“Jesus answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” Matthew 15:26

Excuse me? Did Jesus really just call that woman a dog? Is Jesus refusing to help someone in need because she doesn’t have the right background? Sometimes you read scripture and you do a double take or maybe a spit take! Jesus almost never acts in predictable ways and this story of his interaction with a Canaanite woman asking mercy for her daughter is no exception. My first thought is how Jesus moves aside so this woman can take center stage. She seems to be the hero here. She argues persuasively against Jesus and convinces him to heal her daughter. She seems to be a better person than Jesus in the story. I wonder if Jesus did that on purpose, to help us see her and others like her in our own life with new eyes? I think Jesus might be playing the fool here, for our sake.

-Pastor Travis

“and after Jesus had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray” Matthew 14:23

This week the story we lean into is the story of Jesus walking on water. I’m excited to think about Peter’s faith and fear, but as I reread the story another detail caught my eye. The reason Jesus walked on water is because he had dismissed his disciples to get back on the boat without him. Jesus wanted to pray. In fact, the whole reason they were in the isolated place in the first place was because Jesus was trying to get away from the crowds so he could pray. But the 5,000 people followed him, so he fed them miraculously, but then when it was over, he dismissed everyone so he could pray. Why did Jesus want so badly to be alone and to pray? Because before all of this, before the walking on water, before the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus had just been told the news that John the Baptist had been killed by Herod. This is the detail that touches me. Jesus was holding this grief in his heart while he went about doing the work that God had called him to do. He was holding the knowledge that he might share John’s fate. Imagine all the thoughts and emotions Jesus was carrying. He didn’t bury it, but he bid his time until he could finally be alone and pray to his father. For all of us holding a grief, bearing a burden, biding our time, I pray we can find the space we need to unburden ourselves in prayer. If Jesus needed to be alone to pray, how much more do we need to do the same?

-Pastor Travis

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought.” Romans 8:26

I think I’ve been reading this verse wrong. I used to think it meant that the Spirit helps us when we aren’t sure what to pray for. I thought about times when I wanted to pray, but I just couldn’t’ come up with the words. But this passage makes a stronger point. We don’t know how to pray as we ought. Even when we pray we are usually doing it wrong. Not incorrectly, but because of our sinful nature and brokenness we never pray in a way that is perfectly aligned with God’s will and desire. That’s ok though, because the Spirit helps us. The Spirit prays for us, so that our prayer is more like Jesus’ “Not my will, but yours be done.” I know that when I pray it’s usually my will that I want to be done. May the Spirit change our prayers so that the only thing we seek is God’s will.

-Pastor Travis

“When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart” Jeremiah 29:13

This line from Jeremiah was written to a people in Exile who just got news that they weren’t coming home anytime soon. In fact Jeremiah warns them that they will be in exile for 70 years. But he offers them home that after that time, God will bring them home and restore their fortunes. Talk about a Messy Middle! Jeremiahs’ message is a kind of ‘bloom where you’re planted.’ and I think it’s a message we need to hear today. We still don’t know how long this pandemic will go one, we don’t know how our world and our church will be fundamentally changed. But I think we can heed the call to seek the Lord with all our heart. God is not far from us, and He wants to be found. What does it mean for you to look for God today?

-Pastor Travis

“I called to the Lord out of my distress, and he answered me;” Jonah 2: 2

Love your enemies said Jesus. And God said it before him, maybe not in as many words, but in his directions. He told Jonah to go to Ninevah. The city was filled with people who posed a threat to Israel and Jonah didn’t seem to want anything to do with them. He understood them to be a bloodthirsty lot who left monuments to the torture and slaughter of those who opposed them. It would seem that Israelites had good reason to fear the Ninevites so Jonah had made up his mind not to go to Nineveh, he would not warn them of any destruction that might be upon them. Jonah experiences some trials in the middle of his detour from Ninevah and as he prays to the Lord the response comes that he is called to go to Ninevah and proclaim the message of the Lord. When he does this, the king of Ninevah calls for his people to turn from their evil ways and the hearts of the Ninevites are changed, they come to understand what it means that God is merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

I wonder where you find yourself in this Jonah story? Is it similar to Jonah, not wanting to go and make nice with your “enemy”? Is it as one of the Ninevites who will stand opposed to anyone who has views that differ from our own? What proclamation of God’s word will turn our hearts to love our enemies and to repent of our own evil?

-Pastor Carrie

“I will not raise my hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed” 1 Samuel 24

This week we’re walking with David in the Messy middle after he was anointed by Samuel but before he was crowned king. David was chased in the wilderness by Saul and given a chance to kill him in a cave. But David didn’t do it. Why? David didn’t believe he had the right to determine Saul’s fate, that right belonged to God alone. David respected the office of King, even when the King was trying to kill him. David was humble, he was patient and he trusted the Lord to deliver on God’s promises in God’s time. I want to learn how to be like David when life is difficult. To be humble and patient and to trust in the Lord.

-Pastor Travis

“But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.”
Joshua 24:19

The people said they would serve the Lord and this is how Joshua responds? Sometimes we say things when we don’t really know what we’re talking about. Sometimes we make commitments before we know how hard they will be to keep. Joshua gives the people a chance to change their minds, to reconsider. I think this pandemic era is an opportunity for us to take a hard look at our own commitment to the Lord. Have we been serious about our faith, or have we just been going through the motions? Maybe we can use this week to recommit ourselves to the One who gave himself on the cross to save us. Joshua lays down the gauntlet for his people demanding ‘choose this day whom you will serve.’ I hear a need for the same call today. There’s a lot going on in our world, let’s not get swept away but rather renew our choice to serve Jesus and find in him a sure foundation.

-Pastor Travis

“Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? they are almost ready to stone me.” Exodus 17:3-4

My first thought on this passage is, ‘I’ve been there, Moses!” I can’t help it, I just feel bad for the guy. He’s doing all the right things, and working hard at it and he just can’t seem to get support from his people. As soon as he solves one problem—like splitting the red sea in half and saving them from a chariot army—another problem rears its ugly head. The people are thirsty and they don’t seem to remember anything he’s ever done for them in the past. Honestly, this is just what leadership is like. So buck up Moses and all you leaders out there, this is what we signed up for. In the end there’s no room for self pity, but there is room for prayer. These are God’s people not Moses’ and it is God’s responsibility to give them water. Moses is just the middle man. Maybe that’s the leadership lesson here. Our job as leaders, whether it’s leading your family, or your staff, or your small group, is simply to bring your people’s needs to God. Then listen to the directions God gives, even if they seem silly. Take your staff, strike a rock and watch God do His miraculous work.

-Pastor Travis

“Now Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there.”

We are starting a new sermon series called “the messy middle.” We begin with the story of the middle of Joseph’s life. After the coat of many colors but before he was in charge of all of Egypt. The middle is a hard place where there aren’t easy answers or a clear road ahead. It feels like that’s where we are now, not just with the pandemic, but with the state of racism in our country. Usually when I’ve read this story of Joseph I’ve thought of myself in his shoes, and that’s been helpful. But today I wonder if I have more in common with Potiphar than with Joseph. I’ve never been a slave. I’ve never been sold out by my family. I’ve never been in jail. As I read this story today, I feel God encouraging me to think of those who have slavery in their not too distant history, who feel betrayed, who’ve been in or threatened with jail. That’s not a thought journey I want to be on, but one that God has put me on this week.

-Pastor Travis

This week we celebrate Pentecost a time when the first believers are filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and are charged with moving the church, through witness to Christ, to all the ends of the earth. The disciples who were gathered when this rush of wind came and the divided tongues danced as flames had been through a fair amount of trauma at this point. They were still gathered in a house, praying waiting for the promise of the Father to come, they had already been witness to Jesus death and resurrection and now as Jesus had told them the Father would come, they are waiting for that promise to be fulfilled.

The ruckus of the rushing wind, the flaming tongues resting upon them, and then being filled with a multitude of languages by the Holy Spirit who was now residing within each of them was not an act to be missed or ignored. When I read this it almost comes to me like a wake-up call, what do I miss when I’m so focused on what I expect to come next? In the last two+ months I would say that we’ve had some real lessons in learning that we don’t know what is going to come next, so we need to be open to the unexpected. That we might need to change our plans and our expectations mid-course and follow the breath of the Holy Spirit to live out our calls to bring the church to all the ends of the earth. Now is the time to remember that we are church together and we are church becoming, bringing the message of Christ to all the ends of the earth.

-Pastor Carrie

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