Sunday, October 25, 2009

Member or Disciple

Member...very strange word to use in a church. I have often wondered why churches call their parishioner "members". To be a member of something means you are entitled to something. If you are a member of a country club, you are entitled to use their facilities. If you are member of an organization, you are entitled to receive their updates and attend their conferences. it really a word that a church should use? Who are the people in the church? Disciples. We are all disciples of our Lord. Our purpose is to bring Christ to others. Our purpose is to serve our Lord. You don't have to be a Pastor or a Lutheran School Teacher. You don't have to be strong in scripture or have the most powerful faith. You just have to be the way God created you to be. You have been called to be His disciple. In your job, you are a disciple. On vacation, you are a disciple. In worship, you are a disciple. God has called you to be His disciple no matter what job or position you have. Being a disciple is more than just filling a seat in church and expecting the message to be brought to you. Being a disciple is taking that message out...sharing it...being it. Member or Disciple...which one are you?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Positive Marks

The thing I disliked the most as a teacher was grading papers. I knew that I had to assign homework in religion in order to base a grade on knowledge of our subject, but still, I really disliked grading. I would look at the 150+ papers I had to grade and just cringe. Not because I didn't want to see what the students knew, but because grading papers meant, I had to find what was wrong. I had to look at the negative aspect of their knowledge and there were a few that had a lot of negative marks on their papers. It was the hardest part of teaching for me. Because of the way I ran the class, I wanted to make sure that the positives were pointed out as well. Yes, I graded them. And yes, there were papers with a lot of negative marks -- it wasn't fun at all.

During hard times in our economy, families, work, etc., we tend to dwell on the negatives. We see where things are messed up or where things just didn't go right. When we talk about our lives, we dwell on what could have been or what is going wrong. It is easy for us to see the negative marks and that is all we share. Negative marks are easy to share with others or easy to ask people to pray about. Negative marks are easy to use as an excuse for lack of service to God or reasons why we might not serve our Lord. Negative marks can bring down a person and a church. It is during the hardest times, that the church is the strongest. We have the opportunity to share and thank God for the things we do have. We have things that God has provided to us. We have the opportunity to worship and praise His name. Why not, share that...share the positive marks. We should be thanking God for the gifts that He has given us. For the food on the table, people who love us, the opportunity to worship, and much, much more. When things are bad, you have to also look at the positive -- you have to be thankful for your blessings. It is positive marks that lift people's spirits and helps refocus our own hearts. It is the positive marks that show our Lord how much we are thankful for the blessings He has given. Yes, negative marks happen, but allow God to show you how He has blessed you and then...thank Him!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bringing People or Bringing Christ

As this volleyball season is starting to wind down, I have had a change of heart of how to coach this team. In the beginning of the season, I was working so hard to make them understand this game and the skills that they need to accomplish in order to play the game. I was focused on teaching them the game in ways that had brought my past teams success. But as the season progressed, I realized that I was coming about this all wrong. I need to teach the game so that they can appreciate it and learn it in their time.

This is so much like the church. We want to share the message of Christ to the world. We want all people, all nations to experience the saving Grace of our Lord and Savior. But many times we come about this all wrong. We want to go out and bring people to Christ, instead of bringing Christ to the people. We should share Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to work in them. This means in all of our professions, in worship, in our free time, in all we do. We need to be bringing Christ to the people by our words, actions, worship and prayer. Then allow the Spirit to work in them. We won't be able to change the heart of people or make them become what we want them to become, but the Holy Spirit can work in their heart and help them understand the grace of Christ.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Me-nistry Syndrome

I've often wondered what the focus of serving in the church is all about. There are days when I have walked into my office, turned on the computer, sat down, opened my bible and struggled with the purpose of being there. There are times when I listen to people talk about issues in their lives and that they just can't give up something to serve. It is truly amazing what reasons people have or where their focus is. I have even caught myself with the "me-nistry" syndrome.

Think about this. Each person is part of God's ministry. The words we speak, the works we do, the attitudes and behaviors we have is all part of ministry for our Lord. When things don't go the way we want or during this hard time in our country, city, and home, ministry turns into "me-nistry". We get so caught up in what we "need", what we are "deserving" to have or to do. When money is down, we don't give to the church, financially or through our talents. When our schedules are busy, we don't take the time for God in worship, word, or sacrament. We ask or demand, what is in it for me. That is "me-nistry". We only want what is best for me and our focus is on what we want or deserve. Ministry isn't about us, but Him. Is "me" getting in the way of Him?