volunteers make the church work

At the beginning of the year I put out the call for volunteers at the church where I pastor. I made a list of needed help and called the church to pray for the right people to come to us and fill the roles that had been identified. I don’t know if anyone is still praying over our list but we did see some results and I’d like to publically thank those that stepped up to help out.

Brian thank you so much for taking on the task of maintaining our grounds. It is a very important task and I know that it takes up a lot of time. How the property looks is the very first impression that people have of our church and we want that impression to be a good one. Without your efforts that wouldn’t be possible. Paul and Junia I know that you have also pitched in and your help is very much appreciated. You two were also instrumental in the ongoing remodel of the new classroom. It was your efforts that really got that project moving again after it had gotten stalled.

Good first impressions continue because Sandy came forward and volunteered to take on the task of keeping the sanctuary, bathrooms, and other spaces clean and tidy. Your personal touches in those areas have really made a huge difference in the way members and visitors alike see our facility. I don’t know if anyone has thanked you personally but several people have asked me who has been cleaning because the place looks great. It feels like somebody actually loves it and wants it to look it’s very best. Your servant’s heart really shines through the work that you do.  I pray that God bless you abundantly.

Stan and Kathy have continued to keep the kitchen and coffee room clean and tidy. I always know that you’ve been there even if I didn’t see you because of the smell of Pine-Sol in the air after you leave. You two have been performing this task for several years and it’s about time you got a public thank you for it.

Papa G, Stan, and Dan have done a lot of work in our new classroom and I am really happy to let you all know that we will be opening up one side of it this Sunday for use. These men have worked very hard to present to you all a building that you can be proud of. They’ve done demolition, put up Sheetrock, textured and painted. They’ve dug trenches, run wires, installed a bunch of stuff. Been up and down ladders countless times and made numerous trips to a variety of home improvement stores. Their work has been done with excellence and love. There is still a lot more to be done but I know that these men will be there to do the job and do it right. Thank you thank you thank you.

In one sense a church is just a bunch of people that get together once in a while and do church. If that’s all you get from it God bless you and expand your thoughts. Because really a church ought to be like a family with all that implies. A family does things together with a common goal and so should a church. I am certain that if you are attending a church somewhere that there are plenty of opportunities for you to serve. It is my prayer that you find that spot and fill it because you are necessary and important no matter what you think. God will use you if you make yourself available for use.

I know that I have not mentioned every person that volunteers in our church. Fear not I see all and so does God. There are many more blogs to write.

 

 

Ban violence I say

So I have an idea. I’ve been taking in some of the news from this weekend and seeing a lot of video of various marches that took place. I’ve seen plenty of passionate speeches, songs of protest and the like as well. The topic is gun violence and what ought to be done about it. Most of the ideas that I’ve heard are honestly to me pretty stale. You know ban this gun, expanded background checks blah blah.

As I thought about the things I was seeing and hearing I started to consider the problem. I like to look at words and phrases and break them down and pick at them to see just what is really being talked or written about. The phrase here is gun violence.

Why are we focused on the gun part of the phrase? If it weren’t for the second word, the violence part there would be no need at all for there to be a gun. Okay I know that is not completely true. The gun is a weapon for self defense but it is also a tool of providence. It can also be used recreationally. But for the purposes of this discussion let’s agree to consider the self defense aspect.

My thought is whatever we do with the gun won’t eliminate the need for self defense because we still must deal the more important word. Even if every gun was gone tomorrow there would still be violence and the need for people to be able to defend themselves. There would still be all of the problems that afflict our society. Nothing would change except how we go about hurting each other. Human history is proof that guns aren’t necessary for the killing or oppressing people. We don’t need more gun control or a gun ban. What we need is a ban on violence.

If you really want to change the world then this is how you do it. Ridiculous I can hear you say out there. There will always be violence. It woven into our very nature. Almost everything we do is saturated with it. The news we watch, the stories we read, it’s everywhere. I believe that without the violence most of you out there would be pretty bored. I just went and saw a super hero movie over the weekend and liked it very much but it was an extremely violent affair. I really believe that as long as we are willing to be entertained by this we will continue to see violence carried out in real life. As they say art imitates life.

We don’t have a gun problem or really a violence problem. We have a heart problem. Our hearts are selfish and filled with conflict. Our society is divided in a thousand different ways and the powers that be seem to like it that way. Conflict sells and we’re buying. Our appetite for it is insatiable and it’s only getting worse.

This is what we need to be talking about.

Today I pray for wisdom in our leadership. I pray for some speck of unity. I pray that we stop being double minded, sending confusing mixed messages to vulnerable young people. I pray that we stop exploiting terrible events and the people involved in them to push forward political agendas. I pray for peacemakers.

You’ll never catch up if you don’t get started

As I came to the end of 2017 I checked my stats and saw that during the year I had published 21 blogs. I felt ok about that because when I added that to the rest of the writing that I had done I felt that my output was adequate. But I challenged myself to increase my blog posts to reach a minimum of 30 for 2018. I felt good about that number. It seemed like an achievable goal.

But of course life has its own ideas and they don’t always coincide with mine. So now I find myself in the position of being behind having posted exactly zero blogs for the current year. Looking at my situation I began to despair of posting anything at all. Of course upon further reflection that notion is ridiculous. I have plenty of time to write these short reflections if I do just a little bit better managing my time.

Do you find yourself in a similar spot? Did you tell yourself that you were going to accomplish some goal during this year or month or week or whatever? Maybe you’ve missed the mark so far. I know that I have and Worthless is having a field day with me but as usual Worthwhile has come in with a last minute save and here I sit writing my blog. Post #1 for 2018. At least 29to go right?

Don’t beat yourself for getting behind. Instead set your thoughts on the goal that you originally set and start doing whatever you need to do to move towards it. Goals are a great thing to have. Reaching one will give you a sense of accomplishment and help you towards the next one. Evaluate your goals and make sure that they are reachable. A few posts ago I told you to look to your expectations if you were feeling unhappy. I wanted you to be sure that you were being realistic in them and I want the same thing for you now. Set goals that are reachable in the time frame that you set them in. Then as you reach each one you will feel good about yourself and be in a better state to reach the next one.

If your goal is big then try to break it down into smaller more achievable segments. That way you won’t feel overwhelmed when you think about it. But the most important thing is to get started. If your goal is to be able to ride your bike 20 miles go out ASAP and air up the tires and oil the chain. Then tomorrow put on your helmet and ride around the block. You get the idea.

If you are doing great at reaching your goals that’s awesome please pray for those of us that have struggled so far. If you are one of the struggling then my prayer is that you will see this as the encouragement you are looking for and I further pray that you will do what ever you need to do to start reaching your goals. Remember that you set them for a reason and the reason was probably important.

I can get caught up and so can you.

Be the answer to someone’s prayer

Do you ever think about how God answers our prayers? I know that I do. I do so because I get asked quite often to pray for or about a person or situation. After I pray for something or someone I will monitor the situation or circumstance as at I am able because I really like to know how my prayers are being answered. I think that is reasonable and I think also that lots of other people do,the same thing. We all ought to be looking for our prayers to be answered because that is one of the best ways we can build up our witness.

God uses people to answer prayers.

A lot of times my prayers are for people or situations that are far away from me and so my prayers are often a request that God move someone “over there” to act on behalf of whatever I am praying about. It occurs to me that there are likely people far from me making the same kind of prayers about people or situations near to me. In that case there is a possibility that God may try to move me to be the answer to that prayer.

God uses people to answer prayers because it build faith and testimony in three different people. In the one praying, the one answering, and the one for whom the prayer was offered.

For the believer being a co-laborer with God in these situations is privelage that is not to be taken lightly. Being an answer to prayer may take courage or boldness. It may include the possibility of persecution or danger. It could expose you to difficult circumstances. It could even lead to emotion or spiritual stress. But along with these come certain blessing and great joy a well.

If you want to be used by God as the answer to someone else’s prayer (and you should) there are a few things you’d better know because while He is sovereign and can use anyone he prefers to use the qualified. So what makes one qualified?

First you must be available. If you are self absorbed paying attention only to yourself and your concerns it will be hard for you to be used purposefully by God. Selfishness is a barrier to a meaningful prayer life. It is something that God dispises. Paul reminds us in Romans 12 that we are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice as our duty to God. We are to lay ourselves on the altar and by doing so we become ready for his use. The word to use here is holy, that is set aside for his purposes. Again Paul says in his letter to Timothy that a vessel that is to be used for honorable purposes must be clean.

Second you must be listening. God speaks to us in any number of ways so in order to be used we ought to be paying close attention to Him. We need to be praying. Remember that prayer is a two way conversation with God. All too often we get so caught up in our requests that we forget to be listening. We forget to pause and give Him a chance to say something to us. He also speaks to,us through His word so keep reading scripture. This is the best way to understand His mind and ways. He will also speak to you through the people around you so pay attention and be sensitive when talking to others. Be a good listener.

Finally you must be willing. God is a gentleman. He won’t force you to do things. He may make it difficult to refuse. He may use circumstances or hardship to help you understand His will but you always get the option to opt out. Like Malachi told Ester you if you refuse God will find another way for His will to be achieved but you will miss out on the blessings that would have been yours.

What an honor we have as believers to be workers in God’s kingdom. Don’t be so self-interested that you miss the opportunities out there to be His answer to someone’s plea for help. Don’t miss the blessings that are to be yours because you are unavailable or unwilling to answer the call when it comes to you. Your testimony is your best witness and your testimony comes by answered prayers.