The Playground Pathway to Grownup Greatness

This Week’s Key Verses: Luke 9:47-48 (NIV) Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

Written by Andy Wood, Consultant, Teacher, Writer, … Lifevestor
Written by Andy Wood, Consultant, Teacher, Writer, … Lifevestor

“What I’m about to tell you is true. You need to change and become like little children. If you don’t, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who takes the humble position of this child is the most important in the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who welcomes a little child like this one in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:3-5, NIRV).

What started as an argument over greatness ended in one brief demonstration.

The greatest, Jesus said, was the one who humbled himself as a little child.

What’s the difference between that and typical adulthood?

Children are honest.

They’re simple…

Direct…

Trusting.

They dream and imagine, but know how to play and delight in the moment.

They know when they’re pretending, and how to ask for help.

And when they do ask for help, they’re more interested in getting help than they are in looking good.

Ambition, self-importance, self-deception, and image management… that’s the stuff of grownups.

Greatness flourishes in humility.

PlaygroundPathway

Andy Wood


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

Wedding Miracle

This Week’s Key Verses: Luke 9:47-48 (NIV) Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

Written by Meredith Bunting
Written by Meredith Bunting

How do we know a miracle when we see one?  The supernatural is beyond our finite comprehension. If it were not for the revelation of reflection, we would not grasp even the holiest of moments.

Jesus, the Lamb of God, began His ministry when no one, except perhaps John the Baptist, really understood who He was or how He was to change the eternal course of mankind. Some thought they knew Him, but they would witness events they never fathomed. They were given the three-year condensed version of revelation while being taught by Jesus. I believe our encounters with the Messiah take a lifetime of consideration to fully grasp their message.

When Jesus attended a wedding celebration, most likely for a relative, the master of the feast ran out of wine. This faux pas could have quickly dried up the celebratory spirit, but the moment was saved when it appeared that the servants had filled the water jugs with new, more excellent wine for the guests and the party went on.  In the midst of the joy, only the servants and the three disciples who also attended the wedding with Jesus saw that it was He who had changed the water in the jugs to wine.

Can you imagine how stunned those servants and the Jesus’ brand new disciples were?

“Wha…?” “Did you see what I saw?” The servants were probably close to speechless.

 This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory.”And His disciples believed in Him.” (John 2:11)

When the disciples saw the miracle, they instantly believed the Son of God had been with them. When God appears, He always makes an impression.

How long did it take the guests at the wedding to think back on the beauty of the bride, the delicious food and wine, the fun and joy shared among family and friends, before they stopped speechless, hearts quickened and tears flowing? How much time did it take before they, too, realized they had been in the presence of God?

This past weekend I attended another wedding that was also a banquet of miracles. I, like most of the guests, was caught up with the emotion of the celebration not only because the groom was my grandson, but his bride was breathtakingly beautiful.  The sanctuary overflowed with friends and family who had come from all over to share the happy occasion. The nine bridesmaids were dressed in delicate flowing gowns of blush matching their glistening cheeks. The twelve groomsmen, boys tumbling and joking just the day before, were now men, hair combed and faces washed, standing straight and tall in suits with crisp shirts, guarding the hopes and dreams of their best friend waiting anxiously near the altar. The newlyweds, soaked in their love for one another, held hands as they bowed their heads and shared the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Who wouldn’t get carried away with a wedding so enormously beautiful to the soul’s senses?

Billy Graham once said, “The Bible stresses a marriage ideally should be a picture of a reflection of Christ’s love for His people. “

The gates of heaven had been thrown wide open in the sanctuary where Alec and Hannah were married. There, Christ welcomed us, His Bride the Church, into His throne room as we gazed teary eyed upon a couple who had given their lives first to God, promising to worship, obey, and serve Him, and then to each other with the same love that Jesus pours forever upon His Church. Their honor to God and their devotion to one another must have brought such joy to our Father in Heaven that He utterly gave us a reflection of His Holy Love. It was a miraculous intervention! We sensed His presence.

How much, we ask, does Jesus love us, His Bride? How beautiful, white, and pure are we as He gazes at us from His throne surrounded by Angels singing songs of abounding love, the melodies of which swirl in our hearts, inviting us to, “Come! See how much I adore you!”

If we turn away, pull back, drop our head, how it must break the heart of our Savior. Yet, He waits patiently for us to lift our eyes and smile radiantly as we say, “Yes! My Groom, I am coming to You!”

We cannot imagine the heart of Jesus exploding with love-filled joy or how He would receive us. This was the miracle we saw at the wedding Saturday evening. Not one of us missed it.

When this young man’s bride appeared in the sanctuary holding her father’s arm, beaming radiantly in luminous white, her groom wept. All that he had ever wanted, prayed for, and hoped would come to pass was before him – his beloved!  Wiping tears and with joy unspeakable, he reached out to take her hand.

Mangum-wept_2016

This is how Jesus reaches for us, with the tears of a Groom for His Bride and a love that will never let us go. Alec may have wept, but the tears were like God’s for His Church – His beloved Bride.

Perhaps some of us attended the wedding with leaking hearts or dried up joy. Our Father in heaven knows all about that. He, Himself, came to the wedding to fill His guests with the wine of eternal love.

A miracle happened at the marriage of Alec and Hannah. God was in the room!

Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper … These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:9)

Mangums-2016

Meredith Bunting

Photographs courtesy of Rowlands Photography


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

A True Rest

This Week’s Key Verses: Luke 9:47-48 (NIV) Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

Written by Jane Keller, KPC Devotional Team Writer
Written by Jane Keller, KPC Devotional Team Writer

Steve, the kids and I are getting ready to leave for vacation. We are spending the next couple of days packing and cleaning. I don’t know why but I always feel this need to leave the house spotless when we go away for an extended time. I guess I want any would be robbers to be impressed with my housekeeping skills.

We put so much hope into vacation. We ask so much of two weeks—peace, quiet, rest, fun, lots of laughs, no stress, and definitely no family fighting. We require everyone to get along, to be nice, to always smile, and to please not ask too much of your parents during this time. So many expectations. It’s no wonder Steve and I typically pull out of the driveway completely stressed while the kids are fighting over who gets a window seat and who has to be squished in the middle. And, this year, we’re throwing two dogs into the mix. We’re crazy.

Over the last couple of years I have written quite a bit about rest, about what is real rest. The Scriptures have a lot to say about it. God begins the entire story of us with rest. After He worked to create, He rested.

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed.  On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. (Genesis 2: 1-3)

Physical rest is vital to our bodies and souls. Sabbath is a holy and sacred time but physical rest is not Sabbath without true inner rest. We must teach our spirits to commune with the Spirit of God so we can enter into this deep place of peace. I think we do this by putting our trust in Christ and knowing, in our truest selves, that we have all we need and our striving will only produce anxiety and angst. The very opposite of what we are searching for.

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. (Psalm 23)

I’m praying and hopeful that this year we will have a true vacation. A vacation from striving and ungodly expectations. That our hopes will be in Christ and that Sabbath rest will be ours.

Jane Keller


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

The Journey is the Thing

Monday Marvels Edition – August 1, 2016

chattHOP_logo-smsqLike the Chattanooga House of Prayer, KPC’s desire is to ignite the passion and action of the Body of Christ for “sustained and unified prayer, worship, and outreach.” ChattHOP has enthusiastically agreed to share their weekly blog with us. It is our hope that Monday Marvels will enrich our prayer lives and challenge us, as a family, to expand our borders in worship and outreach. We encourage you to visit the ChattHOP site (here) to discover fresh ways we can bring our KPC vision to Hampton Roads.

 

Whenever I travel to a new place, I always realize one thing I have conveniently forgotten about every previous travel: how LONG it takes to reach the destination.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been on an intentional pilgrimage, one where you’ve physically set out from Point A and journeyed to Point B. But whether you have or haven’t, I am sure that you have experienced the long monotony (or challenge) of getting TO a destination.

The past two summers, I have willingly packed myself into vans with twenty plus other college-aged students and headed across the country to get to the mountains of various national parks. When I talk about these pilgrimages, I always mention the glorious peaks and trails and sunsets and terrains. I can pull up pictures of Delicate Arch or Going to the Sun Road, talk about the moose we saw or the time we slept in a land of poison ivy in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota. But you will rarely hear me talk about the hours upon hours of driving while crammed in a van with other humans. Note: it is comparable to that anxious feeling you get when trying to fit 25 crayons into a 24-pack of Crayolas.

And honestly, when I think about any time I have traveled, I rarely consider the actual travel worthy of being shared. I only want to tell you the exciting things: the people I saw, the places I experienced, the food I ate. I mean, I’d love to tell you about Asia, but please don’t ask me about the 17 hour flight filled with nose bleeds and the flight attendants’ bright idea to serve the whole plane seafood Ramen at 3am.

But what am I trying to get at?

The journey is the thing.

This is the magic of pilgrimage: every moment is important. There would never be a destination if there was no process to lead to it. Who can enjoy the final destination if their heart hadn’t been journeying in the process?

When I think back on these summer pilgrimages with then-strangers and now-friends, I realize just how much of the pilgrimage was spent in the van, in process. At the time, I was cramped, tired, claustrophobic, car-sick. But I was still on pilgrimage, and my heart was still growing and stretching and learning. And sitting beside me were other souls on pilgrimage, and because we were stuffed in a van together for hours, we began to know one another. We laughed and asked questions and heard stories and talked about light and heavy and slimy and holy things.

And I found that when we got out of the van and journeyed to the top of the mountain, I wasn’t hiking to the top alone. I was surrounded by other souls—fellow pilgrims—and we had been through the drive, the climb, the summit, together.

Many pilgrims travel alone. They are on their own journey of the heart. I have been on these solo journeys. I had a month to travel Europe by myself. But even though I was intentionally traveling by myself, I was rarely alone. Kind strangers opened up their homes to me; I had meals with strangers-turned-friends; I met people everywhere. And I realized as I returned home, that my favorite parts of Europe were not the places I set out to see, they were the people I got to share moments with. And where there are people, there is beauty. You just have to be willing to see it. The people beside us matter. They are the only other things on earth that are eternal.

I don’t know what kind of season you are in. You may be in the van, in a season of sitting. You may be at the bottom of the mountain, slowly making your way upward. You may have set out on a solo journey, but are noticing others around you. You may be at the summit, seeing the very things you have been working towards.

Whatever season you are in matters.

Even now, we are heading towards our destination – Jesus – and there will be a thousand seasons of the soul until we stand with Him in glory. As we walk toward Him, we pass through valleys and mountains, shadows and storms, but He stands unmoving. We are not journeying toward a blind hope. We know we will see Him face to face, because we have His Spirit within us, and He gives us endurance and joy.

Our greatest success is to be with Him. And that was His success. He chose to be with us first.

The journey is the thing – where we get to choose, in every moment, to be with Him now as we journey into forever.

And you know what else? Jesus prays for our pilgrimage. In John 17, He prays to the Father that we would be with Him, as intertwined as He is with the Father; and He prays that we would be one with one another.

Our pilgrimage ends in the fulfillment of the greatest command: love God and love others. And that command is for us now.

Whatever season you are in, be all there. You know the end of your pilgrimage. You will be with God and others in glory. Every moment matters. Christ is in you, and others are right beside you.

The journey is the thing.

And it’s all the moments that make the journey complete, including this one.

Kacie Drake, ChattHOP Director of Communications & College Liaison


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

Second Chances, Part 3

This Week’s Key Verses: Acts 16:6-8 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia,having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.”

Written by Lynne German
Written by Lynne German

She burst into my classroom, eyes dancing with joy and words spilling out non-stop as she hugged me and blurted, “I tried so hard to hate you this year, but I just couldn’t.  And then you gave me this wonderful opportunity that I would never have had . . . thank you so much!” I hugged her and told her she was a gem.  And she was.  A gem in the raw.

This was a student to whom I’d offered multiple types of second chances over the year. By second semester, I’d still not found a positive inroad with her.  And then it dawned on me . . . why hadn’t I committed her to God in my prayers?  Way more than just mentioning her name in the Throne Room, could I really commit her to God in my supplications?  So I finally did.  And then, God.  God revealed new ways for me to be humorous and supportive to her, enabling me to be candid and yet warm in my corrective words.  One day I teased, “Why is it so much fun to act stupid in my class when you’re really very smart?”  She winced – teachers are never supposed to use the word “stupid” – until the realization captured her, that I had not called her stupid, but rather challenged her behavior as such.  She shot back, “How did you know that about me?  You sound like my mom!”  So I began conversations with her mom and step-dad, encouraging them to stick to their guns with the discipline at home, but to always make sure this strong-headed daughter knew how much she was loved.  God ordained our exchanges.  In fact, I ran into both of them at the gym one day, quite by God’s coincidence, and I felt God’s leading to deeply encourage them in their work with her.  Her grades rose.  And then, suddenly, one day it occurred to me . . . why hadn’t I thought of this before?  This student was probably gifted.  A student who goes against the grain in the classroom, who has to know why you do whatever you do, who is impatient and impertinent, and who is smart but gets bad grades, could be gifted. This identification could give new strategies for success to teachers, parents, and the student.

That student had come here this day, elated, because I’d recommended her for gifted testing, and now she’d been placed into the gifted program.  I was as elated as she was; what a wonderful new opportunity for her to finally understand her own DNA and grow!

In the midst of this, I was reminded that God can’t work through me until He works in me.  The great Potter had to mold my understanding and remove my own judgment and frustration to provide this miracle.  He had given me a second chance, to do things His way, to see a student through His eyes, and to respond with a love I’d not had before.

It’s difficult, being human and often so slow to see situations clearly.  In all things,
“He must increase, but I must decrease,” as Paul said. (John 3:30)   Whenever my teaching is about me (“Why does that student work against everything I’m doing in the classroom?”), everyone loses.  When it is more about God (“God, what do You want me to see here?”) and the student (“What is really going on with this student and his/her learning experience?”), everyone wins.  Weariness, the endless “to-do” list, and personal feelings so easily get in the way of hearing clearly from the Lord.  No wonder He asks us to stop and listen.  “Be still, and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations.   I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

I’m reminded of a Jewish idiom for a joyful person: lirkod beshtey chatunot (one who likes “to dance simultaneously at two weddings). “Wedding #1:” We lay down our personal (usually hurt) feelings toward another and marry into deeper humility in the Holy Spirit. “Wedding #2:” We lay down our judgment of the other person and marry into sacrificing what we can to offer them a better opportunity and a reason to grow.  It’s a whole lot easier to dance when we lay our burdens down!  We don’t have any guarantee that the other person will embrace the second chance we offer, but we know God is always at work.

Lord, thank you for Your mercy, fraught with second chances.  May I live my life joyfully amidst my mistakes and those of others, as one who dances simultaneously at two weddings.  Listening to You.  Loving You.  Stepping to the dance of Your miracles, and living out highest praises to You, my “Lovesong forever”!

Ballet Magnificat – Be Unto Your Name

Lynne German


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

Let Him Hold You

This Week’s Key Verses: Acts 16:6-8 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia,having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.”

Written by Andy Wood, Consultant, Teacher, Writer, … Lifevestor
Written by Andy Wood, Consultant, Teacher, Writer, … Lifevestor

Hold.

Such an ordinary, blue-collar word.

Industrial strength, geared for protection and defense, holding commands attention – not by rising to dizzying new heights of adventure or romance, but by remaining ruthlessly still…

Safe…

Steady.

Boring? Only when, in your desperation for a change, any change will do.

Oppressive? Only when you think the grass is greener somewhere else and you can’t get there.

Holding is a sign that somewhere there is someone or something that is stronger than you are – at least for the moment. You may be held back by your fears. Or held safely by that seat belt and airbag. Or held in the arms of someone who can comfort your heart.

But sooner or later fears subside. Belts are unbuckled. And people, however well-meaning, let go.

But there are everlasting arms and an all-powerful Strength that promises to hold you in love and peace long after all other sources are exhausted or used up.  He said he would take hold of your hand and guide you. And even if you were whisked away to the far side of the horizon, even there He said He would hold you.

So let Him.

Let Him hold you.

When your life is overshadowed by dark clouds of doubt and despair, let Him hold you in the assurance that He will be your light and life.

When you are harassed and taunted by principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world, let Him hold you in the truth that greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

When the straw that broke the camel’s back just landed on yours and you feel as though you’re caving under the pressure, let Him hold you in the prevailing strength that empowers you to mount up with wings like eagles.

When you’ve cried all you think you can cry and your sorrows have clearly won the day, let Him hold you with the tenderness of a Father who has promised never to leave nor forsake you.

When you find yourself looking back at one failed opportunity after another and every dream seems lost, let Him hold you in the steadfast hope that He is making all things new.

When you’re desperately hanging on to your sanity and strength and the easiest thing to do is quit, let Him hold you with a grip that is steadfast, immovable, and always abounding.

When you’re being strong for everybody else but it feels as though nobody’s looking out for you, let Him hold you in a generous peace that passes all understanding.

When you’ve exhausted every other resource and you’re out of ideas, schemes, or advisors, let Him hold you in a deep wisdom that is pure, peaceable, trustworthy and kind.

When you’re haunted by shadows of shame from your past or taunted by shadows of fear and insecurity from your future, let Him hold you in the brightness of His countenance that is turned toward you.

When you’re so overwhelmed with the demands and the busyness that you can’t give yourself permission to stop long enough to recognize the air filling your lungs, let Him hold you in the promise of a rest that remains for all who are His.

When your horizon at best looks as though you’re going around in cruel circles, let Him hold you in the truth that the steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord.

When you’ve prayed and prayed and heaven seems silent, let Him hold you in the promise that in due season you will reap if you don’t give up.

At the end of the day and the darkness of your way, what matters most is not what you’re holding on to – but Who is holding on to you.

Andy Wood

Copyright © Andy Wood @ www.LifeVesting.com
All rights reserved. Used by permission. 


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.