Sharing life with friends is amazing!
We have chosen to facilitate a community group with City Church Tallahassee each week. We have been doing this for 13 months now and while some of the faces have changed, there has been a core group of members that has grown over time.
Each Monday evening we begin gathering around 7:00 p.m. and spend some time catching up with each other – laughing about work and family and church and our various escapades each week. We learn about new friends and what is happening in each of our lives.
We spend a good amount of time in prayer with and for each other. With our group averaging about 15 in attendance each week this can seem to be time consuming but it is some of the best time we have with each other. I believe our prayers for and with each other are special. So often a Christ Follower’s prayer life can be consumed with selfish requests and pleas. This is a true reflection of our care and concern for each other and part of what defines our community!
We are currently exploring The Apostle’s Creed and examining what we say we believe! There are fantastic comments and discussions as we each bring our own unique perspective to our beliefs – and for that I am thankful.
Cyndi and I are blessed beyond words to be a part of this group! Our community loves us and cares for us – just as we do them. Thankful for opportunities to share life with others!
So this week I celebrated another of my own birthdays. 52 of them have come now!
As I reflect on life so very often, I am amazed at the value we place on certain things! Whether it’s days we commemorate, items we desire, jobs we wish we had, relationships that would be the best, apartments that have all the luxuries, cars that are just cool, people whose lives we are jealous of, etc., we seem to not be content!
Contentment is not about having everything we want in material things or in relationships. Contentment comes through our state of mind. Understanding where we are and knowing that our value doesn’t rest in what we own or who we hang out with. Rather our value as a person is much more than that and as a Christ follower, I am assured of His love for me. No matter what.
My immediate goal is to be more conscious of the fact that God loves me and to act like it!
Our family spent Christmas day serving some less fortunate people in our community. About 2 1/2 years ago we acted on a passion of ours – feeding the hungry in our communities and it has evolved into various activities and opportunities to serve others. When we began commuting to Tallahassee, we had to stop our involvement with feeding the homeless on Mondays but that didn’t stop us from feeding or helping on other days or times. One of the things I was worried about when we left was who would continue the work we had begun. Sad to say, not many. But the good news here was that a good friend had taken on the task of organizing a Christmas day meal for those who face food insecurity.
I had the opportunity to give a brief devotion prior to our meal and I talked about Presence. Reminding people about the Word becoming flesh and living among us and quoting Jesus who said He didn’t come to be served but to serve. Challenging those that heard to not let Christmas day be the only time the less fortunate saw them – to become a presence in the lives of those who need it. As I was talking with some of the homeless, a man shook my hand and said thank you. When I asked him why, he thanked me for the words that were spoken, saying that too often people try to make themselves feel good by showing up once or twice a year but then are nowhere to be seen the rest of the time. That was my fear when we left that small community – that no one would show up on a regular basis.
We shared a present with one of our favorites yesterday. A man named Derick. I’ve talked about Derick before and our love for him. We gave Derick a new pair of shoes. The last time he had a new pair of shoes was the last time we gave him some! Cyndi and I choose to give to Derick this year instead of to each other – and it was the best present ever!
We love the passion God has given us for the hungry and less fortunate. We love having the opportunity to share some love with people who don’t experience it very often.
I challenge you to act on your passion. Whatever it is. Get involved. Give presence. Give money. Give time. Give. The presence you give can change a life, it can change a generation, it can change generations to come. Why would you not?
Last night our community group looked at I Thessalonians chapter 5, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Thessalonians+5&version=NIV. While our discussion centered on the second coming of Jesus Christ, I think there is so much more we could have shared with each other! I think the verses speak for themselves today – not much comment needed.
Paul has some incredible words in verses 12-28! “…encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone!” There are enough opportunities right there to keep us busy every day!
How about you? Have encouraged someone today? How have you helped the weak? Have you really been patient with everyone? I know that right now I need to do all of these things. Right now.
Our God is so good! We really should give thanks in all circumstances!
Cyndi and I have participated in community groups (small group Bible studies/discussion groups) for a number of years. I think we both feel that church and our faith is best lived out in small groups. Worship services are fantastic – we both love them! But authenticity among fellow believers is best when the surroundings are more intimate and the level of trust is high among the participants.
When we first began a small group at our home, our hopes were high. Hopes that through weekly gatherings, we could develop a sense of community among friends that would transcend the artificial Christianity that is prevalent in churches across America. What we discovered was that people have a tough time being real with each other. I think in part that fear is based on our on shortcomings. “What will people think of me if I tell them how I really act or talk or think?” What I learned in that first community group is that it is tough to find community with people who don’t want it! As our relationship with Christ grew, Cyndi and I were challenged to make changes in our lives – changes that demonstrated our walk with God! As we acted on that developing relationship, some of our community began drifting away – distancing themselves from us!
For the past 11 months, Cyndi and I have commuted weekly from Inverness to Tallahassee to lead another community group and attend City Church. It’s been a sacrifice that could only have been accomplished with God. We have travelled over 16,000 miles and spent thousands of dollars on gas and food. But what I have realized most recently is that God has used us in this group in an incredible way. Not our leadership but simply our obedience to Him. Listening and acting on what He has called us to do has had an incredible impact on a number of people – mostly those who we share our lives with each week in community.
I told our group last night that as we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday this week, let’s reflect on what we are really thankful for. Let’s not just say the words that others expect us to say. I am thankful for our community group and the opportunity I have each week to invest in their lives and to let them invest in ours.
Community is important. I hope you find a spot in one where you can be real and allow others to support you too.