How real men (and women, perhaps) carry the groceries?

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Have you ever had to make the deep and serious decision between 2 or more trips walking the 90 feet from your vehicle to the kitchen or piling up and hanging grocery bags from yourself in every way humanly possible? I need to know, how many is too many?

I have difficulty with this every time I go shopping. What a waste of energy and effort it would be if I kept walking back and forth and back and forth. I might have to walk 90 to 130 feet if I did that.

There is one variable, however, that one must consider when making this decision. What is in the load? Eggs? Rotisserie chickens? Bread? One must consider these issues. Do you really want shopping bag scrambled eggs? Is it really worth having to mop the chicken juice off the kitchen floor to not walk back to the vehicle another time? Did you really mean to buy flatbread?

The load matters. Actually, the load determines the limits.

In Proverbs 27:23-27 we are instructed to know the condition of our flocks and to pay attention to our herds. We are instructed that new growth comes when the hay is cut and that faithfulness with what one has now is how one prepares for what is ahead.

What is your flock? What is your herd? God has given you something to be responsible for. He has given you people to be mindful of. He has given to you responsibilities to consider when making decisions. Are you considering the Word and wisdom of the Lord when you make these decisions?

Margin is that space between load and limit. It is the reality that some days the load of bearing one’s cross daily to follow Jesus is heavier than on other days. Margins are neither the means nor the measure of holiness. Margins are the result of holiness.

We have space between our God-given limits (the one he intentionally created to exist within us because we are not God) and our decided upon load. The key is not to simply set limits and then tell God the load must fit within them. The answer to this dilemma is to accept the God-given load and allow that to determine the God-given limits. The load determines the limits.

Most people in our culture are over-extended with their money, time, energy, emotions, and spirit. Yet, most are painfully unaware of their marginless life because it is the norm of our day. We have decided to push all limits and breakdown all barriers, even healthy ones.

I give you 3 challenges in making your decisions about load and limits.
1. Honor what you have.

Honoring what you have in life includes honoring who is in your life. You must consider what you have to be content in and with it. “He who is faithful with little will be given much.” Or as Proverbs 27:25 states “the new grass comes after the growth is cut.”
2. Honor today.
Tomorrow can only be honored when today is honored. Be faithful with this day and you will be ready to be faithful with the next one.
3. Honor the Lord
You have flocks because God so blessed. Your herd is his blessing and doing. Honor him with and in it.

I encourage you to consider the load God desires of you in making your limit decisions. Start with the God-given load and then you will be ready to live within God-given limits.

Finished Yet

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This is the question I want to ask anyone involved with the construction of the highway Fellowship Church is on. Finished yet?

Finishing is often difficult.

When I was 12 years old my uncle gave me his old 10 speed bike. I really wanted it, or so I thought. The bike was rusted. It needed to be torn down, repainted, and rebuilt. I quickly disassembled it. I painted it, poorly. Then, I spent more hours than I care to remember attempting to reassemble it. I worked on it for a week or two. I got frustrated and put all the parts into a garbage bag and set it to the side. Two years later, I threw it all away.

Why? A free 10-speed bike sounded great. The price of free, however, was more than I was willing to pay. The task was, honestly, beyond my mechanical abilities and most certainly beyond my experience. I found myself unwilling to do the work necessary to accomplish such a difficult, for me, task.

Paul ends Colossians with some final words of instructions and by mentioning several people by name to encourage them or to encourage the church to trust their leadership. These instructions, if heeded wisely, will allow a follower of Christ to finish. There are some things we practice in life that help us finish. Too often followers of Christ throw the work of Christ away, like I did that bike, simply because they are tired of the unfinished reality of His work in their life.

We finish because Jesus finished. The completed work of Christ is how we continue. We live out faith in difficult and wonderful times. The ups and downs of life do not rob of us of the ability to continue because we trust upon the completed work of Christ.

Here are the finishing practices Paul shares with us in Colossians:

  1. Pray continually. Prayer sticks when we stick with it. Scripture tells us “the prayers of a righteous man availeth much.” These prayers win. We typically do not stick with prayer because of impatience and arrogance. We believe we know better than God or that we simply do not have time to wait for God to move.
  2. Watch thankfully. We are thankful for what is ahead after we are thankful for what is at hand. It is difficult to be thankful towards the Lord you are asking for provision from in the future when you are ungrateful for the provision he has given you in the present. Start with now.
  3. Walk wisely. People who walk wisely see time correctly. I am currently reading a book titled Margins. It is a good read. Here are a few quotes. “All humans have physical, relational, emotional, and financial limits that are relatively fixed.” We do not like this because we are not all created equal in all ways. I simply do not have the same physical limitations as Drew Brees. He simply wishes he could do what I am capable of. “It is God the Creator who made limits, and it is the same God who placed them within us for our protection. We exceed them at our own peril.” Knowing your limits does not mean doing nothing. Do what matters like it matters.
  4. Speak Honestly. Speak words seasoned with truth and love. This is not always easy. Some times the truth a person needs to hear is hard to give with love because it is love they do not deserve. Thank God, he “demonstrated his love for us while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
  5. Act wisely. Wise people see the importance of people more than they need to be important to people. Paul sends out his brightest and best. Most people will never do that. I have, as the pastor at Fellowship. It is HARD. It is very DIFFICULT to give away your brightest and best to continue beyond yourself the work of the Gospel because it makes the work of the Gospel where you are more difficult to do. Wise people work hard so others might fulfill their own potential in the Kingdom of God.
  6. Live graciously. God’s grace is everything. Paul mentions Mark in this passage. This is the young man he and Barnabus broke up over. He would not take this quitter on another mission trip. Now he is sending him to the church in Colossae to help build them. God’s grace is everything. It changed Mark from a quitter to a servant and Paul from a punisher into a reconciler.

Is God’s grace everything in your life? I encourage you to ask Jesus to finish his work in you and not just through or for you. Seek the Lord that he would cause you to be a matured believer who can live out such high standards because you have a Savior that already lived them out on your behalf.