Lack of Commitment

(This is totally my observation as a whole, not directed at any one person)….

As I began to think about what it means to be “committed” to something I obviously looked up the definition.

Here’s what Dictionary.com had to say:

1.) to give in trust or charge; consign.
2.) to consign for preservation: to commit ideas to writing; to commit a poem to memory.
3.) to pledge (oneself) to a position on an issue or question; express (one’s intention, feeling, etc.): Asked if he was a candidate, he refused to commit himself.
4.) to bind or obligate, as by pledge or assurance; pledge: to commit oneself to a promise; to be committed to a course of action.
5.) to entrust, especially for safekeeping; commend: to commit one’s soul to God.
(Bold and color is my emphasis)…
Most of the definitions listed rang true to what I already knew about being “committed” to something, but #3, #4 and #5 really hit home on what it means to be committed to church.
I have been a part of a church my whole life. I grew up and attended the same church until I was 18. And then, because of my choice, I attended and joined a different church, but still was committed to the Church (Big “C”). I was very involved in church (little “c”) all through my college years: Sunday School, worship, working in the nursery, attending college retreats, etc. I LOVED being a part of the church…and I still do!
I hope and pray that Paul and I will always be a part of the Church (Big “C”) and part of a church (little “c”). We were both called into ministry and felt a calling to go to seminary (where we met, fell in love, and married). We are committed…the road is not always easy and there are trials along the way, but with each other and with faith in the One who has called us, we are willing to make the commitment, no matter the cost.
I think that’s where people miss the mark. Being committed to Church (Big “C”) and to church (little “c”) is not easy. It costs something. It’s not easy.
“Why do you suppose that there are close to 100 million church members in America yet they are not making more of a moral and spiritual impact? Why is that on Sunday morning thousands of churches have more empty pews than full? Why is it that the average Sunday School in America has less than 66 in attendance and that the average worship service has 84? Why is it that only 50% of the number on any church membership roll can be expected to attend? If Christians really believe in a real heaven and a real Hell, how can we be so silent? . . . The answer to all of these questions is tragically simple! God’s people have made a decision about Jesus….but have never made a commitment to Him.” [Charles Stanley. Confronting Casual Christianity. (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1985) pp. 23-33.]
That last line: “God’s people have made a decision about Jesus…but have never made a commitment to him” really made me cringe because it’s so true! People decide to follow something or commit to something if it is convenient, easy, or comfortable for them.
When the pilot of a giant airline is speeding down the runway, there is a certain point where it staying on the ground is no longer an option. When he crosses that line, he is committed to the air, he will take off or a disastrous crash is imminent. At that point the pilot can no longer change his mind he is committed.
Unfortunately churches are filled with members who have never got off the ground. They have been sitting there gunning their engines, making noise but getting nowhere. They have been planning on it, meaning to, wanting to, trying to, going to, aiming to, hoping to. But tragedy of tragedies, they have never got off the ground. ( Stanley, p. 30)

Staying on the ground is no longer an option…” I think we stay on the ground because we are safe and comfortable…it’s what we know. It’s what we’re used to. It’s not making us go into the “unknown.”

In Romans 12:1-2 Paul says, “And so, dear brothers and sisters,I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

to give your bodies….

To give something is to expect nothing in return. No compensation. No recognition. A total sacrifice of your time, talents, money, or service.

Under the sacrificial system in the Old Testament the animal to be sacrificed was committed to the priest, was killed and consumed on the altar. The believer’s in this passage (in Romans) were told to present themselves as a “living sacrifice” with the understanding that there is no such thing as “partial sacrifice or a partial commitment”.

It is impossible to be “sort of committed.” You are either committed or you are not committed. It is not possible to be a partial sacrifice. (Revelation 3:16).

A couple of weeks ago in Sunday School a guy told a really neat story that I had never heard. He said there was a story (parable) of a pig and a chicken. When they both commit themselves to breakfast, the chicken is only contributing, the pig has to sacrifice, to be totally committed.

To commit ourselves to God means that we surrender to him, abandon ourselves to him, entrust ourselves to him and place ourselves at his disposal. True commitment is not something that you can take back.

And the same goes for church.

People fail to become involved or to give. The priority for worshiping together as a body of believers falls down, far on the list, as if it lines up with raking the leaves, going grocery shopping, or cleaning the bathrooms (which is NOT my favorite thing to do). They criticize all that is wrong with their church yet they do nothing to contribute to change or even acceptance. They go when it’s convenient and nothing else is “pressing” for their time.

We need to accept the challenge to commit ourselves to responsible membership.” [Jerry Bridges. Spirit of Revival. “Commitment” (April, 1994) p. 29-30]

Commitment to church is deeper than just going to church on Sunday mornings. The reason people don’t get involved is because they don’t feel like they “belong.” Well, the reason they feel that way is because they’ve done nothing to remedy that feeling.

When we first moved to Giddings, I learned (the hard way) that I wasn’t just going to “fit right in”–I had to try. (And I’m still trying to find my place–it’s not easy, even for the minister’s wife). I wasn’t the “one missing puzzle piece” that would make our church complete. The entire congregation is made up of people who all, themselves, are trying to fit. If you don’t “fit” somewhere, pick somewhere else. Don’t leave just because it’s uncomfortable in one place. Move around. Chances are the church is full of open spaces (because of the empty pews, referring back to what Stanley said earlier)….

If you want to get to know people, get involved! And just coming on Sunday morning for one hour is not going to cut it!

One of the excuses I have heard is that a certain church program offered is for “the old people.” Well, the reason it is for “the old people” is because that’s who goes to it. Maybe if you went to it (and committed to it), it wouldn’t just be qualified for the “old” because you were there (and you’re young). Who cares if you’re young and they’re old….it’s about a commitment to the church as a whole and to reading and studying God’s Word, not what age you are.

(But, let me back up and say….you also need to be around people and be involved in areas that will “feed you” as a Christian. I know, for me, I obviously would not attend a Men’s Bible Study, designed specifically for men, because…I’m not a man. You need to find a place that you can be led to further your walk with the Lord, wherever that is. But, don’t hold stereotypes just because of age).

Above all else (and there are plenty of reasons) I think there are 3 main reasons why people are not committed to church.

1.) Society is much more mobile than it used to be. My parents have lived in the same town for 43 years. They have lived in the same house for 32 years. My dad has worked at the same job for 43 years. My mom has had the same dryer for 42 years (sorry, but that has GOT to be a record). Anyway, 40-50-60 years ago people stayed in one place–they didn’t move around like we do now. Paul and I have been married for almost 6 years. We have lived in 4 different towns (1 of them two different times) and have moved 7 times…it’s just who we are. It’s our culture. So, the idea of committing to a church and “planting roots” somewhere is difficult because you never know when you will move again.

2.) The church is no longer the focal point of a town. Where my dad is from the Baptist church is in “downtown,” right off the main road. You can see it if you are passing through town. Everyone knows where the church is. Going to church was a community event. A neighborhood church was exactly that. People didn’t drive 15-30 minutes to get to church–they went to church in their own community. The church has lost its focal point in the community–it is now passed up by the local fast food joints and the big shopping centers.

3.) Materialism is affecting our priorities and commitments. Our society prides itself on living a “simple lifestyle.” But really, do we do that? Our culture’s obsession with material possessions is first and foremost in a lot of people’s (and church’s) minds. (And, I admit, I’m there, too, sometimes). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:33). We must keep our priorities in order…both when we talk about materialism and commitment to the things that matter most.

The local church with all its imperfections is still the Lord’s major avenue through which he accomplishes his work. The church gathers for worship, teaching and fellowship to gain power to carry out the ministry as each member is scattered to their various places of responsibility in the world.

Get committed–beyond the convenience….beyond when your schedule allows it….beyond the comfort–get committed….

 

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10K Update

Here are some pictures of me running the Spring Chicken 10K in Temple last Saturday. You can read about it here!

waiting for the race to start

look at that face of determination! (and, of course, the thumbs sticking up--I always run with my thumbs up)!

such concentration and drive! (or I'm completely numb from the waist down from running 6 miles)!

AND...crossing the finish line!

It was really fun…the course was great–very flat and easy to maneuver! I’d like to do another one soon….

A Local Blessing

Since living here, we have met a very sweet couple at church named Gene and Julia. Gene is “in charge” of the local Food Pantry here in Giddings. It’s definitely a passion for him (and Julia), and if you ask him about it, you will be blessed after listening to him talk about the food pantry and the way it has helped our town and the surrounding communities over the last few years.

It’s a little bit hard to explain (on a blog, anyway) but I’ll do my best.

On the 2nd Friday of the month (and the following day, Saturday) they have the local food pantry open to any and all who want to come; all you have to do is present an ID (picture). Gene orders food on the Tuesday before (from the C*pital Area F**d Bank in Austin) and it is delivered on the 2nd Friday, for distribution that day and the next. On those two days they usually serve around 300-400 people (which represents about 300-400 families)–if I’m wrong or misspoke, sorry, Julia, but I think that’s right….

the truck from Austin

the worker from Austin unloading the truck

On the 4th Friday of the month they have Fresh Food for Families. This is also provided by the C*pital Area F**d Bank. (But, for Fresh Food for Families, Gene cannot order food. The local food pantry just receives whatever the Capital Area F**d Bank sends them–there’s no choice.) They deliver fresh foods on the same day: fruits, vegetables, bread to Giddings and they distribute it to the locals. Again, all they have to do to qualify is to have an ID.

the guy unloading pallets of bananas

On the Saturday following the 4th Friday they have HOPE, which is only for those 60 and older. The local food bank provides canned goods, non-perishable staples, and the leftover fresh food to those who are specifically in need (and over 60)–although anyone over 60 can come on the other days, too, this is just something “extra” for them.

There are several people in our church that volunteer to work at the food bank on those days (4 total). I really enjoyed hearing about it when Gene and Julia took us to Whataburger last Wednesday night (with John and Cindy as well) and wanted to get more involved. So, this past Friday I went to volunteer. (I couldn’t volunteer on Saturday because of the 10K).

Gene told me to show up at 12:00 (the food pantry didn’t “open” until 1:30) to help sort and start packing food. When I showed up, people were already lined up outside and the line was wrapped around the building.

people waiting inside once the doors opened around 1:15

more people waiting...

Once all the food is delivered, one particular volunteer, Kathy, helps sort and label how much each person can get. The “average” number of people that come to Fresh Food for Families (on the 4th Friday) is about 150. So, for example, if there are 3,000 pounds of bananas delivered, then you divide that by 150. Each person would get 20 pounds. Kathy has a scale and she “measures out” 20 pounds of bananas. (It’s all just approximate, not an exact amount)…so, Kathy “sorts” once everything is delivered. Then the volunteers get busy “bagging” the assorted fruits/veggies.

me helping Kathy weigh the oranges

the volunteers bagging onions and broccoli

onions and broccoli (I think they got 10 bunches of broccoli and 20 onions)

racks of bread--Kathy said this was only about 1/3 of the bread they usually get

Once all the food is bagged and sorted, the recipients get a number (that shows what order they can come up and register).

Bob checking in a recipient

After I helped Kathy sort and weigh food and bagged oranges and bananas for awhile. But, most of my afternoon was spent on the computer, checking people in.

People coming to the food pantry don’t really get a choice of what they get because everything is already pre-sorted and pre-bagged (unless they have babies and then they can specifically ask for–and they try to accommodate–for baby food on “Food Pantry” day, if there is any). Otherwise everything is put in a shopping cart and then there are several volunteers who help people get the food out to their cars.

here's a shopping cart full of Fresh Food for Families

So, that’s what I did on Friday afternoon. I got there about 12:00 (noon) and left at 4:10–I really enjoyed it! And, I hope, it is something that I am able to do every month that I am able.

And, just because Bob wanted me to take a picture with him–here’s Bob, he goes to our church and was my “friend” while we checked people in).

Bob and me

My First “Official” 10K

Today I ran in my first “official” 10K race. (I’ve run 6.50 miles before but never in a race)….

I participated in the Spring Chicken 10K in Temple, put on by the Parks and Leisure Services. (I just randomly picked it because it was a 10K–I really have no investment in the Temple Parks, just in case you were wondering)…

Paul’s sister lives in Temple, so I picked that race because I thought he would want to come with me to see his sister. (My thought was that we could spend the night at her house on Friday night and I could do the race early-8:00AM-on Saturday while he was sleeping)….

Well, he didn’t want to go with me. So, I just ended up getting a hotel room in Temple on Friday night, staying by myself, and getting up early this morning to do the race.

I really had no idea what my goal was or even what to shoot for. I told Paul I just didn’t want to be last! 🙂

My friend, Amanda, who did my 5K training last summer (in Illinois) said to shoot for an 11:00-11:45 minute mile (pace) which would put me in at about 1:08 (or maybe around 1:13).

Well, I finished in 1:05:33, with a 10:34 mile pace!!

I was super excited about that!!  🙂 Not too bad for my first time. And, let me tell you, it really was not that hard….I never felt winded, or tired, or out of breath. My legs ached afterwards (and they hurt tonight) but it’s not painful, just kind of “achy.”

Bring on the 15K!!

On a side note: I “googled” (is that a verb) Central Texas races and this one popped up…I clicked on it because Smithville is only 30 minutes away from us! When a race is called “Hells Hills“–you probably don’t want to do it)!—people actually PAY MONEY to run 50 MILES!!!

“Good Reads”

Most people probably know that I love to read….

I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember….

I think it really helped to have my mom as a “reading role model.” She always had a book on the windowsill by her bed (she didn’t have a nightstand) and was always reading.

When I was younger I would keep a flashlight next to my bed. When it was my bedtime, I would grab a book and my flashlight and read underneath my covers (until I heard my mom walking down the hall)…

When I was older I would keep a book next to my bed. When I was “supposed” to be reading a school book, I would hide my book inside my textbook and read that book, instead of my school book….sssshhh….don’t tell my mom! 🙂

I am fortunate and blessed that Paul also likes to read. I enjoy having a husband who enjoys the same things I do (even if they are minimal)….just yesterday Paul and I both laid in the bed and read, together….it was a sweet moment…

So, I thought I’d share with you some of my latest “good reads”:

1.) The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

Very good book….I read it in a matter of three-four days–it didn’t end the way I wanted it to (just left me wanting more), but overall, a very good book. Easy read.

2.) Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

I’ve read a lot of books by Nicholas Sparks….none of them are bad. I couldn’t put this one down….I kept wanting to read more and more. One night I stayed up until after 1AM just to finish it.

3.) True Colors by Kristin Hannah

My mom got me into the Kristin Hannah books. I tried to read True Colors about 6 months ago and couldn’t really get into it. But, now I’m ALMOST done and can’t wait to finish it….I’ve read most of Kristin Hannah books as well. (I also have The Things We Do for Love checked out from the library)….All of them I have read are really good–Firefly Lane and Magic Hour are good ones to start with. And don’t let the “size” of the book intimidate you–they are easy-reads.

4.) Cinnamon Roll Murder by Joanne Fluke

I haven’t read it yet, but it was just released on February 28th. I can’t wait to get it (I’ve got to see if the library has it yet). I’ve read all of Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen Mystery series and I loved them! But, you HAVE TO read them in order; otherwise, they won’t make sense. Each book builds off of the ones before (and characters are not re-introduced) so I would definitely suggest starting with Book #1.

And, of course, anything by Terri Blackstock, Karen Kingsbury, Colleen Coble, Lynn Austin is always good!

So, that’s what I’m reading….if you have any suggestions for me for new books or if you want any other suggestions, let me know!

Claire and I are BFF’s

Shortly after we moved to Illinois, in February of 2009, we decided we needed to buy a GPS for the car. After getting lost a couple of times trying to get to Job Fairs at various colleges around central Illinois (and ending up in a corn field), Naveeda joined our family. Naveeda was our 1st GPS. She met her fate and died sometime in 2010, after Paul dropped her on the ground and shattered the screen.

Claire joined our family last year. She has taken us many places and even helped us find a new home in Texas. Claire and I really have a love/hate relationship, which is indicative to being best friends. Paul will tell you that I question Claire on a daily basis, if we are using her to travel to an unfamiliar location. I usually like to have the atlas right next to me, looking at that as well as listening to Claire talk in her British voice, seducing my husband, the driver, to turn in 500 ft. Nine times out of ten Claire is right (in eventually getting us to our destination) but she frustrates me because she is always “recalculating” or leading us down strange roads….(on our way to Texas she sent us down a gravel road, in the 16ft Penske truck with a car trailer, going 35MPH at 7:30AM)….enough said.

Well, today I went to Austin and Claire was my guide. We did have a few “words” when she kept telling me to turn right to go “SOUTH” when it was “NORTH” but overall, we survived. There was one point, when I had to go up on an overpass, that I was genuinely nervous. That sucker was HIGH!! There were about 3 overpasses UNDERNEATH the one I was on…it was crazy!

But, nonetheless, I made it. I missed a couple of exits (b/c of the crazy TWO-LEVEL highway they have downtown) but I made it to 6th street. That’s right. I went to 6th street! It was its own website! Of course I was there at 10:45 in the morning, so not much was going on, except the Starbucks looked a little crowded….

I ended up at Mellow Johnny’s, Lance Armstrong’s bike shop in downtown Austin. I went for Bob, our pastor and friend in Illinois (Hi Bob)! I was definitely out of my element, considering I’m not a bike rider, but Bob would’ve loved it.

After visiting downtown I hoped back on I-35 and went north. I ended up at Old Navy, Family Christian bookstore, Kohl’s, Hobby Lobby, Sports Authority…and all the while Claire is leading me (sometimes the wrong direction).

But, I made it home. Alive and in one piece. Just in time to watch the Lady Bears beat Florida!

 

 

Disciple Now 2012-Part Two

some one-on-one time...

story of Samson and Delilah

adults joined us for worship

playing the A to Z scavenger hunt

playing a game

3 of our kids

Delilah (and her "cat")

on the A to Z scavenger hunt

Paul leading worship

the fate of Genesis 4

on the A to Z scavenger hunt

on the A to Z scavenger hunt

adults in worship

girls downstairs

group photo (minus Kate)

Overall, it was a very fun weekend! 🙂

Thank you to the Higgins and the Parkers for opening up their homes and to Melissa (and Billy) for organizing and cooking all the food!! 🙂