No matter where I have lived, people have always complained about the weather. It’s too rainy or too dry, too hot or too cold. No one seems to be content with their climate. I always say, “Wait six months and we’ll be wishing for what we have now.” But I know even as I say our fickle ways with the weather only bring a modicum of relief.
Daniel Hernandez was a recent college grad when he moved to New York. By his own admission he was not ready for a city that was so large and so impersonal. He had landed a job for a company that distributed press releases that were disguised as news – a form of work he described as “soul-numbing.” The only good part of the job was that it allowed their employees one day a week of paid leave to do some form of charity work, so Daniel volunteered for a suicide prevention hotline service, where he saw first-hand the number of lonely people in a place like New York who had reached the end of their rope, feeling as if they had no place to turn and, more importantly, no one to whom they could turn. What Daniel realized in the process that the real reason he had volunteered for this charity work was that he was experiencing pangs of loneliness himself, pangs that perhaps might be eased by speaking with strangers on a hotline. What Daniel discovered from his time with the hotline is that virtually every person struggles with some kind of burden and that we all need someone in life from whom we can seek help for that burden, even if the only help they can give is a simple acknowledgement that “life must be hard” (“Call If You’re Feeling Lonely,” The New York Times, 2/12/14).
“Have you ever had an opportunity to share your faith but didn’t?” That’s the haunting question posed by a discipleship study on outreach titled Share Jesus without Fear by William Fay and Ralph Hodge. The study’s premise is that all Christians have countless opportunities to name Jesus in their daily conversations but often don’t. The reasons are many, primarily: fear, a lack of knowledge about how to initiate such conversations, and (sadly) no real experience to share. Each of these reasons can be addressed, though it takes a believer’s willingness to make the first step to do so.
When I was a young pastor, and did not know how much I did not know at that time, I too often failed to appreciate the importance of signal anniversaries in the lives of church members. While there would usually be major league flower arrangements on the altar table commemorating those important times in a couple’s life, I was oblivious to the most significant marker that particular season was for the two persons being recognized. It was only when I noticed how on most of those Sundays the couple would be joined by other family members, usually children and grandchildren, who had often traveled long distances to be with their loved ones on this most high occasion. It was only then that I began to see how a celebration of this sort was a truly big deal!
One of my favorite sitcoms was the long-running series on CBS Everybody Loves Raymond. It was a delightful comedy of a successful sportswriter and family man, Ray Barone, who has to manage both with his dysfunctional parents who live across the street. The family dynamics were entertaining to say the least, which is why the series was so well-received over the course of its nine season run.
It’s hard to believe, but football season is right around the corner. Those of us who are fans of the game have been looking forward to this time for many months. Soon enough, our favorite teams will be lining up to kick off what will surely be another exciting year.
Our Baptist polity tells us that each of us has responsibility in the work of God’s kingdom. We best know this principle by the phrase “the priesthood of the believer.” It is a powerful reminder that we can never be content to rely on another group of believers to shoulder exclusively the work that the Holy Spirit gives all of us to do.
You’ve probably heard the story of the man who was sitting in a window seat on an airplane flying across the desert in Arizona. The desert sun was shining white-hot on the parched earth below and the man was the only passenger on that side of the plan who had not pulled down his window shade to keep out the glare. In contrast to the other passengers who were sitting in window seats, this man kept looking out the window and actually seemed to be enjoying the scene down below.
If you’ve been in worship at MBBC over the last month or so, you’ve surely noticed the number of new faces that have come our way. That’s actually something of a trend that happens in most churches each summer. People make transition to a new area and among other things they start to look for a church.