How many times a day do you find yourself wondering “Why did I do that?” Maybe you were cut off in traffic and instinctively moved out to teach them a lesson (or get even, or whatever). Or maybe you said something stupid to your wife or spoke harshly to your children simply because you were feeling the burdens of the day. I’ve done those things. What’s on your list?...
How many times a day do you find yourself wondering “Why did I do that?” Maybe you were cut off in traffic and instinctively moved out to teach them a lesson (or get even, or whatever). Or maybe you said something stupid to your wife or spoke harshly to your children simply because you were feeling the burdens of the day. I’ve done those things.
What’s on your list?
So often we do or say something we hadn’t planned on and wonder where it came from. Many of them are things we wish we had not done or things we intended to do but didn’t.
The Apostle Paul noticed the same thing. He wrote “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Rom 7:15)
Whether it is from laziness, lack of discipline, liking some sin that we know we should be rid of, or claiming the devil or somebody else made me do it, we find ourselves thinking and acting in ways we don’t want. Paul says the problem is his sinful nature and asks “who will rescue me from this body of death?” Then he responds with a resounding “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
When we put our faith in Jesus Christ and submit to His Lordship, two kinds of things happen. First, we are reconciled to Him and become children of God and enter into His family. So, our standing before Him changes. Secondly, He begins to transform us into what we never could be, into what He designed us to be. So often, in our own strength, we grunt, push, and grit our teeth to change something about us and, at best, we might see some small, temporary improvement, but it usually doesn’t stick. That’s because only God’s transforming power is able to make the real changes we want and need.
Paul wrote, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom 12:2)
The tool God has given us to get to know Him better, to know ourselves better, and to know His plan for our lives is the Bible. There is no substitute. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the Bible becomes alive in us and we are transformed. Without regular, attentive Bible study, our growth will be stunted. And our service, joy and effective leadership of our families will be limited.
At MCC, we focus on God’s word during worship services. We also offer further opportunities to take in God’s word through Sunday School (for adults and children), men’s and women’s Bible studies, and community groups. These give the freedom of open discussion of a particular passage, what it means, and how we might apply it to our lives.
My expectation and my experience has been that these conversations are things that God uses to transform me as well as providing real fellowship with others who are also in the same transformation process. So, not only am I being transformed, but I also have the joy of seeing Him at work in the lives of others, making us to be the people He designed us to be.
In about a month, MCC has two women’s Bible studies begining, Men’s BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) meetings will resume and we will offer a Biblical Theology small group. These are all opportunities to enjoy great fellowship as you come to know God better and are built up in your faith. Come and see what God has for you in His word. Now is the time to be praying about which you might attend.
“What am I even doing here?” That’s what I thought as I wiped down the doorknobs with Clorox wipes. Again. When I first began helping in my classroom at A. Montoya, I wasn’t really sure I was “helping”. I had envisioned becoming a child’s hero as I taught them a super cool way to do math. I had dreamed of sharing heart-felt talks with little ones about how special they were. I had believed that I could be...
“What am I even doing here?”
That’s what I thought as I wiped down the doorknobs with Clorox wipes. Again.
When I first began helping in my classroom at A. Montoya, I wasn’t really sure I was “helping”. I had envisioned becoming a child’s hero as I taught them a super cool way to do math. I had dreamed of sharing heart-felt talks with little ones about how special they were. I had believed that I could be the answer to all a teacher’s practical needs.
But in my classroom? There were 3 EAs who worked constantly to keep up with all of the children’s physical and academic needs…which changed on a daily (or sometimes hourly) basis. Many of the students could not speak. One could not even move on his own. Though there were only nine children in the classroom, considering their level of need, it was by far the most over-crowded class I’ve ever encountered.
The need was SO great. And I felt SO ill-equipped. The teacher didn’t know what to do with me, and didn’t have time to think about it. So she set me to disinfecting the room, throwing away old markers, cutting out numbers and words for activities, and filling up water bottles. I did this for several weeks, and just kept thinking, “Be faithful with little.”
And then Micah showed up.
Micah brought the house down. Micah was a 9-year-old non-verbal kid with autism, and had never, ever been in school before. He had a ton of energy, loved to run away, got easily overwhelmed, and would scream until he decided not to scream anymore. I came in on Micah’s second day. Honestly, I’m not sure any of the amazing teachers in that room thought they could make it to the end of the week, let alone the end of the school year at that point.
My job changed that day.
While my teacher worked with Micah on just focusing on an activity, I practiced sight words with Lilly. When Gracie wouldn’t wheel herself up the ramp because no one could pay attention to her right that second, I raced her up. When Robert couldn’t sit still and kept bothering Matthew as numerous diapers were being changed and feeding tubes were being used, I did yoga with them. When everyone needed a break, I took Micah to play basketball in the gym. And do you know what happened? My teachers took all of these acts from me as personal offerings of love and support.
I know that a handful of people, motivated by God’s unfathomably huge love, and willing to simply show up and share their lives, does indeed constitute an army; and the revolution happens because of the love being communicated through their small acts of service.
One teacher hugged me at the end of that day, thanking me for being there.
Next week, one sobbed at lunch and shared her anxious heart with me.
Next week, another asked me to pray for her.
Week after that, they all got upset when I had to miss class because I had a sick kid at home. I was actually missed.
And pretty soon, there we were, sharing life together.
The kids began to benefit from my presence too, but not necessarily in the ways I’d thought they would. Some days, Lilly got more individual attention from her teacher because I was there. Some days, Gracie got extra PT time because I was there. Some days, Lilly spent more time learning her sight words with her teacher because I was there to take Caelen to PE. My teachers were able to take more breaks on the days I showed up, and so, they were more refreshed and relaxed when they came back to teach.
I still help in the same class; but now there are only 2 children in it. The teachers don’t really need my help anymore. But they are so sad when I can’t make it to class. They look forward to having my support, my face to laugh with, my arms to hug, and the relief of having someone walk in the door who is always, always in their corner.
I used to think that we needed tons of people, tons of hours, tons of experience, and tons of time spent doing deeply meaningful things with those at our school to make any kind of difference in our community. This year, I lost a few volunteers. I also started to feel that my church was becoming far less engaged at our school than I thought we would be at this point. I became very discouraged, wondering again, “What are we even doing here? Does any of this matter? How are our cookies, our cut-outs, our hours spent at the school ever going to affect any real change at all?”
I reached out to the staff at the school with an email that held the subject line, “How are we doing?” I asked all of our teachers for feedback on our service, and received the following reply from our librarian:
“Ashley- I think Shine has fundamentally changed our school. There is a strong current of love/hope that impacts each one of us. There are cookies, coffee, and snacks in the lounge. There are extra supplies, gift cards (I GOT ONE THIS TIME during a staff meeting- thank you!!) for teachers, and capable caring adults in the classrooms. My students really enjoy Elaine who comes to the Library. She reads to them, talks to them and organizes the library. She always has a smile and at Christmas she and Trish give me a Starbucks gift card.
Felisa organizes our workroom (which has never looked better). Cabinets and drawers are marked and easy to use. She asked me about good books to share her love of reading with the 4th grade student she works with. She talked to me about the possibility of a bookmobile to go into communities. The energy directed at being part of the community is inspiring. The answer to many of the problems we face in a school is caring adults.
Your program has infused us with an army of support. My library is physically and emotionally a better place because of Shine. Thank you. Is it possible for us to attend a service one Sunday and show our appreciation? It would be fun to come together. Let me know and I can organize it.”
On May 19, they did come. We sang, we prayed, we took communion…together.
I used to think we’d never make a difference unless we had an army of people showing up to bring an all-out revolution at our school. Now I know that a handful of people (in our case, that’s 6), motivated by God’s unfathomably huge love, and willing to simply show up and share their lives, does indeed constitute an army; and the revolution happens because of the love being communicated through their small acts of service.
When was the last time you asked yourself, “What am I even doing here?” If you haven’t asked it recently, I challenge you to find a place you can show up with just your presence to offer. I believe you’ll find that the answer to this question is always, “SO much more than you think.”
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Northern New Mexico mountains. I consider them my home waters and in some cases, just a short hour long drive from my house, I can be knee deep in crystal clear cold water fishing for trout. During the summer months, many of the streams can be...
I have written often of my love for fishing our Northern New Mexico mountains. I consider them my home waters and in some cases, just a short hour long drive from my house, I can be knee deep in crystal clear cold water fishing for trout.
During the summer months, many of the streams can be busy places and why not? The proximity to Texas and more warmer climates to the south, make them a refuge for many visitors weary of the heat down below.
Although I will cast a fly in some of the more popular streams in Northern New Mexico, I often frequent the wilderness.
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging."
It is in the wilderness I find peace, solitude and communion with God. And although I usually hit the wilderness waters a dozen times a year, it is only on rare occasion that I have seen another fisherman.
As I make my way down to the river, I hear its voice speaking to me from below as it’s waters tumble down the mountain. Other than the voice of the river, there isn’t another sound in the canyon. A group of mule deer browse quietly and they are mostly unaware or unconcerned with my presence.
As I get to the river, I look for the best holding water and slip quietly into the cold water. It’s summertime and temperatures are somewhere in the low 70’s in this high mountain country. It represents a perfect scenario for fly fishing for trout in the Southern Rockies.
With the orange stimulator and bead header dropper, my enticing combination is cast into the water. Instantly, a hungry brown trout attacks the fly. As I pull the trout in to my net, I am not surprised. It is never big on this small stream, yet it is wild and an intimate part of God’s creation. It is perfection on earth.
With the exception of the river tumbling over the rocks down the canyon, it is completely silent in the wilderness. There are no human voices, cars or other sounds to disturb this perfect version of God’s creation. But the river is still there. It is a deafening silence that is only broken by the sound of the river.
Our lives are at times like that, especially in those moments when we are unclear if God is speaking to us or even listening. But the reality is, God is always there and hears our prayers. We may only hear deafening silence as we go to Him in prayer. However, like the river, God is always there offering refuge to us in our time of need.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. – Psalm 46:1-3
I’m not much good at asking for help. Never have been. It’s not that I don’t need or don’t want it, it’s just a flaw in my character. A flaw that afflicts my human relations, as well as my relationship with God. I was taught self-reliance at an early age. I was required to help provide for the family with a hunting rifle, a shotgun, fur traps, or a fishing pole from about age 8. In the mountains...
I’m not much good at asking for help. Never have been. It’s not that I don’t need or don’t want it, it’s just a flaw in my character. A flaw that afflicts my human relations, as well as my relationship with God. I was taught self-reliance at an early age. I was required to help provide for the family with a hunting rifle, a shotgun, fur traps, or a fishing pole from about age 8. In the mountains, Dad made me carry an emergency fire kit, flint and steel exclusively, for two years before I was allowed to carry matches or a lighter.
Independence was not just encouraged, it was ingrained. Later in life, I adopted a career requiring healthy doses of unconventional individualism, personal courage, service to others, and self-sufficiency. “Keep it simple, Kenney. Go here, do that, come home alive.”
Needless to say, I grew up and have lived my life with the understanding that it was largely up to me. Even after becoming a Christian, I occasionally experienced difficulty in asking God for help. Afterall, I reasoned, He built me with all the tools I needed to survive – it was up to me to use them correctly and ON me if I didn’t.
But that’s not what God says at all. In 2 Corinthians 3:5 Paul writes, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God…”
at this point in my life,
God is teaching me His way. "
I’ve spent much of the last year learning that my complete self-reliance can conflict with God’s plan. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually I have been brought to my knees with realization after realization that I do need help, from time to time. Sometimes it is professional help in the form of doctors and lawyers and such. Sometimes it is friends and buddies who refuse to take no for an answer, especially when I am being stubborn and somewhat of a jackalope. Often it has been recognizing the role of my family supporting me vice my supporting them. All of which, I see the hand of God manifest in.
In Corinthians 12:9, Paul again writes that Christ’s grace is sufficient and that His power is perfected in our weakness. Rarely have I seen those words be truer than in the past month.
Most recently, in recovering from hip surgery, every little thing that seemingly could go wrong has. Vehicle repairs with both of our rigs that threatened to leave us stranded. Mysterious, unidentified warning alarms incessantly toning from the bowels of our house at completely random times. Swamp cooler issues with no way to fix and no way to replace (imagine one man, two crutches, and a thirty-foot ladder).
What has amazed me during in this short snap-shot of life, is how blessed we are to live where and how we do. God has placed in our lives people who are generous of their time, knowledge, and resources. He has made me unable to do the things I normally would. The Lord has made me ask for help.
Picking up the phone and starting a conversation with “Listen, brother, I hate to ask this, but. . .” is a skill not practiced and therefore, not perfected. It is, however, something I am getting better at. And the Lord has provided His reinforcement of my humility. Whether it is those individuals who offer expert help in automotive adventures, or those who come over in the middle of the night at the drop-of-a-hat to find the low-voltage transformer screaming in a wall cavity, or whether it is those friends who spend their Independence Day with a screwdriver and a crane to fly a new swamp cooler to our roof and have it running in minutes.
None of these great, common people asked for a reward or for compensation. They just did. Indeed, several may not even be Christians as you and I would recognize them to be. However, each knew their role and each gave unselfishly of themselves. In so doing, they taught me lessons about myself, God’s provision, and the trustworthiness of my friends and neighbors.
Even now, at this point in my life, God is teaching me His way. In short, a little more humility and a little less bullheaded pride, goes a long way. Even for me.
Juntos is a local component of the MCC Missions Programs. MCC has supported Juntos for more than five years with both volunteers who work with the youth, monthly and special financial donations. Laura Jenkins, the director of Juntos provided an update on how the money our church provides is making a difference...
On Sundays, we have three options for Worship & Praise! Please join us:
- Indoors at 8:45 & 10:45am (due to limited seating, please register in advance)
- Via live-stream at 8:45am on Facebook
For the Indoor Worship & Praise:
We are looking forward to seeing you! As you sign up, request one ticket per family member! Make sure that you also check out our updated Guidelines for Gathering to Worship at MCC below before you come.
Please read the Guidelines for Gathering to Worship Together at MCC in its entirety so that you know what to expect when you come to our outdoor service. This will help you and those around you navigate a very new situation, hopefully in a way that is as seamless as possible. We believe that our unity will be expressed and strengthened as we serve one another in Christ this week so join us in extending grace to each other, amid our differing perspectives, and different views about how to live in this time.
“... submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
“Outdo one another in showing honor.”
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
Please know that we are making every effort for this gathering to be in full compliance with the protocols given by authorities. No single plan for our meeting will ever be the perfect solution in any one person’s eyes. We will all be making compromises. But as we defer to these guidelines set up by our elders and leadership, we will be serving our fellow believers, honoring Christ as best we can, and providing for a beautiful expression of worship to happen together.
Please stay home if any of the following apply to you:
- You are immunocompromised.
- You are feeling ill (running a fever, coughing, or showing other signs of sickness)
Please don’t put yourself or others at risk. Thank you for staying home and staying safe, because we love you!