Practice the Pause

Patience. Define by Google as, “the capacity to accept, tolerate or delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” To us, it seems like one of the hardest character traits to obtain. But who could blame us? We live in a fast paced – now type culture; Instant dinners, no-wait ordering, same day shipping, everything is delivered to us when and how we want it. Is that why we so easily lose our patience? Because we’re so use to getting everything now? Because we’ve filled our schedule so full we don’t have the time to waste waiting?

Ask yourself this: in the last week, how many times did you lose your patience? Traffic jams, blind referees, puppy potty training…What was it that pushed you over the edge this week, this month, or even just today?

Now, tell me this, out of all those times you’ve listed above, how many of them did you have control over? None. Zero. Zilch. Am I right? Can you control the traffic flow, or the referees vision, or the cute peeing puppy? No you can’t. The only thing we can control is OUR reactions. OUR words. OUR attitude.

Proverbs 14:29 says, “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.” How many times have we lashed out in impatience only to later regret we did so because we better understood the situation or everything turned out to be ok? I don’t know about you, but I would rather be known as someone with great understanding than someone who displays folly.

I saw this quote the other day and thought it was perfect for this blog:

Are you living in a bubble of doubt, anger, stress, or some other emotion that is causing you to constantly lose your patience? So often we’re to busy scurrying through life that the smallest interruptions seem like huge inconveniences causing us to lose our patience. But why? There’s so much good in life, so much to enjoy right where we are. Yes at times I’d love to be at a different stage in life, or sometimes I’m having a bad day and don’t always have the patience to deal with people. But overall we have so much to be thankful for and so much to enjoy, right here, right now. If we slow down and enjoy the moments we’re in instead of always scurrying off to the next, don’t you think we’d have a lot more patience with those around us?

This week I challenge you to practice the pause. If you feel you’re losing your patience, pause, take a deep breath and pray for the patience you need and for the person you’re about to lose patience with. Often times taking that extra moment to breathe and pray can save regret and hard feelings later. Keeping us from looking like a fool and helping us become someone of understanding.

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You Are Enough

If you had to describe yourself in three words what would they be? Seriously, do it.

What did you say? Did you define yourself as an athlete, girlfriend, sister, or other title? Or did you define yourself as loving, caring, strong-willed, or another adjective?

This is the question I challenged my team to think about this past weekend. It’s one of the most important questions we will ever wrestle with. Who am I? It dictates how we walk into situations, how we view other people, how we handle the ever changing world we live in.

So how do we determine who we are? How do we shift our minds from seeing ourselves as the roles we play to the person we are? We do this by seeing ourselves the way God created us to be seen. As someone who is:

  • Created in His Image – Genesis 1:27
  • Unconditionally Loved – John 3:16
  • A Child of the One True God – John 1:12-13
  • Known – Jeremiah 1:5
  • Saved – Romans 10:13
  • Forgiven – Colossians 3:13

and so much more….

Do you see the difference? We often see ourselves and define ourselves by OUR actions, OUR work, OUR circumstances, but those change, God’s love and view of us DOES NOT CHANGE. When we’re rooted and established in God we start to accept things for what they are. We’re imperfect people living in an imperfect world, so why do we expect perfection from ourselves? Why do we define our success and self-worth based on our performance that day? Why not understand that we’re going to have failures, we’re going to have set-backs and at the same time we’re going to have successes and accomplishments? At the end of the day we are everything listed above no matter what happened or what we did or didn’t do that day.

When we start to accept that about ourselves, we start to accept it in others as well. Too often we define others by their jobs or accomplishments. We dislike co-workers or teammates because of their performance in said project or game. But why? Why not see them as a forgiven and dearly loved Child of God just like yourself. Why not see them as a man or woman created in the Image of God, known by God, Saved by God, Loved by God? When we start seeing people like God does do you think it will change our outlook on life? I do.

So why not try. Today. This week. This month. Read through the scripture and see all the many different words God uses to describe his Children, then challenge yourself to see yourself and others for everything God made you to be. Not for their flaws and failures or for their successes and titles, or the ever changing identity we create for ourselves, but see them in the unchanging identity God has given them. I think you’ll find a huge weight lifted off your shoulders when you realize you are enough. What you’ve done does not define you, what’s been done to you does not determine your value. Only God can determine your value and he values you enough to send His one and only Son to die for you so that you could forever be with Him. I don’t know about you, but for me that’s life-changing. I am enough. You are enough. We are enough. Why? Because God says we are and that will never change.

Epaphras Ministry

Hello and welcome to my new blog Epaphras Ministry. You may be wondering why Epaphras, well I’m glad you asked.

I was listening to a sermon the other day in which my uncle spoke on Colossians 4:12-13, highlighting a man named Epaphras. He’s a bible character many of us have overlooked and know absolutely nothing about. But as I heard the sermon and learned more about Epaphras I realized he was just the kind of servant I hoped to one day be. Listen to the words spoken about him:

“12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.” Colossians 4:12-13

First off Epaphras is known as a servant of Christ Jesus. Paul doesn’t talk about his other occupations, or identities, but rather focuses on the most important and valuable part of who he is. He is a SERVANT of Christ.

Secondly, Epaphras sends greetings. This may sound a little strange to think of as a great feature, but it’s the encouragement behind the greeting that is important. How many times have we sent a random greeting to a friend only to find out they were having a rough day and needed a greeting at just that time? Maybe it hasn’t happened to you, but it’s happened to me quite a few times. It takes little effort to shoot a text or send a letter, but the impact it can have is infinite at times.

Next, Paul points out Epaphras’ heart for the Church. He is ALWAYS wrestling in prayer. I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes get lazy in my prayer life, having my meal prayers and my bedtime prayers and that’s about it. How awesome would it be if we were ALWAYS in a state of prayer, wrestling for those who need it most? Praying for the strength we all need to “stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” We could honestly change the world. One thing to note is, Epaphras prayed for the PERSON not the SITUATION. We can’t always control the situation around us but we can always control how we act in, and respond to, a certain situation.

Finally, Epaphras has Paul vouching for his work ethic. Paul, a huge biblical figure, is vouching for him, making us realize how hard of a worker he really is. That right there should make us want to know more about his work and the impact he is making for the Kingdom. But what I also think is important to note, Epaphras is listed in a group of people Paul is recognizing. The Christian community is a team and one of the best teams we will ever be a part of. But it’s just that, a team. No one man is greater than another in the Christian community, we are all loved by God, we are all servants of Christ, Paul just had the platform to recognize Epaphras for his work and he took the opportunity to do so.

At this point you might be thinking, this is a cool name, but what’s the point. The point is this, we all have the ability to be an Epaphras. We can all pray, we can all encourage, we can all serve Christ where he’s put us, we can all work hard, we just have to CHOOSE to do so. Epaphras chose each and every day he was going to serve Christ. It wasn’t always easy and it may not have always made sense, but he still chose everyday and in the end we see he made an impact for the Kingdom. He didn’t get the grand recognition Paul or Peter or some of the other biblical characters did, but that never stopped him from knowing who he was in Christ and serving God each and every day. Our reward is in Heaven (Matthew 5:12) so the recognition we do or don’t get in this life shouldn’t matter. Each of us have been placed in a unique position to do the work of God right where we’re at. Some of you may be called to go out, others may be called to stay in the same small town forever, both are perfectly fine, as long as you use whatever platform and position you have to share God’s love with the community you’re in.

Right now, my unique place is in Richmond, Virginia with a non-profit and a travel volleyball team. I have the opportunity every couple weeks to lead a devotional with the volleyball team and share the love of Christ with them. This blog will be filled with the lessons we learn this season as well as the personal lessons God shows me throughout the year. I will try and be as consistent as possible in posting a weekly blog, but no promises.

I’ve learned over the years encouragement can come in many different forms, so as I write each and every post I would love to hear feedback. Let me know your thoughts, other topics you feel are relevant, encouragement, or even disagreements. I want what is posted on this blog to be an encouragement to you and the community you serve. For now this is a blog and just a blog, but I hope to one day branch this out to be a mobile ministry to encourage the Christian community in whatever way God chooses to use it.

So with all that being said, I’ll leave you with one last quote from the sermon mentioned above, “Through SERVING and IMPACT we can outlive time and leave a legacy.” Go, leave your legacy, be an Epaphras.

 

**Bob King, “Making Your Mark: Week 6 Serving” (video of sermon, Ada Bible Church, Ada, Michigan, February 12, 2017), accessed March 9, 2017, https://www.adabible.org/watch/making-your-mark/week-6-serving/.