Monday, February 27, 2012

Each Lenten season, my church puts together a Lent Devotional.  I was asked this year to contribute. I hope you enjoy!

Mark 3:7-19

Crowds Follow Jesus
 7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. 8 When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. 9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the evil[a]spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.
The Appointing of the Twelve Apostles
 13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve—designating them apostles[b]—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

After reflecting on this passage, it struck me how important nature and being secluded were to Jesus. Even he needed time alone with his closest friends. It was so difficult for him to find refuge away from the crowds. He found retreat in nature at the lake and on the mountainside. What comes to mind when I read this passage is being on a kayak on Moosehead Lake with my family during the summer. There is something special about being out on the water away from everything. I’m able to think and reflect on life. It’s a place that I feel very close to the Lord.
Reading this passage made me also realize how important it is for us as Christians to have community and to spend time in fellowship away from the distractions of life. Having completed almost a year of college, I have realized how precious time alone with my closest friends is. I have enormous amounts of homework, long hours in the athletic training room, and share a room with someone else. I am enjoying college, but I have discovered that it is nearly impossible to have time without any distractions. I have found community through Young Life, a non-denominational Christian ministry on campus. I have a small group Bible study every Monday and I find myself looking forward to that time with my closest girl friends on campus. It’s a time I can relax and truly be myself. I can share my deepest desires, fears, and hopes for my life. We love and encourage each other and for that hour or so a week, we can all unwind and enjoy community and fellowship.
Just as Jesus the crowds were pushing in on Jesus, we need to take time to be alone when the stresses of life push around us. Take some time during this Lenten season and rest in community. Whether it be in a service Sunday morning, on a mountaintop, or in a bible study, spend time encouraging one another away from the busy-ness of life. After all, we are called to spread the gospel just as much as the original apostles were. He gave them much responsibility and power in his name. Jesus personally chose you and me, just as he did the twelve.  It is so easy to be consumed with life and moving from one task to the next, but it comes to a point when we need to separate ourselves and refuel and truly depend on the strength of the Lord to get through.

Dear Lord, thank you for sending your son so that we may enjoy eternity with you. I pray that during this time of Lent we make time to enjoy community with other believers. I pray that we encourage one another and build relationships built around you, just as your relationship was with your twelve apostles. Give us the courage to live boldly for you. Amen.

You are Beautifully and Wonderfully Made,
Ky :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Gatlinburg Family

Since before I was born, my dad and about 8 of his closest college friends have had a reunion every Labor Day weekend. It's become one of my favorite weekends of the year. Over the years, it expanded from a bunch of college grads and their girlfriends, to a bunch of college grads with their wives and then the kids came along (we now out number the adults). Every Labor Day we pile into a chalet in the Smokey Mountains. Even though most of us only see each other once a year, we are always able to pick up right where we left off. We've become a family. The kids are all friends and all of the adults have become like second and third and fourth sets of parents to each of us. One of the things that I find the most incredible about this group though, is that each one of the couples has stayed together. With the 50% divorce rate in the US, I would say that is quite a feat.

My Gatlinburg received some sad news today. Timmer, one of the original eight, passed away this afternoon from a heart attack. I don't think Timmer ever missed a reunion. He, wife Lyneve, and sons Brady and Luke are some of the most loving people you will meet. As a vehicle-less freshman at UT this fall, they graciously offered to pick me up from school on the way to the chalet. On the way, they took me out to dinner (because what college student doesn't love free food). Timmer shared his college memories with me and gave me advice that I will never forget: find what you love to do and by doing so, you will be happy. I remember him telling me that before at the previous reunion. I was in full swing with college searches and had my heart set on going to UT. We were sitting on one of the decks of the chalet and talking about college and my plans for my life. I remember him mentioning that the best advice he can offer me is to find what I love to do and to do it. I have taken that advice to heart and over the past two semesters I have been truly trying to find what makes me happy. I'm still figuring it out, but I am determined to do so.

The loss of Timmer has hit our extended Gatlinburg family hard. We've lost a friend. Brady and Luke have lost their dad and Lyneve her husband. I have no doubt though that Timmer was welcomed into Heaven this afternoon and is now with God. Even though it seems like there was no reason for him to be taken away from those who love him, I have faith that the Lord will bring good out of this.

Even though this is cliche, every time I lose someone, it makes me realize how truly short life is. I should live life to the fullest. I should show the love of Christ to everyone I encounter. I need to let people know that I care about them. Living away from many people that I love, I am very inconsistent with keeping in touch. Losing Timmer has made me realize that there is no guarantee that I will have tomorrow. I am going to strive to live that way.

I miss you already, Timmer. I can't imagine a Gatlinburg weekend without you.