Tag Archive | comfort

Worship Outside My Comfort Zone

Philippians 2:3-4 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (NIV)

Colossians 3:23-24 – Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. (HCSB)

My friend was telling me about her church having a “no volunteers Sunday” recently. Any position filled by a volunteer was left empty – no one directing traffic, no Sunday School teachers, no choir, no orchestra, no greeters, and no children’s workers. The reactions were less than encouraging. Some of the orchestra members actually left when they discovered they would not be playing because they saw no reason for them to stay. One family made a production of walking out during the service because they felt that worship involves routine and with the disruption of the routine came the disruption of worship. I find it interesting that disrupting the routine hinders worship but disrupting the service does not! My friend showed me some of the social media comments people had spent their Sunday afternoon composing. One young mother began her post with “I’m livid”. Her primary complaint dealt with having to care for her own child during the service. There were posts that were a little less angry but still quite open with complaints of the inconvenience. Reading the posts brought Philippians 2:3-4 to my mind. Obviously a few people had the attitude of “if I can’t be seen on stage, there’s no need for me to be here.” Clearly some people were looking to their own interests. There were others who acknowledged the inconveniences and the discomforts and went on to express much appreciation to the missing volunteers. One little boy stated to his mom “I like children’s church better than grown-up church!” There were negative social media posts but also posts from people admitting how they had taken the volunteer workers for granted prior to this but no more. Many people were awakened to the reality that volunteers are compulsory to making things run smoothly. Some people even decided to join the body of volunteers. Lord, I thank You for the people who allowed their hearts to be opened to the needs of others and ask You to touch the hearts of those who are only interested in their own selfish desires. Seeing the different reactions also caused me to look at my own reasons for being a volunteer. Lord, I pray that my service is for Your pleasure and not for the accolades of other people and my own vain conceit. I pray that my work will be done enthusiastically, putting others above myself. I pray that any task I undertake will be motivated by my love for You and done with such joy that it will become an act of worship. Help me to always be aware that my comfort is not the most important part of the worship experience.

Love in the Storm

Philippians 2:4 – Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (HCSB)

Proverbs 16:24 – Pleasant words are a honeycomb sweet to the taste and health to the body (HCSB)

 

Recently, I was staying with my grandchildren while their parents were out of town.  They only live about two blocks from their school, so we had planned to walk every morning and afternoon.  One morning it was drizzly and misty, but we discussed it and decided it was nothing we couldn’t handle.  I grabbed a travel mug girlanddogof coffee, put the leash on the puppy, passed out umbrellas, and off we went!  We were talking and singing and just having a great time until we got right in front of the school and the clouds opened up!!!  It was as if someone had flipped a switch. “Pouring” doesn’t really begin to describe the rainfall. At this exact moment in time, in the worse than pouring rain, with teachers and parents and students crowding the schoolyard — the puppy decides it’s potty time!!!  I was overcome with various emotions — worried about my grandchildren, embarrassed about the puppy, totally helpless in a situation that had seemed so controllable at the beginning.  I told that story to four different people – two family members, one close friend, and one recent acquaintance. One family member asked only about the children. The close friend and the other family member asked about both the children and the puppy. Only the recent acquaintance showed concern for me.  She expressed sympathy for the chaotic moment in front of the school and also for me having to walk back home in the storm.  I started to think how much that situation is like life in general. We think there may be a little trouble ahead, but it’s nothing WE can’t handle. Then comes the storm!  And while we are enduring the storm, thinking it’s the worst that can happen, something comes along to prove us wrong — and of course there always seems to be an audience!  For sympathy and comfort we turn to our families. We can come away from our birth family feeling inadequate.  We may come away from our church family feeling judged. But, then sympathy and comfort come to us from an unexpected source.  A simple “How are YOU?” can make such a difference in someone’s life. Sarah Fielding said “The words of kindness are more healing to a drooping heart that balm or honey.” Lord, help me to remember that showing interest and using kind words can be a great gift and a soothing balm in someone’s life. Storms will come. Embarrassing moments will come. But, help me to show Your love through my love and be a living example of John 13:35 (By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” HCSB).

Lots of Words – Nothing to Say

Colossians 2:8 – Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.

My husband and I were recently on the receiving end of a hard sales presentation.  Our salesman knew A LOT of words, and he liked using as many as possible each time he spoke.  It seemed that every time one of lotsofwordsus asked him a question, he would talk for at least two minutes and never come close to giving an answer.  I started asking questions that I really had no interest in the answer; I just wanted to see him maneuver around an actual answer!  He was very good at empty answers.  He knew a lot of words.  He knew a lot of high-sounding words.  He knew how to take his great collection of high-sounding words and arrange them in a way to actually say nothing.  People can sometimes get in situations like that and get caught up because the words are high sounding. They get captured in a riptide of words and, before they realize what is happening, they are carried away.  Paul said the Colossians were being captured with high sounding words that had no substance. There are well known pastors today that use a lot of words, a lot of high-sounding words.  What they say sounds good, but they never actually say anything of substance.  They, like our salesman, use a lot of words to say nothing.  Someone very close to me is an avid follower of a celebrity minister who, in my opinion, uses a lot of high-sounding words to say nothing.  In a discussion one night, I made the comment that he uses pretty words just to make the listener feel good.  Her comeback was “Sometimes you just want to hear pretty words to make you feel good.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says “For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (HCSB)  John F. Kennedy is quoted as saying, “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.”  We know that people are listening to the high-sounding, pretty words to give them comfort, but C.S. Lewis said “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.”  Lord, You know that we live in a world of people looking for comfort and ending up with despair.  The world needs truth, not just pretty words that bring self-satisfied comfort.  Lord, I pray for the people who are trading Your words for high-sounding words and myths. Lord, I pray for Your people that we would share Your words, words not from human thinking but from Christ.

A Celebration of a Different Sort

Luke 7: 33-34 — For John the Baptist did not come eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ (HCSB)

 

Revelation 21:4 –He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (ESV)

 

2 Corinthians 1:3 – He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us (NLT)

 

Lord, I’m drinking my coffee this morning and thinking of my sweet friend.  Today is her birthday, but it’s not a happy birthday because it is the first one since her mom went to be with You.  They had a yearly tradition of eating birthday cake and playing board games, just the two of them.  Not only will she miss her mom this year, but she will miss what would have definitely been a night of mom-made-cake and board games and laughing until they cried!  But, this year there won’t be any mom-made-cake, no board games, and my friend’s tears won’t be from laughter.  Lord, I believe You and my friend’s mom are sitting together right now, talking about the day my friend was born, remembering past birthday celebrations, and sharing a laugh or two.  I have no Bible verses to back that up, but I do have verses that tell about how You liked to hang out with Your friends and enjoy good food (Luke 7:33-34).  Personally, I believe if the word “glutton” came into play, there had to be cake and ice cream involved!  Lord, You understand that my friend misses the joy and comfort that her mother provided.  Mothers give comfort by giving us hugs, kissing our booboos, and making us birthday cakes.  The memories of those times of comfort are precious and will forever give a warm feeling and a smile and even maybe a tear.  2 Corinthians 1:3 tells us that You give us comfort.  Just as mom would give us comfort, You give us comfort when we come to You, and it is comfort beyond even the greatest comfort that a mom can offer.  Lord, You never promised that we wouldn’t be sad, but You promised Your comfort when we are hurting.  As believers, we know that one day we will be reunited with our loved ones and we will be with You.  What a wonderful time it will be when it is the one true God who wipes our tears, tells us there will never again be booboos, and everyday will be a celebration!!

Comfort

Jeremiah 1:5a – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart .” (NIV)

 

2 Corinthians 1:3 – Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. (HCSB)

teaI have a friend who has a sister suffering from the same rare blood disease that claimed their father’s life, and my friend called me this morning to give me an update.  I’m sitting here with my cup of coffee, she with her cup of tea, and we are talking to each other and to You, Lord.  Sometimes with medical issues too much knowledge is good, and having traveled this route before has given this family way too much knowledge of the potholes, the detours, and the dips in the road.  No matter what the doctors say or do, the family has flashbacks to all the things that could possibly happen.  As I listen and try to comfort my friend, I recall that scripture tells us “The Lord is a God who knows”.  I take great comfort in knowing that You know.  You know our fears, our hopes, our feelings as we go through the emotional roller coaster of dealing with illness.  You know our questions, even when we can’t put them into words.  You know our great joy when the test results are good, and our crushing disappointment when the results are not good.  You know that waiting for those test results is torture.  Jeremiah 1: 5 also comes to mind.  You knew all of us before You even formed us in the womb.  You knew my friend’s sister, and You knew her caregivers. This illness did not catch You by surprise.  She is in Your hands now and has been since before she was even born.  My friend was sharing with me how prayers had been answered – prayers about fevers, prayers about transfusions, and prayers about windows of time.  As my friend and I finished our conversation, I accidently knocked a book of scripture off of my desk.  The page that opened had one verse on it, II Corinthians 1:3 “Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.”  Oh, Lord, thank You.  Thank You for taking care of us through the good times and the bad.  Thank You, Lord, for reminding us that You are the source of every mercy and comfort.