Saturday, July 28, 2012

Who is "Sent"?

Dear Readers,

I am not stating the following question to be controversial or adversarial. I’m stating it because I wonder about the truthfulness of it. How many of our pastors and Christian leaders today are “sent” by the Holy Spirit, or are they merely pursuing an occupation?

I’ve lately felt deeply disturbed in my soul. It has to do with my many relatives, friends, and acquaintances that don’t know Christ. America and our communities are saturated with churches and people claiming to be religious, and even more claiming to be Christian. But we have minimal effect on the people around us. 

One might quote the saying of Jesus, “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” in Matthew 7:13. That person might say that people going on the broad way are going toward their destiny, and there is nothing we can do about it.

I’m not sure why Jesus said those words. In a way it seems fatalistic, like there is no recourse but to let masses of people head toward destruction. Or was He just being realistic in stating a truth?

I think we get a true picture of where His heart was only two chapters later in Matthew 9:37-38. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

And who can forget the Great Commission in Matthew 28. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations..."

I think it’s clear that Jesus was just stating a truth in the first Matthew passage, but later in Matthew he showed his passion for people who are lost without a shepherd.

Paul in Romans 10:14-15 further identifies something that I think is a problem in today’s church. He says the following: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?”

The crux of the matter is people, whether they are Christian leaders or lay people, are they “sent” by God and His Holy Spirit? And if they are being sent, and I include myself in this, why are we, and I include myself, having so little impact?

See you next time,  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Where's Waldo...Phinehas?

Dear Readers,

There was just something about the “Where’s Waldo?” pictures that was addictive. Whoever invented the Waldo concept was either a genius, or maybe just lucky to hit on something that would become so popular to millions. Who of you has not spent at least some time searching for Waldo?

Waldo was an everyday man living in an everyday world. Actually he was an everyday man living in many everyday worlds. The artist had at his disposal many themes of possible places he could conjure up where Waldo might be found.

Waldo had some constants, however, that made him at least slightly recognizable among the vast crowd/s. The red-striped stocking cap with a red pompom and red-striped shirt gave evidence to Waldo’s presence. But the artist was able to obscure the real Waldo with many other red-striped characteristics and people in red-striped garb.

Also there was the hair. Waldo’s dark brown hair coiffed off to the right of his hat was something one could look for. And who could ever forget, or miss the round black-rimmed glasses with wide white dotted eyeballs?

Then lastly, who could forget Waldo’s constant smile? Waldo seemed to be happy in whatever world he found himself.

I came across a story recently in I Chronicles 9 that reminded me a little of Waldo. God had allowed the people of Judah to be taken away into Babylon because of their unfaithfulness. But now there were some who were allowed to return to their homeland.

Genealogies as a rule are difficult for me to read. They seem tedious and I sometimes wonder why God inspired the authors of the Bible to write them. The author of I Chronicles 9 includes a genealogy of the people of Judah who were released from Babylon to return back home to Judah to their towns and properties.

I was doing my due diligence trying to stay focused to read through this particular genealogy when something struck my eye. Like finding Waldo in an obscure land I found Phinehas among the many Israelites, priests, Levites, and temple servants that had returned. The many other men mentioned were deemed important in the reoccupation. I’m sure their family members in later generations were proud when they saw their ancestor mentioned as a returning refugee.

What was different about Phinehas, and why did the author choose to put in an identifying characteristic, just like Waldo, to help the seeker to find him?

The specific characteristic is mentioned only once in this passage. Also, in many other Bible genealogies there is only sometimes something mentioned that sets a particular person apart.

It is said of Phinehas, one of the many gatekeepers who guarded the entrance of the temple, “and the Lord was with him”.

Why was Phinehas identified among so many others in such a way? What did the author know about Phinehas that inspired him to write that the Lord was with him? I think the specific nature of what Phinehas actually did to deserve to be set apart will likely never be known to us on this side of heaven.

My question is can we be like Phinehas? I’m not advocating that we knowingly do things to gain recognition like Phinehas. My guess is Phinehas never even knew that the author of I Chronicles wrote about him in such a way.

But can it be said of us “and the Lord was with him”, or “and the Lord was with her”?

See you next time,