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The Necessity of Ministry…and those who minister.

church at communion 2Devotional Thought of the Day:
18  If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.    Proverbs 29:18 (MSG)

36  As he saw the crowds, his heart was filled with pity for them, because they were worried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37  So he said to his disciples, “The harvest is large, but there are few workers to gather it in. 38  Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38 (TEV)

914    How pitiful are those crowds—high and low and middle-class—without an ideal! They give the impression that they do not know they have souls: they are a flock, a drove, a herd. Jesus, only with the help of your merciful love will we turn the flock into a legion, the drove into an army, and from the herd of swine draw, purified, those who no longer wish to be unclean.

The coach of my favorite football team has two very simple and yet profound slogans.

The first is “do your job.”  which helps keep focused each member of the team, from players to coaches, trainers, the owner, and even entry level office staff and custodians.

The second talks about the nature of the focus.  “No days off.”  That speaks of the team as something more than a job, working on that team is what theologians call a vocation. It is who you are, it is part of what defines them.  These two catch-phrases have come with a fair share of success.  Actually, according to some, far more than just a fair share.

These are lessons those in the church and who lead it need to understand.  Our ministry is more than just a job.  It is a vocation, it is what we’ve been sent to do, our apostolate, our mission. Because of the nature of what we do, it demands our focus, and it should define who we are.

It is critical, far more critical than winning trophies and wearing five rings.

We see this in words from the Old Testament, a passage often translated  “where there is no vision, people perish” or sometimes “where there is no prophetic vision.”  But the translator of the Message has its sense – for the vision is not of what we are called to do, but what God is doing.  It is the vision of the promises God the Father has given to us, delivered in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Lord who delivers us from evil. This isn’t just a vision for the church to grow, or build a new building, or raise money for this and/or that.  It is the vision of God, gathering His people from every tribe and language, to live with Him.  The vision of God being their God, and they being His holy people.   

It is the vision that pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets and apostles are to give them, what our worship is to cause them to be aware of. Which is where we come in, and where Jesus’ words about shepherds are so relevant.

People need those who are ministers in their lives, so that they might be drawn to God, and be given the vision of what God is doing in their lives.  This is our job, primary and completely.  It is the care these souls need, it is the mission that our sermons are tasked with, our Bible Studies, and why we baptize and commune people.

For without that, they are lost… they may not even realize what a soul is, never mind that theirs needs to be cared for, to have life spoken into it.  It is only with God’s help that this is changed, only His Spirit can breathe life into them who are dead, trapped and imprisoned by sin.

This is what we do, and as we study, as we visit and teach, as we lead and inspire, may it be focused, every day, on Christ, and drawing people to Him. 

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 2126-2129). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

An Incredible Example of Pastoral Care…

Cover of "Les Miserables (Barnes & Noble ...

Cover via Amazon

Devotional Thought of the Day.

 1  And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2  For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3  And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4  And my speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5  that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.  1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (ASV)

Thus he discoursed gravely and paternally; in default of examples, he invented parables, going directly to the point, with few phrases and many images, which characteristic formed the real eloquence of Jesus Christ. And being convinced himself, he was persuasive. (1)

It will be perceived that he had a peculiar manner of his own of judging things: I suspect that he obtained it from the Gospel. (2)

I think I read Les Miserables in high school, if I did, I certainly didn’t get it.

I am reading it again, and the character of the Bishop is mind-blowing, if only because somehow, Victor Hugo understood what a pastor should be.  A man who lived far simply that his state allowed (he lived on 1/15th of his salary- using the rest to minister to others) , who gave up the home built for the Bishop to live in, that a hospital could be built.

A fictional character perhaps – but who is it based on?  Who would be so centered in the gospel, whose eloquence would so reveal Christ? Who is the unknown model for Hugo’s pen?

Who would be such a man?  Does such a leader exist for the church today?  Is there any that, while humble of voice, is one who reveals Christ because he is convinced is persuasive himself?  Is there someone who judges things based on the gospel?

I pray that such are raised up… that we encourage their development – the character of Christ encouraged far more than even their knowledge or practice.

Who know little, or count any knowledge as little, save that of knowing Christ, and the power of the cross and the resurrection.

May the Lord have mercy by providing such…and may we rejoice in such men.

 

 

(1)  Hugo, Victor (2010-12-16). Les Misérables (English language) (p. 23). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

(2)  Hugo, Victor (2010-12-16). Les Misérables (English language) (p. 25). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

Super Heroes….always serve

Devotional Discussion thought of the day…

As I am sitting home sick, I’ve been catching up on superhero movies – reliving my childhood one would say… except the superheroes are far more technological, their challengers even more vicious, the battles far more …. critical, than the ones Adam West and Boy Robin faced. or Chris Reeves.

What they have  in common, these heroes of my youth and the heroes of this day.. they don’t become lords, they don’t govern, they simply serve…they work to bring health to their communities and peace, and indeed to protect them from evil.  Whether it is a global threat – or a child needing to be rescued from a tree, they are there.

There is something at a sub-conscious level that resounds and gets excited by the superhero concept, and I believe it is because we believe we are also threatened.  Threatened by a darkness that would consume us, enslave us, ruin us.  Sometimes that darkness is an external threat ( we often project this on… let’s say – a presidential candidate?  That is why we must vilify them, rather than just base it on issues) Sometimes it is an internal threat – the superheroes today often battle internal demons, (Dark Knight/Batman, the Hulk, Ironman etc) and the difference between Villain and Hero is slim, razor slim.

We have heroes in our midst, the apostles and ministers who reflect light into the darkness.  I don’t capitalize either of those words for a purpose – I am not talking about pastors and priests, bishops and other clergy.  I am talking about the people who are sent by God into the darkness of this world, to reflect the light,t he glory that envelops them, for they have found hope in Jesus. They are more than superheroes – for in Christ, they have become children of the Father, they have been united in Christ’s death and resurrection.  As they live normal lives, they become our heroes, as they pray with their kids, as they sing in the choir, as they help their neighbor and their neighbor’s family as they approach death, as they simply listen to that co-worker, whose life is broken, just as their lives were.. It’s the lady who teaches Sunday School, the musicians who arrive early, the people that greet with smiles and hugs.   They have been “apostled” sent into the place to serve, to minister, on God’s behalf.  Without thought of reward, but to give hope to the hopeless, to bring healing where there is pain, to bring love where there is hatred and apathy…

to bring Jesus, His mercy, His love, His glory….

Who are these superheroes?  Come to church on Sunday, and I will introduce you to some… and we’ll help you see that you are one as well….

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