but in a more relaxed way? Can I settle into trusting Him that He’s prepared me for this day- no matter what it brings? And is it possible that God just reached me through Pilates? Why, yes, He sure did!

Lori NeffLori Neff is the senior producer of Midday Connection and editor/contributor for Daily Seeds: From Women Who Walk in Faith and Tending the Soul (Moody Publishers). She grew up in a small town in Ohio, spending more time outside in nature than inside. Lori is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. Her interests include art, humanitarian aid efforts, cooking, gardening, coffee, thinking, learning and spending time with her husband, John (and their three fiesty cats). For more information and her blog please visit Lori’s website.

Guest blog: Thai Culture

Dr. Pam Barger talks with me (Melinda Schmidt) about the complexities of Thai culture this week on the Bring To Mind podcast. After taping our conversation in her office on the campus of Wheaton College for Bring to Mind, I still had many more lingering questions.  Here, we continue the conversation as she briefly talks more with me about Buddhism,  sex trafficking and living as a Christ follower in Thailand.

MELINDA: We talked about “bar girls” and prostitution in the red light districts in Thailand. What is the attitude of millennial Thai women to this part of their culture?

DR. BARGER: For some Thai women, they view the bar girls as just someone earning their living for their family.  Some Thai women have pity on the bar girls.  Some find it wrong and maybe the bar girls are the ones who just had bad karma (or their family had bad karma) which caused them to end up in prostitution.  And there are women who enter prostitution by choice.  According to a study done by Chulalongkorn University (one of the top universities in Thailand), there are four types of sex workers:  1) those who are from the rural areas and are trafficked/sold into the trade and working under restraint; 2) single mothers/women with low education to supply money for their dependents; 3) young, attractive, entrepreneurial women who want to earn extra money; they work in Japanese bars and high-end establishments; and 4) women such as students who perform sex part-time to supplement income.

MELINDA: What is the general attitude of Thai people to evangelical Christians in Thailand?

DR. BARGER: Although it appears that Thai people are accepting to Christians coming in Thailand, there are many who don’t want them to be there, especially to evangelize the gospel to them.  Many wish the Christians would leave the gospel sharing alone because they are already Buddhists, so why need to change them to become Christians, especially a religion that they considered a Western religion?  Again, for the Thais, to be a Thai is to be Buddhist.  Many Thais do carefully watch at the attitude and the actions of the evangelical Christians to see if they “walk, the walk, and talk, the talk.”  They really are observant of the Christians there, yet they do appreciate the efforts of them helping out with outreach programs, English language training, medical help, combating trafficking, etc.

MELINDA: What is it like for a Christian to live and worship in Thailand?

DR. BARGER: Very challenging.  There are many Thai Christians who are nominal, in that they take elements of Christianity and combine them with their Buddhist background.  It is challenging in terms of the spiritual oppression that is there.

MELINDA: You were a Buddhist. What are the differences that came to your life after you decided to follow Jesus?

DR. BARGER: Matthew, Chapter 10 comes into my mind as I continue on my journey as a Christian. On one hand, I find assurance knowing that I can find peace through having a relationship with Jesus, but on another hand, I am realizing that the life of a Christian will often bring division to my loved ones and to the people of this world.  The life of a Christian is often filled with ironies.  However, the biggest difference that I realize as a Christian is that I have the Lord on my side, whereas before as a Buddhist, I was on my own, trying to live a good life and do the best I can, but at times, I fail.  I didn’t want to live in a cycle of birth and rebirth anymore.  As a Christian, I am glad to know that I have freedom in Christ.

You can listen to the Bring to Mind here: http://www.bringtomind.org

Pam BargerDr. Pam Barger is the ELIC (English Language Institute of China) Program Administrator and guest professor in the Intercultural Studies Department at Wheaton College Graduate School. Her research interests focus on internationalization, democratization, educational technology, spiritual capital, social justice, religion and gender in education with a specific focus in Southeast Asia. She has guest-lectured in seminars and graduate classes on perspectives on social foundations of education, history of education, TESOL, global outreach, educational research methods, interreligious dialogue, Buddhism, women issues in Thailand, and integration of faith, learning and social justice.

Melinda SchmidtMelinda Schmidt is a visionary who appreciates observing how the complexities of culture and faith influence one another. Her core words are freedom, orderliness, twirling, beauty and seed-planting ideas. For her, life is good when she is free to muse, express and—frankly—eat pizza or her homemade blueberry pie.

Midday blog: In Celebration of International Women’s Day

I have become the woman that I am thanks to the presence of other amazing women in my life. Some of these women have passed through the story of my life quickly, making a brief but significant stop. Some have come into my life and stuck around for a while, while others, even women I’ve never personally spoken with, have had a lasting effect on me.

I believe we’ve been hesitant to celebrate International Women’s Day in the evangelical community for fear of looking like a bunch of feminists. Unfortunately, feminist is one of those words that has been hijacked and we need to reclaim it. Of all people, the Christian community needs to value women highly, following in the foot steps of Jesus.

Let me list some of my own spiritual midwives, the women who have helped birth who I am today. These are in no particular order, and I’ll likely forget some. When I found myself going through a divorce, Jan Silvious stepped to the plate along with my neighbor Faith. Faith introduced me to her church community where Sandy entered the picture. Kim and Lisa were two women who stepped into my life for a moment in time with huge impact. Dee Brestin and Janet Davis continue to have great influence on my life, as does Gail MacDonald.

When I look back in my personal history I see Diana Knutsen, Senior Girls counselor at Ben Lippen School, drawing me out, seeing something worthwhile in me. I think she was the one that got me started on my journey of healing. A piece of all the women I’ve mentioned and more are part of every word I say each day. That’s a powerful thought.

As I look back over this list of women, not at all exhaustive, I’m reminded of my responsibility to other women. What will I say to help them on their journey, to get them to dig a little deeper, or decide to engage in the tougher issues they’d rather bury in a secluded place?

Who are the women you’d like to celebrate, women who have helped birth the person you have become and are becoming?

(International Women’s Day was March 8. Learn more here.)

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.

Guest blog: Reflections on Turning…Well, Getting Older

This year, I will “celebrate” what’s commonly referred to as a milestone birthday. Not just any milestone, this is of the “downhill from here” variety. I’m taking a timeout to reflect on some of what I’m learning:

I might as well accept myself.

I’ve wasted a lot of energy trying to become a different person. I might as well put that energy into doing what God has put me here to do.

It’s never too early to prepare for death.

Preparing for death doesn’t mean planning a funeral; it means living well, caring about what matters, and being honest with myself about what I’m likely to leave behind.

I’ll never have it all figured out.

I’m never going to arrive. Perhaps it’s time to stop expecting myself to reach enlightenment.

History is powerful.

We devalue the past at our own peril. People who have and use the lens of history to inform their perspective of the present are the wisest people I know.

Our choices stick with us.

Our choices have consequences, and we have to live with them. On my journey through life, I’ve tripped over things I never would have guessed would come back to haunt me. Our whole life matters.

People stick to us.

We’re far more connected than we realize when we’re younger, and the way we treat people matters.

I can never escape my family.

Even those who try to break free of their families’ influence find their lives defined by that quest. And no matter how far I roam, I’ll never find another person who can understand me the way a family member can.

Death is always with us.

Death’s shadow looms over us, defining life itself so profoundly, we can scarcely imagine living out from under its threat. I’ve seen enough of life to recognize death everywhere I look.

I really do long for heaven.

So much of what I looked forward to in my life has been great—but full of shadows and only dim shadows themselves, pointing to what will be unimaginably better.

 

Amy SimpsonAmy Simpson is editor of Christianity Today’s Gifted for Leadership, a freelance writer, and author of the forthcoming Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission (InterVarsity Press). You can find her at www.AmySimpsonOnline.com  and on Twitter @aresimpson.

Midday blog: Hello March

melindablogThat’s me on the train thinking, “A new week – what will it hold?”

I know I’m starting the week with hope and fears and questions and expectancy and I’m  hangin’ on and praying for my family, “Give us this day our daily bread… keep us from temptations…deliver us from the Evil One… may Your Kingdom come in our lives this week.”

Last month I wrote out prayer requests in my journal on Feb. 1. I did that last Friday, too, for March. Ever done that? It’s interesting to go back and see what’s gone on with those requests after a month. All kinds of interesting.

Yep, a lot goes on in four weeks.  Who can know? In Isaiah 46:10, 11 God says, “Everything I plan will come to pass… I have said what I would do, and I will do it.” Oh Lord, I hope my plans and Your plans match. But if not, help me to work at trusting Yours.

Here’s to trusting God in March. Vaya con Dios! (Go with God!)

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.

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