A pastor once asked his church to pray that God would shut down a neighborhood bar. The whole church gathered for an evening prayer meeting, pleading with God to rid the neighborhood of the evils of this bar. A few weeks later, lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.
Having heard about the church’s prayer crusade, the bar owner promptly sued the church. When the court date finally arrived, the bar owner passionately argued that God struck his bar with lightning because of the church members’ prayers. The pastor backtracked, brushing off the accusations. He admitted the church prayed, but he also affirmed that no one in his congregation really expected anything to happen.
The judge leaned back in his chair, a mix of amusement and perplexity on his face. Finally, he spoke: “I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Right in front of me is a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer and a pastor who doesn’t.”
I have heard the above story all my life but I cannot vouch if it is true. The truth is some Christian believe in God, but they don’t believe in prayer. They might claim to believe prayer works, but their actions say otherwise. Some rarely pray, and when they do, they don’t expect anything to change. If we truly believed in prayer, I think we would pray more and more fervently. James 1:-6-8 Mark 11:24
The perfect pastor preaches exactly 10 minutes.
He condemns sin but never hurts anyone’s feelings.
He works from 8am until midnight and is also the church janitor.
The perfect pastor makes $40 a week, wears good clothes, drives a good car, buys good books, and donates $30 a week to the church.
He is 29 years old and has 40 years experience.
Above all, he is handsome.
The perfect pastor has a burning desire to work with teenagers, and he spends most of his time with the senior citizens.
He smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his church.
He makes 15 home visits a day and is always in his office to be handy when needed.
He never misses the meeting of any church organization and is always busy evangelizing the unchurched.
One of my fondest childhood memories was an underground spring that is located in the woods of western Pennsylvania. We (and everyone from miles around) would go there from time to time and fill containers with the cool, clear water. Even on the hottest day, the water was always cold and I have never known this spring to ever run dry.
I went back this week to revisit “my” spring and it was still flowing, still cold and still refreshing.(See attached picture.) I feel sorry for those who grew up in the city and never experienced drinking from “God’s Spring!
The only water that tastes better is from the spring that produces eternal life. It is always flowing and always refreshing and gives eternal life. You may never go to Pennsylvania and drink from that spring but make sure you drink from the well of salvation.
Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
I am always on the lookout for a good writing pen. (Though most of my writing is done on a keyboard.) And when I say a “good” pen, I am not necessarily speaking of an expensive one. When I am with my peers, I always look to see what pen they are using. You never know when a better pen comes along and I might need to change.
Several years my son bought a nice pen/pencil set as a Christmas gift. I really liked it but I put away in my desk, fearing to use it “every day”. I was afraid that I might lose them; which is a good possibility for me. Though it is safe while in my desk, I never get the enjoyment of using it. Often when a family member dies, the family will go through the belongings that were left behind. Many times they will find a gift that has never been opened or an heirloom that was handed down but the rest of the family was totally unaware of it.
1 Peter 4:10 is an interesting verse: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another; as good stewards of God’s varied grace..” Two obvious observations: Every Christ-follower has been given at least one gift and secondly the gift was given to us to use; not hide.
In the parable of the talents, the servant that was judged, was the one who hid his talent. He was not judged for doing bad things but for doing nothing. Fear is not an adequate excuse for an unopened gift. There is no tragedy like the tragedy of the unopened gift. Some will go to their grave and never unwrap their gift.
Years ago, my wife and I stayed in a Howard Johnson Inn while vacationing in Florida. As I was walking down the hallway, I past their lounge. I wasn’t particularly surprised that they had a lounge but what did surprise me was the lounge’s name: Saints/Sinners. Being a Christ-follower, I was taken back that “Saints” would be used in reference to a bar. I have pondered that name often but as I was reading the Gospels, that name came back to me.
I guess the name first caught my attention because of the vast contrast between the two names; they are total opposites of each other. Nowhere is that seen more clearly than the attitude of the “saints” and the sinners” of Jesus’ day. No “saint” would ever associate with “sinners” and that was one of the reasons that Jesus was hated by the religious establishment. Jesus not only associated with THEM but He went into THEIR homes and even shared a meal with THEM.
Before we start throwing stones, have you ever been at a party and felt uncomfortable around certain people? We tend to associate with people like US, don’t we? You can almost see the separation in the room between THEM and US. I can visit a church and almost point out to you one of THEM. THEM will often sit by THEM-selves and you can often see they are uncomfortable being in the presence of so many of US.
What are we to do? The “US” must take the first step in tearing down the walls that separate US and THEM. Ask if they would mind if you sat with them during the worship service. Purposely start a conversation with that person that is being overlooked at the party. Invite one of THEM to go with you to a ballgame with you. (You paying for their ticket of course!)
Let’s US do everything possible to make THEM one of US!
This past Sunday, the Christian Church celebrated Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem prior to Easter Sunday. The story is so familiar to most of us, I am afraid that we have lost sight of the important due to the familiar.
The disciples had walked this familiar road many, many times. Jesus was familiar with this road as well. His parents took Him every year to the Passover Feast. But this year, this trip, everything was going to be different. All the travelers knew the road but only Jesus knew the journey.
Jesus had been trying to explain to His disciples what awaited them at the end of this journey but they never did grasp what Jesus was saying. They did not know this familiar trip was going to be anything but “familiar.”
Our lives are composed of many familiar “roads.” The student has a road that they are familiar with: meet bus 7:30 am, this class, that class, lunch, recess, etc. The worker has his familiar road: rush hour traffic, punch-in at 8:00, work eight hours, punch out, drive home, supper, etc.
But are you prepared for the journey? Jesus may detour your road by a coworker sharing they are facing a divorce and need your support. Jesus may have a student cross your familiar road with the news they are pregnant and want your advice. At any time, that “familiar” road may become a journey.
You may know the road but only Jesus knows the journey!
“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work…” Isaiah 55:8 (MSG)
As a Christ-follower, I have found many of my thoughts and actions are totally opposite of God’s. I am not talking about sin but just different. For example, when someone hurts you or does something to you, the ‘natural’ man will usually respond in a way that is totally opposite of the way God would have us respond. MT. 5:43-45 The world says if you want to be rich; be stingy. God on the other says giving is the way of receiving. Luke 6:38
Recently I have had a change in my thinking concerning how I view the church. For years, I have viewed the “small” church as inferior to larger churches. Small churches, in my thinking, just hadn’t arrived yet. They weren’t as successful as the large church. Many people look at the small church as an “unwanted, red-headed step-child.”
But does God categorize churches by size? No. How does not see churches as large or small. He just sees THE church. Jesus is the head of the church, so wherever He is worshiped that is church. Mt. 18:20 Churches are not called to be successful (at least as others think) but they are called to be faithful. Mt. 5:21
God must love the small church, He made so many of them.