“It’s much less demanding to think about God’s will for your future than it is to ask him what he wants you to do in the next ten minutes. It’s safer to commit to following him someday instead of this day.” ~Francis Chan, Crazy Love, p. 192
I was encouraged yesterday to learn that several of our small groups here at Central did shut down Madonna and the Super Bowl halftime show Sunday evening to consider together their NEXT! challenge cards and commit to accepting one of the tasks. The cards and the challenges were handed out during our assembly Sunday morning in an effort to get us moving right now, immediately, to what our God is calling us to NEXT. No waiting. The time for action is now.
Deliver a casserole to your next-door-neighbor in the name of our Christ. Take the time this week to memorize 1 Corinthians 13. Rewrite six of your favorite Psalms in your own words and give them to our Father in prayer. Invite the new member to dinner. Volunteer at the elementary school. Whatever you do, do it now, with all of your might, to the glory of God.
The challenges are designed to move us closer to our God through his Holy Word and prayer so we can better hear him and understand his leading. They are also crafted in a way that will get us engaged with our God’s mission among his creation. Now, brothers and sisters of the Central Church of Christ, let me ask you two questions:
1) Which challenge did you choose and have you started yet?
(I’ll answer the question here: you answer in the “comments” section of this post) Of the three challenges on my card, I chose “For the rest of this month, write three emails every day that have absolutely no purpose other than to encourage someone.”
I started it yesterday. And, honestly, I am finding this to be more difficult than I thought.
Email is a business tool for me. I use email to accomplish things, to get things done. I email people to ask questions and to request answers. I email to schedule and confirm my calendar. I remind people about certain tasks, I seek input from committee members, I inform elders and ministers, I keep up with family and friends through email. I do generally try to be positive and encouraging in my emails. I like to think I’m intentional about lifting people up with my emails. But edifying folks is never the sole reason for my electronic communications. Never.
So now I’m writing three of these encouraging emails a day. And it’s tough.
2) So what is God going to show you while you’re completing your challenge? What do you expect to experience or learn through this exercise?
(Again, I’ll answer here; you answer by clicking the “comments” line up there) I believe I’m going to learn how to give without expecting anything in return. I’m going to practice giving life to people, building people up, with no strings attached. No agenda. Nothing to accomplish. I’m not looking for anything in return. This is what Jesus does. Christ gives and gives and gives. Christ considers the needs of others greater than his own. The Son of God initiates to serve and save with no regard for what he can gain for himself. And while, yes, there is an underlying motivation behind my encouraging emails this month — I have a challenge in front of me that I intend to tackle and conquer so I can stand before my congregation and say I did it — I’m doing it prayerfully, begging God to show me and teach me how to be more like him in the ways I interact with his children.
What challenge did you accept? What do you think God is going to show you? What’s NEXT? And are you moving toward that NEXT right NOW?