This is an open date for the Crimson Tide, and usually when that happens I will attend a Florida State game with my good friend Steve; it's a great reason to get together with my brother who lives over three hours away. But this year, there was no FSU home game. So I planned something crazy. I decided to go see a college football game between two legendary programs in a stadium I've always wanted to see. Nebraska at Ohio State:
It was alot of fun. Wonderful, cool fall football weather. An impressive and extremely loud stadium. Several very cool traditions - every school has them and theirs were fun to watch. Great trip. Done, get some sleep and go home.
But even when traveling, I like to try to find a place to spend some time worshipping with other Christ-followers. So last night I did a little online search, and found something surprising. This morning there was a service at a perfect time relative to my flight plans (10 am) at a Vineyard Church. I checked a couple of links, and it was indeed connected to the church I attended in Tuscaloosa a few weeks ago.
The point of sharing this? About midway through the pastor's message, I realized that this was probably God's purpose in getting me to Columbus. (Yes, I believe he uses fun to bring us where he wants us to be.) I made a choice to be here for one thing, and he said, "Uh huh. You just think that's why you're going."
What was so special about this message? Well, it's hard to put into words in a blog (especially if I want it to be short enough for you to keep reading). But here are a couple of key points:
- Romans 12:9 says love must be genuine, and the following verses give examples of what genuine love looks like. I've never thought of the passage that way before.
- First, we should hate what is evil and cling to what is good. If I really love someone, I will violently hate the things that harm them or cause them to harm others. Real love is not (as our society is telling us) unconditionally supporting every choice someone makes. It is having the courage to speak the truth and help them cut off those things that undermine their God-given purpose. (And yes, since I hate confrontation, this one is hard for me.)
- Genuine love is marked by showing honor. Am I courteous to people? Do I show respect, even to those who are against me? Do I show honor to people who serve me in restaurants, airports, and other service industries?
- Finally, and this one was a ton of bricks, genuine love is marked by God's energizing power. When a fire is lit, it doesn't keep burning on its on. Similarly, my fire needs to be fanned every day. Was there a time when my fire for loving God was hotter than it is now? The pastor said that he starts every day with a prayer to this effect: "Jesus, apart from you i can do nothing. I can't think like you, feel like you, love like you..." So true. I need to be connected every day, or the fire will go out.
Yep, it was a great trip - alot of fun. But I don't think it's why I was here. Thank you, Lord, for Sunday surprises.