Friday, January 23, 2009

We Walk By Faith

It is 60 feet from the light switch at the stairs that lead down to our fellowship hall to the back door through which I often leave. If I am a good steward of our resources, I turn off the light before entering the hall, making my way through the dark to the door. Sometimes I cheat. I reach out and keep my hand on the wall away from the two columns that are in the middle of the large room and away from the chairs and tables that seem to wander into my path in the dark. Sometimes, though, I do not cheat. Sometimes I look directly at the back door before I turn off the light. Then I flip the switch and walk directly toward the door in the pitch dark, keeping my hands out in front of me waiting to touch the door. I have never stumbled walking this way; always making it without hitting the columns, or falling over the chairs. I have, however, tripped while walking along the wall, not noticing the chair or trashcan that was in the way before the light was out; trusting my feelings rather than my faith. One way is the walk of faith. The other is by sight. Even though it is pitch dark, it is based on my ability to feel my way through the room like I have often attempted to feel my way through life. Faith is better, and it is also quite a rush in the dark.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Life And The Failure Of Science

Eliot Mooney was not supposed to live. Fifty percent of babies with Trisomy 18 are stillborn, and most do not survive more than 10 days after birth. Eliot had Trisomy 18, but he did live until birth. He lived a total of 99 days, and his parents celebrated each and every day of his life. And they grieve his passing. I showed a video of their story in our worship services yesterday. You can see it at this link: After worship services, three different women came to me telling me their Trisomy 18 stories. One was a grandmother, whose daughter was told by doctors her child would have Trisomy 18. Another was a woman who was encouraged to abort her baby by doctors who told her it would have Trisomy 18. A third was a sister, whose sister had been pressured to abort her child because of a prenatal diagnosis of Trisomy 18. 1 in 3,000 births has this genetic defect. But, in each of these three cases, the doctors were wrong and the children were born healthy. A grandson, a daughter, and a niece are alive today, because those women believed in life and the failure of science. Eliot lived 99 days because, in spite of the failure of science to be able to heal their son, his parents believed in the faithfulness of God in the middle of our trials.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Thousand Years And A Day

I am a purveyor of words. I most enjoy life, when I am teaching. As such, I have often been accused of purveying more words than my listeners can bear to hear in the time allotted. The nature of the words I purvey, the teachings of Christ, adds significance and weight to them. The preacher's passion and the weight of his content can contribute to creeping pride and arrogance so that he may think, if he does not say, "My listeners should be glad to listen, and it is more spiritual to hear me speak of the things of God for an hour than for a half hour." For the past several years, my church has become one that was less and less concerned about the time we "got out." The length of my sermons, around 45 minutes, and my style began to fashion us. Those who insisted in three points and a poem all in fifteen minutes or less have left. Those who have remained and who have come have not been bothered by time, but I have. During the last several years, I have asked God to help me be faithful to Him, to the calling to preach, and to the people I speak to each week, AND, to enable and teach me to do that in less time. Sometimes I find that people are so sated after a lengthy sermon that they want to take a nap spiritually, rather than digesting what they have been taught and then finding themselves hungry again for God. In the last several months, He has answered that prayer. My sermons are shorter, and I have still have passion, and God is still changing lives. And, low and behold, some have come to me and complained, saying, "Your sermons are too short. You need to preach longer." And I reply, in my heart, "Thank you very much. I'll be here all week."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Every Innovation Will Need Renovation

The Parthenon was once one of the most innovative, imaginative, and grand structures in the world. It is now in need of a complete overhaul. Eleven years ago, our church spent weeks in prayer, met, worked, and developed ministry priorities. God began to do a new thing here. It was wonderful. Shortly after that we installed some carpet in a hallway at our church. As I walked down that hallway the other day, I realized that it really needed to be replaced. It had served its purpose, but it was now worn and stained.
I'm not equating what we have done for the past many years as worn and stained, but I do believe that every innovation will eventually need renovation. For the past two and one-half months, our church has prayed, and met, and worked to hear what God is directing us to do now, today, not what we were to do eleven years ago.
Much of what we did 20 years ago, we are still doing. There are priorities for the church that never change, and will not until Christ's return. Many of the things God directed us to do 11 years ago are still His will for us today, and still there are other things that need renovation. I am thankful, in this process, that there is a grand architect who has a plan. And, I am thankful that His laborers hear His voice and they follow Him. I am thankful that, while I have responsibility as a pastor, I am not the sole proprietor of this church. Christ is, and it is a true joy watching Him direct us as we seek Him.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

If This Is Post-Christian America

As I sat in the restaurant, I overheard a conversation behind me. "Hey, it's so good to see you." "It's good to see you, too," and the small talk continued. "So, are you still faithful in church," that peeked my interest. "No, no, I'm not." "Well, you need to get back." "Yes, yes I know I should. Did you know that I had been diagnosed with cancer." "Oh, no, I'm so sorry." "Yes, well, it will be o.k." After church lady left, non-church lady went on talking, but not about God or prayer or anything remotely Christian in spite of the fact that she had been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.

A recent poll found that Americans believe, by a two to one margin, that religion in America is losing its influence. Many Christian writers warn that we have entered the same post-Christian slide that has left many of the churches of Europe empty. There has always been a healthy percentage of professing Christians that gave only lip service to Christ. Yet it seems that we have entered a new age of apathy concerning God and His truths.

The real issue is not the condition of our society, but the condition of my faithfulness. If this is the age in which America becomes like many other nations who have forsaken God, will I become one who dims until I die, or will I be one who faithfully carries the light and salts the path until He claims me?