Recently at First Brethren Church, we've been working through a sermon series called "Searching for Shalom." The biblical concept of peace - shalom - is about more than just the absence of conflict. It's the picture of a whole and restored people flourishing in every aspect of their lives - spiritually, physically, emotionally, relationally, financially, etc.
You can feel free to check out our sermons page for some teachings on the subject, but here on our blog I want to provide a few different ways our ministries can help you pursue shalom in your own life. This week, we'll highlight inner peace and wholeness with God.
Shalom with God through Healing Prayer
One of our deacons - Jeff Parker - has recently stepped out into a new calling to minister to others through inner healing prayer. Some can be turned off by the language of "inner healing" because it conjures up images of mystical or new age practices. Others are intimidated by the idea of opening up in vulnerability with another person. While the concept may seem new or foreign, the practice is actually a vital expression of our journey with Jesus.
The practice of inner healing prayer is the simple invitation for Jesus to speak to us in our brokenness with the support of community. A prayer session involves being guided through prayer by a facilitator to listen for what God might have to say to us about the joys and the pains that we hold close to our hearts.
Every single one of us has emotional and spiritual wounds. Will you bring yours to Jesus to find healing, wholeness, and shalom?
Check out our page on Healing Prayer for more information on how to connect with Jeff's ministry.
This last Sunday we got to explore the "Birthday of the Church" and the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is often the least understood of the Trinity - almost as confusing as the concept of the Trinity itself. How can God be three and one at the same time? And how exactly do we understand God as Holy Spirit?
Part of the problem is that humans and human language are limited and God is limitless. As a result, all of our language about God tends to fall short. The best we can do is to say what God is like - understanding that any of our metaphors will be deficient in some way.
With that said, however, the best images we have for the Trinity describe the interrelated expressions of the "three persons" of the Godhead acting in perfect unity. See the table below for examples.
In each of these examples, there are differences in the three terms and yet it is impossible for any aspect to function or exist without the other. And in each of these, the Holy Spirit plays the critical role of unifying action. In the Bible, it is the Holy Spirit which hovers over the waters of creation, inspires God's people to create and live, and empowers believers to live out their purpose of worship and witness.
May we receive the gift of God's Holy Spirit to us with gladness! And may we yearn to know God more and more.
[For more on the Holy Spirit, check out this great video from The Bible Project].
Why do bad things happen to good people?
That perennial question has haunted many spiritual seekers trying to reconcile the notion of a "good" God with the brokenness they see in the world around them.
Through the narrative of the Gospels, however, the question is answered with a different question: Why did the worst thing happen to the best person?
This week we reached the climax of our journey through the Gospel of Mark as we read of Jesus' last moments on the cross in chapter 15:33-39. In a moment of staggering realism, Jesus cries out feeling abandoned and forsaken by God the Father. Jesus, the only sinless person, was betrayed, arrested, abandoned, falsely accused and condemned, mocked, tortured, and executed.
God incarnate forsaken by God transcendent... How can God forsake Himself?
The truly profound revelation in this cry is that God out of the depth of His love emptied Himself in the person of Jesus so that humanity could be rescued in the depths of our brokenness. On the cross, Jesus took on all the weight of sin and death. Three days later, He demonstrated the futility of death's sting through an empty grave.
In one of my favorite songs by Matt Maher, the all-to-familiar questions we ask about pain and suffering in the world are met with the revelation of the Lord's nearness. God, where were you when everything came crashing down around me? Where were you when I was lost and afraid?
You were on the cross. All alone. Forsaken. Dying for us.
May we live today in the knowledge that Christ has suffered with us through the worst that life can bring...and in the knowledge that Sunday is coming. The grave does not have the last say. And one day all things will be restored.
Updates and devotional thoughts for and from our faith family.