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Where Are You Headed?

Where Are You Headed?

Do you remember that first drive alone after getting your driver’s license? The freedom to go anywhere. Instead of asking for a ride or checking the bus schedule, you could just crank down those windows and hit the open road cranking your music at your volume. It was everything your teenage self dreamed of finally come true. 

I was 16. This was before TikTok, Instagram, and even Facebook. It was the day of AOL and IM. Before everyone had a computer in their pocket. It was the day of CDs, $1.25 a gallon gasoline, and cellphones were only as common as pagers for teenagers. And in a single parent household, there was no way I was getting a cellphone. 

 

I had a dark blue Ford tempo that shook when you hit 65 mph, but all I could see was freedom on those four worn out tires. I hopped in for my first drive with my license still warm from being printed earlier in the day. 

 

My heart was pumping and I couldn’t help smiling when I drove around the first corner. I was on my own. Where should I go for the first drive? Downtown! So I made my way to the highway and felt the Ford Tempo shaking to Metallica like it was in a mosh pit.

 

Then it happened. I realized I had no idea how to get downtown. Some of you may remember that a GPS was for people with money, and I had none. So I found myself taking what I came to find out was the wrong exit and got utterly lost amidst what felt like a maze of off ramps and on ramps. 

 

Simultaneously, people lovingly honked encouraging beeps at me and pointed my gaze to the heavens with their longest finger to remind me where to find my hope. Who knew drivers were so kind to us beginners? 

 

I finally pulled over and took a breath. I wasn’t sure where to go next until I saw one sign I recognized: Main Street. I remembered someone at some point telling me that Main Street always ran north/south. So if I could get to Main Street then I could get to a street I recognized and just take that home. But even that was more confusing than I anticipated. What I thought was an exit to Main Street was an exit that eventually would turn into Main Street. 

 

After a series of twists and turns, I finally made it to…Main Street! Then I had to get to a road I recognized. Then home. 

 

Needless to say, I never made it to downtown that day, but because I could read the signs around me, I did, thirty minutes later, make it home. 

 

Where are you headed? 

There are plenty of times in life when we feel like our inexperienced teenage selves behind the wheel of life. As someone wise once said, “We’re rookies our whole lives.” Where do you feel that today? Or maybe a better question, where do you NOT feel that way? 

 

The longer we’re in the driver seat, the more we ask, “Where am I headed again?” We wonder what we’re looking for in life in the first place. In the midst of the everyday, we can wrestle with where we feel most alive. We all want to know we’re on our way to something real, genuinely good, and beautiful. But do you know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there? How do you know that where you hope to go is where you’ll end up or even for that matter, where you want to end up? 

 

We live in a world with more access to more guiding resources than ever before. This truly is the information age. In the words of Ecclesiastes, “Of making many books there is no end….” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). To be clear, there is a lot of great advice and coaching available, and I’ve personally sought out as much as possible. 

 

Signs of Life

But with so many options pointing in a myriad of directions, what’s astounding is how far Jesus goes to give us clear signs of life. 

 

The Gospel writer John, who knew Jesus personally, often calls these pockets of Jesus’ surprising, life-giving work “signs.” Throughout the retelling of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, all of it is pointing us to the life Jesus has in Himself (John 5:26) and how that same life He has is made available to us (John 3:16) now and forever. 

 

We don’t have to spend our lives driving in circles or anxiously switching lanes. Rather, we can follow the signs of life that point to Jesus and so find life in/through/by Him. 

 

Join Us

So no matter where you find yourself, we hope you join us as we continue walking through John’s brilliant eyewitness testimony of the life He found in Jesus. 

 

If you’re traveling, stay connected with us online. If you’re here, join us in person, and if you want to go deeper in studying this life found only in Jesus, join us at theFormed.life for 15 minutes every day. For we know it’s not just about the destination but also about who we are becoming on the journey. 

 

Where are you headed? You don’t have to go it alone. Join us on the journey to life and life abundant…now. 

Ways to Avoid Becoming Terrible at Christmas

Ways to Avoid Becoming Terrible at Christmas

I love Christmas. But I hate how easily Christmas can deform us. What do I mean? 

I really love Christmas. I sing Christmas songs in July. Our family seems to have a thousand traditions jammed into December. We are one of those families who wear matching pajamas on Christmas Eve. I don’t think I’ve ever had the thought, “Well, that was too many Christmas carols in worship.” I love the smells, the bells, the sweaters, the peppermint everything…I could go on. 

But I find myself often disturbed by who we — Christians — become around this time of year. Children throwing tantrums because they didn’t get the toy they wanted. Adults throwing tantrums because they didn’t get…the toy they wanted. Debt skyrocketing. Patience running thin. Depression rates increase. Family fights are the norm. It’s the hap-happiest season of all…!

Why? Partly because we’ve replaced the shared longing for Christ in Advent with the materialistic lusts of Christmas. More than that, our rhythms and idols are heightened during holy days (aka holidays). In a culture with extravagant wealth when compared historically and globally, we tend to leverage that wealth toward meeting our deepest needs of security, safety, meaning, and belonging rather than looking to Christ. This time of year can easily become the heightened worship of materialism, and so it should be no surprise that at this time of year we get more of materialism’s fruits: hurry, selfishness, isolation, and loneliness. 

Now to the key question: how do we fight this? How do we recenter our longing for Christ and His desires in a way that brings change in us for the better this Advent? The answer lies not just in a surrender of the heart but also in a change of practice. The apostle Paul reminds us that grace propels us to walk into good works (Ephesians 2:10). So what do we do?

Here are three practices that the Holy Spirit can use to help reorient the Christmas holy day into being a day that makes us more whole. 

#1 Read the Christmas Story from the Bible and Talk about It. 

When Christmas morning rolls around, we can tell ourselves that we’ve outsourced the telling of the Christmas story to a movie or a previous sermon at some point in December so that we feel like we’ve checked that box. 

What’s Christmas morning about? Is it the shredding away of the wrapping paper to find our dreams met in the items around us? Or is it centering on the Christ child once again? 

What if we put away the phones, the apps, the slideshows, and just get out the good ol’ Bible. Grab coffee and open the book. Gather around it with others or alone and read of God come to us. 

Don’t rush it. Sit in it. Ask questions of this critical moment in history. Ask God to give you a deeper appreciation or a more rich understanding.

Remind yourself that God is the greatest gift given to humankind, and allow Him to relativize how much the gifts under the tree are to satisfy our deepest desires. 

Now, I hear the pushback. Gabe, that may be fine if you’re single or married without kids. But you don’t know my kids. You’re right. I’ve got three kids under the age of 8 as I write this. I know the questions that go through our minds as parents: What if they start to have a distaste for the Bible because I require them to sit through a reading and engage? What if it ruins the day? What if I lose my temper? Can’t we just relax on this day? Geez?! 

Materialism wants us to focus on instant gratification and avoid discipline. The gospel calls us to gracious parenting with our eyes set on who the children are becoming. I want us to call our children to know the Scriptures and know the Jesus who is at the center of all this. And just because they don’t look as engaged at first when reading the Christmas story as they do when they open presents, that doesn’t mean they won’t be more grateful for those times 10 years from now. 

Think about what you want your kids to say to their kids? What you want your spouse to say about you at your funeral? What if they said, “They always brought us back to God’s word. They didn’t want me to miss the greatest gift of all. I wasn’t always grateful for it, but they wouldn’t let me give my heart to stuff that wouldn’t fill my heart.” Can you imagine? 

So very practically, here are some of the traditional texts to engage with on Christmas:

  • Matthew 1:18-25. This is the passage of how the angel came to Joseph to tell him to stay with Mary even though she was pregnant with a child that wasn’t his. 
  • Luke 1:26-38. This is the passage where the angel comes to Mary and tells her she is to have a child. 
  • Luke 2:1-21. This is the classic passage of how Jesus was born and the shepherds came around the manger. 
  • Matthew 2. This is also a powerful passage of the foreigners (the Magi) who came to find Jesus, and how Jesus quickly became a refugee. A powerful reminder just how similar those early situations are to today.
  • Revelation 22:1-8. This is not as traditional in present day Christmas celebrations, but this text captures our advental longing for Christ’s second coming and the beauty of His coming presence. 

#2 Invite Others into Your Christmas Holy Day.

We can idolize the nuclear family in  western. In other cultures, extended family and even neighbors were included in holy day celebrations. Idols always destroy the vulnerable. Always. And some of the vulnerable in our culture are those who are single, whether young or older, and away from family. 

It’s fascinating that at the first Christmas, Mary and Joseph weren’t alone with Jesus. The shepherds joined them because God invited them (Luke 2:16). And throughout the gospel narrative we see again and again that Jesus himself defines the most important place of belonging not as the nuclear family but those who do the will of the Father (Matthew 12:50). Now this is in no way an excuse to exclude or avoid those who are related to us in a natural way (1 Timothy 5:8), but it is to expand our boundaries of belonging and inclusion. 

So on this Christmas, yes, call your grandma, but what about calling your Christian sister too? I’m not about making your Christmas day hectic, but maybe there’s one person you can reach out to who is in your life because you share Christ? Maybe they chose singleness like the apostle Paul encourages us to (1 Corinthians 7:7), or maybe singleness and isolation was a result of painful exclusion (James 1:27, 1 Corinthians 7:15). Regardless, we are made for community, and the church is to be the family of God in a very real sense. Who can you reach out to include this Christmas? 

Each Christmas there is someone Allie and I invite into our home that we hear is without a community on Christmas, and it is always better because of it. We don’t make any real adjustments. We just invite them into our lives to do Christmas with us, and it makes our Christmas day more beautiful. Try it out.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t add the importance of gathering with the church community around Christmas. It’s always fascinating to me that during a holiday centered on the beauty of Christ and His body, the Sunday after Christmas is one of the least attended Sundays in the year. I get there are reasons like travel and so on, but one important step in caring for the vulnerable around the holidays is to show up at church. We need each other, and if we don’t show up there – at our worship gatherings – we leave so many feeling even more alone when we need each other the most. 

#3 Be Radically Generous with Your Words. 

I don’t know how many times I have read the card on their presents for my kids, but they can’t even focus because their sights are set on the toy that is yet to be revealed under the wrapping paper. With such an emphasis on stuff during Christmas, we forget that some of the most powerful forms of generosity have to do with our words toward and for one another.

I recognize you need to figure out your rhythm with your family, but what if there was a part of Christmas day – maybe it’s even after the giving and receiving of the physical gifts – where each person shares something they are grateful for about the person sitting next to them? If you are a married couple, maybe you intentionally set time aside to speak your delight over one another?

I know, I know. Some folks are giving me the “you’re crazy” look right now. That just sounds hoaky, right? But why? We need to hear this from each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We need to hear from those closest to us that they are grateful for us. That’s even more important than whatever thing is under the tree. What if this year you did that for each person with you on Christmas morning? What if this year you just modeled the way? 

Let’s Become Better Together

Those are 3 practices that if we leaned into them during and around Christmas, the Holy Spirit would actually strengthen our bonds, encourage our faith, and train our mouths to anticipate Christ’s second coming. 

My hope is not that everyone does these exact three things. My hope is that this has given you a more biblical imagination for what God can do in and through you this holy day. It doesn’t have to be chaotic. It doesn’t have to be deforming. Christmas can be a time to give life, to form life, and to invite more into a shared life with Christ, if we are willing to allow our practices to communicate Christ at the center of Christmas once again. 

From all of us at Christ Community, Merry Christmas! 

How Do You Cultivate a Resilient Relationship?

How Do You Cultivate a Resilient Relationship?

In every relationship there is one constant. Whether it be friends, coworkers, neighbors, parents, one’s spouse or children, at some point in time, one will fail the other. It may be intentional or unintentional. It may be big or small. But you will fail someone close to you, and someone close to you will fail you. 

Right here, in the face of an inevitable failure, is when relationships have the highest likelihood of coming to an end. Often all it takes is a single offense to undo years of intimacy. Friend groups dismantle. Marriages dissolve. Collaborative partnerships come unhinged. Failure happens in every relationship, and all too often it means the relationship is over.

Forgiveness isn’t the goal

Where does one go from that place? I used to think failed relationships could be mended if people merely learned to forgive each other, but I was wrong. Forgiveness alone can’t fix a relationship. 

To be clear, forgiveness is necessary. Jesus calls every one of His followers to model a lifestyle of forgiveness. Christians who cannot forgive others should check whether they have experienced forgiveness from God (Matthew 6:14-15). On top of that, we are called to forgive not just here and there, but with such regularity that we lose count (Matthew 18:22). We are to have open hands with offenses and let go of wrongs with diligence. And yet, as difficult as forgiveness may be, it is not enough to repair a relationship. 

The problem with making forgiveness the goal of healing strained relationships is that it makes confession the only means. Confession is certainly an essential part of mending relational fallout. Confession is a way for the one who has committed an offense (or is a member of a group or corporation that has committed an offense) to own their failure by “naming ownership of the thing” that brought fissure. Ownership is essential for the offender to name and for the offended to witness. 

But when forgiveness is the goal and confession the only means, then relational mending is a one time transaction that can make the offender feel absolution has been achieved while the offended is still emotionally (and possibly physically) wrestling through the pain of the original offense. This sort of forgiveness may very well be the grounds for a sense of freedom from the offense for the offender, but it will not necessarily restore the relationship for both parties.

In a culture of hyper-individualism, relational immaturity and an underlying expectation that everything we want should come with the click of a button, this can be hard to accept.  

While both parties may share a common perspective over what created the distance between them, it will not necessarily reestablish their former relationship. In some circumstances such efforts can actually create more relational distance when this dynamic isn’t acknowledged. 

As a pastor, I’ve seen this take place with a husband who has cheated on his wife, and having confessed to the affair and apologized, becomes enraged and wonders why she can’t “just treat him normal” from now on. “I said I was sorry, ok?! Why can’t you let it go?!” His failure to acknowledge how his previous sin continues to cause pain — even when she has extended forgiveness — actually may cultivate a sense of insecurity leading her to fear that her husband may commit the same sin again: “Was he just saying sorry so we don’t have to talk about it anymore, or is he really sorry and wants to change?”

As a pastor in our city, I’ve seen the same dynamic in conversations regarding race relations and the history of racial injustice in the United States. When historic injustices that have lingering effects are brought up, a common trope from some is “Why can’t they just move on?! That took place so many years ago!” This kind of response communicates a lack of genuineness in remorse and an unwillingness to listen. Is it any wonder that our city and nation are still so separated? 

Forgiveness is necessary, but it neither shuts off the valve of pain nor completes the work of restoration. Confession is necessary, but it is not sufficient. 

Resilience needs more

So how can we cultivate relationships that press through failure? What is the path to cultivating resilient relationships?

Every relationship that endures through failure requires an additional step: the important move through confession to repentance. While confession owns one’s guilt over a past action, repentance works toward actions of life for the other. Confession longs to receive absolution. Repentance longs to engage in the long-suffering work of repair. Confession can be perceived as a one and done transaction. Repentance accepts that a cyclical and ongoing journey is necessary.  

In some relationships, the most we can hope for in the short term is forgiveness. Much like Paul and John Mark (Acts 15:36-39), we end a relationship with an empty ledger of offenses but choose not to continue on in the relationship. For those relationships we long to see last, we need to go beyond absolution and do the enduring work of restoration. And for that, we need more than confession and forgiveness. We need repentance and repair for both parties. 

A well worn path

Examples of this are seen throughout the biblical storyline. It’s etched into the Old Testament law given to Israel to guide them into communal flourishing (e.g. Exodus 22, Isaiah 58). It was practiced by leaders like King David who had a heart like God’s in navigating national injustices (2 Samuel 21). It’s what John the Baptist proclaims to prepare the way for Jesus (Luke 3:1-6). Zacchaeus lives this out in establishing a radical financial repayment plan after which Jesus says, “Salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:1-10).

This was also carried out in the early church. In the early African church, we find the Canon of Hippolytus (4th Century A.D.), a book on church order as believers sought to live out the teaching of the Apostles. There were certain vocations that were not accepted in the early church because of how they maligned or abused neighbors. In some cases baptism was forbidden unless it could be established that they had left such vocations by the testimony of three witnesses.

If it was found that they had returned to a destructive line of work, they were barred from the church community. Injustice was simply not tolerated. It was not a place where you could just live life any which way and still remain in the fellowship. And when were they allowed to return to membership in good standing? It wasn’t after education, confession and forgiveness. Rather “they are to be excluded from the church until they repent with tears, fasting, and alms.” Repentance and repair revealed in everyday life.


In Work and Worship: Reconnecting our Labor and our Liturgy, Matthew Kaemingk and Cory Wilson comment on this early church practice. They write, “…the worker’s road to redemption runs primarily through liturgical practices—not theological education. Through the liturgical practices of tears, fasting, and alms, the worker is ultimately restored to the worshipping community.” 

Too much?

This response may seem outlandish or over the top. Frankly, most of the biblical characters and writings seem absurd to a world that downplays evil and so downplays the long suffering necessity of restoring and cultivating resilient relationships. We want what Bonhoeffer warns against as cheap grace or an easy believism that erroneously justifies doing anything we want to do with the assurance of absolution (Romans 6:1-2). 

Rather, Christians are to have a robust appreciation for the complexity of sin and the pervasiveness of evil within relationships and cultures, so we don’t approach God and others transactionally. We don’t come just wanting to get absolution, but actually seek reconciliation through the road of costly repentance. All of this has us humbly crying out for “more grace” (James 4:6).

So what about you? Me? Is it too much to ask of us?

If you want to cultivate resilient relationships, don’t just come with confession looking for absolution. Come with a posture of repentance ready to repair and go down the long road of rebuilding. It takes longer than we often want to give, but what you get are restored relationships, enduring community and genuine intimacy.

And for that we should be willing to give everything. Again. And again. 

Why We Need the Visual Arts in Our Formation

Why We Need the Visual Arts in Our Formation

What can get 50 men and women from across the metro to come together midweek for three hours after working all day? Two words: Ecclesiastes and art. 

Let me explain. 

Ecclesiastes Came to Life

On Wednesday, August 11, some 50 people came together to explore the complex themes of the book of Ecclesiastes through the lens of the art exhibit, Geheimnis, created by our Four Chapter Gallery curator, Kelly Kruse. 

During the time together, we feasted on food and artwork. Kelly spent time teaching Ecclesiastes and sharing her creative process, and then we engaged with her work through small and large group discussions. 

Equipped with a journal, each person was invited to process the artwork through guided questions corresponding to the themes of Ecclesiastes and their visual representation in Kelly’s work. The questions invited us to contemplate our mortality, compare texts within Scripture, and share our experiences of her work. The whole night was a deeply personal experience with the biblical text and ideas of Ecclesiastes illuminated in vibrant color. 

Art as a Catalyst

While this isn’t the first time the arts have been a catalyst in my faith, it highlighted afresh three ways the visual arts can be a catalyst for spiritual formation within the church.  

  1. The visual arts invite stillness

We can listen to our podcasts twice as fast. Our highway speed limits are merely suggestions often ignored. New movies are available on-demand for at-home release. Everything is fast, immediate, and hurried. This may sound cliché, but this fact seems even more clear now: we’re addicted to hurrying. It’s astounding how even a global shutdown seems to have been more like a bump in the road rather than a change in pace. This state of affairs is worrisome because we cannot become like Jesus in a hurry. 

What is helpful about good art is that it invites stillness. Artwork invites you to stop in your tracks, stay awhile, and even stare. Everything slows down. Some studies show that engaging in particular kinds of art can even decrease stress and lower blood pressure. 

We need more spaces of stillness if the Spirit is to do the slow deep work of forming us into Christlikeness. The visual arts can help. 

  1. The visual arts demand contemplation.

So often our faith formation paradigms revolve around getting information merely to regurgitate it later. While that is helpful at certain stages of development (especially catechesis for children), it is not sufficient for spiritual maturity. Otherwise, when the questions change due to the changing pressure points of culture, we will find ourselves ill-equipped to converse thoughtfully with our neighbors.

In the stillness of engaging visual art, we are able to be present. We are able to pay attention to one thing instead of being distracted by a thousand things. We can even pay attention to what we’re paying attention to. We can do more than ask “what am I noticing?” We may even lean into asking “why?” This kind of critical thinking in contemplation is a skill in itself to help in our journey of growth.

The visual arts demand contemplation. You cannot merely memorize the answer. You must marinate in the images, the colors, the textures, and shapes. It can be frustrating in its own right when all you want is to “know what it means” so you can move on. But art doesn’t want you to move on. Art invites you to experience what it means so you can move in.

This practice shapes us into the kind of people who can also engage the Scriptures better. If we merely come to the text looking for a proof text (a quick answer to a big problem), we may misrepresent what God is saying in that particular text. Hurried minds often lead to mindless hurry. Instead, Scripture invites us to study and meditate allowing the Spirit of God to illuminate God’s timeless truth in our specific lives. God doesn’t want us to move on but to move in with Him over time. 

We need more spaces that demand we contemplate rather than just consume. The visual arts demand contemplation.

  1. The visual arts extend the joy of discovery

As we sit in stillness and contemplate the work before us, over time we are extended the joy of discovery. Like an archeologist carefully digging for weeks on end, when the discovery is revealed, the joy is that much sweeter. So too with the visual arts and our study of Scripture! 

On that August night, I watched as people shared their experience of the themes of Ecclesiastes through the artwork with tears in their eyes. I heard exclamations of wonder as people sat in one particular work until it came alive to their imaginations. As Christians of various vocations have engaged with this art show throughout the summer, I have heard story after story of truly fascinating experiences that will stick with me for a lifetime. The joy of discovery after the contemplation was palpable and personal.  

Still Growing

Now, I say all this as a pastor. I was taught to love the Word of God, to teach with clarity, to communicate for change in the listener. I still believe all that is true. Simultaneously I’m growing in my experiential understanding that the arts are crucial to our discipleship today. In a world that may distrust what’s true, be disgusted by the good, often there is still a hunger for the beautiful. 

Even when not explicitly religious in themes – the visual arts are a catalyst for the kinds of rhythms necessary for our growth in Christ. When the visual arts are married to biblical ideas or even explicit texts and given intentional structure for conversation, it is a dynamic experience that shapes while it informs. 

How You Can Engage

If you want to experience this in your formation, here are three ways to engage.

1) Engage the artwork around you. It’s honestly astounding how much artwork is in our city. As you happen upon a local artist’s work, stop and stay. If you have other items on your list to do, then set your alarm for five minutes. Sit in the stillness. Contemplate and see what you discover! 

2) Join us at the Four Chapter Gallery. We would love to have you join us on any of our First Fridays, or better yet, come for one of our open gallery hours throughout the month. We often seek to create space for stillness so that you can contemplate the work outside of the activity of First Friday. 

3) Gather with others who want to do the same. If you want to go even further, curator Kelly Kruse is gathering a group of artists to meet twice a month starting in September to explore themes of art and faith. You can join the mailing list as well as communicate your desire to join in at hello@fourchapter.gallery

Our creative God is working. He’s working through His Word expressed and illuminated in the arts. Come and see for yourself.  

How to Discover Who We Are Meant to Be

How to Discover Who We Are Meant to Be

 

“Did you know we have ancestors from France?” 

Before I could say anything in response, my family member was on Google earth exploring the countryside of France pondering what this means for her and our family. 

She was searching, but for what?

Searching for who we are

Maybe you or a relative has gone through this process. In a world filled with uncertainty, we long for rootedness. We long for history. We long to belong. This is partly why DNA and ancestry services are exploding. Our anxious world is seeking to know who we are

But like a mirage, when facts and figures land in our hands, it still doesn’t fulfill that deep thirst. This is because we don’t just want to know our history and get the nuts and bolts of the where/when/what. We want to hear stories about our people and find out something specific about why we are who we are today

We want to learn, grow and not feel so alone. But to do that, we need to go further back than a few centuries. We need to go back a few millennia to the stories of our faith family in Scripture. 

As Christians, we come to the Scriptures with the belief that God is telling a story that is true and relevant to life today although it is anchored in history. This informs why we come to Scripture looking for answers. We come seeking guidance, but what we may miss is that it is here that we also find belonging. 

The role of storied memory

Imagine an oral culture, which is the primary context when Scripture was recorded, and the primary mode of communication is story. In a collective society, it is these stories of God’s people that shaped not only their understanding but also their identity. Under the stars around the fire Grandma or Grandpa, the keeper of the stories, would tell of Joseph and his envious brothers, Moses parting the Red Sea, or David being anointed by Samuel. 

In these stories, generation upon generation not only learned about their ancestors, but they learned about who they were. They would understand “this is how we do things as God’s people,” and simultaneously embody hatred of practices that went against “who they were.” The stories of God working through their ancestors helped them make sense of what God was doing among them as His people in the present. 

Remembering is NOT an option

This is why the most common command in all of scripture is NOT: “fear not” or “love your neighbor.” While both are crucial, the most common command is to “remember,” because in these stories recorded and passed down for generations, we find belonging and behavior that is in accordance with being God’s people. 

Since all of Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for our growth and maturity (2 Timothy 3:16-17), that means when we forget our family — or when the stories of God’s people throughout Scripture escape our imagination — we forget a portion of ourselves. We forget who we are supposed to be today. 

Therefore what we need on our journey toward wholeness is less akin to a baby shower or a birthday where both celebrations have their eyes set forward. Rather we need something more akin to Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday, that looks back and remembers our ancestors of the faith to see how their stories continue to speak into who we are, and connect with us today. 

Rewards of remembering

In our Forgotten Family series, we’ll explore overlooked stories in Scripture. But this isn’t just for Bible knowledge. Studying some of the forgotten stories of our faith family will provide at least three assurances: 

  1. We’re not the first. When we hear stories of our faith family who have gone before us, we rest assured that we aren’t the “first” of God’s people to face challenges in our faith (1 Corinthians 10:11). The Christian life is a path worn by many who have walked before us. 
  2. We’re not alone. As we remember stories of forgotten family, it’s a reminder that we are not “alone” in our battles. There is a beautiful mystery of those who have lived, died and are with Christ, who also make up this great cloud of witnesses cheering us on in our faith (Hebrews 12:1). We aren’t the first to walk this way, and we aren’t alone. 
  3. We’re not without guidance. By listening to stories of our faith family with God’s commentary in Scripture, we gain clarity in understanding “who we are” and thus greater understanding of how we as “God’s people live out who we are in various circumstances.” 

The more we learn about those who went before us, the more we understand how our family history is a window into who we are today. When we forget our roots, we are less equipped to bring our whole selves to the opportunities and challenges of our lives. 

Join us!

We long to have a more secure identity in our good God, and for that we need to remember who we are as God’s people on a deeper level. Our hope is that you don’t just join us as we remember what God has done before, but that in remembering, we better understand together who we are and join in how He is continuing to work through us today!