Monday, April 29, 2013

The Little Things We Can All Do

Over the past week I've had four experiences in which there was really one question at the root of them all, do people want to visit church?

There were all sorts of reasons not to, it's not inviting, the people there don't practice what they preach, people feel like they don't belong, it brings up guilt in their past, they "style" isn't theirs, plenty of reasons why people walk in the doors then immediately walk out.

But what if instead of focusing on why people don't feel welcome we were to work on things to make people feel welcome. Saying "hello", being friendly, offering them our spot, asking about them, getting them coffee, offering to show them around, inviting them back, all things that take a minimal amount of effort but pay off big dividends (and I'm sure you have more you could add to the list).

And here's a crazier idea, what if we didn't limit it just to strangers or first-time visitors. What if we did it for people we see every week? Imagine where we could go then...

I know, crazy...


Monday, April 22, 2013

Don't Be Above The Influence...

Be the Influence.

That campaign to fight drugs, it has a good message, but I think it's incomplete. It asks kids to be above the influence. That's great, we shouldn't be influenced to do things we think are wrong. But I believe there is more. We should be the positive influence on them.

Years ago I had the chance to talk with a missionary family in Africa, they told me about their year back in America. They had the normal adjustments of life, but one that turned out well was school. They had a ten year-old son who had to adapt from private school in Africa to public school in America. Not an easy task. But he did it, and he did more than just adapt, he adapted those around him. Because of his Christian upbringing and his school experience in Africa (which is slightly more disciplined than here) he actually changed the attitude of the class. The teacher said it was the first time she had seen it in her career. Usually a bad egg comes in and brings down the class. This young man's actions actually brought up the class.

That's what we are called to be. We're not merely supposed to detach ourselves from being influenced from the world around us, we are supposed to be influencing them for the better.

Jeremiah was a prophet at a hard time, the people of Israel were rebelling against God and now it was starting to take it's toll. But he held fast. But he also complained. He told God how he had never taken part in the feasts to idols and was a good follower of Yahweh and didn't deserve what was happening to him. God's response-

The Lord replied: "Stop this foolishness and talk some sense! Only if you return to trusting me will I let you continue as my spokesman. You are to influence them, not let them influence you!" (Jeremiah 15:19, LB)

To be used by God, we need to do more than just remove ourselves from a bad situation. We must trust in Him and be a positive influence to them.

How are you doing as an influence to those around you...?


Monday, April 15, 2013

You Can't Buy Elbow Grease

I read this quote the other day (sorry I can't attribute it to anyone, even the author said he didn't know where it came from). Basically, in the context it was written, it's saying you can't buy good results, you have to work for them.

We like to buy things in our society. It's easier to give money than to work for it. I find this in ministry all the time, if I'm having a lock-in, there are plenty of people willing to give me a few bucks so it will be fun. There are waaaay less who are willing to spend the night and help. There are commercials on all the time for a new weight-loss formula. For some reason "eat right and exercise" isn't as popular.

With God, it's the same way. I guarantee if someone sold a device to hear God more clearly it would sell like wildfire, yet do the work of finding time to pray? Craziness...

What is it in your life that you think "if I just had _____ I would be better at it"? Maybe all you need is a little elbow grease.


Monday, April 08, 2013

Everyone Can Fall

I've been reading a really old book on religion lately that really challenges my thinking, seeing how people view God in a different culture that has no frame of reference to today. But in my reading the other night I found something that was still true today.

It was the idea that everyone can fall. As believers in Christ none of us are perfect and can even walk away from our faith. We can leave Jesus behind. The only person who is safe from this is the person who acknowledges they aren't safe and works at ensuring their relationship with Jesus is the most important thing.

Here was the idea that really struck home. In Luke Jesus says He saw satan fall from heaven like lightning. And here was the question that got me. If satan was in the presence of God, in all His fullness, if satan saw God for all that He is and worshipped Him and served Him in glory that we will never know until we get to heaven, and he still walked away from God, what makes us think that we are safe?

When it comes to natural disasters, fires, etc. there are two types of people. Those that think it will never happen to them and those who prepare so it doesn't happen to them (or if it does, they are ready). The first group does nothing, why prepare for something that won't happen? The second group has fire exits, emergency plans, and some even practice just in case the day comes. When a flood happens, which group do you want to be with?

In our faith, do we think that will never happen to us, or are we working on our relationship with God so that it won't happen to us?


Monday, April 01, 2013

The Day After

So Easter was yesterday, a day of celebration for the glorious gift of grace, of life, of the love of God bought with the price of His Son's death, and we celebrate that death could not hold Him in the grave.

And today, have we quickly forgotten? This attitude and excitement we had yesterday, isn't it true today too, and tomorrow, and the day after that...

Are you living like it's Easter the other 364 days?

We're going to be talking more about this at Drink Deep Sunday, we hope you can be there!