Morning devotions have been excellent. Yesterday’s devotion centered on Psalm 16 (the goodness of God and the importance of seeing God as good), and today’s grew out of Mark 4 and the story of the seeds that fell on four different kinds of soil.
Though all of us have preached from this text, we were challenged to not view the discussion on this text as "preaching material," but to address it personally to ourselves. We talked about three negative words – cares, lure, desire – and one positive word – good soil.
After lunch (each day this week) we are spending time in small groups ("climbing groups"). Today’s discussion was about how cares, lures, desires divide and distract us, personally. Then we discussed what it would look like for our lives to have good soil.
A question that seemed to be related, for me, was the question, "What’s fueling the engine of my life?" That’s a tough question. What leads us to do what we do? What’s driving us?
One of the phrases that has struck me was one of the first things Steve said on Monday morning: "This week, we will be under illusions of purity and piety."
It’s easy for pastors to allow themselves to be put on pedestals by other people who somehow believe pastors are exempt from temptation and sin. And the real trouble comes when pastors actually believe that stuff!
As I wrote earlier, much of this week centers around the seven deadly sins.
Finally for now, there was a section on crises (plural). Steve said, "God loves me enough to allow crises to occur in my life. God gives these crises to stretch us." He said, "The crisis will either drive us away from God’s grace, or toward it."
Crises can lead us to deeper dependence on God. They do not have to be the focal point of my life.
Steve asked a challenging question, "Am I going to opt for the goodness of God in this fire?" In other words, Am I going to continue to believe that God is good regardless of what is occurring in my life?