Perspective

icy walk.JPG

As I left for work this morning I noticed the neighbors across the street still had an icy walkway. Mine has melted nicely. My house gets more sunlight. Although a small thing, I was thankful.

Today my heat works. Although it works pretty consistently, I am thankful.

It’s near March and we haven’t really gotten beat up with snow yet. (I know, I shouldn’t say anything!) So thankful.

For so many years I have heard great men and women encourage people to be grateful, to journal all your blessings and to appreciate the small things. It’s fascinating all we take for granted (especially here in America!).

I read this great quote from Charles Spurgeon, a preacher from back in the 1800’s. He said, “It is not how much we have but how much we enjoy that makes happiness.” So true. I enjoy not chopping ice on my driveway. I enjoy sitting in my heated house. I enjoy no snow.

I believe the awareness of all we have shapes us much better than seeing all we don’t have. If you feed your child ice cream every day for a month and neglect to give them any after, you’ll hear it from them. If you never gave your child ice cream (I am not suggesting this, just making point), they will never complain about not having it. When we get all we want, we want more. There’s a lot to be said about ‘too much too soon’.

I remember the first time Vicki and I stayed at a nicer hotel…..it’s now hard to go back to the less nicer ones. I wouldn’t have missed it if I never had it. But I did, and I don’t know how I will ever spend a night at the “Dew Drop Inn” ever again.

God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have we don’t need now.” Elizabeth Elliot, Christian Author and Speaker

It feels as though our needs and wants have been confused as of late. I remember when iPhones, cable television, video games and coffee makers were wants……doesn’t feel like that today.

wants vs needs.JPG

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Perspective starts with you. Be grateful today.

Life is a Journey, Not a Destination

GUEST BLOGGER: Trevor Charles

Charles family.JPG

“Life is a journey, not a destination…” This is a well known quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that many are familiar with. It’s about living in the moment, not getting caught up with what you have yet to achieve, but enjoying the experience.  However, I think this aptly can be applied to our spiritual life as well. The journey is as important as the destination. When it comes to spiritual growth, one might argue that there is no final destination, at least not in this life!

Not long ago, Rich (Connections Pastor at Fellowship Church) wrote about how when it comes to spiritual knowledge, we all have more to learn.  None of us have reached the “destination”. I have always considered myself to be “spiritual.” I grew up in the Catholic Church, was confirmed, taught catechism school for 3 years to elementary kids, and was an altar server.  I initially thought it was important to know all the stories, know all the prayers, and know all the routines as a means of demonstrating my religious prowess. As I got older, despite having my list “checked off”, I still questioned what I believed.  I knew that I believed there was something more out there, but entering middle school and high school, I was also trying to check off the lists in science and history class; Darwin’s Theory, archeology’s revelations of human development, carbon dating, Big Bang Theory, cro magnon ancestry, and more.  As a young man, all the way through college, I was inundated with the pressure to prove my opinions with evidence, research, expert citations, and evaluate my sources. In fact, as a high school history teacher now, it is still one of the critical skills my department is tasked with ingraining each student with before graduation.  However, while going through my adolescence, at the same time I felt the need to research my spiritual life as well. I thought I could do this by seeking out other religions. I spent a couple years with Jehovah’s Witnesses, then attended Lutheran services, after that I popped into Unitarian services, buddhist temples, a synagogue, and even went to a few Mormon services.  By the time I went off to college, I had come to the conclusion that I was spiritual, but didn’t buy into any mainline religion. Each time I got involved with one, I would research the religion, find perceived faults, and move on to the next option.

Two years ago, my family moved back to the south side of Middletown and we were invited to come to Fellowship.  I initially was as interested in the family babysitting services as much as I was looking to renew my faith. However, the friendliness, the devotion, and over abundance of seemingly happy people peaked my interest again.  I have to admit, that despite the fact that I had been taking my family to catholic services for the past 5 years, it was because I wanted them to learn about religion and be spiritual, much like I had. Although, initially a bit uncomfortable at first, I was quickly disarmed by the powerful, positive, and relevant message of the weekly service, and the church community.  So, back to my research routine I went.

Perhaps it was Bible based messages, perhaps it was the growth groups, and perhaps its the fact that I’m 15 years older… but I realized I had made a grave error in how I was looking at the spiritual journey.  In my past, I was looking for the “evidence” for religion in the dogma, routines, and history; yet for a majority of the time had ignored perhaps the most obvious piece available: The Bible. I started reading the Bible, writing down quotes, and asking questions, much like I do for a textbook or article I’m trying to learn and analyze.  When I came up with questions, I asked church leaders and family members what their thoughts were. I read multiple books on the evidence for historical accuracy regarding Jesus, much like I would George Washington or Julius Caesar. The more I read, the more I analyzed, the more I questioned, the more I believed.

Coming from and working in the world of academia, we constantly regard religions as something that is faith based, whereas science and history are something that has to be proven empirically and researched.  This creates a dichotomy that implies faith isn’t researched or inherently not fact based. But when put to the same tests, held by the same standards, and analyzed to the same lengths, I have been hard pressed to find any document that passes with more flying colors than the New Testament, especially when given its antiquity.  

To circle back to Emerson, my journey has never been more rewarding than it is right now.  I’m currently working on my second read through of the Bible, and without surprise find so much more to connect with the more I read.  My challenge to those exploring faith is to read, and do the research without making assumptions, the same you would any article or book in question.  When you start equitably applying the benchmarks of credibility, bias, and content (the 3 pillars we teach for evaluating a source), I have found it incredibly rewarding to know my faith built on the buttress of high historical standards and research, not a “leap” or presumptions.  




Game Changer

I have been pretty excited lately in seeing all that God has been doing inside of our church. A month ago we challenged FCer’s to read the Bible in one year. 172 people took on the challenge! This will change every one of their lives forever. It has certainly changed mine. Scheduling time with God each day is a ‘game changer’. What you’re scheduling each day in your life communicates to others what’s most important. Exercise, hobbies, Netflix binge watching, video games, prayer, reading the Bible or a devotional, getting together with other believers in a group? No matter what it is, it tells others a lot about you.

172.PNG

As of late, I have had this thirst to be extremely authentic in my faith….the real deal. I’m not there yet, but I’m trying! As I claim to be a Christian, I want to live it out. The ‘proof is in the pudding’…..what does that even mean?!? Just thought it fit there.

If I want to be all that Jesus has for me, I better spend time with Him. The same can be said if I want to be an astronaut, I’d probably want to be spending time at NASA. To be what we wish to be takes being in the right places. My faith has grown immensely by being in church on Sundays, having quiet time daily with God and even attending groups throughout the week. Being with other like-minded people who are trying to grow in their faith as well has really helped my journey. It also has given me a bunch of close friends who I can go to for encouragement.

FC Groups promo pic.PNG

Our FC Groups are starting next week. These are usually an hour long and meet once a week for 10 weeks. These groups really change the week! Check them out here. Many of us leave Sundays at church and enter toxic environments at work. It’s great to get another serving of sanity and love on a weekday. I highly recommend these groups. The leaders are incredible people that love Jesus and love people. They also love the church and understand the importance of making disciples.

It’s your decision. It’s been said that we are ridiculously in control of so much more than we think. We can decide today to be a ‘game changer’, a ‘difference maker’ and most importantly, a true Jesus follower. It’s your move.