For the next 4 days, I will be joining thousands of United Methodist youth, youth leaders and ministry leaders in Orlando for Youth2015, the denominations quadrennial youth gathering. I am really excited to reunite with great friends and be a part of this event!
If you are going too, look for me Thursday-Saturday afternoons helping the UM Young People’s Ministries “UniTED” stage and representing the YouthWorker Movement. On Saturday afternoon I’ll even be giving my own TED-style talk on Your Life, Love & Legacy. Stop by!
Please join me in praying for the safe travels of the conference participants and for God to be glorified through what we share and learn. I’ll be posting and blogging updates, so stay tuned.
Erin Sloan Jackson
“But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
How would your day be different if you just stopped everything you were doing right now and took the next 5-10 minutes to seek God with all your heart? What’s stopping you from finding out?
Quotes from openbible.info esv
“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” – Dr. Seuss
In life there is pressure to pretend to be something that you are not. Pressure to act a certain way, dress a certain way, like certain things. Yet YOU are the best when you are truest to yourself.
“Living creatively is really important to maintain throughout your life. And living creatively doesn’t mean only artistic creativity, although that’s part of it. It means being yourself, not just complying with the wishes of other people.” – Matt Groening
What can you do today that will express the the world the truth about who you are?
Quotes from Brainyquote.com
What does it mean to proof-text? To proof text is to take a verse out of its context in order to establish your argument. Let’s face it, some verses just sound better than the text around it. Take the often quoted, beautiful verse Micah 6:8 for example:
“… And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly, with your God.”
This quote is truly t-shirt worthy… I know this because I have seen it on many t-shirts. The context around it is interesting. If you read the entire chapter, it is about the Lord reminding Israel of all the Lord has done to rescue them. Yet Israel has failed to be obedient. What you might not see on a t-shirt is verse 12:
“Your rich people are violent;
your inhabitants are liars
and their tongues speak deceitfully.”
In the end of the chapter, Israel is given a list of the punishments they’ll receive for failing to be obedient to God. I get that this is bad news and not the kind of stuff you’d want to wear on your t-shirt, but at the same time, the context gives a much richer meaning to the text. Failure to be obedient led to punishment – who wants that on a tshirt?
There is danger in proof texting. The words written in the Bible are often used as a weapon against people, verses of judgment taken out of context and used to justify whatever view the person wants to promote. Throughout history and even today the Bible is used to promote racism, slavery, sexism and more. Context matters. A funny look at this was found in this old joke:
“Many ministers and teachers have used some version of the following humorous anecdote to demonstrate the dangers of prooftexting: “A man dissatisfied with his life decided to consult the Bible for guidance. Closing his eyes, he flipped the book open and pointed to a spot on the page. Opening his eyes, he read the verse under his finger. It read, “Then Judas went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5b). Finding these words unhelpful, the man randomly selected another verse. This one read, “Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.'” (Luke 10:37b). In desperation he tried one more time. The text he found was: “What you are about to do, do quickly.” (John 13:27)”
All this is to serve as a reminder to read beyond the feel good one-liners. The overarching story is beautiful and rich in complexity. Keep reading.
Sources: Biblegateway.com for Scripture, and Wikipedia “Proof Text”
In my Sunday school class this week, we were reading Acts 8. In the passage – which I am paraphrasing pretty loosely, the Gospel is being spread to the Samaritans, a people who were outcasts and disliked by the new church made predominantly of Jewish people. The spread of the Christian movement to Gentiles represented a big shift for the church.
Imagine, if you will, how hard it would be for a culture group to accept that the people they have spent their lives looking down on, were now to be part of the community. It was a major paradigm shift.
This discussion led to some very honest sharing in our class about our own past prejudices. When you are raised in a prejudiced environment, it is hard to not develop the same kind of prejudicial thinking.
I cherish the honesty of our class as we talked about struggles with overcoming thoughts that we now see as racist, sexist and anti-LGBT. We could relate to how the early Church might have felt when they realized that the doors of the church needed to be open to all. We admitted that our struggles continue when old ways of thinking still threaten how we view people.
It is a struggle to process change when long-held truths are proven false. I am thankful for situations and people in my life that made me realize the errors in my own thinking, the false judgments that were keeping me from embracing others. I credit the Holy Spirit at work in my life to continually mold and change my thoughts.
Today’s word is “forgive,” and my prayer for you is that this be a day you forgive yourself for wrong thinking…and that you can forgive others for their wrong prejudices against you.
With God’s help, we can move forward.
I started a new canvas today so there’s no telling where this art is going, but for now it’s a simple reminder to Celebrate You!
I’ve been reading a lot about pastoral self-care this semester, and one of the key takeaways is the utter importance of loving yourself. In church, presumably, we worship God and through that focus on loving God. We may get focused on loving neighbors through small acts of self-sacrifice (sure, I can do that favor for you…) and mission. While it is especially common for ministers, many people get caught up in putting others first and then struggle with taking care and loving self.
Consider this passage from Matthew 22 (ESV):
The Great Commandment
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
When the command is to love your neighbor as yourself, a good question to ask is, “how well do you love yourself?” If you look closely at the text, you can see that loving yourself is what comes first. However much you love yourself, that’s how much you should love your neighbor. Sounds selfish, right? The thing is, if you are not healthy and caring for yourself first, your ability to love others and to love God is in jeopardy.
How can you best love yourself? Here are a three suggestions:
1. Honor your physical self. Your body is a temple. Treat it like something of value and honor it with healthy food, plenty of water and exercise, and rest. I saw a quote today: “treat your body like it belongs to someone you love.” Make small changes over time – today drink water instead of soda, tomorrow add a salad for a meal, go for a walk… By making your physical health a priority, you will have more energy to love God and love neighbor.
2. Value your spiritual well-being. In the beginning of the Wesleyan movement, small groups would get together and ask, “how is it with your soul?” Ask yourself that now. How is it with your soul, really? Are you feeling dry? Disconnected from God? Just going through the motions?
Knowledge is not the issue here. I’ve rarely sat through a Sunday school class where youth or adults didn’t know what it takes to grow spiritually. Making practices like prayer, Bible reading, sabbath rest, journaling, and singing praise a priority instead of just giving it lip service (“I should do more of that.”) is the first step. Again, start small and give yourself grace!
What do you need to do to care for your soul? Art, bible study and worship are good for your soul…do something today that brings you closer to God.
3. Celebrate you!
On Fridays, a few friends and I at seminary dress nicely and call it “Formal Friday.” It started as a joke, but it has become a fun tradition. The rest of the world may go casual on Fridays, for me it’s my day to wear pearls. Formal Friday has lead to some interesting conversations. One friend says she probably won’t dress-up on Fridays because she only has one class and nothing special going on. Another friend said she will dress up on Fridays “once she loses a little bit more weight.” Why wait?
I say celebrate yourself now! It doesn’t have to mean dressing up, it can mean taking a break from doing and accomplishing to take stock and realize, you’ve got a lot to celebrate about yourself! Instead of growing weary or resentful from taking care of others’ needs before your self, celebrate you first! Treat yourself!
Here’s some inspiration: http://youtu.be/OP3xf6BFEIo
A way you can honor God best is to follow God’s commands. Love God, love yourself. From this outpouring of love, you can better love your neighbors.
Scripture Source: http://www.esvbible.org/Matthew+22/
Video from Parks and Recreation, via YouTube. I do not own this video.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”