Thursday, September 27, 2007

Faith and Obedience, Joy and Happiness, Part 2

Given that we at Western Avenue have been convicted of the need to fulfill the Great Commission, there are some observations that need to be stated. I observe that we tithe our membership to missions.

These are not full-time missions in the sense that 10% of our membership is in the field at any given time. That said, it must be understood that many of our people work year-round to raise funds and prepare for any particular mission.
We may be sending 10%, but what of the other 90%? Understanding that not everyone can go, we can still send more.
We have done no special thing to grow spiritually for this task besides to earnestly seek God’s face. God Himself is the progenitor of our status. We strive to be faithful. We strive to worship Him in every way. We strive to glorify Him in everything we do. From among us, God has provided everything we need to fulfill His purpose.
Our missionaries are no better than any other group of true Christians. We still bear evidence of the old sin nature. We are not uber-spiritual, but rather normal Christians who happen to agree that we need to figure out how to be about the business Christ told us we need to be about.

With that last statement, let me offer a montage of snapshots of our congregation, proverbial warts and all. No names are given here and the textual faces are smudged to protect identities. The point is that these are people I love. These are people who filled the church Sunday. As we offered praise to God, considering His call for us to go, the faces I saw in worship were the faces of people I knew had obstacles of sin to overcome. Nevertheless, God is glorified despite their weakness. Here are some of the brothers and sisters with whom I attend church:

  • There’s the man who left his wife and kids, but came back to them.
  • There’s the woman who starts major projects all over the church, but invariably gives up on them after a short time.
  • There’s the younger man who had a stroke. He’s functional, but he lacks the ability to control some aspects of his behavior and is often annoying.
  • There’s the woman who has a good heart, but can really find a harsh way of showing it sometimes.
  • There’s the man who longs to minister to some of the most downtrodden people on the planet, but his wife’s health has gotten so bad that he has to expend all his energy ministering to her.
  • There are the couples who have divorced for various reasons.
  • There is the husband and father who has been attracted to another woman, but has remained faithful out of true love and a willingness to offer himself up for his family.
  • There is the woman who feels devalued, but has been able to bring meaning and stability to so many ministries.
  • There is the man who too often takes the path of least resistance, but whose heart is so tender that he encourages others to be likewise tender.
  • There is the woman who is often impatient with children, but has a desire to minister to children around the world that makes her effective.
  • There is the man who organizes several activities, but can't seem to put church property back where it goes so that others can find it.
  • There is the woman who engenders the attentiona and affections of many because of the tenderness by which she ministers to all near her. However, she keeps herslef so busy with all this that she fails to follow up on those who she has left behind.
  • There is the man whose health has caused financial problems, but who seeks to minister in any way he can.
  • There is the woman who is raising her children alone, but keeps them active in the church and teaches them to minister to others.
  • There is the man whose wife has passed away and continues to lead missions to difficult places.
  • There is the couple who couldn't have children until they started adopting.
  • There is the man who is trying to stop smoking and works for a secret agency, but who has discovered a joy in using his gifts to minister to others.
  • There is the couple who comes from a difficult background who seek to teach their kids to minister.
  • There are the ones who complain from time to time, but remain faithful to minister.
  • There are those of significant wealth who give generously, but sometimes try to put strings on their gifts.
  • There are those of limited means who continue to find God's provision to go on missions.

There are so many more that I could include. Perhaps you recognize some of these people at your church. The snapshots are not particularly unique and some of them represent more than one person I know at my church. If you think that a people must be particularly special to get involved with God's work, you're mistaken.

One of the songs that we sang Sunday was Days of Elijah. One line, in reference to Ezekiel, is "The dry bones becoming as flesh". We are those dry bones. We are told that if we do not praise God, He can make the rocks cry out. All of us have had hardened hearts. When our hearts become soft enough to praise God, we are the rocks that cry out in praise to our God. He is the one who gives us life. He uses us to take His message of life to others.

To His glory!

Labels: , ,


Blogger Lionel Woods said...

Sometime we forget the fragility of the human being and push them under theology. Though we have an obligation and the power through the Holy Spirit to obey, circumstances get the best of us. "when we are faithless, he is faithful".

Wed Oct 03, 03:10:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Jim Pemberton said...

Thank you, Brother Lionel. "When we are faithless, He is faithful". I was just discussing this with a sister here at work who is going through a difficult time. I shared a difficult time that I had with her and she remembered this very thing observing how it helped me. It is a matter of comfort and encouragement. This issue of our frailty has really hit me deeply of late and I find great cause to praise our Lord ever more.

Mon Oct 15, 01:56:00 PM GMT-5  

Post a Comment

<< Home