Rocky Mountains and A Rabbit Hole

Driving up to Estes Park and essentially Rocky Mountain National Park was beautiful. There’s this moment you have, where you are driving with orangeish rocks blocking your view and suddenly…. in front of you, are incredible snowy, unreal mountains. Everyone in the car reacted like their breath had been taken away.

In my mind, I thought, “This was worth it… coming to Colorado, just for this wow moment.” I’ve had that thought numerous times since I have gotten here. Not just in reaction to beauty, but in interactions with others, friendships, tasks, and my own personal growth.

I’ve just never seen such a spectacularly powerful view. I’ve seen Yellowstone, which takes your breath away because of it’s amazing wildlife and geysers. I’ve seen Niagara, which is so powerfully large and loud. I’ve seen the Grand Canyon, a wide expanse of red rock and the tiny Colorado river within it.

So, I’m not sure why this was my biggest wow moment. Perhaps God just wanted it to be, to give me a special awed, child-like perspective. It could have been the fact that there was a town nestled in the middle of all these mountains. It was picturesque.

This was my best day in Colorado by far. I know Coloradans are friendly and I’ve met some very nice people. But, maybe because I am in the city, most people have been fairly stand offish, they’re friendly, but it’s not comfortable with them.

I’ve never had more fun interacting with people at Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Humor was thrown out everywhere. People said hi when we hiked past them (never happens near Denver). People actually had advice to give is about the park. It was the first time I felt welcomed by Coloradans, other than by the incredibly kind people I am staying with and some choice others.

But I think there was a friendliness because it was a place of convergence. Mostly everyone wasn’t from Colorado, so we all needed to create an atmosphere of welcome and comfort.

What’s what the ministry I work with, International Students Inc., does! We create a home, a family, anywhere.

Which makes me wonder how much of a difference on person’s attitude can make in a place where things don’t feel that way? Could I have the confidence, conviction, and motivation to create that atmosphere wherever I go? To exude it, even if it means I’m uncomfortable for a while?

I’m not sure how this post turned into a conviction… well, yeah I do actually, the Holy Spirit has me there!

Just to return to the adventure topic. I also went to the best coffee shop ever: Coffee on the Rocks! It wasn’t the best coffee I’ve ever had, but it was a wonderful place.

The barista was friendly, gave one of us a local discount (I should have given him a bigger tip). He asked where each of us were from.

Oh, the best part! This coffee shop is a little cabin, sitting right by a little pond/lake with in the Rocky Mountains. I could just sit there forever.

Anyways, it was a wonderful wonderful day and I praise the Lord for it!

John 3:26

“Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan- the one you testified about- look, he is baptizing and everyone is going to him.”

Within the context of this passage, John tells his disciples tat Jesus is greater, from heaven, the Son of God, so it is good people are going to Him.

I wanted to focus on only what John’s disciples asked in this passage and somewhat take it out of context.

I know when I read that sentence, I thought of myself. Often I see someone succeeding, thriving, and I ask God why? Everyone’s going to them. Everything good is happening to them. Everyone likes them.

First of all, just because everyone likes them or goes to them, doesn’t mean no one likes you or is coming to you. That is a lie from Satan. He often likes to get us to think in black and white, all or nothing. I’m loved or hated, etc.

Just as God bestowed upon Jesus (and because of Him we have this) power and in this passage an abundance of people, God also bestows on us gifts and blessings.

Our problem often is that we forget about our gifts and blessings for a time and look over like John’s disciples, “Everyone is going to him!” We begin to wonder what’s wrong with us and essentially we covet. It’s pretty obvious in the Bible that this is a common sin for people. Do not covet thy neighbor’s stuff, one of the 10 commandments.

Guess what? Do you even want to be “baptizing” throngs of people? What I mean is, do you truly want what someone else has? Their cares, worries, finances, job, relationships, insecurities, etc.?

I know, though I identify with John’s disciples, when I read that verse, I laugh at how ridiculous they are because people are going to Christ. Who cares who is getting more of them? Same goes to all of us. Our talents, skills, circumstances, are used for God’s glory. If more “people” are drawn towards another, rejoice that God is still being “glorified”. You’re not the only Christian servant in this world.

A Tale of Two Churches

Being in a new state and city, makes it necessary for me to explore churches. I am attempting to find a new “home” church. This Sunday and the last, I visited two churches on my own.

Visiting a new church on your own isn’t the most fun thing in the world. In fact, it’s quite uncomfortable, awkward, and scary. No matter how much you know people don’t go to church to judge, you can’t help but fear judgement or just loneliness.

So here goes my tale of two churches (Dickens is my favorite author just in case you didn’t get the reference):

Last week I went to a church I thought I was called to. Why did I think that you ask? I randomly stumbled upon it online and really like the  webpage. I felt like God wanted me to go there, and perhaps, for some reason He did. So, I embarked on the adventure to go to a church all by myself.

It all looked extremely inviting. Not too big, not too small. There were children and families playing outside. There was a lobby with coffee and people chatting. The person at the door said welcome, but that was it. There was a connection room, so I went in there to “connect”. Now there were two people in there, obviously volunteers, with nothing to do who saw me come in. Not only did they not say hi, they didn’t even smile. They essentially ignored me. Despite my lost look, and my staying in the room for quite a few minutes looking at a wall of small groups. Great job connection room!

I sat down next to a young lady. I talked to her, I initiated conversation, asked her about herself. She was a young college student, so sure, maybe not so confident, but she never once asked me one question about myself. I left disappointed to say the least. I felt like writing this strongly worded facebook status about how horrible it is to go to a church and not be accepted. How we can’t do that, and dear churchgoers be friendly!!!! Especially since on that same day, I also went to Walmart and felt more welcomed there, as a guy came up and talked to me about Arizona and such.

On to Church adventure #2, today:

I almost didn’t go to church today. I was unmotivated, but someone sort of reminded me to go. The church I went to today was a bit larger than last week’s. I walked in and didn’t necessarily get connected in any way. I had a feeling this would be a repeat of last week.

I sat down on my own on the edge of the aisle by myself. This time I didn’t have anyone to prod with questions, which was fine because I came late. The music was a bit concertish to me, lots of flashy images on the screen, loud loud music, all a bit of a show.

Then we were told to hold hands for the Lord’s prayer. I was like, “What the heck?!” The person next to me hesitantly reached out for my hand. I looked to my left and there was a guy across the aisle in a row all on his own. I smiled at him and took his hand.

And that’s when it began not to matter how welcomed I was because that guy sitting a lone, was so grateful for my kindness of including him. I invited to sit with me, he didn’t do it, but he was grateful again and again and again. So genuinely touched by my barely even saying how are you.

I don’t know if I’ll go back to that church or not and honestly, my emotions will probably change from week to week, but I did learn something valuable today.

Last week, church was all about me. I was ready to preach about how all churches should be welcoming, all churches should connect to new people, etc. I was really perturbed by my experience. Though I was friendly to that college girl, I walked out with a bad attitude about the Lord’s house.

This week, I appreciated how much church is not about me, ever. Yes, the Lord spoke to me through the music and the sermon, but when my interest went from myself, to the new guy in the aisle next to me, it became all so different. I love the Lord, I am secure in Him, so no matter where I go to church, I should never stop being kind, loving, and friendly, even if others do not do it back. This way the Lord can use me for people like this lonely guy.

But, I must leave one message for all churchgoers (sorry couldn’t help it). Y’all, I have been at my home church in Arizona for 17+ years. I am fairly secure and comfortable there. That’s just it though…. I am comfortable, you are comfortable, all of us are comfortable and our home churches. It’s a bad thing! That is, it’s a bad thing if we do not use it for good. A lot of us go to church every Sunday, serve in our areas, hear the sermon, sing with our hands lifted up, maybe say hello to someone when the pastor tells us, but do you go out of your way to make a stranger welcome? Do you ever see a new face and go up to them immediately with a smile and ask them how they are?

I know I don’t, because I’m so comfortable where I am at, I am too afraid to move out of that comfort zone to make it comfortable for others. I am afraid, someone will judge me, that person might not even be new, they might not want me to say hi, they might think I am awkward, or aggressive. NO WAY GUYS! A new person needs someone to say hello and reach out……. it makes all the difference!!!

So if your comfortable, uncomfortable, new, a member, young, old, you have a job to do on the next Sunday at church. Be friendly, welcoming, to everyone! Step out of that little safe place you are in. Even if it is a small step, like just saying hi to more people than you usually do! The Lord will use it miraculously!

 

 

A Forested Path

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.

When does the Lord make our paths straight?

When we acknowledge Him! That’s it! Not when we struggle to be good. Not when we become a missionary or remain (though none of that is bad and goes unrewarded). Not if and when we hear Him calling to us. Even in silence if we acknowledge Him, His promise is that He makes our paths straight.

You may not see it happening or feel that way, but that is a promise. Acknowledge Him in everything you do, draw closer to Him, trust in Him even if nothing makes sense and He will be working, He will be leading you down a straight path.

Now, this path may be so forested that you can’t see the destination, or maybe even the path itself, but it doesn’t matter.

As you walk, lead by the savior, enjoy your conversation with Him, thank Him for His guidance, admire His creation and if there’s fear, remind your heart and mind that He’ll be with you when you reach the darkest parts of your path.

Seek Me First

Luke 10: 38-41

“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.”

We could probably all substitute our names for Martha’s in that verse.

I, myself, am so busy preparing to raise support, worrying over contacts, worrying about the timing, always thinking about what and how I can find more financial support.

Maybe you are busy trying to get others to like you or maybe you have committed to far too many things. So here Jesus comes along and tells us….

Stop worrying about the details, stop spending every moment working on that. I know you think all these things need to be done, but there is truly only one thing that needs your focus and everything else will fall into place.

Seek me. I am here, by your side, the guest in your house and you’ve ignored me while you run around doing errands. Your thoughts are never considerate of me though I am hungry and thirsty for your attention. You care much more about how you look to others though I am the only one living in your house.

So stop! Stop and sit with me as Mary did. Talk to me, learn, and take comfort in my presence. If I want to take your attention away from preparations, I will make sure they get done in the time needed.

Seek me first and I will do the rest.