What a fun word (I personally thought it should be hyphenated, but SpellCheck said otherwise). I like takeaways. I like it when you can go out to eat and they give you that extra takeaway drink to go. I like it when my wife doesn’t eat all of her meal and I get to take away the rest for lunch the next day. I’d say, most of the time, the idea of takeaways are typically positive.

And so it was this past Sunday. First of all, what a beautiful day! Our Life-Stage group had a good class talking about John chapter 2. The auditorium seemed to be filled up with praise and worship on Sunday morning, and Leon had a very encouraging message. I left our gathering on Sunday with a number of takeaways.

1. Be in the Word. Our class has talked about this recently as we’ve begun our series on John. If you’ve been a part of a church for a length of time, it might be easy to look past certain studies and consider them a “review”. In so doing, we treat the Bible as any other book, or head knowledge that need only be learned once instead of an overflowing well of wisdom, truth, and life. Our study of John is centered on, not just knowing “about” Jesus, but getting to know JESUS…who He is, and becoming more intimately aware of the things he said, the things he did, so that we can be better followers. Each week, as we look ahead at the next chapter in John we will be covering, I’m making a personal commitment to read the chapter multiple times in that week, to become connected, not just with what it says, but with what Jesus says. Are the words of Jesus a part of your week? Should they be?

2. Pray. Leon encouraged us all to consider our prayer lives. I took this to mean not just at the dinner table or in our gatherings together. Personally, I have needed more time in solitude and silence with my Father. Our lives are so loud, so busy, and my life reflects the world in that way. My life needs quiet, it longs for rest. Why is it that so often we make prayer something that God needs from us, when it is much more likely that prayer is something that God knows we need. In the coming weeks, I plan to carve out chunks of time when silence is valued. Could your life use some quiet-time? Will you get it without planning for it?

3. Fellowship with others. Whether this is synonymous with POTLUCKS or not, I appreciated what Leon had to say about our fellowship with one another. Fellowship isn’t always easy. Sometimes it can be really hard. But it’s so important. We are called to be in fellowship with one another. We are called to be connected, to encourage one another. When I think back on our “Surprise the World” study, I think about the first two letters of the B.E.L.L.S system and how much joy comes when I am seeking someone to “Bless”, and someone to “Eat” with. Even though our lives have become too busy, they have also become often too separate. In the coming weeks, as we join with our loved ones over Thanksgiving, and as we enter into the holiday season of Christmas, we will once again be reminded that it is better to give than to receive. We will encounter people who are in need of a blessing and may be able to share tables together of fellowship—both with people we now know, and perhaps people that we meet. As a takeaway, who will you bless? Who will you share a table with?

We have lessons to learn all around us, not just from sermons, not just from classes. What will you take away? How will you grow? What is making you become more like Jesus?

Chad Tappe

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