Each month the elders and deacons have a meeting (the preacher gets to attend these meetings as well). Typically this meeting takes place following Sunday night services on the second Sunday of the month.
We have a very wonderful lady who, as part of her ministry, sees to it that we have sufficient sustenance to make it through these meetings. She provides a loaf of homemade bread for us...and we greatly appreciate this gesture.
Well, at our February meeting, one of the men grabbed a container of “I can’t believe its not butter” out of the refrigerator so that it could be used on the bread. When he set it down on the serving counter and opened it up...sure enough it was left over green beans!
In a manner of speaking, the label was exactly right...it did not have butter in it. But it also did not have what was expected either.
You wear a label. That label says “Christian.” You come to services. You sing songs that speak of loving and serving Jesus. On the outside, your label says “Christian.” So if someone were to “open you up” (not literally, but figuratively) what would they find?
By your actions, would they find a Christian? By your speech, would they find a Christian? By the example you set, would they find a Christian? By the way you conduct yourself in business, would they find a Christian? Or would they find something totally different?
It wasn’t a very big deal to put the lid back on the “not butter,” put it back in the refrigerator and get out some actual butter (or “46% vegetable oil spread”). There were no long lasting consequence.
But if on the inside you are not what your label says on the outside (i.e. “Christian”), that is a very big deal and the consequences can be eternal if you don’t change what is inside.
This past Saturday at about 3:45 PM I was on my way to the church building to prepare for the Valentines Banquet (actually on my way to pay for the food, then to the church building).
As I typically do, I get on Maple and head to Harvard, turn left and go to Mt. Olive. Well, there was a car ahead of me on Harvard as I was waiting to turn right on to Mt. Olive. I happened to glance to my right and saw the backup lights of a minivan illuminated. I figured they were just getting ready to back up when I was out of their way.
After a couple of seconds, I happened to look that way again and the minivan was moving...backing up with me still right behind it! Again I thought that they may have been trying to get a better view of oncoming traffic, but they kept backing up.
I kept thinking surely the driver was going to stop. But when he had backed to about a foot of my car, I laid on the horn. Well, when all was said and done, the back of the minivan was about six inches (maybe less) away from the rear passenger door and fender of my car.
If I had waited to sound my horn an instant longer, I’d be writing a bulletin article about being in my second wreck in less than two months (for the record, neither would have been my fault). But I sounded my horn and the driver of the minivan stopped and so I get to write about a near miss instead.
All of us have friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers, etc. (even complete strangers) who are slowly moving towards a wreck. They are heading towards disaster, spiritually speaking.
So what are you going to do about it? Let them keep going and hope they stop before it is too late? Hope that they see the error of their ways before time is up? Or are you going to sound your horn and warn them?
You see, if you don’t do what you can to warn them, then you, yourself, are also in danger. They’re heading for an “accident” and they’re going to take you with them...unless you warn them.
God has a plan. You have been put where you are for a reason. You may cross paths with someone today who may be heading towards eternal disaster and God has given you the chance to “honk your horn” and warn them.
If you fail to sound the warning, you fail to accomplish God’s purpose in your life. Another word for this is sin.
Some people may get upset when you warn them or when you warn others. The guy in the car ahead of me on Saturday was very unhappy that I sounded my horn long and loud. He probably thought I was honking at him, not aware of the potential for disaster behind him.
But the minivan’s rear end was at stake! But that’s not all: my car was at stake too. So I sounded my horn, got the other driver’s attention, and averted a collision.
The next time you see a person who is (spiritually) headed for disaster please remember that their soul is at stake! But that’s not all: YOUR SOUL may also be at stake.
I apologize for being so late getting this posted...
In the first bulletin of this year (dated January 4, 2017) I wrote about my experience being involved in an automobile accident late last year. (Remember? The guy didn’t have insurance, so the next time he tries to renew his license or registration, he’s in trouble!)
Actually that incident had several unexpected and positive results. First, I felt so loved because several personal injury attorneys contacted me because they saw I was in an accident and care about me! Isn’t that special!!
I also got a new rear door, bumper and spare tire case on my car...now they don’t match the rest of the car with the car door dings, etc...but it is nice to have part of the car look new again.
Third, before the accident my 6 CD disc changer was not working. It had 6 of my CD’s in it and would not play or eject them. I don’t know what possessed me, but before I took my car to the repair shop, I tried to eject them...and they ejected (except for the disc in #3...which has been stuck for quite a while). Now the “was going to be replaced at Christmas stereo in my car” works fine.
I mentioned this to the repair shop guy and he said something may have just been jammed and the jolt from the collision unjammed it. I think his name is Holmes...Sherlock Holmes.
Anyway, the wreck I experienced on December 20 was not fun at the time. It became even less fun when I learned the guy who hit me did not have insurance.
But now I know that several law firms care about me (cough, cough). I have a car that looks about 1/3 new. And I have a CD player in my car that actually plays 5 of 6 CD’s.
While I won’t say the wreck was a “good” experience, I will say, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good…” (see Romans 8:28).
About 4 or 5 years ago there was a jewelry store in a mall...we’ll OK, it was more of a jewelry kiosk in a mall. They would fix broken jewelry and sold new jewelry. Along with selling new jewelry comes the whole customer satisfaction aspect (exchanges, etc.).
Frequenting this kiosk and others like it in the mall was a middle aged woman. She had terrible taste in jewelry...everything she bought was very exaggerated and over-the-top—thus very expensive as well: even for a jewelry kiosk at a mall. And she absolutely loved returning things she had purchased.
One day she came to the kiosk and threw a bracelet on the counter without so much as a word. The saleslady knew this was going to be a “pleasant” encounter, but put on a smile and the following conversation took place:
Saleslady: Hi, how are you? How can I help you today?
Customer: Hi, I’d like to return this bracelet.
Saleslady: OK, do you have a receipt?
Customer: You can look it up on your computer. It’s under the name Jane Smith (changed to protect the guilty).
The saleslady finds the purchase and notices several “red flags.” First, it was purchased two months earlier. Second, she had replaced another item in order to buy the bracelet. And, third, the bracelet was clearly worn and used...not damaged, but certainly used.
Obviously the right to replace an item is a one-time thing and, obviously, you can’t replace an item you bought two months ago and used. When informed that she would be unable to exchange it or give a refund, the customer becomes belligerent and argues non-stop for 10 minutes. She is adamant on replacing it and threatens legal action if he demands are not met.
The saleslady is starting to run out of patience and a crowd of onlookers has gathered. So in a professional, but firm, voice she says, “Ma’am, would you have liked to pay for an item that had been used by someone else and wasn't new?”
The customer says, “No, but…”
The saleslady continues, “And would you like to purchase from a store that was full of items that people kept buying and returning and were not new?”
Again, “No, but…”
“And do you understand that collections change, and we cannot accept jewelries that were purchased and used for two months?”
Again, “Yes, but…”
“But what?” the saleslady asked, her patience about out.
And the customer, genuinely frustrated, says, “But I don’t feel like wearing this bracelet anymore!”
At this point someone in the crowd shouted, “Then you shouldn’t buy jewelry you don’t like, idiot!”
Sometimes, we treat our Christianity like that woman treated that bracelet...we just don’t “feel” like wearing it anymore - at least not today. So, maybe, we don’t exactly try to exchange it, but we do try to keep it out of sight until the next time we “feel” like wearing it.
Choosing to become a Christian is a major decision. It is a decision that affects every other decision we make in our life.
In Luke 9, Jesus is talking to three people who expressed a desire to follow Him. They each, though, had an excuse as to why they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) follow Him right then.
To the last one, who wanted to wait until he said good-by to his family, Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62, ESV)
If you’re going to follow Jesus, you have to be all-in. If you’re going to follow Jesus, you can’t just follow Him when you “feel” like following.
If you have truly “put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27), then you will never “feel” like taking Him off...let alone exchanging Him for something else!