This week, father/son team, Brian & Jake attempt to address the faith question: How do you believe in God when you can’t feel Him? We also look at new music from Tori Kelly and Hillsong Worship, plus an “oldie but goldie” from David Meece in Music Matters. In Culture Shock, we look at the Fortnite phenomenon and what parents need to know.
How can a marriage come out on stronger on the other side of difficult season? Why is it important to set up “positive values” for a family, rather than just talk about what you don’t want to do/be? How can you strengthen your marriage through building up your own walk with Christ? Aaron Bunker is a therapist, author and podcaster who helps us take on these questions during this episode of Stronger Together. Stronger Together is a show about growing in marriage, parenting, relationships and community, and airs each week on Shine.FM.
The Kitchen Table brings together generations of parents and their teenager/young adult children to have those important faith questions. Shine.FM’s Ministry Director Brian McIntyre Utter and his 18-year old son Jake look at a tough faith question this week. Plus, diving into new songs from Switchfoot, Mosaic MSC and a classic from Mylon & Broken Heart in our Music Matters segment. In Culture Shock, a look at waking up and establishing a healthy morning routine in time for back to school.
Have a question of faith you would like to see discussed. Email Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week on Stronger Together we are joined by guest Jason Bentsen of Love Moves.Us and we discuss his vision to see foster and adoptive families flourish. We discuss how equipping communities, chuches, agencies and individuals to better respond to the needs of foster children and foster families acomplishes this. You can connect with Jason on facebook or at http://www.lovemoves.us/
Stronger Together is a show about growing in marriage, parenting, relationships and community and airs weekly on Shine.FM. Have an idea for a future show? Email email@example.com.
“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
This story is one I’ve known since I was a little kid. This time when I read the story I noticed a sentence I hadn’t before. Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death.” That sentence caught me. What? I thought, But Lazarus did die.
This peaked my curiosity and encouraged me to look a little deeper.
Lazarus did die, and he was in the tomb for four days. Can you imagine this from the perspective of Mary and Martha? Or of the disciples? If I was one of the disciples and I was with Jesus that day, I would be confused. Jesus? I trust you and all but…didn’t you say he wasn’t gonna die? But that would be because I’d be seeing the situation from a very human standpoint. Jesus never promised that Lazarus wouldn’t die. But he said it wouldn’t end in death. It’s hard for me to understand that because I understand death as the end of the road, and I don’t always understand the full extent of God’s power.
And as always, Jesus kept his promise. Death wasn’t the end of the story for Lazarus. Jesus raised him from the dead. I mean, that’s kinda cool.
But let us not forget that Lazarus did die. We don’t know exactly how he died, but I can assume that death is not pleasant no matter how it happens. That must have been miserable. Not only for Lazarus, but also those around him. People who loved him were with him as he suffered and died. Can you imagine the grief? The pain? The fear? The desperation? And then when he finally did die, the hopelessness?
God doesn’t promise us that we won’t go through trials. He doesn’t promise us that life is going to be easy. It says that Jesus loved Lazarus, as he loves all of us, but life wasn’t peachy. Yet Jesus was in control of the situation the whole time. He was there, confident in knowing that Lazarus would live again. We go through painful situations, and Jesus walks through it with us. And as a result of this situation, Jesus lifted Lazarus up and used his story to build His Kingdom. God can use us too, in our struggles, to build the Kingdom of God.
Hold this promise close to you today, and let Christ raise you from your grave!
I’ll be honest, these past few weeks I have felt like I’ve been walking through the valley. I have been confronted with struggles, heartache, doubt, and fear. It shouldn’t really be a surprise, I mean, life is hard. It’s unpredictable. It’s scary. It changes in an instant and most of the time we’re just swept along with the current and taken for the ride. But as Christians, we should be able to rely on God to take care of us, right?
That’s the Sunday School answer. But what happens when you’ve spent so long just coasting? When you’ve ignored the urges of God to draw close to him? When life has been going well, so you decide that you can handle it all on your own and you don’t need to rely on God?
It’s hard to admit, but that was me. I was coasting, sitting on the fence, being lukewarm. Use whatever metaphor you want, but I was not growing in my relationship with Christ.
And then my coasting came to an abrupt stop.
I won’t go into details, but I was hit head-on by some pretty challenging things in the past few weeks. Things I thought were so secure started to crumble and slip through my fingers. I was scrambling to grab things as they fell, but all the things I had been juggling on my own started hitting the floor.
And finally, I turned to God. I cried, I prayed, I begged God to give me clarity. And man, did I learn so. much.
Number one: We cannot beg God to take heavy weights off of us and then refuse to let go of them. Growing up, I always heard the phrase “leave your burdens at the cross”, and while it seemed like a good lesson, I didn’t really understand it because I hadn’t ever experienced it. But something clicked after begging God to take things away for two weeks and then wondering why he wouldn’t; He would. But I wasn’t letting Him.
Number two (And this ones the big lesson): The way I experience Christianity has changed so much in such a short amount of time. I grew up in a pastor’s home, so I had all the answers. I knew the “right way” to pray and the “right answers” that people wanted to hear. I knew the “right way” to behave in a church and the “right way” to approach problems. But I have come to realize that the “right way” to be a Christian is ridiculous. We are all human beings, created by God, and he made all of us different. God knows us. And that means that God knows when we’re being fake. He can tell when we’re insincere.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to be honest with God. And I mean, painfully, heart-breakingly honest. It’s okay to cry out to him and admit your greatest weaknesses. It’s okay to talk to him and say “I can’t go a second longer God. I am out of hope and my faith is small”. It’s okay! Life is hard, and we’re going to experience those feelings of doubt and despair. And God should not be someone that you hide away from or sugar coat things to. I reached a point where I was saying, “God, I don’t even know what you’re doing, and I don’t know why you’d do it. I don’t understand why these things are happening, and frankly, I don’t like it. I am helpless and lost, and you are the only one who can help me through”. It was at that point that my relationship with God was pushed to the “next level”, because I was allowing myself to be authentic with a God who already knew these things about me.
He knows what frustrates you. He knows what hurts you. He knows your limits. He knows everything about you! He made you!
I don’t want to be a sugarcoated Christian anymore. I don’t want to be unauthentic with my God. Because if my prayers and communication are fake, then so is my relationship, and that is the wrong place to be.
Don’t be afraid to admit your brokenness to God. He’s the only one who can put you back together.
While working at Shine.FM this summer, I have also been working as a worship leader at the church that I attend. Growing up, and still now, my dad is a pastor and my mom is a children’s pastor. As a result, I’ve seen a lot of what goes on in church ministry. I also know that for as long as I can remember, my family would go to church Sunday morning, and then come home and my parents would nap on Sunday afternoons.
When I was younger, I was always confused as to how they could be that tired after only a few hours. Now as a 20 year old who works in the church, I realize exactly how exhausting Sunday mornings are. (But exhausting in the best kind of way, of course.)
There is a lot more that goes into a Sunday morning than most people realize, I think. It takes a lot of hard work, patience, guidance, and faith for everything to run smoothly. What makes it even harder, is that the trend today seems to be that if the “aesthetic” or “atmosphere” of the church service doesn’t fit someone’s taste, then they have no problem going somewhere else. Therefore, there’s an added pressure on church staff and pastors to create this kind of service.
I’ve heard and read people saying that there is too much pressure on the church to be trendy and popular, but I understand the conflict that creates because churches want to be welcoming and inviting to others, but it’s difficult when the “guidelines” for that seem to mean that Sunday morning has to be a performance instead of church.
Essentially, I’ve realized how challenging it can be to be in ministry in today’s world. And I think that not many people realize those challenges. My encouragement would be to get involved in the challenge! Support your pastors and ministry leaders. Become invested in your church home, in whatever position they need help. The church is strongest when everyone in the church participates and believes in the mission.
What can you do for your church?