The events of last Sunday afternoon have sent a shock wave around communities of faith. It is an event whose horror and resultant despair is beyond description. As news outlets and others write and speak about the event, words from the 2nd Chapter of the Book of Job came to mind.
11 When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.12 When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.
As I reflect upon the shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, like Job’s friends, few if any words come to my mind, just silence. I remain speechless and at the moment I find the suffering there too great for words. Instead of words entering my mind, I have been overwhelmed with two images.
The first is of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. The second, which I gain only glimpses of, has to do with what Jesus must have seen as he gazed out upon the crowds as he hung dying. And for the moment I am simply sitting in silence with both images.
Rather than offer empty words this week, I invite you to spend some time in quiet prayer with God, knowing that in the months ahead, another story like this one will be repeated, but in another setting. So I prayerfully ask, “How does God want me to respond?” And as we journey following Jesus, I invite you to do the same.
Not long ago, we were in California. Probably because it was so hot outside, I remembered another hot Southern California day from long ago. On that day, I remember I was in the mood for something cool to drink and refreshing to eat. The thought of a good glass of iced tea and a quart of artery hardening ice cream seemed like just the ticket. So off I headed to a local grocery store. As is the case in most places in the LA area, the parking lot was packed. Tempers rose as two to three cars competed for each open space.
Once I parked, I walked into the store and headed straight for the ice cream section. Instead of looking at the ice cream options through the glass, I opened up each door so the frigid air would cool me off. Finally I found a one of my favorite ice creams, a real Lipitor special. I then made my way to the check out line, which like the parking lot, was packed with people.
As I stood there, a man and his wife came up and stood behind me in line. As we slowly made our way forward, the man’s voice got louder as his criticisms of his wife got nastier and crueler. After several minutes, I along with the other shoppers in line became uneasy and uncomfortable. Just before it was my turn to check out, I had reached my limit. The man’s vicious attacks had his wife in tears. While I don’t remember exactly what I said, I tried to suggest to the man that there was another way to work things out. Needless to say, he did not respond well to my intrusion.
I won’t repeat exactly what he said. But he said something like, “who the heck do you think you are?” He followed me into the parking lot repeating the phrase over and over threatening to hit me as I got into my car and left without responding.
Although I was a bit undone by the experience, when I got back home, I sat down and began to eat the ice cream. With each spoonful, I thought not only about the incident, but I reflected on the man’s question. “Who do you think you are?” As I thought about the events that day, I realized that while the man’s actions, hostility, and treatment of his wife were completely not ok, in actuality, his question was and is a good one. “Who do you think you are?”
To this day, the question remains fresh and powerfully relevant. It is a question that is not only applicable to me, but I believe to each one of you as well. “Who do you think you are?” It is a relevant question because how we answer it powerfully determines and influences our thoughts, actions, feelings, and relationships with other people. It is a relevant question because our answer affects how we see ourselves and our purpose in life. It is also a relevant question because our answer reflects where we sit with God.
If we were to go out into the streets of Snowmass Village or Denver and ask people, “who do you think you are?” we would likely get a variety of responses and answers. Some would say, “who do you think you are to ask me such a question, bug off.” Others might say, “I am an accountant, teacher, or retired person.” Some might respond, “Gee, I have never thought about that question,” or “I am a mother with three children trying to make ends meet,” or “I don’t know.”
Regardless of how a person might answer that question publicly, I wonder how people privately would respond. I also wonder how many people would answer the question with God in mind. Do we spend thinking about how God sees us? Does this reflection ultimately determine how we see others and ourselves? Does how God see us, dramatically influence our behavior, thoughts, and feelings?
Who do you and I think we are?
Sweet Church! Another phenomenal summer is in the books! Camp SMashBox owes you a big thank you and a loud shout out. Relationships were built, memories were made, and silliness in the name of Jesus engulfed the campus at Snowmass Chapel this season. Kids were livin’ out lives of bountiful adventure!
If you were ever on the campus mid-week this summer, you may have had to step over a backpack or two (or 70!). You may have navigated around a craft table, walked past water balloon shrapnel, seen towels or even pants strewn about the lawn, or had to put your hands up in surrender to avoid getting blasted by squirt guns. You may have had to look past fingerprints on windows, smears of shaving cream on building posts, and even the occasional muddy footprint on the rug.
For all this stepping over and looking past, we thank you!
And then there’s the stepping in, and the walking with, and the praying for.
For that we thank you too.
There were those who stayed up late to fill hundreds of balloons with shaving cream the night before camp began. Those who donated money, or horsey-rides, or bikes, or time, or pool passes to make our inner-city girls camp a success. There were those who stepped in when a leader was sick, who stayed late on a Friday to help clean nugget grease off the wall, who ordered more paper towels in a pinch, and who wiped down bathroom counters time and time again.
Thank you, sweet church, for being a place for the children. Thank you for sharing your things.
Because share you did…
Do you know that over THREE HUNDRED K-6th graders participated in outreach camps this summer at the Chapel?? More than TWENTY FIVE 7th – 9th graders served as helpers / Junior Counselors, and THIRTY high-school and college students sacrificed their hearts and souls and dry t-shirts in the name of water wars and slip ‘n slides and being all-in for kids at our church!
Add all those people’s parents to the mix and we’re at ONE THOUSAND and SIXTY-FIVE people involved with our sweet little Chapel’s youth outreach program this summer. Now That. Is. Cool!!
Jesus said, “let the children come to me and do not hinder them.” (Mt 19:14).
Thank you, people of Snowmass Chapel, for letting them come. We love ya.
Xo, Camp SMashBoX
When are you due? If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question over the past 9 months I would have amassed a small fortune by now. For the record, I’d be willing to part with this fortune if someone could accurately assist me in determining the day and time this baby will arrive!
At 38 weeks pregnant, this child is quite literally all I can think about. I feel the physical weight of my unborn with each step and movement of my body. I consider each decision I make throughout the day, from what I put in my mouth, to what activities I engage in, with the health of this little one in the back of my mind.
There are times when I feel an overwhelming sense of excitement as to what’s ahead, times when the weight of responsibility is heavy on my shoulders, and still times when I feel completely at awe as to the miracle that is taking place within my body. Generally, these feelings leave me overcome with gratitude that the Lord has blessed and entrusted my husband and me with the life of this child.
As I walked out of the Chapel last Sunday, I felt a similar mix of emotions after listening to Pastor Marcus Bieschke’s sermon. On the drive home there was a mixture of excitement in thinking about how my husband and I will be able to influence and shape the life of this child, but it was accompanied with the responsibility that comes with becoming a parent.
I am certain that I am not the first mother-to-be who has grappled with these feelings. New parents are inundated with countless decisions before their child even enters the world and even more-so after. It is easy to get caught up in researching vaccine schedules, medical interventions, parenting styles…the list goes on and on, but I have a feeling Jesus is more concerned with how we influence our children daily than whether we use cloth or disposable diapers.
I am grateful that on Sunday we were presented with a practical, God-centered approach to parenting and the family unit. I will not attempt to rewrite Marcus’ sermon, but I would encourage you to listen to it on our YouTube page if you missed it (https://youtu.be/8Mmhc9KWvuQ).
In retrospect, Marcus encouraged us to interact with our children and families in much of the same way that Jesus desires to interact with and influence us. There are distinct times when Jesus takes on the role of teacher, friend, counselor, and coach. We need Jesus’ influence in our lives in each of these areas to be healthy, well-rounded Christians who know how to navigate all of the twists and turns of life.
Which version of Jesus do you most regularly ascribe to – teacher, friend, counselor, or coach? I would like to challenge you this week to seek out Jesus in a new way. Allow Him in as a friend and counselor if you usually look to Him as a teacher. Seek out His wisdom if you usually go to Him as a counselor. I can assure you that He will meet you in this place and reveal Himself in new and exciting ways. His influence will begin to permeate your life in areas you never imagined.
While you’re at it, why not apply the same principles to your relationships with family and friends. You may be pleasantly surprised at the transformation that takes place.