Digging in Deeper: Joel 2:13

“Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lord your God. For he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and he relents from sending disaster.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

If you are a parent of two or more, you’ve been through this experience before I imagine: One of your kids does something ugly to another of your kids. What do you do? You make them apologize for what they did. And what do they do? If your kids are like mine, they look disgusted at this instruction, and quickly mumble a meager, “Sorry,” whose inflection makes clear they’re not really sorry at all. And that’s okay, because the exercise of apologizing when you’ve done something wrong is what’s really important in that moment. But relationally speaking, that kind of apology doesn’t accomplish very much. It doesn’t with God either.

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A Slower Pace

This week was part five of our series, Simplicity: Finding Contentment in a Busy Life. Last week we started getting more practical about how to live a life of simple contentment in some specific situations. We started with our stuff. This week: Our time. In a world that is busy and chaotic and stressful, when we feel the pressure of life pushing in on us as we run from one thing to the next, how can we slow things down? With an ancient practice that is often misunderstood. Keep reading to find out what that is and what we can do with it.

A Slower Pace

Do you remember going on vacation as a kid?  I remember several different vacations we took.  I remember seeing Disney for the first time and marveling at the magic found there.  I’ll never forget the first time I saw Old Faithful erupt, or gaping in awe at the artistic wonder of Mount Rushmore.  Long will I treasure seeing the history of our nation preserved in the various Smithsonian Museums, sitting in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol Building, and walking the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg.  And the feeling of being small while standing at the base of the giant redwoods in King’s Canyon, California is one that will ever give me perspective on just how big the world is.  I really was privileged to get to go and see a lot of our incredible nation when I was growing up. 

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Digging in Deeper: Joel 2:12, 14

“Even now — this is the Lord’s declaration — turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning…Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave a blessing behind him, so you can offer grain and wine to the Lord your God.”
— ‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:12, 14‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

On occasion our youngest will do something ornery. He’s only five and a pretty sweet kid, so it’s not like he ever does but so much to get into trouble. But every now and then he’ll get out of line. Often on these occasions, we are more amused by what he’s done than upset and so we really aren’t looking to punish him. When he knows this he’ll grin really big at us with a little light in his eyes. He does this because he knows what’s coming. We smile back at him and say, “It’s a good thing you’re cute.” That’s a little like what we see here.

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Morning Musing: Joel 2:1-2, 11

“Blow the horn in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the residents of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; in fact, it is near — a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and total darkness, like the dawn spreading over the mountains; a great and strong people appears, such as never existed in ages past and never will again in all the generations to come…The Lord makes his voice heard in the presence of his army. His camp is very large; those who carry out his command are powerful. Indeed, the day of the Lord is terrible and dreadful — who can endure it?” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever had a day whose coming you dreaded? A few years ago I got a speeding ticket—the only one I’ve ever gotten and even it was accidental because I missed a sign in a stretch of road where the limit kept changing from 55 to 45 and back. And, like any ticket, mine came with a court date. Boy, did I not want that day to come. The walk of shame to the judge’s bench to learn the punishment for my crime was not something I was looking forward to experiencing. What Joel says here suggests that the day of the Lord is one whose coming should fill us with a similar sense of dread…only worse. Why?

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Morning Musing: Joel 1:13-14

“Dress in sackcloth and lament, you priests; wail, you ministers of the altar. Come and spend the night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God, because grain and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God. Announce a sacred fast; proclaim an assembly! Gather the elders and all the residents of the land at the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What do you say to someone who has just experienced a tragedy? That’s a bit of a tough question to answer. Trying to talk to someone who has just experienced something really hard can be painfully awkward. Think about how you feel when you get to the front of a funeral visitation line. There might be more uncomfortable moments in life than that, but it’s definitely on the top ten list. Let me change the question just a bit on you: What do you say to someone who has just experienced a tragedy, but you’re pretty sure it was their own fault?

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