And now for more beautiful chaos

I’m baaaack!

Though my readership is next to nothing, minus my husband and mother (hi you guys!), I still feel the need to write. It’s been literal chaos in our lives since my last postings and I lost the heart to do more than simply survive each day and tend to my family.

Due to some circumstances best discussed in private, I chose to leave my congregation and take personal leave from ministry. My soul has been weary for a while and 2017 was a doozy leadership-wise. After some discernment, we chose to move close to my family and assist with some ongoing needs, as well as get some much needed grandparent-backup.

With so many decisions to make  so quickly, that beautiful chaos I love so much lost a bit of its luster. But after 5 months of leave, it’s slowly returning to glorious beauty. To afford the move, I chose a return to my teaching background, and am currently a 6th grade Science teacher and softball coach. *Gasp* the pastor teaches science! Seriously though, I find the organized chaos of the natural world to mirror so well the journey of faith all creation takes. I mean, after teaching Christian perfection to adults, teaching thermal energy transfer methods to 11-year-olds is a cakewalk. Or a pizza. I definitely used both to teach that unit.

*Sidenote* I must say “seriously” an awful lot as my daughter regularly uses that word to activate Siri on my phone.

Ultimately, my anxiety is much lower in this current role and as we visit churches I’m looking forward to the season of supportive leadership and writing that’s in front of me. God’s got my ideas brewing and my heart stirring, but now I’ve got a bit more of peace that passes all understanding and some healing for all the hurts churches can inflict on their leadership. It’s a process, but a chaotic and beautiful one that I relish.

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Ruth Study- Week 6

We’ve finished our reading and it’s time to see what God has done.

No video this week, just some questions to engage your heart and mind with this text. Before you go any further, offer a prayer of thanks, and then make a list of what was most important about our study together.

  • Did you learn something new?
  • Did you encounter a new truth of God?
  • Did you catch the threads of redemption woven through this book of the Bible?
  • Did you find yourself in the midst of God’s story?
  • How does this extravagant love and strategic maneuvering affect your work in the world today?

 

Here are questions from the Reading Guide for week 6. If you want a copy of the full Reading Guide, pick one up in our Ministry Center at CVUMC or click through to find print versions.

 

Reread the book of Ruth once more as you contemplate our “gleanings”.

  • Where is the name of God written in this book? Does that change anything for you?
  • Who caused these situations, God or the people?
    • Was it manipulative?
    • Does is matter?
  • What lingering questions do you have about Ruth?
    • About Jewish culture?
    • About our Judeo-Christian heritage?

 

Prayer
Lord teach us to walk in the ways of your redeeming love, no matter the sacrifice. Guide our hearts and minds to recognize your love for those around us, and teach us to participate in that work of redemption. God of all, transform our broken lives into your image of grace and truth by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

If you want to go through the study in order or revisit your favorite week, here are the links:

 

Here’s a list of resources I used for writing this study, and a few books to spur you onwards in your journey of faith:

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth Study- Week 5

Redemption. Having your brokenness restored. For God-followers, redemption isn’t just about the restoration, but about the holiness that comes through being made whole. God is seeking the redemption of the world. We experience glimpses and pieces of it now, knowing the ultimate redemption comes through salvation in Jesus Christ and a world that truly is the kingdom of God. So this week we see the glimpse of redemption in Ruth’s story, for her, for Boaz, for Naomi, and for the generation to come. How is your life being redeemed by the one who loves you beyond all measure?

 

Here are questions from the Reading Guide with a few extra additions from my own experiences. If you want a copy of the full Reading Guide, pick one up in our Ministry Center at CVUMC or click through to find print versions.

Reading Guide- Ruth 4

IV. The Roots of Israel’s Redemption (4:1-22)

A. Boaz settles the matter (4:1-11a)

1. The trap is bated and set (4:1-4)

2. The trap is sprung (4:5-6)

3. Legal formalities (4:7-11)

B. Naming the Mothers of the Messiah (4:11b-17)

1. Blessing the union (4:11b-12)

2. Redemption incarnate (4:13-17)

C. David’s Family Tree (4:18-22)

 

  • Is Boaz being respectful or manipulative in approaching the kinsman-redeemer in 4:1-6?
  • When has God offered you an unexpected solution to a problem, or relief?
  • Read 4:11-12. Is a comparison to Judah and Tamar appropriate for a blessing? (Reread Genesis 38 if you are not familiar with the story)
    • Why do you think their lineage is included as blessing?
  • When have you, like Ruth & Boaz, sacrificed your name or benefits for the sake of another?
  • God persisted in loving Naomi in the face of her bitterness, denial, and manipulation. When have you experienced or pursued someone with that kind of persistent love?

Ruth Study- Week 4

Ruth chapter 3 reminds us of our active participation in the work of God. God is redeeming, but God also desires for us to discern the plan and respond. Read the chapter, watch the teaching, and consider how Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz put into action steps towards God’s redemptive work in the world.

 

Here are questions from the Reading Guide with a few extra additions from my own experiences. If you want a copy of the full Reading Guide, pick one up in our Ministry Center at CVUMC or click through to find print versions.

 

Ruth 3
III. Uncovering and Recovering (3:1-18)

A. The Plan: Uncovering (3:1-7)

B. Recovering: Midnight on the Threshing Floor (3:8-13)

C. The Beginning of an End to Emptiness (3:14-18)

 

  • Is this marriage Boaz’s inclination, traditional piety, or entrapment?
    • economic need, loving relationship, or shamed into duty?

In our family, every search or prayer for a job change is a huge step of faith. (We’re millennials, so we’ve both worked multiple part-time and full-time positions.) And yet every time we step out, or say yes, God provides in abundance over time. Whether it’s a raise or a cost-of-living decrease or networking that eventually results in employment, every scenario that feels desperate soon becomes fruitful as we pray for open doors and we run through them at full sprints!

  • When have you tried something new to guarantee security or economic stability?
    • How has God provided as you step out in faith?
  • Read again Boaz’s actions to redeem Naomi’s family. When have you experienced this type of unmerited favor?

 

This week’s points of interest

  1. Hebrew is ambiguous
  2. It’s not enough to simply pray for an open door, we also have to walk through it.
  3. God is in the practice of redeeming desperate situations.

 

Join me in prayer:
O Lord, how absolutely necessary Your grace is for me, both to begin a good work and to persevere until I accomplish it. Without grace I can do nothing (Jn 15:5), but I can do all things in You, when Your grace strengthens me (Ph 4:13). Thank you for your grace that goes before me and follows me through my daily life through Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

 

Share your thoughts in the comments below, or click back through other weeks to catch up and study along with us!

Ruth Study- Week 3

We meet again, after some difficult self-reflection. Our past decisions and current conundrums can be difficult to cope with. However, God offers us not only the testimony of people who have gone before us, but also the hope of redemption even in the worst circumstances. This week we’re in chapter 2 of Ruth, exploring what happens as the women settle into life in Bethlehem.

Here are questions from the Reading Guide with a few extra additions from my own experiences. If you want a copy of the full Reading Guide, pick one up in our Ministry Center at CVUMC or click through to find print versions.

 

Week 3 Reading Guide- Ruth 2

II. Known and Unknown (2:1-23)
A. Portrait of a “worthy” man (2:1-16)
1. “Happening” to find the right field (2:1-7)
2. Boaz “notices” Ruth (2:8-16)
B. “Kindness” has not forsaken living or dead (2:17-23)

  • Who in our world faces the same kinds of problems as Naomi and Ruth? (lack of resources, gleaning from others, living on charity without employment) Consider both local and global communities.
  • What would have happened to Ruth if Israel had an immigration policy? Does this challenge or affirm your view on modern immigration laws? Explain.
    • How do you co-mingle your faith and your political stances? (keep it civil friends!)
  • Read 2:8-16 How does Boaz protect Ruth as she works?
    • Do you consider Boaz to be a respectable man, as he is named in verse 1? What are his motivations for acting as he does towards Ruth?
  • Boaz, regardless of motivation is used by God for redemption. When has circumstance allowed you to act as God’s agent for redemption?

 

This week, pray for those who do not have enough. Record any thoughts as you pray for the following:

  • for redemption
  • for resources
  • for relationships that can relieve the poverty

 

Ruth Study- Week 2

Welcome back! I hope you’ve enjoyed slowly tiptoeing into the Book of Ruth. This week lets get right into the text of chapter 1.

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Here are questions from the Reading Guide with a few extra additions from my own experiences. If you want a copy of the full Reading Guide, pick one up in our Ministry Center at CVUMC or click through to find print versions.

Week 2 Reading Guide- Ruth 1

I. Turn, Turn, Turn (1:1-22)
A. Turning Away (1:1-5)
B. Turning Back (1:6-22)
1. “Return to your mother’s house” (1:6-14)
2. “Don’t tell me to turn my back on you!” (1:15-18)
3. Turning bitter (1:19-22)

  • Naomi loses husband, 2 sons, and all hope for a family to preserve their estate and their future. Have you ever experienced great losses in a short amount of time? How did you react? Who did you turn to for help or comfort?
  • Reread 1:6-22 knowing the conversation stems from grief and fear. Describe the two daughters’ reactions in your own words.
    • Orpah
    • Ruth
      • Whom do you identify more with? Why?
      • How does God begin to bring redemption and joy to their griefs?

 

Prayer

How can you pray for redeeming joy and love in your overwhelming situations? Write your prayers and griefs that you are handing over to God:

  • Personal life
  • Community
  • Family
  • World

Blessings to you all as you study and grow in God’s grace.

Ruth Study- Week 1

Welcome,

Each week I’ll have a video teaching, a copy of the study questions, and some added thoughts for discussion. I’ll check the comments a few times a week to see how discussions are progressing. Offer whatever you like- brief self-introduction, questions, answers, or related thoughts and stories. Please note this is a public site, so be prudent in how you share things or how much of your personal information goes public.
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  • Whether recent or long-forgotten, we all experience change, transition, or loss of identity. Some can identify directly with the women in this story, losing a spouse or a child. Others may have gone without, living with hunger, fear, poverty. But even the smallest transition changes who we are a bit. Job, home, friends, school, even the change of routines with the change of season. I remember grieving when my favorite coffee shop closed… change. When have you had cause to doubt who you are? How did you respond?
  • “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I cannot be what I was before. I must be something new. Can I allow more of God in me? Ask yourself what that means to have more of God in you.
  • What do you anticipate as the theme of this book? If you’ve read it before, what do you love or hate about the story?

One of my favorite parts of Ruth is the ambiguity. I probably should have warned you sooner, but Hebrew is not simple. Nor is it precise. Original manuscripts have no vowels. Scribes have prayerfully done their best to estimate the best word. And translators do their best to go from Hebrew to Greek or Latin or German or French or English or Korean or whatever language is needed. My husband is a scholar of Hebrew and he snickers when I ask for translations, often giving me the most blunt terms which I then have to eloquently weave into narrative. All this is to say that sometimes we don’t know what the intent was, and it’s to our best benefit to try all the possibilities, and then zero in on what best fits the love and work of God in our world.
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