On June 16th, I had surgery on my ear. My bones had grown to where they pressing my ear canal and making it very narrow. This led to chronic ear infections and hearing loss. For most of 2014 I have had balance issues due to the state of my ear and its congestion. After surgery, they have been even worse. The readjusting process has left my head swimming at times. Hopefully it will continue to settle down and soon I will be back to normal.
This whole process has had interesting timing. During the physical issues of balance I have been facing, I have been reminded of the need to keep our lives in balance. When walking across the room dizzily, it can go from comedic to troubling as I bounce off things and get light headed. When life is out of balance, it can be just as tragic. God created us and intends for us to be balanced in life.
Jesus was once asked which commandment was the greatest and his reply is found in Luke 10:27 (HCSB)
There have been many studies and sermons about verse 27. Jesus lists 4 things (heart, soul, strength, and mind) with which we are to love God. I have often summarized it as love God with everything we have. Jesus wants our focus to be on loving God with a balanced approach.
We can’t compartmentalize our worship. It should be with all we have. Our heart is often thought of as the seat of emotions. We can and should have emotions involved in worship. Our soul is what we think of as our spirit. It is the spiritual side of our being. Our strength is often seen as our physical body. We worship through physical expression as well (bowing, clapping, dancing, etc.). Finally, our mind is the seat of our intellect. We worship with our brains turned on.
Just as my ear issues have led to problems functioning normally, we won’t function normally if we get out of balance. Too often we want to emphasize one aspect to the detriment of the others. We can have amazing emotional experiences, but our spirit never communes with God. We can know truth and focus on analyzing God and His word so much, that our hearts are never touched.
Our love for God should flow from all of our being, not just 1 aspect. We feel the emotion in heart, hold the truth in mind, commune with Him in our spirit and serve Him with our strength. Let us always keep our balance.
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.
This is definitely worth sharing! It is from my brother’s blog. Please take time to read it.
Understanding “Right” (Proverbs 28:5).
What do these phrases have in common?
Follow me…..like my page…..friend me……add me to your circle.
I see two connections. First, they are all from social media. We follow people on Twitter. We like pages and add friends on Facebook. We get placed in each other’s circles on a Google+.
The second thing which stands out to me is the desire to connect with others they imply. It stuck me this week as I sent another friend request, that it sounds a little pathetic. “Please, Oh please, let me be your friend. I can’t wait to see all the games, pages, and memes with which you plan to bombard me!”
Why use these phrases? Why is social media so popular? It think it has to do with that very desire to connect. We want real friends don’t we? We want to think of ourselves as belonging in someone’s circle. We may even dream of leading others who would trust us enough to follow us. The social networks which have become a part of so many lives, soothe those desires to connect. But are they real connections? Perhaps the text-speech of “irl” and “ftf” reveal that they may not be.
People need to really touch each other’s lives. We were created as social beings. We live in a fast paced world and many have tried to replace real world connections with these digital ghosts. We need to really connect with our friends families, and neighbors face to face.
I have been blessed to always found deep and meaningful connections through the church. Looking back on life, some of my closest friends were met at church including my wife. God has blessed me by putting me in churches that love each other. The world is looking for meaningful relationships. We need to reach out and draw them into our “circle” at church We need to open our arms and love them as Jesus’ did. Even when we have to have the difficult conversations where we call each other to live more like Christ, we speak the truth in love. It has often been said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Do our neighbors know we care? Do our communities know that we are loving? Is that our calling card? I close with the words of Jesus, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” NKJV John 13:34 & 35
On Monday, we paused to celebrate Memorial Day. It is viewed by many as the start of summer. Even though most students have a week or two of school left, their minds are already on getting out. People fire up the grills and take to the outdoors. For many, it is a day off and gives us a long weekend. While all of that isn’t bad, it misses the reason this day was set aside. Memorial Day is like many other holidays in that we have forgotten the reason we celebrate. Our celebrations and spending have washed away the reason for the day.
Memorial Day is a day to remember the sacrifices of the men and women who paid for our freedom by paying the ultimate price. Our military is blessed to have men and women who have chosen to stand on wall in harm’s way so that we can enjoy freedom and safety. They take an oath to put their lives on the line so we can remain secure in our homes from enemies both foreign and domestic.
Why? What is it that makes these young people grow up and volunteer to risk it all for us? Did you and I do anything to deserve it? Can we ever repay them and their families? I can’t totally answer that question. They did it out of a sense of duty. For love of country and desire to protect our freedom, they put on the uniform and go into harm’s way.
President Harry S Truman said, “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.
I agree that we can never repay them the debt we owe. Thousands of brave men and women gave up their lives for us. Even though we can’t repay them, I believe we should try. We honor them by remembering their sacrifice. Never let them be forgotten. We honor them by loving our country as they did. We honor them by supporting the families of the fallen, and their brothers and sisters who still serve.
Let us never forget them. Even though Memorial Day has passed for another year, we should keep their memory alive. Evert time we celebrate our freedom and enjoy our prosperity, let us pause to say a prayer for their families. Let us also pray for those who still stand on that line every day for us.