Title: Lent Time
Key Verses: Galatians 6:7-10
Topic: Following the calling of God’s spirit in our lives
Part 4: Putting the call into action
So how do we go about living in this way? Paul provides a pretty good rulebook of do’s and don’t’s. We could spend a lot of time talking through each of the items mentioned in Galatians 5:19-26, but we’ll leave that for another time. For today, let’s all try to take away at least one tangible way of enhancing our spirituality.
We’re all different. In our fall Christian parenting Sunday school class, we discussed the personality differences in birth order with children. We also looked at the different dynamics that tend to develop in families between boys and girls as well as between male and female parents. In today’s society, we accept that people have different learning styles and that each of us is expected to express ourselves differently from our neighbours. This is okay. In fact, it is encouraged. Such a rich diversity is bound to confuse those of us that thrive on structure and formulas for success (I’m one of those “structured types”). Lucky for us, there are many different ways to achieve success in the area of spiritual growth. I can guarantee you that for each one of us, there is a method for enhancing our spiritual health and well-being.
For starters, we need to understand what it is we want to accomplish. In what ways do you want to enhance your spirituality? Do you want to increase your ability to pray out loud? That’s one of my personal goals. I struggle with public prayer. As a student pastor, I’ve made that one of my learning goals for this year: public prayer. It’s hard for me and I want to improve it. So I’ve committed myself to practice. And now that I’ve shared it with you, I’ve committed myself further. Now I have to improve. Otherwise, others will know. That’s a lot of pressure! Haha
- Increase your knowledge of the Bible;
- Connect with other like-minded Christians;
- Enhance your marriage relationship;
- Or maybe even go back to the basics (The Alpha Program and Baptism);
Thinking outside of the box, we can see opportunities to build relationships with people outside of our immediate church and family communities in areas such as:
- Helping the poor in our communities and beyond;
- Caring for the sick; or
- Participating in public discussion about peace, war or some other cause that might interest you;
The possibilities are endless. All of these are examples of ways to connect with God and to position ourselves as a Visible Community of Christian believers. Just as we are called to be stewards with our money, we should also be called to be stewards with our time and with our intentional worship.
It’s one thing to identify these goals. It’s quite another to execute on them. How do we turn these goals into action? Looking within Niagara United Mennonite Church, we can see plenty of opportunities coming up in January:
- Our Sunday school program is filled with classes that are sure to appeal to everyone here;
- The library has a ton of great material that can be borrowed for free;
- The pastoral team is approachable and well equipped to help as well;
And there are plenty of other ways to get involved here at Niagara United Mennonite Church. The volunteer opportunities are endless. Each of us is uniquely skilled and we are all able to contribute in our own distinct ways.
Outside of NUMC, the resources are endless:
- Take a wander down to Chapters or Mitchell’s Bookstore and you’ll see a ton of material just waiting to engage you and inspire you;
- You can take classes at local schools. There are plenty of opportunities for those interested in pursuing Christian spirituality in an academic setting;
- Almost every hospital, nursing home, educational institution and many other facilities have volunteer programs that are looking for help;
- MCC: If your local neighbourhood isn’t challenging enough, then Mennonite Central Committee just might be able to find an offsite missions trip that will keep you challenged and spiritually invigorated;
This is only a small sampling of the many possible opportunities and methods of connecting with God. And remember, you don’t have to go big or go home. This isn’t about who can volunteer the most or who can raise the most money for a cause. It’s about being involved in Christian community in a way that pleases the spirit. Whatever your calling, whatever your interest and whatever your skill, I can guarantee that there is a need for anything that you can provide. We are all uniquely skilled and we are all uniquely valued within our community.
There’s one last one that I’d like to mention that I haven’t touched on yet. This is perhaps the simplest and the most effective method of developing spiritual well-being: Direct communication with God. The gift of prayer is something that each of us can do. And we can each do it in our own way and in our own time. Before bed, after waking in the morning, at a special time during the day or even while commuting to and from work, there are many different ways to connect individually with God. The important thing is to be intentional about it and to do it on a regular basis. Make it a habit. Make it a routine. Make it meaningful. And make it happen. Just as we communicate with our spouses, our children, our parents and our friends, make conversations with God a regular part of your day. Nurture that relationship and watch it grow.
Alright… We’ve been given clear instructions. What is holding us back? I challenge us to identify those barriers and find a way to overcome them. We don’t want to be caught off-guard. Embrace the freedom that faith can provide. And remember Paul’s words: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” We all want to be there for that harvest.
So… set your personal spiritual growth plan for 2007.
This is about intentional living and making every day count. We’ve been given the gift of life. Should we squander it, or should we use it for God’s glory? Should we use this time to be a “Visible Community”, or do we hide under the cloak of anonymity? Use our Lent Time to honour God in ourselves and within our community.
God bless you in the year to come. I wish each of you a very exciting and spiritually rewarding year in 2007.