It’s about 9:30 on Tuesday night. I was thinking about going to bed. The last few weeks have been brutal. Up before 5. Andrew to school for an early bird strength and conditioning class by 6:45. Running three miles and to my desk by 8;30 to start my work day. I’m a little tired.
I thought I ought to look at my blog post that I had scheduled to post for Wednesday. To my shock, there was not one. I thought I had one written, in my hip pocket, ready to go.
I didn’t. I have a couple I want to write and about one hundred ideas written down. But I didn’t have one ready to go. I was about to let my buddy, John, who reads this blog about 1 a.m., down. What would he do if I didn’t show up every morning?
I lost track.
I think that’s what happens to us in life sometimes. We come out of the gates with a head of steam. Somewhere between 21 and 46, we too often forget where we were headed. We show up thinking we have a blog post ready to go out. We reach into our gym bag and realize that we forgot our socks.
We can either coast through life and wake up with it being too late one day. Or we can realize it’s just going to be a season, maybe even football season, that will be over soon.
I lost track, but tomorrow will be a new day, perhaps a day for cutting off noses to spite our faces or where leopards may change its stripes.
Have you ever realized at the last-minute that you had lost track?
A few years ago I was assigned a book to read by my manager. It was called First, Break All The Rules. It was subtitled What The World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently. One of the chapters described twelve factors that attract, focus and keep talented employees. All twelve were excellent, but one in particular stood out.
One of the twelve factors was that an employee have a best friend at work. Having another person who they could relate to and share struggles with helped them feel attached to the company. Otherwise, the employee felt detached and the chance of retaining them was less.
I thought about this recently and wondered if it was the same in our churches. I think it is. Sometimes, I think, we forget this.
Church is a place where gather together to worship the Lord and it is also a community that gathers together. We fellowship. We are on mission. We disciple and so many other things. We have the common bond of faith that joins us together. However, it’s not all that we need.
We need to have someone or a few someones that we look forward to seeing when we meet together. I read recently that organizations begin to lose their efficiency when they grow much larger than 150. I believe this is especially true in many churches. Why? Because when churches get much larger, people begin to lose their connection to each other. It is difficult to know everyone. People don’t believe they will be missed or that they are as important to the church when it gets too big. Obviously there are some exceptions, but for the most part this holds true. Statistics will show that most churches in this country have 150 or fewer people.
The larger the church, the harder, I think, it is to have a “best friend” in church. Without that tie, it becomes easier and easier to miss church services.
So where does that leave us? We, who are church people, are in the relationship business. Our beliefs and doctrines will not be the primary factors that draw and keep people in our churches. Instead, it’s going to be the relationships we form and the communities that we build.
The burden is on us to pursue relationships with those outside of our community in hopes to draw them into community with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is our responsibility to fight to keep our relationships strong within our church community, just like we would with our families and friends.
To do that, we may find we have to break some of the rules we have learned along the way.
What do you do to build relationships and have “best friends” at church?
A wife discovers that her husband is cheating on her. He confesses to his sin. She has a couple of choices to make. The easy choice, the choice the world would expect her to make is to leave him. The other choice, the harder choice, is to forgive him, reconcile and work on the marriage.
What would Jesus do? What would Jesus want her to do?
No matter what, He would want her to forgive.
She might answer that by saying, “But I’m not Jesus.”
A son spends his life with a distant father. The dad isn’t cruel. He just doesn’t spend any time interested in anything the son loves. They eventually drift apart, the son with pent-up anger, wondering why his dad always had time for his own interests, but not the son’s.
What would Jesus do? What would Jesus want him to do?
No matter what, He would him to forgive.
The son might answer that by saying, “But I’m not Jesus.”
A deacon and Sunday School teacher in the church makes some mistakes. Without warning, he is not retained as a teacher. The way things are handled, he is forced to leave his longtime church..
What would Jesus do? What would Jesus want him to do?
No matter what, He would want him to forgive.
He could answer that by saying, “But I’m not Jesus.”
He hung on a cross dying. He had been beaten to a pulp. Spikes had been driven in to his hands and feet to hold him in place. Several thought went through His mind that day.
What would Jesus do? What would the Father want Him to do?
“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
He couldn’t answer them by saying, “But I’m not Jesus.”
Do you live like you’re not Jesus?
It’s with a mixture of joy and sadness that we begin Phillipians, chapter 4. Joy in seeing a project nearing completion and sadness similar to seeing a child leave your home.
Paul begins wrapping things up as chapter 4 begins. One of the things that is noticeable is Paul writes like he is having a conversation with his readers. He continues to get personal with the Philippian church. He knows them and they know him.
Paul begins the chapter with an exhortation. Therefore, my brothers, who I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. Paul builds up the Philipians. He considers them family. They bring him joy and they also stand out among churches he has founded. He loves them and wants them to stand firm in the Lord regardless of what they face.
Unity is truly important to Paul. He mentions it in several of his writings to churches. I entreat Euodoia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. It appears that a couple of people are struggling with this. Word has gotten back to Paul about this and he almost begs for them to “agree in the Lord.” He’s not asking for simple agreement. He’s asking them to do this in the Lord. He not’s seeking unanimity. He’s looking for unity.
Paul doesn’t simply leave this to his words to carry this out. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are int he book of life. He seeks help in bringing these women together. Evidently, they have worked together with Paul and others, but something has come between them. Regardless, they are in the family of God and their names are written in the book of life.
Paul returns to a common theme throughout his letter. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Joy and rejoicing in the Lord is important to Paul. Given the circumstances Paul is facing, and that of any believer at this time, remaining joyful is a necessity.
Paul continues his exhortations. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. A better way of saying this might be to say graciousness. How people react to situations is an indicator of their relationship with the Lord. Graciousness should be flow from the Holy Spirit to situations encountered.
Paul discloses his view of the Lord’s involvement in his, and the Philippians, lives. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. If the Lord is control of all situations, then there is no reason to be anxious. Instead, life should be bathed in prayer, turning to the Lord.
What are the results of not being anxious? And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. The peace of God, with often doesn’t make sense, helps guard your hearts and minds.
The heart of this passage is that the Lord is at hand. Ultimately, He is in control. If that is so, then we should be unified without any anxiety and seek Him in prayer.
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His home.
Praise Him in the heavens
Praise Him for what He does
Praise Him for His greatness.
Praise Him with the rhythm of our words
Praise Him with our posts.
Praise Him with the clicks and clacks of the keyboard.
Praise Him with our pens and journals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!
How do you praise the Lord?
Three years ago tomorrow, everything was good. Everything was fine. I suspected nothing. As far as I knew, nothing was going to happen.
Then, three years ago today, at 7 pm, it happened.
I was kicked out of my church.
No, I wasn’t actually told not to come back. A fellow showed up at my house and told me that I was not being asked back to be a Sunday school teacher. I don’t think anyone really expected me to leave when the decision was made but the way it was handled, I felt like I couldn’t stay.
I went through what I call the Margaritaville stages of handling this. I blamed everyone else. Then I accepted part of the blame. Finally, I accepted the blame.
I have been angry, bitter and every emotion in between since that time. There are people in my community that I still have difficulty seeing out and about. I don’t wish them I’ll. I hope the best for them. I still just hurt a bit when I see them.
Most of all, I’ve grown tired of feeling bad about it.
The Lord turned it into something better than what was before it.
We found a church home that is perfect for us. Our children love the Lord. Life is better than three years ago.
Three years ago.
I remember Robin Williams, first, for his first appearance as Mork from Ork on Happy Days way back in the 70’s. Later, the spinoff show, Mork and Mindy, starring Williams and the future Mrs. Mark Harmon taught us all how to “Nanu, Nanu.”
I was shocked when I heard about Robin Williams’ passing. I wasn’t aware that he had faced depression, but neither was I surprised. He had faced many demons. His life had been a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, highs and lows. I was truly saddened to learn that he had taken his own life.
None of us can truly know what those who experience mental illness go through. However, I feel like I can come as close as anyone. I grew up with a family member who experienced mental illness. I witnessed first hand the life of someone who was ill in ways that most of us never will be. I could feel the stares of people who didn’t truly know what was going on.
Based on my experience, I totally understand Robin Williams forsaking his medication. I don’t think that anyone who is mentally ill truly believes that they are. I don’t think they can comprehend what is happening to them.
I face enough melancholy in my life that I would never want to face true depression. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live with that day in and day out.
I hope that Robin Williams knew the Lord and I wish that for all who are mentally ill. It won’t necessarily fix or heal their condition, but won’t necessarily not either.
I hope for treatment that works for those who are sick. I hope that they would accept their condition and the treatment that will alleviate their symptoms.
Most of all, I hope that they would have what I have and am afraid that Robin Williams did not.
I have hope in Christ. And I hope that for the mentally ill and the mentally well.
Have you ever known anyone who faced mental illness?