Pour into These

When I was younger I thought that by the time I reached this age I would be living an  adventure. I thought I would wake up every day filled with joy and passion for living, and that I would feel like everything I was doing was meaningful, impactful, and fulfilling. (Clearly this is a fantasy because emotions.)

In the age of the internet and social media I’ve ready quite a few articles on how young people should live their lives. They tell me to quit my job and just travel for a year (um but how do you pay for it?), or to invest in my career (how do you even know what you want?), or to live alone for a while (again, is no one worried about money anymore?). But, while these all sound super tantalizing and nice, I know that they don’t actually satisfy they way they sound like they do.

The articles that touch me deeply are the ones that talk about how young singles should be living their lives for God. How we should be investing in our churches and our ability to say yes to things that come up. Mentor this person? yes! Support this person in ministry? yes! Volunteer for this event? yes!

What they don’t talk about is the mental challenges you face to do that. Apathy lurks around every corner when I start thinking about the lost. Doubt trickles into my mind whenever I think about taking a step towards mentoring. And let’s not even get started on how hard it is to go to a church and say “Hi. One of my spiritual gifts is administration. Let me run stuff for you.” (Besides the fact they usually already have someone, you kind of need a little more rapport than that.)

And so I find myself in an awkward place. I’m trying to live, but feel hindered by the regular facts of life. I thought I would be working in full time ministry, and instead I’m working elsewhere (and I do love my job, but it isn’t the same). But most of all I wonder if what I’m doing has impact. Or if it has worth. Is what I’m doing with my life meaningful? Expectations of what I should do seem to come from everywhere (but they’re probably all just in my head), and then I feel lost.

So I, like any good 20 something who doesn’t know what is going on with this adulating thing, I half-seriously asked my mom what I should do with my life.

You have a job. You have a church. You have a family. You have friends. Pour into those.

Pouring out is not a quick one time deal. Pouring is flowing from yourself into others. And I think this sums up what all those articles are saying. (Or what they’re trying to say.) Your life isn’t more impactful or more meaningful if you’re a foreign missionary. You have circles of influence and within those you have the ability to invest in their lives. You have the ability to show people the love of Christ. And hanging out and spending time with people is NOT a waste.

Over and over again in the Bible we are reminded of how we are to care for the lost and the broken. The least of these. In Galatians 2 they have a huge hullabaloo meeting about how to live as  Christian and if circumcision is really necessary, and what do they decide? The only thing they leave Paul with is to remember the poor (Gal 2:10). There’s the woman at the well Jesus decides to invest in (John 4). Healing the sick and afflicted (the Bible…). Elijah provides food and healing for the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17). etc.

Then there’s Jesus and Peter:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

John 21:15-17

So you know the people you see every day? The ones that you talk to or hang out with and see often. Or maybe the one you see once a week and chat with. Maybe the one who is growing and looking for guidance. The one who is hurting. The one who is right there.

Pour into these.

The Game Plan (Philemon)

God’s plan for Onesimus and Philemon were not exactly what they had picked out for themselves. I don’t think it would have been in Onesiumus’ thought process to return, and I’m fairly confident it wasn’t in Philemon’s plan to accept him back with open arms. Also, they probably didn’t plan on being converted. Be that as it may, there was still a plan set out for them.

And you know what? It was a pretty good plan in the end. A little unconventional, but the results were pretty fantastic (I think, at least). So it reminds us that even when our life plan seems to make no sense, God is completely in control and he will make it beautiful in the end. It’s hard to trust, yes, but there is a beautiful story to tell on the other side.

Majors and Minors (Titus 3)

“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” – Titus 3:8-9

Point being, focus on the things that matter, not the ones that don’t. This isn’t to say that we can’t learn about things that we disagree on and continue to learn more, but it isn’t the focus. The focus always has and always will be on the saving power and mercy of Christ. When we take this focus away, all things are in vain. We don’t have time to waste foolishly fighting over little things when eternity is at stake.

Every Moment (Titus 1-2)

Basically how we should be interacting with each other at all times. I like how chapter 2 (I’m not getting into roles here) gives ways for everyone to be in discipleship/mentor relationships. Paul has this vision in his mind for how the church was going to function. It is a self-sustaining, multiplying entity. And the best part is that through the different functioning parts glory is given to God. Because, really, that is the end goal of basically anything we do.

It’s easy to forget that everything we do is for God. All the things that we do should be to serve him. This is something that has been standing out a lot for me as I read Paul’s letters. He was completely connected to God, and everything he did related back to his relationship with God and how he was saved through Christ. It was a constant, present knowledge that he needed God in every moment, and that every moment belonged to God.

 

Know It (2 Timothy 3-4)

There are so many passages on last days and the second coming of Christ in these letters…

Over the last year, I have begun challenging myself to know scripture better. Growing up a pastor’s kid I’ve read a lot and heard a lot, but I don’t know where to find a lot of the verses or passages that I want right when I need them. Part of learning has been specific memorization, but a lot has come from just reading consistently. The more often you read the more familiar you become! It makes it easier, then, just as Paul told Timothy, to live out what you know.

Also, since the scripture is fit for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness (3:16), Timothy is then able to actually fulfil the role that Paul asks him to. He is equipped because of what he has read, learned, and now knows.

As a side note, Paul seems almost desperate for Timothy to come to him. It is easy to see why when he explains how he is alone, which is kind of sad. Again, though, he continues to focus on how through what he is doing even know, Christ is glorified. Such faith.

Christ at All Times (2 Timothy 1-2)

I am not ashamed of the name above all names
For it has the power to heal and to save
A strength for the weary, peace to the troubled soul.
Peace to the troubled soul.
It’s the name of Jesus. It’s the name of Jesus.
Mightier than mountains, He lives among the weak.
Ruler eternal, a lover to me.
Jesus, name above all. Jesus, name above all.
– Name Above All (Vineyard)

I was reminded of the lyrics of this song as I was reading Paul’s writing. In so many circles I’m a part of, it isn’t hard to be unashamed. Actually, it is easier to be unashamed of the gospel than it is to be ashamed of it! Clearly that isn’t the situation Paul is talking about here. It is the times when we are out and about and the name of Jesus is not looked upon with favour. These are the times when we actually need the reminder of who it is we serve. The challenge to pursue the higher things like faith, love, and peace.

Paul somehow figured out how to latch onto the hope he found in Christ so that it was real to him every day. Whether he was embraced by people or persecuted heavily, he was able to rest in knowing that God had called him to do these works to further the glory and gospel of Christ. I think that it is this reason that Paul is a role model to so many. His ability to rely on Christ in all times.

Fight the Good Fight (1 Timothy 5-6)

I feel like there is much to apply to our lives within the concluding thoughts of chapter 6.  First off, not worrying a whole lot about people who reject the message that we bring. If we know that our message is from God, we shouldn’t worry about people arguing for the sake of having an argument. Also, not worrying about achieving riches (or popularity?) in life, but instead being content with what we need in Christ.

Paul’s challenge to Timothy is going to be written on something and stuck in a place I can see it, because it is so good. To honour Christ and live his life thus is a definite challenge, but it is the necessary step for Timothy to be taking.

“Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” – 6:11-12

Walk the Talk (1 Timothy 3-4)

If we want to teach others and impart wisdom that we have gleaned in our lives, our actions can either back us up or disqualify what we are saying. It makes sense, then, that Paul also tells Timothy to live above reproach. To continue to live his life in a way that others will see and respect means that it will be easier for him to instruct the church and continue to correct their doctrine.

This whole section (4:6-16) is also applicable for most of us today in it’s reminders to continue to live with Christ the focus and centre of what we do, especially if we are in positions of leadership. However, the only way we can persevere and do all these things and act in confidence is remembering that we have our hope set in Christ and that it doesn’t matter what others may think or say. If we lead by example, it is easier for others to follow.

Faith and Knowledge (1 Timothy 1-2)

“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” – 1 Timothy 1:5

The goal of this whole mission is pure hearts and sincere faith. It seems so simple, how could the church be missing it? Because things get in the way. There’s a reason we get hit in the face every time we read about childlike faith. Doctrine and theology are cool and important and all that jazz, but head knowledge is worthless if the heart is not sincere in love and faith. Both aspects are necessary, but it is easy to miss one or the other.

Faith must equal knowledge; we must learn to walk the way we talk. I find that I continually must refocus myself on God and remind myself that simple trust is necessary, even though all the complicated things seem to be pulling me in other directions.

Rely and Encourage (2 Thessalonians 3)

Even in the event of someone not following what they were told and leeching off of other people, the Thessalonians are told to still approach them like a brother, not an enemy. Yes, they begin to distance themselves to hope that he begins to understand and see the err in his ways, but they do not consider him to be an enemy of them

Again, Paul refers to God being the centre of everything because it is him who directs our thoughts and paths. It amazes me that he has such faith that it is evident in every single thing he says that we should be relying on him to help us.