Every few weeks, I write a post for my church’s Midweek Encounter blog reflecting on that week’s sermon. We’re in a message series about layovers in life, and I especially appreciated the reminder this week that while God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want him to, he does answer them how we need him to.
When What You Want Isn’t What You Need
There’s a worship song we sing pretty regularly at Encounter that I struggle with at times. Called “Always,” it includes these words:
Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always
One Sunday after singing it, I remarked to a friend that I wasn’t sure I bought it. At that point in my life, it seemed as though God was either moving really, really slowly, or perhaps not at all. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe God was there, but it was difficult to see how and where he was working. When we’re in a layover season in life, a time of uncertainty, disappointment, loss, heartbreak, change, or any number of other things that seem to keep us from moving from one place to the next, it can feel like “He will not delay” is a bit of a lie.
Keep reading at the Midweek Encounter blog.
Every few weeks, I write a post for my church’s Midweek Encounter blog reflecting on that week’s sermon. In this week’s, I ponder what it really means to say yes to Jesus–which doesn’t always mean selling all our stuff and becoming a missionary, but that’s how I’ve often felt.
Saying Yes to Jesus
When I hear stories of people selling all their stuff and moving to another country to become missionaries, I want to like them. I really do. I want to be able to applaud their sacrifice, their willingness to give up all they’ve known, their dedication to following Jesus even though it seems so extreme. Except most of the time when I hear those stories, I get kind of annoyed at these other people’s piety, and then feel kind of ashamed that I’ve never done anything so extreme for Jesus. Almost every time I’ve gone to another country, it’s been for a vacation, not to serve Jesus.
There are two rather different stories of Jesus calling his first disciples. In the book of Matthew, it takes all of two verses (Matthew 4:18-20):
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
The book of Luke records things differently, and I appreciate the perspective it offers. Instead of instantaneously dropping everything to follow Jesus, Luke 5
shows that it takes a bit for Simon Peter to come around to the idea.
For the past few weeks, my pastor has been preaching on finding God’s will. While it’s a topic that’s important at any stage of life, it feels particularly relevant in these young adults years. I’m a regular contributor my church‘s Midweek Encounter blog that offers reflections on Sunday’s message, and this series seems especially fitting to share here.
You Can’t Screw Up God’s Will
Every time I hear a sermon or read an article or book about finding God’s will, I hope that this will be the one that makes it clear for me once and for all. Yet even as we after hearing about the importance of knowing God’s word, of surrounding ourselves with people who will give us godly advice, and learning how to seek God’s perspective on things, the decisions we face in our everyday lives can still seem cloudy. Which job should I take, or should I go back to school? Is this the right school for my child or would they do better at that one? Should I stay in Grand Rapids or move somewhere else? If we apply all the good tactics Pastor Dirk has been talking about for the past few weeks, we can still be looking at these decisions with concern that we’ll make the wrong choice.
Keep reading at the Midweek Encounter blog.
Every other week, I write a post for my church‘s Midweek Encounter blog reflecting on Sunday’s message. I thought this week’s had a bit broader appeal than some, so I’m sharing it here.
As a child, The Little Rascals was one of my favorite movies. My siblings and I watched it more times than I can count and nearly had it memorized. At the beginning of the film, Spanky and his friends Alfalfa, Stymie, Porky, Buckwheat, and others form the He-Man Woman Haters Club, which pretty much exists to keep girls out of it. As the movie goes on though, we discover that Alfalfa has not only been hanging out with a girl named Darla, but even serenading her with a love song on a romantic boat ride.
When the other boys find out, they are shocked and even a little grossed out, so they hatch a plan to break up Alfalfa and Darla. Yet through a series of events, by the end of the movie the boys realize that Darla and her friends are not so bad and invite them to hang out in their clubhouse. While there are a variety of circumstances that bring about this change of heart, it all began with Alfalfa.
Though we may not make official signs, I think the Church often creates its own versions of the He-Man Woman Haters Club. It can be easy to point this out in the Church as the worldwide body of Christ, but we cannot ignore the implications for us personally. We may not make physical signs, but we make them in our thoughts, behaviors, and hearts. There are certain types of people we are just hesitant to enfold into Church life. Maybe we base it on occupation, income level, sexual orientation, age, political views, or any number of factors. After a while, we get entrenched in the mentality of there being an insider “us” factor to the Church, and an outsider “them” label for those we don’t deem worthy.
Keep reading at The Midweek Encounter blog.