The Blog of Rogue Valley Christian Church




By David Wise

Last night our LifeGroup had a summer pool party and it was one of those rich and meaningful nights that I’ll remember for years. The weather was perfect, we swam, goofed off, ate great food, and enjoyed each other’s company. Our group has become incredibly close over the past few months; we’ve shared ups, downs, and everything in-between. Although we didn’t have any scheduled discussion or specific questions, at one point three of us guys ended up outside and had a great conversation.

We were sharing what God has been teaching us lately and one of the guys shared that he’s waiting for December for some personal factors to play out. The other guy asked him what he was going to do in the meantime and the first guy said that he was just going to press on until December came. At this, the other guy dropped a wisdom bomb. He said, “Don’t become so focused on December that you miss everything God is doing in the meantime.” Essentially his encouragement was to pay attention to all of the things God is doing during this season; don’t just live waiting for something better on the horizon. What can happen in only focusing on one event, is that we miss everything else God is doing in the meantime.

I’m sure that’s a concept that many of us have heard, but it’s one that many of us have also forgotten. As a kid I would look forward to Christmas, then as soon as it was over I would look forward to the end of school, then my birthday, and then Christmas again. For years, there were only three events on the calendar that mattered to me. I lived my life waiting for each of those dates, and when each one came and went I waited for the next one.

Maybe you’re looking forward to high school being over in a couple of years. Don’t miss everything God can do in and through you during these years. If you’re looking forward to being done with college and starting a career, pay attention to what God is doing while you’re waiting. Perhaps you’re eagerly expecting a wedding, birth of a child, adoption, birth of a grandchild, or retirement. Don’t become so focused on a date that you neglect to partner with God in everything he’s doing in the here and now.

I was reading a book about leadership and the principle shared made me think about this concept.

I hope that as an emerging next generation leader it is becoming clearer to you what you want to accomplish, what you want to do. The question is: Have you determined what you want to become? Your doing will flow from who you are. The outer man will reflect the inner man. The inner man determines the legacy of the outer man. Andy Stanley, Next Generation Leader, page 154

I hope what you want to do is becoming clear, but how many of us have really thought about what we want to become? It’s not just about what happens in December, two years, ten or even forty years; it’s about who we are becoming through the process. Whatever we’re waiting for, the wait is a part of the process and our reaction to it defines who we become. The Bible is full of wisdom about waiting, and the Psalms are riddled with great words. Psalm 27:13-14 brings hope and reminds me what attitude we should have in times of waiting.

I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:13-14

I will see the goodness of the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Whatever you’re waiting on, don’t lose sight that God is leading you through the process. He is a good and loving God who richly provides us with everything we need. Trust Him in the times of pain, frustration, and discouragement. Don’t neglect the here and now; wait for the Lord and while you’re waiting pray about who God wants you to become, not just what He wants you to do.


The Other

Equal_in_His_Eyes_std_t_ntBy David Wise

Last Sunday, I preached on Acts 10 where Cornelius and Peter have this beautiful interaction because of the Holy Spirit moving in both of them. Peter would have had to overcome so many preconceived notions about Cornelius (he was a Gentile and considered unclean to the Jewish people) and yet the Spirit moved Peter outside of his comfort zone and to the “other.” The thought and call to action was for us as followers of Christ to reach outside our comfort zones and to invite someone different than us into our homes for dinner, or to take someone different out to a meal (borrowed the idea from Ben Smith and High Lakes Christian Church).

This morning I received an email from someone in our church with their experience with the challenge (don’t worry, I asked for permission and I will keep it anonymous).

After your message last week on going out of your comfort zone to have a meal with someone new we went to Burger King for lunch.  We talked about who we might ask out for a meal and get acquainted time.  We could not decide who we might ask at that time.  As we were leaving Burger King a homeless man walked up to us and ask me for change to get something to eat.  I saw a man that was poorly dressed, long white hair and beard with nicotine stains around his mouth and mustache.  I said I would buy him lunch but not give him money.  We went inside and I asked what he wanted within reason.  He chose a simple burger instead of a combo meal.  I ordered the burger for him and paid for it.  I told him the order number and said, “good luck.”  I think he wanted to shake my hand but was uncomfortable with the gesture because of me and my attitude.  As we were leaving the parking lot I saw him come out and share his burger with another man.  About that time I realized this is what your sermon was talking about.  He was the Samaritan in your message that people would not associate with.  I failed to ask this man about himself or care about his situation.  I could have offered to buy his friend a meal because I saw both of them sitting together when he got up and talked to me.  I told my spouse on the way home, this meeting with the homeless man was my challenge that David was talking about and I failed to apply what I had heard one hour earlier.  Thank you for giving me this example.

The thing that moved me the most was that this person shared an experience that wasn’t perfect. So often we will email someone to tell them how we practiced hospitality and it ended perfectly, or we may try something and strike out but then we’ll keep trying until we can share our successes. Very rarely do people drop their guard to share in the midst of imperfection. For the most part, we’re okay sharing our shortcomings but we want there to be some distance between our attempt, failure, and perfection. This example was more powerful to me than someone emailing to say that everything went smoothly and things were perfect. To the person who had the courage to share the story, thank you for being honest. We all need to remember that we’re only human but that doesn’t stop us from continually trying even if it’s without perfect results.

The truth is we’re all imperfect and we will all make mistakes, owning up to these shortcomings is a part of the process. Even Peter wasn’t perfect in his interaction with the Gentiles, he may have been obedient with Cornelius, but later in the New Testament the Apostle Paul wrote, “ When Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.” (Galatians 2:11-13)

Peter was human, just like the rest of us, and he made mistakes when it came to loving people different than himself. The encouragement is that we’ll all fall short in how we love those who aren’t like us, this doesn’t mean we give up and stop trying, it means we learn from our failures and we keep engaging the “other” regardless of how many times we mess up or fall short. Jesus called us to love our neighbors as ourselves and there weren’t any conditions in His command. Our neighbors are those who are the same as us and completely different from us. We are called to love God and love people, let’s do that regardless of how many times we don’t do it perfectly. To try and fail in this is better than never trying at all (as cliche as that may sound).

What have your experiences been like in inviting “others” in?