Wednesday, March 5, 2014

First, I have to mention (and I will mention this over and over): my domain name,, is expiring. I don't know how to renew it for a variety of reasons, most of which revolve around the fact that I'm not computer savvy. The instructions for handling this situation are written in a vocabulary that assumes a level of competence that I don't possess. I've worked on it for hours and am no closer to figuring this out. It's POSSIBLE that the credit card that is supposed to be charged when my domain expires is still active and it will renew for another year (at which time I'll go through all of this again). I set it up to auto-renew, but I figure the expiration date on the card has passed by now -- but I honestly don't know. Anyway, if typing in doesn't get you here, type the "actual" address, which is I'm going to think about what to do in the future (I kind of liked owning, but will always work.

Obviously I've not been blogging regularly for ages. Facebook is the culprit: with just 24 hours in a day I can only type so much. Last night I posted something that was about diet and a bunch of my friends (well, four) jumped on it to tease me about it and...I'd had it. I don't like to argue about much of anything anymore (I'll do it -- and sometimes when I'm in the thick of it I enjoy it -- but as a general rule I'd rather discuss, or just have a conversation). Don't get me wrong -- these were my friends (and my son), not strangers or trolls. I guarantee each one of them was ONLY teasing and did NOT want or mean to upset me. I know this; therefore, if I am upset or hurt the fault is about 99% mine. Okay, maybe 98%. I'm not angry with any of them at all. But I'm not going to set myself up for that sort of thing anymore because I don't enjoy it like some people do, especially on this particular subject.

SO -- the idea is to post much less often over there and much more often here. I'm a long-form kind of writer anyway. Or -- longer than a Facebook post. I won't leave Facebook, but when I have something to say I'll do it over here. My commitment for the next two weeks is to write at least one post over here every day. And maybe more.

Today the topic on my mind is, broadly, sanctification. Or slightly less broadly (but only slightly): good works. I had an email conversation with a friend about attitude and good works: if two people do the same work (let's say they visit someone in a nursing home) but it's easy for one person to do it and they go gladly and happily but the other person struggles with it -- they do it because they love Jesus, but it's something that's out of their comfort zone -- does it "count more" for the second person than it does for the first?

I've been thinking about this all morning. To make the subject more real, I'll tell you the actual event. A really kind woman from our church decided that shut-ins from our congregation should get a visit at least once a week from someone who's not the pastor (he visits plenty of folks and as someone who has been on the receiving end of his hospital visits I will say that they are sweet and kind and pastoral, but the church isn't the pastor -- it's all of us). I don't know any of our shut-ins. If someone I knew was in a nursing home I would be very happy to go see them, but visiting someone I don't even know is WAAAAAY outside of my comfort zone.

I've been praying, though, about ways to demonstrate Christ's love to people around me. I know I struggle with even seeing needs, much less jumping in to help. So when this woman called me I gulped and said "Sure, I'll go visit." This was obviously an answer to my prayer, so how could I say "no"? I know, too, that it's uncomfortable because I'm focused on ME -- and when I think about it that way I'm ashamed. And, finally, I know that if I go and visit Mrs. Rawlinson every other week for a month or two it will no longer be at all uncomfortable for me.

The friend I was discussing this with is like the complete opposite of me. He sees a need, he jumps in. I look at him in awe. So the question was: who is rewarded more for visiting someone in an assisted living facility (which is what it technically is in this case -- not a nursing home)?

I've decided that's the wrong question. (We knew it was ALWAYS the wrong question because we both do it because God loved us first -- when we were unlovable -- and we want, need, to share that with the world, but it was an interesting theoretical discussion. And a way for both of us to express our admiration for the other.) I think my friend has a gift of seeing needs and instinctively knowing how to help. So instead of burying his gift in a field he uses it and gets a return on God's investment in him. He will receive a "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much" response.

For me, this is not my strength, it's not my gift. So my credit is being willing to put aside myself and to love someone because I was loved first. And -- talk about getting out of your comfort zone. The kenosis passage in Philippians 2 is the perfect example of this ("kenosis" means "emptying out"): "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." It is unlikely that I'll ever need to go THAT FAR outside of my comfort zone. (Seriously -- when I read that passage the idea that I even HAVE a comfort zone is crazy to me.)

So -- use your talents and gifts, stretch yourself when the opportunity arises: all of that is good when done for God's glory.

More later...

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