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Help support the vision of Woodland Hills Community Church!
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Saturday, April 25

Today’s Readings: Psalm 10; Daniel 3:19-30; Luke 24:28-34; Colossians 3:18-4:6; Psalm 11

Featured Reading:
Luke 24:28-34

When I was a child, I had certain expectations about where I should see certain people. I thought, for instance, that my elementary school teachers spent all of their time in the same place: at school. I thought my Sunday school teachers spent all of their time at church. And I was convinced my wrestling coach spent all of his time in the gym. As long as I encountered these people in the place where I expected them, then I was okay. Every once in a while, however, I would encounter one of these folks in a different setting, and it would rock my world. I would run into Miss Helt – my second grade teacher – in the grocery store; or I’d run into Mrs. Zimmerer – my Sunday school nursery teacher – at a high school wrestling match. Because these folks were not in the setting in which I expected to see them, it often took me awhile to recognize them. As I matured, however, I realized how foolish I was to put these folks in a box. I learned they had well-rounded lives that took them into many places; as a result, I learned to expand my horizons and open myself to the possibility of running into them in all sorts of places. Over the years I’ve come to realize we often end up doing the same thing with pieces of our spiritual lives that I did with the people from my childhood. We put Jesus into a box and expect to encounter the risen spirit of Christ in certain places. We expect to run into him at church; we expect to encounter him during our times of prayer and meditation; and we expect to run into him when we do service work in the community. But how many times are we like the disciples in this morning’s reading from Luke – how many times does the risen Christ manifest himself in the midst of our every day experience and we completely fail to recognize him? If you’re anything like me, the answer to that question is: “Quite a lot.” In order to avoid that pitfall, I have to stop and remind myself not to box the spirit of Christ in; I have to remember to look for that spirit in the most unlikely of places - in the middle of my everyday life. I would invite you to do the same. Til next time…

Friday, April 24

Today’s Readings: Psalm 12; Daniel 3:1-18; Luke 24:13-27; Colossians 3:1-17; Psalm 7

Featured Reading:
Colossians 3:1-17

Do you ever have one of those moments when you read a piece of Scripture and have the feeling a section was written with just you in mind? I had one of those moments this morning while I was reading today’s passage from Colossians. Let me give you a little background on why I felt that way. You see of all the character deficits I have, there is one that I’m least proud. I am by nature probably one of the most competitive human beings on the planet. I was reminded of this last Saturday when I was on vacation in Spokane, WA and my siblings decided to renew what has become a tradition during my annual visits: the four of us go off and spend some time together without any others present. During this time together we do things like catch a movie, go bowling, and eat dinner. Last Saturday, I asked my siblings if we could go miniature golfing at a place I had never been to before called Wonderland. They agreed. I knew I was going to be in trouble when I put the ball on the turf and had a bad first hole. In fact, it wasn’t just a bad first hole – it was a historically bad first hole! I could feel the competitive juices kicking in. As I tried to recover from the horrific first hole, I consoled myself by thinking: “Don’t worry. Your brothers and sister will eventually falter themselves and you’ll catch up.” Problem is they didn’t. We played all 18 holes and ended up finishing in our birth order: my oldest brother Gene came in first, my next oldest brother Keith came in second, my sister came in third, and I finished in last place. I was mortified! I took some consolation in the fact that if you were to separate the holes into groups of nine, I actually won the back 9. How sick is that!!! Needless to say, I felt challenged by the author of Colossians words when he said: “Be even-tempered, content with second-place [emphasis added]…” (Colossians 3:12 from The Message). “Yeah, right,” I thought to myself, “those are words spoken by someone not good enough to grab the gold!” I told you I had a sickness! As I sat with those words and explored why they bothered me so, I realized those words represented a wonderful opportunity for me to do some work on my growing edge: letting go of my competitive nature. The passage from Colossians contains lots of qualities we can aspire to in our spiritual lives: qualities like being compassionate, kind, humble, quietly strong, disciplined, and loving. Which of those qualities represent your growing edge? If none of those concepts seem particularly challenging to you, spend some time exploring what other qualities might be that growing edge for you. Til next time…

Thursday, April 23

Today’s Readings: Psalm 58; Daniel 2:31-49; Luke 24:1-12; Colossians 2:8-23; Psalm 49

Featured Reading:
Daniel 2:31-49

As I read today’s story from Daniel, I was instantly reminded me of another story in the Hebrew Scriptures: the story about Joseph interpreting the Pharaoh’s dream in Genesis. In both stories we hear about how people of faith played a vital role in helping others interpret an aspect of their experience. In both Joseph and Daniel’s case, their interpretive ability involved interpreting dreams. Daniel’s story today got me to thinking about the way our faith can provide us with an important interpretive lens on the world – a lens that helps us see other dimensions to the events unfolding all around us. On Earth Day yesterday, for example, I couldn’t help but think how our faith should have provided us with a lens about how we should have been treating the planet if only we had taken God’s charge to humanity seriously (“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it [emphasis added]” – Genesis 2:15 from the New International Version). Sadly, many of us people of faith lost sight of this charge and failed to care for God’s creation; hence, the global environmental crisis we face. Of course this is just one of many examples of how our faith can provide us with an interpretive lens. While the interpretive lens of your faith might not express itself the same way Joseph and Daniel’s lenses did, today I would ask you to examine your life and consider in what ways your faith provides you with a valuable interpretive lens that can give those in your world much needed insight into the world around them. Til next time…

Wednesday, April 22

Today’s Readings: Psalm 36; Daniel 2:17-30; John 21:20-25; Colossians 1:24-2:7; Psalm 141

Featured Reading:
Colossians 1:24-2:7

In our weekly Sacred Grounds conversation group that gathered last night, we were talking about what the disciples must have been feeling in those first few days following Easter. In trying to capture the feelings, one of the participants said: “It must have felt kind of like the way I felt when I graduated from college. All of a sudden I had my degree and they were sending me into the world to do what I had been trained to do. I remember feeling terrified – wondering if I was up to it.” The author of Colossians talks about the development of our faith in very similar terms. “My counsel for you,” the author writes, “is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You’ve received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live in him… Now do what you’ve been taught” (Colossians 2:6-7 from The Message). Each of the two scenarios sounds totally overwhelming on the surface. So what’s the difference between the two? Well, in the first scenario, you have to leave college and go out into the world alone. You don’t have the luxury of taking your professors or college classmates with you. In the second scenario, however, things are entirely different. “Know that I’m on your side, right alongside you. You’re not in this alone” (Colossians 2:1 from The Message). Today, as you go forth to face the multitude of challenges in your world, remember those words of assurance. No matter how inadequate or ill-equipped you may feel in any given situation, make those words your mantra: “[I'm] not in this alone”. Those five little words can give you two of the greatest gifts a person of faith can ever have: encouragement and hope. Til next time…