June has ended, and I’m spending just a few minutes today thinking about a few questions to frame my reflection.
1. Where did you see God in June?
Our church has “re-opened” this past month. We had a celebratory Sunday complete with food trucks, jump houses for the kids, and great coffee! With the re-opening, we also had a special night of worship for the women in our community. It was particularly satisfying and uplifting as we sang, read scripture, participated in liturgy, and fellowshipped around tables. God was present in our tears and laughter! It was a gentle reminder of how much we had missed this past year, and how, clearly, we are made to live in community.
My family, my dad, his wife, sisters, nieces, sons, grandsons gathered in June for our annual reunion. It has been our practice for the last several years to all descend on one beach together and of course, we missed that opportunity in 2020. So our week together on Sanibel Island was a particularly sweet reunion! Clearly God was present in our moments together!
2. What have you been thinking the most about this month?
The big ideas of kingdom and kingdom living have filled my thoughts and writing this past month.
Our pastor began a sermon series on The King and His Kingdom – tracing the Biblical theme of kingdom in the scriptures. I like to process my sermon notes by writing some thoughts about what I heard, re-reading the scripture for myself, praying over the message that God intends for my heart to hear. Those reflections on sermons about the kingdom are posted here, here, and here.
We often pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done.” But we don’t often stop to consider what we mean by that. Some, I believe, think the prayer is inviting Jesus to return soon. Obviously that would be amazing – I anticipate His final redemptive work on earth! But I believe there is more to that prayer – it is the invitation for God’s rule in my life right now, His rule in our world right now, His rule through His people in His place for the advancement of His kingdom.
And that just spurs me on to consider what kingdom living looks like! And so I’ve been reading Jonathan Dodson’s book, Our Good Crisis, a study of the Beatitudes slowly now for several weeks. This past month I specifically pondered 2 truths – blogging about those here and here!
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,Matthew 5:6-7
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
3. What is one word to describe what you hope for as we move into July?
In past months I have held onto words like expectant, anticipation, connections. And these are still significant in my life. I am expectantly looking for what God is doing, will do in my life, anticipating His goodness and grace. My brain is wired to make connections to see how one conversation yesterday dovetails so nicely with the one I had today whether those conversations are printed words, Scripture readings or “real live” spoken words among friends. As we move into July I am hoping to explore the concept of peace – curious how I will see God work out His peace in my life, and how He will teach me more about being a peacemaker!
What I’ve Been Reading
In June, my husband and I finished reading the Bible again for the second time this year. We committed to reading the Bible through four times this year – once each quarter – using the EveryWord90 reading plan. It is an ambitious goal and limits my other reading. BUT it has been so worthwhile to see scripture through the lens of the longer reading passages. We start again today – reading the first 13 chapters of Genesis.
For my devotional reading this month I chose to read God of All Things: Rediscovering the Sacred in an Everyday World by Andrew Wilson. I’m just finishing it today and it has been a very interesting look at the “stuff” in scripture, like dust, trumpets, fruit, the sea, and more. Each chapter is a short essay on one topic, delving into Biblical meanings of that one thing. Overall the book has 30 short chapters – perfect for devotional reading. I’ve been challenged to think about how specific God is in the objects He chooses to reveal truths about Himself. Definitely a worthwhile read!
I’ve mentioned Our Good Crisis: Overcoming Moral Chaos with the Beatitudes by Jonathan Dodson. While it would be easy to read the book in a few sittings, it is not long, it has much in it to think about. So I’ve chosen to read only a chapter each week or two. I’ve read six of nine chapters and definitely recommend the book to you. I look forward to finishing it in July.
These two Insta posts caught my attention this month …
Sarah Wood: God plants and He replants! If you have been uprooted, replanted, know that God will nourish those roots and help you to flourish!
Ellie’s “itwondersme” account: “Where there once was a me there is quiet” … thoughtful, poignant poetry!
A Few Favorite Twitter Mini-Sermons –
From Tim Keller: Don’t say non-Christians are saved by the gospel, but Christians grow by trying to live up to biblical principles. It’s better to say we’re saved by faith in the gospel and then are gradually transformed by believing the gospel more and more deeply and living in accord with it.
From Rebecca McLaughlin: The test of whether we Christians believe in religious freedom is *not* whether we will fight for our own rights, but whether we will fight for the rights of others. What’s been happening to Uyghur Muslims in China is unconscionable. … And to be clear: defending the religious freedom of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Sikhs etc. does not compromise our commitment to the exclusive truth claims of Jesus Christ. It’s because we believe that Jesus is the rightful King of all that we protect the freedom of all. … The gospel shines more brightly when Jesus’s people love even their enemies—let alone those horribly persecuted for their faith or ethnic background.
From J.T. English: There is no such thing as a threat to the gospel. The gospel is an announcement of a victory already won. There are threats to people understanding or believing the gospel. But the gospel itself is never under threat. Can’t be.