The Church on a Random Tuesday

It is easy to think of the Church as something that happens on a Sunday morning. We might expand our thinking to include Wednesday night when youth group and Bible studies occur. But what is the Church on a random Tuesday like today?

The community of believers we call the Church meets on those days for worship, fellowship, and mutual encouragement, but it exists every day of the week.

-The Church is found when the followers of Jesus work together for the good of someone else.
-The Church is present when Christians share their faith in social media, in emails and texts in a positive way.
-The Church shows itself to the world when two friends listen to each other and pray for one another’s struggles.
-The Church exists wherever people follow Jesus in their life with grace and mercy.

Where is the Church on a random Tuesday? It is wherever you go today. It is sharing life with other believers in meaningful ways. It is building other people up who are feeling down. It is laughing loudly over the presence of God’s grace in unbelievable moments.

The Church goes with you today. You represent Christ and his people in the world. Don’t limit your connection to other believers to one or two days a week. The community of faith walks into the world in your shoes. Today is an extension of Sunday and Sunday is an extension of today.

Go with faith in the Lord and show the Church to a lost world.

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Why You Feel Might Feel Overwhelmed

Busy. That is how many people describe their lives, especially this time of year. School is starting, fall sports are beginning, and there are a thousand things to do each week. Numerous people in my circle of friends describe themselves as overwhelmed. Their schedule is packed, and they are drowning a sea of activities.

Unfortunately, the reason many people are overwhelmed has little to do with the number of opportunities that present themselves. It is the result of our unwillingness to say no. If we say no to something, then we are filled with guilt and shame. We think to ourselves, “I should be doing more.” Suddenly overcome by these negative emotions, we cram a little more into our schedule because we would not want you to think less of us.

One essential question we must all ask about our time is this: Am I doing things out of purpose or guilt? Are you filling your life with things that make you a better follower of Jesus, help your marriage, connect you more with your children or are you filling it with activities that make other people happy with you?

A new week is here, school is starting, and a thousand voices are asking for your time. What will get it? Being overwhelmed is often a sign of lacking priorities and focusing on what is truly important.

Weekend Reading

Here are some of the best articles I have read over the past few weeks. I hope you enjoy them too.

Eve’s Nakedness and Your Broken Body

Why I Wish We Hadn’t Lived Together Before Marriage

3 REASONS WANDERING FROM THE FAITH BEGINS WITH WANDERING FROM THE CHURCH

What we’re missing about mass shootings

Want More Christian Influence? Get Off Facebook And Talk To Actual People

Four Simple Ways to Grow Spiritually

People don’t change

I Have Quit Trying to Change the World

Once I dreamed of standing before thousands of people and sharing my thoughts with them. They would be in awe of my wisdom and would then change their lives to my way of thinking. My platform for ministry would be huge. I would influence world leaders, celebrities, and politicians through my selfless leadership, in-depth spiritual knowledge, and charisma. I was going to change the world.

Now I lead a Church of a couple of hundred people, write a blog that about 65 people read each day and I am a father of four. My circle of influence is far smaller than I dreamed. I still haven’t finished my book, and when I do, I am sure it will not be a best seller. I receive no calls to speak at conferences or big events anymore. I am not a rising start among the young ministers in our brotherhood of Churches. Instead, I am a lamp which keeps shining a tiny light in my small community.

One day I looked in the mirror and made a realization. I am not going to change the world.

What do you do when you come to this moment in your life? I once read the quote that says many men have planned to build a tower into the stars only to settle on building a shed in their backyard. Grand dreams sometimes give way to simple realities. One day I realized I could no longer change the world, but I could make an impact in MY world.

I can be the best husband I can be with God’s help. I can love my wife and lead her in the name of Jesus. I can strive to raise Godly children who will have a positive impact on their world. I may not preach to thousands, but those who show up to hear me will get my very best. I may not write for millions to read, but I will strive to help those in their faith who do read.

God gave me a smaller circle of influence, but I still have areas where I can make an impact for God. I do have a circle, and I will not take it for granted. Just because you do not lead a massive ministry with global influence does not make your life is worthless. There are still lives to touch, and they are the ones that matter.

Dropping My Third Son Off at College

Tonight is going to hurt.

In a few hours, we are dropping off one more of my children at a university dorm.

Moments like this are bittersweet. I love my son, and I am proud of the man he has become, but it has been a long journey to this day. We have struggled, prayed, cried, shouted, and worried as I am sure most parents will admit. Being a good parent does not come easily, and some children are more challenging than others, and that is what makes this day so bittersweet. It was a long road, but we are here and filled with joy for him.

One lesson God is teaching me over the past few months is simple and probably sounds elemental to many people. I still want to share it today. At some point, we must unleash our hands and give our children entirely over to God.

When they were tiny, it felt like we had no control. They cry and scream, but eventually, they grow out of that phase. You start to feel like everything depends on you. You provide, you instruct, you set limits, and you are the authority. Then they begin to move away from your control through those teenage years. Finally, today comes. All power is gone, and God takes over completely. Honestly, he was in charge the whole time. Our authority was an illusion, and now I see it clearly. God somehow got us here, and I am sure he will bring to completion the good work he started in my son.

Faith is not just some mental ascent to a set of ideas. It is about letting go of your child, kissing them on the cheek, telling them you love them and then turning to walk away. At least that is what it means for me today.

They say the third time is the charm. They say things will get easier. They are lying. I am dying inside, but I will approach this day like every other. I will ask for God’s guidance and pray from his strength. Then I will walk boldly into the future totally dependent on my creator and sustainer for myself, and my children.

The Struggle to Fit In

One of my mentors in preaching used to tell the story of George Gobel on the old game show called Hollywood Squares. The host asked George how he was doing, and George gave this classic response, “Have you ever felt like the world was a black tuxedo, and you were a brown pair of shoes?”

Sometimes you feel like you don’t fit in with everyone else. The world is black, and I am brown.

As a Christian, an introvert, and a unique personality, I have often felt the weight of this struggle. There have been seasons where I tried to be fake and act like someone else to connect more with people. Honestly, there have been times I have compromised my faith in an effort to feel like I fit in with others. If I could rub some black shoe polish over myself, then I will match the outfit others are wearing.

It didn’t work. I felt more alone and ashamed than I felt loved.

Then one day, I made a discovery that changed my perspective. I realized that most of the time, God wants me to stand out and not fit in with everyone else.

God made me unique. He did not make a mistake with my unique characteristics. Those parts of me still needed to be molded and shaped by his will, but my essential personality didn’t change. God not only made me as a one of a kind, but he is also remaking me in Jesus to be his special new creation. He is using my personality, my past, my experiences, and mixing in his Spirit to serve him as only I am able. As a believer, my mindset is different than those around me. Not only that, but my actions are molded by God’s will. I am not called to go with the flow but rather to find live for God in my own way.

Nowadays, I feel less alone. I am embracing my identity in God. I may be different, but I am different by design. And here is the amazing part, you are too.

Being a Blessing

As a Christian and pastor, I have realized that most of the things that bless the world for Jesus are simple and easy to do.

Jesus, in Matthew chapter 25, speaks of the separation of the sheep and the goats. It is a parable about the judgment of humanity by God as king. The sheep represent those who have done as God desires, and the goats are those who did not. Both groups are surprised at the decisions that were made and question the king as to what allowed them to be labeled this way. The king responds, “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger, and you invited me in, (36) I needed clothes, and you clothed me, I was sick, and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:35-36 – NIV 2011)

The difference between those people who are pleasing to God and those who were not was serving food, providing water, welcoming someone, giving clothes, helping the sick and prison visitation.

I have looked over that list so many times in my life that I can repeat it in my sleep, but one day I noticed something new to me. Each one of the items listed requires no skill. The only exception might be cooking, but it does not mean we have to provide a gourmet dinner. Instead, each one is so basic in nature. They require little talent and very little money. They do all demand that we give up our time.

Being a blessing to the world does not mean I need to have millions of dollars to give away or some unique skill set. Being a blessing simply means that I am willing to give up my time for the benefit of others in the name of Jesus.

Every Monday, I think about how God has given me another week to live. I can use this week to further my own kingdom or to be a blessing for the kingdom of God. The choice is up to me … and you.