Every Second Counts

WARNING!
warningL

Do not read David Platt’s Radical: Taking Back the American Dream and Francis Chan’s Erasing Hell at the same time!

But seriously… if you’re looking for double doses of conviction, do it. And continue to pray while doing so in order for the Holy Spirit to do its work (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Radical has had our small group take the next step to reaching out locally, building relationships more intentionally, supporting international causes, and even particular couples seeking short-term missions trips (PtL!). It has challenged my wife and I to assist with a meal ministry in town. The book, through much prayer and reading of scripture, has also had me really think about the person that I am and the things that I do to show a true change by God in my heart in America and in Asia, at home and in public (aka everywhere). Erasing Hell has been difficult to read because of the fact that Chan approaches the various ways hell could be viewed, but more importantly he hits on the core truth still remaining. People’s eternities are at stake, and there is no second chance after death. (Sidenote: Talking with God can lead to peace, but it can also bring pain, and this pain can be for the world’s eternity.) I was struck while praying in the last day or so by something Chan said in the book.

“Hell is for real. Am I?”

This all connects with a thought that I recall having in high school, college, and a couple years after. I understand the situations where loving others, at times, means being quiet and just being with that person (Job). What I don’t comprehend is the “positive example” that we as Christians can be in only our actions while the rest of the world simply observes. Our actions are vital and carry a lot of weight, but sometimes words may be necessary in order to explain the change that has happened inside, no matter how the other may respond (1 Peter 3:13-17). I remember thinking in the past that “I want to be the example that others see and are prompted to wonder, ‘What’s different about him?’” What I have been confronted about lately though, and I can’t just let is slide, is the fact that every second counts in our walks with God.

time

I have thought a lot about the continuous and uncountable times (composed of seconds) that I have walked by my local neighbors, seen them feeling depressed or angry, and went on to imagine myself winning an Emmy for “Best Example for the World.” But really, this whole year, have those neighbors considered even just one time what is different about me? I have no clue because I rarely talk with them, and that question isn’t atop my list of icebreakers when awkwardly walking into them. This is my fault. Romans 10:14-17 is where I’m heading, folks, and it’s time for me to speak up verbally (not just on a blog or tweet!). If I want God to speak through me into others and make disciples “to the ends of the earth,” I need to be that person living and speaking now where I am at or else I will stand before Jesus at the second coming with shame. I need to be ready every second of every day to be on guard against the enemy (1 Peter 5:8-11) and speak of the hope that I have in Him anywhere with anyone.

Shame now and later, or unashamed now and later (1 John 2:28). What do you want Jesus to say to you when the time comes?

Outside

A couple nights ago, our life group (6 couples) from church met and continued to discuss prayer requests, praises, our book study, and the various ways that marshmallows can be roasted over a fire. All of this really led to pudgie pies and cheese toasties, both of which I have never heard of before in my life, and if you have, I guess you’re from around this area of northeast Indiana. And that wraps up what I learned. End of post, NOT!


On a serious note, we covered chapter 6 of Radical by David Platt (of which I referenced in the last post) and had some lively dialogue. The chapter was stocked full of scripture, life lessons, and challenges so it was decided by the leader that we would just talk about certain quotes from the book or verses from the Bible that came up and go from there. As we were discussing, at one point, someone asked the whole group, “Are we building a kingdom for ourselves or for God?” All of this talk about materialism, people around the world not having the many things I need that are actually luxuries, AND they hadn’t heard of Jesus!

RED ALERT!

Can we consider ourselves Christians?

It was at this point that we pondered out loud even more because we were already mentally racing around so much that we were imagining what we could do tangibly. We felt like we needed to do something, and it needed to be in the community, somewhere where we as a group could be His hands and His feet and not be concerned about representing even a particular local church body. It wasn’t much later that this same person insisted that the next step in studying the Bible and this book had to be “something concrete” because there was an abundance of challenges and corrections in relation to the American Christian culture that we all had become accustomed to. And honestly, something intentional needed to be done. NOW!

It was here that we (went off-course willingly and) decided as a group that we would get connected with a local food bank and have some people volunteer there. We are also going to start assisting a local ministry already going in the community with their stocking and handing out of goods to those in need. The guys expressed interest in going to a city nearby and taking on street ministry with the homeless. I felt chills going through my body. The Holy Spirit was moving in the church that had assembled, and we didn’t have to be inside a particular building for the Father to be doing anything special. (Side note: In fact, we were outside.)

But wait, it didn’t stop there. We went local, but we believed that Father wanted us to “make disciples of all nations.” Therefore, another great suggestion that was followed through was that every couple, each month, would choose an organization or something of the like to give aid to when it came to financial & prayer matters. This isn’t anything that the others in the group would be forced to partake of, but it would be an opportunity to reach out in a different way. And reaching out is exactly what Jesus did wherever He went, no matter if he was in a church building or outside in the world. The key word is that He was in the world, not of it. And that’s where the Holy Spirit can do the most work. When we live outside of ourselves and look to the conditions that others are facing and lend a helping hand, we can love like He did (Philippians 2).

Serve, love, and expect nothing in return. This is a demonstration of transformation. PtL!