This is just a test…disappointed ministry attempt?…

We received the call.  We responded.  We were told of the need. We responded.  We discovered a desire for meeting to study God’s Word.  We set a time.

 We searched, each of us looking for the items needed, like being on a scavenger hunt.  One found the crib, another the stroller, one asked if we should find a changing table, did we need it, what about another crib? We needed only one.  It was exciting, finding, acquiring, scrubbing, making ready.  All the while we thought of and prayed for the one who needed these things.  One who is facing a task and responsibility of new life with anxiety, unprepared and under attack from those who want to take the child even before it is birthed, pointing to the unpreparedness of the young girl.  

It did cross my mind, were we acting too fast without finding out if she was capable of raising a child?  What if our gifts were just discarded within a few months as she lost the baby to the law of the land?  But there were neighbors and friends circling around the new mother-to-be and giving her support and guidance.  Couldn’t God be placing a hand on her life and the life of her unborn child through the ‘village’ in which she lived and through us whose lives had now been touched by her need?  I sent the doubts flying in prayer that focused on God’s will and provision.  Trusting in Him to know and guide us. 

(Was this just a test for us, to see how we would respond?) 

We set a time to meet with those interested in a time of study of God’s Word.  The date was set, the time was set, the proper authority was asked for permission and it was granted.  The word was sent out among our group and all responded with approval and eager willingness to become a part of an outreach into a community of darkness.  We would tell the message of light to those in darkness.  We would show the light through our love first for each other, second for this one of theirs in need and finally to any and all who showed up to hear. 

The night arrives for the meeting to study; we arrive.  There is no one there to meet us, no one to open the door.  The young girl has just left for the hospital and is delivering the new infant.  The neighbors who drew us into their world are with her and no one is here to receive our gifts or let us in.  We wait.  My former self would have shrugged her shoulders and said well we have the stuff for another who will appreciate it, and at least we tried.  My present self, surrounded by the body of Christ waited with them.  Continued in prayer, expectant, looking to see how God would work all this out.  I note the change in me, a difference, leaning on the Lord and not my own understanding, drawing strength from the believers around me, thank you Lord! 

(Was this just a test for us, to see how we would respond?) 

We waited.  One of the neighbors came to us with questions.  Why were we standing there outside the door waiting?  What were we waiting for?  And our answers brought answers.  We were sent from one to another looking for the person with the key.  It was found and now four more families knew why we were there.  We entered the room, just us; no one from the community we came to share with was present.  We waited again and one said let’s pray.  We agreed, with a sense of purpose and relief for wasn’t this why we were there, after all?  Let’s take the situation to the One who started all this.  We opened the door, an implied invitation to come and see; and we sat down and began to pray as God’s Spirit filled the room.  Two young boys came by, asked to come in and became part of our discussion, a general question and answer session, getting to know one another.  They left; now the children who were playing with them knew why we were there.  The news is spreading…

We began to talk about the experience, this was something new to all of us.  And the questions began to come forth. 

Answers came and Bibles were retrieved from our vehicles and we had a study, just us, but in His name, for His purpose and the light, the spark began to shine.  We explored the question of what is worship?, what is church?, when should we meet?, isn’t all that is required of us is to simply turn ourselves over to the Lord for his use and purpose?…. 

(Did we pass our test?) 

The gifts were found and brought and taken back with us.  They will be delivered another day.  Our meeting was held and will continue the next week.  Meanwhile we will continue in prayer and take the steps we need to in order to get the word out.  Thank you Lord for another chance to grow in knowledge of you, being led by your Spirit, being equipped to do your work.

Our message

 2 Corinthians 5:20 We are Christ’s ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, “Be reconciled to God!”

So this is our message; through our actions and through our words.  Be reconciled to God!

And here is why:  

 1 Peter 2:11 Dear brothers and sisters, you are foreigners and aliens here. So I warn you to keep away from evil desires because they fight against your very souls. (NLT)

 1 Peter 2:11 11   Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul.      (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

Don’t get attached to what is around us.  Enjoy it, yes!  Attached? No!  Every new place I’ve been placed in has had it’s draw for me.  I’ve always simply said thank you God, for the opportunity to enjoy this place for a time.  I said this, still do, because I know He is likely to move me on to somewhere else to continue His work.  This is a temporary assignment, a temporary placement.

None of us is staying here for eternity.  What we do while we are here determines where we will spend eternity a time frame that is much longer!!  Our love for others around us should drive us to get the message to them to be reconciled to God.  That where we will be they may be also.

1 Corinthians 7:31 Those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away.(NLT)

We view what we have, where we are, how we are trained all of these as a means to give that message to others.  What we have is not ownership but generosity, where we are is not permanent but temporary, our training is equipping us for His service.  So, whether custodian or teacher, I shine for the Lord; as opposed to working in a job/vocation. 

2 Corinthians 4:18    So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Have you seen heaven? The kingdom? God? But you have seen planet earth and all that God created here.  The seen is temporary.  The unseen is eternal.  And this kind of talk will get you ridiculed!!

  1Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

 Sinful desires…also called by some temporary crowns.  We talk of them as fame, American Idol, champions, State Champs in whatever, Super Bowl stuff.  We just need to remember they are temporary.  Winning your family to the Lord, showing them how to start a relationship with their Creator, demonstrating how to please God, these are not temporary crowns, these last forever.

 Hebrews 11:13, 16    All these great people died in faith. They did not get the things that God promised his people, but they saw them coming far in the future and were glad. They said they were like visitors and strangers on earth.

 But they were waiting for a better country—a heavenly country. So God is not ashamed to be called their God, because he has prepared a city for them     Pasted from <http://www.youversion.com/>

Our time here is temporary, an incomplete version of our story.  It is a short version, only the beginning.

The renewing of my mind, taking on the mind of Christ tells me lots of the stress in my life comes from not placing my priorities in the correct order.  I ‘stress’/emphasize what is not important and then what is important is challenged.  The ‘stress’ I place upon myself, shortens the time I have to be a meaningful, purpose driven part of God’s kingdom.  O that we all could see this more clearly.  It changes what is important in life, from what I wear to what I eat to where I go and what I do…

spiritual green card

Philippians 3:19-20
Their future is eternal destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and all they think about is this life here on earth.
But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. (NLT)

Phil 3:19-21
But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.

20 But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

“Christians should carry spiritual green cards to remind us that our citizenship is in heaven. ” Purpose Driven Life. We should change the way we think. Our emphasis should not be on what we have to do here and now that relates to our natural, physical life, but on what we should do here and now that relates to our spiritual life, what we do for Him and His kingdom. It’s about priorities and what consumes our thoughts.

I’m sure on Saturday’s Day of Blessing, there were a lot of other things that could have demanded our attention. The teams that worked Shamokin for the kingdom of God were working for eternity, not the present. Just one example.

Some who were not a part of those teams were also working for the kingdom but in other ways and in other places. It’s all about the emphasis. Is it about me and my good time, or me and my things, or me and my work; or is it about Him and what earns “treasures in heaven”?

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can’t be a friend of God. James 4:4 (Msg) emphasis mine

 

Anger a virtue???

Be angry and sin not. 

Ephesians 4:26  Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

Reading from The Virtue in the Vice by Dr. Robin R. Meyers, led to some reflection and responses from within me and it is not totally unrelated to the recent events in our nation politically and socially.  I found it interesting to talk about anger as being constructive, even biblical which goes against much of what I’ve heard lately from pulpits around the nation.  The following excerpt started me thinking: 

Without the right rage we can have little hope for real change in the world.  The call of discipleship is a call to do, not a call to contemplate.  There would have been no end to slavery without war, no civil rights movement without Bloody Sunday, and no progress toward inclusiveness in the church without bitter struggle and charged rhetoric.  Even now, little hope exists for saving the environment until angry people realize that we all live downstream and we start marching upstream en masse.

There are times when the right anger brings about action that corrects a wrong.  What action can be taken to right the wrongs being done to the unborn in our country?  What action can be taken to right the wrongs being taught to our children in the public system because it is politically correct? Those are only two arenas to consider action. Even as we find in James to be doers of the Word, not just hearers so in Micah we are given a call to action:

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 

Faith is a verb, an action verb.  Doing justice is connected to hating injustice, loving kindness is connected to despising cruelty, walking humbly with God requires us to stand up and walk.  Two angers, one self-serving; one that rants against injustice, cruelty and false pride. 

How do we determine the difference?  Ask yourself, am I angry for someone else?  Do I feel as if I have been insulted, am I taking offense?  Is the anger self-serving and connected to pride?  Conversely, am I angry over what is done to those who cannot help themselves, or over the perpetuation of a lie to the young?  Is the anger sparked by injustice or cruelty?  Be angry and sin not.

Purpose of church (Mark)

“But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,
“and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43-45 (ESV)
But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,
and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all.
For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:43-45 (NLT)

 

We must learn what it means to serve rather than be served.  I sense extreme difficulty here.  I have no problem serving another as in providing food, serving the food, clearing the sidewalk of my neighbor, etc. but to be “the slave of all” seems extreme and needs clarification, possibly more humbling.

 But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,
and whoever wants to be first must become your slave.
For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28
 

There it is again in Matthew.  I did some research on the word that gives me the problem:  slave – doulos in Greek.

from deo, “to bind,” “a slave,” originally the lowest term in the scale of servitude, came also to mean “one who gives himself up to the will of another,” e.g., 1Cr 7:23; Rom 6:17, 20, and became the most common and general word for “servant,” as in Mat 8:9, without any idea of bondage. In calling himself, however, a “bondslave of Jesus Christ,” e.g., Rom 1:1, the Apostle Paul intimates 

(1) that he had been formerly a “bondslave” of Satan, and

(2) that, having been bought by Christ, he was now a willing slave, bound to his new Master.

  From Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.

 

one who gives himself up to the will of another“,  So to more clearly understand this passage, one can see that slave or servant is not used in the same manner we are used to in our world.  Here it is the voluntary giving up of oneself to the will of another.  So we no longer live as to ourselves, we now live for each other in Christ.  We are losing our sense of identity as individuals and becoming more group oriented as in the body of Christ.  I now consider the needs of all as well as my own needs before making decisions on anything.  Corporate thinking??  Moving away from me to thee??  How scary and challenging is this?  I sense the possibility of fear rising in me.  Can I truly become that vulnerable?? Yet as Jesus goes on to say, He did…

 I can more clearly understand now why some said to Him, this is a hard saying and left.

How does this relate to determining the church’s purpose?  We become more family than most natural, physical families.  So open to love, so open to the possibility of hurt, so vulnerable.  And Christ did this for just one, if that was all who would follow Him, or so we say.  He had plenty who jeered even as He gave himself for them!!!  What faith, what love…can I do less?

gnome’s home

The cookstove is an elaborate affair.  To the left are the burners for pots and to the right is an oven.  The firebox is in the middle.  The stove is stuccoed and brightly painted in folkart decor using reds, blues, yellows and greens.  At the right of the stove the wood is stacked neatly on top of which is a basket full of pine needles for air freshner.  The cookstove is used for baking, cooking and warmth.  This is the focal point of view when entering the house proper.

To the right of the door, as you enter is a long table with two end chairs and two benches.  This is elaborately carved from wood and boasts a Christmas centerpiece that is left there year round.  To the left of the door is a large area rug for the children to play upon.  In the wall to the left are the doors that open to reveal the sleeping alcoves. There are two along the wall, one for mother and father and one for the children.  Between each is a series of drawers.

This alcove is used for the children, usually two, twins.  There is a covered bench in front of the doors to allow the children to step up into the alcove.  The sleeping alcove is recessed into the wall, filled with bedding and the doors closed at night.  There is another sleeping alcove to the left of the throne room available for guests.

On the right and left of the stove are two doors.  The left opens to the washroom and the right opens to the throne room.  But that is for another time…:)