This past weekend, we had the privilege to take a small group of people to a conference in Austin. While this conference was amazing in every way, God was speaking to me something deeper and more profound than I could ever learn at the conference.
While we were in Austin, I got the opportunity to look up some of my parent’s good friends who are pastoring a church in Round Rock. In fact, this couple Jim and Sylvia Patterson, were my first pastors. That was about 21 years ago though, so I really had no relationship with them, but with their daughters. Since that time, we had all but lost contact with them until the advent of the Facebook. I reconnected with them in July and had the desire to reconnect with them. God opened the door and we were able to eat lunch with them and then attend their church on Sunday before returning home.
Now, I could have reasoned within myself that I do not really know them and it might be kind of awkward. I will probably even miss part of the conference that we are attending. I could have explained away all the reasons to meet with them, but I thank the Lord that I did not. Meeting these pastor friends was such a blessing to me and the people with me. We were able to share our hearts and get to be inspired by theirs. In the end, we encouraged and blessed one another just because we were willing to go out of our way and off our regularly scheduled programming.
Yesterday, I was reading Romans once again and rediscovered a passage that was so central to our journeys around the world. Romans 1:11-12 “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” Contained within this passage is our heart for the people of God all over the world. We desire to come to them and encourage and be encouraged and help them out in any way that we can. This is what being a family is. We went out of our way to meet with this couple that I barely knew, and my wife and friends did not know at all. In the end, we had a great God moment in the middle of the restaurant praying and blessing each other. We were truly family even though we had barely met.
I want to encourage you in two ways today. First, do not allow silly things to keep you from relationship with the family of God. We can allow inconvenience, awkwardness, earthly divisions, and other earthly things to keep us from getting to know the true family of God. When Jesus is the center, we have the ability not only to encourage, but be encouraged by our brothers and sisters. Seek to be in unity with the family of God so that the blessing of unity may come upon you. Practically encourage someone today, not because they are your friend, but because they are a brother or sister in Jesus. Secondly, we must be willing to be inconvenienced so that Holy Spirit can lead us into obedience and blessing. We got to hear a lovely couple from Africa speak about how inconvenience had led them into more ministry in South Africa. People interrupting them while they were building ended up getting saved and discipled because they took the time to be with them and realized the true treasure in people. We make special time for our physical family, and we must be willing to take time for the children of God. If not, we are throwing away not only the very treasure that God wants but the treasure that He wants to bring us!!!
Look for the treasures of the Lord today and do not let inconvenience, selfishness, or fear keep you from receiving these blessings from the Good Father!!!
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!
The Lord is amazing and His plans for us are far beyond the awesomeness of our own small ways of thinking. Currently, God has taken us back to Spain. I never thought a year and a half ago that we would be able to return here. In fact, on all my adventures in so many different countries, I have had to make close friends and say goodbye without ever expecting to see them again. However, now my wife and I are back with such good friends here in Spain where we had our first date. We have even been able to have an adult “sleepover” with the first couple we double dated with. The story of how our first date came to be in Spain is one for another time. Feel free to ask us about it when you see us. One telling of this story took almost 2 hours and no one really likes reading long blogs anyway.
Here in Spain, it is hard to find time to write because we are spending so much time with our family. Spiritual family perhaps, but still family. Spain is where we first began to learn about true community. When people in the church begin to meet every evening for prayer, sit at a table after a meal is over for an hour or two, go on walk together… This is how community is built. In our fast-paced way of living, we almost have to budget our time with our friends. We do not have more than 30 minutes or an hour for lunch before we have to get back to work. Here, the people are so much more important than the other things going on.
For me, this is what true family is all about. When I was growing up, our family always ate together around a table. There was no radio, tv or other distractions allowed there. We would sit and eat together and talk no matter how hard it was sometimes. Even as I have grown older, I cherish the times we get around a table and eat, though our family is not even on the same continent most of the time 🙂 For me, table time is family time. It is hard to be angry at your family when you always eat together. There may be arguments, but eventually you know you will be around the table and have to talk about what is going on. Usually, the problems seem silly as you talk about them. Even better than this is when you get to share your triumphs with those closest to you. The table is where you learn about each other and truly become family.
In Spain, the church is a family. Last Friday, we had an unplanned gathering. Marie called Nancy and decided to eat together. Before long, 10 people were sitting around a table laughing and sharing more than a meal, we were sharing family time. So, the real question comes up. Do we in the US want real community? Real community means sharing hurts as well as laughs. It means the giving up of ourselves for the good of others. It means walking beside someone in the hardest of times and never giving up on them. For me, the more a church grows in size, the harder it is to build community. However, a church can never be truly strong and healthy, no matter what the size, if the community of the people is not strong.
Ask Holy Spirit if you are engaged in true community and family. If so, ask how you can add to your family and invite others to become a part of the Community of Christ. If not, ask how you can develop a spiritual family and be a part of the community the way Jesus intended.
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!