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Thankfulness in the Ups AND Downs

As I reflect upon the last several weeks, we as people have experienced a lot of grief, fear, devastation, and tragedy.  There have been earthquakes, hurricanes, shootings, political decisions, day to day struggles, loved ones have succumbed to illness, others have started treatment for cancer, and the list could go on and on and on.  As we approach the holiday season when we are supposed to be thankful and cheerful we may find it hard.  Do not feel guilt or shame because you find it difficult to be thankful and find joy this season.  There is a lot going on in our world near and far that makes our hearts weigh heavy.

On the other hand, there is a lot to be joyful about this season.  Despite all this is going on in the world, our lives have brought us hope.  There have been opportunities for healing, to see family and friends, maybe even starting new projects or jobs that are life-giving.  I am hearing stories from people across the country that in the midst of tragedy they are finding hope.

My encouragement for all of us this season is that we take a cue from the Psalms. When we read the Psalms we find there is often great lament for the heavy heart.  There is an outpouring of grief and pain.  In this season if this is you, please pour out.  Please grieve, please name your pain.  In this outpouring remember that the Psalms teach us with an outpouring of grief, comes an outpouring of thanksgiving because we have opened our hearts up to healing and with healing comes hope and thanksgiving.  Don’t forget to pour out in thanksgiving as well.

Life is a lot like a rollercoaster.  There are ups and downs, twists and turns, anxiety, anticipation, fear, joy, excitement, and sometimes we get off the ride and our stomachs hurt, others times we can’t wait to ride again.  No matter where you find yourself, in the ups or downs of life, God is always there.  God is there in the ups standing with you.  God is truly there in the downs, reaching out a hand to help you up. Psalm 138 is a great outpouring of thanksgiving and in its conclusion reminds us that Gods faithful love endures forever.

No matter where you find yourself this season, up or down, grieving or joyful, God’s faithful love endures forever.


22366779_10155962606633694_6767176542225626637_nZach Bechtold is the Co-Founder of Bearded Theologians, as well as a Husband, Father, Pastor, an avid Colorado Rockies fan.  In his free time, he enjoys hiking and being in the mountains.  You can listen to his sermons and find out more about his church at http://www.umchoteau.net.

Blogging

Where is God at Work?

We are well on our way to Easter but there is a load of road left until April 16th.  I hope that you have had a chance to join us in our  40 Days of Beardedness Lenten Devotion.  Regardless, of what resources, spiritual practices, or whatever it is you gave up or took on I want to ask you a question, “Where have you seen God at work in your life the last few weeks?” All of our journeys are different.  We encounter God in different ways. God encounters us in different ways.

I hope this is a familiar question for you, but I hope you answer is not familiar.  My hopes and prayers for all of us are that we not only encounter God in news ways but we see where God is already and work in the world around us and we accept the invitation to join God.

God is at work in our lives and in the world around us.  Do you see it?  What do you need to let go of mentally, spiritually, and even physically to see it and to accept the invitation?

As you search for the answer to these questions, let this prayer from the Dr. Martin Luther king Jr rest upon your heart.

God, grant that we wage the struggle with dignity and discipline. May all who suffer oppression in this world reject the self-defeating method of retaliatory violence and choose the method that seeks to redeem. 

Where do you see God at work in your life and in the world around you?

Amen


15259719_10153880565206441_5213022733762386602_o Rev Zach Bechtold is one of the Co-Founders of BeardedTheologians and a Pastor in New Mexico.  In his free time, he is a crime fighting superhero, although he cannot tell which superhero as it would put many people in great danger.  When Zach is not preaching, teaching, and saving the word he enjoys adventures with his family and watching baseball.

 

Blogging

A Prayer for Today

As I was reading through several books of prayer and liturgies trying to find a prayer for a community event, I came across a prayer by Walter Brueggemann titled “Our Charter of Entitlement”.  Rather than simply post the words here or on Facebook, I decided to record it and share it with you.  I found the words timely, I found the confession pure, and I also found forgiveness at it hearts.  I pray God’s grace lay upon your hearts and souls as these words resonate through your mind and world.

 

Love, Pray, Give, and Rejoice!

Zach