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Mindset - Emotional Health Jesus' Way

Red Couch Theology Podcast

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 at 11 am on Thursdays – recorded (and sometimes prerecorded) for later, online viewing.

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 series,
MINDSET — Emotional Health & the Way of Jesus
 

“Desperate Enough to Rest in God” 

(Isaiah 42)

Questions may be sent through
https://redcouchtheology.com/  

Blog sites:

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

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

Red Couch Theology Podcast2024-01-19T08:38:19-07:00

Does God Need Us?

by Kathleen Petersen

Google revealed the theological term “divine aseity” for exploring the question in my title. 

This term “Divine aseity” intimidates me. I doubt I can explore it to anyone’s satisfaction, including my own. In this fourth down situation (my 400 word limit – along with watching too much playoff football), perhaps I should just punt. But let’s go for it!

The wise members of our devotional team reminded me that God is not an unhealthy, codependent personality who is threatened by our brokenness. With that insight, I’ll begin here.


Shout for joy, you heavens; exult, you earth!
You mountains, break into happy cries!
For Yahweh consoles his people and takes pity on those who are afflicted.
For Zion was saying, ‘Yahweh has abandoned me,
the Lord has forgotten me’.
Does a woman forget her baby at the breast,
or fail to cherish the son of her womb?
Yet even if these forget, I will never forget you.
See, I have branded you on the palms of my hands,
Your ramparts are always under my eye. Isaiah 49:13-16 TJB


This passage compares God’s connection with us to a nursing mother and her child. As an aside, one of the scriptural names of God is “El Shaddai”, which can be translated as “nursing mother God”. To emphasize the permanence of this relationship, the passage adds the excruciatingly painful image of everlasting, seared marks on the palms of the hands that cradle the child.

My takeaway from this passage is that God’s attention to us is deeply caring, sacrificial and permanent.

Also consider these Gospel passages from the earthly life of Jesus describing Jesus weeping over the loss of connection with people who should have embraced him: Luke 13:34–35, Luke 19:41–44, and Matthew 23:37–39. 


Concern for the Nation

As he approached and saw the city, he wept for it, saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days will come on you when your enemies will build a barricade around you, surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you and your children among you to the ground, and they will not leave one stone on another in your midst, because you did not recognize the time when God visited you.” Luke 19:41–44 CSB


Concern for the Person

When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked. “Lord,” they told him, “come and see.”  Jesus wept. John 11:33-35 CSB


The Gospel record depicts Jesus weeping infrequently. However, these passages show us his profound connection with those he considers his own. Let’s return to the question: Does God need us? Maybe we should ask, how do we need God to need us? 

Perhaps God doesn’t “need” humans in a technical sense, but he chose to create us and longs for those he has created to return to him and be eternally in his presence.

Unless we sense God’s constant, tangible presence, we may think he is indifferent to us. Of course God’s care for his children is superior to that of any animal, but read this article about seemingly abandoned baby animals to enhance your perspective on his watchful care/need for you.


Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Does God Need Us?2024-01-19T19:08:33-07:00

Desperation

by Grace Hunter

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?” Psalm 42:1-3 NIV

The Psalmist used a familiar incident of his day, a deer searching for water,to express desperation. A better analogy for 21st century America might be to think of a dog after a long walk, panting for a drink of water. For both the deer and the dog, water is crucial to their survival, to their thriving, to their very life. The writer of Psalm 42 and 43 is also desperate. He is longing for God’s presence, for God’s rest, for the security found in God’s house. Read Psalm 42 and 43 in your favorite version.

What do you see? Do you see how the Psalmist feels? In the NIV he feels abandoned, rejected, forgotten, taunted, and he is mourning. Did you notice what the Psalmist does with those deep hurtful feelings, with his desperation for God? “These things I remember as I pour out my soul,” Psalm 42:4 NIV. He prays to God:  he pours out his soul, expresses his questions, his feelings of abandonment and rejection.

Did you see what the Psalmist asks for? He asks for vindication, to have joy again, to be able to be in God’s presence on His Holy Mountain, to have God plead his case before his enemies. When we are feeling wronged, do we go to God first? The Psalmist also asks for God to rescue him and for God’s light to guide him. Do we do the same? 

Did you notice that these two Psalms are essentially conversations between the Psalmist and God? As the Psalmist is praying, he “remembers” various truths about God, about how He acts, who He is and what He has done in the past. The Holy Spirit prompted retrospection; for finding answers to the Psalmist’s desperation. Let’s look at some of these things God reminds his servant of as he prays,

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.  Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5 NIV

 

By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me–a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God my Rock,  Psalm 42:8-9a NIV

When we pour out our hearts to God in the midst of our desperation, then He may remind us of who He is, how He has acted in the past. We can put our hope in God. We can know we will praise Him again. We can be reassured of His love, His faithfulness; He can be our rock, our stronghold, and our light to guide us in circumstances, even in our difficult circumstances. 


Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Desperation2024-01-19T18:17:59-07:00

Work in Progress!

by Sherry Sommer

Just out of college,  I worked as a church receptionist at an historic church in Boston. The lead pastor was  a kind man who would sometimes stop to chat. After a counseling session one day, he mused: “The issues people talk to me about are rarely their real issues.”  This seemed profound and intriguing, but I didn’t have enough life experience to understand what he meant. At the time, I didn’t know how much he described my situation.  God has been so good over the years helping me understand how my distorted ideas about myself, and about Him, are the real issues I had to understand. Pondering the pastor’s word and seeing how they apply to my life has been  like observing sculpture emerging from a block of marble. 

These verses from Matthew 11 get right to the heart of how Jesus can help us understand the root problems of our lack of rest and satisfaction:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message 


Because we  don’t feel adequate, we compensate by working hard.

We talk about burnout and weariness as a modern phenomenon, but it isn’t. Jesus is speaking to an audience that is weary and worn out. Perhaps they were worried about keeping food on the table. Maybe they didn’t have children, which  was one of the most significant achievements in that culture.  We don’t really know their frustrations. 

Just out of college, I felt inadequate because I had  graduated with honors but hadn’t found a job that really fit me. I felt so ashamed of myself that I had moved to Boston on a whim, hoping something would work out. Actually my life had only become harder and more miserable.  I disliked the city, had few friends, and couldn’t  find a job that was a good fit.   All my efforts to compensate had left me empty, afraid, and I became more and more consumed with self doubt.


 Jesus  doesn’t want  employees, He wants  friends.

 Unlike other people, or ourselves,  Jesus doesn’t want us to prove ourselves. He wants  to spend time with us and  to teach us.  It can be difficult to visualize this. Imagine someone you really liked and admired saying, “Let’s take a walk today, what do you say? We can have a good conversation. I’m working on a project and I think you’d be really good at it –– want to work on it together?  My first thought would be, “That’s a definite yes!”  This is what Jesus is inviting us to.  

 At the stage in life I was in after graduating, I had trouble trusting that Jesus was able and willing to  help me.   Rather than walking with Jesus.  I was just trying to keep all the rules with the hope that I’d eventually get to solid ground. My efforts were as useful as  treading water in circles.  It took me a long time to realize that the choices I had made and the circumstances I was in were not my actual problem. Working hard without trusting God’s guidance was my problem.


When we walk with Jesus, we can do the work that we were made to do and get the rest we require.

We talk about having a “work-life balance” and “finding meaningful work”. We live in a society that is unimaginably more prosperous than that of Jesus’ day, so we have the luxury to  have these expectations. However, people in Jesus’ time also wanted meaningful work that left time for rest and enjoyment. 

I had been raised to believe that I needed to work constantly and intensely to avoid poverty. I was taught to do whatever it took to survive. Finding a meaningful job and being able to take time to  rest seemed like luxuries I could not enjoy. I was like a feral animal, always trying to avoid danger and to survive. Trusting Jesus intermittently, I’d   think –– ”I haven’t kept up my guard!” when I hit a rough patch. Then I’d  revert to my anxious and insecure ways.

 Thank God He has taught me over the years to trust Him both in good and difficult times.  I have been able to find meaningful work. I live in Louisville, a town I love, and I have good friends. It’s an honor to  be  part of the South community.  Jesus has turned my anxious and scrappy approach to life into resourcefulness and trust, and He has provided for all my needs. With Jesus I can work and rest knowing that He keeps watch and is able to guide and protect.  Thank you, Jesus. 

“Turn Around” by Matt Maher just popped up in my playlist. What a perfect song for this devotional! I hope you get a minute to listen to it.

Work in Progress!2024-01-18T10:09:14-07:00

Take a Seat

by Bruce Hanson

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

 

I am a member of a group I wish I wasn’t qualified to be a part of, The OGC (Old Guys Club). That isn’t our official name but an appropriate one for the geezers like me who attend the Men’s Bible Study on Wednesday at church (ages 60-90+). When you are younger, one often pines for a vacation, an opportunity to rest and recharge. But when you are old like me, you have way more down time than is desirable — way too much!! Nonetheless, having extra time doesn’t equate with rest — much needed rest.

When I was a brand new Christian — half a century ago – I read a book by Watchman Nee called Sit, Walk, Stand. “Sit” is the place we start as Christians.  Sitting means trusting.  It mightily impacted me ever since.  In the passage above, Jesus offers us a rest that we all are desperate for. Trouble is, I think most of us only almost sit down. We are close, perched two inches above the seat. But the chair doesn’t actually work unless we allow it to support our weight. Not only that, but it wreaks havoc on our backs to almost sit. Ouch!!

As an oldie, I am unfortunately all too aware of how many times I have ALMOST trusted God. I thought and said the right things. But I didn’t TRULY trust Him.  I hadn’t rested in Him. I meant to, but I always stopped short — too many ‘Buts’ and ‘What Ifs’.

It makes me think fondly of my departed mother. She worked hard all week, so she was more than deserving of a day of rest. But come Sunday, she just couldn’t sit down — maybe for thirty seconds, but then she was right back up. If you look at the wonderful offer God makes above, there is no asterisk. There isn’t anything we must do to validate the offer. No resumé is required. — Just This!!

 

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct thy path. Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Take a Seat. God has the best cushions!!

 

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Take a Seat2024-01-18T09:38:05-07:00

Red Couch Theology Podcast

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 at 11 am on Thursdays – recorded (and sometimes prerecorded) for later, online viewing.

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 series,
MINDSET — Emotional Health & the Way of Jesus
 

“Penance Is Not an Option to Messiah’s Atonement” 

(See, Can You Ever “Live It Down”? )

 

Questions may be sent through
https://redcouchtheology.com/  

 

Blog sites:

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

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

 

Red Couch Theology Podcast2024-01-14T23:09:04-07:00

Focus on the Now

by Aaron Bjorklund

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17

Surrender is a gift. It’s not just a requirement for Christian living or the posture of those who have run out of options. No, surrender is always a gift because we were not designed to carry the weight of life. Part of the reason surrender is such a gift is that it frees us from the clutches of the past and the pull of the future. A surrendered soul is a soul that is present in the moment. 

Surrender often gets confused with doing nothing. Surrender is not passive. The Colossians text here shows us plenty of things to do in the present. When we wrestle too much with the past or try to control the future, we cease to surrender.

So I’ll say it again: surrender is a gift. It’s the gift of being where and when you are, while focusing on doing everything to God’s glory. We don’t need to control the outcomes, and we don’t need to let the past wear us down. We simply do the next right thing and surrender the rest. 

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Focus on the Now2024-01-14T22:53:48-07:00

Forward March

by Bruce Hanson

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:1-14

There is a verse in Romans that reads as follows:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Many moons ago, the writers of the Living Bible added the word FREE before GIFT. They did so for the very reason Paul was writing to Philippi. Those dogs he spoke of were the Judaizers. They wanted to add conditions to that free gift. Paul extols his accomplishments, which were many, and then says that as notable as they may have been, they were literally dog doo when compared to that God-given free gift.  “Dung” is the literal translation of the Greek word skubalon (garbage, refuse).

Our concern right now at South Fellowship is with our spiritual and emotional health.  It is something we cannot ignore if we are to be Jesus’ ambassadors.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

We are sinners. The corollary to that truth is that if we are sinners, we are guaranteed to have sinned. Repeatedly!! The King of those Judaizers (Satan) wants us to carry those sins around with us everywhere we go. Backs broken. Spiritual lights dimmed.

God has given us a provision and it is one we must take full advantage of.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

The wonderful result of that is this:

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

Give those judaizing dogs a swift kick!! Satan wants us to stumble around with all our baggage. Wherever we go. That is not what God intends. Paul tells us to forget what is behind, and move forward as God has planned for us. There is assuredly a cost to our sinning, but leave the sins behind. If God can forget them, we certainly ought to do the same.

Put on those white robes and . . . . 

Forward March

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Forward March2024-01-14T22:59:31-07:00

Can You Ever “Live It Down”?

by  Kathleen Petersen

Not long ago, the secular counseling profession seemed to have solid answers concerning release from personal shame and guilt. Christian counselors used some of those methods and celebrated when their clients were freed from unnecessary anguish. But the celebration now seems premature. Waves of popular culture influencers are rapidly creating new definitions of irredeemable wrongdoing. Their fiery torches, lit on social media, seek and consume too many minds and hearts.

Help us Lord Jesus! As conscientious, caring Christians, we desperately need a healthy approach to facing our past transgressions — those transgressions that have caused lasting damage.

Providentially, we have the confessions of the Apostle Paul to give us insight. During his trial in Acts 22:3-21, he gave a lengthy account of his past which included his religious inheritance, religious accomplishments, and religious sins. These two verses sum up the shameful behavior impossible to “live down”
in his life. 

“As I was traveling and approaching Damascus, about noon an intense light from heaven suddenly flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ Acts 22:6-7 CSB

What Paul had viewed as the highest service to God, arranging for severe punishments for Jesus’ followers, was, in fact, persecution of his own Messiah. His later testimony reveals he never evaluated those heinous acts lightly. Here he describes his shame in raw terms:

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
I Timothy 1:15 CSB

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “shame” this way:

A painful sensation excited by a consciousness of guilt, or of having done something which injures reputation; or by that of which nature or modesty prompts us to conceal.

So, our human tendency is to hide destructive past behaviors. 

How did Paul meet this challenge after recognizing he had inflicted lasting harm on so many? Although Paul realized he could never live down those harmful and murderous acts that he sometimes agonized over the memory of, he regularly turned those recollections into deep appreciation of forgiveness granted him by the death of Jesus. Here’s an expression of the Scriptural cure for shame:

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12;1-2 CSB

In Acts 2:16 Ananias gives Paul the key to freedom from shame:

Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

In Acts 22:19-21 Paul records a pivotal conversation he had with the risen Jesus: 

But I said, ‘Lord, they know that in synagogue after synagogue I had those who believed in you imprisoned and beaten. And when the blood of your witness Stephen was being shed, I stood there giving approval and guarding the clothes of those who killed him.’

He said to me, ‘Go, because I will send you far away to the Gentiles. Acts 22:19-21 CSB *

This conversation outlines a time honored Scriptural practice. Once you have turned your back on sinful behavior that has damaged others, don’t try to live it down, wallow in it, or over apologize (although apologies and reconciliation may be necessary). Move forward and serve him with all your heart. 

Let God speak to you as you listen to one of these beautiful reminders. the Oslo Gospel Choir or The Power of the Cross {Grab your guitar, to strum along.}

* Although Paul immediately testified to many about his dramatic conversion experience, he was not sent on his first missionary journey to the Gentiles until he had prepared for at least another 14 years. 

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Can You Ever “Live It Down”?2024-01-14T23:03:31-07:00

God Knows ALL Your Thoughts

by Grace Hunter

My frame was not hidden from you
            When I was made in the secret place;

When I was woven together in the depths of the earth
            Your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me
            Were written in your book before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
            How vast the sum of them!  Psalm 139:15-17 NIV

 I too, like Carolyn, have enjoyed and been blessed by reading, meditating, and praying Psalm 139 since I was in high school. It is one of my all-time favorite passages of scripture. Read through the above verses again, slowly. Ponder –– God saw and knew each of us intimately the entire 9 months we were being formed inside our mother’s womb. Realize –– there is not one day you have lived, or one thought you have had that God has not seen, known, or perceived.
My human mind finds that knowledge almost too much to grasp.

When I consider God’s thoughts, the vast number of them, all that He holds in His hand, all that He controls, loves, directs and wills –– that IS beyond my ability to comprehend. Read the above verses again, Psalm 139:15-17, perhaps in another version. What grabs your attention? What forces you to contemplate God’s greatness, His concern and compassion for each detail in our lives?

Perhaps you are not in a peaceful place in your current mental and emotional health. Perhaps there is turmoil in your thoughts and emotions today. I encourage you —- take a step back. Let God remind you –– He KNOWS you; He knew you from your very first day. Let God remind you –– He formed you exactly as you are and He has a purpose for you, even in this season of your life. Earlier in this Psalm David pens this,

“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

You hem me in-behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.  

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.”  Psalm 139:1-6 NIV

Let the truth of these verses wash over you, comfort you, hold you. God is not surprised by your thoughts.
Spend some time today reading over
Psalm 139, praying through it to God, and receive what God, through His Holy Spirit, has to say to you today. 

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

God Knows ALL Your Thoughts2024-01-14T23:12:29-07:00
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