Faith

This page will host posts that concern the “Faith once and for all contended for by the saints” as Jude puts it.  Theology and Christian life issues will addressed.

 

The Isolated Pastor

I recently read an article about a pastor who took his own life. He suffered from depression, and sadly separation from the body of Christ… his own church. The article reflected on this separation, this heartache. The loneliness of being a pastor. The isolation.

I have been there, I recall looking at my computer screen, with tears in my eyes, as the pressure of ministry, major illness in a loved one, and the failure to meet personal expectations mounted. Simply wanting it to all end. Knowing or feeling there was no way out.

Fortunately for me, I am blessed with a church that understands. It wasn’t always this way at Emmanuel where I serve as lead pastor. It has taken time to lead her to a place where the pastor is a person too. Where we are a place of grace and mercy, not only for the person coming in off the street who needs Jesus; but also for the pastor and leader and member who is struggling.

I do believe that there is a necessary distinction between a pastor and the congregation.  This distinction is there because God has called him to lead. The problem has arisen that in too many minds, distinction necessitates separation

Sadly it may be that this separation is intentional on the part of the pastor. There seems to have been a generation that built a wall between themselves and the congregation. They have been taught or have seen the example of the need to require a respect that looks a lot like fear. Having spoken to pastors of this persuasion, I have found that it comes from the feeling of the need to be something more, that every leader needs to be feared, at least a little, in order to lead the church.

The difficulty doesn’t lay with the pastor alone. There are church members who simply seem to have forgotten that the man is just that, a man. I see none of this teaching in the Scriptures. It is my conviction that we must teach both churches and pastors the desperate need for openness and grace toward one another. I have personally witnessed pastors that have forgotten their place as the under-shepherds of Christ, who have become judge, jury, and executioner of the membership. As pastors, we need to extend mercy and grace to our congregations as they grow into the fullness of Christ instead of deriding them. We need to consider how Jesus led his disciples. Think about the Garden of Gethsemane, of Jesus’ openness with His inner circle. We need to learn from Paul as well. He was gentle but firm. Paul wrote Romans 7 where we see an amazing dissertation of transparency. He wrote Titus where he admitted to being the chief of sinners, redeemed by the Lord, as an example to all, that if God could save him, he could save anyone. In 1 & 2 Corinthians he spoke of the inner battle with fear and discouragement. I have heard so many pastors, and have read so many articles, where the pastor could not, or would not be transparent with his church. So, why are these pastors isolated? For the reasons above; self-inflicted loneliness, the insecurity that seems to be inherent in preaching a perfect word, knowing your own imperfection, unable to share that truth with the congregation. The perceived need to set oneself up as the perfect example of what a perfect Christian should be. While we do this we forget that the perfect example of what a Christian should be doesn’t lie in our own righteousness, but in our reliance upon HIS righteousness.

There are other reasons as well. Reasons that do not lie exclusively with the pastor, but with the churches themselves. Just as pastors need to extend grace and mercy to their churches, the church needs to return the sentiment. As I mentioned above pastors are often placed unwisely on pedestals… this can be the natural result of teaching and preaching a book that is alive, powerful, and life giving or changing. It may be the result of western Christianity’s insane need for celebrity. Either way it needs to stop. The church must learn to have respect and an abundance of love for its ruling elder (1 Thes. 5) without idolizing him. The stories of pastor’s kids that walk away from the faith seem innumerable. Why? Inconsistency between home and church? Sure. Unreasonable expectations on the pastor and his family? Most likely. There are standards written in 1 Timothy and Titus as well as 1 Peter that outline for us what we should be looking for in a pastor. NONE of them say that he must be PERFECT. Mature? Yes. Perfect? No.

Finally what shall we do? We need to study how Jesus led. How Paul led. How Peter led. We need to adopt a humility and sincerity and preach with grace and mercy. We need to teach the church grace and mercy first. Our churches should be taught healthy, Biblical expectations for their leaders. Pastors, we need to pull back the veil a little at a time and risk losing respect or admiration. Without this transparency, the isolation will continue. We need to do this without sounding like whiners, and without leading from a place of sympathy. I firmly believe that a pastor SHOULD be a member of a small group, one where he isn’t the leader of it, where he can let his hair down and just be himself. In his church. Among his family.

To the church, I would like to encourage you to avoid comparing your pastor to the cult of celebrity. Our western form of Christianity is insanely obsessed with celebrity preachers. Every week a pastor faces a review. He stands up to accomplish part of his life’s calling and knows or feels that there are some and maybe many, seated in the sanctuary, who will not listen, who will be comparing him to those celebrities, who will have little mercy for his errant comments, who expect him and his family to live up to impossible standards that even the Bible doesn’t expect…. and he will keep doing it. For he has been called. Pastor, learn to lean on the one who called you. He is faithful who called you, who will also do it. Ignore the comparisons. Trust the Lord and His Word.

The conclusion? Grace. Love. Transparency. To and for both church and pastor. I lead such a church. We aren’t prefect. I thank God for Emmanuel Baptist Church, though we still have wrinkles. I thank God that when my family and I faced a terrible crisis that those in lay-leadership acknowledged its severity and offered me a sabbatical. I hope for every church to be this way.

Bless God, Bless Others, Be the Blessing



Jesus Didn’t Come to Make You Happy

I’ve recently been dealing with the mental illness of a loved one, it’s sapped my strength with sleepless nights and chaotic days. I’m no stranger to trials, I’ve had times in my life where I was in the very center of God’s will and WAS NOT HAPPY. You see happiness, in a very real sense, depends on circumstances. Not necessarily something as trite as “possessions” but deeper circumstances… health, work satisfaction, relationships etc…

 

This has led me to believe that there are a certain amount of fabrications being sold as, or to, Christianity. There are scores of believers that falsely believe they are out of God’s perfect will because they’re having a hard time, or aren’t happy. Or successful. Or healed. Or, or, or…

Whatever this gospel is presented as, be it the promise of prosperity, or emotional health, or even physical health, this isn’t the Gospel. It isn’t Christianity. It certainly isn’t what Jesus promised…

Now can we find happiness and peace in Christ and following him? Yeah, we can. But that has as much to do with our perspective and willingness to wait as it does with his promises. We are given HOPE. A future reality based on a present certainty.

There are those that speak of peace on earth, as if it’s a present reality… tell us, oh American Christian, how much peace are those Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq enjoying? We have westernized Christianity to the point where it has lost its point. It isn’t about present peace and prosperity. They mistake the PEACE in Christ to be PEACE in circumstances; the prosperity of the resurrection as present prosperity.

Just last night I read a post on the “What does the Bible Say” wall declaring an ill child well in the name of Jesus. “I declare him healed in the mighty name of Jesus Christ.” Such foolishness, as if Jesus was at our beck and call and was nothing more than a big Santa Claus… well he isn’t and that child died. How does this build the faith of those poor parents?

No the sad reality is that people get sick and die. People loose their jobs and go bankrupt. Cars breakdown, people breakdown. Consider John the Baptist. Here is a man that Jesus said was full of the Holy Spirit. A man that stood tall among men. The forerunner of the Messiah. A man that stood toe to toe with the Pharisees, telling them to bring back works to prove their repentance. Here is the man on the banks of the Jordan River, who stood boldly pointing toward Jesus and declaring with conviction “BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD!” This John was later imprisoned for speaking out against corruption in the leadership of the kingdom. The man that multitudes followed, the man that preached with boldness, the man that baptized Jesus, the man, who in a wonderful fit of humility, declared himself to be unworthy to lace the Lord’s sandals, (teaching his disciples the valuable lesson that He must increase and I must decrease) this man, rotting in a cold cell in the palace began to doubt. He was allowed visitors and asked them to go to Jesus and ask Him if He was “the one” or if they should look for another… What?!? Did Jesus rebuke him for his doubt? Did he cut him down when he was at his lowest? What did Jesus do? He told the men to go back and confirm his faith by witnessing to the miracles He had been doing. Go, go tell John, the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear! In other words, rest easy John, you were right.

However take note of something… Jesus didn’t suit up His apostles in combat gear, there were no night vision goggles, no clandestine plans of a daring rescue. No. None of these things. John the Baptist was beheaded in prison at the request of a manipulative girl and her evil mother! Jesus didn’t break in, didn’t rescue him. But when John did die, he entered a better state, a better place. He entered into his rest.

So NO Jesus didn’t come to make you happy.

So why did Jesus come? What is it all about? It’s about Jesus being born to die a cruel death, NOT BECAUSE God is evil, and hates sin, but because HIS creation embraced darkness rather than light… Jesus came to save His creation from her sin. He came to offer us a second chance. He came to offer us HOPE.

Jesus came to SAVE His creation FROM themselves FOR Himself.

John 16:31–33; 17:1–5(NKJV)
31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, that IN ME you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” 1Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, THAT THEY MAY KNOW YOU, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

So at the end of the day, is there happiness in Knowing Jesus? In knowing God? Is there peace in Knowing Jesus? It all depends on your willingness to open your heart and allow God to redirect your focus toward Him… to yield to His presence, to give over your circumstances and to say, no matter what, Jesus is my savior and worthy of my worship; come hell or high water. Set your affections on things above, look unto Jesus the author and finisher of your faith, don’t be weary in doing well, be firm, steadfast, in your faith, KNOWING your labor is NOT in vain in the Lord… Keep on going, HE is WORTH it, all of it, whether there be happiness in circumstances or not.

Perhaps one of my favorite passages of Scripture is found in Daniel..
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel‬ ‭3‬:‭16-18‬ NKJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

 



Rejoice!

imagePhilippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always again I say rejoice!”

Again I say rejoice! I will say it again and again, rejoice! And oh how he did all through the letter to the church at Philippi. Oh how important this teaching is.

Oh to learn the importance of joy in the simple Christian life. What it would mean to those without hope. How they would either question our sanity or seek after our hope.

What does it mean to rejoice? To take delight in. To take pleasure in. To be glad, happy in.

We should be careful not place our joy in our success in ministry or in life…

“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20

We should be careful not to place our joy in our flesh – our willpower, our abilities to conquer. Paul wrote, inspired by God, that it was in his weakness that he would take pleasure!

2 Corinthians 12:10 “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

And earlier on in his letter to the Philippians he wrote of taking joy… not in personal growth or success, but in Christ!

3:1-3 “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh…”

As I consider the idea of rejoicing, I am reminded that we “…sorrow not as others which have no hope…” For we indeed have hope! Even in our loss (one of the greatest things as human beings we will have to endure is the loss of a loved one) we have hope if we have Christ…

In another place we see that even in persecution (I’m thinking of our children in their schools with their teachers and even fellow students that may not appreciate the Christian Faith, of our co-workers employees or employers as well) there can be rejoicing.

Acts 5:37-42
“…After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.” And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice! But how? How are we to rejoice?

We have considered the idea if rejoicing in the midst sorrow, yet even more intriguing rejoicing in the midst of the mundane. I say that we are to delight and take pleasure in… Something or someone but not IN the sorrow or mundane or … or. … or…. What have you. Oh, we may rejoice in the midst of these times and seasons, but IN them, themselves? I find there is a better way…

Rejoice in the LORD! The little word IN teaches us much… We are to be glad in… we are to take pleasure in… we are to take delight IN something, in SOMEONE.

IN. THE. LORD.

There is power in these three little words… “in the Lord…”

What do you hope ‘in’ today dear friends?

What brings you joy…

PLEASURE, gladness, peace?

In what do you find comfort and security?

What but that which comes from the hand of the Lord. Here is the key to knowing abiding joy.

Both trial and testing and blessings pressures come from the hand of thee GOOD LORD.

Rejoice in the Lord, I will say it again… rejoice. Rejoice. Rejoice.

Rejoicing is more than trust.

It’s more than works and study and duty.

It’s learning to take pleasure in the one that somehow takes pleasure in you.

He loves you.

And oh, this fact does not diminish His Character

It doesn’t place an undue emphasis on us, simply for this reason… His love for us reveals His amazing nature.

His amazing aptitude to do something that no one else could or likely would do. Love the unlovable. The rebel. The dirty. The very ones that by their nature do not love Him… And I contend, that whenever you see this kind of love on the world, it is merely the reflection of His love and should remind us to take heart and rejoice.

And so, REJOICE!



Bless the Lord!

Psalms 103:1 NKJV 

Bless the Lord , O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Just a few thoughts this morning. If love can be a daily decision (and I believe it is), so too worship must become intentional. There are times when our hearts grow cold in both our love for one another and our worship of God. When we are caught up in an emotional or spiritual funk, it seems like the motivation to do anything, much less worship, isn’t working or worth it.

In my devotions this morning I was reminded of the power in worshiping the Lord. I was reminded of the need to grab the reins of my heart in order to do it.

1The author of Psalm 103 is David. He is one of my favorite historical figures of the Old Testament. He didn’t hold back when praying to God, or praising God, or speaking his mind. I tend to think that he had a difficult time hiding what he was feeling. He was an artist. He was a warrior. He was a shepherd in touch with the vast beauty of nature. He was passionate. He was a born leader. He struggled with sin. Serious sin. Lust. Adultery. Murder. Pride. Doubt. Self loathing. Yes he was a mess.

However, through all of this darkness, (and for a believer that has fallen into sin, darkness is an apt word), or discouragement, or disappointment in self, or even in his poor perception of God, David took the reins of his heart and commanded it to bless the Lord. He reminded himself of the wonder and truth of God’s mercy and grace; even though at times his soul, his heart was waging war against his devotion to God, David commanded himself to bless the Lord.

There is only one thing that keeps us from blessing the Lord, from praising His holy name. Us. Discouragement. Dissatisfaction. Disappointment. Even depression have no power over our ability to bless the Lord. Our circumstances shouldn’t hold our tongue. Paul and Silas proved that when they sang in the dungeon at midnight.

Shout-p1Praising God even when you don’t feel like it, isn’t disingenuous, it’s obedient. It helps to put ME in my proper place. To wait until you feel like it is to be led by a fickle and inconsistent friend, one that has deceived a multitude, the friend named ‘feelings’.

Worship now. Bless the Lord now. Serve Him now. Your emotions will catch up, or not, but your praise will be heard, and perhaps, just maybe such a song in the night will bless the Lord to an even greater degree.

Psalms 103:1 NKJV

Bless the Lord , O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!



God’s Will?

time with GodGod’s will is sometimes as simple as ‘go’ or even keep going. ‘Left’ or ‘right’ doesn’t matter as long as you hold to His principles.

In Joshua chapter 1, Joshua was told by God that whether he went left or right he would prosper. The catch? The guidance was that he had to keep the words God had given to Moses. The general direction had been laid out, the day to day choices were not. As believers in Jesus our destination is secure, there is no other course. However the day to day decisions can be difficult.

When faced with a difficult choice to make, observe all that is involved and then ask yourself if either in action or consequence you would compromise God’s principles, moral law, or greatest two commands- love and worship Him alone, love others equal to self. These observations and questions will turn many difficult decisions into easily understood one’s, if not easy to apply. I think that often we do know which way to go, but we lack the will to suffer for our faithfulness to our loving savior.

This isn’t the end all in discerning God’s will, but it will eliminate a lot of unnecessary hand wringing concerning things that with a bit of work and thought ought to be easily discerned as His will or not.
God bless!



The Great Symphony of Salvation

Have you come to Jesus?

If you have come to know Jesus as your personal savior, how did you come to Jesus? A recent survey of pastors, done by Lifeway Research, found that 29% percent of pastors came to Christ through a family member and 11% through a pastor’s ministry.

My thoughts on the matter differ a bit. Not because the research is faulty, rather that it only tells the end of the story and leaves out the depth that God goes to in order to reach His rebellious creation.

Consider this passage of Scripture…

1 Corinthians 3:5–8 (NKJV) “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.  Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.”

The Bible says that Paul planted the seed of faith, Apollos watered that seed, but God gave the increase, or brought to life that planting and watering of the gospel in the hearts of men, women, and children. We are all links in the chain of salvation for those that are around us.

My own testimony… I was raised in a Christian home and I learned about Jesus from my mom and dad. I also learned about Jesus from my Sunday School teachers and pastors. I learned about Jesus from the Christian music that my mom played in the house as I was growing up. I can still hear the Gaither Trio in my mind singing The King is Coming. After watching a Christian film with my family I made a profession of faith at just 5 years old.

Sadly, as is often the case, when I was 16 years old I was done with religion. I had begun to equate Jesus with legalism and religion. To be completely forthcoming, I really don’t know if I was saved when I was 5 years old, what I do remember is a constant conversation with Jesus from that point forward, but also great doubt concerning my salvation due to some poor theology. It was into this adolescent tumult that God brought Trisha Bournival into my life. She was just a girl (albeit an adorable one) that I worked with at Kmart, in Manchester. It took us about six months before we went out on a date. Not long after that first date, she invited me to church.  I had stopped attending my church, and as I was fed up with religion, I ragged on her… but went anyway because hey, she was adorable and I was just a guy after all. Shout-p1The reality is that God the Spirit was continuing to orchestrate the great symphony of my salvation and had added a critical piece to that score. Through Trisha, I met her father Ken, Pastor Z, Pastor Clow, and Brother Rick Morin.

Over the next year, the proper theology, the testimony and witness of my childhood, the seed of the gospel, was watered by Trisha and her church, Emmanuel. Looking back, I smile as I recall all of my questioning of Trisha as we dated, concerning Biblical things. (She had a ChristianSchool education and even knew who Absalom was!) I remember with great fondness, sitting around the table at her parents’ house peppering her dad with my questions (his patience was monumental). Rick Morin, Pastor Clow and Pastor Z didn’t stand a chance either, and all took part in this great Song of Salvation.

Then it happened… the last person in that great score came to our church. Traveling Evangelist, Tommy Stone, a longtime friend of Emmanuel arrived prepared to share the Word with us for an entire week of services. He preached on a night in October. All of the planting and watering all of this great song bore fruit as the Lord quickened my dead spirit that night!

67610_681449395215166_1557980138_n

As I struggled at the altar praying and striving once again for security in my salvation Rick Morin came and knelt with me to pray. I was ashamed of my doubt, so told him that I was fine. As I continued to struggle in prayer, an unknown lady pointed out my continued striving to Ken, my future father in law. As he came to speak with me and directed my faith to Jesus, pointing out that it was better to turn and trust Jesus once and for all, than to continue with this agony of not knowing. The time had come, and after a short conversation with Jesus I was born again!

Why tell my story? Why consider this symphony with its vast score and many pieces? Why this language of planting and watering? Because it’s Biblical. As believers every single one of us are called to join this great chorus of salvation. We are given the privilege to participate with our Father and the Holy Spirit and the Son in the greatest work of redemption.  We are responsible. It’s not the last person that joins the song that makes the song, we are all a part of the whole. If you have the opportunity to lead someone to Jesus remember this… you are simply allowed to attend the birth of a child of the King as the Holy Spirit brings him or her to life. The seed of the gospel had been planted and watered in their hearts by many, many before you. Sure I have guided the child with words from the Sacred Text as he or she was being born again. But this was simply the act of harvesting fruit that had been planted and watered in most cases long before I arrived on the scene. So what’s the big deal about understanding this? It places the glory where it belongs, on God. It also underscores our responsibility to participate in the tapestry of salvation. We all need to play our part.

Are you planting? Are you watering? Church, this is what we were called to do, and to do faithfully, consistently, regularly! Be a part of the song of someone’s salvation! Take up that responsibility the Lord has laid upon you today!



Someone Else III

I have a few more thoughts on someone else that I thought I should share with whomever may be reading.  In my last post I mentioned being a blessing to someone else in your church.  That church shouldn’t be all about what you receive but also what you give.

four guysThat said there is someone else that needs, desperately needs your attention.  He or she isn’t in your church, meeting under your steeple.  He is someone else.  HE OR SHE IS THE WAITRESS AT THE RESTAURANT, THE CO-WORKER OR CLASSMATE, GUY AT THE MALL WAITING FOR HIS WIFE.  Someone else needs you because they need HIM.  Like it or not, folks, if you name Jesus as your savior, you are responsible to Him to witness of Him to someone else.  Someone else may be your enemy or they may be your friend. They may be that friend that you are afraid will ditch you if you tell them about Jesus.  Someone else may be someone that is at the end of their rope and they are barely hanging on.  SOMEONE ELSE IS DIVORCED, IS A SINGLE PARENT, HAS NEVER BEEN TO CHURCH OR WAS HURT BY A CHURCH, SOMEONE ELSE MAY BE ADDICTED TO DRUGS ALCOHOL OR SEX.  Someone else is harsh and hard, or soft and kind.  Someone else without Christ is someone else that will spend eternity in hell.  I’ve never read “Just Walk Across the Room” by Bill Hybles, but the phrase seems to be just about right to me.  There is someone else that needs Jesus and Jesus has given us the charge to be as He is in this world, so as the Spirit leads, we should just walk across the room and speak of Jesus to someone else.  Oh yeah and when you have done this for a while and you have seen people come to Christ and follow Him… don’t ever stop.

This leads me to one last thing, it really is someone else that this is all about.  It’s all about HIM.  It isn’t about me being a successful pastor or even a successful Christian, it’s about Jesus.  He directs, and empowers and brings circumstances about to challenge us to lean into HIM.  Our church is about Jesus.  Evangelism is about Jesus.  Caring for someone else does two things, it displays Jesus to those looking on or being cared for and as Christ said; when you care for one of the least of these… you care for ME.  For all of us that find that first step of witnessing of Jesus difficult; remember this, you have someone else in you that will do it through you.  It might be time to read up on the “fear nots” of Jesus.

We live in a “what about me” culture.  We live in a consumer culture.  What if we all started to think of someone else?  What if we invited THE “someone else” to LIVE and LOVE through US?  In studying Colossians it seems to me that Jesus is just waiting for us to let Him in and He will change you and then… you will look like someone else:-)



Someone Else III

I have a few more thoughts on someone else that I thought I should share with whomever may be reading.  In my last post I mentioned being a blessing to someone else in your church.  That church shouldn’t be all about what you receive but also what you give.

four guysThat said there is someone else that needs, desperately needs your attention.  He or she isn’t in your church, meeting under your steeple.  He is someone else.  HE OR SHE IS THE WAITRESS AT THE RESTAURANT, THE CO-WORKER OR CLASSMATE, GUY AT THE MALL WAITING FOR HIS WIFE.  Someone else needs you because they need HIM.  Like it or not, folks, if you name Jesus as your savior, you are responsible to Him to witness of Him to someone else.  Someone else may be your enemy or they may be your friend. They may be that friend that you are afraid will ditch you if you tell them about Jesus.  Someone else may be someone that is at the end of their rope and they are barely hanging on.  SOMEONE ELSE IS DIVORCED, IS A SINGLE PARENT, HAS NEVER BEEN TO CHURCH OR WAS HURT BY A CHURCH, SOMEONE ELSE MAY BE ADDICTED TO DRUGS ALCOHOL OR SEX.  Someone else is harsh and hard, or soft and kind.  Someone else without Christ is someone else that will spend eternity in hell.  I’ve never read “Just Walk Across the Room” by Bill Hybles, but the phrase seems to be just about right to me.  There is someone else that needs Jesus and Jesus has given us the charge to be as He is in this world, so as the Spirit leads, we should just walk across the room and speak of Jesus to someone else.  Oh yeah and when you have done this for a while and you have seen people come to Christ and follow Him… don’t ever stop.

This leads me to one last thing, it really is someone else that this is all about.  It’s all about HIM.  It isn’t about me being a successful pastor or even a successful Christian, it’s about Jesus.  He directs, and empowers and brings circumstances about to challenge us to lean into HIM.  Our church is about Jesus.  Evangelism is about Jesus.  Caring for someone else does two things, it displays Jesus to those looking on or being cared for and as Christ said; when you care for one of the least of these… you care for ME.  For all of us that find that first step of witnessing of Jesus difficult; remember this, you have someone else in you that will do it through you.  It might be time to read up on the “fear nots” of Jesus.

We live in a “what about me” culture.  We live in a consumer culture.  What if we all started to think of someone else?  What if we invited THE “someone else” to LIVE and LOVE through US?  In studying Colossians it seems to me that Jesus is just waiting for us to let Him in and He will change you and then… you will look like someone else:-)



Someone Else II

Disciple Web Banner

Thinking about someone else… We have many in churches that are focused on themselves and not on someone else.  The other day I was speaking with someone else about ministry and relationships and in our conversation I was reminded of my time as a teen in our church. I had been in teens for almost 2 years, Trisha had moved on from our Youth Group and I was bored.  I didn’t like the way the group was being run and being all of 17 or so, I knew better how  to run it.  That was when Ken Bournival my future father-in-law made an observation that maybe I shouldn’t be going to Youth Group for what I could get out of it but for what I could give into it.  I then began to look at my teen leader in a different light.  I saw a man and his wife that were sacrificing their time every Saturday to minister to a bunch of cranky and crabby teenagers.  I determined that night that this ministry would no longer be about me; it would be about someone else.  Even though Rick was my leader, and I was his responsibility, I determined through God’s help that I would be a blessing to him and that when he looked back on his time with me he would have no regrets.

 

Churches today (even in my church:-0) have developed a me first and consumer mentality.  There are business models for churches and management models for churches and programs for churches and you name it for churches, that leave out the fact that we are here for someone else.  A church isn’t a business.  It has business aspects, but it isn’t a business.  Church isn’t the military.  It has aspects of the military, we are a war against the devil and his agenda, but we aren’t the military.  A church is a sheepfold.  A church is a body.  A church is a family.  If you are a Christian, you should be a part of a local church.  You can toss your excuse as to why you aren’t, God established the local church for you and for His glory.  Usually when I have spoken with a person out of church they blame someone else.  The pastor changed the dress standard, the children’s ministry isn’t being run effectively or someone else hurt their feelings.

It’s time for church to be about blessing someone else.  It’s time to look out at the congregation and ministry that God has called you to, and be a blessing to someone else.  Find that frazzled leader and be a blessing to him.  When I determined to bless Rick, I didn’t ask his permission, I didn’t even tell him I was doing anything (I might have been afraid of his mustache at that point) I just did things to ease his burden.  I showed up, was friendly to new kids, helped clean up and set up and above all I tried to follow Jesus.  Jesus said that we should do the things that he said.  The fact is that we need to be here to bless someone else and that we ought to bear someone else’s burdens, that we that are spiritual ought to restore those that have fallen, in meekness and care and gentleness (not seeing a lot of that these days in churches).



Someone Else

I thought this was worth another read…

Just spitballin’ here, but it’s something that I think may help someone out there today, I know it does me. Someone else can be really, really good. Having someone else to blame for my mistakes, or having someone else take my responsibility makes my life so much easier.  It’s so nice to be able to point my finger at someone else and let go of all of my pent up frustration that is spilling over.  Having someone else to handle the burden of all of my past hurts and mistakes, someone else to take the fall or the pain.  I love to have someone else close by that I can just yell at and abuse with my temper and blow off a little steam on.  It really is quite nice… for me… Then again, maybe that isn’t the right use of someone else. Maybe God put someone else in my life for me to bless, and to help me to see from someone else’s perspective.

Someone else can really help me to see clearly when I am emotionally involved.  Someone else can help me to keep a proper perspective.  True that someone else can help me bear my burdens and responsibilities butthey can’t have them completely.  My experience has taught me that one of our biggest faults is our inability to see or admit to… our faults, weakness, you name it.  Someone else can help us with that.  But we need to let them in and let them speak.  You see we can all become volatile at times, and lose our ability to reason.  This is where we really, truly need someone else.

Who is your someone else?  How have you treated them?  Are they simply the kind of person that will join you in your delusions or do you have someone else to balance your pain filled opinions?  See, who the someone else is really matters.  We need someone else to tell us like it is, where the dog died so to speak.  We all need someone else to listen to our heartaches without judging, but ready to lend a hand.

One last thought… if you continue to treat someone else like excrement, or continue to blame someone else, or load on someone else your responsibilities, don’t be too surprised to find that you have no one else.