Sunday, July 08, 2007

Some Sunday Thoughts

My worse fear as a Christian is that I might say or do something that will cause somebody to walk away from the faith. Since I claim the name of Jesus my life may be the only book that some people get to read that points them to the Christ.
I have heard and read so many stories of how Christians acted in such a manner that they drove people away from the Church. Some of those people were so hurt they never came back.
In my own life I remember a man who was coming to United and thinking of joining. I ran into him at a Wedding reception where he had had a bit too much to drink. He offered me a glass and I said no thank you I don’t drink. “Against your religion” he said sarcastically. My clever answer was “No against my intelligence”. He never came to church again. I still feel bad about that.
Sometimes we forget that our job is to share the joy and wonder of the faith not to shape people up. Shaping people up is the job of the Holy Spirit. The Evangelist Keith Miller in one of his books had an example of a woman who came to him after one of his presentations. She had left her husband and was living with some guy. She wanted to know if she could still become Christian. Miller was about to tell her that first she had to give up the boy friend and set her life in order. But just at that moment , into his mind” came the words of an old song. ”Just as I am without one plea but that they blood was shared for me.“ He said to her God will take you as you are. Then he said “ She stepped over the line and became Christian”. Later as she got to know Jesus her life changed. She let go of the boyfriend and made other changes. But the changes came after the conversion and were not requirements for it.
There is a man who visits my blog every once in a while . He always leaves an insult aimed at me as a Pastor. On his blog he has stated that the world would be a better place if all the Christians were killed. At some point the Church in the form of a Christian hurt him and he still handles the pain by striking out. I feel bad for him. I pray for him on a regular basis. I want his pain to end and the joy in Christ to begin.
Let those of us who name the name of Christ work hard not to create any more like him.

@@@@ News from Pigeon Falls-The little town in my garage where the trains still run, dragons fly, and Last Lutheran votes on a new Pastor.– The Bishop is in Pigeon Falls today. He is here to conduct a vote at Last Lutheran. He has recommended to the congregation that they call Pastor Joan Castle as their Pastor, and the council of Last Lutheran has also recommended she be called. Pastor Castle would be their first woman Pastor.
But times change. Some years ago they voted to call Pastor Marvel who was their first non-Finnish pastor. Things don’t stay the same even in the Church. In that same time the Church has gone through three hymnals and is about to enter into its fourth. There was the black hymnal, the red hymnal, the green hymnal, and now the cranberry hymnal. Change just keeps coming. Some like it some wish the Church would stay the same forever.
So the Bishop came and preached at both services. The congregation then held a special meeting and voted. One hundred and eleven people voted. Ninety nine voted to call Pastor Castle, ten voted not to call, and one invalidated the ballot by drawing a line between the yes and the no with a question mark at the end of the line. Given the vote the Bishop then directed the Church Secretary to issue a call to Pastor Castle.
Now we wait to see what Pastor Castle’s response will be. She does not have to accept. She could say that having ten percent of the people against her was just too many. In truth she can decline without giving any reason. She has thirty days to make up her mind.
The Rock Ledge Parish where Pastor Castle is serving is having a prayer meeting tonight to pray that she won’t leave. They also don’t like change and she was “ one of the best Pastors we ever had”. So they pray and just in case God isn’t listening they made sure she knew they were praying.
Now Pastor Castle will consult with her husband and then do some praying of her own. It’s at times like this that Lutheran Pastors almost wish the Bishop could just send them so they wouldn’t have to decide.

Today's Link-Funny Mom- Not so funny in this entry but give her a try. Leave a Dr. John in the comment.
Went to church this morning. A great sermon on living the Christian life. Found out our youth made 6 picnic tables for Habitat for Humanity last Sunday.One youth even designed a picnic table that could be used by a person in a wheel chair. From Church we went to Fleet Farm. We did a little shopping and then on to Wal Mart and groceries for the week. Now I need a breathing treatment.


Blogger Janvangogh said...

99 voted yes, 10 no, and 1 undecided. That adds up to 110. What did the 111th vote?

5:58 AM  
Blogger judie said...

I understand totally your remarks about saying something to cause someone to not return. As an adult, this would not bother me. But as a child, I had that experience. My parents did not raise me in church, and I went with my friend to her Sunday School classes and Wednesday evening "Training Union". One Wednesday the instructor asked me a question from the Bible, which I could not answer. I don't recall the question, but it must have been very simple. I recall the look on her face when I couldn't answer, like major jaw drop, and I recall she said something like "you don't know the answer to THAT SIMPLE QUESTION?" Like EVERYBODY knows that. She made me so ashamed (in front of all the other children) I never went back, and never went back to ANY church until I was an adult, probably in my 30's. Well, some people are just sensitive I guess (I am not any more), and definitely children are! You have made an excellent point.

6:09 AM  
Blogger Margaret said...

Amazing how today's post was in tune with the sermon given at our church today. Even if not by words, but by our choices and lifestyles - we can convict another, save another or make another run the other way.

It's hard to find just the right words or actions. In fact, it was reported to me just the other day that someone in the neighborhood said, "Margie is such an A$$hole."

At first I was appalled but then got to thinking. If being a person who stood her ground, was honest, unchanging and stood on truth never wavering made one person think I was an A$$hole, so what?

I'm known by my fruits. The Spirit convicts and also sets free. I'm going to let the Lord do His wondrous work in me and in others.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Lori's Minute said...

Personally, I have in the past (when I was a kid) expected people who are a part of the church to be perfect and when one is not, made me think I did not want to be a part of that church until I realized (as an adult) they are pwople, too, and not perfect.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous quilly said...

On the other hand, the United Methodist Church appoints pastors, and I have had two good friends snatched away from me because of it. They are still good friends of course, but life is quite different with hundreds of miles between us.

1:18 PM  
Blogger - PRACTiCAL CHiCK said...

I wouldn't have felt bad about it. We aren't called to fit in to the world; so we might as well say what we think. Jesus was (and is) quite the radical!

3:52 PM  
Blogger Gingers Mom said...

Wow. What a wonderful post, Dr. John. I have thought of this myself over the years. Big awful sinner that I am...I tend to stick my foot in my mouth alot. I've also been on the receiving end of those judgements but am lucky that I had a firm grasp of my faith before that. As they say, Church would be great if not for the people.
I went to counseling once trying to find my way back to a relationship with the Lord and was told basically the same thing as that woman. Get right with the Lord and your life choices will follow.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

Dr. John, your comment "the changes came after the conversion and were not requirements for it" should be posted as a sign on the door of every church. People often think they are nog "good enough" to go to church, so they stay away. It's kind of like putting the cart before the horse. No church (hopefully) would judge people that way.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

I meant "not" good enough.... but you knew that :-)

6:54 PM  
Anonymous stacy said...

This is still a difficult subject for me. A couple of years ago my family went through the wringer at the hands of our then church family. It has taken a long time to get over the pain and bitterness and we are still not in a church because, to be honest, we are afraid. Afraid of ever opening ourselves up to that kind of hurt again.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

A vicar once preached that sometimes the closest people get to Jesus... is when they look us in the eye and talk to us.

I agree we have a burden and indeed a joy to demonstrate who Jesus is to the world... by our deeds and actions. It is quite a responsibility. One we are not up to without God's grace and power.

One of the problems with the church is that it preaches morality more often than it preaches the Gosspel. Yet we forget that unless somebody chooses to repent and follow Christ in a loving relationship, they gain nothing by obeying commandments alone.... because we are saved by grace, through faith.

This was one of the big battles in the early church. Paul made it quite clear that morality comes from our salvation... not the other way around.

We shouldn't make it hard for people to come into the kingdom by putting unbearable yokes on their back. When they have experienced salvation... they have the Holy Spirit and hopefully a sensitive group of elders to lean on and set them on the right course.

I think we need to be assertive with our beliefs but not aggressive or submissive. We stand our ground when it comes to what we believe is right for ourselves... but we don't force other people to adhere to our ways. Trusting instead that if our lifestyle glorifies God, that people will see it by our actions and choose to take it on board by their own free will.

I'm also a strong believer that Paul's words in Romans 14 can apply right across the board when it comes to lifestyle choices.... not just food and holy days.

Whoa what a rant


God bless


2:19 AM  
Blogger bazza27 said...

It's a shame that some people carry so much pain and hatred around with them, and that they feel the need to hit out every chance they get. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing. Remember this though, nobody is perfect, if you only upset 1 person out of 1000 through your words or actions, you're doing a pretty good job.

3:25 AM  
Blogger geosmythe said...

I enjoyed this post a great deal

3:32 AM  
Anonymous loisontheweb said...

My daughter graduated from a Christian college ... is doing graduate studies in Theology.
I did ask her to visualize what impression she was leaving on people who were curious about what makes Christians tick.
If these people see a snooty person who is crabby at them ... they will never consider wanting to be like that! A better example of a Christian would be a friendly person who is genuinely concerned about EVERYBODY!

1:48 AM  
Blogger Alpha Dude 1.5 said...

Nicely done.

Well said.

It reminds me that we don't have to get cleaned before we take a bath.

Blessings to you, Dr. John.

9:47 AM  

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