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June 12, 2007 / David Lindner

Bloom Where You’re Planted

I have been a Cincinnati Bengals fan my whole life. I was a fan when I was first growing up, I remember when they lost the Superbowl to the 49ers. I remember the Icky shuffle. But, unfortunately, most of my life has been spent watching and hearing about how bad the Bengals are. For years and years, they went without a winning season, many of the years only winning 1-3 games. For those years it was tough to be a Bengals fan, but I stuck with them through the years, and it looks like things might be turning around. We’ve had a new coach for a few years now, & the last two years we went 8-8 for the season, not bad for a team that was 1-15 the years before that. Who knows this year, we might even have a winning record, that would be a first in almost 15 years.

I wasn’t one of those people whom we call “bandwagoners”. I wanted to be, it would have been easier to be most of the time. But I chose to stick with my team, knowing that they would eventually come out of the funk that they were in. For many people that’s not true.

People want to be fans of the team that’s winning. They become so engrossed in the team that they feel like part of the team, saying things like “we’ll do better next year” and the like. When their team isn’t winning they want to switch to one that is. People don’t like the feeling of losing, I certainly don’t. So, when their team starts losing, they start looking, looking for a team that is winning. The marketplace knows this, that’s why their store’s stock changes so much, whatever team is winning, that’s the team whose paraphernalia they will carry. (I’ve even started seeing some Bengals stuff lately)

Unfortunately, I think this attitude carries on into the rest of our lives. For students, if our school isn’t the best school in town, we want to switch to the one that is. For workers, if our job isn’t the best in the business, we want to switch to the competitors. For cattle, if the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, they want to look for a hole in the fence to go eat that fresh grass.

Think about this: the team that is winning is only doing so because of the commitment of the team, the members of the team and the team’s support system. When that support system breaks down, winning goes down. When individuals start popping up and teamwork starts going down, the L’s go up and the W’s go down. A superbowl is only won when the whole team comes together and plays as one unit.

America is a culture that pushes winning. Winning is everything! That’s what our minds have been trained to believe, that’s what our attitudes reflect, and that’s certainly what our actions suggest. When we lose, we throw fits, get angry and make fools of ourselves, screaming at referees, at the other teams and even at the television. I know some of you have done this, but I never have. I would never yell at the senior tight end for Ohio State who dropped a potential game winning touchdown pass in the end zone this past Saturday night when they played Texas.

One lesson that I’ve learned is that winning isn’t everything. In fact, I’ve learned far more through losing than I think I ever will through winning. When I think about winning, I go back through the losses in my life that have made this victory sweet. For instance, having an 8-8 season is not what some would consider great, but for me, the Bengals just winning 8 games is wonderful. It wouldn’t be so wonderful it we had been winning 8 games every season, but when you’re winning 1 game per season, 8 is almost a miracle!

Now let’s say that God has called me to be a Bengals fan. (While this may be absurd to some of you, the fact that God hasn’t called us to be sports fan is absurd to others.) If this were the case, I would be called to ALWAYS be a Bengals fan. I couldn’t be called to be a Bengals fan only when I felt like being a Bengals fan, I have to be a Bengals fan at all times, in good times and bad. When God called me to be a Bengals fan, he called me to be a Bengals fan knowing that there was going to be a period of time when they were bad, and being a Bengals fan would be tough. He also knew that I would make a better Bengals fan than I would a Cleveland Browns or a Denver Broncos fan. While at times I might like the Broncos, and watch them, the Bengals are still my team.

While it may be silly to think of God calling me to be a Bengals fan, God does call me to be loyal. Loyal to Him, loyal to my family and loyal to the family of God he has placed me in. God does not choose to move many of us around very often, rather we choose to move ourselves around. We get upset by something, it may be a small something, but because it is happening to us, is fills our vision and we can’t see anything else. We then decide it would be easier to go somewhere else, than it would be to stay, work through the tough time and grow.

Because of this mindset, we now have the church-hopper syndrome. People get fed up with something, and go to another church, then they get fed up with something there and go to another church, and so on and so forth, until they many times end up back where they started. Think of how much easier it would have been to stay where God put us in the first place.

God calls us to be like the Philippians. While at times the church in Philippi had its own troubles, they also did many things right. Paul says to them, “When I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except only you.” And notice how Paul had already encouraged them to keep doing what they were doing by his own life, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned to be content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Notice that Paul didn’t say something to the effect of “I have learned to be content and when my situation changes, to put myself in a different situation to keep happy.” Or “I can do everything that I feel like doing through him who gives me strength.” The Philippians were faithful to Paul & Paul was faithful to God.

That’s the desire that God has for each one of our lives, to be faithful to Him, to be faithful to family, and to be faithful to the family of God. Things won’t always be easy where we are, but we aren’t called to live easy lives, we’re called to live Christian lives. We’re called to be faithful and set an example of faithfulness for those who will follow us.

17 Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18 Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20 Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. 21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to. (1 Corinthians 7:17-24 NIV)

It is easy for us to look at others and think, life would be so much better if I was in their situation. But that’s not what God has for us. God has not given us a life of dissatisfaction, but a life of contentment. Every one of us were in a different situation that God called us out of and into relationship with him. Notice this, “Each one of you should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you – although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.”

We are to remain in the situation we have been called to. Some of us have been called to an easy situation, one in which life seems easy, where everything is going as planned, and God has called us to remain in this situation. Some of us are going through tough times, where nothing is going as planned and we want so badly to be out of it, but God has called us to remain in this situation. For those in good times, remember we were bought at a price, and we are slaves of Christ. For those in tough times, remember the price has already been paid, and we are free in Christ.

Perspective is what it boils down to. When times are good, we need to keep perspective of Christ, and continue to trust Christ. When times are bad, we need to do the same. All comes from Him and all goes back to him.

This applies to all situations of life – to our relationship with God, to our relationship with our family, and to our relationship with the family of God. We are to Bloom where we have been planted. God has called us to the specific situations that we are in for His glory. We don’t need to change the situation to be used by God. We need to bloom in the situation God planted us in. We ought not think “my gifts could be used better here or there.” Rather, we ought to think, “how can I better use my gifts here?”

God has called each of us to the ministry of Calvary Community Church. He has called each of us to use the gifts he has given us to further the work of His kingdom at Calvary and in Longview. God has called us to leave a legacy of faithfulness for all who come behind us to see, and to inspire them to the same devotion to the kingdom and to Calvary that we have.

When we start truly learning and practicing – being content in all situations – we will become less and less a people of bandwagoners and church-hoppers, and more and more a people of commitment and dedication to the Kingdom and Calvary. Just like a superbowl is only won when the whole team comes together and plays as one unit, souls are only won when the whole body comes together and ministers as one unit. There are no individuals in the body of Christ, only members of the body.

What about worship? It is difficult if not impossible for the body of Christ to worship without unity, and it is even more difficult for there to be unity if people are constantly looking at other churches thinking that they are doing it better there than we are here. If God has called us to Calvary it is for a reason. Partially because God wants to teach us something here, and also because God wants to use us here. Let us come together as one body, worship in unity the living God and allow God to work through us.

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