As the service started, Sandi scrunched down in her pew so she wouldn’t be noticed. Maybe everyone would be so focused on talking to each other, they would miss seeing her. After the initial announcements, the minister said something that would change Sandi Patty’s life forever.
Go and make disciples. Teach them. God will be with you. Then… expect a miracle. This is what the church should and could be. One young man starts a ministry on Facebook. A Sunday school class provides badly needed winter coats for children. A prayer group notices someone needing help and becomes a catalyst for bringing churches and cultures together. God’s church in action.
After a few minutes of standing quietly, I began to understand the reason for my anger. It wasn’t about church attitudes or programs. It wasn’t even the speaker that was causing my anger. The problem was within me. Underneath the glow of the cross, the words of the speaker became a divine warning aimed directly at me. I was the one focusing on creative programming ideas while neglecting my own relationship with God. My priorities were focused on people rather than God: programs rather than relationships. It was so simple, yet I almost missed it.
The church should never be a social club for members only. The church is you and I with God’s divine help learning to love those who love us and to especially love those who don’t. The church exists to see us through times when life or people’s behavior is simply not fair.
The ‘feast’ describes God’s invitation to go out into the world and be the church, make a difference, heal the sick, help the poor, care for the needy. Our ideal response should be to say ‘yes’ with faith believing that our service to God is more important than our occupation, our family or even our very lives. We say yes, knowing there are obstacles but trusting in God to provide answers, resources and courage to enable us to do far more than we ever imagined possible.
As you think and pray about what to give away:
• Pain can turn to joy. A decision to give generously and creatively can be a joy.
• Possessions will often possess you. Letting possessions go can be a liberating experience that frees up your time, your energy and restores your sense of peace.
• Stuff is just stuff. Material things provide little of lasting value but kindness and generosity have the potential to change lives eternally and provide opportunities to share your faith.
Take up your cross is about a commitment to a purpose bigger than ourselves. Christ accepted suffering because that was his purpose. The cross was his ultimate assignment and he was committed to seeing it through to the end. A bird’s purpose is to fly; but he must first be committed to the work and effort of flapping his wings over and over again. Our decision to shoulder the cross of Christ regardless of the cost is our commitment to “flap our wings” and to keep flapping until we finally fly.
Tough questions requiring thoughtful answers. Audits can be painful, but they offer valuable insights into your daily walk with God. The lessons learned can help you rethink your relationship with Christ and enable you to produce more fruit.