Rebecca Burtram

Blog

I. Am. So. Tired.

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Photo by David Kovacs on Pexels.com
Here it is. I am going to give you the ugly truth.

I. am. so. tired.

In fact, I’m so tired that I just used my least favorite punctuation rule breaker. I hate when people put a period after each word. “I.” is not a sentence. I know we are being dramatic in our period usage, but it drives me insane. I hope this mini grammar rant helps you to fully grasp just how. tired. I. am.

I’m so worn out I have let my grammar hang up go in order to be overly dramatic. You’re welcome.

I’m not throwing in the towel. I haven’t decided that God has deserted us. (For a second I thought about breaking all the rules and spelling that desserted… YUMMM! Wouldn’t it be great if God desserted us?!?!?)

I still believe God can do anything in and through our church. What I am tired of is not being able to control it.

Do you know how draining it is for a control freak recovering from mild OCD to continually give her everything and just surrender the results to God? No. Well, it is. It’s exhausting.

Every week, I get a new inspiration of how I can reach people for Christ and win our city. I’m going to lead people to life change and solve all their problems and heal all the broken hearts. In my head, whatever idea I have is going to be the thing to turns it all around and our church is going to help literally everyone in Charlottesville.

Yes, I said literally. Deal with it.

Then, without fail, I fail. I can’t reach everyone. I can hardly reach anyone. I can’t change people’s lives.

I can only surrender.

I can only follow God’s voice, love people, and trust God to be exactly who he is. EVERY WEEK. Every single week, I have to say, “God this whole church plant thing is yours. You can have it. I can’t do it. It has to be you.” Then I have to roll up my sleeves and work with barely any control of the outcome.

God has to stir people’s hearts. God has to heal the wounds people carry. God has to open people’s ears to hear his message of grace, mercy, and love that leads to repentance. You would think I could just kick my feet up and take comfort in knowing the one who created it all is in control.

No, not me.

Instead, I have to wrestle down my own need for control and cram it into a box pushing the lid on ever so carefully. But every little thought winds it’s way around and tightens the springs until pop goes the weasel, and I’m bouncing all around again trying to be seen and significant. (You know… like a Jack in the Box… I know, I tried a bit too hard on that one, but I liked it anyway. Bear with me.)

Look, I’m just tired and need your prayers. Okay?

I need you to pray that I would have the strength to truly surrender to God’s control so I can enjoy that whole easy yoke and light burden thing.

Thanks, friends.

Oh, you’re probably waiting for me to end this with a super cutesy wrap up that ties to the beginning and highlights a lesson that applies to all of you too since that is my go-to move.

Sorry, I’m too tired this time.

This is part of my new church planting book. I am posting as I go, so please feel free to follow along. Click the section titles below to read along:

The Disillusioned Planter:

A Guide on What to Do When The Church Doesn’t Take Off After You Launch

  1. Introduction
  2. I. Am. So. Tired.
  3. Curveball
  4. Dear Church

 

 

CHURCH PLANTING

Don’t You Dare

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Ashley Randleman, fellow Church planting lady, has become a dear friend and a great encouragement to me. She has listened to my insecurities and frustrations, prayed with me, and celebrated victories. One great joy has been watching her develop her writing. She has a beautiful and encouraging voice in her work. Check out this amazing post by her and then go to her blog!


I’m sure you have heard someone say it. Perhaps you have even said it. And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if you have at least thought it. The words, “I’m a bad mom.”

Yes. There are “bad moms” in the world – moms that have abandoned, abused, or even murdered their own children. These are the moms that shouldn’t have been ones in the first place as they didn’t steward the gift of life that children are.

If you are wondering if you are a bad mom, the fact that you are even wondering that means that you aren’t. Yes, there are bad moms. But I doubt that you are one of them.

The truth is, even the world’s best mom is a beautifully blundered one. Because at her very core, she is selfish, prideful, and possesses limited amounts of patience and grace. She is sinful. She is human. And she needs Jesus. And if we are being honest with ourselves, there is an overarching “she” in all of us.

(Yes, that’s right. We are sinful. We are human. And we need Jesus.)

Now, I’ve been guilty of not only thinking and saying the words, “I’m a bad mom,” but also wondering if the lie was refutable.

I mean, my list is pretty long…

I’ve accidentally clipped their tiny Newborn fingernails a little too short and they let out the saddest of cries.

I’ve ran their bath water a little too hot and set them in the bathtub before checking the water temperature– accidentally scalding the bottoms of their feet.

I’ve let them “cry it out” and wondered if I was creating any long-term emotional damage.

I’ve had upset dishes and one-year-olds and I comforted the dishes instead.

I’ve been exhausted by them. And frustrated with them.

I’ve lost my patience. And my joy.

I’ve reacted instead of responded.

I’ve disciplined without first giving myself my own time-out.

I’ve spoken to them a little too loudly, a little too harshly, and a little too impatiently.

I’ve let their poor behavior bring out my own.

I’ve said, “No” when it wouldn’t have hurt for me to say, “Yes.”

I’ve made them finish their supper when in fact they really were full (as well as sick) as it all came back up later.

I didn’t look when they urged me to and I failed to see them jumping, climbing, or catching the ball.

I’ve been more concerned about making sure the toys got put away than actually engaging the children with them.

I didn’t finish the book, craft, or game that I said we would later, because “later” was trumped by baths, brushing teeth, and bedtime.

I’ve rushed bedtime and omitted snuggling, stories, and singing in order to get to bed myself.

I threw something of theirs away that I called “trash” that they deemed “treasure.”

I threatened some form of consequence and then never followed through.

I followed through on some form of consequence that I shouldn’t have threatened.

I put off scheduling their dentist appointments, to find out they had a cavity.

I simply forgot to schedule (or to show up at) their well-child exam.

And we aren’t quite there yet, but I’m sure there will come the day when I’ll miss a game, a recital, or a special performance because of unforeseen circumstances.

Yes, I’ve had my fair share of “I’m a bad mom” moments…

And I’m sure by now your own guilt, shame, and regret has taken over and you are wishing for your own moments – along with their feelings – to leave you the heck alone. (And yes, I said, “heck” because a Pastor’s wife shouldn’t swear.)

In the last couple of years, I’ve turned the page when it comes to this topic. When my “bad mom” moments occur (and occur they do), I choose to extend grace to myself – the same kind that I would want my husband or my children to extend to me. I choose to not bathe myself in the guilt, shame, or regret of those moments. I choose to welcome His mercies that “begin afresh each morning” (Lam. 3:23) – and fail forward.

What I mean by that is since I’m flawed and sinful by nature, I’m going to mess up! Again and again. And I’m going to ask for forgiveness. Again and again. And I’m going to extend grace to myself. Again and again.

Philippians 3:14, 15 says it perfectly, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

I have committed to fail forward. It has been incredibly humbling to get down to my children’s level and explain that their behavior shouldn’t affect my own. I’ve had to apologize to them and ask for forgiveness from them.

I have come to the realization that I am beautifully blundered. And so are you.

So, let’s fail forward! When we make mistakes, let’s learn from them. Let’s apologize and ask for forgiveness. And when we make a mess, let’s make it right!

The only way you can be a bad mom is if you stop being one altogether. Do not neglect doing the one thing that only YOU get to do.

I’ll leave you with this when it comes to entertaining those “I’m a bad mom” thoughts of yours…

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

You are not a bad mom. Don’t you dare think it. Don’t you dare say it.

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Aside from Ashley Randleman being a pastor’s wife, mothering four children, keeping house, and homeschooling; life’s simpler accomplishments are when she gets more than 5-hours of uninterrupted sleep, finishes an adult conversation, and finds her living room carpet by the end of the day. She looks forward to Date Night, cappuccinos, running, and traveling.

You can read more about her journey of life and motherhood at holdingtheplumbline.com.

CHURCH PLANTING

Fine Lines

Jon and Rebecca

I am not a fan of my slowing metabolism or my achy joints, but I adore my wrinkles.

I think the gray specks in my husband’s hair and the crinkles at the edges of his blue eyes make him more handsome now than when we met.

This picture is one of my favorites, not despite the fine lines around our eyes, but because of them. The wrinkles we both have are permanent representations of the manner in which the joy we have shared in our lives has shaped us.

We have laughed together and smiled so many times that our skin had to give way.

I see the births of our children, Jon across from me dancing at my siblings’ weddings, Ella on stage, Annalyn racing across a soccer field, Kaleb barreling into the end zone, laughter around Settlers of Catan, and so much more when I look at the deep grooves framing my eyes.

I don’t want to remove those lines. I want to make more of them. I think they are beautiful, and for me to see beauty when I look in the mirror has been one of the most constant internal struggles of my life.

So keep your beauty creams and anti aging products that remove fine lines and wrinkles. Call me when you have something to remove love handles.

PARENTING

The Disillusioned Church Planter

The Disillusioned Planter:

A Guide on What to Do When The Church Doesn’t Take Off After You Launch

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Photo by David Kovacs on Pexels.com

Church planting is the best worst thing I have ever done. 

I frequently hate church planting. But, at the core, I truly, madly, and deeply love it. I am a dreamer and a goal chaser. I believe in my own abilities, and I believe in God’s ability even more. That is why I am completely disillusioned by the fact that we only average 75 in attendance after 2 years and three months of existence. 

We are feeling burnt out but not released from this call. We love our church, but we are tired of feeling like failures. Every Facebook and Instagram post, every church planting network video, and every story that gets talked about in public is that of the planter who has hundreds of church members right away. No one tells you how to handle it when you follow every step laid out, with the exception of the unspoken expectation that you wear skinny jeans and maybe some thick rimmed glasses, and you still don’t see masses of people streaming into the building to volunteer to be baptized.

Obviously, my amazing husband and I should be hugely successful in church planting. We are two highly educated individuals who have spent their entire lives in the church. (Seriously, both our moms came to church with us the Sundays after we were born.) We are both pastors’ kids. So the ins and outs of ministry have never been a mystery to us. We have always known the good, the bad, and the ugly that exist within church leadership.

When we went into this endeavor, we had a great blend of ministry and marketplace experience since I had been teaching in the public school system for ten years and Jon had been bivocational many times. We were lovable, authentic, and driven; old enough to be experienced and young enough to be relevant; and, on top of that, we were attractive enough to be pleasant to look at but not so attractive that we would cause people to stumble. We were the perfect combination for the take this city model.

I don’t understand why we aren’t a mega church already. According to everything we see in the church planting leaders’ culture, we should be averaging at least 500 people by now. Our low attendance is a great mystery.

I have been editing a blog for a church planting network for the past two years, and I try hard to get people to write honest posts. Some do, and some are afraid to admit the struggle. I asked one individual whose plant closed its doors to write a post about it. Instead, she sent an upbeat and encouraging post about following God’s great adventure. There was not a single word in it about her plant struggling or closing. I get it. I really do. No one wants to be seen as a public failure, myself included. However, I’m not so sure we are failing when our churches don’t get big overnight or even close after years of struggle.

If a missionary goes to another country and starts a church of 15, we celebrate and happily write checks to support them. If a planter in America does the same, we assume they are doing something wrong. Maybe they are, and maybe they aren’t. Do we think we know better than God? I’m pretty sure he calls the right people to the right places. Perhaps the tiny church is a success because it is exactly what God has planned. But that doesn’t fit our paradigms. Every pastor should have a mega church. It says so in the Bible. Oh, wait… it doesn’t. But I still want a big church.

For a hundred good reasons and one really ugly one, I want a big church. The good reasons are obvious. I want people to find Jesus and experience hope, freedom, and love. I want God’s best for people. I want to change the culture of our city. I want people to love each other and quit being racists, classists, bigots, and all around jerks. I want people to find healing from the wounds we inflict on one another. I want so many good things that only God can do. But I want to do them, and I want to be seen as a success while I do them. Yes, I know. I’m a terrible person who wants good things for others. I’m sure there is no one else with selfish goals and ambitions in church leadership. I’m definitely the only one.

So where does that leave meIt leaves me completely and utterly disillusioned with church planting. I have followed every step, but the steps didn’t work. In every other area of my life, I have found great success by following directions, passionately pursuing a goal, and working really hard. I have seen time and again that if I put my mind to it, I can, and will, be successful. I have trophies, ribbons, plaques, medals, diplomas, cords, and certificates that are proof my philosophy works. But it doesn’t work in the church.

God is always flipping the script, which is something our buck the system and forge your own path culture should love. However, I’m old school, and I don’t love that success can look like failure. I want it to look like success. I want to look like a success. Forget the whole last will be first and be a servant junk. Give me, give me, give me. I want, I want, I want…..until I get in God’s presence. Then, all of a sudden, his way makes sense.

I want nothing more than to just be his. I want to be what he says to be. I want to do what he says to do. I am overwhelmed, full, lost, and found. I am captivated and free. There are no words, just him.

When I am in that place, I am at peace with our church as it is. But I’m also motivated and ready to hear from God on what he wants to do next with it. That is why I love planting. I love being right where God tells me to be. I love doing what he has told me to do.

Am I tired? Frequently. Am I discouraged? Bi-weekly. Do I worry about finances? Weekly. Do I worry about the needs that have been shared with me? Daily. Is that God’s fault? No. It’s mine.

I was up late stressing the other night, and I decided to read the Bible to help me sleep (since all good Christians know a little Bible reading can put you right to sleep), and God used the opportunity to remind me that I’m an idiot. Matthew 6 slapped me across the face, woke me from my selfish stupor, and then, as it should, allowed me to sleep.

The Rebecca Burtram abridged version of Matthew 6 says, “Quit trying to get attention when you follow me. Just follow me. I’m the reward. Also, stop worrying so much. I’ve got this.” So that is where I am today.

I am weirdly at peace with my tiny church in a world that only celebrates the skinny jeaned booming success stories.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still going to hustle my butt off and do all I can to do my part for this church, but I’m going to be at peace with knowing that I am exactly where God wants me, and I am going to find joy in letting God do whatever he is going to do with our church… as long as it gets big eventually.

Oh, wait… I guess I still have some work to do with the whole being at peace with whatever God wants from my labors. I might have to give it to God again….every day.

This is part of my new church planting book. I am posting as I go, so please feel free to follow along. Click the section titles below to read along:

The Disillusioned Planter:

A Guide on What to Do When The Church Doesn’t Take Off After You Launch

  1. Introduction
  2. I. Am. So. Tired.
  3. Curveball
  4. Dear Church
CHURCH PLANTING

Before I Was Ready

Before I Was Ready

I was pregnant at my college graduation ceremony. I knew I wasn’t ready, but Kaleb arrived to rock our world in the best way possible. We were young and dumb. We didn’t have time to establish careers or learn how to live independently.

Ready or not, we were parents.

We were suddenly deep in a world of diapers, spit up, adorable hiccups, and exhausting joy. We jumped in all the way, and having babies two and three felt like the most natural thing in the world. When Annalyn was born, we felt like old pros at labor, delivery, and infancy.

Parenting became comfortable and routine.

Last night, my middle child had her first semi-formal dance. We prepared for the night by shopping for a dress and shoes, ordering a boutonniere, and practicing her desired hairstyle. Yet when Ella rode away with her date and Jon and I dropped Kaleb and Annalyn off at the movie theater, I realized I wasn’t completely ready for this.

It was a unique moment of realizing exactly where we are in life. In just two weeks, I will no longer have a child in elementary school, and my oldest will be done with middle school.

Out of the blue, my babies grew up, and I am suddenly feeling very unprepared.

Okay, I know you are thinking this shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise. It is the natural progression of life, and it has been 15 years in the making. But somehow I am caught off guard.

I failed to anticipate how much I would want to put everything in slow motion. I couldn’t wait for more independence, and now I am acutely aware of the brevity of it all. The days and nights that seemed to drag on into eternity have smashed together into lightning quick years.

The screaming babies have transformed into funny, smart, and brave young people.

The great majority of my students are seniors, and I refer to them as young adults- young ADULTS. Don’t you see? My baby is already practicing spring football with students who will be in my classroom next year. He is on the cusp, and, if I blink, he will by walking across the stage in a cap and gown. And his sweet sisters will march on right behind him.

“Slow down,” you might say. “You are fast-forwarding,” you might say. And you would be right.

I need to slow down.

It’s a lesson I keep learning and forgetting. I run so hard toward pursuing my dreams, succeeding at work, and growing our church. I often feel as though I must accomplish everything right now. However, these worthy pursuits will still be there to chase in six years. They will wait for me, but the opportunities to be with my children will not. They will grow up before I am ready.

Isn’t that just their way? Arriving and leaving before we are ready.

What a joy these little boundary pushers are. They grow us beyond our capacities and fill the space with love and pride.

Ready or not, here we grow.

 

 

 

 

PARENTING

When Planting Isn’t Sexy

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So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” I Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)

At a recent network event, my husband made a joke about how he needed a support to talk with once church planting stopped being sexy. Although it got a good laugh from the audience, his comment is a surprisingly accurate description of the church planting process.

We begin the process much like we begin our relationships. There is an appeal in the newness that draws us, and, as we begin to get to know more about church planting, there is often a genuine emotional and spiritual connection. We are hooked.

Every new step in the process has our limbic systems buzzing. We find great gratification as we recruit team members, gather financial support, purchase new equipment, move into a space, and see people who might not otherwise have come to a church walk through our doors and encounter Christ.

It is an amazing and pleasure filled experience…. Until it isn’t.

Like a marriage, there are seasons that don’t feel particularly sexy. The newness wears off, and struggles come.

Finances

Money is one of the top stressors on relationships, so it should come as no surprise that one of the biggest reasons church planters start to lose that loving feeling is a lack of resources. Everyone is eager to help out when planters are first getting started, but eventually the new church has to care for itself.

Many pastors find themselves working multiple jobs in order to support their families and the occasional church bill the offering just didn’t cover.  

Lack of Growth

After fifteen years of marriage you are still fighting about the same issues. He won’t put the toilet seat down, and she spends too much money on clothes. Why won’t your partner just grow? Sounds a bit like the church doesn’t it?

We have been at it a few years, and the numbers haven’t done much. But the lack of fruit in some members’ lives is much harder on your spirit than the slow pace of growth in attendance. People doubt God when things get tough, pull back on their service, or walk away from the church.

Forgetting the Reasons We Fell in Love  

With all the financial strain and the slow or stagnant progress, church planting can lose its luster. It stops being sexy, and it just feels like a lot of work. You may even question what is keeping you in it.

What to do?

Ministry and marriage aren’t always sexy. They require grit, commitment, and a deep knowledge of God’s control. The work is hard, but the reward is great.

Get help- see a counselor, pray, read all the available resources- particularly the Bible, and talk to others who have been there. You aren’t alone in the struggle, and God has called us to community. I have often said that community is a mathematical phenomenon because it divides our struggles and multiplies our joy.

Rekindle the flame- make a list of all the miraculous ways God provided for your church and your family, listen to old testimony videos people made about your church, look at pictures from the beginning to now, and go on dates. When I say go on dates, I mean it. Set up a romantic dinner with your spouse. Go sit on the lawn of the space you tear down and set up or use the foyer of your permanent location and dream for the future. Pray together over the location and the people. Laugh about the disasters, cry about the heartbreaks, and talk about everything that is going right.

Keep God at the center Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT)  says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” Paul is talking to slaves, but it is in a section of scripture where he is giving practical advice to all believers on how to live life with God at the center. We all went into Church planting for the same primary reason- God called us to it. We can let all the expectations of others and the expectations we have placed on ourselves slip away. We have one Master, and he is proud of our labors.

 

 

Uncategorized

Desert (and Dessert) Seasons

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I am devastated.

Okay, that might be a touch melodramatic, but I am seriously bummed. I applied for a job I really wanted, and I found out after work yesterday that I didn’t make it past the first round interview.

Now I’m sitting here wondering what to do with myself. Do I lick my wounds, work three times harder to make my writing dream come true, or put everything I have into my current teaching career and forget about writing, speaking, working for our church?

I think I made a step in the right direction by visiting The Cheesecake Factory last night and savoring some chocolate mouse and lemon raspberry cheesecakes. I’m not sure how it helped, but I know it did.

I have found that I can’t teach English full time, write part-time, work for the church part-time, be mom to my three very active kids, and be a foster mom. I know that realization might have seemed obvious to everyone reading this, but its harder to come to terms with when you are living it.

If I quit teaching, we will be poor and without health insurance. If I stop writing, I give up on my biggest dream. If I quit working with the church, I let my calling go. If Jon and I don’t make a home for kids without families, we neglect our convictions. If I give less time to my kids, I lose what is most important.

I wanted to be an instructional coach because working with teachers to improve instruction would have been an awesome job, and I would have gained endless hours of freedom through no longer having to grade a never ceasing stream of essays.

I love my students, and I love teaching English. I actually love everything I am doing. I just don’t have time to do it all.

Recently, I’ve been a rock star parent and a grading goddess because I have cut what I do at the church by 75% and I have barely written. We have also been between foster placements this month.

It has hurt my heart to watch the gaps at church and the dwindling blog views.

Despite my soul consoling visit to The Cheesecake Factory last night, the lesson might be that I can’t have my cake and eat it too.

Or maybe, just maybe, the lesson I am learning is to trust God that he knows my dreams and the calling he has put on my life. I can be sullen and disappointed for a minute, but then I need to remember where God has brought me. I need to quit acting like the Israelites in the desert.

They only focused on their present discomforts instead of remembering the miraculous rescue, the daily provision, and the promised future.

Man that stings to write. I feel so convicted.

God, help me to keep my focus on your great works, your presence in the mundane, and the promises for my future. I am sorry that I quickly forget all your provision when I spend a little time in a desert season. Forgive me for my fickle heart and help me to always see the daily blessing. Teach me to trust you with all of my life. Amen

 

CHURCH PLANTING

As She Goes

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We have had a 16 year old daughter since September 28th.

The past four and a half months have been tumultuous, hopeful, discouraging, rewarding, and, more than anything else, draining.

I am drained.

I have given love and support. I have given boundaries and consequences. I have given forgiveness and second, third, fourth, and fifth chances. I have given all I had to give, and it was not enough.

On Monday, I sat in a room with a team of adults to determine the next steps. The conclusion was unanimous; this child needs more.

As I always do, I will let you see the ugly in me. I was relieved, maybe even elated.

Mom. That’s what she calls me, even to her friends when I am not around. Mom.

As she goes, I don’t know what side is up or down.

I left that room knowing the end was in sight, believing the decision was right, and feeling LIGHT. But, then…with her sitting beside me in the car, I was sad and broken because we were driving to what will no longer be her home.

She asked about her inappropriate clothes. I said, “afuera,” and we laughed because that is where she said she had been. I know you don’t understand that sentence, but there is so little in this situation we can comprehend.

How did she… no we… get here?

She is funny, determined, and smart. She is wild, clever, and slippery… so slippery she is sliding right out of our hands.

As she walked into the house, I stayed in the car and wept.

It has been a few days, and we are still mid transition. She knows where she is headed, but she doesn’t (as usual) believe the consequence is real or will happen. She doesn’t know that we gave all we had as she trampled every rule and laughed at every boundary.

In these days, I have watched her continue to push, wiggle, and strive to get to things that we have fought to protect her from. I have been relieved for the battle to end and sorrowed at the fact we are are both losing.

I know the next step is right, and I am hopeful for reform and return. But as she goes, I am angry at her defiance, frustrated by her attitude, desperate for the relief, and heartbroken we couldn’t give her more.

PARENTING

John 21: Feed My Sheep

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Read: John 21, Psalm 21

Who: Who wrote this book? Who did they write it to? What was their reason for writing?

What: What does this passage say about God, me, and my relationship with him?

15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”

The passage today shows us many things about God: 1. He restores us, 2. He wants us to follow him, 3. He loves people.

  1. He restores us. Peter had failed. He said he would never deny Christ, yet he quickly fell to pressure and renounced his relationship with Jesus three times. In this passage, Jesus gives Peter three opportunities to pronounce his love of Christ. This was for Peter’s sake.
  2. He wants us to follow him. The next potion of the passage not shown here ends with, “follow me.” Jesus desires for us to show our love through him by following his example. What was his example? Serving others.
  3. He love us. We are the sheep. Every person is represented in the statement, “feed my sheep.” Jesus shows his love for us by teaching us to care for one another.
Why: Why is the truth important?
1. We don’t have to walk through life burdened with our mistakes. We can give them to God.
2. Following God isn’t about living a perfect life. It is about following Christ’s example of not striving to be first and caring for others.
3. We are loved, and we can show others that they are loved.
How: How would my life, character and perspective be different if I truly believed this truth?
I wouldn’t live my life hindered by my past failings, I would stop pushing to put myself first, and I would walk in security and love.

Prayer:

God, thank you for restoration. Help me to follow after you and show your love.

Amen

21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

John 20: Right Where You Are

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Read: John 20, Psalm 20

Who: Who wrote this book? Who did they write it to? What was their reason for writing?

What: What does this passage say about God, me, and my relationship with him?

26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” 28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. 29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” John 20:26-29 (NLT)

God meets us where we are. Even though Thomas had walked with Jesus, been witness to his miracles, and sat under his teaching, he still had doubts about Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus didn’t write him off because of his doubt. Instead, he made himself available to him.

Jesus met Thomas right where he was.

Although Thomas had seen who Jesus was time and again through his miracles and teachings, Jesus didn’t say, “Wow, you still doubt me? What is the matter with you, Thomas?!?!?” Rather, Jesus came close to Thomas, showed him his wounds, and replaced his doubt with belief.

God understands our doubts, and he loves us enough to show us who he is again and again.

Why: Why is the truth important?
Sometimes, we need to be able to work through our doubts instead of pretending they don’t exist or running from them.
God can handle our doubts.
How: How would my life, character and perspective be different if I truly believed this truth?
It gives me peace to know I don’t have to be perfect in my faith. It also allows me to develop a deeper faith as I address my doubts by looking to God’s word.
Just as Thomas could touch Jesus’ wounds, I can experience the truth of who God is as he reveals himself to me in his word.

Prayer:

God, thank you for continually revealing yourself to me as I work through my doubts. I love that you are bigger than I can fully comprehend. Help me to faithfully seek you in all of your complexity. You are an amazing God, and I love you.

Amen

21 Days of Prayer and Fasting
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