Sunday, March 29, 2009

Compassion

Matthew 25:37-46: "Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

There was a time in my life that I did not own a car. During those years, if I had to go somewhere, I had a few choices. I could ride the bus, or I could walk. And whenever I walked, I always kept an eye out for someone that I knew who could give me a ride. Sometimes I saw people that I knew. Sometimes I did not. But over time I began to make a difference between those people that I knew and between those people that actually liked me. The people that I knew would wave at me and continue driving. The people that liked me would actually stop and offer me a ride. As I look back on those days, I have had to change the labels that I placed on the people. Looking back, the difference was not between those persons that knew me and those that liked me. The difference was between those that had compassion on my situation and those that did not.

What is compassion? By definition, compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for someone who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. It is a two-part definition. Having compassion on someone is not simply crying for them because of their unfortunate situation. It is the recognition of another person's problem followed by the action to help solve the problem. You see, those persons who offered me a ride actually felt enough sympathy for me to want to help me out. I'm not making this about Mike. I am using this example to give you the chance to reflect. I saw someone that I knew from the local grocery store that I shop at. He is a cashier there and we always speak to each other. He was walking along the street and I waved at him as I passed by. Suddenly, I rembered the many people who waved at me and kept going when I was walking. It made me turn back around and make sure that he was okay. Turns out he was just getting some exercise. But I felt better because I took the time to check on him. I am working on trying to be a more compassionate person in life. Not just so it can make me feel good about myself. But because it is my duty as a Christian to have compassion on my fellow man (or woman). Think about the people you have come accross in the past week. Did you miss any opportunities to exercise compassion? Just so you don't think that I always get it right, I'll tell you this story.

When I was in college, I ran into a family friend that didn't have a car and needed a ride home on a fairly reagular basis. Bear in mind that the gentleman lived less than two miles away from me. I had an opportunity to show compassion to him... and I failed to take advantage of that opportunity. I do regret that I didn't show more compassion to him. But I keep that incident with me so that I do a better job of showing compassion in the future. As you go through life this week, don't worry about the opportunities that you missed to show compassion. But don't forget them either. Use them to remind yourself next time you run into someone in need. Then thank God that he has given you another opportunity to show His love for your fellow man. Then simply act on your compassion. Be advised, your next opportunity may be closer than you think.

Peace and Love,

Rev. Mike


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Monday, March 23, 2009

The Trinity

I watched the documentary "Religulous" last week. It was exactly what I thought it would be... But I did learn something useful. Our faith teaches us that the Trinity consists of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Chapter three of Matthew shows the greatest example of the Trinity during the baptism of Jesus. You have Jesus in the water with John. You have the Spirit of God descending from heaven in the form of a dove. And you have the Voice of God saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Well, during the movie, I learned another great analogy of the Trinity that you can use in your discussions with believers and non-believers. You are having those discussions... aren't you? Anyway, there was a actor in a passion play that described the possibility of three separate entities being one in this way: Look at water. It can be water, the liquid form. It can be ice, the solid form. And it can be steam, the vapor form. I thought that was a very cool analogy. Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost being compared to water, ice, and steam. So simple, yet I never thought of it that way. Pretty cool, huh?

Peace and Love,

Rev Mike


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Finding Balance In An Unbalanced World

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven". The next seven verses lists the seasons. Verses 2 and 3: "a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build (niv)". These are the words of Solomon, wisest king to every rule Israel. Yet these words were penned by Solomon at the end of his life, after he had made some terrible mistakes. It is because of Solomon's disobedience and mistakes that the entire kingdom of Israel fell into captivity. Unfortunately, Solomon gained a lot of his wisdom due to the penalties for his mistakes. Read Chapter 11 of I Kings to get the lowdown. The book of Ecclesiastes is Solomon offering an opportunity for others to learn from his mistakes without having to go through them.


Let's look at this from the viewpoint of our own lives. What season are we focusing on? Are we neglecting our families to pursue a promotion at work? Are we unproductive at work due to outside interests? I have discovered something about people that I found to be pretty interesting. Many of the people that I know have not been able to balance the many activities in there lives. I know people that are successful at work, yet have been unable to maintain a stable relationship with anyone outside of work. I also know people who have great family relationships, but are always late to work, unproductive while they are at work, and the first one to leave work. I know people who don't give any time to focus on their relationship with God, and I know people who spend so much time at the church that they grow to resent it.

It's very difficult to find balance between work, family, God, and self. I know, I've been there. I constantly find myself trying to find and maintain the balance in my life. But I want you to know something. It can be done. Unfortunately, I can't give you the recipe to balance your life. It is something that you have to make up for yourself. But I can offer you this advice. First, make a list of all the things that you "have to do". Then, make a list of all the things that you "want to do". It is important to write everything down so that you can see both lists together. Then, after you have written down all both lists, I want you to do something else. I want you to eliminate all the things that make you feel unbalanced out of each list. Pray about it first, then do it. Even if your list is incomplete, it will start you on your way to getting some of your balance back. Try it... It just might make you reconsider what's important and what is not so important.

Peace and Love,

Rev Mike


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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Use Your Gifts


There was a young man that attended a church for as long as anyone could remember. The rumor was that he had mild mental condition, that left him slightly off kilter. He didn't talk much, but he had an interesting method of leading other people to Christ. Every Sunday, he would attend his church's service. Every Sunday he would sit in the same seat. Every Sunday, no one would pay attention to him. That is, until the invitation to join the church. Every Sunday during the invitation to join the church, the young man would get up, walk down the aisle, and sit in the chair reserved for those who desired to join the church. He was always the first one to sit down. After the young man sat down, other people usually walked down the aisle as well, sometimes for prayer, sometimes for testimony, and sometimes to accept Jesus Christ. It seemed easier for other people to come down because they knew that they were no longer the first one to have to move. After everyone had spoken, the young man would go back to his seat, without giving a testimony, asking for prayer, or anything thing else. You see, the church knew that the young man didn't have anything to say on Sunday mornings. But his desire was to take away the anxiety of being the first one to have to walk down the aisle and join the church. His ministry was helping others to feel easier about making that final decision to join the church. Pretty cool, huh?

That story I heard from a friend. This story I have been watching with my own eyes.
I work at a car dealership. There are cars there. We have a porter who is responsible for making sure the cars are presentable for the customers. These responsibilities include cleaning the cars, gassing up the cars, and taking care of the lot. He spends a lot of time in each car. I can always tell when he has been in a car because the radio is always set to FM 93.1. For those of you not living in San Antonio, this is a Christian radio station called K-LOVE. The tagline is Positive and Encouraging! Some people love the station, some people don't. But imagine how many people have been exposed to some type of encouragement via the radio by hearing Christian music. You may or may not like that type of contempory Christian music. Doesn't matter. What matters is that you were exposed to something that could possibly make you reconsider your relationship with Jesus Christ. Sounds like a stretch doesn't it? But the key to ministry is that people are exposed to Jesus. It doesn't matter how much, or how long. It only matters that the people are exposed. The Holy Spirit will take over from there. Today, I want you to try something. I want you to try to find some way to expose people to Jesus. It doesn't have to be a large exposure. Just a little one. Then let the Holy Spirit take over.

Peace and Love,

Rev. Mike

P.S. To the memory of Pastor CWB Jr.
Rest in peace


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Monday, March 9, 2009

A Diverse Ministry

Take a look around your church next Sunday. How many different types of people do you see? I would guess that you have blue collar workers, white collar workers, young people, old people, energetic personalities, and laid back personalities all in the same church. Do you notice that some groups gravitate toward each other, and that some people have a special influence or ability to connect better with one group as opposed to another? Believe it or not, that is actually a good thing. The modern church is going to be exposed to a diverse group of people. The diversity in the church and in it's leadership is neccessary in order to supply all of the ministry needs that a diverse congregation needs.

Here are some examples: A Christian that has never dealt with alcohol addiction may not be able to reach an alcoholic because they cannot understand what the addiction can do to a person. A single man may not be able to relate to the stress of a working wife with children. A Christian that is sixty may not be able to relate to a fourteen year old who knows right from wrong, but still wants to have their cake and eat it too. A 25 year old Christian may not relate to a sixty year old Christian who has the joy of Christ regardless of circumstances. All of these different people exist in the modern church. As church leaders and members, we all have different backgrounds and experiences that can be beneficial to other Christians. Note that I did not say "every" Christian. You will not have a close, personal relationship with every Christian. Nor do you have to. God will give you a group of people that you can grow stronger with and be encouraged by. It is my desire for you that each member of your "group" grows stronger and stronger every day. Because if every group in the church gets stronger, then the church as a whole gets stronger. And a stronger church produces stronger Christians, stronger ministries, and stronger communities. And that is the will of God.

Peace and Love,

Rev. Mike


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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sin Is Sin

If I gave you a list of sins(let's say lying, murder, and stealing), and asked you to rank them in order from the least severe to the most severe; how would you rank them? Which sin is the smallest sin? Which sin is the most severe sin? What would your response be? What if I threw in gossiping, homosexuality, and creating strife in the church? Now which sin is the smallest and largest? Could you do it? I'll give you time to chew on that while I talk about something else.

In prison documentaries, they talk about how some convicts rank higher than others in terms of respectability. Drug dealers, gang bangers, and murderers are on top of the hierarchy. Rapist and addicts are on the bottom. Typically, the more vicious the crime, the more you are respected. Are we the same in the church? How do we deal with those whose sins we are aware of? Do we treat one sin with more contempt than we do others? I would say yes. But I'm just one person. I believe that we as Christians have to be careful in our judgement of one another's flaws. We must all remember that no matter what the sin is, the end result is the same. Any sin does the following:

1. Causes separation from God
2. Delays blessings from God
3. Hurts your testimony and ability to witness for God

No matter what the sin is, that is between the sinner and God. Remember that saved people still sin as well. Our job as members of the family of God is to encourage and support one another, not judge one another (I'm talking to myself as well). If we try to remember that today, I think we will all be a bit better off.

Peace and Love,

Rev. Mike


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