FOMO

missing outI thought I was the only one who had this feeling. But now I see that the feeling even has an acronym that is currently in the vernacular and used in magazines and on TV quite often now.

The feeling is called the fear of missing out (or FOMO, or short). It is the sensation that somewhere someone is having more fun, doing more things, having a better time than we are and we are not there to experience it with them.

It sounds silly when you say it out loud, but I truly think FOMO is at least one of the driving forces behind our over-scheduled, over-busy lifestyles these days. We want to make sure that we are fitting all that we can into a day and experiencing everything that our family and friends are experiencing.

The problem with FOMO it that is causes us to became super focused on what can bring us the most pleasure for ourselves, what can make us seem better or more involved than others and what can make us appear cool and hip and “with it” in the eyes of society.

Unfortunately, I think that FOMO has creeped into the life of the church as well. We are not as committed to activities and programs we once were in the church because we are subconsciously waiting for “something better to come along.” In extreme cases, we see the effects of FOMO playing out in lower attendance in worship and fewer activities at church.

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De-Cling Sin

shampoo bottleDo you have the problem of trying to get the last vestiges of soap or shampoo that clings to the inside of a bottle so that you can recycle it? Well, you may be in luck! Researchers at Ohio State University have developed “a microscopically thin coating, that applied to the inside of bottles, lets soapy products slide right off” (“Getting the Last Drop,” World Magazine, August 6, 2016).

When I read this article, the following verse came to mind:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. —Hebrews 12:1

We have a problem with sin clinging to the inside of ourselves and, like the soap and shampoo bottles, we need something that can “de-cling” the sin from our lives and let the last vestiges of it slide from us.

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Beware the Camel!

camelsWorking together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain, —1 Corinthians 6:1

I just recently heard the saying, “A camel is  just a horse designed by a committee.” It made me laugh because we have all been there. When you are on a committee, often what started out as a simple idea gets muddled in the abundance of desires and the incorporation of conflicting ideas.

It makes me think about what often happens at church meetings, unfortunately. The ultimate goal sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of details and multiple opinions. Often things don’t get done in the process or good concepts are abandoned, sadly.

I know that so many times the issues are so complex that they cannot be easily solved, but one caveat that came to mind as I contemplated this “camel” conundrum is that when it comes to working together as a team within a church body, we need to do all we can to keep it simple.

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Mere-exposure Effect

neighborly

Be neighborly. Who knows what God has in mind?

The mere-exposure effect is the well-documented psychological phenomenon that people tend to respond favorably to and think positively about anything they are merely exposed to regularly or are familiar with. I recently heard about it on an NPR story involved a study of parents’ perception of the educational system in our country. While a high percentage of parents had an unfavorable opinion of the educational system as a whole, they had a very favorable rating of their children’s school or the school in their community. Fascinating!

I think this effect has some applications, both positive and negative, for us as Christians.

On the positive side, while many people in our country may have an unfavorable attitude toward the institutional church as a whole, they may be more receptive to regular personal contact from individual Christians who talk to them on the street, wave hello, stop by to drop off some food when they are sick, etc. This is an opportunity for us to be a friend and a good example of what the Christian life is all about: loving one another on a personal level because of the love that God has shown to us in Christ.

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Living Stones

stonesAs you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5

I love the imagery that Peter uses here us each of us being like living stones. When you think about stones, you think of something solid, strong, but cold. But the picture here is one of stones filled with warmth, with energy, with vibrancy, along with being solid and strong.

To extend the metaphor, regular stones gathered together to build something strong, like a church building. When we as living stones come together to worship, we are building something strong, as well the Body of Christ, the Church at work, the active hands and feet of our Lord and Savior Jesus.

In my church where I worship, each child that is baptized receives a little stone as a memento and the parents are told that this stone can be placed on a child’s dresser and later in a backpack for the child to carry with him or her as a reminder that he or she is connected to the solid Rock of Jesus through Holy Baptism and that he or she is a living stone, called and blessed to work for Christ. Continue reading →

Letters

lettersYou yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  —2 Cor. 3:2-3

We don’t write letters too much anymore, but I do enjoy writing them, and in the early Church, hand-written letters were the only way to receive information from a great distance. All the epistles were originally simply letters written on parchment for one friend to another group of friends, talking about the life of faith in Christ from day to day.

Today those letters are studied and treasured and valued for their importance in giving us guidance for everyday living as Christians.

The great importance of letters to the people of that day is the reason why it is so monumental that Paul calls those who are receiving his actual letter, letters themselves.

We too, as recipients of Paul’s letters, are letters as well. And I love the concept of this. We are not letters that are written with ink that dries up, with we are written with the Spirit of the living God. We have vibrancy and force that will last forever. And we are not written on stone that is cold and unfeeling; we are written on human hearts that are beating and coursing and supplying lifeblood to the world.

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Food for Thought

foodJesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” —John 4:34

Lately, I have been forced to think a great deal about the food I eat because of an infection I suffered. Currently I am on the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast). I look forward to the days when I can eat normally again.

Even when we are feeling healthy, we spend a great deal of our time thinking about food. “What’s for dinner?” “What should I get at the grocery store?” “What would I like to order at my favorite restaurant?”

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Support Systems

balloonRejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Romans 12:15-16

During my recent hospitalization, I learned the supreme value of have a support system. My family and faraway friends called regularly and sent cards and emails, friends from church took me home after my discharge, my neighbor took me to the ER, friends from work provided food, sent a card and set up a cleaning service to come and disinfect my home before my return, and several friends came to visit me in my hospital room.

One friend who came to visit me in the hospital brought the balloon you see pictured here and placed them by my window. She had to stand at a distance and could not touch anything because I was contagious. But she risked it to bring me some joy.

It was this bright and cheerful balloon swaying by the window with the message “Get Well” that got me through many a rough night there and reminded me that I had a support system of friends and family praying for me and thinking of me. I could feel their love and am grateful for their thoughtfulness more than they can ever know.

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Powerful Words

open BibleI was recently hospitalized and through that experience, among many things, I learned the power that the words of Scripture can have on a person in a time of crisis.

On a plaque directly in my line of sight as I laid in bed read: Fear not, for I am with you (Isaiah 41:10).

Those words kept my spirits up each day and gave me the strength to keep going.

Then my cousin texted these words to me:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning —Lamentations 3:22-23

As soon as I saw those words, I immediately began to cry. It was just what I needed to hear at that exact moment. No matter how bleak it was looking, I was reassured that God will always love me and that his goodness to me is fresh every day—no matter what is happening in my life.

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Rubbish

rubbishIndeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. —Philippians 3:8

I recently saw a skit based on this Bible verse in which a man and a woman were each holding garbage bags full of “rubbish.”

Each talked about the bad “garbage” of their lives that was weighing them down—addictions, pride, unhealthy habits, dirty thoughts, hurtful words and harmful actions toward others. Then they tossed that “baggage” aside.

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