by Joe Palekas
Friends! Family! Welcome back to the highlight of your week – the Capital Fellows blog. After a brief hiatus during which we all dispersed to various locations for Christmas and New Years, the Capital Fellows are BACK! We’ve been told McLean, VA just wasn’t the same without us. Less energy, less sparkle, you get the picture.
The break was very nice for all of us, but it was ESPECIALLY joyous for our dear sister Fellow Kat Kolton! A few days after Christmas, Kat got engaged! Kat – we love you so much and are THRILLED to welcome honorary Fellow Nick to the crew. Our prayers are for a marriage based on the abiding love of Jesus and an ever-growing love between the two of you. WOOHOO!
After this excitement, we rolled back to Meadowkirk Retreat Center – where it all began. Almost exactly four months previously, we arrived and met each other for the first time. It was FUN to see the difference in greeting style from our first meeting to this enthusiastic reunion. We really have grown so much individually and as a community – it was exciting to be back together!
Our retreat was restful. We had about five days to relax in the rolling hills of Middleburg, VA. While relaxing, we were also preparing to begin our job search in earnest – apparently, Capital Fellows is not a lifelong program. John Kyle told us the program does end in May. Bummer.
Beyond the job search, we were also graced by the presence of Dr. Carolyn Sinclair, Director of Care at MPC. She spent a morning equipping us for the ministry of peer counseling. Much of the time at the retreat was spent in peer counseling groups – groups where we intentionally share and process through life together. This was perhaps the most impactful portion of the retreat for many of us. I’m thankful to have a structured time for intimacy and vulnerability.
Each morning at the retreat, we read a portion of Romans 8 and worked through it together. On Saturday, we read the entire chapter all at once and John asked for any questions or comments. One of our wiser Fellows (seriously – go read her blog again – it feeds the soul!) Julia posed a question: “What does this practically mean for us?”
Romans 8:1 reads, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Later in the chapter, we read “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons and daughters of God” (verse 14). The passage goes on to tell us that nothing will separate us from the love of God. This is real and powerful stuff.
It’s also a passage that many of us have heard often. Isn’t it funny how repetition can sometimes dull the edges of something that otherwise would be sharp? I was taken aback when Julia asked about the practical application – it shook me a bit and I had to stop and think. I’ve read this passage many times, and I’ve even heard people teach it. But what does it mean for me today, right now? And what does it mean for tomorrow?
I hope you see the wisdom in Julia’s question. The Spirit used that question to drive home the depth of this passage in a whole new way. Refreshed with new eyes, I read the passage again.
8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus: For those who Jesus calls friend, condemnation has ceased to be a reality. Right now, no condemnation exists – there is no condemnation from God, so what right do I have to condemn myself? I am in Jesus, hidden in the folds of his cloak. Jesus left my condemnation in the grave when he walked out of it.
8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you: The same life that propelled Jesus out of the grave is now inside of me.
8:14, 16-17a For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons and daughters of God…The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ: What’s the practical application here? God himself, Yahweh, King over the earth and Creator of the universe calls me his son.
Friend, one of the most practical questions we ask ourselves is “Who am I?” If you trust in Jesus to rescue you from condemnation, that question is answered for you.
Who am I? I am Joseph Palekas, son of the God who built the mountains and dug the oceans and scattered the stars. It is this God who claims me as his son. Fall into this identity that you might rise and enjoy life abundant.
Pictures from the Week