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Loving Difficult People

Let’s be honest. Some people are hard to love. Your annoying neighbor. The person who cuts you off in traffic. That opinionated co-worker.

Some friends of mine have two-year-old triplets. Remember the “terrible twos”? Multiply that by three, and you don’t get six. You get the multiplied energy, curiosity, and noise. Now, imagine going out to eat as a family.

My friends and their enthused triplets did just that, and the Terrific Three got the idea they would run around the table neighing like horses. A man sitting at the next table made a snide remark about the lack of parental control, and my friend gently responded that when the man has two-year-old triplets, he can give all the advice he wants. And the man sneered and said, “I would NEVER be stupid enough to have triplets.”

Needless to say, it was about all my friend could do not to “neigh, neigh” a punch across the man’s face. As I said, some people are hard to love.

And sometimes WE are those people. At times we act selfishly, stubbornly, and spitefully. We require grace just as much as we need to extend it. While we work out what God has worked in, we acknowledge others are doing the same.

Remember the Apostle Peter? Peter was bold, rash and impetuous, and most likely he got on others’ nerves. He often thought he was right (John 13:8). He vowed he would never deny Jesus, even if others did (Matthew 26:35). He even rebuked Jesus (Matthew 16:22). I mean, who would do that? You’ve got to be pretty full of yourself to rebuke the Lord of the Universe.

And yet Jesus continued to love Peter. As the old hymn says, how grateful we are for “the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!”

Augustine once wrote, “Anyone who thinks that he has understood the divine scriptures or any part of them, but cannot by his understanding build up this love of God and neighbor, has not yet succeeded in understanding them” (On Christian Doctrine).

What is the best indicator that someone knows the Bible? Is it that they can quote verses or wax eloquently in their explanation of some obscure passage? Augustine, who knew quite a bit about the Bible, said if you do not love God and neighbor you understand very little. I wonder where he got that idea (Matthew 22:34-40)?

The next time you’re around someone who is hard to love, be grateful for the opportunity to pour into him or her what has been poured into you—“. . . God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

The Last Word with Nelly Arnold

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Thanks for sitting down and being willing to able to chat with us Nelly! To give some background information, what is the ministry that you work in?

I work with the Connections team as the Connections Coordinator. I lead volunteers that help others get connected to E91. This includes the moment when people get out of their car to the moment they sit down in the sanctuary. We attempt to make people feel right at home and being at E91 an easy and enjoyable experience. I work with volunteers to train them and give them information that they can give to all those who attend here.

Why did you decide to work in Connections?

There were many signs from God that I should apply to work in Connections, but I was hesitant to start. Taking this step was a big leap of faith for me. Working at E91 has caused me to develop my current strengths and discover new strengths and skills. I love being at the front lines with new people. There are no masks with this role, just simply developing authentic relationship with others. The best part is that Connections is the first step for people coming to Christ.

What does the day-to-day work look like for you?

Everything I do during the week is geared toward preparing for the weekend service. Volunteer spots are scheduled every week. I reach out to our volunteers to remind them of upcoming events and give them information for the upcoming weekend. I also train new volunteers that sign-up fro connections on our green “I’m Stepping Up” cards. Finally, I spend time on Sunday's preparing volunteers to answer our most frequently asked questions.

Currently, what’s the biggest need in Connections Ministry?

The big need is getting more people on the schedule. Our goal is to have a rotating schedule so that we have enough people to spread the load of volunteering in Connections. This helps to avoid burnout and exhaustion from our volunteers. Easter was a blessing because they had enough people to help and we hope to continue to have an increase in volunteers.

What are some new things happening in the connections team?

The newest and most exciting update is the Connections parking team! Anyone who attended the Easter service had the opportunity to see some of our volunteers waving signs and welcoming everyone to E91. This is a new team development and right now it’s in the beginning process. Currently, our parking team will be available for big events, so say hello to our volunteers when you see them!

Do you have any tips for a new family joining E91?

My major thing when I was a new guest was that I was too afraid to ask questions. I wanted to be involved, but I didn’t know how. I encourage new guests and members to not be afraid to ask questions. The Connections Team is always working together to help you find an answer. We want to help you and we want to work with you. That's why we are here.

You’ve survived all of my questions. Is there anything you would like to share about Connections to the E91 audience?

Firstly, I encourage you to keep volunteering at E91. We have a variety of places at E91 that can fit your skills and strengths. If you don’t find one that fits, then we will work to find a place for you!

I also want to update everyone and let you know to keep your eye out for some great things coming to E91. I can’t give the full details just yet, but the Connections team is excited for great things to come!

Posted by Ian Misiak with 0 Comments

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