Friday, February 12, 2010

God's Word and the People Who Knew Me Best

I recently participated in a Leadership Greatness workshop in the church I belong to. One of the exercises required me to write down my understanding of God's call on my life. Here's the readers digest version.

My call came right out of Scripture. While there were various verses and passages, none were clearer than Ephesians 4:11-12... it was as though God was saying to me, "My reason for you is this!" My initial reaction was not positive. I pushed back with excuses not unlike those made by Moses. But from that moment forward, I could not get what I thought I had heard out of my mind... "And He gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the equipping of the saints, for he work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ." Was God calling me? If so, what would following His call mean for me and my young family? Could I retain my job at Tinker, or would I have to give that up and depend totally on God to provide for my family? This was not a comfortable time in my life.

After a clear word from God, from His Word, the next thing of importance was the instant confirmation I received from the people in my life who knew me BEST. After 2-3 months of internal wrestling and reasoning with God about what I thought He was saying to me, I finally mustered up the courage to share the story with my wife, who to my surprise said, "I've known for several weeks! And so has our pastor and his wife." I asked her why they hadn't told me and she said, in essence, "Because we didn't want you to think it was our idea." To this day I'm grateful for their godly wisdom.

Once I felt confident enough to make it known publicly, I shared with my church family how God had spoken to me in Scripture and given me confirmation that I indeed heard what I thought I had heard. My pastor then met with me and told me my immediate assignment would be to preach one Sunday night each month. To say I was intimidated would be an understatement... I had dropped out of speech class in high school because I was going to be required to give a speech! And he wanted me to basically give one speech a month! With fear and trembling I preached my first sermon, then another, then another. The rest is history.

There were many more confirmations which I may write about someday. But... none were more important to me than God's Word and the confirmation I received from the people in my life who knew me BEST.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Where Their Name Is Known And We Are Glad They Came

I never watched it more than a couple of times, but Cheers was very popular with a significant segment of American culture throughout the late 80’s and early 90’s. The show was really about a “small group”… a former pro relief pitcher, an author, a business woman, a homemaker, a politician, an accountant, a mailman, two psychiatrists, and a coach… that met each week for refreshment, relaxation, to chat and to have fun. Though very different, the characters had one thing in common… they each wanted to take a break from the worries of life and go to a place where everybody knew their name and was glad that they came. And so they did… every week they went to a bar where their names were known and each was glad the other came.

There is a lesson we should learn from Cheers… people are lonely and looking for a place where they can be loved. Don’t kid yourself, MOST people go to bars, clubs (Moose, Elks, etc.), casinos, and the like because the members (those who frequent the establishments) know their name and are glad they came. It’s not so much alcohol and gambling as it is fun and friendship that people are longing for. I KNOW! Before coming to Christ, I frequented bars and night clubs (when you catch your breath, read Ephesians 2:1-10) and it was always about belonging. And, I might add, I never had a bad experience among those people, which is something I cannot say about my years among church people. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not condoning a certain lifestyle… I am condemning a certain lifestyle among Christians… specifically acting like it’s all about us. I’m not sure where we got that idea, but I am certain that it WASN’T from Jesus.

My hope and prayer for FBC Woodward in these days, is that very soon, we will be known as the people of God who are in Woodward with Woodward in our hearts. The elitist, country club understanding of church is wobbling on its last leg, a fresh wind is beginning to blow… we are close to being over ourselves and in love with God and people. It won’t be long until we know their names and we are glad they came. And, yes… I’m excited about it! You should be too.