Faith Friday: Me, Moses? I’m not…oh. I see what you did there…

**This is a repost of an earlier blog. I’m not in a place to write a new post right now, and this one has a lot of good to say, especially in light of our nation today. Please read and share, if you would like.**

Moses.

Poor Moses.

You really have to feel for the guy. The only known survivor of Pharaoh’s murderous tirade against the Hebrew children. Enduring the identity crisis of being raised a prince of Egypt while knowing his true heritage was out in the plains of slavery. Watching his people being battered and abused. Secretly killing on of the abusers, only to find out that EVERYONE knew about it, and that a death sentence was on his head. Fleeing the only home he’s ever known into a desert world. Stumbling to a well only to have to be the hero in the epic battle of the Midianite girls versus the ruffian shepherds. Doesn’t he deserve a break?

Finally, he gets one. He’s taken into the home of the priest of Midian. He settles down. He gets married. Has children. Becomes a shepherd. Yeah, his life was pretty good.

Then he just HAD to see it.

The bush was on fire, yet not burning. Curiosity being a human curse, he couldn’t just ignore it. I mean, how often do you see a bush on fire but NOT being consumed? He went to check it out. And we all know what happened from there. God spoke to Moses. Told Moses it was time to leave the comfortable life he had and to do the work of the Lord. It meant going back to the one place Moses never wanted to see again.

Can we really blame Moses for making excuses? Moses gave every excuse he could think of, from his social position (or lack thereof) to his previous reputation to even his stutter! And each time, God had an answer ready. Like Moses could sway God’s decision in this – A God who knew Moses’ excuses before Moses even did, yet still was calling him.

Hindsight being what it is, we can sit here and chide Moses for his actions. We think, “Now, really, Moses. God has an awesome plan for you! You’re going to save lives! He’s got this awesome opportunity for you to minister to those in need. Don’t be silly and complacent. Go!”

Oh, the hypocrisy!

Have you spotted it yet? Here we sit and criticize Moses for making excuses, but think about it; are we really any better? Daily we are surrounded – inundated, really – with countless crises for help, and yet we make excuses for why we can’t help. “I don’t have time.” “I don’t have the money.” “My family has too much going on right now.” “I’ve never had that experience; how can I possibly help?” Do any of those sound familiar? I know they do to me, because I’ve heard myself say them. Just like Moses, we fear leaving the comfortable complacency of our lives and diving right in.

One of the biggest underlying factors of our hesitancy, and the root cause for most of the excuses we give, is the fear of being uncomfortable. We do not handle awkwardness well. We think if we haven’t experienced it ourselves, that we will be invaluable to the situation. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Most people who need help are not looking for someone to have had a shared experience. They’re just desperate to know someone – anyone – cares. You don’t have to have been homeless to minister to the homeless. You don’t need to have had a crisis pregnancy to help a woman who does. You don’t have to have an addiction to help someone in the grips of one. You just need to care. It’s that simple.

We sometimes think we have to be at a perfect place in our lives before we can help others. If that’s what you’re waiting for, I have bad news for you: by the time that happens, you’re going to be in a place where no longer do people need help. Don’t let opportunities to minister go by while you’re waiting for the perfect time. In his book Primal Christianity, Mark Batterson states, “You’ll never have enough. You’ll never be enough. You’ll never do enough. But don’t let that keep you from giving what you have, being who you are, and doing what you can.”

We live in a world ripe with need. So many helpless, and all they’re asking is for us to just be us; just as we are, ready to love. If you feel God tugging your heart towards a ministry, fight the urge to make excuses. Know that God wouldn’t be leading you there just to watch you make a fantastic flop of yourself. He’s going to give you the heart to love, grace to cope, and words to say. You just have to be willing and ready. He has hurting children, and it’s up to us to be willing to make ourselves uncomfortable for their sake. Leadership mentor John Maxwell said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” My challenge to you is this: Are you ready for your life to begin?

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Faith Friday: Chicken Sandwich vs Community Service

There is a picture that I wanted to put up for a Wordless Wednesday. I realized, however, that there was no way I could just post it without saying something. So I decided it should be the topic of a Faith Friday.

I saw this picture going around on facebook during the whole Chick-fil-A controversy:

image

Now I know some of you are going to look at that and get offended. Forgive me for saying so, but good. I hope you do. Because that means you’re just as guilty as I am. I’d hate to think I was the only one.

Now, everyone knows my sick obsession with Chick-fil-A, so it should go without saying that this is in no way a slam against CFA. However, I think it paints a pretty good picture of what North American Christianity has truly become: selfish and complacent. How could THOUSANDS of Christians line up for hours to buy a chicken sandwich to say, “Yay! I love Jesus and freedom of speech!”, yet our community organizations constantly plead for volunteers and ways to keep their ministry going to continue to aid those in our society who truly are “the least of these”, and the same people who had hours to wait in line for chicken all of a sudden don’t have to time to help?

I think I’ve got a few good theories on why this is:

1) NO EFFORT: It doesn’t take much effort to stand in a line to wait for a lunch you were already going to buy. In the perpetual American pursuit of the easy road, opportunities to kill two birds with one stone are always appreciated. If you can “show” your love for Jesus AND get lunch at the same time, why wouldn’t you?

2) NO EMOTIONAL STAKE: You don’t have to think about anything. All you’re doing is buying lunch and investing a few dollars. If you were volunteering at a homeless shelter or food kitchen, and had to come face to face with those in desperate need, it might make you look at your own life. It might cause you to think and feel. Feelings may come up that we don’t know how to handle. Can’t have that happen. We have to remain in complete control.

3) IT’S COMFORTABLE: Buying food is something we do all the time. It’s something we as Americans are almost too good at. There’s no stretching the personal bubble when you buy some food, sit down with friends, and proceed to chow down and talk about what a good job you’re doing by showing people you love Jesus. Facing those who are needing help is not something we’re used to. It might make us uncomfortable. We don’t like to be uncomfortable. Therefore, we avoid it. But at what cost?

4) THE GLORY OF THE BATTLE: Face it; we as people love a good fight. We like to be in the thick of things. We love to feel like we’re doing something that matters, and we’re fighting for what we feel is a good cause. We can see the fruits of our labor in the lines and the ticket sales. We proclaim we waited two hours in line and wear it like martyrdom. People comment on how inspiring our commitment is, and we puff up. Feel proud. Instant gratification. There’s no glory in standing behind a counter ladling soup into a bum’s bowl. There’s not going to be video cameras and people applauding. We might get no recognition for it at all. Maybe even no gratitude. So what’s the point?

The point is, the very things Jesus calls us to do have no appeal for us. They takes effort. They mean forming emotional attachments. They mean leaving our comfort zones. They mean chancing the fact that we may NEVER get earthly recognition for what we do. All those things that today’s society teaches us makes it NOT worth it. But that’s because society lives with the wrong focus. The focus on the “me” (what’s in it for ME? how will it make ME feel? What will people think about ME?) factor is in no way Biblical. It’s pretty much the opposite, actually. There’s a cute little children’s song that illustrates what the TRUE order of our focus should be:

Jesus and others and you
What a wonderful way to spell J-O-Y
Jesus and others and you
For every man, woman, boy, and girl
J is for Jesus cause He has first place
O is for others we meet face-to-face
Y is for you in whatever you do
Put yourself last and spell J-O-Y

Such simple thoughts, but so very hard to live out!!

I don’t want anyone to think that I’m talking as if I’ve already mastered this balance and have my order perfect. Far from it. But the first step isn’t perfection. It’s recognition. Recognizing that we have a problem, but we also have the ability to fix it, with God’s help. If we truly lived the way we are called even 50% of the time, the food banks would be in warehouses. The soup kitchens would be scheduling volunteers months in advance. Welfare would be unnecessary, because it would be back in the hands of those to whom that responsibility was given to in the first place. 50% isn’t much to ask. But it can’t be where we stop, either. It’s only a jumping point.

Each community has so many different ways to get involved. Check out your town or city. See what’s out there. There’s going to be something you can do. Not all of us are cut out to help in nursing homes or soup kitchens or crisis pregnancy centers. But all of us do have a special thing were passionate for. Recognize yours, then find a way to get involved. If you can’t find it, maybe that’s God telling you to make it. He doesn’t give a passion without giving it a way of expression. And He doesn’t give a passion just for it to be buried. Go out. Use it. The best way to shoe your love for Jesus is to show your love for other people. And sure, there’s nothing wrong with having a chicken sandwich while you do!

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” – James 1:27

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” – Matthew 25:34-40