Tag Archives: Christian Fellowship

Evangelism and Physical Fitness: Rest and Relationship

23 Aug

Last week, in “What the Sabbath Rest Is”, we discussed the value of the Sabbath as a celebration of deliverance: both Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and our deliverance from sin.  But that’s not where Sabbath observance ends.  God didn’t rescue either the Hebrews or us from something just to leave us wandering in a desert.  Freedom isn’t just about delivering people from slavery: it’s about delivering them to something else.  And in this case, that “something else” is a relationship.

In Titus 3:4-7 we read that, “when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  Romans 8:14-17 declares that, “all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” This word, “heir” is used throughout the New Testament (Galatians 3:26-29, 4:1-7, Hebrews 6:17 and 11:9, to name a few) and indicates a relationship far more intimate than that of mere acquaintances… it is a relationship of sons and daughters.

It is this relationship which we celebrate as we observe the Sabbath.  Not merely a day of rest, but one of focused rest, this single day each week is to be centered upon our Heavenly Father and dedicated to those things which will draw us closer to Him.  But what exactly are those things?  Here are a few ideas.

  1. Read the Bible.  Can you imagine getting a letter from a friend and just ignoring it?  Probably not.  To do so, would show your disinterest in the relationship… yet all too often, that’s what we do to God.  If you’re looking for a good way to celebrate your relationship with Him, start with His letter to you: the Bible.
  2. Prayer.  Jesus teaches His disciples to pray beginning with the phrase “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9 and Luke 11:2) Unlike the prayers of the heathens (Matthew 6:7), this one isn’t the mere repetition of words.  It’s a conversation between intimate friends and, as with any dialogue, it has the power to deepen and expand our relationship with the One addressed.  Perhaps you can even take the opportunity to share your thoughts about what you just read!
  3. Enjoy each other’s company.  This may seem obvious, but one of the best parts about a friendship is the ability to simply “be” together.  Instead of making your time with God all about study, why not simply sit and listen?  You may be surprised at some of the things He has to say to you!
  4. Fellowship.  One of the best ways to celebrate relationship is in the company of others.  While attending a Church service, Bible study, or Sunday school isn’t compulsory for believers, doing so can play an important role in deepening our relationship with God… and the rest of His family.

These are just a handful of “celebratory” ideas to get you started.  There are plenty of ways to cultivate any relationship – including our relationship with God.  The more time you spend “resting” in His presence, the deeper that relationship will become.  A side benefit?  The closer that connection grows, the easier it will be to act in obedience to God’s command to share His love with others!

Next week, we’ll be looking at a less relationally-centered form of rest as we explore the importance of setting boundaries between our time at work and our time off.  Meanwhile, feel free to share your own thoughts on the Sabbath in the comment box below!

The Pumpkini

27 Mar

Read:  Hebrews 10:19-25

“Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions… So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”

– Romans 14:1, 19 NASB

 

It had been a busy afternoon, interrupted only briefly by the rain storms that had finally decided to grace our all-too-dry farm lands.  We were about thirty minutes from closing when, despite the rain, we had one final sweep of customers and had to open up several tills to handle the flood.  Even this, however, was insufficient to meet the need.

I was standing in the check stand carefully balancing my tasks: conversing with my customer, operating the till, talking on the radio, and answering another customer across the counter… when the phone rang.  Picking it up, I gave my standard “thanks for calling” speech.

The caller waited patiently for me to conclude, then asked, “I wanted to know if there could be such a thing as a pumpkini?”

“A what?” I hesitated, my hands just above my till, waiting for me to total the sale.

“A pumpkini,” she repeated.  “I planted my Zucchini and my Pumpkins fairly close together and I wondered if it were possible that they cross-pollinated.  I picked a Zucchini today and it was green and shaped like a Zucchini, but it was hard like a pumpkin.  When I opened it up it was orange inside and had pumpkin seeds in it!”

I raised my eyebrows and then turned to my boss as I covered the receiver.  “Can a Zucchini and a Pumpkin cross-pollinate?”

The answer?  Yes.

As Christians, we too are able to cross-pollinate.  While stronger believers have the responsibility of setting an example, even the weakest of us have something to give as we engage with others through the act of fellowship.  As Christians interact with one another, we have the opportunity to build each other up, encouraging one another as we strive to develop a closer walk with the Lord.  And one thing is guaranteed: none of us will be left unchanged!

Challenge:  This week, keep your eyes open for opportunities to encourage other believers.  Then, commit to following through when those opportunities present themselves!

Women and Tools

30 Jan

Read: Hebrews 10:19-25

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.  For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a NASB

 

They say that seventy percent of tools are purchased by women.  Given some of the women I’ve met, this doesn’t surprise me in the least.  My mother is the tool hoarder in our family… and it doesn’t take long to recognize that not every tool she purchases is… well, immediately useful.  She’s conned my father into buying her (among other things) a set of chisels and a jig saw and, upon this particular occasion, it was a nail gun which topped her list.

It needs to be understood that at the time of the request, my mother didn’t have a particular use for a nail gun.  There were no projects waiting to be finished and no tentative remodeling to be done in the near future.  What did need to be done could have been accomplished with a staple gun.  But Mom’s mind was made up: there was a pile of scrap wood in the back of the house and that would do splendidly for what she had in mind.  My father wanted to purchase a brad gun instead, explaining that it was just a “lower caliber nail gun,” but my mother didn’t buy it: she wanted the real thing.

While the family found this amusing, Mom was far from alone in her lust for tools.  “I keep telling my husband I want one of these, but he thinks I’m kidding!” my customer declared as she dropped the tire iron on the counter.  “He buys me great romantic gifts, but this is what I really want.  Since he won’t buy it for me, I suppose I’ll buy it for myself!  It would have been very useful the other day when I was fixing the fence out back.”  She then proceeded to explain the lug wrench and a few other assorted tools scattered across the bottom of her cart.

What else could I do?  I smiled and told her about my mother.

 “Men just don’t understand!” she laughed.  “Tell your mother I hope she gets her nail gun!”

And I did just that.  Not surprisingly, both women found encouragement in each other’s tales, supported by the knowledge that they were not alone in their deep love for implements of construction.  In the same manner, we as Christians should find ourselves refreshed as we share stories of God’s grace in our lives with our brothers and sisters.  When we feel most alone, the companionship of these friends, their common love and common experience, will lift our spirits and encourage us to remain faithful… even though others fail to understand.

Challenge:  Close friends can be a big encouragement when it comes to pursuing a deeper faith in Christ.  Take some time to get to know the other believers in your congregation, encouraging them as they grow more Christ like and allowing them to encourage you as you do the same.  If you don’t attend church, commit to visiting churches in your area until you find one that’s a good fit.  You’ll be glad you did!

 

%d bloggers like this: