Support

The longer I get to serve as a leader and pastor in the church, the more I interact with people who are truly struggling.  When I began at New Story 13 years ago, it was 5 years before I interacted with anyone who shared with me their feelings and thoughts toward suicide.  Even though I had grown up in a home where we attended AA meetings several nights a week – it was rare that I interacted with anyone battling alcohol addictions and actually talking about it.  However over the past 8 years I have been privileged to see more and more people open up about their struggles.  It is a privilege when people share their struggles with you, but it is also a responsibility.

It is a privilege when people share their struggles with you, but it is also a responsibility!

Whenever someone opens up to you – you are responsible, but probably not in the way you think.  You aren’t responsible to fix them!  I always feel responsible to fix them but that is a lie – a lie that implies that I am bigger and better than I actually am.  No, the responsibility that we have is different – we have a responsibility to respond well.  And you know what, most of us aren’t very good at that.  We end up criticizing people who just need encouragement.  We correct people who need comfort.  Maybe you tell people how to fix what they already know how to fix.  Sometimes we show people how disappointed we are – when all they need is a hug.

You aren’t responsible to fix them!

This is the struggle that has been looming on my mind as more and more people share with me their struggles with addiction, anxiety, fear, worry, suicide and more.  How should I respond and show support?  Because, isn’t that what we really want to do is support people?  To provide a lift up when they are broken up?

One passage that I think we could learn from when it comes to support is 1 Thessalonians 5:14

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

I love the distinctions in this verse – warn those who are idle and disruptive.  Encourage those who are disheartened…brokenhearted…or just plain broken.  Help the weak – whether that weakness is physical, emotional, spiritual or mental – help!  Finally, be patient with everyone.   I need to be patient with the growth of others.  I need to be patient with the life change.  I need to be patient in the middle of the struggle, because again…I’m not responsible to fix them.  I’m responsible for how I respond!  How about you?

Support

I Believe

Recently I was listening to a sermon that talked about the subject of belief.  The opening of the message talked about how belief is one of the most powerful capacities that we as humans have.  I couldn’t agree more.  Think about it:

  • Optimists always outsell their smarter and more educated coworkers.  Why?  – Belief!
  • People solve problems that were previously thought unsolvable.  Why? – Because no one told them it was impossible.
  • Businesses are formed and take off – often not because of intelligence, but persistence and belief.

That got me thinking about how important belief is for people who are following Christ.  Jesus left us with a few instructions

  • Love God (ok we can do that)
  • Love other people (well that’s not so easy)
  • Tell others about Jesus (but that’s scary)

But here is my point.  Yes – loving unlovely people is hard, but you can!  You know why?  Because you’ve been loved like that, and you aren’t as lovely as you always think.  You need to BELIEVE that it is possible and just keep swimming (sorry, I have little kids).

Yes – building relationships and sharing Jesus can be scary, but you can!  You know why?  Because God will help you and someone shared with you.  You don’t have to be a pastor or missionary.  You don’t need a degree – you need to BELIEVE that God will use your sharing to write a new story and just keep sharing.

Now, here’s the part for me: I need to BELIEVE that God can and will use us to see changed lives, raise up leaders and plant other churches.  So…here I am, publicly pronouncing my BELIEF!  Won’t you trust and BELIEVE with me?

I Believe

Far As The Curse Is Found

I came across an excellent article today that I had to share in light of our most recent series at New Story.  You can see it in it’s original form here.

I’m going to highlight a few portions of this article that I found refreshing.  I hope you will be encouraged too!

Far As The Curse Is Found by Nancy Guthrie

 

My husband, David, and I bought burial plots this week. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound very Christmassy. It’s not the kind of shopping most people are busy with this time of year.

Perhaps it seems a bit grim to be thinking about and even preparing for death during the Christmas season. But it seems to me that Christmas is exactly the right time to think about death. Tim Keller has said that we have to “rub hope into the reality of death.” And is there any time we sing more about hope than at Christmas?

We sing that this world was “in sin and error pining, till he appeared,” and we’re caught up in the wonder that Life itself, in the person of Jesus, entered into this world of sin and death. His coming brought with it the “thrill of hope” that causes this weary world to rejoice. But what is the cause for this joy? What is the essence of this hope? Our hope is that “yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

Our songs at Christmas serve to remind us that this season isn’t merely about looking back at that holy night when Christ was born. Rather, our celebration of his first coming is meant to nurture in us a greater longing for his second coming. In fact, we miss the point of that holy night if it does not awaken in us anticipation for the glorious eternal day to come.

A Song of Longing

One of my favorite Christmas carols has always been, “Joy to the World!” Since we sing it at Christmas, I always thought of it as a song about the birth of Jesus. But if we think through the words more carefully, we realize that this song can’t be about the first coming of Christ.

We sing, “Let earth receive her King!” And we know that when Jesus came the first time, the earth did not receive her King. Instead, the earth crucified her King. The first time Jesus came, the nations did not prove the glories of his righteousness. Instead, human history has proved, over and over, the extent of man’s rebellion against his righteousness.

When we look at the world around us, as well as into the painful parts of our own lives, we know that his blessing does not yet flow far as the curse is found. Instead, we see the impact of the curse in every part of our lives. Sin and sorrow still grow, and all the thorny effects of the curse remain the reality we live in day-to-day and year-by-year.

From Blessing to Curse

Of course, this is not the way things have always been. We read in Genesis 2:7 that “the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” God blessed everything he had made so that his blessing defined the atmosphere of Eden.

But then Adam and Eve sinned. God cursed the ground and told Adam how this curse would impact him. “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). Gone was the chance to eat of the tree of life and never die. Adam would one day be buried in the ground, and his body would turn back into its dust.

Ever since Eden, every human life has ended in death . . . except for one. Yes, Jesus really died. But death was not the end for him. Likewise, all who are joined to him by faith can face death, knowing that it will not be the end for us either. Paul writes, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. . . . Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:2249).

This certain hope gives us a reason to sing for joy at Christmas. When Christ comes again, earth will receive her King. Every knee will bow. The nations will prove the glories of his righteousness as people from every tribe, tongue, and nation dwell secure under the righteous rule of King Jesus. All oppression will have ceased. His blessing will flow far as the curse is found.

The Curse Finally Gone for Good

David and I know that the day is going to come when our bodies will be planted, like seeds, in the darkness of the earth. It will seem to some as though our lives have come to an end. But we know better. We know that yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. The darkness of our graves will one day be pierced by the radiant light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The silence of our graves will be disrupted by his thunderous voice. He will call the dust of our dead bodies out of those burial plots and transform them to be like his own glorious body (Philippians 3:21).

Those two little plots of ground will not prove to be our final resting place. The blessing of his resurrection life is going to penetrate the earth in which we are buried, and we will be raised to life. We are going to experience all that God promised when Isaiah prophesied, “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead” (Isaiah 26:19). This hope enables us to sing songs of joy in the night as we wait for that glorious morn.

Far As The Curse Is Found