Tuesday, October 24, 2017

If Satan Loves To Isolate, Then God Is In Community

Are you in community? It’s an IN word right now, isn’t it? It just rolls off your tongue...

It’s biblical.  Did you know that? We are to be IN fellowship with other believers.  It’s good for us.  We were created FOR community. 

Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

All of this took place after the church was established, and THEN what happened as a result of their obedience? Shock and awe.  That’s right.  They were AWED by the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  (Acts 2:43)

So we (the church) have these marching orders:  Study the word.  Fellowship together as believers, break bread, and pray. 
Our marching orders are COMMUNITY. 

October is such a great month for community.  It’s chilly outside, there’s chili inside, and our hearts are full. 

And yet when we experience heartache or trouble, we lean towards isolation. 

Isolation makes us a sitting duck for the enemy’s attacks.  And he will pounce.
When we’re down and out, feeling less than, hurting, needing help, we MUST reach out to our people.  We need them, and they need us.  We were created for each other.   

Do you have community? Do you have a body of believers with whom you fellowship? If the answer is no, then do something about it.  Pray for God to bring you to a place (church body) for you and your family.  There’s a place for everyone.  And there’s no perfect place.  We were created for community.  Not for isolation. 

I heard it said recently, “When things are going bad, God is up to something good.”  I like that perspective.  God cares.  And He gives us each other to remind us. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sometimes Community Means Making The First Move

Something a bit unusual happened to me today. I received an invitation to coffee from a new mom at our school. We’ve attended this school for five years, her kids have been there for a hot 30 minutes, and she invited me to coffee, though we’ve never met. Something seems backwards here.
She wants to connect though. So she is willing to make the first move. There aren’t enough words to express how much I love this.

My husband and I are both connectors of people. We’re always planning, initiating, inviting, hosting, introducing, and glad-handing, everywhere we go. Often when we’re guests at an event, people mistake us for the hosts. It’s just the way God made us, and it serves us well in ministry. A few years ago, though, I honestly began to resent this aspect of God’s design for our lives.

Instead of being the pursuer, I wanted to be pursued.
Instead of being the inviter, I wanted to be invited.

Instead of being the planner, I wanted to be the guest.
I was lonely. In need of community. And feeling sorry for myself. But then I recalled Paul’s words in Romans 12:6:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

I may have wished to be pursued, but God made me a pursuer. If I wasn’t willing to lean into this gift and practice hospitality, wasn’t I missing an opportunity to be a reflection of God’s image in the world?
Now fall is upon us. And with it, comes so many opportunities to practice hospitality and build community.

So we can do one of two things.
We can sit around waiting for an invitation, or we can be bold enough to make the first move.

What we can’t do is listen to the voice of Satan telling us no one invites us because no one likes us. It’s not true! Despite the fact that my husband and I are rarely invited by others, when we invite them, they most always say yes!
So if we’re wanting to connect with our neighbors…If we’re feeling isolated from friends…If we need a Girls Night Out, or we’re just wishing for a coffee date to connect at the new school, are we going to sit around a whine about it? Or are we willing to make the first move?

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
Romans 12:13

Monday, October 2, 2017

Do You Need To Kick-Start Your Community?

October is the beginning of the holiday season. Pumpkins, lattes, gatherings ‘round the fire…aaaahhhhhh. It seriously is MY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR.  I love FALL so much that when Brad and I got engaged in December 1985, I begged him to wait until the FALL to get married! And he said apprehensively, “okay.” October 4th will be our 31st anniversary!
Yea US!

With the coming of the holiday season comes opportunities to gather, reflect, celebrate and open OUR doors. 

In Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” he devotes an entire section to COMMUNITY.  We were created for each other.  We need each other. 

         "We discover our role in life through our relationships
with others."
Rick Warren
Community.  It’s vital. But it’s not always pretty.  And it takes work. 

Why does community take work? Relationships are hard.  And when we do community right, the masks come off, and we discover that no one has it all together, that no one has a perfect life, and that no one doesn’t have baggage. 

But that’s the good stuff.  We are more alike than we think we are.  Relationships are messy.  But they're OUR mess! Let’s get messy!
Here are some ideas to get you started:

Invite someone over today.  Put a pumpkin on the front porch.  BAM! You’ve decorated for FALL! Put a pot of coffee on and serve it with PUMPKIN SPICE creamer! BAM! A FALL LATTE is served! See? That was so easy! Don’t try to be THE PIONEER WOMAN overnight.  Just invite.  Open your doors.  And fellowship.

Get involved in your church home group, Bible fellowship class, or small group.  Don’t just sit back and WAIT for someone to call you! Call them! Plan a get together.  Most likely, everyone is looking for friends but everyone is waiting on a call.  Be proactive!

Plan a get together for your kids and their friends.  Buy a dozen pumpkins and host a pumpkin carving party! Serve cider and a place for fellowship.  This shows your kiddos how to be hospitable and form community.  My friend, Sara, hosts one every year for her kids and their friends.  It’s become a tradition! I love it.

Bake some pumpkin bread and bless your neighbors.  Our Bible fellowship class is learning how to be a good neighbor right now, and Becky is leading the way.  Her blog is full of “good neighboring” ideas.  Check it out, here! 

Enjoy this month of cooler weather, sweaters, s’mores and more…and be a blessing!

"A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree." 
Proverbs 11:28 (MSG)