Pat on the Back

For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.  1 Thessalonians 5:7-11

The Old Testament prophets had three different types of messages. Most people think of prophets as predicting future events but that’s only one thing they did. The prophet was the spokesperson for God when he had a message for Israel. Sometimes the prophet brought a message of warning. Jeremiah and Jonah offer examples. “This is what you are doing, this is what God wants you to do. It’s not too late to repent.” Sometimes Israel heeded those warnings, often they did not. Sometimes the prophet brought a word of encouragement. “You are a doing a good job, keep up the good work.” Some days are harder than others and we need to be reminded that our help comes from the Lord.

Sometimes Paul talks about running the race that is set before us. At other times he speaks of pressing toward the mark. Sometimes the race is hard and we don’t run as much as we lean into it and strain. The path is uphill and into the wind. The world gives us enough to push against we certainly don’t need to make things hard on each other. I’ve been in church my whole life and I’ll be honest with you: sometimes church people are the worst. Paul tells us in 1 Thes. 5 to encourage one another. Build one another up. Sometimes we just need a pat on the back and an “atta boy” or “atta girl” to remind us we are not alone. God is always with us but we as believers need to bear one another’s burdens as well. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Open Door Policy

open door Summer is the season of mission trips, Vacation Bible School and Backyard Bible Clubs.  I would like to share a personal experience that I find especially encouraging. 

Our church is hosting a large number of volunteers this week from Lynchburg, VA.  Their mission team is doing a few construction projects and running several Backyard Bible Clubs in different locations.  One of them is at the small country church I frequently preach at.  This is an old church, and does not have central air.  During the day we open up the windows and turn on a couple of fans.  We’ve been leaving the front door standing open, just to move some air.  Well, this morning a young couple was driving by and noticed the open door.  She has been looking for a job, and everyone knows what that is like right now.  She felt the need to stop in and pray.  They entered the back of the sanctuary, and listened to the children’s Bible lesson that was being taught.  When the kids went downstairs for snacks and crafts, we had the chance to listen to their story and pray with them.  We invited them to join us tomorrow, and certainly for service on Sunday. 

They stopped at the church to pray because they saw the front door open.  We often (I hope) invite people to church, but how inviting is our church?  How many others would stop and pray, ask questions or just talk to us if they saw the door open?  This happened at 11:00 on a Thursday morning.  There’s a lot of hurt, a lot of need, a lot of fields white for harvest out there.  It may be a stretch just to imagine people with problems wanting to be anywhere near “church people.”  Imagine if more churches had open doors and people waiting to pray with those passing by.  Just a thought.