A few months ago, Pastor Aaron got us to do a little exercise before his message. He asked us to draw an X-axis and a Y-axis on a sheet of paper, and "plot out" our journey with God over the last year - all the highs and lows. So, I sat there with my little sheet of paper thinking about the past few months and marking down a visual representation of my walk with God.
Some dots were low on my chart - times if difficulty and uncertainty. Some were way up there - times of blessing and seeing prayers answered.
And as I took a moment to look over my work - the mountain tops and valleys my "God walk" chart showed - I realized this chart had everything to do with me, and very little to do with God.
What I mean is, this jagged line was my experience of nearness to God, but if I drew a chart of God's closeness to me during this time, we'd be look at a straight line right across the top. No dips, no valleys, just a steady love and constant nearness.
We're just coming out of Valentine’s Day, and every year when it rolls around I'm challenged in my understanding of what love is, and what love looks like.
Really, what does love look like?
We know that love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
Often, though, I equate God's love with this broken thing that I try to muster up. Which is why I need to be reminded of these words that talk about what God's love is, and what it isn't:
Your love's not fractured, it's not a troubled mind
It isn't anxious
It's not the restless kind
Your love's not passive
It's never disengaged
It's always present
It hangs on every word we say
Love keeps its promises
It keeps its word
It honours what's sacred
Cause its vows are good
Your love's not broken
It's not insecure
Your love's not selfish
Your love is pure*
I have to keep reminding myself of who God is apart from my experience, because my experience so often clouds the truth. God is patient, He is kind...
So wherever you are in your walk with God –– whether your strolling side by side or just struggling to hold on ––
Know that He is near, and His love is constant.
Jolene Sanders, Worship Director
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him
should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
*Pieces, by Amanda Cook
Recently I listened to a very engaging podcast about something called The Curse of Knowledge. Have you heard that term? The curse of knowledge occurs when we assume that the person we’re speaking with has the background or the context to understand the content of what we’re saying. They might understand the words that are spoken but are missing information to make it relevant and meaningful.
How does the curse of knowledge manifest itself in church life?
A guest arrives for the first time with kids in tow. Where do they go? Where do their kids go, and when?
The curse of knowledge is that I know where to go, and how to check my kids into the program. If I’m a bit late, I don’t worry — the doors will still be open, and the kids don’t actually start their program until 10:15.
We all know that.
The kids are dismissed for their program downstairs. A newcomer wonders what is ‘downstairs’, and when will they get their kids back?
The curse of knowledge is that I have seen the classrooms and I have met all the teachers. I know they are trained and amazing, and that my kids will be waiting to be picked up after the service.
We all know that.
Communion is set at the front of the church; will I have to walk up and get it or will it be delivered and, if so, do I take it right away or do I hang onto it?
The curse of knowledge is that we celebrate communion every month, and there is rarely any variance in how we do it. They pray and pass the plates, while I sit and receive.
We all know that.
Every time you find yourself saying, “We all know that!”, the curse of knowledge is rearing its ugly head. And to guests, the curse of knowledge can be awkward, ambiguous, confusing, and unwelcoming.
One of the many things I love about our Frontline Ministry team is that they help to break the curse of knowledge by keeping an eye out for guests and helping them to pre-navigate any obstacles.
You came alone and don’t know where to sit? No problem! Let me get you settled near someone who I know to be friendly. Heck, you can even sit with me!
You brought kids? They’ll love it here! Let’s go to the welcome centre and get them registered, then we’ll give you a quick tour of the kids min area. Maybe introduce you to Tanya, the best Children’s Director ever.
You came early to get the lay of the land? So glad you did! Have a cup of coffee or tea, and let me introduce you to a few people.
You came late because you're feeling nervous and unsure? We understand, and we’re watching for the rules of engagement so that we don’t overwhelm you.
Isn’t it great that we have a team of ushers, greeters and welcome centre people who can help overcome the curse of knowledge?
Well, I have a secret to tell you…
You don’t have to serve in an official capacity in order to fight the curse.
That's right, each one of us can play a vital role in the guest experience by keeping your eyes open, being available, and modelling for them what a typical Sunday looks like.
So write your name on the friendship clip. Pour yourself a coffee. Introduce your kids to their kids so they can be dismissed together to their class. If you are a Sunday School teacher, introduce yourself to the parents even if you’re not serving that particular Sunday. The next time they come you might be serving, and how awesome it will be when the kids have already met you!
The curse of knowledge is inevitable to some degree, but we can all play a part in breaking down barriers and helping our guests feel welcomed, loved, and in-the-know.
See you Sunday! The service starts at 10am and free coffee is served at 9:30am. We all know that...
I’ll be honest, I tend to forget stuff. I have a phone that I record dates and events and I even have a notebook where I write things down, but even with that, there are times that I forget stuff. There was once a time that I could manage my calendar and my to-do list in my head. I don’t know how I did it but I could remember important dates and times, along with names and numbers.
I don’t know whether it’s because we are now so dependent on tech, but I find that I am forgetting more and I constantly need to open up my calendar and my to-do list to get stuff done. Maybe I’m getting older – and I’m ok with that – but there are times where I feel that while the body is willing, the brain is slowing me down. J
I have really seen this lived out in my life in the last month or so. Most of you know that I’ve been battling this nasty bronchitis and sinus infection. It has really worn me down; I just finished my second round of antibiotics and it still doesn’t feel gone. I am not one to be whining about it, but I am sure that my family and those I work with are tired of hearing me sigh or complain that I don’t feel 100%. I think I am on the mend but it’s taking its own sweet time.
Recently I was reading 2 Cor 12: 8-10 and was reminded of these words of the Apostle Paul.
“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I know that Paul was dealing with a lot more than a bad cold but I was really feeling that I needed God’s strength to keep going. Sundays keep coming and there are people that need encouragement and support.
God has been so faithful and provided the strength to press into Him and press on. Then last Sunday, do you remember the verse that God gave us about faithful ministry?
Yep, Colossians 1:29: “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”
Faithful ministry (to which we are all called), is energised/powered by Him alone. It’s not our strength but His – and by His grace He provides it to us exactly when we need it. This is so that the glory goes to Him and not us.
Remember church, God’s power is at work in you to minister the gospel in word and deed. Press into this truth and press on for His glory. Watch what He does in your life! You will be amazed in how He can use you! He is looking for our weakness so that He can show His strength!
Aaron Groat, Senior Pastor
Each week we post about a range of things from the Christian life, faith and more.
In these posts we hope you'll catch a glimpse of ordinary people who serve an extraordinary God.