COMFORT ZONE

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Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  –Psalm 23:4

Every time I pick a nice smooth path for my life, God seems to jerk me out of my comfort zone.

I tend to gravitate towards Christianity that is…comfortable.

That, however, is not the example Christ set for us.

Christ was uninterested in the easy road.  Instead, he made a bee-line for injustice, for people who were hurting, for the forgotten ones.

Do I have to do the same thing?

Because…well, here’s my “outside my comfort zone” list (make your own):

  • I’m outside my comfort zone when I talk to strangers–especially when it comes to talking about my faith.
  • I’m outside my comfort zone when I’m surrounded by people whose values may or may not match my own.
  • I’m outside my comfort zone when serving somebody isn’t enough — an actual relationship is called for.
  • I’m outside my comfort zone when God prods me to dare beyond the status quo.
  • I’m outside my comfort zone when I face the possibility of rejection.
  • I’m outside my comfort zone when I’m in the valley of the shadow of death.

The valley of the shadow of death?  Yeah.  I think of that as our mission field.  That’s where so many hurt and lost people are living.

We’re called to connect with them, scary as it may be.

But here’s some Good News: Psalm 23 says “thy rod and thy staff they COMFORT me.”

You get it?  God establishes a comfort zone even in the most uncomfortable place imaginable.

That means when we serve people, when we invite people to know about Christ, when we challenge the forces of darkness, God is there, comforting us.

Hear these words from Isaiah:

Comfort, comfort my people,
    says your God.
A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  –Isaiah 40:1,3-5

One day, “every valley shall be raised up”.

Until then, that’s where the work of the faithful must be done.

Yes, it will likely be outside your comfort zone.

But not God’s.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Going Undercover To Save The Church

There’s a reason I sport a moustache and a goatee: Without them, I look about 18 years old.

So, why not put my youthful features to use?

Maybe I could make a difference by going undercover.

That’s right. I’m going to attempt something right out of “21 Jump Street”.

I’m going to infiltrate today’s youth. I mean, we have a great group of youth at our church, but I want to get to all the others.

Yep! I’m gonna fake some enrollment papers and “move” to town as a High School senior.

I’ll get to know the different groups of kids–The dweebs, the jocks, the brainiacs, the preppies (I’m a little out of practice on slang terms for social groups)–and I’ll find out why young people are staying away from church in droves.

And then I’ll make them change their minds.

I’ll show them that being part of a sports team isn’t worth it if you have to play games on a Sunday morning, missing church.  Of course, our attendance goes down for all ages whenever there are sporting events happening.

I’ll convince them that our church isn’t hypocritical like some other churches.  Of course, we try so hard to be open minded that many folks have no clue what it is we stand for.

I’ll explain to them how much the Holy Spirit is present in our church.  Of course, we tend to sit on our hands and mumble-sing through most of worship.

I’ll list examples of  how much we care about the world.  Of course, we have a hard time trying new things in new places.

I’ll remind them how important rituals like communion are.  Of course, sometimes it doesn’t feel very spiritual. We tend to rush it so we don’t run overtime.

I’ll invite them to serve on committees.  Of course, they tend to meet at inconvenient times, doing things that may or may not seem very vital.

And above all, I’ll make it clear how much the church cares about them.  Of course, our budget and volunteer involvement don’t always reflect that.

Hmm.  The more I think about it, the more I see how hard of a sell the church can be for today’s youth.

I have another plan.  Instead of trying to go undercover in our approach to today’s youth, let’s not just tell today’s youth they’re important to the Kingdom.

Let’s show them, by listening, collaborating, funding, and giving power to them!

Remember, you can cover it up with a moustache…

But merely talking about (or at) the youth

is still just giving lip service.

Have a good week,

Mitch