Thursday, October 21, 2010

“Being a Christian is pretty easy” someone once said.  “All you have to do is go to church every once in a while, put a few bucks in the plate, listen to a few boring sermons and sing a bunch of songs nobody knows”, they told me.
     Just the other day I heard a person of notoriety state that “To be a Christian means learning the Ten Commandments and following the Golden Rule.” “It’s just that easy” they said.
     I can’t count the number of times I have heard people say that “being a Christian means God loves you and all you have to do is say a few prayers and He will give you whatever you pray for.”
     It’s been said, “Being a Christian means life is good all the time and God will protect me from everything bad or dangerous or harmful.”  I even heard on fellow on TV say, “God loves you so much, you deserve the best, and He wants to bless you with ‘all His riches in heaven’, because you are His child He wants to give you His heavenly treasures right now – what are you waiting for – ASK!”
     Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it!  Simply quote a few ‘promise verses’, pray a few times, send $20 to the guy on TV and believe God is going to bless you 100 fold.  Tell you the truth, I want some of that!
     But THAT is not IT!  That is NOT the truth.  The truth is that being a Christian is more than what we see on TV, or hear some politician say to bolster their position, or even what we may have been led to believe from other sources in our life.
     Truth is, being a Christian means being involved.  Being involved in relationships, the church, and with God.
     Being a Christian means being involved with the Spirit of God and following the Word, will and ways in which we are commanded.
     Being a Christian is accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and not only accepting His leading, but being involved in His mission and ministries within the area and gifts we have been given.
     Being a Christian means becoming a part of the Body of Christ and being in connection with other believes in a time of praise, worship, support and encouragement.
     Being a Christian is not just another spectator sport we watch on TV.  It is a lifestyle which requires contact with other people in a focused and intentional manner to communicate the awesome love and grace of God in a variety of ways.
     Christianity is involvement in the lives of others, in the life of the church, and in the world we live in.  We are called to reach out to the least and the lost, to help and comfort those around us, to help guide the affairs of our world, and to help build up the Body of Christ by our involvement in the local church.
     But sadly, most Christians are either not involved, or they involved on a merely superficial or perfunctory level.  We know this by the state of our society and the state of the church.
     I fully believe the church was designed to be the backbone of our families and of our society.  But, over time and for reasons beyond the realm of this article, the church has lost its backbone.
     I submit that – “Christianity only works when believers work.”  I add to that – “The church only grows when we grow.”
     I further submit that – “The Spirit of God only moves as we allow it.”
     Instead of so many preachers preaching about the ‘entitlements’ of Christianity, I believe we need to hear more sermons about the ‘involvement’ of the Body of Christ.
     For it is only through the involvement of the Body of Christ will the mission of Christ be realized within the church, community and the world around us.
     I believe God is calling us to be involved.  We have the opportunities, we have the resources, and we have the people.
     Most important, we have God’s word that when the people of God are doing the will of God in the Spirit of God, He will not only provide all that is needed, he will also bless the efforts and lives of those involved!
     Thus, the blessings of God overflow and fill the land with His glory and goodness!
     May the hand of God be upon you, as you become more involved and reach out to others…..
Pastor Eldon

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

     As I read this mornings passage from 2 Timothy, I couldn’t help but think of how proud Dale Carnegie would be as to how Paul laid out his communiqué with Timothy.
     Paul begins by thanking Timothy for his efforts, reminding him of his proud heritage, and praising Him for his great faith.  Paul extends his encouragement and support for Timothy by letting him know he is praying for him without ceasing.  Paul even addresses Timothy as his ‘beloved son’, a powerful statement as to Timothy’s moral standards and Paul’s high regard for him.
     It’s interesting to note that Paul always made it a point to express his appreciation and support toward the members of his team of evangelists and leaders.  He always made it a point to mention them and to express his appreciate and extend his most heartfelt prayers for them.
    Along with the movement of the Holy Spirit, I believe this is one of the reasons Paul was so well respected and had such a dedicated following.  It’s no wonder so many people, like Timothy, were willing to come along side of Paul and help in the ministry and spread the Gospel.
     Sometimes I think we get a little busy or so involved in our own day to day activities we forget to take the time to express our appreciation and support to those around us.  Sometimes we may even neglect our prayers for one another.  How often do we miss out on the opportunity richly bless someone with a word of encouragement, or letting them know how much we appreciate what they do, or even letting them know how much we think of them and are praying for them?
     When we reach out to others with words of encouragement, and support, and endearment, we are in reality fanning the flames of our faith.  Through these simple acts of basic human kindness, we enliven and inspire and build on the desire of one another to be involved and continue, and enhance the good works of the church and of the Lord.
     Along with his inspiring way to encourage others, Paul also had a way to bolster his comrades when they seemed a little lethargic or waning in some way.  In verses 6 and 7 we read where Paul says to Timothy: “I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
     Most scholars agree that Timothy had slacked off of his service and become somewhat remiss from being away from Paul for so long.  We need to note that Paul does not doubt the existence of real faith in Timothy, nor Timothy’s work in the past, but what he desires is for Timothy to rekindle the spark and fan the flames of service for the sake of the Lord.
     What Paul was saying to Timothy was – ‘You have the Holy Spirit, God has called you into His service, I have laid my hands upon you.  Now, Timothy, stir up yourself and do what God asks of you.'
     Paul says:  “stir up the gift of God which is in you.”  Get fired up.  Fan the flames.  Get excited.  Work your faith.  As in 2 Thessalonians Paul is reminding Timothy of his prayer:  “that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power,  that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.”
     I believe Paul is speaking to us this morning when he says “stir up the gift of God which is in you.”   I believe God is calling us to fan the flames of our faith.  To rekindle that spark when we first became Christians and were excited about servicing the risen Christ and our Lord.
     I believe that each and everyone of us has something to offer the church, the Body of Christ, and the world around us.  I believe each of us has been given at least one gift, one talent, one special ability to use toward the edification of one another, the building up of the church, and toward the enhancement of the Kingdom of God. 
     I also know that each of us have been called to serve God and one another, to exercise our gifts and talents which encourage and support one another and the church, and bring glory to God in the process.
     However, as Paul noted, we as the church have become lethargic and waning in Christian works and exercising of our faith.  There membership of the United Methodist Church in Nebraska is down by 8% from last year.  The enthusiasm and participation in church or faith centered programs has fallen off to an all time low. 
     Involvement in the church has become a secondary event, if that, in the lives of the general population.  Participation in church programs by members of the congregation shows a significant drop from just a few years ago.  At this rate, one might wonder about the future of the church.
     But Paul reminds us of our great heritage, as he did for Timothy.  He reminds us of our calling.  He reminds us God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 
    Paul reminds us that God has called us, has given us the Holy Spirit, and has given each of us the ability and strength that we may fan the flames of our faith and our Christian service.
     As with Timothy, we too are being called to “stir up the gift of God which is in us”, to get excited, to get fired up, to fan the flames and work our faith.  To be involved in the life, mission and ministries of the church, and her people.  To take a vested interest in the future and success of the church.
     Ladies and gentlemen, we have the opportunities, we have the resources, we have the people, and we have the mandate.  Plus, we have God’s word of promise to provide and bless our faithful efforts. 
     I invite and encourage you to fan the flames of your faith, to make a decision today to become involved, to make use of every y to exercise your talents toward the mission and ministries of the church and for the glory of God.  I doing so, I know God will bless both you and this church beyond our expectations.
     Remember, “it is only through the involvement of the Body of Christ, will the mission of Christ be fully realized!”
     May God bless your involvement in His glorious plan.  Amen.
Pastor Eldon