Adult Team Blog

Losing Your First Love to Good Things

I’m guilty. While it may not appear that way to the world, I know it in my heart. You can go to church, pray, tithe, and even serve and still be guilty of losing your First Love, of placing Jesus second in your life.

When it happens to me, it doesn’t happen overnight or with conspicuous things like sinful relationships, drugs, or alcohol. It happens with good things.

The first time I noticed it was in college. I went to a Christian college, was dating a Christian guy, and was a good student—all good things but things that took God’s place in my life. God brought it to my attention, and I had to reprioritize. I had to make sure I was spending time with Him each day and listening to His will for my life.

The second time I noticed it was as a young mother. I was taking good care of my 2 precious boys, but I wasn’t giving God quality time in my life.

What good things in your life may be causing you to lose your First Love? Work? Travel? Family? Reevaluate your life today and make sure Jesus is still in first place. 

Finding Your First Love

When the grievous realization swept over me, I cried like a child.

All the puzzle pieces seemed to magnetically come together. That person I loved so much who just couldn’t seem to forgive me had become an idol in my life. Their forgiveness had become too important, all-consuming. Their lack of love and forgiveness could reduce me to tears in an instant and had left God in the shadows.

Why?

That person’s forgiveness would make me feel loved.

That person’s forgiveness would relieve me.

That person’s forgiveness would somehow save me.

Somewhere along the way, I had taken God, my First Love, off my heart’s pedestal and replaced Him with another—an idol.

And with that realization, freedom swept over me.

God reclaimed His proper place, as my heart made way. And I ran into His arms because He first loved me and His love is enough.

Shelli Littleton lives in Royse City, Texas, and blogs at ShelliLittleton.blogspot.com.

Feed Your Neighbors, Next Door and around the World

Global Hunger Relief

October 11 is Global Hunger Sunday. What has our group done to focus on the needs of the hungry?

We are a small group. Averaging 30–35 in attendance any given Sunday, we realize huge projects may be beyond our means. But we don’t let that stop us. For the past several years, we have taken steps to help the hungry in our community—our closest neighbors.

October is the month we begin planning and collecting food for our annual Thanksgiving baskets. These baskets contain the makings of a generous Thanksgiving dinner. Our goal this year is to prepare 15 baskets, which will be given to families in need in our community.

But it is not enough.

What can we do to focus on the needs of the hungry—the ones who live in the global neighborhood?

I think it may be time for a hunger experience, one designed to heighten awareness of the severity of world hunger and inspire us to reach out and help.

Brokenness: The Seed of Compassion

Compassion isn’t something we possess on our own. It is often born of deep brokenness in which we experience the unspeakable comfort of God.

When our son was diagnosed with severe autism before age 2, I had only a surface grasp of God. He was a feel-good God to me. He was the God we begged to remove our problems, the God whose job it was to make us comfortable.

But my relationship with God became intimate, soothing, and more precious in the years that followed. I learned Who God really is through His Word. As I trusted Him more, God revealed His sovereignty over all of life. While I walked through the dark valley of suffering alongside our son, I experienced sides of God not visible to the naked eye:

  • God showed me such love that it overshadowed the heartache of the hour.
  • God showed me He was for me, not against me.
  • God took my prayers and answered them according to His will.

The time of suffering would prepare me to minister to people. Because of God’s compassion, I now feel compassion for others and it has been woven into nearly every act of ministry or missions I’ve been a part of.

Working Together to Make Missions Successful

The most beautiful thing about missions is not simply that it exists but how God gets His work done and invites us to join in His mission. Using His people, God instills in us a desire to serve Him, different talents, and passions and a focus on the gospel.

One of my favorite missions projects is Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse. I love watching how many different types of people it takes to get thousands of shoe boxes packed each fall:

Connecting with the World around You

I was blessed to be part of a volunteer team that ministered at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. I enjoyed the international setting and the nations coming together in one place.

The Olympic missions experience taught me much about families.

Regardless of ethnicity, religion, income level, and country of origin, people desire some of the same things for their families. They seek

  • love
  • food and water
  • truth
  • kindness
  • security
  • relationships
  • things to do together

Believe it or not, the 2 things I did most as a volunteer along the River Thames were take photos of visitors and paint faces of young excited travelers. Visiting and connecting while helping with such simple tasks was a fantastic experience. I met many global neighbors I could love and help.

Missions engagement requires a willingness to connect—through everyday life activities—and build relationships with others. Proximity is a main ingredient for missions. Who is physically close to you? At work? At play? At home?

Look around. Whom can you connect with today?

What’s Your Routine?

At every stage in my childhood, I had a bedtime routine. When I was three years old, I insisted that my dad read P.B. Bear’s Birthday Party every single night. No other book would do! When I was five, I got up about 10 seconds after my parents tucked me into bed. I would march into the living room and announce, “I can’t sleep!” Then my dad would carry me back to my room and tuck me in bed for a second time.

Routines are the structure of our everyday lives. Many Christians desire to make spending time with God a part of their daily routine. However, this is easier said than done. When you are already balancing work, school, family, church, and other activities, how can you squeeze in another time commitment?

I faced this question during my freshman year of high school when I decided to read through the entire Bible before I went to college. I set a goal of reading one or two chapters every night before I went to bed. At first it was difficult to keep up the momentum. Sometimes I missed several days in a row, and I fell behind. However, I never quit. Even if I lagged behind schedule, I pressed on.

Who Am I Following?

Have you ever had to follow someone when traveling in a vehicle? It can be quite frustrating if the person leading has forgotten that he or she is leading you, especially if you are in an unfamiliar area. I’m sure we can all relate to having the person in front slip through the yellow light and then here we are stuck, sitting at a red light, trying to watch as far as we can to see where we need to follow.

To be honest, sometimes I feel that the same can be said for my obedience to God. I will run out of fingers and toes to list all the times I tried to be the “lead” car with God. Isn’t it silly? How can I think that I know better than God? When we call it out like this it does sounds silly; however, it’s not always a blatant, “I am going to take the lead, God.”

It begins when we lose our focus. We get so distracted by life events, people, and things around us that we forget to keep our focus on God. We begin to get impatient with God’s timing that we improvise and find a “short-cut.” I don’t know about you, but the “short-cuts” I have taken in my life always make things more difficult and longer in the end.

Trips as a Tool

Missions trips are such a wonderful way to strengthen your group and allow members to exercise their faith. I heard a definition of a missions trip this way—“A useful tool to use your time for His Glory.” That is what we are doing; we’re being a tool in the Master’s hand. Have you ever stopped and thought about how you spend your time and how those in your group spend their time? How we spend our time is really a reflection of the condition of our heart. Serving God through the use of our time shows what our priorities really are.

A Teaching Degree

The box next to "Christian Studies" was marked. My college major was chosen. I felt confident and somehow more mature. Checking that small box on the blue form seemed to be one of the biggest decisions I had ever made.

Why would I choose anything else? God had shown me that I would be serving Him overseas once I graduated so what good would any other major do for me? Two months into college, God began to speak to my heart. He wanted me in the education building. A teacher? Really? I looked into seeing if it could be my minor. No such luck.

Reluctantly, I filled out the form to change my major and over the next three and a half years fell completely in love with teaching. Fast forward four years after graduation, and I'm getting on a plane to go and serve as an international missionary in Madagascar. His plan remained and He did not need my help to get me there.

That teaching degree opened up doors to an English-as-a-second-language community that I would not have had otherwise. He gave me a classroom of precious deaf children that I was welcomed into because of my education degree. He saw the future so much clearer than I ever have.

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