Most encounters we have with God are a source of delight and inspiration, but there is a type of encounter that can be very scary. These encounters are a response to those parts of our life that we would rather remain hidden, the known but denied. Nevertheless, the necessary encounter is the act of a loving God to confront us about those things that will, if left unaddressed, lead us toward destruction.
What is God writing on your wall?
When it comes to experiencing conflict, we often find ourselves caught in the middle of two points. One the one hand, we recognize that conflict is present, but if we are honest with ourselves, we are also not ready to forgive. The temptation is to just let the situation drift along, hoping that over time everything will turn out OK.
Jesus, however, demonstrates a better way, a way that protects our heart. Because whether you are the offender or the offended, all conflict has a use-by date.
(Matthew 5:21-24, 43-45)
A common icebreaker is the question: “If you were shipwrecked on an island, what three things would you take with you?” Whether you believe in God or not, the way you answer this question sheds light on what you think is most important in life. Shipwrecks, whether by circumstance or choice prompt us to think differently, just as Jesus demonstrated in the midst of a storm. Because God uses shipwrecks to clarify what matters most in life.
Sometimes in our ‘comfort’ of Christianity, or in recognizing the scandal of God’s grace, it is easy to forget that God is not just a lover, but a judge. Through the signs and wonders imposed on the oppressive empire of Egypt, we see a God whose judgement doesn’t need to punish but simply reveals evil for what it truly is.
When that staff strikes you, what will rise to the surface?
Tonight at church I did something really different. I actually can’t remember a time I when I have been so nervous (I’m talking days!) prior to sharing. Having been given the topic “How can a loving God send good people to hell?“, and a grand total of 5 minutes to share from the platform, the scene was primed for creativity.
So rather than preaching, I wrote and presented the message in a “spoken word” format while the graphic above progressively appeared behind me. It wasn’t just about communicating with a different style, but rather, with the limited time that I had, to share in a way that would prompt questions, invite people’s hearts to resonate with the imagery, and hopefully make a few key statements stick. The video can be found here, but for those interested here are the lyrics:
When I proposed to Megan I put everything on the line
in the hope that she would say, “Yes, you’re mine.”
Moments like these are stunning moments of love,
but it is still a choice, not a push or a shove.