On my way to church Sunday morning I stopped at Waffle House for a quick breakfast. The unexpected happened. I found one of my tires was flat. I was dressed in my Sunday best and had promised my pastor I would be at church at 9 to do something. Thanks to a waitress and cook my tire was changed and I made it to church on time. I had coffee and left a very large tip instead of having breakfast as planned. Turns out all my tires needed changing so an $800 unexpected expense later I have a new set of tires.
I have a doctor’s appointment today. I expect it to go fine. I have been taking my medicines as prescribed and watching my diet. But an errant finding during the exam could send my life in an unexpected direction.
At our house a wedding has been in the planning stages for weeks. Come November 3 we expect a wonderful day, but chances are it won’t turn out exactly as expected. Hopefully, the unexpected happenings won’t be too significant and awful but will be delightful and memorable.
The reality of the unexpected is what makes banks and insurance companies our biggest and most successful businesses. We really don’t know what to expect each day.
We tell young Christians that Jesus loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives. We don’t often mention that He loves them so much He isn’t going to tell them the plan in advance. Just think how boring life would be if every day turned out exactly as expected. I guess the happiest folks are those who are expectant and excited about what’s around the next bend and look forward to the surprises of life. The sad ones are the ones who worry about what “might” happen and live in fear and dread.
Something different is going to happen in your life today. In fact, you can make sure something different happens. Why not do that thing you have been wanting to do but have been putting off. Do it today. Invite that neighbor to church. Call up that person who has been on your mind. Mend that relationship that has fallen on bad times. Don’t miss a chance to tell, or even better, show someone you love them. It might turn out to be your last chance.
Make someone else’s day a bit different and a lot better than they expected. Our ability to change course and smile while doing it is what makes life great.
Look forward to the unexpected and
Our home borders a swamp. There is a drainage ditch that comes within a few feet of our driveway. The denizens of the swamp, snakes, turtles and alligators often inhabit the ditch. When the gators get too big we have to have hunters come in and remove them. It’s interesting how they do that. They tie a piece of raw chicken to a fishing line and cast it in the ditch. The gator snaps onto the bait and the hunter just draws him in until he is close enough to tie a loop of rope around his neck. There is no hook in the raw chicken. All the gator would have to do to escape is let go of the chicken, but he won’t.
Today I’m hosting at church the final segment of Offense, the Bait of Satan. The release of offense is discussed and it turns out we are pretty much like gators. We just won’t let go of offense. Even when it is to our obvious determent. When someone sins against us, the sin is all theirs, when we hold on to the offense the sin caused, it becomes ours. It’s the reason Jesus told us that if we fail to forgive others, the Father will not forgive us. By holding onto unforgiveness, or offense, we sin.
How do we let go? First we have to decide to forgive. It’s just a decision, not a feeling. Then we have to seek good for the offender, at first by prayer and, eventually, if necessary by sowing good things into his or her life. Like many things, it isn’t easy. Like many things, it is worth doing. Holding on to offense, blocks our spiritual growth and our relationship with God and others. Don’t be as stubborn as a gator. Let go and live.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachingBF)’> and to prayer.BH)’> 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.BJ)’> 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.BL)’> in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.BN)’> daily those who were being saved. Acts 2
We attended the SALT meeting last night. We have gone to the last three meetings and it has become a regular part of “church” for us. I really enjoy it because it contains elements of “church” as it existed in the first century but which have slipped out of modern Sunday morning church services: the communal meal and interaction between members or fellowship time. Oh on Sunday mornings we have a “meet and greet” period but it doesn’t allow for significant interaction between folks. For a church to become and to act like the family it’s suppose to be, there needs to be interaction. We need to know each other, before we can care for and pray for each other. We need to connect.
This is the purpose for this and other “connect” groups we have at Amana. The hope is for every one to be part of one of these groups. A word of warning however. Not all the “connect” groups are really connect groups. We call our 9 o’clock meeting on Sunday morning and our Wednesday evening meeting “connect” groups, but they lack the element of connectivity. These are two really great teaching sessions. I try to attend both. But neither provides the opportunity for sustained and substantial connectivity.
I promise you that if you will find a group of fellow Christians that provides an opportunity for real connectivity, your life will be changed. Saturday, for example, we start preparation meetings for the November Kairos. We meeting each week before the retreat weekend for the specific purpose of building community among the team members. These meetings are the best examples of connect groups I’ve experienced. I participate in the Kairos ministry and love it as much for the connection I feel with the other volunteers as for the blessing of serving those in prison. Let me know if you would like to connect that way. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get connected, for real, and be blessed, for real.
Zombie movies and television shows are the rage these days. Humans who walk about like robots without real purpose or life are pretty scary. What makes a horror movie really scary is that there has to be at least a possibility of the creature which is feared.
Most of us have a real fear of being zombies. Of walking around without real purpose in a meaningless existence. This is scary because for many of us it’s true. In a way we are created that way: a bit incomplete with a hole in our soul. We are missing a vital part which only a relationship with God can supply. Folks try to fill that hole with lots of things, but nothing but Jesus really works.
Sit for a while in any public place and you will, no doubt, spot some zombies, some walking dead. You can tell it from the vacant expressions in their faces as they hurry from place to place accomplishing nothing.
In the horror movies, the zombies have the power to make others zombies, usually by biting them. In real life we have the power to save zombies from their horrible state. We introduce them to the one who can fill the hole in their souls.
The next time the walking dead comes up, use it as a opening for witnessing. Put some life into someone by putting Jesus in their life.
Just don’t get bit.
Be blessed and bless others.
Since the beginning of time, the psychology of war has had twin goals of instilling courage in the guys on your side and fear in the fellows on the other side. Men have painted themselves to look fierce, donned intimidating armor, and made loud frightening noises to accomplish these goals.
We don’t often think of Jesus as a war chieftain but he had the same goals. He nearly always greeted His followers with “Fear Not” and instructed them to encourage each other. Our enemy is a bit different and is not intimidated by fierce looks and frightening noises. But he is put off by the power of God displayed in miraculous healing and loving as only God can love. He quivers at faith and gets faint at strong trust.
It seems sometimes that in church we get this all wrong. We gather and instill fear in each other portraying our God as angry and holding us to impossible standards rather than focusing on His grace and love. We speak of the “end times” as something to fear rather than the joyous return of our conquering King. We speak of the end of the church era rather than the genesis of the new heaven and earth.
As far as being encouragers, we fall pretty short there. We are usually glass-half-empty people. We wring our hands at the state of the world. We speak fondly of the good-ole days and darkly of the future. I have heard Christians speak of not wanting to raise children in this awful world.
Come on guys. We live in the generation that will likely see the return of Christ and the rapture of the church. Every storm or quake or deterioration of morals should motivate us to action not send us scurrying into our shelters.
It’s a war and it’s always loudest and scariest just before the victory.
Get fierce and get in the game.
Be blessed and bless.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.Philippians 4:8
I watch a lot of television. I’m not particularly proud of it but it’s true. I have access to a bunch of channels. I don’t watch the porn pay per view channels for obvious reasons, but I also don’t often watch CNN, Fox News, or the “Christian” channels. Because these aren’t noble, right, pure, lovely or admirable. There are programs on Disney which I don’t like the grandkids watching. Even on “good” channels I keep the remote close and try to watch only what has been prerecorded, so I can skip over certain parts.
It’s not that I am a prude. I certainly am not. But I find that if I watch certain things my appreciation of reality is distorted. Everyone is not twenty something, perfectly tanned and toned. Every newscaster isn’t telling the whole truth. Every politician, on the left or right, isn’t in it “for the people.” Everyone pounding a bible and calling out “Lord, Lord” is not someone worth listening to. We need to maintain and carefully use a filter.
The great thing is that there is much true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy out there. If we soak these things in, we are improving our perspective and adjusting our attitudes. In short, God has placed too many great things in this world to soak in bad stuff.
Soak up the good, be blessed to bless.