I have finally come to grips that I will not be a “mover and a shaker.” The world, alas, is not clamoring for my opinions, my advice, my counsel, my pontifications. The President and members of congress no longer call (man, could I give them an earful if they did!). It has been some time since some anchor person contacted me to get my take on foreign or domestic events and developments. Celebrities fail to call me for my thoughts on the directions their careers should take. No one sends me scripts for potential movies or plays anymore. Congress persists in passing bills without my input.
So what can I do to make the world a better place? Jesus said we can do this by serving; by letting our light shine through our good works (Matthew 5:13,14). Consider:
Think of your fellow man
lend him a helping hand
put a little love in your heart.
You see it’s getting late
oh please don’t hesitate
put a little love in your heart.
And the world will be a better place
and the world will be a better place
for you and me
you just wait and see.
Filed under Aging, Awareness, Change Agent, Christlikeness, Culture Wars, Discernment, discipleship, Edification, Encouragement, Friendship, Jesus Christ, Love, Music and Poetry, Poetry?, Selflessness, Uncategorized
I received another note today (on an unnamed social medium) about another building expansion being completed. It celebrated funds raised to add more brick and mortar to an existing building. Oh Hurrah!
We act sometimes like the Great Commission said, “Go into all the world and build buildings to worship in.” What He really said was to make disciples. Furthermore, even though Jesus had nothing to say about “worship services,” we can worship anywhere…in a park, under a tree, in a rented hall, in a house…anywhere.
I can’t, for the life of me, see the connection between building or expanding buildings and seeking and saving the lost. May God forgive us for putting untold billions into buildings constructed in the middle of neighborhoods we have no plans for reaching with the saving gospel.
Filed under "Worship Services", Assemblies, church, Church Buildings, Churches, Community, discipleship, Evangelism, Kingdom Growth, Missions/Evangelism, Preaching/Teaching
Church leaders are lamenting declining attendance and seeking creative ways to get people into their buildings. Preachers are even going to where the people are…imagine that! (Sounds suspiciously like something Jesus did.) But the goal appears to ultimately get people into their “worship services.” (We seem to forget that we are the “called out” not the “called in.”)
I hate to break it to you, but that’s not going to work. People have better things to do with their time than to file into an auditorium, sing a few songs, listen to a few prayers, observe a few rituals, pay homage to a few traditions and listen to a monologue that may or may not be relevant…all the while staring at the back of the heads seated in front of them.
Some pin their hopes of getting people into their auditoriums on hiring a hotshot young Osteen-like preacher and a rockin’ band led by a highly talented choreographer/director/producer. Unfortunately, without a large membership and a large budget, small congregations are left out in the cold.
The only way to increase attendance in assemblies is something any church of any size can do: fulfill their intended purpose namely, to build up our fellow disciples. What we are doing now is just not cutting it. When our assemblies become focused on encouragement, enlightenment and stirring up one another to love and good works…our assemblies will be packed.
I can’t remember a time in recent history that has provided a greater contrast between Christianity and Radical Islam.
Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Luke 6:22 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.”
1 Peter 2:21-23 “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;”
Filed under Afghanistan, Attributes of God, Bigotry, Christlikeness, Current Events, Egypt, Good & Evil, Islam, Jesus Christ, Middle East, Peace, Religion, Scripture
We read recently of a church that transitioned from primarily serving themselves to serving others as the result of a natural disaster. I thought, “Hooray! That’s one!” Regrettably, this kind of change is outstanding because of its rarity. Why is understanding and practicing the principle of serving so difficult for those who are followers of the One who said He came to serve and not to be served?
It’s ironic that we have come to call our times of assembly “services.” Really? Who are we serving?
- Are we serving God? Exactly how are we doing that passively sitting in a building?
- Are we serving our brothers and sisters? How? By sleepily listening to a preacher or singing to the back of their heads?
- Are we serving our community? Is that remotely possible segregated from the community with our butts planted in a pew/chair in one of our edifices?
- Are we serving our world? How? It is a stretch to gather into the rarified atmosphere of some auditorium going through motions of minimal meaning and claim we are “serving.”
Our times of assembly can be times of service if we turn them into times of edification and encouragement. If our preaching, singing, partaking of the wine and bread bring us closer to each other and our Lord then mission accomplished. If, however, we continue to lethargically linger to lifelessly go through the routine “exercises of this service” (“exercises” is an interesting way to put it), then, at the end of the closing prayer rush to our cars, who will be served?
True service will be accomplished in the world…not out of it (those who isolate themselves in monastic solitude need to understand this). Our service must be taken out of our comfortable retreats and into our uncomfortable world. Let’s lift up our eyes. We are surrounded by suffering and need. If Christians responded to these realities, there would be little need for a “Nanny State.”
There is no power greater than the words and works of the Holy Spirit as we blend the gospel with service. One without the other is like faith without works: dead and useless. Put them together and people will be saved physically, emotionally and, most importantly, spiritually and eternally.
To pin our hopes for national and international salvation on electing the right president, senator or congressperson is misguided and a striving after wind (and, we are getting a lot of “wind” at the moment). Taking the same energy expended to get our favorite candidate into office and turning it to serve our world and save its lost would truly answer the prayer, “Thy kingdom come.”
If love can’t be found among God’s people – where can it be found? In the gospels and letters, Christians are admonished over and over to love one another and our neighbors. Love is our identity. It is how we are recognized as followers of Jesus. It is the badge that marks us as Christians. It is the quality that sets us apart from the dog-eat-dog culture of materialism and greed.
What an unmitigated tragedy when the lack of love is noted among congregations of self-proclaimed Christians! It is so contrary to what we should be that it even occasionally makes the news. Most of the time, however, it is merely observed and noted. The results are ugly. People are driven away from such hypocrisy. I am always reminded of what Gandhi, who lived and died a Hindu, had to say about the Christians he observed, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Yes, some unfriendly observers may be looking for something wrong – but we make it too easy for them. Lovelessness is always starkly obvious and always a source of ammunition for those who oppose any form of faith.
Recently one such unfriendly website chronicled the story of a young couple who dared to question leaders of their church about the expenditure of funds (to which they had contributed) and the lifestyle of some of the leaders (who lived off these funds). If their account is credible, they became the object of scorn, anger and denigration. Ultimately expelled from their church, their faith took a fatal hit and they are no longer practicing believers.
I really can’t verify this account but it is too much like some of my personal experiences and stories from others over the years to reject out of hand. And, if true, what a repudiation of the love we should embrace and practice! We have handed a gun to Satan and asked to be shot. We have presented a sword to our adversaries and asked to be run through. Truly, we are our own worst enemy.
I repeat: if love cannot be found among the people who purport to believe their God is the personification of love, where will it be found? No matter how wonderful we think we are, without love we are nothing.
People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek?
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questioning
Where is the love?
—Black Eyed Peas, “Where is the Love?”
Filed under Altruism, Atheism/Theism, Attributes of God, Christlikeness, church, Community, Devil, discipleship, Faith, Good & Evil, Hypocrisy, Love, morality, Religion, Respect, Satan, Scripture, Songs
Just a few thoughts prompted by congressman Wiener’s indiscretions:
- 1. The congressman is not the first to lose his brain somewhere along the way regarding sexual matters. I dare say most of us men have brainlessly given in (or been strongly tempted) to illicit sexual impulses.
- A little sympathy is due to the man whose world has crumbled. He has destroyed his career as a public figure. He lives in a glass house and his indiscretions were, and ultimately are, public and potentially career-ending. Shall we write him off or give him a chance to clean up his career and marriage?
- You self-righteous politicians (on both sides of the aisle) need to shut up. You know you are self-centered and politically motivated. If something similar happened to you, what would you want others to “do unto you” as you have done?
- Let us pause and remember politicians and presidents who have fornicated and committed adultery and are still lionized by those who know the history but have chosen to ignore it. Do you need names here? Of course not.
- Did the congressman’s exposures need to be exposed? Absolutely! Such behavior on the part of a representative of the people must not be tolerated. He didn’t just slip into lewd behavior, he dove head-first into it.
- As you know, Mr. Wiener resigned publically amidst catcalls and insults. Yes, his actions were uber despicable. But, under tremendous pressure to resign, he did so. Let him go in peace! Time will tell if he’s learned any lessons.
- Finally, what would Jesus do? If you really want to know, read John 8:1-11.
Now it could be that none of my readers has ever come close to making a serious sexual mistake – even if it is only in your mind. If that is the unlikely case, you apparently have permission to cast the first stone. If not, then just go on about your business, leave the congressman alone and seek to be pure of mind and heart.
Is Mr. Wiener redeemable or incorrigible? Since all I know is what I read in the papers or see on television, I don’t have a clue. I do find myself, however, wishing that I could talk to him and see if he is open to the forgiveness and redemption that is in Christ Jesus. I believe he might like the idea of “walking in newness of life.”
Filed under Adultery, Condemnation, Current Events, Good & Evil, Hypocrisy, Infidelity, Jesus Christ, Judgmental, Men's Issues, morality, Politics, Redemption, Ridicule, sex