A Step Ladder and the Great Commission

Last night our church kicked off our first night of VBS and it was great night of ministry. However something funny happened during the evening that after thinking about it became instructional for us as followers of Christ and as a church.  There was a light bulb that needed to be changed in the stairwell leading up to the fellowship hall.  I was asked if we had a step ladder or stool somewhere so that we could get the bulb changed. I thought for a moment and then said, “I don’t think we have one anywhere.” However in the back of my mind I could have sworn there was one somewhere.  Later that evening I was talking with my wife, Holly, about needing to get a step ladder or stool so we could get that bulb changed before then next night of VBS.  Much to my surprise she said, “You have one in your office.” At first I thought she was mistaken but then she said, “It has a bunch of papers and stuff on it, but there’s a step ladder in your office.”  And she was right. Just to the left of my desk is a small step ladder and it did have stacks of papers on it.

Now why is that instructional for us as followers of Christ and as a local church?  For three years that step ladder had been in my office and for three years I had used it as a makeshift shelf to hold papers and other stuff.  I had gotten so use to using it for that purpose that I had completely forgotten what it actually was and how it was supposed to be used!   So much so that I didn't even realize I had a step ladder in my office!  Our lives as followers of Christ and our life as a local church can be like that step ladder sometimes.  For years we go on living our lives or operating as a “church” in ways that God never intended our lives to be used for or in ways for the church to operate.  That doesn't necessarily mean we are using our lives or living as a church in bad ways or not doing good things.  There was nothing inherently wicked about papers sitting on the step ladder in my office.  However it wasn't being used how it was designed to be used and therefore things, like replacing the bulb, were left undone, the very things that a step ladder is designed to help fix. 

If we were to take an honest look at our lives individually as followers of Christ and collectively as a local church, how much would  they resemble that step ladder in my office? Are we living our lives and living as a church for the purpose for which God designed us to be used or are we doing a lot of good things, but not the best thing, the very thing God has purposed our lives individually and collectively to accomplish?  God has designed us and His Church to live lives as followers of Jesus Christ making disciples of our neighbors and the nations for His glory. 

The light bulb is now changed because the ladder was used how it was designed to be used.  The question is, "Will our neighborhoods and the nations be changed because our lives and our church is used by God the way it was designed to be used?"


A Rare Moment On the Soapbox

             I rarely do this, but let me vent about something I recently witnessed on television. I’m not just venting. I have a point to make so bear with me. A few weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon, I sat down to watch some T.V. as I usually do after the Sunday morning service.  This is usually a time where I will watch some sports and doze in and out of sleep from time to time.  Well, on this particular Sunday afternoon, it was sort of a dead time in the sports world.  Nothing was coming on that interested me until later in the afternoon. Therefore, I hunted something to watch. I stumbled upon a well-known preacher and his Sunday morning service and figured I’d listen to his sermon.  I’ve listened to this preacher before and typically enjoyed his sermons though it had been a long time since I had listened to him. And he is a man who has an exceptional ministry and who by and large is a much better preacher than I am.  However, I must have just caught the program on the wrong day because what I watched/listened to for the next thirty minutes was not what I had tuned in to see.

              I had chosen to watch/listen to channel because I knew this man to be a man of the Word and so I wanted to hear a good message from God ‘s Word, something that preachers rarely get to do or make themselves to do.  However, what I got for the next thirty minutes was a talk on the current state of our economic status as a country and basically a political diatribe against our current administration’s economic policy with a story or two from the Bible thrown in for good measure.   I concluded after listening to the sermon that I could have received the same message by watching the Fox News Channel.   At least there, I would have not been disappointed with what I heard because that’s what you go to Fox News to hear. 

             And that’s my point. You don’t come to church or listen to a preacher to hear a political diatribe or to hear what you could hear at someplace else in the culture whether it’s from the entertainment industry or political pundits. You come to church and you listen to a preacher to hear something or someone different. You come expecting to hear a word from God through the Bible. You come expecting to hear a message that you cannot hear anywhere else because the only place God has entrusted that message to is His Church and the men He has given as undershepherds  to proclaim that message.   And that message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ found in the story of the Bible, God’s Word.  

             I hope and pray that is what you come to hear each week at wherever you attend church. And I hope and pray that if that’s what you desire to hear week in and week out, that you will never leave disappointed.  However, if you do, and I was the pastor who disappointed you in that way, let me know so I can kick my own self in the rear end.  

Ok, I have descended from the soapbox. 


Heave IS for Real, But The Book Is Not

Keep this in mind as the movie Heaven Is For Real is released this week.


A New "Normal?"

Hopefully by now we’ve all recovered from all of the eating we’ve done over the past few weeks between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.  Usually a few days after eating “holiday food” during Thanksgiving and Christmas I am just ready to go and get some fast food from somewhere. Give me a cheeseburger!    This time of the year is unique in that we eat certain foods and amounts of certain foods only at this time of the year.  But after a while, we get tired of it and just want a sense of normalcy.  We want to just eat the kinds and amounts of food we are used to eating. We want the living room back to how it usually is decorated and all the furniture in the right place. And if we’re honest, we want it just to be our family again. We have people overload and just want it quiet and calm and normal. 
Likewise, from a ministry perspective this time of year gives a local church unique once in a year opportunities to reach out to our community with the Good News of the Gospel.  Both the kinds of outreaches we do and the “amount” of outreaches we do intensify during this season of the year.  

However, there’s a difference in the feasting on ministry and outreach that we do that is unique to this time of year as opposed to the feasting we do on food and other unique aspects of the Holiday Season.  The Thanksgiving and Christmas food along with the decorations, presents, as well as the family and friends we spend time with are all not the norm. We only do this once a year. And then we return to normalcy.  And when it comes to the ministry opportunities we engage in over these months, there is sometimes a sense when January 1st rolls around of, “Glad that’s behind us, now things can get back to normal.”   But what if that is the “normal” for the local church and Christians.  Is it possible that what’s abnormal are the other eleven months of the year where we don’t put in the same intentional effort in prayer, giving, sharing, planning, sacrificing to reach our community and the world with the Gospel?

Maybe as we approach a new year and make new resolutions that one of the ones we need to make, maybe the most important one as a local church, is a commitment to a “new normal” when it comes to ministry and outreach to lost people.  Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:15, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” Christmas is about Jesus coming to save sinners, but He didn’t just come to save sinners for the month of December.  Therefore, throughout the entire year, every month and every day of our lives,  let us live and love, give and go like Jesus came to save sinners  and intentionally pray and work to join Jesus in pursuing sinners in need of a Savior.