Connecting People With The Newness of Life…
Read the title again. Connecting people with the newness of life, it almost sounds like the beginning of slogan for “New Year’s Resolutions”. Honestly just that part of the phrase makes me think of overhauls needed in life. I did not come up with it. It is not even the full phrase. Drum roll please, this is how it actually should read.
Connecting People With the Newness of Life, Found Only In Jesus Christ. Now the phrase has true meaning. This is a way of life at my home church, CenterBranch. The first few Sundays I attended I thought the same thing you probably thought…clever marketing. It is so much more than marketing our church to the masses. However, if you want someone to buy in…you have to market what you are offering. You have to get them through the door.
If you have been anywhere near a church you have heard the phrase “Church Family”. Most of the churches I have been exposed to the church family was kind of like that crazy relative you try to avoid at the family reunion. The love component was sadly missing for fellow brothers and sisters in the church. It was more important to show how holy you were by pointing out the faults in others. NEWS FLASH…give anyone enough time and they can find something about you that is not pleasing to God. Don’t get mad, I’m not calling you a heathen. I am simply saying even the strongest person of faith I have ever known, they were not perfect. Perhaps a bad attitude displeased God. Maybe they were too proud or hurt to make peace with someone. Maybe it was a comment that was hurtful. (Sometimes things are hurtful, even when we don’t mean them to be.) I do not believe that we have to trudge around in “sin” daily…but it does not mean we have all our ducks in a row all day everyday either.
A true church family is going to support you and encourage you. You feel welcome when you arrive because it is like coming home. You miss the congregation when you are absent because your heart is tethered to the fellowship among these saints. You crave the spirit of worship that is so palpable when we are gathered together praising and worshipping God. Our youth pastor, Jon, said he wanted the youth to be addicted to the presence of the Holy Spirit. That is where the newness of life is found. Connecting with the Holy Spirit. Walking in step, inside the will of the Heavenly Father. That craving or addiction, if you will, to the presence of God moves mountains. I am not talking about earthen mountains, I mean it is moving physical, spiritual and emotional mountains.
Signs and Wonders
I think everyone who goes to church, especially if you grew up in church, wants to see the signs and wonders…the miracles. I realize there are many churches that teach miracles are a “Bible” times event and not something from the here and now. So churches teach that the Holy Spirit was a “then” thing too. I am not here to debate theology with you but these differing views and teachings often leave me scratching my head. If, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and Jesus is part of the Holy Trinity and the Bible is God breathed and infallible…where are people coming up with their doctrines?
First, the Holy Spirit is very much a now thing. Second, we are surrounded by miracles, by signs and wonders daily…we tend to ignore them. People are being healed from physical and emotional disease. Relationships are being healed. You can see signs and wonders by slowing down and taking in God’s creation. God knew it was bad for us to be alone, so he gave us community. Fellowship with others is a wonder. We are each miraculously complex. We think differently. We react differently. We live and express ourselves differently. Yet, we find ourselves pulled into community with others. We seek fulfillment by being part of relationships, family and congregations. Finding friends is a sign and wonder, it is also one of the sweetest gifts from God.
Sometime today just stop. Look around you and witness the world. Bare witness to what God has created and given to us. Witness the sunrise. Witness the snow falling. Witness the interaction of completely different people in the union of friendship. Observe the beauty of parents with their children. All of these “daily miracles” get missed because we are so busy. Our heads are down staring at cell phones or we are calculating our next task. Just stop.
A year ago I was working long days and not even attempting to create balance in my life. I was not connected to any group. I worked alone and then came home to my family. I spent a large portion of my time complaining or sulking. (Neither of which are attractive.) What a difference a year makes! As my relationship with Christ has evolved I have grown more entwined in my church family. I have connected with the newness of life found only in Jesus Christ. My relationships are refreshed. My marriage is happier than ever. I am a better parent, daughter, friend and employee. Am I perfect? That would be a negative. I am not perfect but as I said earlier, it doesn’t mean I am wallowing around in sin either. God is his wisdom, grace and mercy helps me through and I grow a little each day.
Can I be honest? I am glad growing closer to God is a process, a journey. I am glad there is a measure of struggle in growing in my faith. Why? Life is about the journey. Along the journey my struggles today will help someone tomorrow. Every experience, good and bad, can be used by God for his Glory. It is miraculous to me to look back over my life, even just this year, and see that God has taught me through my experiences and then allowed those experiences to be the credibility I needed for someone to trust me. In being open and raw in my blog, God has opened doors for people to talk to me and for us to share the journey. All the pain of my past was not in vain if I can use that experience to help another. God is so good.
You can find my home church on my menu bar or click here CenterBranch. If you live locally, please come fellowship with us. If you are somewhere else, I encourage you to watch our Livestream feeds or listen to a pod cast, but find a church. Find a church home that is speaking and breathing life into you and your circumstances. If church feels like an obligation or just a habit…either you need to examine your heart or you need to find another church. We leave for Sunday service in about 90 minutes. I want to go now! I am excited to be in the House of the Lord and among his people. If being in God’s presence, fellowshipping with the saints and worshipping God do not excite you…you are missing out. Get plugged in. Taste and see that God is good. Get addicted to the presence of God.
God bless you! I pray that you will begin to see the miracles in the mundane. I pray that you will experience God in a way you never have and that it moves you closer to God. Let changes unfold in your life. Connect to the newness of life, found ONLY in Jesus Christ.