Great gathering at The Orchard tonight. Loved hearing from our guest speaker Mark Miller tonight.
I’ve learned when listening to speakers that if something catches your ear, eye, or heart, run with it and don’t worry about getting all the other points written down. Went there tonight. Mark was talking about how we can make “God deposits” into our heart otherwise its going to be very difficult to make wise choices. He mentioned we could receive deposits by coming to a church gathering, reading God’s word, praying, loving… And then I didn’t hear the rest. I recognize those things as disciplines or practices that can help our spiritual growth but I’d never heard “loving” listed among them.
As a new believer in Jesus 20 years ago, I met one on one with a friend who led me through a “Discipleship 101” book. It listed all the things to do to become a more mature believer: Pray, Read the Bible, Memorize Scripture, Give, Share the Gospel. And then it gave lessons and exercises on how to do these things. No one ever told me until MUCH later on my spiritual journey to love other people without agenda as a way to grow in Christ. My heart expanded quickly and exponentially when I began looking out for others more than myself.
So to help new Christ followers along their journey, what if we communicated simply that one of the richest things you can do to become closer to Jesus, is to treat people the way he did? To see others as intentionally made by God, with a purpose, and as recipients of His grace. How would that change your journey if the spiritual practice of loving one another was given just as much attention as reading, praying or memorizing?
Inspired by this post from Los Whittaker, I remembered a prayer I had printed on a bookmark years ago when I attended Al-Anon, a 12-step recovery group for families of alcoholics. It began a changed life in me. I’ve been craving it lately and finally decided to track it down again. Hope it speaks to you.
Just For Today
Just for today, I will try to live through this day only,and not tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.
Just for today, I will be happy. This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, that “most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Just for today, I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
Just for today, I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my “luck” as it comes, and fit myself to it.
Just for today, I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. I will do at least two things I don’t want to–just for exercise. I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they may be hurt, but today I will not show it.
Just for today, I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, talk low, act courteously, criticize not one bit, not find fault with anything and not try to improve or regulate anybody except myself.
Just for today, I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests: hurry and indecision.
Just for today, I will have a quiet half hour all by myself and rlax. During this half hour sometime, I will try to get a better perspective of my life.
Just for today, I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.
-Kenneth L. Holmes
Copyright ©1996 Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.
(note: this reprint has a later copyright date than the text itself circa 1986)
Yesterday, I got to thinking about how life changes. I was feeling that disruptions seem to be coming at us one after another. Some bigger than others.
Changes in how our family operates, how we relate to one another or others, how we live our lives day to day. Seems whenever we are directed through a life detour, I keep expecting the road to lead back around and return us to our original course–back to normal. The way I knew how to do it. Revelation!
Life doesn’t go back to normal. We are directed forward into a different normal. Methods that previously worked are now awkward and more painful, seemingly impossible to navigate. Do old ways ever work in new times? I don’t know. I’m still thinking that through. Maybe instead of trying to get back to normal, we can hang on for the detour forward. It sounds excruciating to me to willingly(or not) allow myself to embark on a course I did not chart. Especially if it is a course I never would have charted had I the choice. And especially if I don’t get to pick the speed or pace of the journey.
We could relate this to culture–are innovators more successful than those that maintain the norm? Spiritually–do I or should I live out my belief system the same today as I did when I first chose it? Emotionally–do I expect to feel normal through and after crises? Is it a relief to know we don’t have to struggle to find normal? That wherever you’re at, that’s where your normal is–even if it’s crappy? Until the next step forward to the next normal. I don’t have any answers. I’m just asking. Its stuff that pops into my head during rare alone moments when I don’t turn on the car radio.
I’ve been reading the letters of the New Testament via bibleplan.org. Today I read Rom 2 and was blown away by verses 17-21. I’m so NOT a bible teacher but I can give a little context. Paul is writing to the church in Rome. See details in Romans chapter 1. He is laying out the sin problem we humans have and how none of us are immune.
Now when I read this, since I’m not Jewish, I substitute the word “Christ follower” in v 17
17 You who call yourselves Jews are relying on God’s law, and you boast about your special relationship with him. 18 You know what he wants; you know what is right because you have been taught his law. 19 You are convinced that you are a guide for the blind and a light for people who are lost in darkness. 20 You think you can instruct the ignorant and teach children the ways of God. For you are certain that God’s law gives you complete knowledge and truth.
21 Well then, if you teach others, why don’t you teach yourself? You tell others not to steal, but do you steal? 22 You say it is wrong to commit adultery, but do you commit adultery? You condemn idolatry, but do you use items stolen from pagan temples? 23 You are so proud of knowing the law, but you dishonor God by breaking it. 24 No wonder the Scriptures say, “The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you.” – New Living Translation
Again, I am not a bible teacher. I can just tell you what comes to mind when I read this:
- Hypocrisy is not a good thing.
- If you’re boasting about following all the rules, you darn well better be following all the rules without a slip up.
- There’s no possible way to perfectly follow all the rules so boasting automatically causes hypocrisy.
- So then, those who don’t follow Christ, see you and think bad things about God because of how you say one thing and do another.
OK, so that sucks. Fortunately, Paul, well Jesus really, lets us off the hook so to speak by the time he gets to Romans 5.
All this to say, do non-believers/followers in Christ (and/or our children) blaspheme God because of you me?
Thanks to the Upper Room for posting prayer as a lost art. We’re currently talking about spiritual practices at the Orchard and just recently talked about how we can spend time with Jesus in a meaningful way. I don’t think this is what God had in mind…
I’m seriously ignoring my goal of floor cleaning by writing this morning. I just needed to get back to the blog. So, back to my title, “I love church”.
Had an awesome experience yesterday at church. Served this weekend in Wahabu Land (the land of God’s love) with the K-5th graders. I get to lead music once a month and yesterday, I got to have my two oldest kids up front with me. They did a good job. Maddie helping JD with the motions(correcting him mostly) but the kids seemed into the music and there were some new faces having a good time.
Then I got to go into the “big church” and listen to Scott‘s message. Since we have 3 services each weekend, I get to participate 3 times so by the third time, I sat down in the lobby with a pad of paper and pen. And had a serious brain dump. I wrote notes from the message as they hit me. I cleared my head of all the “to dos” and “need to gets”. About three pages worth I think. Serving in this way is kind of like Mom’s weekend out. I get some alone time, some extra music time, some friend time, some serve time, some pray time.
I started to just touch on a couple things from the message and yeah, I’m gonna have to do a separate post. You people don’t have that kind of time to read a super long post. More later. Or, you can check out the Orchard for podcasts. I highly recommend.
I wish I could hang out at our weekend gatherings more. Or would that be considered stalking? Can you stalk a church? Creepy.
Well here I am, coming up out of the water yesterday at my baptism. OK, my and 130+ others’ baptisms! What a great day. Kids had a ball on the huge inflatable slide, crawl-thru caterpillar, face painting and balloon creations. 5Bs BBQ laid out an awesome spread of BBQ chicken and pork chops. Ashton Gap provided some bluegrass for the day. The fabulous smile in the picture is that of Kathryn Egly, the Orchard‘s Children’s Ministry director accompanied by Ted Egly, one of our awesome teaching pastors. Just a very cool couple to get baptized by. Kathryn encouraged me when we first joined the Orchard to join Orchard Kids, leading worship for the little ones which eventually turned into my leading the K-5th grade kids in worship once a month.
I don’t know if I have processed it all in my head yet but my first reaction was, “Finally!” I’ve done what I wanted to do for years but didn’t think I was allowed or supposed to. Finally, I can bury the past and move forward. Finally, I can cheer on others as they are baptized without a twinge of “I wish I could…”
It was very cool to hear my kids cheer my name from across the pool and each one give me a huge hug. Some other kid notes…5 minutes before the baptism started, I was informed that JD had been lost for about 30 mins. Turns out he couldn’t find me(I went ahead with the other baptizees), couldn’t find Dad and ended up getting caught up in the crowd walking over to the water park. Thank you to Miss Michelle, one of his church teachers who knew him and kept an eye out until Dad arrived. Maddie told me she had a very good poop in the pool bathroom(after the baptism). And I got a big hug from Annaliese to which she exclaimed, “Mom you’re making me wet!” Special thanks to our friend Mike for taking the pictures while Doug & I were in the pool. I’m sure there will be a video up soon. Check in at the Orchard for that. All in all, not a bad day for a baptism.