In my devotional reading this morning, I read about the 2 AM group. Here is that story,
” A friend told me about a group of people who share a strong bond of faith in Christ. One of them, a 93-year-old woman, said, ‘I feel like I can call any of you at 2 a.m., and I don’t even have to apologize if I feel the need for any type of assistance.’ Whether the need is prayer, practical help, or someone to be there during a time of need, these friends are unconditionally committed to each other.”(Our Daily Bread)
These friends are a great example of the body of Christ in action. They put into practice the instructions of Paul in Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (HCSB)
I have been blessed to a part of churches who live this way. We sing about being one in the bond of love, but we have to live that out. It blesses my soul when I visit in the hospital and hear how many from the church have already been by to check on them. When I was hospital used, I learned the value of those visits. That is just one easy we can look out for each others interests.
My prayer is that all churches will be 2 AM groups.
In churches, we often use a phrase which speaks of God opening doors. In fact, it is biblical. Paul was writing to the church in Corinth about his travel plans which included a visit to Corinth. However, he was going to stay a while in Ephesus,, “For a great and effective door has opened to me,” (1 Corinthians 16:9a NKJV)
In my life now, I can relate to Paul. There are those seasons in life in which God is so obviously opening a door that we would be fools to ignore it. I am on the threshold of such a season. We are in the process of moving to a new church in a new town. I recently resigned from the church I pastored for 17 years and 9 months to accept the call to Craft Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Tx. A random connection on LinkedIn with an old friend has led to this. So many pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place that I know there is a great and effective door opened to me. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for my family and me.
You prep for months. Special furniture gets purchased and assembled. A room gets painted, redesigned, and prepared. Finally the big day arrives and it happens. A new member of the family makes their debut. Then it hits you that you have just witnessed a miracle! A church is born!
This weekend I get to witness that miracle. The Purpose launches in Baton Rouge, La on Sunday. My brother, Joel is the founding pastor. It has been great to follow his journey from California to Baton Rouge. God stirred his heart for the unchurched in that city. This is pure pioneer work. When they hit the ground it was just his family of 4. They have connected with people, assembled a launch team, and rented a movie theater. This weekend it all comes to fruition.
Join with me in praying for The Purpose. Pray that they reach unchurched people and help them discover their reason to live. Pray that God opens a door for the gospel into the homes of the many unchurched families. Praise God for another Bible believing church joining the family.
The Love Chapter according to my cousin. A great read to help churches evaluate if they are acting out of love.
Love Chapter (Jason's version).
Seventeen years ago I heard words of wisdom from my wise aunts which at the time did me a lot of good. Unfortunately, I didn’t let it sink deep into my soul and apply it to all areas of life. You see, my wife, Shannon, was facing a bone marrow transplant. She had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which had come out of remission. The bone marrow transplant was our only option which seemed to offer hope. My aunts took me aside and had a heart to heart with me. They told me they saw I was a lot like my Pappaw, and that I needed to learn to ask for help. This was going to be too big to face alone. I had to admit I couldn’t do it all and let others share the load. They were right of course. When I was willing to admit the need, people lovingly lent support and encouragement from all over the world. They carried us through 6 weeks of living at the Mayo Clinic and my wife’s miraculous recovery.
Recently, I had another moment where those words came back to the front of mind. As a bi-vocational pastor, I wear a lot of hats. I’m a husband and Dad. I am an IT Coordinator for a school. I also pastor the church and fill many roles there. I finally realized that I needed help, and started asking for people to step forward to help with leading singing, doing the bulletin, and other tasks which I was doing. As our great people have come forward to help, one commented that they never thought about all I do. I quickly shared that it was my fault because it had not dawned me that I should have asked for help. Turns out my aunts were right about needing help in life and in ministry.
We all need help from time to time. Maybe that is why God inspired Paul to say Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galations 6:2 NKJV. In the body of Christ, we have that source of support. Do not deprive yourself of that help and support because you will not ask.
Recently, I came across a new blog site, newsmallchurch.com. There, Karl Vaters offers encouragement to churches which are considered small. The standard definition of a small church is a church running 200, or less in attendance. I guess we are overqualified to be in that category! One of the key things of which I have been reminded is that size isn’t important. Our focus should never be that of the gunslinger looking get that next notch. In this case, it would be on our Bible rather than a pistol, but you see where I’m going. We aren’t in the head hunting business only worried about that next new member to add to our collection. The purpose of the church goes so much beyond getting people here. Newsmallchurch recently revisited the great commission and great commandments with a focus on the goal we should have. Here is what they said:
- Worship– to tell Jesus how much we love Him
- Discipleship– to help us become more like Jesus
- Fellowship– to love each other more
- Ministry– to meet people’s needs
- Evangelism– to bring people to jesus
The focus isn’t to do these things so we can grow, but rather do them so we can be healthy. Health should be our focus. If God chooses to make us larger, praise Him. If He chooses to let us stay the same size yet be healthier, great. These aren’t just random ideas. They come from the things to which the first church devoted themselves.
Acts 241-47 says, “41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. 43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need.[p] 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them[q] those who were being saved.”
Yes, they had phenomenal numerical growth, but more importantly, they were healthy! That growth arose out of the health. In the early days of the church, they hadn’t yet divided into sects over ideas and prejudices yet. They hadn’t grown so sophisticated that they had traditions which ruled them. In those days of first steps, the believers loved God and each so much they were devoted to carrying out the great commission in the spirit of the great commandments.
I want to be like them! I’m not against growth. But I am concerned mostly with church health. If we are healthy, then God will show us our niche in the Kingdom and we will be successful in accomplishing it.