Tag Archives: Bible

I want to be someone who…

I remember the first week of my freshman year of high school, I was sitting in English class, and we were given a classic freshman assignment.  The assignment was to set 10 goals for ourselves for the next four years while we would be in high school. I’ve never been much of a goal-setter, but I knew what to put down on the paper.  So I wrote down what I viewed as the normal “successful” high school stuff.  I don’t remember all 10 goals, but I remember two of them: 1. Graduate in the top 10 percent of my class.  And 2. Become a starter on the football team.  I accomplished neither of these goals for myself.  For different reasons, of course.  There were factors in those that were out of my control like other people competing and natural ability limitations, but also, looking back, I am not sure those were really things that I cared much about, at least, I didn’t show it by my effort level.

When someone is growing up in school, the question adults often think to ask is “What do you want to do when you grow up?”  The answers that these awkward-feeling adults are expecting is a type of profession like doctor, firefighter, or teacher.  And so, depending on the kid, they either change their mind on this a few times, or some know from a very young age what it is that they want to do.  This changed a lot for me over the years.  Obviously I wanted to be a professional athlete for a while.  Get to play sports for a job? Make tons of money? Be famous? Sign me up!  I pretty quickly realized that perhaps for me, that wasn’t going to be a career option.  So I think then I said that I wanted to be a lawyer.  I did have quite the argumentative gift (My mom always says that if she said the sky is blue, I would say its not. That’s not too inaccurate… Sorry, Mom).  Then I realized that I thought talking to people was an ok thing that I could do, so when asked, I would always tell people I wanted to be a counselor.  Then very early on in college, I found that I wanted to do youth ministry.  And guess what!? That’s what I do.

When talking to a youth minister, some people may still ask the question, “So what do you want to do, really?”  At this point, I can honestly say youth ministry.

So I’m 23, and I think I have a ready answer for the “what do you want to do?” question.

But now, I, and I suppose every other person, have to ask the question: “What kind of person do I want to be?”  This seems to me to be a far more important question.  But this is a question that is much harder to break down into a list of goals, if you like making lists of that sort of thing.

See, we live in a world that is all about climbing up the next wrung of the ladder.  Our world cares about graduating at the top of your class from business school, our world cares about getting that next promotion, and our world cares about being able to afford living in the comfortable neighborhood with the comfortable car.  From a young age, we’re conditioned to want to associate with a certain crowd.  “Oh, you don’t want to send your child to that school.” We’re conditioned to not accept finishing in any place other than first.  I remember three times in elementary school that I was devastated because I didn’t win (2 spelling bees and a science fair).  We have accepted these expectations placed on us by voices other than the voice of God.  And some of these voices have even been backed up by scriptural references!  How many times have you heard Colossians 3:23 (context: Paul’s teaching for 1st century slaves) and thought that meant you need to work harder to achieve earthly success?

Woah!  Slow your role, Michael.  The Bible is God’s Word.  Are you saying that we shouldn’t try hard at things!?

No, that’s not what I’m saying.  What I am saying is that we should not pick and choose Scripture to enforce our desire to succeed in the eyes of other people.  Definitely work diligently in your jobs and in your relationships!

Ok, ok, so here’s my point: We spend way to much time trying to answer the question, “What do we want to do?” And we do not spend enough time trying to answer the question, “What kind of person do we want to be?”

I find myself in a season of life where that second question keeps coming up.  So I’m going to make a new list.  This time I’m going to pick 10 qualities that I want to aspire to be.  Maybe if you’re reading this, it will give you some ideas about the kind of person that you want to be.

*DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT ALREADY THESE THINGS ALL THE TIME BECAUSE IF I WAS, THIS WOULD BE A POINTLESS LIST.

I want to be someone who:

  1. always tells the truth.
  2. cares for the marginalized.
  3. is hospitable toward the outsider.
  4. seeks to gain understanding.
  5. is willing to be vulnerable.
  6. seeks wise counsel.
  7. responds kindly.
  8. leads by example.
  9. radiates patience.
  10. loves deeply.

 

-MC

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Perfect in Weakness

If we live long enough we will experience something that completely wrecks our plans. We experience something that causes us to turn to God and ask, “Why?” Why did this happen? Why do we have to experience loss? Why can my will not align with Your will? In these moments we feel like we have nothing to give.  We feel like there is no wind in our sails.

We live in a world and society that is low on hope.  Everywhere we turn, we see things that communicate to us that we don’t measure up.  We don’t look like the people on television, we don’t feel like the happy ending of our favorite movie, and our lives don’t seem to be nearly as fun and adventurous as the people that we follow on Instagram.

We live in a world that scoffs at vulnerability and tells us that we must always project strength.  But if we live long enough, we learn that there are days where we cannot even fake it.  There are days where everything with us feels so wrong that we can’t possibly give people the impression that things are good.  What do we do then?

“Give your burdens to the Lord and He will take care of you.”         -Psalm 55:22

Sound simple? It’s not.

Time and time again, we ask God to take away our pain, sadness, and temptation, yet we still feel it.  We try to give our burdens to God, but everyday we feel more and more burdened.  It takes far longer to pass off our anxieties to God than it does to take on more anxiety.

But there is hope.  Whatever we are going through, we are not alone. Even when we feel distant from God, He is still there working for us.  Even when everything in our life feels out of control or messed up, God is there.  God is our provider.  We will ultimately be taken care of by the Almighty God.  And there are some pains, doubts, and fears that may never leave us, but God will still work in us. Paul speaks of something like this in his life:

He says this, “In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12)”

God’s power is made perfect in our shortcomings, failures, and pain.  Often we may feel like we can only give a little, but God can do so much with our little. With little food, Jesus fed 5000 hungry people.  With little faith, God can move mountains.  We are fully known and fully loved by a good Father, who created us, and will do so much with what little we can offer.

Even in our deepest and realest pain, God is beckoning us deeper into a relationship with Him.  He wants to show His almighty power in us.

Let us share our weaknesses.  Let us be vulnerable and open with each other, so that God, in His unending grace, can take our brokenness and messiness and write a beautiful  story of love and redemption with our lives.

Identity Crisis

Looking back over my 22 years on earth, I see a lot of different things that I have done.  I also see the different people that I have been along the way.  Maybe that doesn’t make sense to you.  Let me explain…

Throughout my life, if you asked me to describe myself, my answers would be different based on what I was into in that moment, or who I was trying to be.  I remember in elementary school, I thought I was THE smartest kid in the whole school.  So, in order to prove my intellectual superiority, I entered into the 3rd grade spelling bee.  I studied a little, my mom quizzed me and whatnot, so I felt very confident going in.  Obviously, I was a little nervous, there was going to be a lot of people there.

*I take the stage behind the podium for the first word.*

“Michael, your word is museum.”

“Ok… m-u-s-u-e-m.”

“That’s incorrect.  The correct spelling is m-u-s-e-u-m.”

*I start crying as I walk to my mom.*

Well, that was disappointing.  Later one of my teachers said, I bet you’ll never forget how to spell that word, will you?  She was right, I didn’t.  Why do teachers have to be right all of the time?  They’re like moms, moms are always right.

So I was determined to take my rightful place among the top spellers in the land.  I entered into the 4th grade spelling bee.  I studied exponentially more.  My mom quizzed me a whole bunch.  I was ready.  I felt like Rocky Balboa before his fight with Ivan Drago (Rocky IV).  I glided through the first several rounds with ease.  This was my year, I just new it.  And it was down to me and my arch nemesis, Bianca.  This wasn’t the first time we had squared off, she was also impressive when it came to multiplication tables.

*I step to the podium*

“Michael, your word is collage.”

“uhh… (palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms heavy) c-o-l-a-u-g-e.”

“That is incorrect.  The correct spelling is c-o-l-l-a-g-e.”

*I step back.  Bianca steps to the podium.*

“Bianca, if you spell this correctly, you will win the spelling bee.  Your word is banana

“b-a-n-a-n-a”

*My heart burns with rage.*

I know what you’re thinking, totally unfair, right?  SHE SHOULD HAVE HAD TO SPELL COLLAGE!!!  I had been snubbed, yet again, by my imperfections and a broken system.  This was unjust to say the least.  To make it worse, my little brother Joel won the 2nd grade spelling bee in a landslide, then the 3rd grade, then the 4th.

If I actually look deeper at why I was so upset, I realize that these were not simple losses of spelling bees, they were losses of my identity.

Throughout middle school and high school, I tried to find my identity in other things.  I tried to find my identity in football.  The thing about that was, I was no good at football.  And in high school, I was injured most of the time.  I also tried to find my identity in being the funny guy.  You know this type of person, they have to be the funniest person in the room at all times.  But someone always got more laughs than me.

In college, I tried to find my identity in being all Christian author-y.  I read Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz and wanted to be just like him.  I started a blog – this blog – to show my skills as a writer.  I read Shane Claiborne’s The Irresistible Revolution, and I wanted to be just like him.  I started wearing bandanas to show how pacifistic I was.  I thought that being a pacifist was the coolest.

See, I was so busy trying to be all of these different things, that somewhere along the way, I forgot to be me.

One of my favorite quotes from the recent Olympic season is from Simone Biles (I know, you were expecting America’s new hero and role model, Ryan Lochte. /s).  In an interview, Simone Biles, darling of the U.S.A., made the statement, “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps, I’m the first Simone Biles.”  It would be easy for her to feel some need to get as many medals as Phelps or Bolt, or to accept that she is another exceptional Olympic athlete who should be mentioned in the same sentence as those two icons.  Biles is a terrific athlete, and there has never been another like her.  Despite all of that, she is focused on being the best Simone Biles that she can be.

That is the point isn’t it!?  God has made us all unique and different!

We do ourselves and the Kingdom of God a disservice when we place our identity in anything other than being children of God existing for the redemption of the world.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its parts form one body, so it is with Christ.    1 Corinthians 12:12

We are all differently gifted and blessed by God to serve in ways that only we can!  We are members of the body of Christ, created for a specific purpose, and together, God will do powerful things.

 

Peace and Blessings,

-Michael

my.. I mean thy… will be done

So I guess I would describe my current season of life as a season of waiting.

In my current situation, I have learned a lot about myself.  Waiting for things tends to do that.  See, when we wait for things, we often like to pass the time doing something to keep out minds busy about other things until the time comes to do whatever it is that we’re waiting to do.  Go ahead, next time you’re waiting on anything, see what you do.  I almost always pull out the phone.  That’s pretty much a go-to.  It’s safe, and strangely it has become completely socially acceptable to bury my head in my phone in the dentist’s waiting room, when I’m waiting on someone to meet me, or even at times when there is a lull in conversation.  I do not say this to condone my behavior, I am just making an observation as to something that I do that maybe you relate to.  ANYWAYS, the point is when we’re waiting, we like to keep our minds preoccupied with other things, as opposed to facing the strangeness and potentially awkward experience of waiting.  After all, what are we supposed to do?  Just sit and think?

Well by this point in what I would consider to be a prolonged period of waiting, I have pretty much exhausted all of my time-wasting options or gotten bored with them.  So now I sit here with questions.  Questions that I’m not sure I have a clear answer to.

For starters, when will this waiting end?

So you can better understand what I mean, let me explain.  I feel this calling to youth ministry, and I also feel a calling to do that as part of a church.  At this point, I want youth ministry to be my life’s work, and I need a church to support me in that; a church family to take me in and work with me to show the love of Jesus to teenagers both who are part of the church and those who are not yet part of the church.  I want to come alongside parents as they lead their children in faith.  So I’m waiting for a church to welcome this partnership.

So I am seeking these opportunities.  And I trust that God works in ways that I do not understand and cannot fathom, and I trust that it will work out for the best.  I’m also learning that the saying, “patience is a virtue” is true because virtues take practice, and patience certainly takes practice.  So I wait, and I have to believe that God’s time is better than mine.

Secondly, why has nothing already fallen into place?

The saying, “good things come to those who wait,” may be true, but it rarely appears to be truthful to those who are actually waiting.  To be comforted by this conventional wisdom, one must be hopeful about the result of their waiting.

I believe Abram was asking himself a similar question when God had proclaimed that he would be the father of a great nation, but all he had to show for it was an aging barren wife.  This question, if left unchecked, can cause us to do some rash things like how Abram slept with Hagar in order to conceive a son (Ishmael), perhaps to take his future and his family’s future into his own hands.  Maybe he thought this would in some way force God’s hand into sending his blessing through Ishmael’s line.  But God Almighty doesn’t always do what we think is best.  The Lord was planning something else, something that would go far beyond anything Abram could have imagined.  Through barren Sarai came a son, Isaac.  Through Isaac’s line, came Jesus of Nazareth, Savior of the World.

So maybe nothing’s fallen into place because though it was convenient, it wasn’t quite the plan.

And finally, when will thy will be my will?

For me, sometimes the hardest thing to pray is “thy will be done.”  Not because I don’t believe that God’s will is good and perfect, but because it’s not mine.  And I don’t feel like a necessarily terrible person for struggling with this because Jesus didn’t seem to have a particularly easy time praying this in the garden before his arrest.  Even Jesus, Son of God and member of the Holy Trinity had to surrender control to the will of the Father.  How much more so should I!?

To have God transform our will into His will, we must acknowledge that there is an Almighty God who created our world and that there is the Holy Spirit who is alive and active in our world.  We must also trust that God’s will is good for us.  And finally must pray that His will be done in our world and in our lives.  I think the latter of those is the more difficult for me most of the time.  I have to acknowledge that my life is not really “my” life, but rather that I am here on earth as an agent of the Kingdom of God.

We have to train every part of ourselves to surrender to God’s will.  We must pray that God will give us his eyes.  We must pray that God will indwell us with His Spirit.  And we must pray that God turn our thoughts towards him.

So yeah, strange times currently.  Life can get weird when you graduate from college.  I’ve learned that.  I want to leave you with a couple of prayers.  The first from Thomas Merton, and the second from Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Rain, Prayer, and Provision

So about a half hour ago, I had a pretty weird experience with prayer.  I had just gotten out of a meeting on campus, and started to head back to my apartment.  As I walked out the door, I realized the solid amount of rain falling from the sky.  I had no jacket, no umbrella, and the next few minutes looked bleak at best.  I stood under the overhang for a minute, trying to accept the obvious truth that I would soon be cold and wet.  So I looked up and prayed (it couldn’t hurt, right?).  I prayed, “God, it would be pretty cool if you stopped the rain for the next two to three minutes so I could make the quick walk back to my apartment.  I know that’s kind of high maintenance, and it is my fault that I didn’t plan accordingly for this rain, but that would be awesome if you took care of that.”  Then I stood there for another minute or so waiting for either the will to walk through the rain or for the rain to lighten up.  Neither one of those things happened, but something did.

All of a sudden, Ben, a friend of mine, comes up through the rain with an umbrella.  I gave him the old, “What’s up, man?”

He looks at me and says, “Nothing much, what are you doing?” I’m sure I looked pretty strange just standing there alone…

“Just trying to get up the courage to walk through the rain,” I reply.

Then he extends his umbrella to me.  I look at him like he’s crazy, and he simply says, “Take this.” I’m sure I gave him a really weird look, so he added, “It’s not mine…I found it. (Ben’s that friend that everyone has who is always finding weird stuff)”

So I took the umbrella, told him I would get it back to him, and walked off towards my apartment.  And I was dry!

I tell this story for a few reasons, and the more I think about it, the more reasons I have for telling this story.  I’ll try and give these reasons in an organized manner so that you can understand my seemingly disconnected, but possibly connected thoughts:

  1. Nothing is too small to pray about.  Maybe you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “Seriously bro, that was just a coincidence.”  I disagree.  Sometimes I think God answers those little prayers in unique ways because He delights in our delight.  It’s almost as if God is winking at us, as if to say, “I’m still here, and I love to see you enjoying My presence.”  And even if you are convinced that what transpired was 100% coincidental, I have to ask, what’s the harm in praying about the small things?  God is all-powerful, and He hears our prayers, even the wee little ones.  As a Christian, I believe that God wants us to constantly be praying about literally everything! 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Philippians 4:6.
  2. The Lord uses the people around us.  I doubt that Ben felt that the Spirit walked him toward my location and told him to lend me the umbrella.  I’ll have to talk to him about that, but I doubt that is how it went down.  Sometimes people are unaware of the impact they have on us or the way in which they might be used in our lives.  I have had many conversations from which I walked away feeling completely filled, and I wonder if those people realized what their words meant to me in the moment.  God sends us into each others lives at just the right time, sometimes as an answer to prayer.  Proverbs 25:11.
  3. God doesn’t always answer prayer directly.  See, God didn’t answer my prayer tonight by doing precisely what I asked for.  God didn’t close up the clouds for a couple minutes, but He provided an avenue for me that I hadn’t considered.  Sometimes we become so frustrated with things in our lives that God seems to be ignoring us on.  We ask over and over again for the same thing, and we work towards it, but the necessary doors never open for us.  We cannot become so focused in on what it is that we want that we limit the ways in which we are open to the work of the Lord in our lives.  A life following the Spirit’s lead is surprising, and we rarely can look back and say, “Yeah, I saw that coming.” James 4:13-15.

And I don’t tell this story to say that every time you pray for rain to stop, somebody will show up with an umbrella for you.  We are never going to fully understand the working of God in the world, and sometimes waiting on Him to reveal Himself to us is so hard.  But tonight was a cool reminder of the mysterious working of the Lord in my life.  I hope that if you’ve read this, you feel encouraged about prayer.  God is always listening, no matter how small the request, and He is always paving new paths for us.  The Lord is faithful.

Father, thank You for working in ways that I would never choose; for Your ways are far greater than mine.

-MC

Grace in the Gray

Doesn’t growing up kinda stink sometimes?

Life used to be so easy.  There were no decisions to be made, or not many important ones anyways.  Questions of morality were so black and white.  Back when the words ethics, prejudice, and bias meant nothing to me.  That was a time in which following God was a decision, not a lifestyle.  There was an obviously correct answer to every question as well as an obviously incorrect answer.  Everything made sense.  The choices set before me were easy.  Eat healthily or unhealthily.  Do the homework or suffer the consequences.  Lie or tell the truth.  Every action had a pretty clear consequence.

But now I find myself swimming in a sea of gray.  Almost anything can be justified in my mind.  Any action can be supported by logic.  And the difference between obviously right and obviously wrong has become a lot of maybes.  All of a sudden, making decisions has become an intense debate inside my head.  Nothing is clear.

But as far as I can tell, this is just part of becoming who I am.

When I came to college to study the Bible vocationally, I thought a lot of things would get cleared up.  That more study of the Bible would lead to a more black and white view of the world and what happens in it.  It surely hasn’t.  The more I study, the more I realize how little that I know.  The more I study God’s word, the more I understand the vast spectrum that Christians fall onto.  Often I have heard people talk about the Bible as if it is something that anyone with a brain can agree as to what it says.  More often, I have seen people heatedly disagree about its truths. Truthfully, we cannot know for certain that our ways are correct.

So what can we do?

In the current age, we can live by faith.  We can live boldly in a way that glorifies our Lord.  We can lean on grace.

So often, we extend grace to others for moral stumbles, but do not extend any grace for genuine intellectual/interpretation differences. Is salvation dependent on perfect interpretation? On perfect understanding? On perfect obedience? If that were the case, we would all be lost.

So today, I challenge those reading this to live boldly by faith.

Hebrews 11 speaks directly to this topic covering many who, by faith, were used to accomplish the Lord’s perfect plan.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for.  Hebrews 11:1-2.

Boldly following Jesus is something that the Lord will prosper, not punish.

Run after Jesus through the gray. Faithfully trust Him. Count on grace for the missteps.

Baby Dedications, the Body, and Car Mechanics

This past Sunday, we celebrated a new baby that has been born into our church.  So, aesthetically how this works is the biological family of the baby + really anyone who sees it necessary and the elders of our church will come up to the front of the auditorium during the worship service.  One of our elders will introduce this baby and charge the church with doing all things necessary in order to bring this child up in the way of the Lord through Christian community, to which the church replies together, “We will.”  For a long time, I have thought about this occasional moment in our church’s service as something that drags it on longer and cuts into our class time following worship.  For a while in fact, I would not reply, “We will,” along with the rest of the congregation, not because I wanted to introduce that kid to “drugs, sex, and rock & roll,” as some might say, but rather because that’s a long-term commitment.  That baby is a baby.  It’s not going away anytime soon.  Being twenty years old, that is a life-long commitment.  Life-long… Shoot, If I wanted to be responsible for the life and upbringing of a child, I would just have a kid… Not really HAVE a kid.  Because, after all, there are a few things that need to happen first, or at least one thing anatomically… but you get the point, right?  I’m not locking myself in to a bunch of babies for life, I got enough to worry about on my own.  

Anyways, my thoughts on the matter have changed.

It hit me on Sunday that nearly 21 years ago, I was the baby being blessed from that pulpit. Then I realized the power in that.  For my entire life, I have been blessed by many of the people that were in that building on Sunday, and many others who have sat through those dedications in the past.  I look around at people who are like my caring aunts, goofy uncles, loving grandmothers, respectable grandfathers, cool older cousins, and not as cool older cousins.  The point is that those people who made that commitment 21 years ago have time and time again come through on what they said.  They made a commitment and are still in the process of seeing it through.  Oddly enough, the guy who had the most recent baby was my first ever camp counselor ten years ago.  So, you know what I did when the elder charged us with bringing this kid up in the church? I said, “We will.”

The church is not something that is linear.  It is like a cycle that is constantly overlapping.  Potentially, there will be a lot of babies born into the church before I’m gone.  But at the same time, as those people who have played key roles in my upbringing are aging, I now have a responsibility to them.  For example, one of my two grandmothers passed away in February.  For the past few years, I had watched as my parents took great care of her daily.  Two incredibly busy people, but they still worked tirelessly to give her the best quality of life possible.  Now, my family is in that process with my remaining grandmother.  I am so blessed to be around two great examples of faith and the overlapping cycle of the Christian life.  So, while I am still young and am being encouraged by the church, I have a lot to offer to its other members.  Both young, old, and middle, the church is a body.

“12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”

1 Corinthians 12:12-27 NLT

I know how cliche and overused this piece of text can be, but in all things that are cliche, there’s a reason for that.  Things are cliche because they are so useful and practical.  Let’s say that I am a thumb (I once had a friend describe me as a thumb. I didn’t know how to take it).  If I was a stubborn thumb and decided that I was only going to watch out for myself and do thumb things, A. I would not be able to accomplish anything, B. The rest of the body would be seriously inconvenienced.  So often we get caught up in ourselves.  Not normally in some evil way, but often we get so concerned about being stretched too far, or not being able to come through with something we say we will do.  Why was I originally super weirded out by pledging along with the church to bring children up in the way of the Lord? Not because I knew I would be a bad influence, but because I may not be around forever.  I may be somewhere else, and someday not know that kid from Adam.  But the pledge was not “I will do everything in my power to look out for this kid,” but instead “We will.”  On Sunday, I made that pledge on behalf of the congregation.  Am I currently a part of that congregation? Yes I am, but wherever I am, that church will still be looking after that child.  New people will come and go, but God’s plan for His church is forever.  God’s church is like a car, it has a ton of parts.  Sometimes these parts need fixed, sometimes these parts need replaced, and sometimes parts get added that have never been in the car before, but with the steady hands of a great mechanic, that car will run like new.  As long as we are holding to God’s steady hand, the church is going to keep trucking along.

We need each other.  Every individual person has something to offer. I have something to offer, and if you’re reading this, you have something to offer as well.

Much love.

-MC