Believe Buzz — Week 18 — Offering My Time

believe_bulletin-cover-week-18Here’s the buzz from the small groups week 18:

Believe is an action verb.  Whatever we believe in our hearts will be expressed in the way we live.”  (page 290, Believe, Randy Frazee-General Editor)

That’s it. Case closed. Class is over.  These two sentences do not constitute a judgement.  This is fact – the heart of the whole “Believe” series.  Pick a chapter from this book (there are 30 of them) and these two sentences underscore that chapter.  We discussed  the fact that all time is God’s time.  We cited the many examples of people offering their time in order for FPC’s Christ in the Arts Organ Concert to be the huge success that it was.  We discussed the tie between our individual Spiritual Gifts and how we each offer our time to God – whether that offering takes place within the church or in the world at large.  The way we treat others and ourselves is a living example of what we “believe”.

Our time this evening constituted a “group hug”.  All expressed how blessed we feel to be a part of God’s community and of FPC.  Next week we will discuss our personal Spiritual Gifts results vis-à-vis the next chapter, “Giving My Resources”.  We can’t wait!

We focused in on the story of Haggai and the rebuilding of the temple. We approached it from the stand point that we are God’s temples now and that the rebuilding of His temple must come before our own desires. The up side to this is that when we do this, God blesses the things that we do in His name. However, like any building, if its doors are never opened and its contents never used, it will quickly fall into disrepair. So we must use the spiritual gifts God installed in us to serve Him in all that we do, not just on Sundays or in church, but everywhere and at every moment. This led us to the story of Jonah and whether God still can put us into the belly of a fish. We discussed how we do that to ourselves when we focus on our own wants and desires and ignore what God calls us to do.

Haggai–it wasn’t just that Hebrews had built their homes before restoring temple–they’d paneled their homes & the temple was still in ruins.  Paneled homes were more expensive than simple mud/adobe or stone.  In poor areas, church leaders should not make houses of worship lavish, but would want to demonstrate God’s love for the impoverished.  Yet what is the witness to a community of a church building that is allowed to look run down?  As a wise person once said, “A church building should look like it is loved.” Should church members allow the church  carpet to look ratty when they would be ashamed to let their own home furnishings look run down?

David shared an illustration of a retired member of his church in Richmond who, in partnership with a businessman, were “adopting” grade school students and following their progress in school from year to year.  They grew alarmed when they realized too many of their classmates were dropping out and not finishing high school.  They discovered that if a child could not read well by 3rd grade, their chance of never finishing high school was high.  So they raised money, and hired some teachers to lead a “Third Grade Academy” to boost reading skills in the summer.  Church members were enlisted as “shepherds” to make sure these children regularly came to their special summer classes, held at interesting places around town such as a museum, or IU East, etc.  Follow up studies showed the special help these children received was making a difference.  David was proud to note there were more Presbyterians who volunteered as “shepherds”, than Methodists, even though the Methodist Church was bigger!  God wants us to use our time wisely to make a difference not only in our churches, but our communities!

Just as God requires our first fruits from our income, He also asks that we give first of our time.  However, we find this especially difficult to do in that there are so many demands on our time.  Work, family, home chores and screen time all seem to “get in the way” of our “God” time.  We find it necessary to take time each day to lay our planner before God.  Asking the Lord to be in control of our “to do” list is a great way to make sure we are always seeking His Kingdom first.

Enjoy “Lord I Need You” by Matt Maher