Five Minute Friday: Team

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

There’s a battle raging today, between taking a nap and having coffee in order to power through the afternoon and evening. (And by “power through,” I mean, “stay awake until 8:30 p.m. if possible”). Wonderful as a nap sounds, I think coffee is going to win. It’s mostly hot chocolate, which is very much on the “no-no” list when it comes to my eating and exercise regimen. But you know what?

Sometimes you gotta.

Kate asks us about our: team.

Go.

Your team changes.

I used to have this idea that as I journeyed through adulthood I would have one consistent set of close friends. Not a huge group. Not people who would demand I interact with them every single day, because #intj and that’s not going to happen. Just the kind of tightly knit group that would eventually sit around a beat-up kitchen table while adult children rustled about with their own kids, reminiscing about shared stupid things, meaningless to outsiders.

That’s what we all imagine.

The truth is that closeness waxes and wanes. Some people are in your life for a short season. Others float in and out. As you get older and hopefully become more like the person God intends you to be, you find that perhaps you just don’t have as much in common with that person anymore. Or you go through a crisis and find the last person you’d expect to show up is there every step of the way.

Over and over we hear in songs and sermons or read in books that relationship is vitally important. That we weren’t created to do life alone. That’s true. But really, we wind up slipping into idolatry. We worship an ideal, then feel massive disappointment when it doesn’t turn out the way we planned.

Preachers and authors point to David and Jonathan, going on and on about their relationship and how wonderful it was. While they were good friends, the best of friends (no, they were not gay), they were in each other’s lives for a relatively brief amount of time. David spent more nights in the hills tending sheep or on the run from King Saul than he did hanging with Jonathan, jamming on harps or seeing who could shoot an arrow farthest.

We have to learn to be willing to go with the flow. (How I loathe typing that. Give me control or give me death). I associate with basically the same group of people that I have for the last 5-8 years, but the way it is now, at 32, is different from the way it was when I was 25. I’ve made new friends. I see some old friends less. I have a deeper connection to others than I ever thought I’d have. This doesn’t mean I’ve ceased to care about any one person. It just means that the shape of your team changes.

No longer do I picture that gathering around the table. Or if I do, the faces are blurry. I don’t know who might be there. It makes me a little sad. At the same time, letting go of what I thought adult friendship should be like and embracing the what-is brings with it a sense of freedom. I don’t have the first clue what God has in store for me. I’ve got to enjoy the ride instead of clinging to an illusion that will leave me discontented.

Life, I think, is a constant stream of celebration and mourning, often mixed together. Much as I am a creature of habit, there isn’t really any such thing as routine. Things are always shifting. It’s tough even when it’s good.

Blessedly, there is the One Who Never Changes. The Constant in the midst of chaos. Do we ever truly pause to think about that? If the day utter aloneness comes, when this earthly team abandons ship and there’s nobody to hear the cries or see the tears – it’s not utter aloneness at all. In the invisible, just beyond sight, sits the King of Kings. Remarkably, He bends near. Gathers us close. Listens well.

Forever the Captain of the team.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

Photo Credit: Matthew Wiebe

I’m Not Good at Friendship – Or Am I?

The Mudroom @ mudroomblog.com

Gentle Reader,

I’m not good at friendship.

Myers-Briggs tells me that I’m an INTJ, which is a fancy way of saying, “Doesn’t play well with others.” While I certainly don’t hate people, I don’t always understand them. Half the time I don’t even understand myself. Give me the world of the mind, the place of concepts and dreaming, not the confusion of humanity.

That retreat into headspace? It’s not all just how I’m wired. Wounding plays a role, much as I’m loathe to admit it. More than once my friend picker has been broken and I’ve ended up investing in unsafe people. Perhaps inevitably, this has led to lasting hurt. And so I’ve erected walls…

I’m hanging out at the Mudroom today. Head on over for the rest. Be sure to take some time to check out the other great featured authors.

My journey to faith. (15)

Small Groups: Actually Study the Bible

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

I don’t have a neat graphic for you. I don’t even have anything particularly nice to say. Brace yourselves.

Small groups need to be about Bible study.

As in, you have to actually study the Bible.

Not the pastor’s sermon. Not a book. Not a video.

The Bible.

Let me be clear: I’m not talking about flopping your Bible open, pointing to a verse and deciding what it means. I am ALL FOR workbooks and commentaries and concordances and lexicons. I couldn’t understand the Bible without that stuff. What I’m talking about here is reading a book by a Christian author, discussing its contents and calling it good. That’s not Bible study. That’s a book club.

There’s nothing wrong with book clubs or sermon/video discussion, but don’t tell me or anyone else that you’re in a Bible study group (or leading a Bible study group) if that’s not what you’re doing. Can you belong to a book club? Sure. Is it okay to be involved with people who meet and discuss video teaching? Sure. But there has simply got to be space and time in your life when you’re cracking open those pages (even if they’re electronic…sigh). If that book club or video group takes up that space and time, as in you can’t fit Bible study into your schedule, then you’d best be ditching that and plugging in somewhere else.

Don’t tell me that Bible study is too hard. You have the Spirit of the Living God dwelling inside of you if you’re in Christ.

Don’t tell me that you’re can’t find a group. You and I both know that’s not true. If believers around the world can bravely face imprisonment or worse to meet together and soak in God’s word, then you can get off your butt and look through the church bulletin or website.

If you’re called to start a group, don’t tell me that you’re too scared to do it because there isn’t a single teacher out there worth his or her salt who isn’t terrified of screwing up.

Books are great. Videos are great.

God’s word? It’s in class by itself. It is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). It comes directly from Him (2 Timothy 3:16). You can find yourself dying without it (Hosea 4:6). You’ll be deceived if you don’t know it (Colossians 2:8).

If you don’t care about any of that, if you don’t want to learn from God and fall more in love with Him, then, my friend, your priorities are all wrong. Don’t talk to me about how busy you are, because if you have time for Facebook or Netflix or getting your nails done or going hunting, then you sure as heck have time for Bible study. The fact is that it’s not about you not having time. It’s about not wanting to, and if that’s the state of your heart then you need to repent.

See? I told you I didn’t have anything nice to say.

Bible study matters. And since we’re rejecting the “just Jesus and me” thing, studying the Bible in a group setting matters. As the world grows ever-more wild, it is essential to come together to learn from the Lord. We must embrace His word. In so doing, we will be equipped for the spiritual battle that rages all around. Remember: Satan doesn’t play fair. There’s nothing he’d like more than to distract and isolate and then beat you up for giving in to the temptation to hide. So, fight! Don’t just go with the flow or do whatever you want! Get in Scripture. Find others who are going deep and pulling out the treasures.

We need to grow up, put on our big kid pants and do the thing.

My journey to faith. (15)

For all posts in the Small Groups miniseries, go here.

Photo Credit: Westside Church