Monday, for the first time in a long time I smoked a cigar. It's not something I do very often, and not something I am a huge supporter of for everyone. However, for me, on this day, it reminded me of Jesus.
When I was deployed I met Chaplain 1LT John Barkmeyer. Fr. Barkmeyer, a Catholic Priest and the type of guy that guys wanted to be around. He was gruff, tough, and had a no BS rule that everyone pretty much loved. During the deployment he organized a cigar ministry. Every Wednesday night we would go to a gazebo in the middle of camp to smoke cigars. Sometimes there were 10 guys there, other times only a few. Something unexpected happened in those moments we sat smoking cigars: we all felt a little closer to Jesus; we all felt a little closer to our families; we all felt a little closer to home.
Today was different than back then, but still really special. We were just four guys sitting around talking about life. Faith, friends, females.... everything was on the table. In that moment I could feel the spirit of Jesus amongst us. It was authentic, and it was worshipful.
As I reflect on the experience, both then and today, I realized that something much bigger had happened and was happening. We weren't just smoking cigars; we were discipling and being discipled. I was reminded that the call of the Gospel isn't to make churches, but rather to make disciples. One of the many things that makes the Kingdom of God so special is that it isn't just about what we do on Sundays, but rather how we integrate the Gospel into every part of our lives. Cigars, cards, or whatever else you do to unwind can be a special moment to bring you (and others) closer to Jesus.
Where can you integrate the Gospel into your life?
What area can you give to God?
Who in your life needs to see you as a representative of the Kingdom of God (hint- they probably aren't at church)?