Why Not?

Why Not?

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

Steve Timmis has written a book called, “I Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said That.” In the book, he gives ten sayings of Jesus and explains what they mean, and why many wish Jesus had never said those words. The last saying he talks about is, “Go, and make disciples of all nations…” In his concluding remarks of that chapter, he talks about the role of the church in obedience to the commands, and particularly the Matthew 28 command. I will reprint several paragraphs of what he has written below, in italics.
Following (Jesus’) death and resurrection, it was his intention to claim the nations. But it would be achieved as his disciples went out to make more disciples. And that meant new churches, communities of light scattered among the darkness of the nations. These communities would be the nurseries for disciples, and the light world shine brighter and brighter as they learned together what it meant to be disciples—obeying all that the Lord had commanded, including the command to make disciples.
But I am wondering if this is why I wish Jesus hadn’t said this particular thing. Perhaps my problem, and maybe yours too, is the issue of church. There is a dynamic about this command. It’s full of verbs or doing words: go, disciple, baptize, teach. Each one has the potential to energize and envision. But then it seems as though church is integral to them all, and that’s where the energy evaporates. For many of us, church is so formal and static, and has all the agility of an oil tanker in dock. It’s where disciples are more likely to fall into a coma than be developed and dispatched.

Timmis goes on.
But even if our experience (with church) is negative, don’t allow that to be your controlling paradigm. Don’t just look at what is and ask why; look at what isn’t and ask why not. Commit to being a disciple and to discipling others. Work hard among the people who comprise your church to encourage and “gospel” them.
This is Jay again. We are ready and quick to bemoan the sameness and routine of “going to church.” We are easily distracted in services by an unkempt appearance, crying baby, or too many new songs. We long for the “old days” when church was, supposedly, more like it was supposed to be. We often ask why and criticize, but never offer an alternative or, if one is offered, it’s an alternative that satisfies us and doesn’t take into account the other worshippers.
Perhaps it’s time we took to heart what Bobby Kennedy said, quoting George Barnard Shaw. Maybe we need to ask, “Why not?” instead of bemoaning things as they are and asking, “Why?” Perhaps we need a change of heart, mind, and soul. Perhaps we need the Spirit of the Living God to move within us in ways that we have never allowed before.

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Having Gone

Having Gone

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

I’ve been doing a little research into Matthew 28:19 – 20. Most of you know those verses as the Great Commission, where Jesus tells his followers to “Make disciples of all nations.” The English versions of the Bible usually say something like, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” There’s nothing wrong with that translation, but it seems to me a more literal rendering might be better to get the point across.
As I see the original language, and with the help of Greek experts, it seems to me that Jesus really said, “Having gone, therefore, disciple all the nations…” Now, the idea is similar, I admit. But the wording carries with it a slightly different feel.
“Having gone,” carries with it the idea that we all “have gone” into the world. The aorist tense generally carries with it a one-time past event rather than a continual process. Jesus assumes that his disciples will have gone into the world. “OK,” he seems to be saying. “Now that you’ve gone into the world, here is what you are to do…disciple all of the nations…”
And notice that he doesn’t say to make disciples in all the nations…but rather that his followers are to “disciple the nations.” That implies to me a command to carry this discipling business farther than to just a few people here and there. Rather, whole nations are to be turned to God through the discipling process. And no nation is to be left undiscipled. The Greek is specific with that word “all.” No nation is to be left out.
I don’t know about you, but this gives me a whole ‘nuther way to look at this verse. Yes, the basic message is the same. But there are some things about the Greek in this verse that lend a new meaning to a very familiar verse. We would do well to take in what Jesus said here and incorporate it into our lives.
First, we are to have already gone into the world. We are not to live cloistered lives devoid of any contact with the outside. We are to already be an active part of the world we live in.
Second, we are to carry the message of Christ to the world in anticipation of discipling entire nations. Not just a few people here and there, but whole nations can be beneficiaries of the Good News.
Third, we are to not leave out any nation…any people…any tongue. We are to disciple ALL nations.
Sometimes, people can individually have a great impact on many hundreds, and even thousands and millions of other people. Most of the time, however, people need to band together and help each other. Such seems to be the nature of the way this command is fulfilled as well. Most all of us need each other…need the family of God…and need to be helpful ourselves, in fulfilling this command to disciple all the nations.
With all that we have to do in life that seems to get in the way, I have to wonder just how much we think of this command and how it might apply to us. I trust I have encouraged you to take a fresh look at this charge of the Risen Lord and that in doing, it renews your desire to better fulfill this, his last command to his followers.

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Coming Together

Coming Together

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

With the rollout of the mission statement, “Loving God; Transforming Lives; Sharing Jesus,” the Elders attached expectations to each of those three legs of the statement. One of the expectations was that members of RiverWalk be active in a class or life group at least once a week.
For many years, we have had adult classes scheduled on a quarterly basis (mostly), and have had several life groups operating more-or-less regularly. We have not had new life groups form in the last few years, and our Bible class attendance is not what it has been. Of course, our general worship attendance has not been what it used to be, either.
Recently, we have seen the young adults class begin to come together in more of a cohesive family unit. They are meeting outside of class time from time to time, are planning an outreach activity (pool party at Water’s Edge) and have grown in number over the past year.
We have seen the women’s prayer-class that meets on Wednesdays morph into more than just a class. It is becoming an organism of its own in a very good way. Women are engaged in the class and with each other. It is a good addition to what we do here.
We have the book club which has begun to meet on Tuesday evenings. Although I am not part of that gathering, I hear that it is coming together well, and serves a good number of our members who remain committed to the gathering.
One of our members has had a regular Tuesday evening gathering at his home for the past several months that incorporates both members and non-members. They have a period of fellowship and food, then go deeply into the Word of God for the rest of their time together. The study time is not “fluff” time…it is deep thought and discussion. They welcome new people to the gathering.
Doug Vile is working to start a Thursday daytime study group that will meet for fellowship and study. He hopes to put it together and have it going in September.
Add to that mix the regular Wednesday evening class that meets in the fall and winter months, and the Sunday late afternoon gathering that meets most Sundays at the building, and we see that we have several classes and gatherings that are outside of the “norm” of what we’ve ordinarily thought of as Bible classes or Life Groups.
I suggest that we are seeing a general morphing of smaller gatherings of RiverWalk members away from the traditional Bible Class/Life Group model, toward gatherings that better serve the needs of those who attend. We need to foster those kinds of gatherings and encourage members to form groups they believe will be beneficial in helping believers better fulfill the mission of RiverWalk, even if those groups don’t look like the traditional Class/Life Group model.
I am NOT saying that we abandon traditional Bible Classes or Life Groups; rather, we recognize that these gatherings fulfill the expectation of being part of a class or life group and fill an important need for those who attend. It is my hope that you will plug in to one or more of these groups this fall, and benefit from the camaraderie and learning that comes from being part of a group such as one of these. Please contact the office if you need more information on these groups.

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It’s Not Really About the Cabinets

It’s Not Really About the Cabinets

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

I was looking on my Facebook timeline recently, and ran across this piece of prose that was posted by a friend. I don’t know the author, but she has some genuine words of wisdom here. I think you should take a look. If you’d like, you can search for her on Facebook and follow her. She posts things such as this from time to time.

By: Rachael Armitt Davis

My kitchen cabinets need to be refinished….and so does my heart, apparently. You see, refinishing the cabinets in the kitchen and bath has been on our to-do list for over a year, but it’s not yet in the budget. The home AC went out, the car AC went out, we had to replace the washer and dryer…there’s always something, right?
So these ol’ cabinets have gotten pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. But last week, someone was in my home, and mentioned that boy do I need to update my kitchen cabinets….and counters. She showed me pictures for ideas, and while I know she had the best of intentions, all of a sudden, as I looked at those renovated kitchens, I began to see my home as less-than. Not up to par. Honestly, it’s gotten shabbier by the day, in my eyes.
And just like that, discontentment sets in. I “need” this and this and this, and instead of my heart being focused on praying for all that’s going on in my world today, or loving my family and friends well, or anything that would bring God glory, my mind is whirling with projects and budgets and potential debt.
They say “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and have you ever heard a truer thing? When I compare my kitchen cabinets, or my husband, or my children, or my parenting skills, or my job, or my church, or my friendships, or my vehicle, or my purse collection, or WHATEVER….there’s always going to be someone who has it “better,” who is doing it “better.”
And just like that, my joy is sucked down into the vortex of “I wish” or “if only” or “when this happens, I will finally be happy.” It’s a slippery slope, and today, I’m going to wipe down those shabby, beat-up cabinets and choose joy. I’m going to remember why those cabinets are so rough: we’ve cooked and eaten a million meals in this kitchen, my beautiful little family and I
we’ve had water fights with the kitchen sprayer, laughing until our sides hurt, water dripping down to the floor. We’ve welcomed thousands of people into our home, and they’ve stood over these cabinets to wash their hands before sharing a meal with us. My children have banged a step stool into those cabinets hundreds of times, wanting to play in the sink or help mommy cook or just see what’s happening. Our children and our youth and our college students and our friends have all jumped up on the counters to sit and talk with us, banging their shoes onto the cabinet doors as they tell us about their day
Tens of thousands of precious moments have led to cabinets that really must be refinished soon. But for now, I will remember those moments and choose joy. And it’s really not about the cabinets at all, is it? It’s much more about my heart.

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The Jesus of the Culture

The Jesus of the Culture

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

Every so often, I find some kind of quotation or saying that resonates with me in ways that I can’t describe in words. Such happened to me just last week as I was perusing a website for Fatihbuilders, a faith-based non-profit in Wichita that helps families in crisis in various ways. This is the quote, from someone not identified, that was on the site.

I found myself asking if I’m really following and believing the Jesus of the Bible or the Jesus of our culture. I believed I was following who we’ve made Jesus to be rather than who he was and is. I’m being led to live a life of sacrifice and put myself in positions where the suffering becomes personal. When you allow that to happen your heart changes and your eyes are opened and you begin to see things a lot differently. —–From the Faithbuilders of Wichita web page.

OK, I don’t know about you, but this hits me in a pretty direct way. I’ve never before thought about whether the Jesus I know is the Jesus of the culture or the Jesus of the Bible. Have you? Nor have I ever thought about whether I was following the Jesus of the culture or the Jesus of the Bible. Have you? My guess is that in both cases, your answer is just like mine…”No.”

The next logical question, at least in my somewhat warped mind, might be, “How is the Jesus of the culture of today different than the Jesus of the Bible?” In what ways is He different? How is He the same? The answers to those questions might be a little tougher to come by than one might think. Why? Because in order to answer the questions, we need to know both the Jesus of the culture as well as the Jesus of the Bible. And many of us are deficient, not in knowing the Jesus of the culture, but rather in the Jesus of the Bible.

I’m reading a book by Steve Timmis called, “I Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said That.” In the book, he gives ten sayings of Jesus that in the culture of today, are very counter-cultural. These ten sayings, while not exhaustive, will give us a glimpse of the Jesus of the Bible. The application of these sayings in modern culture will give us an idea of just how radically different the Jesus of the Bible is from what many consider to be the Jesus of the culture.

1. Deny yourself…take up your cross, and follow me.
2. Love your enemies. Do good to them…
3. Forgive not only seven times, but seventy times seven.
4. You cannot serve both God and money.
5. Keep awake! Be alert! You don’t know when that time will come.
6. Love your neighbor as yourself.
7. Blessed are those who are persecuted.
8. Who are my mother and my brothers? Here are my mother and my brothers.
9. Anyone who is angry (without cause) with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.
10. Go, and make disciples of all nations.

How might the Jesus of the culture say these things?

1. You are special. You deserve the best…and I can give that to you if you’ll just think of me once in a while.
2. Your enemy is out to get you. You have to look out for number one.
3. Forgiveness is overrated. It’s great is you can forgive, but I understand why you might not be able to.
4. You need to give me a day or so a week…I know just how important money is to this modern economy…it’s OK.
5. Things will rock along OK for the time being. You need not be concerned about the future. After all, it’s a long way off.
6. Loving one’s neighbor is really hard, and I get that. You’ll get a pass on the Muslims, the illegals, and the unwashed.
7. Persecution? What is that in this culture?
8. I know you need to love me, but family is where it’s all at. I know. I had family myself.
9. Anger is a natural emotion. You’ll need to use it in order to assert your authority.
10. I know you don’t really have time for this. Just send some money to the missionaries.

OK, I know some of those sound a little over the top to those of us who call ourselves Christians. But are they really that far off? I think not. See for yourself. Create your own “ten things” that Jesus might say in this modern culture. And know that those ten things come from your mind, which means the idea, the thought, the word (if you will) was there all along.

What is your Jesus like? Is He a hip, modern guru who swings along with the culture? Or is He the Jesus of the Bible, that stuffy guy who insists on having everything we have and are and that we follow him to the cross, if necessary?

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Why Do You Go to Church?

Why Do You Go to Church?

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

OK. I’m truly confused. I guess some of you would readily agree with this statement, letting me know that I seem to be confused most of the time. While I don’t deny that in a lighthearted way, I have something more serious in mind.
Why do you go to church? Why do you attend services?

(Moment of silence while you contemplate)

OK, now that you’ve had a bit to think about that, keep it in your head through the rest of this blog. (If you can’t come up with any kind of a reason for attending services that seems reasonable to you, maybe you need to look again at your faith and make some changes.) I don’t know what you said, but I attend services to connect with God and to connect with my Christian family. To me, those two things are the important aspects of church service attendance. I will even go so far as to say that if your responses are nowhere close to those, perhaps you should consider some revision to your world view.
Different churches do things in different ways. Some have instrumental music. Some have a liturgical-type of service. Others emphasize prayer or teaching over perhaps some other aspects of worship. Others limit services to an hour. Others go on for most of the day. Some have a meet-and-greet. Others do not. Some serve coffee and donuts. Some have special music. It’s all done differently. And these options and more are all available just in Restoration churches, to say nothing of other denominations.
As an Elder and long-time member, I hear over and over the complaint that we always do the same things in the same ways. We don’t vary the service. We don’t make it exciting. We just go through the motions every Sunday.
What I DON’T get when hearing these complaints is specific information on just what is meant by this, and what should be done. Invariably, the response when asked is some kind of generality like we need videos from time to time. We need to have services where we don’t have a sermon as such. We need services that have a mix of old and new songs. Or some such thing.
Of course, I also get complaints that all we sing are the new songs. Or, the only scriptural songs are the old hymns. Or, why do we have to have a video? The early church never had videos. So, I get both sides of things, and on a rather regular basis.
OK, let’s get back to my original question. Why do you attend church services? Is it because of the excitement of videos, or the stirring caused by a band or praise team? Is it because you never know what is coming next? Is it because of old songs, or new songs, or a 10 minute sermonette? Is it because of the coffee and donuts this week and lemonade and cake next week? Or maybe it’s because of the testimony that is given this week and the movie that is shown next week.
OK. I don’t get it. I’m confused. I thought we were to attend services to connect with God and connect with others. I thought that being entertained and having my excitement level raised each week weren’t part of that. I can’t imagine Paul or Peter planning a worship service in AD40 with the idea of entertaining or making things exciting. Can you?
I have never…repeat NEVER…attended any church where I found it impossible to connect with God and connect with others, if my attitude and relationship with God were right. We have been members of 8 different churches. I have interim-preached at three more. We have visited dozens more. Each one did things a little differently, but each one did things about the same way each Sunday. We’ve had wonderful singing experiences, and we’ve had the slow, off-key experiences. We’ve had great prayers and devotionals, and we’ve had prayers and devos where we’ve cringed at what was said. We’ve had great, 15 minute sermons, and we’ve sat through hour-long lessons, both engaging and greatly sleep-inducing. Yet in each place, and each place where we’ve visited, we were able, with the right attitude and relationship with God, to connect with Him and with other people, REGARDLESS of the sameness of the services, the slow tempo of the off-key songs, or the lack of videos and excitement.
As a shepherd, I counsel you and encourage you, that if you find yourself having to drag yourself to services, or you find yourself complaining about the songs, the sermon, or something else, you examine yourself and your relationship to God and to others. And that you make haste to make those changes in your attitude and relationships that will allow you to fully appreciate being with God and with others on Sunday morning.
I no longer wish to hear about services needing to be exciting or different. I no longer wish to hear complaints about the song leader or the one leading the communion devo. I am no longer interested in what you have to complain about the song selection or the meet-and-greet. Additionally, I am exhorting you to rid these complaints and evil (Yes, evil!!) thoughts from your mind. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may know what is good and acceptable and perfect. For when you are complaining about some one or some thing, you are not connecting with anyone. And when you are not connecting with anyone, your relationship with God is not what it needs to be…and THAT, dear brother or sister, has eternal consequences.

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Making the Change

Making the Change

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

I was watching an old TV special presentation called “Omnibus” last evening. The special featured Leonard Bernstein, the famous composer/conductor of the New York Philharmonic, as he explained what it means to be a conductor. The program was aired in the mid 1950’s.
I didn’t realize, until about half way into the program, that all of the people in the orchestra in the program were men. And this happened when Bernstein specifically referred to them as men. There wasn’t a woman to be seen.
So I wondered when it was that women began to appear in symphony orchestras. In doing some brief research, I found that not until the late 1960’s and in to the 1970’s did women work in symphony orchestras in any numbers. The reason? Discrimination.
Until that time, orchestra auditions were conducted openly. Those conducting the audition saw the people who were auditioning. They could tell if they were black, white, male, or female. The old discriminatory thoughts would come front and center if anyone other than a Caucasian male tried to audition. And they would not be even considered for the position.
In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, auditioners would perform behind a screen so they couldn’t be seen. Further, they would walk to behind the screen on a carpet so it couldn’t be determined if they were wearing heels or regular shoes. Finally, those applying for the positions were being hired based on their ability rather than their appearance, and things changed markedly and quickly in terms of the makeup of the symphony orchestra.
Today, most orchestras are roughly 50-50 regarding male-female. The racial barrier still has some to go, but much progress is being made there as well. Additionally, women and people of color have taken positions within the orchestras that traditionally have been white male positions…principals, associates, and others. Some orchestras are majority female. And classical music is all the better for it.
There are vestiges of discrimination though, even today. Once in a while an older male will make some comment about a woman or women in general that is sexist or discriminatory. But, unlike former days, those men are rapidly receiving a lesson in equality and strongly encouraged to keep their comments to themselves.
I am pleased to find that this part of our culture is now open to women and people of color. I am saddened that it hasn’t always been that way. And I long for the time when we won’t have to worry about off-color comments, blatant and hidden discrimination, and all of the other chains that have bound us as a society for so long.
Hopefully, even in religious circles, perhaps we can find ways to be true to the Word of God and allow our women to exercise their God-given talents and abilities in true service. I can’t conceive of a God that would endow a woman with a certain ability…then forbid her from using it in service to Him. But that’s what we’ve all too often done in our quest to “do Bible things in Bible ways.” We think we know what those “Bible things” are, and we further think we know what those “Bible ways” are, when in reality, we are often off base so far we have to twist and contort our world view to make everything come out as we want.
We need to step back just as the symphonies did 50 years ago, take a good look at what we do and why we do it…and be willing and eager to make those changes that need to be made. We haven’t “arrived,” and never will in this life. Constantly learning. Constantly growing. Constantly changing. Constantly adapting. Growth, change, adaptation, learning…those are lifelong inevitable tasks for anyone who is not perfect and sinless.
So, what about you? Are you willing to take your world view off of the shelf, dust it off, and see if it needs to be changed a bit? Or are you stuck in the rut of, “I know what I know, and I don’t want anyone to confront me with the facts.” Only you know with certainty. Only you can make the change.

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One Story Out of Many

One Story Out of Many

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

Let me tell you a story.
A woman called this week and asked to speak to me. Most of the time when that happens, it is some kind of benevolence request. And that was true with this call. On the phone, Angela seemed to be an articulate, well-spoken woman. She told me she was a veteran, and had run into some recent financial issues, resulting in a past due electric bill. The power company had turned off her service earlier that day. Curious, I asked her if she could come in and see me, and bring a copy of her bill with her.
Angela is a Navy veteran…10 years…and was in the Gulf War. She is in her mid-50’s now, and suffers from PTSD and other medical issues. She’s being treated at the local VA and is also in therapy for her PTSD. She has received VA disability status, and is on a fixed disability income. She brought in the papers that showed all of this is true.
Angela had unexpected financial expenses the past few months, and had to decide which bills to pay. The electric bill was one that she did not have the funds to pay. She applied for, and received a LIEAP (Low Income Energy Assistance Program) payment, but it wasn’t enough. By the time she had called me, she had contacted other social service agencies…United Way, Salvation Army, Open Door, VFW, Red Cross, Center of Hope, various churches, etc. None would help her.
As I looked at Angela’s electric bill and thought through her situation, I knew I could not turn her away, even though the amount she was requesting was above what we normally do for non-members who have a legitimate need. She appeared to be exhausted, mentally tired, and emotionally drained. I was concerned for her welfare, should I turn her away.
I told her that we normally pay only up to $100 on an electric bill, and we do that only if by paying we can either keep the electric turned on or get it turned on. Then I said, “Here’s the deal. I will pay the entire amount necessary to get you turned back on, and will ask the veterans in the congregation to help cover the cost.”
Angela was visibly moved, broke down, and I saw a face of relief in her tears. She thanked me profusely, and wanted to also express thanks to the veterans of the congregation. I went ahead and paid the entire amount needed to get her electric turned back on. The amount was $318.41. She called me back later in the day and told me that they had turned the electric back on. She again expressed her appreciation and thanked us all.
Angela’s situation is, unfortunately, all too common. Not a week goes by but what we don’t get at least two or three requests for help of some kind…often a utility bill…and often there are kids, the disabled or elderly in the house. Often, multiple utilities are turned off, including water.
We cannot fix everything, but I try to work with the client to do the most good with the dollars I have available. I also encourage them, if they haven’t already, to work with other agencies, and I encourage them to be very conservative in the use of utilities. It amazes me the number of people who have to pay very high utilities because the landlord won’t fix a broken window, leaky toilet, or repair a furnace…which requires the tenant to use electric heaters for warmth and results in a sky-high electric bill.
Thank you for any help you can give. We are able to do what we do because of your generosity and your love for your neighbor. Blessings…

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Please, God

Please, God

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

”Please, Lord. Just make it stop for awhile. I’d like to catch my breath.”
It seems that these past several weeks have been filled with one tragedy after another. Children who have been horribly abused. Young and older alike who have taken their own lives. Friends who have succumbed to cancer or other ailment or illness. Relatives battling for their lives now because of cancer. Childhood friends who daily are battling with and dealing with the infirmity of M/S and other ailments. Families in the throes of divorce and separation. Hundreds living on the street. Hundreds more living without running water, hot water, or electric service. Babies being aborted. Children who are hungry and neglected while whoever passes for a parent is either on a meth high or sleeping off alcohol or dope. Children who came into this world with brain damage or some physiological problem that will be with them for life because of a mother’s use of drugs.
Please, Lord. Just make it stop for awhile. I’d like to catch my breath.
And I see the ills of society. I see greed, uncontrolled anger, jealousy, selfishness, and all of the other on full display pretty much wherever I go. And when I’m driving, those emotions and outbursts seem to just manifest all over the place. People cut in line. They ignore traffic laws. They act as if they are the only ones on the road or in the store. If it isn’t “me first,” it isn’t going to go down. The middle finger salute is alive and well. The desire to elevate oneself at the expense of another is a game many play…and play for keeps.
Please, Lord. Just make it stop for awhile. I’d like to catch my breath.
But it doesn’t stop. It just goes on. Sometimes, it gets to the point that I can’t seem to go any more. It seems that I can’t hear about one more unpaid electric bill. I can’t hear about one more suicide. I can’t hear about one more abused child. I can’t hear about one more death. I’m filled up to here with it all, and I’m helpless and powerless to change it.
And then I think. I think about how Jesus must have felt seeing the same thing in his day. Yes, he saw it all. There truly is nothing new under the sun when it involves human behavior. And I think of what he said, “In the world, you will have tribulation; but take heart! I have overcome the world.” He also said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Don’t be afraid.”
The great Apostle Paul said that we “overwhelmingly conquer” or that “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” And Revelation describes a risen Lord Jesus Christ who has already conquered and now sits at the throne of God.
So, why the disparity? Why is it we seemingly see one thing, and in the spiritual realm, we hear of (and see with eyes of faith) another? I’m not sure. I don’t really know. I suspect the answer to that question would take much more space than I allow myself for articles such as these.
But one thing I do know. I know that the spiritual is the genuine reality. I know that the physical is but a shadow. I know that one day, all will be made well. And I know that even now, God is working through his people in this life…on this earth…to redeem the creation and bring about grace, mercy, and true peace.
That is our job. That is our work. Ours is not to render judgment. Ours is not to throw stones. Ours is to go about the work assigned to us and diligently complete it as best we can, with the help, wisdom, strength, and guidance of the God of the universe.

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Truth Time

Truth Time

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

It is interesting to me that people often have nothing to do with a church of any kind until they hit a bump in the road of life and need help. Then a church is often one of the first places they contact for that help.
Many of the people that I talk with regarding benevolence have no church. Or if they do, they have not been active, and their church barely knows who they are. Something happens in their life…some kind of financial or health reversal or a family emergency…and now they can’t pay the electric bill, the rent, or some other necessary bill. They then turn to churches to provide the help.
I’ve often wondered how things might have worked out differently for them had they been actively involved in a church family over the years and had been connected to people who genuinely cared about them and their situation. I’ve wondered how differently their feelings of loneliness, discouragement, and hopelessness would be if they would have an active church family that they could lean on in troubled times.
People would pray for and with them. Others would counsel, mentor, and befriend them. The church would provide financial help, professional counseling, and perhaps even job/career assistance. Perhaps someone would volunteer to take them to the doctor or be with them during a medical procedure. Someone would call and look out for their welfare. And they would be loved and accepted for who they are…just like us, a child of God who is in need of grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
I often ask if they are people of faith and if they have a church family. Most say they are of faith, and most will also admit to not having a church family…or at least a family that they have been an active part of for the past while. I sometimes tell them that they really need the friendship and familial support that comes from being part of a church family. And usually, the conversation doesn’t go any farther than that. Why, I don’t know.
I don’t know if they are more concerned about the immediate issues of survival, or perhaps they have had a bad blood family relationship and can’t relate to families truly loving and serving one another. Or maybe there is something else involved in that lack of family contact that I’m not aware of.
I’ve heard many people say that they are Jesus followers, but don’t want to be part of an organized church. And as long as one can remain independent and not need the support and service of a loving family such as what the church is supposed to be, everything seems to rock along OK in a person’s life. But let one bump…one hiccup…one barrier loom, and suddenly, that person is alone. He is by himself in a world that is much bigger and much meaner than he ever thought or knew. As Abraham Lincoln said (and taking out of context), “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here…” The world will little care or be concerned with someone’s inability to obtain health care, pay a utility bill, or with whether they are living on the street or with a roof over them. But the church…the church should care and be concerned for its family members primarily, and others secondarily as well. The church is where God’s love and compassion are brought to the reality of action…mentoring, providing, challenging, loving, serving. It is the church that puts legs on God’s provisions for His children. It is the church that makes the love of God real and tangible, and gives meaning to the truth of “God is love.” It is the church that puts God’s love into action.
I often get the feeling that we ask God to intervene in a situation, then sit back and wait for Him to do something about what we prayed about in some way, as if we expect God to wave a magic wand and “BOOM!” everything is taken care of. No, God doesn’t tell us to sit back and wait for Him to somehow pay an electric bill or relieve suffering. He tells us instead to offer that cup of cold water, to go the second mile, to be the servant of all. He tells us that we are His chosen vessels, His workmanship. He tells us that we were created to do good works…those good works that God Himself has prepared for us…and that this is to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2:10) “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.”
OK, the question. What is your “way of life?” Is it to do good works as God’s workmanship? Or is it to serve yourself? Is it to relieve the suffering of others, or to assure your own comfort? Is it to bear another’s burden, or is it to relieve yourself of yours?
Truth time.

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