When Strangers Visit My Church

They don't want to know about our preacher.
They don't really care about our teachers.
They're not concerned about our parking lot.
They don't care how many elders we've got.
The don't care about the size of our choir.
They don't ask "How tall is your spire?"
They just want to know, "Do you love me?"

They don't care about our preacher's degree,
Or if the donuts and coffee are free.
They don't care about our building's size,
Or if our deacons are gals or guys.
They don't care about our recreation,
Or our theology of creation.
They just want to know, "Do you love me?"

So when they come to visit us here
We must meet them with a smile or a tear.
Quietly, sincerely without a fuss,
Let them know they're important to us.
A pat on the back. A "We're glad you're here."
Will help us make it completely clear,
That without any doubt, we love them.

Feed His Sheep

In John 10:14 Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own sheep…” When He told Peter to feed the sheep, He was giving Peter the responsibility for the care and feeding of the flock.

The sheep belonged to Jesus. He had a personal relationship with each of them. He knew them by name and He loved them . But his earthly ministry was almost over and He was passing the shepherd’s staff to Peter.

He did not ask Peter if he wanted to be a shepherd. He simply gave Peter an assignment He knew was within Peter’s capability. Because Peter loved his savior he was expected to be obedient to the task.

God calls each of his children to help tend his sheep. He intends for each of us to help care for a flock and each of us to receive care from someone else. Such interdependence among Christians will result in the effective spreading of the gospel.

As we each give and receive care, God is glorified in our lives. If we choose not to perform our shepherd’s duties, others suffer. If we refuse to listen to the guidance of the Good Shepherd, we suffer.

Our motive for being a shepherd must be our love for him. We must love others because He loves us. We must serve others because He served us. We must give our time and energy to others because He gave his life for us.

It is dangerous for us to try to serve those He has put into our care if we do not love them. We are likely to become discouraged, resentful and angry. Such emotions disrupt our relationship with him.

It is dangerous for the flock because our attitude will lead them away from him and the blessings He has for them. They will sense our insincerity and rebel against his leadership.

We must always remember they are his sheep, not ours. We must love and feed them because we love him.

Musings #4

When we look at a sinful world…the lying, injustice, greed, murder…do we feel more anger and outrage toward the perpetrators than sympathy and compassion for the victims? Do we want to punish more than help? Do we want to accuse, blame and hate more than we want to empathize, assist and love?

In Matthew 16:22 Peter contradicted Jesus because what Jesus was saying differed from what he had been taught as a child, what he had believed all his life. Do we sometimes let what we have been taught in the past interfere with what God wants to teach us now? Do we let old attitudes and opinions keep us from accepting new revelations?

It seems we Christians are more willing to hate the things God hates – sinful behavior-than we are to love the things God loves – sinful people. Why? Could it be that loving costs more money, time, energy and commitment than hating does, and we are unwilling to pay the extra price?

When I sin, I want to find excuses for my behavior and put the blame on outside explanations and circumstances. In sports jargon this takes the form of “It took a bad bounce” or “The sun was in my eyes” or “The referee made a bad call.” But when I do good, I want to take all the credit and pat myself on the back because I am such a “GOOD” person. God hates this attitude.

Is the term “proud servant” an oxymoron? Not for the Christian! I am a servant, but I am proud of the one I serve. I am a servant, but I am proud to bear my Master’s name. Being a servant is not a bad thing because I have the perfect boss.

CHRISTLIKE… “DO” AND “DON’T”

Becoming more like Christ is a worthy goal, one that every Christian should work to achieve. But there is disagreement concerning which characteristics compose Christlikeness. Exactly how would a person feel and act if he was fully like Christ?

Many of us have a limited view of Christ. We believe that if we avoid sin we will be  like Him. Therefore we concentrate on identifying sin and obeying the details of scriptural and man-made rules. We become absorbed with the “don’ts” of Christianity.

Certainly Jesus was sinless. No attempt to model a life after Him will be successful unless sin is avoided. But unless our Christlikeness includes more we will become dangerously like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Their morality included little more than “Don’t.”

Jesus’ life was marked by more than sinlessness. His was a life of service to others. On more than one occasion when He wanted to get away from the crowds and go to a quiet place with the disciples the needs of the people were so urgent and great that they intruded into His life. Then He would put aside His own needs and minister to those who were hurting.

His ability to do this was based on His personal, intimate relationship with His Father. His consistent, intensive devotional life enabled Him to be a servant to all. Because of that intimacy He was always aware that His power to serve came from God. This allowed Him to remain humble, even when others were urging Him to become their earthly ruler.

What then is Christlike? It is a life of service to others that comes from a humble spirit. It is always giving God the glory while doing the work of a good Samaritan. It is praising God while helping the needy. It is telling others the message of salvation based on the Father’s mercy and grace. It is loving everyone, even the unlovely.

If we are not increasingly willing to love and serve, we are not becoming like Christ.

God’s Active Love

God’s love for us is, and always has been, more than emotion. His love is so great that He had to put it into action to give us a demonstration so bold and decisive we could never doubt it or ignore it. That demonstration was, of course, the gift and death of His son.

What if God had said “I love you, and when you get your life cleaned up I’ll adopt you and allow you into my kingdom,” but had not sent Jesus?

OR

“I love you and I’m sorry you are hurting. Hang in there. Be sure to call me if I can be of any help,” but had not sent Jesus?

OR

“I love you and I understand your fears. Just remember that I’m in control of your future. I’ll always be close by if you need me,” but had not sent Jesus?

Such platitudes are well meaning, but we need much more. Without the gift of Jesus as proof of God’s love our religion would be empty and ineffective in helping us deal with the trials of life. As his children and representatives on earth, we must help others by going beyond words and demonstrating our love to those who are hurting. Just as our Father shows His love for us, we must show our love for others.

**********

Sometimes I think God does not solve the problems of those I am praying for until I am ready to be used by Him as part of the solution. God frequently says “Don’t just sit there and pray. Pray, then get up and DO what I lead you to do.”

**********

I John 4:21 says “He who loves God must love his brother also.” If I do not love others, especially other Christians, my love for God is stunted and limited. How do I know I love them? I want to help them.