Once again we are approaching that time of the year when people we don’t even know (mostly children) approach our door and ask for a treat (more specifically, candy).
I know that the “holiday” at the conclusion of October stirs many and various emotions in folks. Some see no harm in it or the celebration of said holiday. Some see nothing but harm in it or the celebration of said holiday.
As I have mentioned in the past, I see opportunity in this time of the year. An opportunity to reach out to people with the message that, with the help of Jesus Christ, we can overcome any and all “dark forces.”
One way you can do this is to invite the youngsters (and in some cases, “older-sters”) who pay you a visit on the appointed night to church. And you can do this without even saying a word about church.
Once again we have printed some business card sized cards that you can hand out with the candy you give away. All you do is place a card in their bag when you put in the candy. Don’t staple the card to the candy, though...parents don’t like staples in their kid’s candy.
The card simply contains the message “We think it would be a wonderful treat for you to join us on Sunday, as we celebrate Jesus and His victory over all darkness!”
It has our congregation’s name, address, phone number, fax number (who faxes anymore?), email address and web site address, and all of our assembly times...everything a good invitation needs to include.
So don’t decide to shut out our community during this time. Instead use this time of the year to reach out to our community...especially our children (even though it is not summer or VBS season). They, and their whole family, may remember the treat they got at your house for all eternity!
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it seems that our attendance has been a little lower the past couple of weeks.
Now the sign in front of the building being “non-functional” may have a little to do with this (as has been pointed out to me by several people who do not attend here). But that impacts the number of visitors we have.
The attendance I’m thinking about is our regular members. On one recent Sunday, we had forty (yes that is 40, a 4 followed by a 0) of our regular attendees not in attendance.
Now I know that sicknesses happen and other unavoidable things come up that make it necessary for us to miss our regular services. But to have 40 members out on one Sunday...well, they couldn’t have all been sick.
So now for the question you knew was coming. How many phone calls did those of you who were here that week make to those who were not here? How many of you made a visit to someone who was not here? How many of you made any effort at all to check on those who were not here?
My point is that the elders, deacons, and preacher can make a call and it can be seen as our “job.” But when just a regular member (like YOU) makes the effort to contact someone who is absent, especially if they have been absent for several weeks in a row, it will be seen as “Hey, that person really cares about me!"
We have a few folks who have not been here in a number of weeks. And they have any number of excuses as to why they haven’t been to services in the past, say 4-5 weeks.
Perhaps the real reason is because they don’t feel like anyone really cares about them. They don’t believe that they are missed when they are gone. But YOU can change that!
So the next time you notice someone missing from one of our assemblies, take a couple of minutes and let them know you missed them. A soul could be at stake.
This past Saturday was a first. Most of you are probably aware that Rachel is a proud member of “The Thundering Herd” (the band at Harding that allows athletic contests to take place during their performances/parties).
So this past Saturday, Rachel, as a member of “The Thundering Herd” performed an exhibition at a high school marching band competition for the first time in Charleston, AR. If you are not familiar with where Charleston is, it is about 20 miles due south of Mulberry, AR.
Rachel has marched in high school band competitions before. And she has been a part of a high school marching band exhibition (when Siloam Springs High School hosts their band competition, SSHS band performs as an exhibition).
This was a little different, though. Essentially “The Thundering Herd” arrived in Charleston (they even had to put on their uniforms on while on the bus as it was moving on I-40...that’s another story altogether I’m told), marched, then got back on the bus and returned to Searcy.
Rachel texted her mom, “We drove 4 hours to do an 8 minute show, then drove 4 hours back.”* Remember, these are college students and this was a Saturday.
Do you ever feel like that? You endure so much and work so hard to get to where you’re going. And then, after a short time, you turn around and return back to where you were.
It can get a little discouraging and even frustrating at times. We may even begin to wonder if it was even worth the effort we had to put forth. We did so much and got so little in return. So, we inevitably ask, “Was it really worth it?”
Well, “The Thundering Herd” got to listen to the “OOOHHHS” and “AHHHS” of some high school bands in awe of the college band that came so far to perform for them. And Rachel got to spend 8 hours on a bus last Saturday with band friends making memories that will last a long, long time.
So I guess it really all depends on your perspective. Driving 8 hours for an 8 minute performance may sound like a Saturday wasted (what were these college students going to do otherwise, study?).
But when you take the time to think, not just about the 8 minute program but the 8 hours of relationship building...suddenly it doesn’t sound so bad.
So when you’re enduring the long, arduous drive for short, but meaningful event remember that God does have a plan and purpose for you...so enjoy the ride!
*editor's note: it was actually only three hours each way, but you get the point.
As I think about what to write for this article, I’m at a loss. It seems like the news today is dominated by the evil in society. It seems like some disturbed person wants to have his/her 15 minutes of fame (or infamy).
Two weeks, two Sundays, two mass shootings. One killed one person and injured six or seven others. One killed over fifty and injured hundreds more. Two distinct acts of senseless violence.
How do we respond? What do we say? Is there anything or anyone we can blame? Sure, we are angry, but in what direction do we direct that anger?
I believe the real culprit has not been mentioned by the mainstream media’s reports on either of these two events or any other man caused tragedy. And I believe this actually causes the real culprit to giggle with glee.
The one to blame is none other than Satan himself! He is 100% behind all of the evil that has EVER reared its ugly head.
The problem is that we turn the blame in any OTHER direction: groups of people, inanimate objects, Satan even has some folks blaming God Himself!
From the beginning (Genesis 3), Satan has made it his goal to separate mankind from God. From the beginning, he has been successfully separating man from God.
From the beginning, Satan has tried to get mankind to blame someone else for his deception. From the beginning, Satan has been successfully getting us to blame others...even to blame God (see Genesis 3:12).
And Satan will continue to be successful...unless we start to recognize that he is behind everything evil in the world today.
Even though Satan is a defeated enemy, he is still our enemy. He is still going to do everything he can to hurt God by hurting us.
We are not engaged in a figurative war with Satan: the war is real...so are the casualties.
The loss of life over the past couple of Sundays has been tragic. One group targeted were just attending a concert. One group were just attending church services.
Satan is alive and well in the world. We need to be prepared for any and all of his tactics: whatever they are and wherever they happen.
And we need to remember that Satan is behind all the evil in the world.