I know people annoy you, but you need them. We need each other, especially when we have those feelings that we don't want to be around anyone. Yes, we need time alone but we need to interact. We need to encourage. We need to laugh and cry and get our priorities straight by being with each other.
I am a hermit by nature. I love being alone. I love quiet. I love calm. I love to sit outside and listen to the birds; love to hear gentle breezes rustling leaves while reading a book out loud to my middle child or reading on my own; sketching, sitting, drinking coffee, closing my eyes and letting the sun warm my face. But I need people. I especially need to fellowship with my fellow Believers. We Believers need each other to stay right in our faith and stay flexible and for reaching out to others. Without each other we, on one extreme become cynical and jaded; on the other extreme we become discouraged and fall into despair thinking no one can understand us. We feel like Elijah did -- he felt he was totally alone, the only one serving the Lord (when in fact God had hundreds of people staying true to Him).
Sometimes we need a break, but if we stay away too long we forget what fellowship does. We forget where we used to be. We forget what matters. We begin to believe that we can be a healthy believer without ever attending church.
That belief is wrong.
How can we be part of the Body of Christ if we don't worship with Fellow Believers? And that means being actually physically present with other Believers -- not together in cyberspace.
The passage in Hebrew 10 is often quoted. It says, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day drawing near."
I've been super stressed this summer. So much going on. I've tried to live in the moment, tried to just take life as it comes, but I still have felt the stress, the weight of life at the present time. We have Vacation Bible School this week. I'm helping with the youngest children. And when we started I didn't want to be there at all. It took a lot of effort and my heart wasn't there. I love the kids but I was drowning in life. I'm happy to say we've had two nights of VBS and God has changed my heart. I am now excited to go tonight to be with the kids. It is a very good thing.
What about you? Have you quit being part of ministry because it was just too much work? Have you quit for a season because you are just too tired from your day at work or your day with all those people? Maybe you tell yourself you definitely don't need to spend time with more people, but you do. Go back to church. Get involved. Be part of the Body. Online church can be good but it isn't a substitute for physically being there.
Sunday in church my husband challenged the people that day to make a mission statement for their lives.
Do you have one?
Do you have a personal mission statement?
Today I read an article at the Christianity Today website that goes along with this entitled Crafting a Life Vision Statement. It is worth your time (just click on the title).
So I decided to write my mission statement out today. I wrote down the things in my life that I absolutely wanted to see one day in my life. I wrote about my hopes. I wrote about my daily life. I thought of a whole bunch of stuff I used to think was important that no matter to me.
And I wrote one down. I will now share it with you and the world.
Jane's Personal Mission Statement:
To Love Jesus and others in all I do, say and think;
and to use all my talents, gifts and resources
to share Jesus and His love with my world.
So, what about you?
Do you have a mission statement yet?
Think about it.
Every picture we take, every picture we see has a story in and behind it. Like the picture to your left -- that is me and my husband Shannon. My 17 year old daughter took it right before she, her boyfriend and our two youngest kids went on their outing. The hat I'm wearing I wear often. My grandmother made it for me a few years ago, about two years before she died. The wood behind us Shannon cut when his adult son Tyler was living with us. It was cut from the dead tree that still partly stands but has been cut down enough not to be a threat in high wind. When I think of that I think of the day Tyler and Shannon worked on the tree. And I think of the face painted on the side of the tree from the day of my oldest son's high school graduation. I see my coat which a family gave us in a bag of clothes they no longer needed. It suited me and fit me fine. Not the color I would have chosen but it works.
Okay, you get the idea. There are stories upon stories in each picture we see.
And there are stories upon stories in each person we meet. There is a story about why they dress as they do. There is a story about why they act as they do. There is a story about why they believe as they do.
I'm reading a book called the vinedresser's notebook by judith sutera. It is filled with notes and drawings from a person who worked in a vineyard. Plus, there are spiritual application essays about vinedressing and our spiritual lives. It is all based on John 15 where Jesus calls Himself the Vine and we are the branches.
Sutera writes, "Like trees, people are marked by the formative events in their lives too. When we meet someone, we encounter what that person has become as a result of all that has come before . . . Sometimes with people, as with a vine, we can see the scars where something has been cut off, where there has been a pruning. All we can see, however, is the scar. We don't know how they were damaged or what the missing parts looked like or why they had to be cut away. Fears and insecurities, losses and pain, and the behaviors that do not serve us well -- all of these are signs of our past wounds . . . Appearances can be quite deceiving, so I have to assume that there is much more to a person than meets the eye. I have to assume, too, that the parts of you that I do not see have value and goodness and potential."
St. Benedict's rule was to "welcome everyone as Christ."
November has begun and with November comes the holiday season. Thanksgiving is just 26 days away. The holiday time is a time of great joy and great sorrow for people.
Sarah Young writes in Jesus Calling, "You live in a world that has been rigged to distract you. Each time you plow your way through the massive distractions to communicate with (Jesus), you achieve a victory."
St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:19, "Or do you not know . . . that you are not your own?"
I wrote in my journal this morning, "When I get distracted in trying to do it (it can be anything) the world's way I am wrong, I get off track.
"What we always have to remember when making choices is that the fruit does grow close to the trunk. We can't get too distracted and begin to trail in various directions. Focusing on who we are (in Christ) rather than what we do will put life in a clearer perspective . . . We are to be about the harvest and not the foliage . . . We are what we think about. If we let go of what is not spiritual, we will be slowly but surely transformed." judith sutera
Listen to people's stories. The listening comes through careful observation, spending time with people and really listening to what they say and don't say. This is love.
Are you a friend?
Are you the kind of friend you want to have?
Sometimes I am.
Sometimes I'm not.
Sometimes I am the worst kind of friend to those I love the most.
Why is that?
Why do the ones we love the most sometimes see the
ugliest parts inside us?
Solomon writes in Proverbs 17, "A friend loves at all times."
Jesus tells us what friends look like.
In John 15:13-15 Jesus says, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends,
if you do what I command you.
No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what
his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things
that I have heard from My Father I have made known to
If we aren't loving like this then we aren't being true friends.
Jesus says earlier in John 15:5, "apart from Him we can do nothing."
In those times when we are not being good friends, maybe we aren't doing it through Jesus.
This morning I'm reading my Bible, praying, writing in my journal. This is what I typically do in the mornings.
This morning I feel unsettled.
I don't know what to think, how to grasp what I want to happen and what really happens.
Does that ever happen to you?
In some ways we are all the same:
Being human means we need a Savior.
Being human means we fail and make mistakes.
Being human means we have a great capacity for love and joy and peace.
Being human means we can't see the whole picture. We see just a tiny bit of what is going on. We see what is happening on the surface. Only God knows what is happening inside other people, what is going on in the unseen realm. We rarely get glimpses of that place -- but that place, the unseen is more real than what we see.
What we see can be a lie. What we see can be misinterpreted. What we can see might have no resemblance to truth whatsoever.
What is seen comes out of what is not seen. We humans react or respond to truth all the time.
"By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible." Hebrews 11:3
The best option we have if we don't know what to think, if we don't know if Jesus is shining through us is to hold onto truth in Scripture. Read some Scripture. That is the truth. Hold onto it. Realize it is God Himself speaking to you. He isn't worried. He isn't overwhelmed. He isn't intimidated by people. He knows what's inside of people. He knows what is really going on when you speak to others, when you listen to what they say.
He's working. God is always working on other people. We can leave the results to Him. We believe and obey and rest in Him. Rest within. Be at peace. Be joyful. See His love. See His beauty.
God is good all the time.
"Thus says the Lord God, 'Enough . . . put away violence and destruction, and practice justice and righteousness. Stop your expropriations from My people,' declares the Lord God." Ezekiel 45:9
(Expropriation means "to deprive of possession . . . the process of taking over property, especially real property, of another by any process, lawful or not.")
Did you check out what God called the people? He called them "My people."
God sees us, sees people as His. They are His. We are His. So, however we treat people that is how we are treating God. If we use manipulation we are trying to manipulate God. When we try to force people to see our way, when we use deception we are doing this to God. What we do to others we do to God.
Jesus says this in the Bible even. Check out Matthew 25:31-46. I'll link it here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2025:31-46&version=NASB
John speaks about this concept in His letters to the churches:
"The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." 1 John 4:8
Our interactions with people, Believers and nonbelievers, are opportunities to love them and by loving them, showing God love.
Marshall Ball is a young adult who has written much poetry (much of it when he was a child). He wrote something like this:
"When you judge another, you are judging God."
That speaks to me. When I think of it it causes me to pause and consider how I am treating others.
(His website is http://MarshallBall.com. If you visit it you will be blessed.)
"For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, 'They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.'But now, O God, strengthen my hands."Nehemiah 6:9
Don't let them do it!
Don't let ANYONE discourage you from what you know God is telling you to do.
People are people. People haven't changed for thousands of years -- maybe we could even say from the beginning of time. Our problems and challenges might appear in different form (no one in Bible times, for example, had any internet issues), but they are essentially the same.
"That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:9
The exciting thing about the above verse is that people have seen God's overcoming power and love triumph in all different situations. You can too.
And it gets down to a simple question: will you or won't you? Will you follow God or won't you? Will you go where He has asked you to go? Do what He's asked you to do? Say what He's given you to say? Or will you say no?
People often are used either by their own flesh or the enemy to get in the way of God in your life. Don't let them.
Think of Peter and Jesus. In one breath Peter proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah. In the next breath he put his agenda on Jesus' future rather than God's. Jesus replied by saying, "Get behind me Satan.""
If you feel very much pressured by others to not follow God in that radical crazy way He is calling you too, you could always follow Jesus'example and shout, "Get behind me Satan!"
It will sure get their attention.
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself;" Philippian 2:3
This is the best way to live.
This is how Jesus lived when He walked on this earth.
"do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant," Philippians 2:4-7a
I don't know how your spring/summer is shaping up but mine is filled with children. In years I'd sometimes get frustrated because I'd have my things I just had to get done -- my own personal agenda. And with children (actually whenever any age of people are involved) having an agenda for the day and insisting it happen only produces strife and stress.
Let it go.
Let it all go.
Let it all go and just live and enjoy life.
Here's an assignment for you: be a student of the people you interact with. Be a student (especially) of that one person or persons who drive you crazy. Learn from them. Ask God to show you the incredible parts of that person. God loves each and every person and He has plans for them all. If He has placed them in your life, it is so you can show them God's love.
See people today as loved ones -- not obstacles.
See people today as cherished ones -- not enemies to your agenda.
See people today as those Jesus died for -- not as competition.
"Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And Do not neglect doing good and sharing for with such sacrifices God is pleased." Hebrews 13:15-16
Take back the places you go. Take back the people you interact with. The enemy is on the prowl and works to rip away at our families, our churches, our places of business even. If you find yourself complaining a ton about the people you interact with (like at work, at church, at home....wherever) then you might be focused on you and what you want rather than God.
I'm speaking to myself too. I'm not just speaking to you.
In my life there is conflict in our beloved church. There is conflict in my sweet family. There is conflict within me because I don't particularly like how God is working in my life right now. I KNOW that I know that I know He knows what is best but it isn't always comfortable. It isn't how I would choose it to go. But God is working.
"And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary." Galatians 6:9
But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man. John 2:24-25
We are to be open and loving toward everyone. We are to give people chances. We are to give them the benefit of the doubt. We should not be quick to judge, quick to condemn or quick to reject. We should be quick to love, quick to accept, quick to welcome.
That being said, entrust your heart to God rather than people. If you trust in people to meet certain expectations, if you expect them to save the day for you, if you are waiting for people to rescue you or your situation, you are entrusting your life to the wrong source. God has got to be your source of providence, peace, joy, love, everything you need.
Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. Psalm 146:3
How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God. Psalm 146:5
Be kind to all. Always be honest. Be upfront and courageous in your interactions with people. Call things as they. Don't be wimpy. Speak for those who cannot speak. Speak for the ones who are vulnerable. Don't enable.
And above all, love.
Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Who is Jane Hinrichs?
Jane is a wife, a mom, a writer, an artist, a lover of the Word of God. She has been studying the Bible since 1987 and has been writing about it almost since then. She loves to hear from her readers. Email her at: