Devotional Thoughts: Community & Giftedness

We are so individualized here in the USA we don’t understand the importance of community sometimes, nor the importance of how we are knit together as one body. What I do or choose not to do affects another. Our culture is the outlier in the span of the globe when it comes to time and community. We even see our faith as individualistic and through the lens of our universalist culture. Failing to understand we are connected, even in ways we do not comprehend, brings more brokenness into our world and communities. For example, many of us are still shaken by the shooting at UNC Charlotte. What that person chose to do has even affected our nation. And then another in Denver yesterday. It’s like a shock wave is sent out from the center of these events, those at the center being affected and traumatized the most. What you and I do or choose not to do really matters!

If you are a believer and you’ve given your life over to God you are part of a body, a team, a great community. We are a living organism all over the globe! I’m so blessed to experience this in my job, connecting people together across the globe for everyone to utilize their gifts together. Some even change their geographical location as a result. Some are living out their calling as a result. God does amazing things when we come together as God intended.

God also does amazing work when we reach across our comfort zones to build relationships with people who are not like us. We learn, they learn and God can do great things. Use your gifts freely! Share what you have with others. There’s a great blessing on the other side! Without stepping out to use your gifts, to reach across social norms, you won’t find those blessings. God is on the other side too. God doesn’t hate anyone. God loves each human being. We should too. As I write this friends are serving prisoners today. They’re using their gifts to serve what might be considered the worst people in our society. God will do great things this week through them sharing their time and gifts. I’m waiting to hear about it!

Are you committing the sin of omission by withholding what God gave you from the world? Are you being a good steward of your time and giftedness? Step out, even if you’re afraid. God will meet you on the other side. You’ll even uncover a blessing!

Holy Week thoughts on Luke 22:19

Early Christians we’re accused of being cannibalistic, eating of Jesus body. Jesus calls us to walk this road of suffering with Him. Friday his body will break and he will die. The earth will shake. We remember there’s no resurrection without suffering. He suffered because of what we have done. We take communion or The Lord’s Supper to remember. His body was broken for us. This is obedience.

In seminary I helped with a church plant in a poor neighborhood. We advertised The Lord’s supper for the first time. One person called asking what they should bring to this supper. Obviously we hadn’t prepared them enough! We explained they should eat before they come and just bring themselves.

To communion we bring ourselves, our suffering, our pain, our sin.

We also bring our commitment, our obedience, our loyalty and anything else. Jesus wants it all.

Last night I took communion with my church family to remember. Let us never forget!

Guidelines for Helping Others Part 2: Do’s and Don’ts

Once I become more deeply involved in helping people I have discovered these do’s and don’ts to be helpful and I hope they can help you too.  These principles are especially helpful when we are involved helping family members and those we already know and have a relationship with as well.  Creating boundaries for us with loved ones is extra challenging because we might have to undo some of what we have done.

  1. Never do for someone what they can do for themselves. It’s ok to do something with someone, but not “for” them.  It’s degrading to make a phone call for someone for example when they’re perfectly able to do that on their own.  It’s also degrading to treat people like they cannot do anything.
  2. Always deepen their community and yours. I’ve learned that many people who beg have no positive community in their lives.  Most don’t even know any successful people so they are operating out of what they know.  When someone approaches us it’s an opportunity to learn from that person’s life and to help connect them to a positive group that can empower them to make progress.
  3. Get rid of your “God Complex.” A God complex is a paternalistic attitude that I know it all and I’m here to teach and lead this person in the way I think is right for them.  The Bible is clear that we are no better than the person asking us for money.  If in my mind I’m thinking I’m better than this person or if I think I have great skills and I can tell this person what to do, I’ve ruined any chance of having a transformational relationship with them.  If I’m thinking about them in a degrading way and I need to repent of this attitude.  I can learn from this person’s story and share my own story with them and God can do amazing things when I humble myself and love someone I just met.
  4. Realize we are all lacking.  I have things I lack too. The richest person in the world still has issues in their life.  We all lack something and we all have weaknesses.  Share what you’re lacking with a person experiencing financial poverty and you might discover that person can help you in your own weaknesses whether it be that you lack forgiveness, good health, intimacy or any other thing.  God has a way of connecting us all together towards healing.
  5. Beware of “feelings.” Many have shared with me how good they feel while on a mission trip that they are helping someone or doing something significant.  This is a self-serving, narcissistic reason to go on mission or help someone.  Sometimes the very thing we feel like doing is the thing that can cause the most damage to someone else.  As Christians we go on mission to serve people so we can share the Gospel message, not so we can “feel good” about ourselves.  That would be in essence using people so we can have a good feeling.

In part three I’ll share a wonderful strategy we have utilized to help people who consider themselves at rock bottom.  This is a long process but it can work!  Stay tuned for Part 3!

 

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