Our Cup

I have a favorite cup. I drink out of it almost every day. I like it so much that I’ll sometimes even wash it when there are other clean cups available! I feel like the cup represents me in a way. It’s kind of goofy, a little bright and loud, has a weird sense of humor, and was made in the 80’s! It’s a unique cup, and I love it! Usually, though, if someone comes to my home, it is not the cup I would choose to serve them. This is especially true if we don’t know each other very well. JesCup

What is your cup like? Is the cup that best represents you the same cup you would choose to serve to someone else? What if someone were to pop over to your house unexpected? She sits down on the couch to chat and it feels appropriate to serve her a beverage. If your cup is anything like my cup, it’s perpetually dirty. Let’s say you’re a minimalist or in the middle of a move and this cup, your cup, is literally the only cup in your house! Maybe it’s even got banana chunks stuck to it from your grabby toddler, it may have been dropped and is chipped. Your cup is in pretty rough shape. And, for the sake of the analogy, you’re unable to wash it. So you have a guest and you have to decide whether you should serve her a dirty, maybe chipped cup or just let her sit and have a nice beverage-free conversation.

 

Maybe you would serve it to her. Probably not.

 

Well, what if she looked thirsty? Maybe she mentions that she was on a long run and turned onto your street and decided to just stop in. You know she would benefit from some water, but your cup is almost embarrassing, especially if you can’t even wash it!

 

What if she's showing classic signs of dehydration?? She is complaining of a headache, seems to have a dry mouth, and her eyes look at least a little sunken. You’re probably less inclined to care about the condition of your cup when you see how badly she might need it to drink water!

 

What if she had crawled to your doorstep, and faintly knocked with the little strength she had left because she was literally dying of thirst? You open the door and all she can get out of her mouths is a dry, raspy “Water”!!

 

I don’t think any one of us would deny someone water that could save their life just because we had inhibitions about the cup we had to offer.

 

You are your cup. I am mine. We are dirty, at least a little broken, and less than perfect sinners. Christ is the life giving, thirst quenching, pristine water that everyone needs, but not everyone has.

 

John 4:13-14

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

 

I have been guilty, too many times, of overthinking my cup when it comes to sharing that water. I have worried that someone would know the imperfections in my life, and that they’d see me as a hypocrite, noting only the smudges and cracks of my cup as I held it out to them. I’ve avoided using my cup to offer that life-giving water because I was too concerned what reaction I would get. I worried that I would damage relationships because I was coming off as judgmental, politically incorrect, or self righteous. Sometimes I'm just too scared. I don’t know what to say or if I would have an appropriate response to questions or accusations. I’m more inclined to sit my cup on a coffee table and subtly or casually mention that I am more than willing to share if they’d like a drink. Most people in my life know I’m a Christian, and that has too often been good enough for me. They can come if they have questions. They can approach me when they’re ready. I’m not doing much to help them realize their need for that water, and I’m certainly not doing justice to advocate for the true life saving benefits of Christ.

 

When I think of the reasons that I don’t share Christ more often, it always boils down the same way.

 

“The problem is that because of sin, each and every one of us has doubts and misgivings, fears and misconceptions that inhibit us, that diminish our resolve to act in certain situations. Each one of us may know (the above) things intellectually, but we have trouble putting all these things into practice spiritually.

The apostle Paul wrestled with this problem. He writes about this in his letter to the Romans.

“What I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do....For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing!” (Romans 7:15, 18-19)”

Educating the Congregation for Friendship Evangelism
Rev. Howard Festerling

 

 

It is sin in the world and sin in ourselves that stops us from sharing the saving Word of God. Scripture has so much to say to help us overcome this sin and refocus on the Great Commission.

 

I would encourage you to read the following passages to help you refocus on the fact that we are called to share our faith and that scripture continues to both remind and equip us to do so.

 

 

1 Peter 3:14-16 Philippians 4:13
1 Corinthians 2:4-5 Philippians 1:18
2 Timothy 1:7 Romans 10:17
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5
Matthew 28:19-20 1 Corinthians 6:19

 

When sharing our faith, it is important to remember the significance of creating relationships, coming from a place of genuine love and concern, and not just following an impersonal script. I hope to follow up soon with a more practical guide to sharing our faith with those we have grown to love, but who live without that life saving water. For now, know that you are a wonderful and beautiful creation of God, called for his purpose, and well equipped to offer that pristine and miraculous water that will make those who drink it never thirst again. Stop worrying about your cup. You are a vessel lovingly created by a powerful God. He wants to use you and your flaws can not detract from the benefits of that water of Life.

JesSignature

When life and death collide

Back in June, while my husband and I were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our overdue fourth baby, our elderly neighbor's husband found out he was dying. Within days of finding out he had inoperable cancer, he had gone from walking down the driveway to get the mail to bedridden and on the brink of passing away. It was hard to watch. Just a few days after hearing the news,  a hospice vehicle showed up, then family members and relatives seemed to come in a steady stream.

We were sad. You see as far as we know our neighbors are not believers. It's one thing to know people all over the world are dying and facing an eternity without God, it's a whole different ball game when that lost soul is right across the street about to breathe his last and stand before Jesus. His entire eternity just days before his eyes. The burden to reach out with the gospel was overwhelming and heavy. But we didn't know what to do. Walk over into a family gathering and ask if we could tell our dying neighbor about Jesus? Easier said than done.

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untitled shoot-2005-4

As much as I'd like to say I handled this all perfectly, I did not. You see, part of me was sad, of course. But another part of me was annoyed. I'm just being honest.

Here I was, thrilled about getting to meet our new baby and the whole mood on our street felt melancholy. I was about to bring forth new life, and here our neighbor was on the brink of death. It was a strange way to await a new baby; life and death colliding. I'm in no way saying it was right, but I felt almost resentful that I had to share my joy with this unexpected sadness.

But if we are all honest, don't we all do that? When our lives are blessed and filled with joy, it is so easy to rejoice, praise God and pretend that everyone else's life is just like ours. None of us want our joy dampened by another person's problems. But as much as that would be a wonderful world, it just isn't how things work this side of heaven. You see, while I ate spaghetti for dinner tonight, a little boy over in Africa died of starvation and diarrhea. When I head out for a nice date with my husband (hopefully sometime soon) there will still be girls all over the world sold for sex and beaten over and over. As I kiss my dear sweet children good night, there are couples whose hearts break over never having children or losing one far before any parent should have to. But we don't like to think about those things. It's sad. It makes life uncomfortable.

But the Bible says to "love my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:31)" and if I truly believe that, then their sadness is my sadness and their pain is my pain.

Despite my sin of selfishness, God still allowed us to reach out to our dying neighbor. A little false labor that left our kids spending an unexpected overnight with my parents gave us a rare opportunity to go over to our neighbors at 9pm one night without our kids. We walked across the street, nervous and with no idea what to say. But we remembered the verse:

"Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit." - Mark 13:11

We laid our hands on and prayed for our neighbor. God was faithful to his word. He filled my husband with Bible verses that he prayed over him; verses that beautifully shared the Gospel message and the comfort of knowing Jesus, even in death. And our neighbor, though unresponsive all day, started to cry and tried to speak.

He passed away the very next day.

Knowing the truth about Jesus, eternity and the brevity of life, leaves a burden to look beyond our own happiness and be there for the broken and hurting around us. I don't know if our neighbor is in heaven or not. But I do know that we followed Christ's calling by stepping out of our comfort zone that night. The next few days God blessed us with more opportunities to be there for our neighbor's widow and even her teenage grandchildren (who came by for an unexpected game night). Just a few days after all of this, our son was born and we still experienced such joy and happiness.

Our lives here on earth are not meant to be heaven. Oh yes, there will be many, many blessings and God wants us to enjoy them. But the ultimate goal is not a perfect life here. Perfection is in heaven. Jesus is JOY. Jesus is HAPPINESS. Jesus is LIFE. Until then, we have work to do. Uncomfortable work. Challenging work. Work that, at times, may leave us sad and with burdened hearts.

But take heart, dear friends and let the words of Jesus bring you comfort:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:3-10