About Ellen Rosenberger

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Ellen Rosenberger has created 0 blog entries.

Imaginative Exercise | Jonah 4:5-11

Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” Jonah 4:5-11

Let’s do an imaginative exercise today. If you don’t view yourself as a very creative or imaginative person, no problem. Let me paint the scene for you. Imagine Jonah going out of the city and sitting in the dust and the dirt. He then begins to construct a shelter for himself – what’s it made out of? Wood? Branches? Some other material? Now imagine a plant growing instantaneously to be tall enough and large enough to give the pouting prophet some shade. What must have that been like to witness the growth of a plant that large within a less than 24 hour period? Think about Jonah’s response to the plant, how glad he was for the provision of comfort. Now, picture night falling and the sun rising the next day. With the new day comes a completely opposite experience for Jonah. Destruction rather than comfort. A gnawing little worm to destroy the plant. Picture this scene and Jonah’s reaction to it. As if that disappointment isn’t enough, think about what it would have been like for Jonah to have a scorching wind beating against him as well as a sun so strong it sapped his strength. These situations combined with Jonah’s inner turmoil over God’s treatment of the Ninevites leads Jonah to desire death. He wishes for an escape from the reality of his circumstances and the reality of the character of God.

Now, take a few moments and relate this scene to your own life. What could be compared to a plant in your set of circumstances? What seems comforting? What are you treasuring right now? What would it feel like to have it suddenly taken away? What could be compared to a worm in your life right now? What feels like it is eating away at your happiness, your comfort? What is your stance toward that “worm”? How about the howling wind and the beating sun – can you relate these to any circumstances in your own life? As you ponder these questions ask yourself how similar or different your reaction is to Jonah’s. Pause for the Holy Spirit to speak to you and direct your heart into repentance of any anger or jealousy or fear or bitterness. Call out to Jesus to speak life to you and bring you out of destruction and into gratitude and peace.

By Ellen Rosenberger

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Imaginative Exercise | Jonah 4:5-112019-07-22T16:35:17-06:00

Lectio Divina | Jonah 4:1-5

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?” Jonah 4:1-4

Find a quiet space to read and reflect on God’s Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to empty your mind of all distractions and competing thoughts. After a few deep breaths in and out, prepare to read the passage out loud. As you read, notice any word or phrase that seems to be highlighted in your mind. Don’t overthink this; just observe what surfaces for you.

As you read the passage a second time, imagine the scene in your mind. Take on the perspective of either Jonah or God. What does this part of the story feel like? Use your five senses to picture it in specific detail.

As you read the passage a final time, recall the word or phrase that stuck out to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight as to why this was highlighted to you. Ask him to show you what action or attitude you could take today based on the impression you had from this passage. Close with a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s timeless Word which teaches us, reproves us and sharpens us.

By Ellen Rosenberger

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Lectio Divina | Jonah 4:1-52019-07-22T16:35:18-06:00

Imaginative Exercise | Jonah 3:4-10

Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” Jonah 3:4-10

And the people of Nineveh believed God. Yes, I know, I’ve heard it all my life, seen it on the flannel graphs and heard it in Sunday School. Just like the fish swallowed Jonah whole and spit him out after three days. That’s what’s supposed to happen in the story. My familiarity blinds me to the miracle of it all. The fish swallowing Jonah was an extraordinary thing! The wicked, pagan Ninevites humbling themselves before God and acting out their repentance was no less of an extraordinary thing!

We’re meant to be surprised by this incredible response of a godless people. How could they, first of all, believe God and then respond to him by turning from their wickedness in repentance? These people did whatever pleased them; they were known for their cruel violence and the last people we’d expect to yield to a holy God.

If you’ve grown up around the story of Jonah I challenge you to drink in the story in a whole new way. Pretend it’s the first time you are hearing of it. Close your eyes and imagine yourself as one of the Ninevites. Take yourself through their steps of repentance. Imagine what it must have been like for a whole city to decide together to take visible steps in seeking forgiveness from an unseen God. Now, call to mind anyone in your life you may have considered beyond God’s reach of forgiveness. Confess your hypocrisy and remind your heart of the relentless love and mercy of God available to all people.

By Ellen Rosenberger

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Imaginative Exercise | Jonah 3:4-102019-07-22T16:35:19-06:00

Prayer Walking | Jonah 2:7

When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
Jonah 2:7

Oh, I love a good walk. Whether it’s a brisk morning walk as the world awakens or a hike with my energetic kids, or strolling hand in hand with my husband as the light fades from another day. Why is walking so enjoyable to me? One of the reasons is because I feel free. I can stretch, I can move, I can enjoy fresh air. Can you picture the opposite experience Jonah was having in the pitch black, stench-filled, closed in belly of the whale? Nowhere to go, nowhere to turn but to the God who has limitless power and authority.

Today, take a walk. It could be around your neighborhood, down the hall or in your favorite spot outdoors. As you breathe in fresh air remind yourself of the freedom you have to live and to follow after Jesus’ heart. Remember the Lord as Jonah did. Remember his promises to you. Remember his kindness. Remember his relentless pursuit when you were in your own version of a whale (perhaps trapped in addiction, stress, or despair). Remember his compassion and forgiveness. And as you walk, may your prayer rise to his holy temple. Though he may feel far away, trust as the Psalmist did that he is near to those who call on him in truth (Psalm 145:18).

Should you encounter others on your prayer walk why not whisper a prayer for them? Ask God to meet them in their darkest hours and cause their eyes to be lifted to his holy temple. Pray for God’s deliverance from whatever trap they may be in today.

By Ellen Rosenberger

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Prayer Walking | Jonah 2:72019-07-22T16:35:20-06:00

Self-Reflection/Confession | Jonah 1:8-10

Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. Jonah 1:8-10

As we read this passage in our Daily writers meeting, I had to chuckle at Jonah’s answer to the pagan sailors. He declares, “I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Really? I thought to myself. Do you? How does running in the opposite direction and openly disobeying God demonstrate that you fear him? It seems as though Jonah’s answer is primarily an automated response born out of head knowledge rather than heart-living. He’s got the statement of faith correct, but does that matter if he isn’t living it?

What about me and you? How often do we verbally articulate all the right jargon about what we believe about God yet our lives don’t match it? I’ve been challenged recently by a book called Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren. The author writes about her struggle to choose to sit in silence for the first few waking moments of the day. She says, “We have everyday habits – formative practices – that constitute daily liturgies. By reaching for my smartphone every morning, I had developed a ritual that trained me toward a certain end: entertainment and stimulation via technology. Regardless of my professed worldview or particular Christian subculture, my unexamined daily habit was shaping me into a worshiper of glowing screens.”

It may not be screens and entertainment that are capturing your attention and luring you into creating daily habits around them. Perhaps it’s recognition or achievement. Maybe it’s productivity, pleasure or purpose. If you’re chasing after any of those things, or perhaps others, ask yourself an honest question “Does what I do and think everyday reflect a person who fears the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land? Or am I only saying so?”

Take a moment to lift your eyes to the mountains (if you can get a view of them). If not, picture their towering beauty in your mind. I invite you to pray this prayer of confession: Father God, you are a powerful, merciful, personal God who created these breathtaking mountains. Just as creation does your bidding, aid me to do your bidding as well, to fear you not only in word but much more in deed. Keep me aware of the ships to Tarshish I keep running to and help me turn in full repentance to live in your way with your heart (not merely say “I agree with your way and I like your heart”).

By Ellen Rosenberger

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Self-Reflection/Confession | Jonah 1:8-102019-07-22T16:35:21-06:00

Worship | Matthew 6:21

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

If you were to ask me who I worshipped, I would probably give the pat Sunday School answer: Jesus, of course. But if I were to sit and honestly think about that question I might have to answer a bit differently. I’d have to admit that worship isn’t just my acknowledgement of who is worthy of praise, but it’s actually where I’m daily putting value, time, and energy. It’s running toward something I value. In the story of Jonah his attempted escape from God was furnished by his paid fare to Tarshish. In my life there seem to always be many different available boats sailing to Tarshish. What are mine filled with? Comfort? Entertainment? Affirmation? Purpose? How about for you?

I want to challenge you today to pull up your bank statement for the past month and just notice the trends in where your money has gone. You could even pull up your calendar and ponder where you’ve spent significant time last month or last week. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any ships to Tarshish in your life, areas where you’re placing high value on possessions or people or feelings – going after them harder than God (or in place of him).

Now, take a moment to ask the Spirit to remind you of some treasures in your relationship with Jesus. What has he done for you? Where has he met you? What is he teaching you? Write those down as declarations of praise. Worship your maker who is always present with you in times of great trusting and in times of rebellious running. Proclaim that he alone is Lord over your time, finances, and affections. He is worthy of all your attention and adoration because he is good, he is holy, he is trustworthy, he is all-knowing, and much more!

By Ellen Rosenberger

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Worship | Matthew 6:212019-07-22T16:35:21-06:00

Self-Reflection/Confession | Jonah 1:3

But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. Jonah 1:3

Last weekend our family enjoyed watching The Sound of Music together. In a scene I hadn’t paid much attention to before, Baroness Schraeder and Captain von Trapp are discussing why he has been spending so much time away from his beautiful countryside home. He says, “Activity suggests a life filled with purpose.” To which she replies with a question, “Could it be you’re running away from memories?” He thinks for a moment and says “Or perhaps just searching for a reason to stay.”

It wasn’t until this moment of prodding and introspection that Captain von Trapp realized he could be running from something and to something else. He recognized he could be running from memories of his late wife while also desperately trying to find a reason to stay at home with his children. Though our life story may be very different from that of Captain von Trapp, we are all running from something and to something.

Today, grab a pen and paper and fill in these blanks: I’m running to _____________. I’m running from _____________. I’m running because ______________. May this exercise be helpful as you spend a few moments getting painfully honest before God.

I’ll share mine here with trepidation, but with hope that my example will inspire you to do some honest soul-searching and confession.

I’m running to the satisfaction of perfection in my home, my relationships and myself. I’m running from fear of failure. I’m running because I believe that if I’m perfectly productive and successful I will be worthy of love and attention.

Once you’ve written your sentences down, offer up a prayer of confession: Lord, you see me and know me. You know what I’m running to and from. Show me the futility of my ways and change the direction of my heart to run toward you.

By Ellen Rosenberger

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Self-Reflection/Confession | Jonah 1:32019-07-22T16:35:22-06:00

Unexpected Message | Matthew 4:12-17

Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,

   the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—

the people dwelling in darkness

   have seen a great light,

and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,

   on them a light has dawned.”

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:12-17

In the cultural moment of Jesus’ day the Israelites were living under the oppression of the Roman Empire. This was not how it was supposed to be. God’s people moaned under Roman occupation, waiting for the promised Messiah to come with a message of peace, hope and ultimately national and political freedom. The light they expected to dawn was to be primarily one of throwing off the rule of Rome and re-establishing Israel’s freedom and identity as a nation.

But what happens? Jesus comes with a message of peace, hope and freedom, yes. But one they (and we) more desperately and personally needed. Freedom from the clutches of sin and death. Hope for life eternal with the Father not just personal comfort here and now. Peace internally not merely geographically. His kingdom was utterly different than what anyone in that time period would have expected. His message of repentance was completely backwards from their thinking. They were the victims here waiting for a deliverer; a call to take personal responsibility for sin and to turn from it? Unheard of.

Here he is, the promised Messiah with an entirely different message than the people would have been looking for. And yet a handful of followers respond. They accept his message and allow it to completely reroute their lives. They change their minds as to what the cultural consensus at the time was saying the Messiah would be all about.

When was the last time you changed your mind on something? Think about the cultural moment we are living in today as believers in Jesus. Do you think there are some political and social expectations the church, or even you personally, has upon Jesus? Lay these before your Lord in prayer today and ask for his kingdom come, surrendering your limited understanding of it. Ask him to change your mind and align your will to his own perfect will.

By Ellen Rosenberger

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Unexpected Message | Matthew 4:12-172019-07-22T16:35:23-06:00

Responding to Relationship | John 10:14-15

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15

When I read these verses I hear such comfort, such intimacy, such relationship. He knows me and I know him. I don’t hear rules and rigid formalities; I hear sacrificial love and commitment. I lay down my life for the sheep. I don’t hear hoops to jump through, I don’t hear confusion; I hear clear, beautiful, intimate relationship.

That’s what I desire: to be in relationship with the Good Shepherd. The one who knows me, who speaks tenderly to me, who leads me. So often in my walk I’ve found myself trapped in a different kind of relationship, devoid of that intimacy. One which is driven by works and guilt and striving. This is not the Good Shepherd. In recent years I’ve been learning to listen. Learning to trust. Learning to really hear. And learning to enjoy being with him.

In his book With: Reimagining The Way You Relate to God, Skye Jethani writes this, “Life under, over, from, and for God each seeks to use God to achieve some other goal. God is seen as a means to an end. But life with God is different because its goal is not to use God, its goal is God. He ceases to be a device we employ or a commodity we consume. Instead God himself becomes the focus of our desire.”

More than striving to hear the Good Shepherd’s voice so that I can know which way to go, my desire is to know him and be with him. The voice and the leading and the direction come as a result. They are not my end goal. He is my Good Shepherd who knows my name. He is my desire.

Do you know his voice? Is it familiar and unprompted? Today, take an honest look at the depth of your relationship with your Good Shepherd as you listen to the lyrics of He Knows My Name.

By Ellen Rosenberger

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Responding to Relationship | John 10:14-152019-07-22T16:35:23-06:00

What Does Jesus Do With His Desires? | Matthew 26:36-46

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” Matthew 26:36-46

“In the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus” is our mantra at South. We talk about this mission regularly and we make it our community’s aim. As we explore what we do with our emotions isn’t it appropriate to focus on what Jesus does with his emotions? We are in fact seeking to live in his way with his heart. What did he do with his desires? Even ones which were in competition with his Father’s mission?

In this passage we see Jesus honestly and sorrowfully pouring out his desire to his heavenly Father. He didn’t hold back his emotions regardless of them being contrary to what he knew was his Father’s will. I think this moment makes Jesus so relatable. He was the perfect sin-less Son of God and he experienced the full range of human emotions. The garden of Gethsemane was a regular place he had gone throughout his ministry to meet with God in quiet. He goes there again in his darkest hour.  Having such intimacy of relationship with the Father, Jesus had full freedom to express his anguish. He is our example. We can do the same.

As you purpose to live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus, consider this question: Where do you go to express emotion to God? Do you go there regularly? Why not pray your emotions today to God? If you’re angry, be angry. If you’re sad, express your sadness. If you’re disappointed, don’t hold back. God can handle it. He made you and he made your emotions. He welcomes all of you. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or stuck in the process of sorting through or expressing your emotions, I encourage you take a step toward counsel or a support group offered at South.

By Ellen Rosenberger

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

What Does Jesus Do With His Desires? | Matthew 26:36-462019-07-22T16:35:24-06:00
Go to Top