Saturday, March 19, 2011

Blessed Are Those Who Go...Till They Die!

Over the past few years, I have come to realize that many in “the church” tend to equate being busy with being godly.

Work equals commitment. Exhaustion equals devotion.

I remember my dad saying to me once, “Son, you really need to slow down some”. My reply: “I can slow down when I’m dead dad.” Sounds funny, but let me tell you I meant it! I would just smile and think to myself, “Poor dad, he just doesn’t get it”. Yes, I was working hard “for Jesus” and laying up a whole truck load of crowns to “lay" at His feet. Now, it wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy any of the activities I was involved in, but honestly at what point is our “doing much” too much?

Over the past few years, I have learned a magical word and it has brought me much joy.

That word is no.

Now before I go any farther, let me say that it is certainly not a popular word and if indeed you dare choose to use it, be prepared! For you see, in the eyes of many, this is not the way of the “true Christian”

At least…that’s what we’re told.

No, “real” Christians know that “the fields are ripe for harvest” and time is short. Yes sir, God expects us to use those talents and gifts He’s so graciously given us and use them well. After all, do you really want Him to have to take that gift you keep burying and give it to your buddy? God forbid! That was the message I heard over and over again, and I surely would not suffer such a fate!

And then…I read it. Really read it.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Rest? What the heck is that? That certainly didn’t sound very “Christian” at all!

Now, I had read that scripture a zillion times and never gave it a second thought. But when your tank’s running low and STILL people are stomping hard on the pedal, you tend to notice things like that.

For years, it was like that for me. Go till you can’t keep going. Even if you’re miserable, never stop! Why? Cause it makes Jesus...happy?

Yes, hitting the wall can do a lot for the eyes and ears.

Now my granddad was a farmer, a really great farmer. He honestly could get just about anything to grow even in the worst of conditions. Still, my granddad was wise enough to know that there were seasons in which the ground just needed to lie fallow. What is “fallow”? I’m glad you asked!

A fallow field is one that is not planted for a period in hopes that it will regain its fertility. You see, using a field to plant the same crop over and over again will result in a field that becomes less and less productive. Leaving a field “fallow” allows the soil to have a chance to recover lost life giving nutrients that plants need to grow. As a matter of fact, people discovered that their old unproductive fields had actually become even more productive than before after a period of non use. Thus, people began to rotate crops to allow their fields a chance to “rest”.

Unfortunately, that kind of thinking just doesn’t exist much in Christianity today. Apparently, if you’re a field, rest is acceptable, but in “the church” it’s a “no-no”! If you are depleted, you are obviously not relying on Jesus enough. After all, didn’t He say we could do “all things through Christ who gives us His strength”? Suck it up, pray harder, push on, and above all never ever stop! That is the way of the “committed” Christian.

And to that line of thinking, I say...”poo poo”!

As with all things in life there are seasons. The wisest man who ever walked the earth spoke of this when he said the following:

“There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”

And Christian, there is a time to rest.

If you’re worn out, frustrated, and running on empty, maybe God’s trying to tell you something.

Could it be that maybe God wants to give your “field” some time to recover?

Could it be that maybe He knows better than all those other voices out there that continually demand more when in your heart you know you’ve got nothing left to give?

Could it be that the God of the universe might actually be more concerned for you than any of the “stuff” you are trying so hard to “do” for him?

Jesus once told a complaining Martha that in her “busyness” she was missing out on the “better” that her sister Mary had chosen, and it would not be taken from her.

How about you friend? Like Martha are you “worried and upset” about the “many things" you think God requires of you? Are you “wearied and burdened”? Jesus said, “few things are needed, indeed only one.”

With that, when was the last time you just simply enjoyed the beauty of sitting at His feet?

Just you…and Jesus?

Not while preparing for a Sunday school lesson, or at “visitation” (I never really liked that one), or in a “service”.

Just you…and Jesus.

What if He asked you to sit for a “season”, a season that began AND ended when HE decided?

You say, “But Ken, there’s so much kingdom work to be done”. I would say apart from him, what can you do?

You say, “But what would people say? They might think I’m just lazy and uncommitted”. I say, who cares!

You say, “But who’s going to get “everything” done? I say, the same one who’s been getting everything done from the get go (that’s Jesus by the way).

I say, stop asking questions Martha!

Am I saying we should just sit around and do nothing? Of course not! Since when did spending time with Jesus qualify as doing nothing?

What I am saying is that Jesus knows better than you, and me, and all the other good hearted folks out there pushing you closer and closer to the cliff’s edge. If you need to rest, then rest! On the authority of scripture it’s okay!

And if people keep pushing, just share my little “magic” word with them!

They may not love, appreciate, or understand it, but your field will thank you!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fat Preachers and Talking Mirrors

Two things before I begin.

1. I used to preach sermons.
2. I am currently "overweight". This was confirmed by my doctor last Wednesday.

Self-righteousness: a feeling of (usually) smug moral superiority derived from a sense that one's beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person

Ask the following simple questions of most Christians and you will likely get the following answers.

Question: Do you believe the bible is the word of God? Answer: yes.

Question: Do you believe the bible is trustworthy? Answer: yes.

Question: Do you believe the bible teaches us that all sin is bad? Answer: yes.

Question: Do you believe that God finds all sin to be intolerable? Answer: yes.

Question: Do you believe that Christ came to set mankind free from the power of sin? Answer: yes.

Question: Do you believe that although we are forgiven, we all still fail and sin? Answer: yes.

Question: Do you believe that God is okay with some sins and against others?

Question: Do you believe it is okay to ignore your own sin while pointing out the sins of others? Answer: no.

Question: Do you believe the previous statement illustrates hypocrisy? Answer: yes.

Question: Do believe it is okay for a Christian to murder, steal, gossip, cheat, get drunk, or be involved in sexual sins of any kind? Answer: NO!!!

Question: Would a sermon preached against such sins be appropriate? Answer: Absolutely YES!

Question: Have you ever heard a sermon preached against any of the above listed sins? Answer: yes.

Question: Would you consider gluttony to be a sin? Answer...I guess?

Question: Would it be acceptable for an overweight preacher to ignore (and sometimes even make light of) his own sin of gluttony and yet freely rail against those struggling with one of the more “grievous” sins such as those mentioned above?

Actually, would such attacks be acceptable for anyone who names Christ as Savior and friend?


Our mirrors would not hesitate to answer.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

“You hypocrite”

My mirror concurs.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Don't Worry About That Hungry Guy. You've Got Comfy Pews To Pay For!

Why do organizations such as United Way exist? The answer is simple. The church of Jesus Christ has rejected the call to be salt and light in the world as described in Matthew 25: 31-46. In other words, we dropped the ball and were more than happy to watch it roll away!

Somewhere along the way, we decided that we had more lofty goals to pursue “for” Jesus. After all, buildings, staff salaries, and programs require a tremendous amount of money. We must be ever so careful how we use “His” resources. “Ministry” must go forward and we can only do so much.


About a year and a half ago, I sat in (that means endured) on a “church” business meeting. The church was struggling financially, so drastic changes needed to be made. It was decided that cuts should take place in the area of “outside ministries”. As one man stated, “We’ve got no business trying to foot the bill for ministry that doesn’t impact this church directly. How can we justify robbing our own ministries of necessary resources?”

By the way, these “outside ministries” accounted for less than 5% of their total budget.

In hindsight, I wish I had had the courage to stand up and ask the man where in scripture would one find justification for such remarks. Sadly, it is this mindset that is the very essence of the word hypocrisy. It’s no wonder people are leaving “churches” in droves.

Before I wrap this little blessed blog post up, I’d like to present some information that might challenge your thinking on the whole subject of what could happen if God’s people decided to wake up and step up.

According to their website, the 2011 fundraising goal for our local United Way is 3.6 million. These funds are distributed to the various agencies that exist to meet the needs of others in Whitfield County. By the way, these agencies do a lot of good, but I seriously doubt that many share the love of Jesus with those that utilize their services. That’s okay though, I’m sure our local churches are taking care of that particular issue (sarcasm).

Now, as I stated in an earlier post, there are over 300 churches in Whitfield County and the surrounding area. If only 100 of these fine institutions would commit to set aside $1,000 a week for a year, they could generate over $5,000,000 in funds that could be used to meet the needs of the wounded and hurting people of this county.

By the way, that’s only $10 per person per week if the church has 100 members.

James 2:15-17 states, “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

But someone might say, “Oh Ken, wouldn’t that require “churches” to come together and actually function as a unified force for good in the world?”

Indeed it would!

“Silly Ken, you know that could never happen! We have too many other “obligations” that require our full attention and resources!”

Yes, and I’m quite sure Jesus will someday commend us all for steering away from all those wasteful “outside” ministries so that we might focus more on those that “impact” us directly.

The truth is I realize this post of mine is most likely a waste of time, but in my heart I really believe there are others out there that feel as frustrated as I do.

Brothers and sisters, it’s time the family of God refused the status quo and spent some real time reflecting on the person we see looking back at us in the mirror. The word of God says our witness to the world is our love for each other. Is that what the world sees when it looks in our direction?

Time is short folks and talk is cheap. One person can do very little, but many hands make for light work.

Friends, the church has not only dropped the ball, but it seems we’ve forgotten it ever rested in our hands at all.

That needs to change!