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Week 03

Red Couch Theology

Sermon Conversations with Alex and Aaron

There’s only so much we can cover in a Sunday morning gathering!
Each week, you’re invited to tune into our podcast. We record our podcast “live” every Thursday at 11am.
What can you expect? Pastors Alex, Aaron, and the occasional guest having a casual conversation, diving deeper into ideas related to last Sunday’s teaching.

Ask Questions about the Sermon, “Over Whel Med”, by texting 720-316-3893 prior to /or during the “LIVE” Thursday podcast.

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCWnNSTN-6XA7oYy6TBfS0LAxqxPvxVjH

Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/guys-drinking-tea/id1616539767

Red Couch Theology2023-01-28T12:12:04-07:00

An Unexpected Gift

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence? Psalm 139:7

When I was a child, a popular Christmas song that was used to keep us children in line was “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”. Adults used the lyrics to remind us of how we shouldn’t behave prior to Christmas, because Santa Claus was constantly aware of how good or bad we were, and it might keep him from bringing gifts to us. We were told that we “better not cry” or “pout” because that would be bad. Also that Santa Claus was aware of us even when we were asleep, so our dreams might be suspect.

Thinking back, I wonder if some of my ideas about God’s knowledge and perception of me were carried over in my mind from those reminders. I know that I have been anxious over a lot of years wondering if I was being a good enough wife, parent, grandparent, co-worker, friend and neighbor. There was always something, and even someone who let me know that I was failing, and the implication was that God knew it and was disappointed with me.

Through a lot of years of Bible study, prayer, some counseling and much reading, I have learned differently, and Psalm 139 has been a major Old Testament help. Though, I continue to get frustrated and anxious about things. For instance, this week it has been about some technology that has been updated, reminding me how little I know and how stupid I feel. I know God doesn’t see me or treat me that way.

Recently I was asked, “when I felt least afraid and anxious” and I told about my experience in the hospital on Christmas Eve, 2020:

On December 16, I tested positive for Covid 19, and because we could check my oxygen level and it was low, the Dr. told me to get to emergency. I was admitted to the hospital and at 2:00 a.m. on December 20, I was taken to ICU because I needed more oxygen than I could be given where I was. I was able to let my son know, and he contacted my daughter. They talked to the Dr. and were told “that if I had to go on a ventilator, I might not make it out”. I knew that, too.

Obviously, thanks to the Lord, a lot of people praying, and the wonderful care I received from all the hospital staff, I did “make it”. There are so many good things that have come from that experience. It was not a bad thing to be wholly dependent on God for my attitude and on the kindness of the various medical staff. I don’t remember being afraid or anxious about the outcome.

By Christmas Eve night, still in ICU, I remember telling God that “if I couldn’t be where I wanted to be, I was with Him in the best place I could be with such caring people”. As strange as it may sound, the whole experience was a life changing gift for me and is a cherished memory.

Reading and pondering Psalm 139 is especially helpful for focusing on how fully we are known and cared for by God. Although verses 19-22 talk about external enemies, too often I find that my own memories, thoughts and attitudes are my “enemies’’. I am so grateful for the prayer at the end.

Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139:23-24 AMP

Take some time to read Psalm 139. Perhaps use a different Bible than you usually do. Perhaps the Amplified, the Message or King James versions.

An Unexpected Gift2023-01-28T12:06:58-07:00

Praying Psalm 139

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Being anxious about our past, our present or our future, can be an intensely personal, even isolating experience. But God calls us to be in community. He calls us to be involved in each other’s lives, particularly in prayer for one another. Simply the act of sharing our anxieties with another person can lessen our individual anxieties. Also, it opens the opportunity to lessen another person’s anxieties as well. God calls us to, “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” Galatians 6:2 NIV

I have enjoyed reading and praying through Psalm 139 for myself over the years. A recent conversation with Carolyn Schmitt opened up a new way for me to pray Psalm 139 for others. First, take all the personal pronouns in Psalm 139 and change them to another person’s name. Then Pray through Psalm 139 for that person you want to pray for. If that person’s name is Mary – then this is how it would work in verses Psalm 139:1-6.

O Lord, you have searched Mary, and you know Mary. You know when Mary sits down and when Mary rises; you perceive Mary’s thoughts from afar. You discern her going out and her lying down; you are familiar with all her ways. Before a word is on Mary’s tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem her in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon Mary. Such knowledge is too wonderful for Mary and me, too lofty for us to attain.

You can add your own thoughts as they occur, or as the verses and the Holy Spirit prompts you to pray for that other person.

Here is an example:

“Lord, help Mary to know you, to be aware of how intimately you know her, her thoughts, her wishes, her dreams, and to know that she can place her greatest desires and anxieties in your capable hands, Lord.”

This week, pray for someone else who has a need or is anxious. Use Psalm 139 to guide your prayer.

Praying Psalm 1392023-01-28T11:49:34-07:00

Which Mirror Will You Choose?

Can we live in the present without being undercut by anxiety about who we are? We might have handicaps or simply dislike how we look.
We are told to have self esteem, but from the time we’re babies, our self worth reflects how others see us. Often (always?) the reflection we see
is distorted, like the reflection in a mirror at the fun house:

http://www.barbdahlgren.com/wp-content/uploads/Fun-House-Mirror.jpg

Even “selfies” distort the image we have of ourselves. Put those images on Facebook or Instagram and our imaginations go to work—we can tell ourselves so many versions of how others see us. We see so many enhanced images each day; it’s not surprising that we fall into comparison games that we can never win. Unrealistic expectations and lies we believe about ourselves can spiral out of control.

In Psalm 139 David shows us how to break the false images that we have internalized. He gives us the truest mirror we could ever look into: understanding that God has made us with infinite care. Regardless of what others may think of us, or what we think of ourselves, we are beautiful works of art and nothing about us is accidental:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
Psalm 139:13-16 (The Message)

It is so powerful to realize that God created us intentionally and knew us before we were born, but what about the “rest of our stories”? What about the wounds that happen to everyone in life, both psychological and physical? How does God see us when our choices or the choices of others have damaged us?

The story of Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, shows us even when we see ourselves as worthless and broken that Jesus wants to welcome us and sustain us. Mephibosheth started life as a healthy child, but became lame when his family fled from danger upon hearing of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan. Later in the story, King David wanted to welcome Mephibosheth into his household, but Mephibosheth deflected. He did not see himself as worthy of the invitation:

“Don’t be frightened,” said David. “I’d like to do something special for you in memory of your father Jonathan. To begin with, I’m returning to you all the properties of your grandfather Saul. Furthermore, from now on you’ll take all your meals at my table.”

Shuffling and stammering, not looking him in the eye, Mephibosheth said, “Who am I that you pay attention to a stray dog like me?”
2 Samuel 9:7-8 (The Message)

Rather than treating Mephibosheth in keeping with his poor self image, David insists on treating him as well as he treats members of his own family:

Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the King’s table; he was lame in both feet.
2 Samuel 9:13 (NIV)

Mephibosheth was still lame, but he was welcomed in perpetuity as equal to the King’s sons. In this story, King David sees him as worthy of acceptance
just as he is.

Application

David’s welcome of Mephibosheth foreshadows how Jesus seeks us out and wants to welcome us into his presence.

Are there wounds in your life that make you feel like you’re too broken to be welcomed by Jesus? Are there ways you disqualify yourself when Jesus offers his love and acceptance? Imagine yourself in the place of Mephibosheth. What would your wounds be? How would the King respond to you and welcome you? What is your response? If your self image prevents you from accepting Jesus’ view of you as worthy of love and belonging, take time to pray for help and healing.

Which Mirror Will You Choose?2023-01-28T11:31:58-07:00

“What, Me Worry?”

When my brother and I were young teens, we subscribed to MAD magazine for a couple years and, when it arrived, eagerly devoured the whole issue. The image of Alfred E. Neuman appeared on every cover along with his “What, Me Worry” motto. MAD and other forms of comedy have had remarkable power to dispel my anxieties.

Humor was one of the primary methods my brother and I used (successfully or not) to de-escalate my mother’s OCD episodes when she entered verbal worrying exercises on behalf of our entire family. I made an inward determination to avoid that kind of emotional state – staying “cool” like Alfred E. Neuman. My resolve seemed successful because, with each extraordinary adventure I tackled, friends would congratulate me for doing “things they would never attempt”.

As I “matured”, I observed people who were overwhelmed by anxiety, and I often thought to myself…”Thank God I’m not like THAT!” My attitude mirrored this parable:

The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.” Luke 18:11 NIV

After I began my walk with Christ, the Holy Spirit moved me to take periodic inner peace inventories. I’ve discovered, although my anxiety might not look like THAT, I far too often obsessively review in my mind past life events and mistakes of mine or of others. Most of the time these events and mistakes are irreversible. Those thoughts unquestionably fit into the worry/anxiety category. If I go a step further and assign most of the blame to others, I occasionally find myself drifting into a desire for vengeance. As the Holy Spirit has spoken to me about these attitudes, I’ve been humbled.

I’ve recently recognized an enhanced reluctance to attempt things I imagine will end in failure. That hesitation often reflects anxiety. I may not be able to so easily identify my anxieties as I can those of my neighbor, but when I can, it is an important step in improving my relationships in God’s kingdom.

Here’s a prayer asking the Holy Spirit for a heart search. Notice that the path from the wicked or grievous way doesn’t lead to despair, but back to the Way (of Jesus) everlasting. What encouragement!

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV

Sometime today, use this link to listen to and meditate on Psalm 139:23-24 as you ask the Holy Spirit to reveal and release you from your hidden (or already known) anxieties.

“What, Me Worry?”2023-01-28T09:58:37-07:00

Podcast Episode – Red Couch Theology

With Alex Walton & Aaron Bjorklund

In addition to our daily devotional readings we also produce a weekly podcast in which we discuss the previous Sunday’s sermon topic. Over the next few weeks we will be publishing our podcast episode on Friday’s here in the Daily. We hope it blesses you. You can find the episode either on Youtube OR on your favorite podcast platform

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCWnNSTN-6XA7oYy6TBfS0LAxqxPvxVjH

Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/guys-drinking-tea/id1616539767

Podcast Episode – Red Couch Theology2022-11-27T19:50:49-07:00

Advent Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary

Introduction: For hundreds of years many Christian traditions have read passages of scripture using a tool called a lectionary. This Advent season our devotional team decided to resource you with selections from the Revised Common Lectionary. You will encounter texts from the Psalms, the Prophets, and the New Testament as well as formal prayers. Each text has been selected to build anticipation for the coming of Christ – the Light of the World – amid the dark, cold days of winter. Reflect on the first coming of Christ while yearning for his second coming.

Matthew 11:2-11

11:2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples

11:3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”

11:4 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:

11:5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised,
and the poor have good news brought to them.

11:6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

11:7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at?
A reed shaken by the wind?

11:8 What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces.

11:9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

11:10 This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’

11:11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven
is greater than he.

Scripture Prayer

O God of Isaiah and John the Baptist,
through all such faithful ones
you proclaim the unfolding of future joy
and renewed life.
Strengthen our hearts to believe your advent promise
that one day we will walk in the holy way of Christ,
where sorrow and sighing will be no more
and the journey of God’s people will be joy. Amen.

Source: Year A – Advent : Revised Common Lectionary

Advent Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary2022-11-24T14:12:34-07:00

Advent Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary

Introduction: For hundreds of years many Christian traditions have read passages of scripture using a tool called a lectionary. This Advent season our devotional team decided to resource you with selections from the Revised Common Lectionary. You will encounter texts from the Psalms, the Prophets, and the New Testament as well as formal prayers. Each text has been selected to build anticipation for the coming of Christ – the Light of the World – amid the dark, cold days of winter. Reflect on the first coming of Christ while yearning for his second coming.

James 5:7-10

5:7 Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth,
being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.

5:8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.

5:9 Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors!

5:10 As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

Intercessory Prayer

Brothers and sisters,
as we joyfully await the glorious coming of the Christ,
let us pray for the needs of the church, our community, and the world.

Prayers of the People, concluding with:

God of joy and exultation,
you strengthen what is weak;
you enrich the poor
and give hope to those who live in fear.
Look upon our needs this day.
Make us grateful for the good news of salvation
and keep us faithful in your service
until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives for ever and ever. Amen.

Source: Year A – Advent : Revised Common Lectionary

Advent Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary2022-11-29T13:28:45-07:00

Advent Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary

Introduction: For hundreds of years many Christian traditions have read passages of scripture using a tool called a lectionary. This Advent season our devotional team decided to resource you with selections from the Revised Common Lectionary. You will encounter texts from the Psalms, the Prophets, and the New Testament as well as formal prayers. Each text has been selected to build anticipation for the coming of Christ – the Light of the World – amid the dark, cold days of winter. Reflect on the first coming of Christ while yearning for his second coming.

Luke 1:46b-55

1:46b “My soul magnifies the Lord,

1:47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

1:48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations
will call me blessed;

1:49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

1:50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

1:51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

1:52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;

1:53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

1:54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,

1:55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Intercessory Prayer

 Brothers and sisters,
as we joyfully await the glorious coming of the Christ,
let us pray for the needs of the church, our community, and the world.

Prayers of the People, concluding with:

God of joy and exultation,
you strengthen what is weak;
you enrich the poor
and give hope to those who live in fear.
Look upon our needs this day.
Make us grateful for the good news of salvation
and keep us faithful in your service
until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives for ever and ever. Amen.

Source: Year A – Advent : Revised Common Lectionary

Advent Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary2022-11-29T13:37:31-07:00

Advent Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary

Introduction: For hundreds of years many Christian traditions have read passages of scripture using a tool called a lectionary. This Advent season our devotional team decided to resource you with selections from the Revised Common Lectionary. You will encounter texts from the Psalms, the Prophets, and the New Testament as well as formal prayers. Each text has been selected to build anticipation for the coming of Christ – the Light of the World – amid the dark, cold days of winter. Reflect on the first coming of Christ while yearning for his second coming.

Isaiah 35:1-10

35:1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus

35:2 it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God.

35:3 Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.

35:4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.”

35:5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

35:6 then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;

35:7 the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

35:8 A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.

35:9 No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.

35:10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Thematic Prayer

God of hope,
you call us home from the exile of selfish oppression
to the freedom of justice,
the balm of healing,
and the joy of sharing.
Make us strong to join you in your holy work,
as friends of strangers and victims,
companions of those whom others shun,
and as the happiness of those whose hearts are broken.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Source: Year A – Advent : Revised Common Lectionary

Advent Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary2022-11-24T13:27:10-07:00
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