When I’m asked to write one of these, I tend to see this as a chance for each of you to see a side of Chris you didn’t already know. A little inside peek into what I’m like. You see me on stage, you talk to me in the lobby, but what don’t you know about me. Well, let me tell you something about me, I’m a creature of habit.
I love routines. This spring, I really harbored a morning routine which involves gym, reading scripture and prayer with my wife, shower, and getting my boys ready for school and getting them on the bus. I often do the same things throughout my week. I work on sermons on Mondays. On Tuesday, I spend time with my co-workers at the Colerain campus. I eat lunch with the Ross student pastor, Andy, on Wednesdays. I buy a cup of UDF coffee in the mornings. I love my routines.
Summer is the enemy of my routines. My boys don’t go to school in the summer, so that changed my routine. We take vacations, which are complete killers of any morning routine we have harbored. Pam and I lamented that we had gotten out of the habit of hitting the gym and reading together. The week gets hectic because of holidays or days away. My sermon writing moves. Kevin went on vacation after mine, so we didn’t get to hang out on Tuesday for a number of weeks. Andy was out of town for CIY and I didn’t get my Wednesday lunch. This week, I went to UDF and they were out of my normal coffee. My routines were blown.
We do that, don’t we? We get used to our comforts and when those go away, we get frustrated. Sometimes what happens is we are afraid of losing those comforts and routines, so we avoid change. We avoid taking risks at all because we know that might upend our delicate ecosystem we have built for ourselves. This is how it was for me when thinking about going on a mission trip.
I never went on mission trips as a kid or teenager. I hear these stories from people who went to South America, Haiti, Africa, India, and I think “Wow, that sounds great”. And then the next thing I think is “but, no thanks”. It was just never in my comfort zone or desire to ever take these risks. And I felt pretty good about that for most of my adult life. And then this trip to Eastern Kentucky was brought to my attention.
When this was brought up, we knew we needed to find someone to lead this trip. Nathan had some people in mind, and he began to ask around, but no one was available to lead. And Kevin Smith said to me “You speak Kentuckian, shouldn’t you just lead this?” I wasn’t happy, not because he was wrong, I do speak fluent Kentuckian, but because I didn’t want to be pushed out of my comfort zone. As a result, I fought back. I laughed it off and tried to get it out of my mind, but the Holy Spirit began to work on me. As a I read the description and saw that the trip was for anyone nine or older, I began to think of my oldest son, Sam. What could God do in his life by going on this trip? What kind of example am I being for him? I felt God saying to me “Do you want your son to see what loving me looks like?” That hit me hard, and I struggled to find a way to say “no” to that question.
Leading up to our trip, we read the book of Titus, which is a letter that Paul wrote to one of his protégé’s Titus. And in the third chapter, Paul writes this.
3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” Titus 3:3-8
I am not leading this trip because I believe this gets me any points in heaven. Paul makes it very clear that these are not what earns our salvation, but only the love of Jesus. And Paul makes it clear before we knew that love and grace, we lived a life about OUR routines. OUR desires. OUR comforts. But yet, when we know what Jesus did for us, we, in turn, should want to change our ways and devote ourselves to “doing what is good”.
So, this week, I was down in Eastern Kentucky leading the mission trip. Now, I want you to know that I wrote this article before I left, but I believe that God will move in this place as He always has and always will. That is what we are promised. When we trust in God and let Him move in us, then He will also move through us as we go out and serve him.
Listen, I know it’s not easy to step out of your comfort zone. To step out and trust that God has a bigger plan than we could ever know. I want to encourage you to not be afraid. It may not be easy, and I also know that it will stretch you in ways you would never expect.
One way you could do this is to sign up and be a part of our Marketplace Mission Trip from August 6th through 20th. You can find more information and sign up for this trip by clicking here.
Take bold moves. We can do it together!
Campus Pastor - Ross Campus
White Oak Christian Church