“Where’s the Gift I Got You?”

Gift1

January is always a scary time to be asked that question. It’s long enough after Christmas that you ‘should’ have used the gift by now. It is unfortunately long enough as well to have forgotten what you actually got.

We’re given and receive gifts for various reasons. Some gifts are given out of appreciation for no reason at all (especially is your love language is “gifts”). Other gifts are given out of obligation (“they got get me something so I better find something to give them”) or because of the expectation of the routine (Valentine’s Day, birthday, Christmas, etc…). Some come with no strings attached. Some do.

But let’s imagine for a moment that you are given a gift… out of trust. Like a “I thought it best that you have this” or a “I was thinking of you when I saw this and knew you would like it” kind of gift.

I bring this up because of something I wrote in another blog about the fact that our church views each person that comes through the door as a “gift”. So as I was thinking about that very thought, it was like God asked me, “Craig, what did you do with that gift I gave you?”

It is important to note that we need to understand the difference between “gift” and “gifts” and why I believe it mattered so much that God’s question to me was asked in the singular.

I think that churches / pastors / PIPs (people in pews) worry too much about the amount of people that are there / not there each and every Sunday. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that a healthy church grows… in various ways; and so attendance can be in itself its own language. But some people are more concerned about the amount of gifts under the ‘tree’ (the local church) than the care of every gift under it. A tree with lots of presents under it looks way more appealing than one with only a few… even if the boxes are empty and just filler for the social media status update.

Gifts tree1

 

What if we took the time to actually care for each ‘gift’ that came within our four walls? What would happen if it wasn’t about the ‘gifts’ (plural)… but each ‘gift’ (singular)? Do you think that God would entrust us with more gifts if each ‘one’ was given the attention, care, and purpose that God intended it to have? Do you think that perhaps, per chance, the ‘amount’ of gifts under the “tree” would increase not simply because we got more… but because we lost, broke, or forgot less?

Last Sunday we did something we periodically do called “Name Tag Sunday”. As the sadistic pastor that I am, I love when we plan them because the people who come have no idea we are going to do it. After a time of singing and worship and right before they are seated I have the ushers come down with name tags stickers and markers and ask them to put their names on the tag, stick them on their shirts, and then mingle for the next five minutes.

I know that the initial reaction of many is “are you kidding me?” – (all the introverts). But once I say “go” it is like trying to corral cats… they go everywherePeople are craving to be noticed and appreciated. They simply need an opportunity to let it happen.

Gifts tree2

I think I’m onto something and God’s words have been echoing in my heart for a while now. For me, I know that I can only handle caring for so many gifts. We all have a limit. But imagine, for a moment, if every one of us cared for “each” gift that God gave us? Oh, we wouldn’t need to worry about fitting all of them under a new tree… we would need to look into buying a forest.

At least that’s how I see it,

 

C

 

Advertisements

5 Reasons Why You Need Church In Your Life

5-reasons-church

We are currently seeing a world shaken on so many levels because of one choice between two people. A country so fractured so deep that you could almost split a line ‘exactly’ down the middle of the vote.

We are fractured as a whole because we are divided. Divided by race. Divided by gender. Divided by a host of different reasons. Matthew 12:25 reminds us that “a house divided against itself will never stand.”

It is interesting to see where the church lands in all of this. Some people seem to think that the church is archaic, out of touch, and obsolete in today’s culture. They see churches scrambling to try to keep attendance up and people interested in church life.

But the Bible is clear that the church won’t disappear… it will last. It has… and it will continue to (Matthew 16:18).

So… what if the push to go to church is not to keep it going… but rather to keep you going?

For fun, let’s imagine that is the reason why you should be going to church… for you. Here is a list of 5 reasons why you should make the effort in a crazy world to get yourself to church. These are not in order of importance, and they are not exhaustive.

1 – YOU need encouragement. Hebrews 10:25 warns us to not give up getting together. You know what it’s like to be off Facebook, Instagram, or not able to see your friends at Starbucks. You hate being disconnected. Life ends when the phone battery dies!!!! Church was intended to keep us together in order to encourage one another. When you are not there, you are stuck trying to encourage yourself. Try giving yourself a massage… you won’t like it.

2 – YOU need community to grow effectively. By now you’re wondering how stupid you will look giving yourself a massage. Well you need to know that you need each another in order to grow. Read Acts 2:42-47 to see what the first Christians did in order to help one another grow in faith. Christianity was never meant to be done alone on an island. It is a family deal.

3 – YOU have something to give. By now you’ve already tried to give yourself a massage and you agree that it did nothing. Read 1Corinthians 12 and you’ll see a pattern that the church body is better because of YOU… and likewise, YOU are better because of the church body. When you don’t bring your gifts to the table (yes, you have them) then the rest of the body has to compensate and that is never what was intended. Yes, you can use a crutch to deal with a broken leg, but the rest of the body is having to adapt and it slows everything down.

4 – It will keep YOU on track. Hebrews 3:12 encourages us to keep each other’s lives in check. I already know that I desire to be better because of the people that I surround myself with. The lower the bar you set, the lower your sense of accomplishment will be. Let those in church help you when you’re down; just like when you help them up when they are down.

5 – It helps YOU put things into perspective. The Bible tells us in Exodus 20 to remember the Sabbath day (God’s day – Sunday for most churches) and keep it holy. Church is the “Home Free” zone you need at least once a week. You know what will happen if you don’t go to church? Something else will drain you even more. Getting away at least once a week helps get you refocused, refuelled, and refreshed to face the next six days.

YOU need church… and the church needs YOU. The sooner YOU see that and go there, the sooner the church will help a world that is trying desperately to find the answer. Remember, we HAVE the Answer.

Get up and go be the church.

 

C