7/7/2014 “Take heart” or “Take cover!”

“Take heart!” or “Take cover!” This is my takeaway from two excellent sermons I heard recently.

Jim DeJarnette, music minister at First Presbyterian Church, Colorado Springs, preached on David and Goliath and noted a key verse:

1 Samuel 17.32
David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

He compared this to John 16.33:
“…in this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.”

What’s our message to the world? How are we encouraging those around us? Do we bring the “Take heart” message? Or are we constantly wringing our hands over the economy, the government, or the culture?

Ed Rowell, lead pastor at The Ascent Church, Monument, CO, preaching on 1 Peter 2.9-12 challenged, “Should we change our tactics with respect to the culture wars? Nothing in history has ever worked the way we do it today. Why don’t we take Peter’s words seriously? We want to ‘stand up and fight.’ I believe that response won’t work.” Peter’s counsel was to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you…abstain from passions of the flesh…and live honorably.”

He went on to say, “Living honorably is not easy. We live in a world that’s increasingly confusing. We can respond to the culture’s moving away from God’s values with anger. Social media and cable news are not doing us any favors. Nothing has been gained by walling ourselves off and throwing rocks at the world.”

He continued, citing Rodney Stark’s excellent book The Rise of Christianity, that Christians changed the world between AD 33 and AD 300 by caring for the sick, the poor, and the marginalized, by honoring women, in general, by serving. And at the same time bringing a message of hope.

My thought during Jim’s message and later confirmed by Ed was that instead of a hopeful “take heart” message, more often than not, Christians today are yelling, “Take cover!”

One of the folks who sends forwarded emails, often about President Obama, and many false, seems to have taken me off his list after I challenged him with what I wrote on May 30, 2014. Christians seem to be in the forefront of forwarding rumors and declaring calamity.

Where is our “take heart” message? Do we not hear the words of Jesus to us? “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Can we share Jesus’ words with others?

I want to be more “take heart” than “take cover.” Will you join me?

6/15/2014 Helping Others Make an Impact

A recent on-line issue of Clemson World told about a garden on the Clemson campus that provided an opportunity for handicapped kids and adults to practice gardening skills. The man in charge of it said, “The garden is less about me having an impact and more about giving the campers a place where they can have an impact.”

This is a nearly perfect description of disciple-making. It’s not about me making an impact as much as it is about helping the one I’m discipling have an impact. Isn’t this what Jesus did? “And he selected twelve that they might be with him, and that he might send them out to preach.” (Mark 3.12, 13)

And Jesus served in such a way that his followers were prepared to follow in his footsteps.