Better Normal

Keeping Our Eyes on Jesus

Tuesday, June 30 — Tuesday, July 28

The Covid-19 crisis has brought many unknowns our way, and in the midst of these times, we can find ourselves not knowing how to navigate back into a sense of normalcy–but what if a “better normal” is what we needed all along? Join us in this 5-week series as we encourage one another and learn to keep our eyes on Jesus through it all. Check back here for a new article each week!

For a Better Normal: Reconnection in Marriage (FABN-RIM) How would you pronounce it? 

Doug Spears | July 14th, 2020

Quarantine? Shelter at home? I’m enjoying it. I’m an introvert, so physical distancing and sheltering in place have felt like heaven. I am a 5 on the Enneagram Profile. For others, this long confinement has felt like a crisis. And when you’re facing a crisis, it’s easy to let your feelings spill over into your marriage and family life.

My wife (Gayle) stated the other day that she was feeling “distant” with me which is code for “you’re not talking very much,” which is code for “you’re in your head and not sharing your thoughts,” which is code for “I don’t like it,” which is code for “you know where this is going.”

My thoughts were, I have spent most of my waking moments with you since March 28th, watched movies, read books, worked on the house together, and yet she thought I was distant. I wondered if there was a version of COVID-19 that was just for women who thought that their husbands were distant. And all the women said!

I wanted to respond, but thought better, and stated that I had been thinking about Manichaeism. She said, “What is that?” You know Manichaeism! I thought: “That will teach her to ask me what I am thinking about!” I have spent the last trillion hours next to her (or at least in the same room-that counts!) and watched every episode of Fixer Upper, Home Town, and Fixer to Fabulous since March 28th. I am believing that there is something sinister about HGTV.

Oh, Manichaeism! (Third century philosophy that states that everything gets better with knowledge, which in my opinion is what our country is dealing with currently. Google It!

Spoiler Alert: things don’t necessarily get better with knowledge, but it can if you have a life-changing relationship with Christ. If you are not a believer, I can only help you this much. If you are a believer, I can help you a whole lot more.

If your marriage is challenged by COVID-19 or the version for men that keeps thoughts in their head, I’d like to offer some perspective and share ways you can let COVID-19 or this time of uncertainty change your marriage for the better.

Interested? Read more…

Choose to be a Team US

Don’t allow loss and uncertainty to divide you as a married couple. Instead, unite against a common enemy: uncertainty. This is an opportunity to unite and function like a powerful team. Battle the uncertainty together! Read Philippians 2:2-3.

Improve your “Out of Your Head Talk” (OOYHT- Sounds like HOOT with a soft h sound. Code for communication.) Yes, I made it up!

The sheer volume of decisions that must be made each day to keep your family functioning, especially now with uncertainty, is overwhelming. These include daily financial decisions, medical choices, the question: are we going back to shelter at home, schooling, and more. It’s exhausting!

So, talk about how to divide the cooking, cleaning, housework, home-schooling, shopping, and work schedules. You and your spouse already have expectations around how these things will be divided and how your “better normal” is supposed to function. It’s important to bring these expectations out and verbalize what you hope each one will look like and what you expect from each other. As you engage in OOYHT talk, remember you’re on the same team and need to find solutions that both people feel good about. The current uncertainty gives you the opportunity to develop new habits about how to talk through big and small decisions as a team.

Choose to work on Better Normal: Reconnection

The last few words of 1 Corinthians 13:12 explain the essence of connection: “…then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” These conversations are all about fully “knowing” and being fully “known.” It’s about completely knowing your spouse’s inner world (their worries, disappointments, hopes, fears, wants, needs, and dreams) and allowing your spouse to completely know your inner world.

As a better normal, attempt to spend about 10 minutes each day talking about meaningful things and getting to know each other’s inner life. Ask about highs and lows of your day. Talk about your gains and losses caused by COVID-19: health, income, independence, social interaction, and more. Make it your goal to care about how COVID-19 is affecting your spouse. Consider out of your head talk and from your heart talk: OOYHTFYHT-It’s German for COVID-19. No, not really! Okay, I’ll stop with all the acronyms. 

Choose to have some fun

Being quarantined at home has forced us to develop other ways to play and have fun together. We have built puzzles, colored, played video games, watched HGTV (Gayle has been so sorry that there is nothing on ESPN for us to watch; but I don’t think she is serious) gone for long walks, watched shows that we always wanted to see. but didn’t take the time to watch (written with sarcasm), cooked together, read, and painted. What fun activities do you want to continue doing after the better normal begins?

Choose to invest in others

The Jordan River is the only major water source flowing into the Dead Sea. However, there are no outlet streams. All of this life-giving water from the Jordan River goes into the Dead Sea, but nothing flows out. God doesn’t want “Dead Sea” marriages. He blesses us so we can bless others. Hebrews 13:16 says: “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (ESV). Don’t neglect to share what you have been given in your marriage, even if it’s merely being an encouragement, by having a great marriage that proves what is possible with Christ. Genuine sacrifice is giving away something that we own and value as an investment in someone else. This is the highest action of love. God doesn’t want us to be “takers,” He wants us to be sacrificial givers, people who invest in others by sharing the many gifts they have been given. Discipleship Groups are a great place for this to happen.  

We have so many neighbors who are hurting. COVID-19 is on the rise. Millions have filed for unemployment as businesses have closed. Add in social distancing and being quarantined, cultural issues, and it’s hard to care for others when we can’t give them a hug or share a meal together. As a couple, you can look for ways to invest in those around you. Commit to praying daily for a couple that is dealing with health problems, have lost their job, or had their income reduced.

Pray for our front-line workers: nurses and doctors, police officers and firefighters, and don’t forget grocery store clerks, sanitation workers, and delivery people. Connect with Compassion Christian Church Volunteer Outreach and choose how you would like to invest in others. It’s a way that you can spread the hope of Jesus from your home during a time of disruption and uncertainty for people around the world.

So, the next time your spouse asks: “What are you thinking?” you can now say “Manichaeism.”

Google It.

“BFABN”–Bonus for a Better Normal

(It is pronounced B short u sound fabn) Sorry, last one. For an interesting and stimulating conversation, try these questions to discover or rediscover who your partner is.

The one quality to keep in mind for the questions below is to treat the responses with respect. Try not to argue or negatively judge any of the responses. Be like a compassionate spouse who is wanting to know more.

Here is what you can ask your partner, or that your partner can ask you. You can even test how you each think the other would answer the question first; I went ahead and have given you some prompts.

  1. If you could change only one thing in your life, what would that be and why? HGTV.
  2. In a regular day, what do you find yourself thinking about the most? HGTV.
  3. If you could write a song about your life, what type of music would you use? HGTV sung to the tune of YMCA.
  4. What things in your life bring you the greatest pleasure? Not HGTV.
  5. What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment in your life? Did other people help to make that happen? Not HGTV.
  6. In what settings are you the happiest / eager / most comfortable? Not HGTV.
  7. What things do you look forward to each day? In your life? Not HGTV.
  8. If you had three wishes that would come true, what would they be? ESPN, ESPN 1, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, ESPN +, anything with ESPN, and not HGTV.
  9. What other things would you want to change now, and why? HGTV.
  10. What major regret do you have so far in your life? Is it too late to change it? HGTV.

Now that I got you started let me know how it turned out.

  1. What would be my ideal romantic date?
  2. Is there a belief or attitude that seems to interfere with creating or pursuing a big dream?
  3. What are a couple of things that you appreciate about our relationship and why do these things seem significant?
  4. In what situations do you feel most afraid or insecure?
  5. What would you like to do outdoors that you have not done before? Are there any extreme sports that you’d like to try?
  6. What country would you like to visit that you haven’t visited yet?
  7. What family member did you most admire when you were a child?
  8. What activities did your mother/father do that you most wish they had taught you?
  9. What do you most wish you’d learned from your mother/father?
  10. Name 3 things that most excite your imagination when you imagine doing them?
  11. What question about our money or future spending do you find hard to ask?
  12. What are your favorite things to spend money on?
  13. Who are you most envious of?
  14. What do you think of Manichaeism?
  15. What is your favorite Acronym? Yes to ESPN, and no to HGTV and to IRS. DIAD (Doug is a dufus!) Wrong! Sorry that would be dyad and that has already been taken!

Now I’m done! NID! LOL! Here is my favorite: BYDOTWANHO. A gift card to the first three couples that send in the correct answer (dspears@compassionchristian.com) and where it comes from in the Bible. ACLUE–it stands for a clue! Ok, now I am being ridiculous and have gone over my word limit.

Reconnect with Scripture

Mike Frazier | July 7th, 2020

Things I’ve heard my friends say during this season of sheltering and distancing:

Rather than over-dosing on social media, Netflix, sugar or worse, I suggest we consider saturating ourselves in a hearty dose of wisdom from Scripture — at least once daily! Wherever you are on this wide spectrum, most of us agree we are “saturated” from information overload. The thing about information is that it is not wisdom, it is just information — maybe helpful, maybe not.

For hundreds of years, in the best of times and the worst of times, followers of Jesus have been turning to the Bible for insight and direction. Jesus himself was a big fan of Scripture. Scholars tell us that He likely spent years in training as a youngster — listening, learning, thinking, praying and memorizing Scripture. In the Gospel accounts, we see that Jesus quoted, interpreted, meditated on, wrestled with, built His ethics and framed His world view around The Scriptures. (Remember how well equipped He was as a 12-year-old in the temple with the PhDs of Theology?) Such insightful questions, He amazed the scholars. Luke 2: 41-52.

As we think about a “better normal” and reconnections, here are a few things I find helpful to remember and ask myself about the priority of SCRIPTURE in my daily life:

  • The Bible is a library of books, written over hundreds of years that tell a unified story that points to Jesus.  Am I regularly engaging this tried and true text, relying on it to help me understand Jesus and how to live in the Kingdom of God?  Am I reading, studying and submitting to teaching from it?
  • Jesus often referenced The Scriptures because HE thought they were trustworthy and authoritative (even quoting passages from memory as He was dying on the Cross).  Do I trust The Bible?  Do I have “go to” passages in my head and heart that regularly guide me?  (Try some of these.)Psalm 1  |  Psalm 23  |  Philippians 2:1-18  |  Philippians 4:4-9  |  Colossians 3:1-17  |  Matthew 5-7  |  Romans 12  |  Philippians 1:3-11
  • The Bible was designed to be formational, shaping my thoughts, feelings and behaviors, transforming me into the image of Christ. Do I sit with the Scriptures in a posture of prayer or slow, unhurried reflection so that the Bible can “read me” and shape me?
  • The Bible is meant to help me find LIFEand discover the amazing journey of following Jesus as His disciple. Do I search The Scripture and ask GOD for direction, believing that HE will speak to me through His WORD?

When I notice my reading of Scripture is dry or lifeless, here are a few “ways of reading” that I try to recall:

  • Read an entire book of the Bible in one sitting.
  • Read a short passage slowly, listening for what the Holy Spirit impresses on my heart.
  • Read sections aloud with a friend or family member.
  • Read a section (a chapter or two) and write out a summary of what surfaced.
  • Listen to large portions of Scripture read by a professional reader — YouVersion is a go to for this approach!
  • Vary the translation.
  • Find a Bible reading plan and stick with it for a few months.  Consider engaging this plan with a friend or family member.
  • Join other CCC Bible readers and get connected to the New Testament Challenge. (Cam’s plan is posted daily.)

One way of reading Scripture, that has been fundamental to followers of Jesus for centuries, is reading large portions of the Bible out loud in one sitting. Historically, Christians would crowd together in a room with a single copy (or usually just parts) of the Scriptures, and one person would read aloud whole books or large chunks of the Bible while everyone listened intently. In certain parts of the world the Bible is still considered illegal propaganda. Sometimes the church community does not have enough money to purchase Bibles for everyone, or the Bible hasn’t actually been fully translated into their language. Followers of Jesus still crowd together to listen to the Bible being read out loud! In the spirit of this tradition, try gathering with your family or a few friends and reading a book of the Bible together. (If you decide to do this, please let us know how it goes.) Here are a few books/passages to consider:

Matthew 5-7  |  1,2, and 3 John  |  Galatians  |  Psalm 119  |  Philippians  |  Colossians

I’m praying that during these days of reconnection, we will all consider making scripture reading a priority in our daily schedules. I encourage you to plan for it, make this practice a part of your daily life, keep it as a high value. Join a d-group and process your experience in community with others. It’ll be a life-changer!

A Better New Normal: Reconnecting to life in a new but old way

Jim Bolen | June 30th, 2020

Greetings! My name is Jim and I am the Executive Pastor of Discipleship at Compassion Christian Church. We are starting a series entitled “A Better New Normal” where we intend to review the unprecedented effects of the Covid-19 crisis and discern how we can utilize this experience to walk closer and in a more intentional way with Jesus. Regardless of what happens in this world and throughout our individual lives, our Heavenly Father has promised to be with us, never leaving nor forsaking us (Deuteronomy 31:8). We can depend on His Promises and lean on His understanding. As we prepare to slowly get back to “normal”, I hope we all realize that truth.

The virus has forced the Global community to shut down economically and divert all available resources to fighting the spread of the virus. In the process, it has forced all of us into a “new normal” of family isolation and sheltering in place. We now see signs, from the influx of “increased sales reports” and pictures of over-crowded beaches, that our society is moving to get life back to the way it was before, to make life “normal” again.

Before we move too quickly in that direction, I think it would be wise to first realize what we’ve actually gained throughout these past months of sheltering in place. It’s interesting to realize that gasoline prices dropped dramatically because we weren’t going anywhere! Yet, demand for board games, bicycles and books has skyrocketed. As a result of being forced to stay home, we’ve also been able to enjoy family worship time through on-line services. We’ve suddenly found time to engage in personal Bible study, family devotions and prayer.

The question is: Do we really want to give all that up for busyness and incessant activities that possess no eternal value?

The first chapter of Mark’s Gospel is very applicable to where we find ourselves today. In this chapter, we read of Jesus recruiting his Disciples, teaching in the Synagogue, calling out evil spirits and healing the sick. He was so busy that Mark records “the whole town gathered at the door” (1:33). Then we read in verses 35-38 that on the next day when everyone came looking for Jesus, they eventually found him alone, in a solitary place, praying in preparation for his departure to another town to preach.  Because, he said, “this is why I have come”(1:38).

Jesus put boundaries around the demands of His time in order that He could properly prioritize his life.

Today, the pressure is mounting to “get things back to normal”. Our culture is demanding that we reconnect….that YOU reconnect. Have you given thought to boundaries you may need to install in your life? In the life of your family? Have you given any thought to or devoted time in prayer seeking what will receive the highest priorities in your life, such as your personal walk with Christ or your marriage? Is the old normal worth returning to?

Let’s all take advantage of this present moment, the time BEFORE the demands for our time and attention begin gathering at OUR doors!

Let’s all go to our own solitary place, to pray and seek God’s priorities for our lives. Let’s all take advantage of this unusual moment in time to BE with Jesus…..to seek God’s best for our lives and those of our families. By doing so, we will have utilized this time of crisis to reorder our lives in God honoring ways….and THAT would truly be creating a better new normal.