What a Conversation Starter!

See the source image(image courtesy of pinterest)

As we continue to face the challenges and changes the corona virus outbreak is having on all of us, I have also discovered a few silver linings in my daily life.

One of these is the on-going discovery of people I do not know who live in my neighborhood.  As you may recall, Faithful Reader, I have worked primarily out of our home for the last 3 and a half years.  On any given day, I will take two or three long walks with our Golden Doodle, Violet (my computer would not let me use any of my own pictures of her, but this photo from pinterest is strikingly close to what she looks like).

Previously, these walks have been completed almost exclusively without seeing anyone to speak to.  Over these past few days, that is no longer the case! Parents prevented from going to their workplaces are outside at times they never were before.  Many, like me, are on potty runs for their dogs.

The pastor in me tries to take these meetings as opportunities to share hope.  Having Violet along has certainly made conversations easy to start.  Almost everyone is taken by her soft coat, soulful eyes and goofy personality.  As we share info on our different pooches, the talk invariably comes around to the current circumstances that have led us to meet.

I am not now, never been, and probably never will be a very successful evangelist.  I don’t have the gift of gab, if you will, that allows words to smoothly and cohesively flow from my mouth.  No, my strength seems to be more in the walking out of my faith.  This, I have been told, is most evident in my peaceful demeanor.  “You are easy to talk to,” and, “thanks for listening” are things I hear quite often.

So it is with those gifts that I engage my new-found neighbors in conversation.  By asking what their ‘normal’ was before this all started, I can begin to get the sense of what is most troubling them in these days.  Invariably, they will then ask me the same question to which I reply that my routine is pretty much as it was.  I then offer to tell them about our home-based ministry and some of the care we bring to our community.  As I do, I extend the invitation to them as well by asking if there is a specific area of concern for which I can be praying for them.  I gladly tell them of the resources we have available that may be of some help.

I share this with you today as an encouragement to take the new opportunities that are presented to you through this radical shift in your day to day life.  I understand the fear and uncertainty you may be experiencing, but my encouragement is that you not let them dominate your life.  In the midst of being careful and making preparations for the days to come, please stay aware of the people who have now appeared on your radar.  Please don’t be afraid to lend a listening ear or offer to help if appropriate.

Together, we will get through this.  Just ask Violet, she has heard me encourage quite a few of this recently.

Blessings and thanks for taking the time to read this,

Pastor Chuck

 

Finding the True Balance in Life

I have written recently that Scripture encourages us to be living in the day, rejoicing and being glad to God for the unique gift that it is.  Wonderful instruction.  But I wonder, am I the only one who has trouble doing it? Good, I’m not alone!  Staying in the day has been an on-going problem.  Many of us seemed to be living in a state of constant fatigue, never getting enough rest because of the seemingly insurmountable amount of stuff that has to get done.

Take comfort, as I do, that Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, understands that we get ourselves into this condition.  We look in vain for a semblance of balance to our days.  But if we will look to Him, He is waiting to give it to us.  In Matthews Gospel, Chapter 11:28-30, the Lord explains it this way:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and I will give you rest. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (NIV)

Let’s examine this a little more closely to find how each of us can experience the truly balanced life Jesus offers.  First, realize that the offer is made to all you who are weary and burdened.  All means all; there is nothing you’ve done that cannot be unburdened to the Lord.  All are equally welcomed to come to Him.

“Come to me” is a call to action on our part. Trade in the old, tired ways for the new life Jesus is offering.  Acknowledging, then, that we play a part in experiencing this rest, what are we to do?

First, admit our need of this balanced life.  If we’ve honestly looked, we’ve seen that we need to have it.  Also, it’s ok to admit “I’m tired.”  There’s no shame in that, as matter of fact many of us succumb to pride when we push on through fatigue thinking we can overcome any obstacle if we work long and hard enough. I don’t know about you, but this particular approach leaves me more fatigued and stressed.  Instead, we ought to remember that Jesus has ‘overcome the world.’ He’s the only one who could.  Humbly go to Him seeking this rest.

And most of us aren’t just weary, but ‘burdened’ as well. What are you burdened by today? Finances, health, children, work, the state of the country/world, etc.? Plenty to be burdened about and they quickly become too heavy if we try to carry them ourselves.

Once we have acknowledged that we are indeed weary and burdened, Jesus then tells us more that we need to do! But it will be so worth it as we do.  When Jesus said for us to take His yoke upon us, it is really an act of our will.  Are we willing to pick up what He offers?  If we do, He promises to take the brunt of the weight, thus making it possible to stand up under what is left.  It really is an invitation to learn from Him.  It’s like He’s saying, “You’ve tried the rest, now try the best!” Look over your track record with dealing with problems and difficulties on your own, or in your way or power.   If your past success rate is as low as mine in doing things your own way, you can see that we all have some things to learn.  Hence, once yoked to Jesus, we are to learn from Him; the One with the strength, wisdom, the One on the inside.

Again, there is still more action required, because of our faith, on our part.  Here it is:   We are to stand in His truth, and ask Him which ways we are to go.  Your soul can and will know the rest God offers; and during the walking out of faith in Him, not merely at the conclusion of a hard day’s work.

Lastly, this yoke Jesus is talking about is not easy because He expects less from us, rather it is light because He carries so much of the load!  In the same way, our burdens don’t lighten or go away simply because we follow Jesus, but again because He carries the majority of the load, they become so much lighter and easier for us to carry.

Jesus has told us again today that He will give us rest.  His offer is true and reliable.  He will give it, if we seek Him for it.  It really all boils down to a question of faith: Is what God’s Word says applicable to us today?  If you believe that it is indeed ‘active and alive,’ the answer is again yes.

With the truth of God activated in your heart and mind, you can know and experience the wondrous truth that Jesus Himself provides the ‘rest for our souls’ that we need.

On this day, and every day, keep all that you do centered on the Lord Jesus.  As you do, you will find that the rest He gives doesn’t just come at the end of our physical activity, but in fact is present and available to us all the time.  As you let this truth take root in your heart, you will find that Jesus Christ has and is your balance in abundance.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this,

Pastor Chuck