Monthly Archives: July 2014
I have concluded that one of the reasons God’s people struggle to live in a perpetual attitude of thankfulness (Eph. 5:20) is because we do not practice the discipline of intentionally looking for God’s work around us.
I am personally prone to see only what needs to be better rather than seeing what God has done and is doing. This can result in a constant attitude of discontentment. There needs to be an intentional application of biblical balance.
Additionally, I recognize that as the lead pastor I get to hear and see good things that may escape the notice of our faith family, and so I want to help others be thankful as well.
And so I write to stir up my own thankfulness and that of others, hoping that we will increasingly praise God together for all He has done, is doing and will do!
I am thankful for:
- The gospel of Jesus Christ that is now manifested (Romans 1:26). I can’t understand how anyone could ever get over the grace that has been extended to us in Christ Jesus! No one is deserving! No one!
- The growth of generosity. This morning a young man described to me how God was working in his life and giving him a greater desire to be a generous steward of all that God has given him.
- A family that honored their commitment. They left our church over a year ago, but sent the remainder of the pledge they made over two years ago. I am always encouraged when people honor their word and I want to follow their example.
- A last-minute chance to serve. One of our Core Groups changed their regularly scheduled plans and helped a new Stillwater couple move into their home. The couple was very encouraged by the act of service and those who served were blessed as well.
- Babies. I don’t mean to leave anyone out, knowing that we have recently had a number of additions by birth, but congratulations to the Ochsner family for the healthy birth of Abel Jameson! Children are a miracle and blessing from the Lord!
- New Members. For the people of Eagle Heights, membership is the way people publicly express commitment to Jesus Christ and His body. Yesterday we welcomed Justin, Teresa, Cody and Katilyn Moss, as well as, Jayde Jarnagin and Lindsey Worcester.
The problem with an exercise like this is that I most certainly have forgot someone or something. Maybe I didn’t know – God does. But hopefully I have stirred you up to think of people and happenings that will result in your thankfulness, which is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:18). If you have something to share that will result in thankfulness for God’s glory, I would really like to hear about it for.
Being a preaching pastor has conditioned my mind to see almost all of life as a potential illustration.
Warning: Be careful around pastors!
Recently, thanks to the generosity of Lacey’s aunt and uncle, who live near St. Louis, we were able to attend a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees. It was an electric and memorable atmosphere; Busch Stadium was packed, we had great seats, it was a near perfect night for baseball and fans seemed eager to see the future hall of fame shortstop, Derek Jeter, who is playing in his last season.
As the game went on, I began to see the whole scene as an illustration of what the church should be – minus the aisle walking vendors and a few overly obnoxious fans yelling things that anyone who has been to a sporting event can imagine.
Here is what I saw: People from various backgrounds and life-stages gathered together in a sacred place (a temple) to exalt a shared cause. There were memorials (statues and banners), traditions and the promotion of special days that remind of the exalted past, giving hope for what might be again. Many of the people didn’t know each other, but have an instant bond and kinship that flows from the unity of their shared values and purpose. This gathering is marked by its reciprocal and cooperative nature as people patiently accommodate the inconvenience of being crawled over and having their views obstructed, in some cases repeatedly, so their brothers and sisters can access necessary facilities and services. Unity is further expressed by almost everyone present; through the proud display of the team image/symbol and colors. The participants are more than glad to sacrifice the necessary energy, time and money, and very few people are late because they might miss something amazing that everyone will talk about for years to come. They do all of this, and more for the joy and thrill of participating in the glory of the city and its team. And once they have experienced it, they can’t wait to come back and do it again.
So what is the application from this illustration? Here are four:
First, Jesus’ victory over sin is greater than any sports victory! Jesus has already won decisively for those who believe in Him, and that is worth remembering and celebrating with others as many times as we are able to meet during a year. If we could focus on the “why” of gathering, instead of just the what, I believe our times together would be more joyful, meaningful and memorable.
Second, the illustration demonstrates that we yearn for meaningful community that makes us feel like we are a part of something bigger than our own existence. When we gather as a group of people in Christ, it reminds us that Christ has granted us the opportunity to fulfill that desire through His local and universal church, protecting us from our tendency to replace God’s design with other and lesser joys. Enjoyment of sports is not inherently bad, but when it takes the place of the longing God has put within each of us to be a part of His people, we become idolaters, and idols don’t satisfy for long.
Third, since we are co-heirs of a forever kingdom, shouldn’t we be able to work together and be unified for the celebration of our great champion of the world? Can’t we learn to be patient with each other and accommodate each other as we work together to see His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven? May God give us the ability to see that if we are in Christ, then we are on the same team and laboring for the same purpose.
Finally, may God give us eyes to see the world through the lens of the Bible so that we can have an eternal perspective. Among other benefits, seeing everyday life as a potential biblical illustration will guard your heart and mind from relegating Jesus to a once a week event. You may not be a pastor, always thinking in terms of illustrations, but you can see what is truly real and right about the world – even at a baseball game.