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Make the Best

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I’m a snowboarder.  I’ve broken my ankle, slammed my back on a bunch of things, and hit my head more times than I can remember.  (There’s a probably a correlation there.) 


I love going on ski trips and spending all day on the side of a snow-covered mountain. I love hanging out with friends and family and kids in the youth group at the end of those long days.  I love sitting around a fire or a television or table and just spending time together.  I like pelting other people with snowballs when they least expect it and throwing snow into someone’s hot shower. 


They may not like it, but I do.


Anyway, I love ski trips.  A couple of weeks ago I went with a group of our church’s teenagers and college students to Beech Mountain in North Carolina.  The weather forecast was not ideal.  The coldest it was supposed to get was thirty-eight degrees at night. It would be warmer during the day. It was also supposed to rain.  If you’re unaware, this is NOT ideal for a sport involving snow. 


As excited as I was to get back out there for the first time in a few years, I was inwardly dreading the conditions of the mountain, especially on a packed holiday weekend.  I sighed a little bit as I walked through incredible amounts of mud on the way up to the lodge.  I even winced as I looked from my perch in the chairlift at how much water was flowing down the side of the mountain in runoff streams. 


But somewhere on the first run of the day I decided to make the best of it.  I decided that I was going to have fun and go fast and spend time with people.  It helped that I was with some fun people, of course, but I had to make the decision in my head.


What happened the rest of the trip was pretty cool, I think.  See, ever since I broke my ankle some years back I haven’t had any confidence in taking jumps.  Something would always just click in my head right before the jump and trigger the memory of breaking my ankle.  I’ve bailed on most jumps during that time. 



Even though the overall snow conditions were so poor, the terrain park was still pretty great.  I decided to take some time to overcome what has become a fear for me.  Guess what?  I did it! I took a bunch of jumps and then went back to the main part of the mountain and took jumps in the middle of runs down the hill. 


And I didn’t even die.


Even though my grandma used to tell me this all the time, it’s only over the last few years that I’ve been learning to make the best of situations.  It’s only been in that time that I’ve actually taken the time to look for a way to make a less than ideal situation a little more ideal. It’s a great skill to develop; difficult, but worth it.


I would encourage you, no matter what you find yourself doing, to begin making the best of your situation. If it’s your job, be really good at your job while you’re there.  Be faithful in your job.  If it’s a family vacation, look for the little things you can enjoy.  The list of examples could go on and on, but you get what I’m saying.


Be the person who makes situations better.  Take some advice from Philippians 4:8:


Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.


Paul wrote that.  Paul, the guy who had been attacked with rocks, beaten with whips and rods, imprisoned, and shipwrecked.  THAT Paul wrote this in a letter to friends.  This was a guy who learned to make the best of every situation. 


I hope you and I can do the same. 






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Five Reasons To Be In A Community

We’ve reached the point of summer when I don’t see anyone more than two days in a row.  Everybody is on vacation or going to the beach every week.  

Everybody but me.

What has happened as a result is I’ve begun appreciating the community that surrounds me consistently a little bit more.  I just miss y’all, I guess.  (Looks away so the moment doesn’t get too awkward or gushy.)  I really do believe we were created to live in community with other people.  I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I couldn’t have people around me that I talked to and hung out with all the time.

So, to combat my summer time blues, here are five of my top reasons you should be entrenched in a community that loves you and a couple of tips for how to find that community.

#1 Life is more fun with other people – Don’t doubt me on this.  You’re fun, your cat is fun, and Netflix if fun…I get it.  But those things combined are not near as fun as what other people can bring into your life.  They have lives completely separate from you which enables them to know about events that you might never hear of.  They also may have ideas to do things that you would never do alone.  OR they just might be funnier than you.  No way, I know.  But here’s the thing: other people hanging out with you definitely makes life more fun.

#2 You need someone to watch your house…among other things – When you go out of town, who watches your house for you?  Who makes sure you’re okay when you haven’t emerged from your house for a week?  Who saves the last donut at the office for you when you’re running late?  If you’re living life alone the answer is NO ONE.  Don’t you want that donut?  Then be vulnerable enough to let people into your world and save you that donut.  Let people take care of you.

#3 You learn things from other people – I know you’re a genius, but even Einstein had friends and colleagues.  Other people know things you don’t.  The more you can learn from other people, the more opportunities and knowledge you can have.  That can only add to your enjoyment of life!

#4 It’s a much better way to network – The best way to get hired these days is not to email your resume somewhere; it’s to know somebody in good standing at the place you’re trying to work.  The same applies to things like exclusive daycares and sports teams and plumbers.  Obviously, you can’t know everyone, but somebody in your community just might know someone you need to be in touch with.  If you’re living life all alone and never venturing out of your own little world, you will miss a better way to network.  So take that, internet job sites.

#5 You can lean on your community – When all is said and done, who are you going to lean on when times get tough?  Because they will.  Those times absolutely will get tough.  Are you going to put on a brave face and bear it all yourself?  Or are you going to do the smart thing and ugly cry on your friend’s shoulder for an hour?  Are you going to walk five miles to work or are you going to ask your coworker for a ride?  My former pastor, Richard Hipps, used to always say, “Life is tough, God is good.”  He’s right about both things, but community, I believe, is God’s gift to us to walk us through those tough or trying times. 

It can be tough to establish a community around yourself, especially when you move to a new city or are really shy.  Here are some of my tips for establishing a great circle of people around you: 

#1 Call your neighbor up and ask them to breakfast – It doesn’t have to be breakfast.  It can be any meal.  Or ice cream.  People love ice cream.  The point is that it’s easier to bond while sitting across from each other for a definitive period of time.  They’re your neighbor…at least now they will think twice before coming to yell at you about your grass! 

#2 Go to church consistently – Church and church people get a bad rap, I think.  In all fairness, I’m a pastor who believes in the local church.  But also, I’m a pastor, which means I get to experience everything that church people are.  And for the most part, they’re fantastic and giving people.  They notice when you aren’t there.  They go out of their way to help you.  They will watch your kids for free.  They will pray for you and stay with you at the hospital and start meal trains when something happens to your family.  Be invested in a local church and let them love on you.  (Our church is REALLY good at loving on people, by the way.)   

#3 Be involved in a serve team or community group at church – If you’re going consistently, why not be part of a regularly meeting group?  Serve teams and community groups grow closer than just your average relationship in church because you get to know people better.  You can do that at our church by going to our groups page or our serve page

#4 Say yes to most things, even when you’d rather watch Netflix all night – It’s easy to feel like you don’t have time or you’re too tired to do things, even if they’re fun.  Try to say yes as much as you can to going and doing things with people.  You’ll have a good time at most of it, I think; that’s been my experience, at least.  Don’t overextend yourself, but guard against isolating yourself.  Otherwise you’ll look up in twenty years and wonder where your close friends are and why you never went to a pro sports game.

#5 Hang out with people from work unless you shouldn’t – Work friends can be the best friends.  Spend time doing stuff outside of work if they are people worth doing that with.  If they’re people who don’t really hold your same general values (i.e., they do a lot of drugs or something), then maybe don’t hang out with them.  Other than that, hang out and see where those relationships can take you!

Community is a great gift from God for helping us enjoy life and overcome things that may come our way.  What are some reasons you have been part of a community?  What tips would you share with others trying to get involved in a community?



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