Standing With the Others

This has been called the era of Celebrity Christianity. It’s a term that has been used in a variety of different ways. Some use it to refer to Christians who adopt the lifestyles and mindsets of secular celebrities. To others it has the connotation of Christian leaders acting like celebrities – you know, special treatment, more recognition, more power and more influence.

Then again it can refer to the Christian subculture and our need to have our own celebrities. People we look up to. People we can emulate. People who give us hope that we can make it just like they made it.

Over the years evangelical Christianity has developed a parallel universe with our own schools, our own publishers, our own musicians, and even our own celebrities.

Every culture has their celebrities. Every culture seems to have a need for celebrities. People who have made it in life. The rest of us are just the others still hoping to make it.

The Bible presents a vastly different picture.

Hebrews 11 is a good example. In the first 34 verses it relates the faith of some of the greatest “celebrities” in the Bible. People like Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and his son Joseph, and Moses. People who were celebrities in the right sense of the word.

Then you get to verse 35 and it says others . . .

We all know about Enoch and Noah and Abraham. We’re familiar with Jacob and Joseph and Moses. And we know that we aren’t worthy to carry their bags. But what about the others that the writer mentions? Those unnamed, anonymous followers of God who lived by faith even though they faced mocking and scourging, yes, and of chains and imprisonments. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth (Hebrews 11:36-38). They were just ordinary people – people like you and me. But people who knew what it meant to live by faith.

Up until verse 35 most of the things that are said of the people who are named are positive. They walked with God. They were obedient. They led great nations and conquered great cities.

All of that changes when you come to the others. They had great trials, suffered for God, were homeless and wandered destitute. No glory here. This is not the stuff of Celebrity Christianity.

But it is the stuff of our lives. Most of us live on the other side of verse 35. The hard side. History will probably not record your name. You will stand anonymous, unnamed.

But not to God. He knows. And ultimately that’s all that counts.

God is not looking for the next Abraham or Moses. He’s not looking for another Christian Celebrity. He’s looking for ordinary people, the others, who will live with courageous faith. He’s looking for people of whom He can say the world was not worthy of them (Hebrews 11:38). He’s just looking for people who will be faithful no matter what life throws at them.

The truth is we don’t need more Christian Celebrities. We need more others.

It’s an awesome heritage and responsibility that has been left to us to live life with the others.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

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God Takes the Summer Off

A lady in our church recently published this on her Facebook page – it came from the ministry Joni and Friends. I hope it makes you think and reevaluate your priorities this summer.

God Takes The Summer Off

We are sorry to inform you that God will not be available during the summer beginning June 1st. He feels He deserves some time off, so He has canceled His normal duties for the summer.

He has agreed to send the sun and rain occasionally when He happens to be in town, but so far as answering prayers for the needs of your family, please don’t count on Him.

God has let church leaders know that they should not plan any outreach efforts or mission trips during the summer—or at least if they do, they will have to do it without Him because He plans to be gone a lot to see relatives, baseball games and the lake. God has expressed the opinion that we should find someone else to take His place.

Then we reminded Him of His promise, “Surely I will be with you always,” but He said He didn’t realize when He said it that it meant going two or three years without a break. He expressed His sincere regret and hopes that it will not cause anyone any inconvenience.

God may be contacted anytime after September 1st at which time He hopes to get back into the routine. “Please defer all requests until then,” He requested.

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t take the summer off? As we approach summer, make it your determination to bring yourself and your family to God’s House on Sunday. He’ll be waiting for us to worship Him.

Does that sound like anyone you know? Maybe you? Sure it’s a ridiculous thought that God would take any time off, let alone an entire summer. And it’s a good thing He doesn’t or we’d be in big trouble.

But why, then do we think we can take time off from church? Can you imagine how Hebrews 10: 25 might sound if some Christians were writing it today?

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, unless it’s too hot, or you
have a family reunion on Sunday, or you have tickets to see your favorite
baseball team play, or you just need a break . . .

You get the idea. We often do what we don’t want God to do.

Hey, I know that there will be times when you can’t be in church this summer but it should be a very short list – sickness, kids sick, vacation, have to work, – hold on I’m still thinking. Well, like I said it should be a very short list.

I hope to see you in church this Sunday!

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

Wearing Your Faith

Today Tim Tebow is a hero. The accolades are beginning to pile up like the winter snow. It wasn’t always like that. In fact it wasn’t like that just minutes before the game Sunday when every football analyst in American predicted that he couldn’t lead his team to victory over the number one defense in the NFL. You don’t have to be a football fan to have heard about Tim Tebow. What you may not have heard, unless you are a football fan, is the intense scrutiny that he has had to endure as an NFL player. I don’t know if there has ever been another football player coming out of college into the professional ranks who has received the same type of scrutiny that he has received – and not all of it has been related to his ability to play football.

Before we go too far here, we need to be honest and admit that Tim Tebow isn’t the greatest football talent anyone has ever seen. You can question his throwing motion, his decision making and his talent, and rightly so.  One thing you cannot question is his heart. But heart doesn’t consistently win games. It can take you to a point but no farther.

Having said that, it’s also fair to say that a lot of the scrutiny that Tim Tebow has received has been related to his faith and that’s unfortunate. Yes, he wears his faith openly, but so have other Christian athletes. Reggie White comes to mind. I don’t remember Reggie being criticized the way Tim has been. Maybe his size had something to do with it – or his talent. There has been, among the media and certain football players, a bias against Tim’s faith that is obvious to any objective observer.

That’s one of the things that I find impressive about Tim Tebow. With all of the scrutiny, with all of the negative press, with all of the criticism and mocking of his faith, he has not backed away. He has not chosen to remain quiet. Many twenty-four year olds would have been intimidated and chosen to keep their faith to themselves. Many fifty-four year olds would have been. He has a remarkable spiritual maturity for someone so young. And that’s admirable. I admire Tim for his leadership qualities, his heart on the football field, and his passion for the game. But I admire him more for his love for Christ. And that may be his lasting legacy. I doubt that Tim Tebow will ever be in the Football Hall of Fame. He doesn’t display that caliber of talent. I would love to be wrong, but I doubt it. What is more important is not the legacy that he will leave on the playing field but the legacy of a life lived well for God. His example should inspire all of us to live the life of faith, regardless of age; whether you are a fan of the game or not.

The words of the Apostle Paul to another young man of his day are appropriate, not only for Tim Tebow, but for all of us: Let no one despise you because of your age, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).

Wear your faith openly. Wear it well.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve

When Life is Spinning Out of Control

Did you ever get the feeling that life is spinning out of control? All you have to do is watch the news – it’s filled with reports of wars, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, and terrorists threats. It appears that our world is out of control. The same thing is often true in our personal lives. On almost a daily basis we deal with sickness, death, aging, divorce, joblessness, and a multitude of other anxiety producing issues. It’s enough to make you wonder if there is anyone in charge. The question for the Christian is what should our response be when life doesn’t make sense? How should we react to life when it’s out of control?

The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk gives us the answer. Habakkuk lived in an era when Israel had turned from God. The worship of pagan idols was the norm, violence was prevalent, sin permeated every level of society and justice was available to the highest bidder. Listen as the prophet cries out to God: O Lord, how long will I cry and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” and You will not save (Habakkuk 1:2). Apparently the prophet had been complaining to God about the sin in Israel for some time but God had been silent. Then God spoke and revealed His plan to the prophet to bring judgment on Israel by using the Babylonians as His instrument of justice. That put the prophet in a dilemma. He wanted God to do something to stop the sin in Israel, but he hadn’t counted on this! The Babylonians were known for their cruelty and harsh treatment of the nations they conquered. Talk about the world spinning out of control! Israel was about to have their world turned totally upside down. How should the prophet respond to the prospect of doom and destruction?

There is one short verse in the book of Habakkuk that holds the answer, not only for the uncertainty that the prophet faced but for anyone today who is holding on to life by a thread. It’s found in Habakkuk 2:4 – But the just shall live by faith (or by their faithfulness). This was the core of God’s message to Habakkuk; followers of God are to live in faithfulness to God, no matter what life brings. Not only are we saved by faith but we are to continue living by faith. Faith is not just about being saved, it is about living life. It is to be a way of life for the Christian. You won’t always know why certain things happen in life but you can be faithful in how you live. You can’t always control the circumstances of life but you can control your response. All God wants from us is to be faithful to Him no matter what life brings.

If your world seems to be spinning out of control; if your life is filled with anxiety and stress, God simply wants you to remain faithful to Him. You’ll be tempted to question God’s wisdom, to become angry at His decisions, or even to decide that you can do a better job of running your life than He does. Just remain faithful. Let God be God in your life. He has a plan. He knows best. Live by faith and be faithful.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve