Loving God with All Our Hearts
Feb 7th, Week 1: Living Life on the Ark of Safety or on Kingdom Mission?
We all want to love God wholeheartedly and live confidently from a Christian worldview. We also long to pass the torch of living for what really matters to the next generation. In today’s culture we increasingly find our faith and our love for God challenged. How can we have confident faith, full of grace and truth and pass it on to our kids and grandkids?
As the mother of a prodigal I know just how difficult it can be. I know that if we focus so much on providing protection from the world, we can cast more of a vision of “life on the ark,” rather than “life on mission”–an outward, Kingdom-building life energized by the overflow of our love for God. We’ll discuss how to use story and questions, imagination and authenticity to share a contagious love for God and teach truth in a way that moves their hearts and minds.
February 21st, Week 2: Trusting God’s Heart More than Human Compassion
Today’s culture sits as judge and jury on the goodness of God. The way of the world looks more compassionate on its face: Just let people who love each other get married or have sex. Just end the suffering with abortion or euthanasia or sex-change operations. God’s ways seem painful, much less compassionate.
To be honest, we struggle too–God, Where Are You? Are you really good? I don’t understand your response to suffering. Your judgment. Sometimes you seem like my enemy.
Decades of living with rheumatoid arthritis and I’ve echoed Job’s cry. Probably you too. It’s our deepest question for God, our greatest barrier to loving him well. This message renews our vision of how powerful the enemy is and how completely God has conquered him. It offers evidence to help us affirm the goodness of God, even in his commands of sexual purity, even in his judgments that can seem so harsh. Even when he seems like the enemy. It offers no pat answers, but refocuses us on his loving presence and immense power to redeem the worst pain and loss for our joy and his glory.
Loving God with All Our Minds
March 7th, Week 3: Holding onto TRUTH in a Whatever World
From “God’s Truth is marching on,” to “we hold these truths to be self-evident,” to “truth that’s true for me,” to “truthiness,” truth has shrunk. Is your own faith challenged? This message will strengthen your confidence in God’s truth and help you share it with grace, without sounding arrogant or condemning.
We’ll probe the reliability of God’s Word and how Jesus spoke confidently of truth. And lived it. We’ll affirm that God’s truth is not just privately true, but total truth. In light of so many competing truth claims, many are asking…where is truth lived out authentically in community? We’ll discuss practical ways we can be women of truth in a whatever world.
Mar 14th, Week 4: Asking the Right Questions; Loving the Good Stories
We love God with all our minds by loving his truth and learning to “reason together,” to think critically. We have two ways of knowing: reason and imagination. We strengthen our abilities to think critically when we understand how to use the chain of reason and logic. How to validate evidence. How to ask the right questions. But we can believe things in our heads, really believe them, and remain unmoved in our hearts to act upon them.
Our desires are the wellsprings of our actions. They pay the bills and make appointments on our calendars. Which is why truth enfolded in stories is so powerful. Why most of the Bible is story and prophecy loaded with word pictures. Art and story move us.
In today’s culture we are overwhelmed with story, music and images that make an end-run around our reason. We need to critique the bad art and stories as well as the good, unpacking the power of the good, true and beautiful to move us to love God and his Kingdom.
March 21st, Week 5: Take iControl
Our screens suck our minds in. We live in constant tension with the allure of distraction. Opportunities to connect multiply while the richness of relationships thins out. How can we intentionally nurture healthy, caring relationships in today’s digital culture?
The secret is in the power of giving our presence as a gift to others. This message probes what it meant for God to give his loving presence to his people in the Old Testament. And for Jesus to be Emmanuel, God with us. We’ll discuss practical tips on how we might manage our entertainment and social networking so that it helps us give our presence to others, rather than take it away.
Honoring God with Our Bodies
How do we find the greatest joy in being an image-bearer of God? Especially in a world so focused on image alone? (Do I look OK?) The enemy tries to divide and conquer us: a fetus is not a person, an impaired human being is not fully a person, so killing either is an option. Today’s culture is focused on how you take care of your body, how you hook up with your body, how you use your body for your own pleasure.
God created us as fully integrated, embodied souls–no body over here and person over there. With my RA I used to think “I, the real me, am not my body.” Because my body seemed like the enemy. Nancy’s book has helped me give thanks for my fully integrated soul and body. Receive it as a gift.
Similarly, this unity of body/soul/personhood received as a gift resolves the tension that fuels abortion and euthanasia and strengthens our commitment to care for “the least of these” as image-bearers whom God loves. Finally it restores the brokenness between sex, intimacy and meaning. In order to flourish, intimacy needs the trust that can only be built in a life-long commitment of one embodied soul to another.
Apr 4th, Week 7: The Goodness of Male and Female
We would have never thought this even five years ago, but one of the greatest tensions undermining love for God today is his creation of us as male and female and his pronouncement that it was “very good.” We can see his purposes for us in his design. Our male and female chromosomes do not simply determine our biological sex, they are in every cell in our bodies and impact us in countless ways.
The key question is, What determines our sexual identity? Is it our biology or our feelings? Can it change or is it fluid? As in so many other areas of life, when we focus on our feelings we can miss God’s purpose and design. Receiving our biological maleness and femaleness as a good gift from God brings deep peace between our bodies and souls. It protects and strengthens families. But every person who struggles with their sexual identity is still an image-bearer we treat with great dignity and grace.
Apr 11th, Week 8: Wrapping Up
Our concluding lesson will be a part two of our topic on the Goodness of Male and Female…a look beyond identity and intimacy to how cultural changes are impacting our schools, communities and legal rights. Being a student of culture for so long I sense that the stage is being set for deep cultural conflict over these issues and hope to look to the future to consider how we should be praying and be ready to articulate what we believe and why we believe it. How does God’s Word tell us to prepare for increasing tension around these issues?