Saturday, September 26, 2009

God our helpful friend

I was sitting at the downstairs computer getting some things ready to mail out and I heard my wife call out "Could you grab me a pair of white socks from my top drawer?" which is upstairs. I didn't really think about it, I just broke away from what I was doing and bounded up the stairs to get her a fresh pair of socks. As I came out the door of the downstairs office and she saw me, she said "Oh, you're down here, never mind honey, I can get them myself."

I was already on my way and it certainly wasn't a task that needed any deliberation over, so I just said "I don't mind", grabbed her a pair of socks and returned back to work.

The day before I'd had a similar experience with God. I had prayed asking for help with my recent unemployment and meeting the financial difficulties associated with it. I asked specifically for help meeting this month's bills, finding ongoing income, and for help in digging us out of our backwards situation.

In what I assume was a response to that request, these three things happened: My brother called and asked if I needed some short-term work, a person who owed us some money called to get the address to send it to, and my sister spent some time helping me line up a possibly lucrative business deal. It was one I had been inquiring about but she took the time to make a convincing presentation of the merits, and it worked, I should have that project beginning mid next week.

The interesting thing is that all of that was things I could have done myself. I could have called to see if that money was going to be sent soon, I could have called and asked my sister to check in again on the possibility of the business deal, and I could have called around to friends and relatives to see if there was any work available.

When I was asked to grab the socks for my wife I couldn't help but think that God sometimes responds in the same way, not annoyed or telling us "you could do that as easy as I can", but instead, happy to help, a true friend, willing to pitch in alongside us.

I am convinced that the Psamlist recognized this of God when he wrote "no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly." (psalms 84:11) Romans 8:32 has this to say: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"

This is just one small insight into God's relationship with us, and it is not "stand-alone". We need to study and be aware and continue our learning, because sometimes God uses delays in answers to our prayers to teach us, as when Jesus delayed healing Lazarus until he had died.

But this post is just about a glimpse of God our helpful friend, who helps us just in love, not always to teach us something.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hey! I get Reception Out Here!

Just a thought that made me smile - I was driving taking the back roads recently, and as I often do while driving, spent some time in prayer.

As I got into some of the mountainous areas I noticed my cell phone had gone out of range. I'd been this back way many times before, so it was no surprise, but as I continued in prayer it suddenly struck me that I still get 5 bars of connection with God. Anytime, anywhere.

And that just brought a smile to my face.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Skippable Church

There is a growing group of people who are Christians, pray and live their life keeping God in their overall outlook of the world we live in, but do not attend any church and promote to others not to attend.

"Church doesn't save people, Jesus does" or "I don't need church to connect with God" are the types of reasons given.

An electrician I worked with for several months earlier this year said that as a child he went to church almost every day, because they had so many things going on, and he thinks God won't hold it against him because when he was young he got in enough church to last a couple lifetimes. That gnawed at me ever since, because he was looking at church as an obligation. Do other people? I wonder how many go, but only from a sense of obligation?

Maybe It was just the church. I have been to a lot of churches, and a lot of denominations, and it's been very rare to attend a church I didn't like. I admit that in "exploration mode" any church is going to be more interesting because I'm trying to find the "real" Christians and fellowship, and learn what differences or strengths that particular church has. I'm specifically looking for what's good, and purposefully turn a blind eye to anything that's missing or not right, if I can. I could be happy and grow in my Christian walk in a lot of different churches, but not all of them. So if anyone you know is not attending, read on, but plan to encourage them to explore and visit other churches. God's family is huge, and there's more wonderful churches out there than you'd imagine.

But back to my title "Skippable Church." Sometimes church seems skippable. Perhaps the regular pastor is out of town, or everyone you usually associate with are going to be away that weekend, and it seems "I could skip this week, take a day of rest in an even truer sense..." etc.

But a week without church is not the same. The day does not go as restful as you thought it would and at the end of the day you don't have much to show for it. Awareness of God's will for us and his working in our lives and on our hearts barely gets a passing thought, and the day is gone, and the new week begins.

When you're at church you are participating in a special event to which Jesus said "Where two or more are gathered together in my name, there I am with them also". That's a pretty big deal. And we don't go only to church as an audience, but to contribute, and as an example. Friends and family all know whether you go to church every week or not. And every once in a while people you'd never expect to attend end up attending for one reason or another. I don't want to focus too much on the idea that your attendance is to help others' salvation, maybe because that is more from the obligation viewpoint mentioned above. But it is a reason for not skipping. And I know from past personal experience that skipping changes to "wow how long HAS it been since I've gone?" very easily.

There is so much to be gained from church. Encouraging and sharing with others in the small groups time before the sermon (don't just show up for the sermon or you're missing the best part!) has an encouraging and strengthening effect on you as well.

God used to play a little game with me, as I would sometimes ask Him questions during prayer throughout the week, I began to notice He'd answer me through the weekly sermons at the campus church. (I used to have a daily walk along the riverside and could pray aloud in private because the babbling of the river masked my voice.) Often during prayer time questions would come up. Once I figured out what He was doing, I began to await anxiously for each new sermon. The one most memorable to me was the time when the pastor got completely off-topic, answered my question, then composed himself saying "I don't know how I got to talking about that." I just smiled. I knew why.

I would just summarize by saying church is not "skippable". If you don't like your church then go find a new one! There are so many and in my experience there is something good in all of them. There's bound to be a group with whom you can relate, and actually get excited about what it means to be on God's team when the enemy's war machine is in full operation. Don't think it's not.

And if you don't like church because you're not a sheeple, then good! The churches need a lower ratio of sheeple :) Get involved, and before long you'll wonder why on earth you let something so important become optional or avoided.