Wednesday, February 24, 2010

They Don't Get It

Working for God can be hard sometimes, especially when your ministry is not exactly "traditional".    My wife and I are heavily involved in "geek" ministry through Fans For Christ.  We go to sci-fi/fantasy cons, speak to people who come up to our fan table, and when possible have panels involving Christianity and hold church services.  Because we enjoy the settings and the people, it is a lot of fun for us.  Frankly, we feel blessed that God can use us in this manner.  And we really feel that this is a needed ministry, as most Christians stay away from these events.  Where will the con goers find followers of Christ who actually understand them and won't condemn their hobbies?

However, we've run into problems with more traditional people in our church.  Thankfully we have a pretty open church that is modern and accepting.  But we've discovered that it seems like people accept our ministry but don't really embrace it.  We've had comments made that if we weren't so involved in all of the other things in our life we might have more time for our home church.  It also seems that some may believe that we go to cons more for the entertainment than to be a light for Christ.  Frankly, they don't really get it.  They don't understand why we do what we do.

I guess that I shouldn't be really surprised.  The people in Jesus' time, especially the religious leaders, didn't understand Him either.  Jesus spent time with beggars, lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, and other dregs of society.  He was actually condemned for His interest in them and His caring.  The Messiah actually wanted to be around these people!  But people in the church told Him that He shouldn't be doing that.  But Jesus persisted because He saw where the need really was.  He was willing to be quite strange and even rejected by religious leaders in His pursuit of sharing God's message.

When I go to cons I often bring up the "where would Jesus be?" situation.  If Jesus was back on Earth today, would He be more likely to be preaching every Sunday in a church, or would He be more likely to be going to these cons?  I think the latter would be pretty obvious to most honest people.  So that's where I will be.  No, I'm not giving up my "normal" church on Sundays, but I'm also not going to limit myself to it.

So people in my church don't completely understand.  I guess I'm okay with that, because Jesus understands and God wants my family to spread the Gospel at cons.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

God's Mysterious Blessings

It's been a year since I started this blog, right after ConNooga 2009.  We just got back from this year's ConNooga, and it was incredible! 

My wife won the title of Ms. ConNooga and now is the spokesperson for the con for the next year.  This is something she has been wanting since last year, and wants to use it to spread the message of the fan group we belong to, Fans For Christ.

I made contacts with a Christian sci-fi/fantasy author and a Christian role-playing game designer.  I've been toying around with making a fantasy RPG setting, and the editor/designer actually encouraged me to become an official licensee with their company.

We had a great church service, met many new people, and strengthened existing friendships.  And through it all, God was glorified!

My wife and I truly felt like we were God's favored children this weekend! We both had amazing experiences, and moved closer to our dreams.  And it was all because we were there with God as our focus. 

That's a great lesson for us all to keep in mind.  God wants us to be happy!  He wants our dreams fulfilled.  Now, he's not going to do that if we're out there trying to make it on our own or defying Him.  But when we work for Him...when we do His will...when we put Christ first in our lives and in what we do...then the blessings of God start to wash over us, and amazing things happen.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Trials Of All Kinds

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7

Trials are very hard to deal with as we go through them.  Unexpected things happen and delay an expected blessing.  Everything seems to fall apart at once.  And through it all we wonder where God is...wonder if He has forgotten us. Trials really test our patience!  

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  James 1:2-3

So isn't it a bit strange that the Bible tells us that we should be thankful for trials? That we should be joyful? Does that even make sense?

Actually, it does.  When things are going right and everything falls into place perfectly, where is there room for God to perform miracles? Trials and troubles teach us to rely on God, not on ourselves.  Trials teach us to trust in our faith.   Trials put us through fire to burn away the things within us that give us the most problems.  Sure, it's not easy. But through all of life's trials, we need to remember that this is what God wants...not to harm us, but to put us in a place where He can really and truly work wonders in us.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Beyond Our Expectations

Faith is a funny thing.  When things are going well, it's easy to say "Sure, I trust God.  After all, look how great things are."  When we have a downturn, the most strong Christians will say "Yes, things are bad, but I'm putting my faith in God to make it all better."  When the bad times go on for a long time, it's harder to have that faith.  Bills pile up, health continues to worsen, a job just can't be know the situations.  The longer we go without a sign from God, the shakier our faith becomes.  We start to wonder if He is even listening and if He even cares.

My wife has recently been there (yes, honey, I'm picking on you a little bit).  We have had some financial issues, and have gotten behind on some bills.  Some promotions and other things in my job that we were really counting on have been delayed by many months.  Even with some bonuses, we needed around $1500 to get caught back up.  And that's not easy to simply come by.  With each month of falling further behind, she struggled more and more with God and her faith.  She cried and worried, wondering where the blessings were.  We have been faithful in our tithes and giving, despite our own troubles, so where were God's blessings?  Why was He being so quiet?  I managed to hold onto my faith, but as I told her last week, it was because I didn't have anything else.

Sometimes we find ourselves at the end of that rope.  We've slipped down and are dangling by the final knot over a chasm whose depth we can't see.  And at that moment God says "let go of the rope."  What?  You're kidding, right God?  Just let go?  "Yes," He says.  Now, coming from God, we should be listening to that.  And when we can see the ground a few feet below us or we have hundreds of feet of rope it's not hard to do.  But at that moment even God's words and His promises are hard to believe. But as hard as it may be, who really knows best right then?

So I started doing our taxes today.  When we were getting our W2s we noticed that federal taxes weren't taken out of my wife's paycheck.  It wasn't much, but it worried us.  She just wanted us to break even and not have to pay any taxes.  As I started doing them, I noticed a trend upwards.  Since I knew that she had been praying for a $1500 blessing, I predicted that our refund would be somewhere between $1500-1600, and was pretty happy with that thought.  But God knows better, and showed me a lesson.

"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
      "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?'
      "In tithes and offerings.  You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me.  Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 

(Malachi 3:8-11)

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
(Luke 6:38)

There are numerous scriptures on giving and blessings.  We humans are very impatient, and have a hard time waiting for these blessings.  Yet when has God ever failed us?  It may take a long time by our standards, but He always comes through.

So back to our situation.  Our final refund was $2800 from Federal and $600 from State...a total of $3400, when we would have been overjoyed with $1500!  Praise to God!!!!  We can meet our obligations and actually put some into savings.  Our faithfulness has been rewarded, so far beyond our expectations.  God lived up to His end of the deal....but doesn't He always?