Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Life Outside the Comfort Zone

I like to play it safe.  I like the predictable, the normal
and the routine.  I like to plan things, and usually have plan A, plan B and plan C before committing to  doing anything.  Planning is safe, and keeps me comfortable and gives me a sense of control.
I like the comfort zone, and if it were up to me, I would probably live my whole life there if God had not shaken me from my normal status quo a few years back.  During this period of shaking, I was rattled to the core.  I was challenged to rethink my desires, my priorities, and the way I did almost everything. I was challenged to see God in a totally different way.  I was forced to rely on His strength and power, and for someone who likes to be in control and be self-sufficient,  it was the most challenging thing I have ever gone through ( many ways, I am still going through it).

Sometimes we get a little too settled in our comfort zone.  We get complacent.  We get lazy.  We get apathetic, and we even get blinded to the things that we see and do everyday.  When we are shaken, we begin to see things a bit differently.  We begin to notice the things that have been long overlooked...and we see there are things to be done to make the world around us a better place.

God never called us to be comfortable, but he did call us to go out into the world.  He calls us to step out of our comfort zones in faith and to do His work to bring Him glory.  We are called to step out...even if it means that we are stepping out alone.

When we step out of the comfort zone, it stretches our faith.  It makes us acknowledge that we are no longer in control--and it allows God to freely use us to accomplish His work in the lives around us.  When we step out, we see our gifts grow, we see our faith stretched, and we see how faithful God is to equip us for the task at hand--no matter how inadequate we may feel.

Once you experience life outside the comfort zone, you begin to see God work in your life, and  in the lives of  those around you.  When you partner up with Him and see him work and experience His power--you can never be satisfied with the status quo and returning to the comfort zone.  You will desire to look for ways to be used, ways to grow, and you will come to expect a life lived in the abundance and power that only God can give.

Life outside the comfort zone is not necessarily easy, but when you are in the center of God's perfect will, you will be in the safest place that you could possibly be.  Will you commit to do what God is calling you to do, even if it means leaving behind the familiar comfort zone that you have grown so accustomed to?  I hope so, because God has so much in store for you to see, to experience, to feel.  He wants to see you grow in ways you never imagined.   He has a special plan in store for you...and all you have to do is commit to take that first step towards Him.  Are you ready?  He is waiting on you...holding out His hand to help you all along the way!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In His Name

My husband is working on a mission's project with our church today.  The project is called "A home in His Name".  People who can not afford to fix their homes, and are unable to qualify for programs like Habitat for Humanity are led to our church for help--with no strings attached.  So far, our church has demolished two homes and rebuilt them for two families in our community.  People who have skills to work on the home, do--and the church hands over the keys to their brand new home a few weeks later.

Today they are prepping the lot to begin building a home for a third family.  I just think that it is amazing that through these projects, our church is providing something amazing for a family, with no costs and no strings attached.  I think things like this really show what the church is called to make a difference in the lives around them--whether or not the family is a member of the church.

As Christians, we are called to serve outside the church.  We are called to make an impact on everyone around us.  It may not be building a house--because let's be honest, I am not gifted in building.  I have difficulty putting together a bookshelf from Wal-Mart.  There are things that I can do.  I can encourage others.  I can use the skills that I have to serve a family in need. 

Everything that we do as Christians, is done in Jesus' name...whether we like it or not.  After all, the name Christian means "little Christ".  When I think of that, I really wonder if the way I act, am I making Christ little or big in my community?

I really want Jesus to be BIG in my life.  I want to be able to do something great for Him.  I want to do it so that He gets the glory--and He is made big in the lives of others...because I was willing to step out and do something in His name and for His glory.

I really would like to be a part of this building project....and who knows, maybe they will need some painting done in the next few weeks.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lessons from a Familiar Story

I have always loved the story of Jesus healing the crippled man at the pool (John 5:1-18).  I love how Jesus notices the man in his hopeless situation, and how he takes time out of his busy schedule to talk to and heal this man.  To me, it shows me so much about Jesus' character and the priorities he set during his ministry.  I think it is also a good lesson in what our character and our priorities should be as Christians.

The setting for this story is that Jesus is in Jerusalem during one of the Jewish feasts on the Sabbath.  As he is walking near the temple, he notices a particular man, among many diseased, sick, and crippled man who had gathered around the pool.  They were there, because legend had it that an angel would come down to the pool, and stir up the waters.  The first one into the pool after it was stirred by the angels would be healed.  

This particular man had been there for thirty eight years, waiting for his miracle.  He had no family, and no friends.  He was crippled, abandoned, helpless...and essentially hopeless, yet he still sat by the pool...waiting for his miracle.  What a sad situation for this man to be in.  

Jesus goes up to the man, the first thing he asks is basically,"Do you want to get well?"  

The man replies by recounting his situation to Jesus, that he has no friends or family and that every time the pool is stirred, someone else gets into the pool before he does.  The poor man was helpless.  Seeing his hopelessness, Jesus heals him and tells him to get up and take his mat and walk.

At this point, we should all be happy.  After all, a man who had been crippled for 38 years, a man who could not help himself, was finally free to move about on his own.  He could walk!  

But...the religious people of Jesus' day were not happy.  A law had been broken, because no work was to be done on the Sabbath. The man was questioned about why he was carrying his mat on the Sabbath, and healing was evidently in their eyes, work.

The laws regarding the Sabbath would allow you to do certain things, like help and animal who was in danger, so why is this a problem?  After all, we are talking about a human life being forever changed...isn't that what the Sabbath is supposed to be about, resting in God and getting spiritual healing?  Well, the Pharisees did not see it this way, and gave the man and Jesus a hard time.

Another thing I noticed, is that Jesus had compassion.  Jesus was probably on his way to the temple, after all, it was the Sabbath, and a special one at was a feast day.  There was a lot of preparation involved in preparing for those extra special holy days.  In the midst of all that he was involved in, Jesus still had time to notice the man and heal him.

How many times do we hurry through our busy days and not notice someone who is alone, hurting, and hopeless.  Jesus' top priority was doing God's will, and a big portion of that was helping others.  Jesus regularly took notice of specific people with a desperate need when he was busy with other things.  Jesus set his priorities in a way that showed that other people were a priority, and treated them with love and compassion--rather than the interruption that they were.  How many times do I fail to do this?  More than I can count and want to admit.

Christianity is about the relationship that we have with God, and our fellow believers.  It is about those relationships more than the rules. Sometimes we have to jump in and do the work at hand to help others, after all, isn't that what Jesus did?