My mother-in-law is an avid gardener. She was talking this week about the "January thaw". She contends that each January there is a break in the weather, the snow melts, and we are given a reprieve from the brutality of winter life in the upper Midwest. And it's here! We are looking forward to the experience this weekend! Temperatures are forecast to be in the high 40's all weekend. Enjoy the "January thaw!"
Here is the question: what will you do with this window of opportunity? Saturday and Sunday will feel like a heat wave compared to the last few weeks. Will you simply load up on sports and Netflix, or will you make the most of the opportunity?
I've come to believe that what we do with windows of opportunity are what forms our character. An unexpected opportunity will enter each of our lives at some point. It could be an open door to an important conversation. A person could pop into our lives for an unknown reason that simply needs a listening ear. We could be asked to pray for something, knowing we've never really prayed with passion for God to move. It could mean a sudden influx of unexpected income (have you seen gas prices? We all got a raise.)
What is undeniable is that windows will open for each of us, not at the same time or the same way, but unplanned opportunities to follow Christ WILL present themselves. It will require your openness and follow through. These two things are faith traits that we do not just 'oops' our way into. Preparing for God's opportunities IS the expectancy of our Christian character.
Serving In the Church
Are you getting the most you can out of coming to Church?
The Church is unlike any other entity on earth. Organizations like McDonalds and Walmart were founded to make money, to employ people to meet the needs of their customers. Their end goal is profit.
But the Church is wholly different. The Church was founded by Jesus to serve and worship God on earth - whose goal is saving His children. It is already eternal, and those who work for the church are not employees but children - children who love and serve their Father in heaven.
Everyone who believes in Jesus is a child of God - a child whose life purpose is to serve God. I am a child of God who serves. You are a child of God who serves. Regardless of education or experience, we are children of God who serve.
As brothers and sisters, we serve one another during our time together by encouraging one another to love God better, give God better, and serve God better in all that we have and all that we do. And we serve the world that God hopes for - by inviting others to join us and be born again as children of God - regardless of someone's history or their background - because God has not authorized us to judge one another, in fact He forbids it.
So every week we show up Sundays, and as brothers and sisters, we work side by side. We unload, we plug in cords, we set up signs, we brew coffee and set out chairs - hoping they will be filled by people seeking Jesus. We offer encouragement and try to align our thoughts and hearts with God's Word and God's works. We sit together and pray and worship with song. We color with children and teach the Bible. We encourage one another, and we ask for help from our brothers and sisters to share more of Jesus.
Our hope is that you won't leave the building on Sunday without having been a part of this wonderful work. It may be hard to believe, but without being a part of serving one another, you are missing out on the very essence of being children of God alongside one another as the Church.
And good news! There are lots of helping needs every week - you can sign up and get reminders through the link below! :)
Sign Up on VolunteerSpot to Serve at Big Life C.C.
Here's how it works in 3 easy steps:
1) Click this link to see our Sign-Up on VolunteerSpot: http://vols.pt/PEk9jZ
2) Review the options listed and choose the spot(s) you can serve.
3) Sign up! It's Easy - you will NOT need to register an account or keep a password on VolunteerSpot.
Note: VolunteerSpot does not share your email address with anyone.
The Less You Know...
This weekend I start my side career as a lacrosse official. Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the United States. Once viewed a merely an activity of elite Northeastern colleges, this year lacrosse will be a sanctioned sport in the state of Illinois, played by dozen of high schools in our area.
So what qualifies me to be an official for a game I've never played? That was my question and my fear as I sat through the mandated 8 hour clinic last month. I never played, and shoot - I've never watched a game! I honestly don't even understand the most elementary concepts. I voiced this concern to our instructor as we each introduced ourselves to the clinic.
His response was insightful:
The best officials are people who never played and didn't grow up around the game. In fact the less you think you know the better. Those who know they know nothing will approach the game with the seriousness it deserves, immerse themselves in the rule book, and seek out help in the face of even the smallest confusion. In three years they will be our top officials. The hardest officials to train are those who think they know the game, grew up around the game, and simply lean on childhood knowledge. They think they know everything, when in fact they know the least.
Truthfully, I've seen this in officiating, and I've seen this in the church. Those new to faith are often the fastest moving towards progress. They can't consume the truth of God fast enough. They have a hunger to learn and willingness to seek wisdom from others who they quickly acknowledge are further along. When habits like inviting, tithing and mission are taught, they sink in deeply. Yet, the inverse is often also true. Trust me, I'm a life-long church person, and I know this is true. Those of us who think we know the truth of God, the story of the Gospel, and the mission of the church will often allow our inherited knowledge from being dragged to Sunday School by grandma substitute for a vital, Spirit-led, submissive relationship with our God of power and grace.
My hope for you in 2016, whether you've been in church for three weeks or for your entire life, is that you would seek God with a renewed passion. I pray that God will light a holy fire within you to seek Him in all things. My desire for you is that habits of consistent worship, giving sacrificially, and inviting others to come and see would define your faith. I know how easy it is for us who've been in church for a while to think we "already know" the faith. Let us break the mold in this together. Together we will become a church that shares Jesus in an irresistible way with a lost and hurting community in need of the Gospel and the meaning-rich, abundant life only Jesus offers.