Pastor's Meditations

“Organized Mess”

                Are you a messy person?

                If I would visit your house today, would I find every room clean and organized, or would I have to walk over a “mine field” of toys, food and other items? I have had the distinct “pleasure” of visiting messy and smelly homes and I can tell you that it was not a good experience at all.

                Speaking of messes, my house has been invaded by a troop of messy kids (and some adults) and it is a complete mess at this moment. There are toys all over the house; there is food on the floor and clean and unclean laundry everywhere, except for the drawers and closets.

                In addition to the “normal” clutter referenced above, my house is experiencing a sort of revival, better known as renovation. Every room in our home is getting a “facelift” and that means that our whole property is littered with all sorts of construction materials and with the junk that is being replaced or renovated.

                The key to preserving our sanity in this situation is to recognize that mess is a part of every renovation or construction project. Another helpful tip is to keep our mess as organized as possible. To achieve this goal we must put all the tools together and keep all the materials in one place. Finally, we must realize that mess is temporary and that one day the project will be complete and all the disorder, clutter and chaos will be gone.

                Our lives are just like that. All of us are a mess in one way or another. Nobody has got it all together in this side of heaven. We are indeed God’s project and He is still working in us. Every project is messy, and our lives are no exception to this rule. We must realize that change and growth is painful and messy, as God continues to prune and refine us (John 15:2).

                Our lives were a total mess; a chaos before Christ saved our souls. We are brand new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) but we are not perfect yet (Philippians 3:12). We must submit ourselves to God’s control and learn how to be less messy (sinful) every day. This process is known in the Bible as our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

                We are looking forward to the day that the project is complete and we enter into our glorious and eternal home. On that day, Christ will, present… to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27) 

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Mental Health

                Right now, I’m seating in a mandatory meeting about mental health in the classroom. These meetings are a direct result of the recent school shootings. The state has mandated these training sessions in an effort to prevent these outbursts by identifying students with mental health problems.

                In this recent meeting they are talking about all kinds of disorders. There is anxiety, substance, eating and other “disorders”, including psychosis and depression. The definition of a disorder is “mental illness” that affects our behavior.

                As I reflect on this, I have conflicting thoughts in my mind. I have compassion for people that have real problems, but when we start labeling sinful behaviors as disorders, I cannot help but to totally disagree.

                Calling sin, in all its expressions (rebellion, transgression, missing the mark, wickedness, immorality, etc.) a disorder is not only wrong, unbiblical and misleading; it is also downright dangerous and irresponsible.

                An illness is something that affects our body and limits our physical activities in some form or another. Some of those sicknesses are self inflicted and some are quickly alleviated or healed by the application of medicine. The majority of illnesses, however, come to us and there is nothing we can do about it, except to wait until we are healed, or in many cases until we die from it.

                Sin is not a disorder or an illness. Bad behavior (i.e. sin) is the result of our own sinful choices. We must stop blaming poverty, the society, traumas and “mental disorders” for our wickedness, immorality, drug abuse, crimes.

                Blaming others (or other things) for our sin is as old as the human race. Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed the serpent and Adam blamed God by saying: “The woman whom you gave me” (Genesis 3:12).

                This is exactly what happens when we begin to shift our own blame. Some blame society or their parents. Sooner or later the blame will ascend to our God, who created all the generations that contributed directly to our downfall.

                James has something very powerful to say about all this:

                “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15).

                By the way, I left the meeting halfway…

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“The Bench Warmer”

            I love sports. I like to play sports and I enjoy watching some sporting events. There are some “sports” however, that make no sense, like Curling and Cricket.

            Another thing that does not make any sense to me is for teams to pay millions of dollars to athletes that never get a chance to play. Some of these “benchwarmers” spend their entire careers either sitting on a bench or playing a few minutes during “garbage time” when the game is already decided.

            Our churches sometimes resemble sport teams. There are a just a few “starters” doing most of the work. The rest of the “players” remain inactive in the church pews, while others even fail to report and stay at home.

            A benchwarmer is someone that never plays or in the case of our churches, never serves the Lord. I know that all of us cannot be pastors, worship leaders, deacons or teachers. I am also aware that there is a time to sit and listen, as Mary did (Luke 10:38-42).

            A benchwarmer is a perennial church goer that believes that church attendance is enough. They may be faithful coming to church every Sunday, but they will rarely, if ever, get involved in any ministry or function of the church.

            Benchwarmers are guilty of laziness and spiritual apathy. All of these brothers and sisters are gifted and talented, but they are afraid, selfish or simply uncaring.

            On the other hand, I wonder if many of the benchwarmers in our congregations are so because of the selfishness of those that are more active in the ministry. It is not uncommon to see a few in the church “controlling” all the ministries, functions and activities. These brethren prefer to get burned out, rather than to share “their” ministries with others.

            The Lord selected twelve apostles, not just one (Matthew 10:1). He also endowed the churches with gifted believers, capable of serving in the ministry and caring for each other. All believers are gifted and all Christians are ministers, not just a few chosen ones (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).

            If you are a benchwarmer, get up and serve! If you are an active servant, look for benchwarmers that will help you to continue and expand the ministry.

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“Interrupted by God”

                There is nothing more annoying than being interrupted in the middle of a conversation. Just the other day, I was sharing something very important with a friend, when someone else came and started talking about something trivial and unnecessary.

                Interruptions are a daily part of our lives. We get interrupted at home, at school, at work and even at church. Interruptions take many forms: A visit during dinner time with your family; a phone call when you are praying; a child screaming when you are trying to sleep and cell phones ringing during a church service.

                There are other major interruptions in life caused by illnesses, losing jobs, weather events and deaths in the family. When a loved one is in the hospital, our “regular” life is interrupted and we must take time off from work to be with them.

                God uses all of these “interruptions” to work his plan and purpose in our lives. What we call interruptions, God calls interventions. He intervenes and acts in us, to display his glory, to fulfill his plan and to achieve his purpose in us and through us.

                Most of us get annoyed with these interruptions or “interventions” from God. We prefer to be left alone to enjoy the fruit of our labors. We just want to live a happy life; a life in which no one gets sick or dies or needs anything from us. We want peace, happiness, good health, love and all the other blessings from God. We want heaven on earth.

                The problem with this line of thinking is that it is unrealistic and dangerous. If God would never interrupt (intervene) our lives, we would all be in a really bad place. If God does not intervene and deals with our sin problem, we would be lost, broken, unhappy, sick and on our way to eternal damnation.

                God is concerned about you and me and He has complete freedom to intervene (interrupt) at any moment He sees fit in order to correct, discipline, bless and save his children. He sent the judges, the prophets and finally His Son to this earth to invade this planet with the message of the Gospel.

                A classical example of divine intervention is found in the life of Saul of Tarsus. He was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christians there and Jesus interrupted his mission.

                But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting...’” (Acts 9:1-5).

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Bad Expressions

               Last week, I spoke about the proliferation of bad songs in our churches. Finding good Christian songs to sing in our worship services is becoming as difficult as finding a good movie to watch in the theaters.

                Today, I want to call your attention to some of the bad expressions that I hear frequently everywhere and around many churches.

                “Good luck” Luck does not exist and it is an insult to God’s providence in our lives.

                 “And my God shall supply all your need…by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19)

                 “Cross my fingers” “Knock on wood” Is this Christian faith or pagan superstition?

                 “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD” (Psalm 31:14)

                 “Oh my G…” We should not use this phrase or any other that blasphemes God

                 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” (Exodus 20:7)

                 “We are all God’s children” We are all created by God, but not everyone is His child.

                 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:11)

                 “Let go and let God” (give God control) We must submit to the God that is always in control

                 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7)

                “I need to forgive myself” You can accept God’s forgiveness and forgive (not absolve) others

                “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7)

                “I want to give to the less fortunate” Fortunate is the same as lucky. This expression also

                comes dangerously close to pride and boasting.

                “My religion is Baptist…Pentecostal…Presbyterian, etc.” Religion is for Cain, Pharisees, etc.

                “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:21)

                “God helps those who help themselves” I would say that God helps those that cannot do it.

                “…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

                “When God closes a door, He opens a window No, the door is closed. He may open other doors.                

                “He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens” (Revelation 3:7)

                We need to learn to express ourselves biblically. Our words and phrases must be a reflection of our new nature in Christ. Let us beware of pagan, secular and ungodly expressions; let us glorify our lord with everything we say.

                A. G.

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