Standing Strong with One Another


redwoods1My husband and I just got back from a fun field trip with our kids. We acted as chaperone/cabin leaders on a two night stay at the Redwood State National Park Wolf Creek Outdoor School (that kind of sounded like a hotel commercial). Not quite, our accommodations included 8 sets of bunk beds, with a bunch of silly kids and sleeping on pads of about 1/8 of an inch thick!  Now mind you, while there for our outdoor school adventure, it also rained approximately 80% of the time. I am happy to report that most of the kids had thick skin and there wasn’t much complaining AT ALL. When you live on the North Coast as we do, you just have to accept that rain is just part of the game (I have to keep reminding myself of that little fact, teehee)!

The premise of outdoor school is to provide students with a fun and educational experience in which they did field studies of the surrounding elements. The field studies for the outdoor school focused on three areas which were: watershed (water cycle), prairie habitat and old growth redwoods. During each study, a forest ranger took us parent leaders, along with a group of kids out into the surroundings where they led studies with fun and active participation from the kids. At the end of each field study, the students had to write about something which they learned for that particular study and then what they liked most about it. Being the big kid that I am and refusing to grow up, I thought I’d write this blog about my favorite study and what I personally took away from it.

My favorite turned out to be the old growth redwood study. I enjoyed it primarily because the redwoods are indigenous to our area and I never cease to amazed by the enormity of their height, width, strength and majestic beauty. During one part of this study, the ranger asked that we all lay on the ground and stare up at the redwoods. It felt magical to watch the rain flow down through layers of the tree canopy which floated more like snowflakes than like actual raindrops. We also took solo hikes through the forest and were asked to go slow and use all our senses as we strolled along paths and enjoyed all the sights and sounds of the forest. The students also learned all kind of neat and interesting facts about old growth redwoods.

It reminded me of when I first moved to California and learned about the redwoods. One of the things that shocked and yet impress me the most about them was their extensive root system. You would think that because of their enormous size, that they would have deep roots. Yet the opposite is true, they are shallow. They extend over one hundred feet from the base of the tree and intertwine with the roots of other redwoods. They usually grow in groups called groves. This increases their stability to withstand storms and flooding. In essence, God created them to need one another to stand tall and strong.

The redwoods remind me of what I call the “one another” principal in the bible.  In John 13:34 it says: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. It’s kind of like a grove of redwoods. When God created us, he did not create us to be alone but that we would need each other for support. God created us all with a deep need for love and community. From the beginning God said it was not good for man to be alone and he created Eve for Adam. He told them to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth.  God instituted the first family and he made them to be helpers, one to another. This is why God gives us our families today and as a greater picture, the body of Christ and members of God’s family.

In 1 Cornithians 12, God gives us a picture of the church as one person with many different functioning parts because this is how the church is to function properly. When we become a believer, we are baptized into Christ as one. We are all created unique and special in our own ways, but God created each of us for one another. We all have different personalities, gifts and abilities but all are to be used for helping one another along in our journey with him (Ephesians 4:16).

As a visual demonstration of a redwood root system, the ranger passed out a net (similar to that of a cargo net) and told us all to stand in a circle and grab hold of an outer edge of the net. Then, one at a time, the ranger asked that each person while holding on to the net take a turn leaning back and see how the rest of us supported their weight. This was such a powerful visual of redwood root system and the support the redwoods gained from each another. I couldn’t help but think of our amazing creator who not old formed these amazing giants but also the structure in which he created them to exist, in groves. It was also a powerful reminder to me of how Christ created the family and his church to function! Him as the head, and each one doing it’s part with the ultimate goal of giving God the glory by doing His work and being his hands and his feet here in the world today! What an awesome God we serve!

Father God, I thank you for instituting the family. Thank you that it is a place where we can grow together and to become more like you in showing love for and serving one another. Thank you that you formed the church in the same way. Help us to work toward unity in the body of Christ also that we may be a reflection of you for the advancement of your kingdom work. To you be the glory both now and forever. AMEN

Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

 

 

There is Hope!


hope anchorSo God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. Hebrews 6:18-20

We live in a society where at times things can seem hopeless. It only takes a few minutes of listening to the daily news to get severely discouraged. Our government’s a mess, families are falling apart, God has been cast out of our schools and loved ones are sick and dying. There seems to be tragedy and devastation all around us. So my question to you is this, “Where does your hope lie in all of this?”

We all put our hope in something. If we hope in the things of this world, we will surely be disappointed. The world promises happiness in stuff and let me tell you, no amount of stuff will ever make you happy. Even extremely wealthy people who own it all are severely disappointed and unhappy. Finding the “right” person who complete you is not the answer either, because there is no such thing. We are all human and flawed and at times disappoint even our dearest loved ones. Some seek happiness in pleasure, and this too is fleeting.  Pleasure comes and goes and always leaves a sense of regret and disappointment and longing for the next fulfillment.

This world is in a fallen state and it happened when sin entered this world through the sin of Adam and Eve. But God in his great love for us paved a way by sending Jesus for us, for our sinfulness. Because of the sin passed on through Adam and Eve we are all sinners, the bible says that if we think we are without sin, we are deceiving ourselves (1 John 1:8). The bible says that no one is good enough (Romans 3:10). We are all sinners deserving of death.

So where do we put our hope? The answer in found in 1 Peter 1:3-6. The text says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”

This passage explains that if we put our hope in God, our creator and the creator of the universe, we can have a living hope. God sent his son Jesus to live on this earth to be an example for us and to live and die for us. He can identify with our sufferings because he became human for us. He took on our sinfulness and suffered and died for us. He loves us that much! And then the awesome part is just as the scriptures foretold, he arose on the third day and ascended into heaven. God is not dead. When we believe and put our faith and trust in Him we gain the salvation of our souls and have an eternal hope In Him (John 3:16). God then seals us with the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13) who is with us as our guide and helper and the guarantee of our inheritance, eternal life!

People often question why a loving God who supposedly loves us, would allow pain of suffering in this world. But God does not cause the pain and suffering, it is the curse that goes back to the fall of man in the garden of Eden. When we put our trust in Jesus and his finished work on the cross, we gain a living hope.  We can rejoice and know that the best is yet to come. Even though there is pain and suffering in this world, if we have Jesus as the Lord of our lives, we can set our sights on Eternity where God promises there will be no more death, sorrow, crying or pain and that these things will be gone forever (Revelation 21:4). Jesus offers us a living hope and the bible says in Roman 5:5 that this hope will not lead to disappointment. Make sure that your hope is secured (anchored) in Him today!

Thank you Lord Jesus for the Hope we have in You! Thank you for sending Jesus to pay the penalty for my sin! Help me to fully trust you and to set my sights on eternity with you! Thank you for who you are and for your amazing love toward us! To you be the glory both now and forever! AMEN

1 John 1: 8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.

Romans 3:10 No one is righteous—not even one.

John 3:16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Ephesians 1:13-14 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.