For Just Such a Time as This

Who? Me?

towardchaos

I am still humbled by the United States Marine Corps recruiting ad that declares:

“Where chaos looms, the Few emerge. Marines move toward the sounds of tyranny, injustice and despair—with the courage and resolve to silence them.”

I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ is called, commissioned, and anointed to do just this – confront the chaos — not with military weaponry and training but with the word of God and the will of the Holy Spirit.

If you are paying attention these days, you may find yourself experiencing what Esther did long ago in Persia — she found herself to be just the right person at just the right time in just the right place to make a difference and fight a threat to God’s people.

Her mentor Mordecai challenged a balking Esther: “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to your position for just such a time as this.”

But being in the right place at the right time can mean a daunting, fearful challenge.

The providence of God can tap you and me, like Esther, not only to “deliver us from evil” but to place us smack dab in the path of adversity and chaos, so we can speak God’s truth, make a difference, stand up and work for a godly outcome.

Do we believe that Jesus Christ calls us “for just such a time as this”?

When an emotionally disturbed person can find access to automatic weapons as readily as mental health care?

When 10% or more of U.S. children experience “low food security,” which means irregular meals or insufficient nutrition or food intake on a daily basis? (The figure is MUCH higher for many other parts of the world.)

When incredibly immature and vulgar displays are broadcast widely, capture our attention, and dominate the talking points of cultural commentators?

When, in the words of the late Edwin Friedman, “widespread triumphing of data over maturity, technique over stamina, and empathy over personal responsibility” create a “leadership-toxic climate”? (A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix)

When someone we meet this very day could be in dire need of just a few encouraging words and hopeful thoughts?

At times, it may seem that chaos is triumphing over faith, hope, and love, but for just such a time as this, we belong to Jesus Christ… “let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you” (I Corinthians 7:17).

saints

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Parched

the-soil-on-an-old-rare-earths-site-lies-parched-and-crackedMy family teases me for saying that I get parched, as in “Wow, I’m parched!  I need a beverage!”  Now, call me an exaggerator as much as you’d like, but the word thirsty just doesn’t express what I feel sometimes.  Thirsty people would like something to drink.  Parched people must drink something or else they might not make it.  Sometimes, you just feel parched.

I’ll tell you the truth: I’ve never actually been so thirsty that it endangered my life.  I have, however, felt spiritual dehydration.  Spiritual dehydration is the longing for your own spirit to be renewed by the Spirit of the living God.  It is, sadly, a familiar feeling for many of us.  We get busy.  We get frustrated.  We get anxious.  We get distracted.  We get somewhere, and we turn to pray and it feels almost foreign.  We pause, we look to God, and we don’t feel that ‘connection.’

The writer of the 42nd Psalm felt that way once, and he describes it so well.

“A white-tailed deer drinks
from the creek;
I want to drink God,
deep draughts of God.
I’m thirsty for God-alive.
I wonder, “Will I ever make it—
arrive and drink in God’s presence?

 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God.”

-Psalm 42:1-2, 11 The Message 

The Psalmist gives us someone we can relate to, someone who helps us to remember that times of spiritual dehydration happen to all of us.  Best of all, he gives us hope and presents us with a Truth that often evades the parched: We must continue to look to God.   We don’t quit, because we are God’s people.  On good days, we will sing God’s praises.  On bad days, we remember, “Soon I’ll be praising again.”  Like the parched before us: the Psalmist, or even those who wandered the wilderness for 40 years, we find comfort and strength in the knowledge that God is our God.  And God is an active, present, loving God- when it is easy to feel ‘connected’ and when it is not.

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An Invitation

VideoThumb9Some churches have a particular day of the year, dubbed, ‘back to church Sunday’ when they encourage their members to invite friends to church.  There’s even a phenomenon of presenting funny videos and skits to make light of the awkwardness that can occur (if you let it) as you invite people to worship with you.

This is one of my favorites.  Click and watch the Awkward Church Invitation: Goulash from the National Back to Church Sunday YouTube channel.

Did it make you laugh?  Did it ring a little too true?  Have you been there?

This video is uncomfortable to me because I know I’ve been there.  Even as a pastor, I don’t want to seem too pushy, or like I’m one of ‘those’ Christians, so sometimes, I don’t even mention church.   After all, I rationalize, if people know what I do, won’t they assume that I’d like them to join me in worship.  Maybe, but what if they don’t- or worse- what if they assume that I do NOT want them worshipping with me?  What if they’d love to come but just need the little push of an invite?  Friends and family who have never been to church, but also those who used to be at church all the time and now seem to have fallen out of the habit… what if all they need is to be told that someone would love to see them there?

If we claim to take seriously Matthew 28 and Jesus’ call to make disciples of ALL, then let’s take it seriously.  Let’s wear our faith on or sleeves a little bit more.  We don’t need to be flippant, but we don’t need to be scared.  What difference could it make in the world if we told people about Jesus, and welcomed them to learn more?  It doesn’t have to be awkward.

“I can’t go to brunch with you because I’ll be at church.  Want to join me?”

“I’ve got Bible study this evening, would you like to come with me?”

“I know you’re new to the area.  I really love my church and I’d love to invite you to come.”

Sunday kicks off our fall season at First Pres (302 W. Whitner St, Anderson) where we’ll gather every Sunday for worship at 8:30 and 10:55am.  We’ll have Bible studies at 9:40 on Sundays for all and more throughout the week.  We’ll have evening studies and supper every Wednesday.  We’ll have youth groups and older adult fellowship.  We’ll be busy Believing. Loving. Serving. 

It is a great time to come.

It is a great time to come back.

It is a great time to invite someone to church.