Friday, November 24, 2017

What Happens When You Help?

Most people who want the concert experience spring for the expensive backstage passes, the meet & greet tickets, and the front row seats. Me? I have to admit, I didn’t show up at the Winter Jam show with any of that in mind. In fact, my only goal was to visit an out of state friend who was running one of the merch booths.

After a few minutes of loitering beside her table, she asked: “Wanna just be my volunteer?” “Sure, why not?” I replied, putting on one of the red crew shirts. Heck, she had gotten me into the show for free. Of course, I would help her out! As it turned out, I still got to take breaks and enjoy the best parts of the show. On top of that, however, the other staff members appreciated my willingness to help out so much that they let me tag along into places that the average showgoer or volunteer would never end up.

Looking back, it was one big line of positive chain reactions. I was willing to drive for two hours and pay to go to a show so I could visit my friend. She snagged me a free ticket to make it easier. I was excited to be there and was more than happy to help her and the crew out. The crew was excited to have my assistance, so they didn’t mind me tagging along for dinner and loading the tour bus.

None of us had high expectations of what the others could or would do for us. We were all simply willing to do things for each other. This is how good things happen.

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
   and one who waters will himself be watered.
-Proverbs 11:25

Friday, November 17, 2017

Examining Each Other

God’s working can be really ironic sometimes. Yesterday morning, part of my Bible study time involved a brief part about judgments. It quoted Matthew 7:2-5, in which we are told that we ought to fix our own issues before looking at the issues of those around us.

Shortly thereafter, I was messaging a friend of mine. At one point I made a remark about his tendency to procrastinate. Pausing for a moment, I shook my head at myself. “Like I’m one to talk, seeing as I should be working on a project right now”, I added. He replied “Who has the speck and who has the plank? Because I feel like I could have either one.”

Isn’t that just the way it goes? We read a biblical truth, nod our head in agreement, then promptly forget it. Then, God tosses the lesson right back at us again.

Today, let’s focus on our own issues rather than those of our neighbor. On top of that, let’s thank God that He is patient with us in our ever-so-slow process of growth in Him!

“For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” - Matthew 7:2-5

Friday, November 10, 2017

What happens to Christian loners?

Christians aren't meant to be loners.

I've heard this stated before. I know that the Bible says we should not neglect to meet together. I just never realized how important Christian fellowship is until recently.

About six months ago, the Bible study group that I had been a part of quit meeting. At the time, it didn't seem like a huge deal. Attendance had been way down anyway and it meant I had a free night to work on my projects. Besides, I was still attending church on Sundays. Over time, however, I began to sense myself feeling increasingly dissatisfied, distant with God, and truth be told, a little lonely. Looking back over the times in my life when I felt closest to God, it hit me: those were the times I was closest to other believers. I was surrounded by people who were actively pursuing Him, and they were taking me along for the ride via our discussions.

Something I've found along the way is that there is a difference between just hanging out with someone who happens to be a Christian and having meaningful fellowship. I've spent a lot of time around Christian people these few months. We watched movies, attended church, did craft projects, and had superficial “how was your past week or two?” chats. But I still found myself lonely and starved for real fellowship.

To be truly fulfilling, Christian fellowship can't be continually superficial. We need a few fellow believers who we can be close with. We need people with whom we can intentionally discuss scripture, faith, and struggles. Superficial conversations in between church services are not true fellowship. "I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." - Ephesians 3:17b-19

Friday, November 3, 2017

Avoiding the Thistles

I was out hiking earlier this week. As I went along the trail, I carefully kept to the center to avoid the plethora of dried out thistles that had grown up around the trail. Where had they all come from? I didn't remember a bunch of thistle plants being there a month ago. How could they have grown as tall as me and then died all in such a short timespan?

As I got to the top of the hill, something caught my eye. A little sunflower. I thought it was growing up out of the thistle patch. Then I noticed: the sunflower was coming out of the stem of the thistle plant. That didn't make any sense! How could it be? Simple: all of those huge "thistles" were actually out-of-season sunflowers.

I chuckled at my mistake. Then it hit me: we do that kind of thing a lot in life. We see something that looks unpleasant at a glance and try so hard to avoid it that we don't realize what it really is. Sometimes God uses the ugly things and circumstances in life to help us learn and grow.

"For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven" - Ecclesiastes 3:1