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Revisiting Fellowship and Community

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The following is a post written by Jill that was first shared a little less than two years ago. We’re revisiting it because it is still relevant and important. Enjoy.

“Service is the pathway to real significance.” ~Rick Warren

Connecting and serving with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ is important for couples. Isolation is not healthy and feelings of isolation can be very strong even within a church.

Connecting Through Serving

Years ago, Steve and I were members of a very large church where it was easy to become a nameless drone of endless people. We chose to get involved and started helping out on Wed. nights by teaching the 1st graders. It really didn’t take much effort — just a little investment in time. Here’s what came out of that experience:

  • Kids are a hoot! Every evening was fun and we actually ended up going home with our “tanks” full.
  • The nameless drones of endless people began to be people we knew! As we began to get to know the kids, we came to know their parents as well. Soon it became, “Hi Susie!” “Hi Jeff!” And a little guy would run up and say “Hi Miss Jill, Hi Mr. Steve!” as we would walk down the corridor.
  • Conversations and playdates began to happen for us and our kids.
  • We began to feel a sense of community and belonging.
  • We found we enjoyed church far more.

This experience taught us that you can’t expect to feel a part of something if you’re not willing to invest in it.

Make It Your Church

If we are to emulate Christ — who came to serve and not to be served (Mark 10:45 & Matt. 20:28) — then we need to get involved with the church and help serve its needs. And trust me, there are needs.

Serving not only meets those needs, but you will actually end up being the one who will get blessed as well! Trust me on this. Please do not think of this as volunteering, because you’re not. You are serving and there’s a difference.

  1. A volunteer looks upon ministry as another commitment they’ve been obligated to fulfill, but someone called by God to serve looks upon service as an opportunity to be used by God.
  2. A volunteer sits back and complains about things, but a servant looks for ways to help.
  3. A volunteer is oblivious to the needs of those around them, but a servant is sensitive to them and prays for them.
  4. A volunteer’s main source of fulfillment is her talents and abilities, but a servant knows that being used by God is the most fulfilling thing they can do with their life.
  5. A volunteer can’t handle being put into a situation where she is “stretched”, but a servant responds to God with a humble dependence on Him.

Come. Serve. Invest.

We all need Fellowship and we all need Community, so get involved! Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t isolate yourself either and don’t come to church with a “self”-seeking attitude. Come with an expectancy to get involved.

You will be blessed!

photo credit: Gerry Dincher via photopin cc

What We Do to Fit In

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In last week’s post, Jill told of her encounter with the Lord as she was putting on her boots – and the two pairs of socks and insole inserts it takes to make them fit. Then our daughter brought the following observations to the conversation.

A Future Guest Bloggers

For those who might not know, Jill and I have two adult children. Our son Kayce (pronounced “case”) is 25 years old and our daughter Jennah is 20. We’re blessed that we genuinely enjoy them as people and not because they’re our kids.

We’re also blessed that they are compassionate and wise. We’ve asked them to begin contributing to this blog and are excited that it’ll happen soon.

For today though, you’ll get Jennah’s thoughts second hand through me as well as some thoughts of my own.

And Also…

When we told her about last weeks’ post and what the Lord had revealed to Jill about her boots Jennah simply said, “and also how much trouble we all go through to fit in”.

So true.

“I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” – 1 Corinthians 9:22-23

There is nothing wrong in fitting in. In fact, according to this passage written by Paul, there is a huge benefit “for the sake of the gospel”.

And though some may disagree, the Bible never expressly forbids making ourselves beautiful (or handsome). It cautions against over emphasis in multiple places (Proverbs 31:30, 1 Peter 3:3-4, 1 Samuel 16:7 and others) but it never says it is of no importance or unacceptable.

We’re Already “In”

The danger is when are we so caught up in “fitting in” that we forget who we are and Whose we are. Or perhaps it’s better said: who we are BECAUSE of Whose we are.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. – Colossians 3:1-3

This is one of those passages that is all two easy to gloss over because it sounds so…well, unbelievable. But what if it simply means what it says?

  • What if we’ve really been raised above…well, above everything?
  • What if we could set our minds on the things that matter above instead of earthly things?
  • And what if our life was really hidden in Christ?

If these things are true, doesn’t it mean everything we could possibly care or worry about is taken care of? Completely?

That’s exactly what it means.

How Will You Use Your Energy?

And what that means in relation to boots is that we can dress and present ourselves to the world in the best way we can and not waste time and energy in wondering if it’s “good enough”. It means we can walk out our lives in rest and in peace.

As I’ve mentioned before, Gayle Erwin writes in his book, The Jesus Style: “Anything we hide forces us to live in a way that will keep what we hide safely hidden. In other words, we become unreal–untrue to ourselves–incongruent.” That unreality is opposite to the nature of Jesus who is the God of reality. No energy was spent in covering His life with a mask. In Him, there was no darkness at all (pages 62-63).”

All that hiding is exhausting and as we’ve just read, unnecessary.

We are called to rest in the Lord and what He has done so that we can expend our energy in the direction of others.

photo credit: Masks via photopin (license)

What We Do to Make Things Fit

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I recently got a great deal on a pair of amazing boots at a local boutique. I was so excited! I got them on sale!

I’ll Figure It Out

There was only one pair left and I had to have them because of the great deal compared to their retail price. There was only one challenge…they are really too big for me.

But that’s ok (I told myself), I’ll figure it out. So I bought them. I now wear two pairs of socks and an insole insert to make them fit so my foot doesn’t slide around and give me blisters.

This morning when I went to put them on, I thought about how much I have to do just to make them fit. It really is ridiculous what I go through just to wear them. And even though I got them on sale, I still spent money on shoes that don’t fit!

As I sat thinking about how much I go through for a pair of boots it struck me that spending time with God, which doesn’t require near as much investment, seems so inconvenient.

Making Him Fit

Let’s break this down;

  • God sent us His Son to die for us so we could have an open communication with Him and it costs us nothing!
  • He is the real deal, not some cheap sale item. And yet we get more excited about an item on sale than we do about spending time and eternity with our Creator!
  • He is the perfect fit for us and all of our problems can be answered through Him. Yet we don’t try Him on. We avoid Him instead.
  • He knows our inner most thoughts and knew us even in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). We don’t have to go through an inconvenient routine to make Him fit into our lives. He’s already the perfect fit!

It’s amazing how God will show up to teach us things through the simplest of examples.

The Lord Woos in Unusual Ways

The Lord brought all these thoughts while I was putting on my boots. I’ll still keep ’em; I love them and I believe God delights in me having found them. But I will also remember what I learned from them too through the Holy Spirit.

Spend time with God through His Word, through Devotionals, through sermons. It is free, and will fit perfectly! You can’t ask for anything better.

photo credit: Here Comes Trouble via photopin (license)

“Watch Me Mommy!”

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The other night, Steve and I had a lovely time out to dinner with some friends. Towards the end of the night, I noticed a couple sitting across from us in a booth. They weren’t talking at all.

Date Night?

At first I asked myself were they fighting? But no, they didn’t have that type of posture towards one another. Now, there is nothing wrong with just being in the moment and not having to talk. As couples, you don’t have to be chatty all the time. There’s nothing wrong with silence in and of itself.

As I focused a little closer however, it was evident that this was a “date night” for them. And I noticed they were distracted. As they were eating their chips and salsa and waiting for their dinner to arrive, the wife was scrolling through her phone and the husband was watching a TV show on his – I could actually hear the show from where we were sitting.

I couldn’t help but think about all the conversations they could be having and the connect points that were being missed. But they allowed themselves to be distracted.

This doesn’t seem like a big thing. After all, they probably have worked hard and needed a night out to unwind, but is that the best way to spend it? These types of habits are dangerous to the long term health of any marriage and/or relationship.

Missed Opportunities

More and more I see these distractions taking the place of relational moments. I was at the park and noticed the mom’s on their phones scrolling or talking as their kids are saying “watch me Mommy!” from the swing.

Steve told me of a similar story. He was driving through a neighborhood and saw kids playing in the front yard. As he passed the house though, the dad was missing the whole thing because he was scrolling on his phone.

As time goes on, we are forming habits that are allowing what’s on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc… to be the first priority of our lives, rather than the real life needs and investment to our growing child, marriages and relationships.

We’re allowing the fear of missing something else to keep us from living in the now.

But there’s hope…

Intentional and Deliberate

Turn off your phone when going out. Silence your phone when playing with the children. Make spending time deliberate. Check what’s on your phone later. Many past civilizations survived without a cell phone and social media and so will you.

Take today as an exercise in character building, and make this promise to yourself and keep it: promise to focus your thoughts and attention on things that are really important- like family, your marriage, your friends, and your future. Don’t allow your phone to be such a distraction that it derails your most important work- being relational.

So Easily Ensnared

Although we will struggle mightily to rise above the distractions of our everyday living, we need to remember we will never struggle alone. God is here—eternal and faithful and patient! He will help us prioritize our lives. He is relational to the core and He is chasing after you to remind you of that.

“Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.”  – Hebrews 12:1-2 HCSB

Distractions are everywhere, but, thankfully, so is God…and that fact has everything to do with how you prioritize your day, your relationships and your life. Take time for Him and take time for relationships. You’ll never come up short.

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