Archive for May, 2012

Last week we had a group of missionaries visit our church. They were part of a team called Creative Missions that was doing some work in Northwest Arkansas. (You can find out more about them here http://mediableep.com/2010/04/01/a-mission-trip-for-creatives/.) Anyway, this group was at our church and as we were walking through the facilities and discussing the deep things of ministry one guy all of a sudden asks, “Dude, what’s up with all the green beans?”

It was actually a good question. You see, we were walking by two stacks, probably ten or twelve cases of, you guessed it, green beans. Not only that but there were also several of the giant cans of green beans you get from Sam’s in our front office. I didn’t think anything about it but this guy was like, “Something’s up with this church and green beans” and he wanted to know what it was.

I was happy to tell him.

You see, our church has decided that we’re going to love the people in our community by feeding them. We run vans every Wednesday and Sunday to pick up kids, and sometimes even some adults, that don’t otherwise have a way to come to church, and many of them are hungry. The folks at my church have realized that this is a very real and practical way that we can show the love of Christ to the people in our community. So, people in our church donate food and now every Wednesday at 6:00PM we have a “Family Meal”.  We pick kids up, we invite all of our church family and families in the community to come and enjoy a meal together. It’s a way to reach out and share the love of Christ and have an opportunity to share the gospel of Christ.

I know, cutting edge ministry right?

Sometimes the simple things are the most effective. After all, Jesus did say, “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Matt. 10:42, ESV)

So, what’s up with all the green beans? Aw you know, just my church loving people with the love of Christ.

Don’t miss the opportunities that are all around you.

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Have you ever been on the fence about something? You know what I mean, you have a choice to make and just aren’t sure which way you want to go so you just kind of hover around the middle, not really committing either way.

In 1Kings 11:6 we read, “Solomon… did not fully follow the LORD.”

My life was that way for a while after I first became a Christian. I would go to church (sometimes), pray, and even read my Bible but I would also go hang out with old friends and do a little partying (sometimes). I was riding the fence, living in two worlds with one foot in each. The problem was that it was tearing me apart and I knew I had to make a choice. It simply came down to one question for me. What did I really believe? If I really believed that Jesus was God’s Son, that His death paid the price for my sin, and that through His Resurrection I now possessed hope and life then how could I not devote myself completely to Him? If I couldn’t devote myself completely to Christ then maybe I didn’t really believe what I professed. If I didn’t really believe it then I was done. After all, why waste time on something you don’t really believe? It was something that weighed heavy on my heart. Then I came to the realization that I could not deny Him. I could not make myself “not believe”.

Jesus is God’s Son.

He died in my place for my sin.

He rose again and through Him I have new life.

The only course of action for me to take was to devote myself and my life to Him completely (is there really any other way to be devoted). No more riding the fence for me, I was all in!

Solomon knew the Lord. He had a godly father. He built a magnificent temple. God even personally spoke to him twice and blessed him tremendously but in the end Solomon didn’t finish well because he never fully committed himself to the God he knew.

I’ve done a lot of things in life that I regret, but I have never regretted committing myself to being a follower of Christ. It’s all or nothing folks.

“There are exceptions to every rule”, so the saying goes. We like exceptions don’t we. We like exceptions because they give us an acceptable reason (or excuse) to live outside of the rules, at least on occasion. Think about it. A parent tells a child to eat everything on his plate or he can’t have dessert. The child responds, “I ate everything… except my broccoli. Can I have dessert now?” Yeah, we like exceptions because we all want dessert without having to eat our broccoli. We like them except for when we don’t like them which is mostly when other people want one. Then we like to stick by the rules.

All of that is kind of humorous to think about. There are certainly times when exceptions can and should be made. I’m a youth pastor and I make exceptions all the time. For example, I may set a deadline for students to turn in a form in order to go on a trip but when one shows up the day of the trip without a form I will generally do everything I can to help them go. I make exceptions. There are also times though when exceptions can’t, or at least shouldn’t, be made. Let me show you what I mean.

In 1Kings 3:3 it says, “And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of His Father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense in the high places.” Let’s break this passage down a little. Solomon loved the Lord, except that he sacrificed and burned incense in the high places. Solomon walked in the statutes (laws, decrees, rules) of His Father David (a man after God’s own heart) except that he sacrificed and burned incense (worshiped) in the high places (mountain top altars where people went to worship false gods).

Solomon’s heart is not in question, he loved God and it showed in his life, except for that one thing about worshiping God in the wrong place and the wrong way. You see, God was very specific about how and where His people were to worship Him. The proper sacrifices had to be made, by the proper people, in the proper place. That may sound a little strict to you and I but God has His reasons, and after all he is God, not us. That’s the whole point really. I’m sure Solomon thought, “What’s the big deal? Everybody goes there to worship.” The big deal is that God said not to be like everybody else, be different, be mine.

When it comes to being a follower of Christ let’s be careful about making exceptions because our exceptions may be acceptable to us, but we’re not God, and our exceptions are usually really just excuses in disguise.