On Tuesday evening, I had finished weeding and sprucing up the flowerbeds in front of the parsonage. Afterward, I took a shower and went downstairs to see what was on TV. As usual, there was nothing of any significance on. Just to see what was happening locally I turn to channel 18. Usually the subject matter is quite laughable. But there was nothing to laugh about on Tuesday. It appears that there are some serious allegations of teacher misconduct at Magna Vista. Furthermore, it was mentioned that at least 30 students were pregnant. As we began the service this morning, I sang a song called, “Does Anybody Hear Her?” Never have I felt that a sermon was more relevant that what we are going to look at today.
She is yearning
For shelter and affection that she never found at home
She is searching
For a hero to ride in
To ride in and save the day
And in walks her prince charming and he knows just what to say
A momentary lapse of reason and she gives herself away
Tuesday night, Charles asked some tough questions. What are the parents teaching their children? What are the schools teaching their students? What are the churches teaching their congregations? My first reaction was, that it is the parent’s responsibility to teach about such things. But with the breakdown of the family, and our schools adopting the liberal anything goes attitude, who is left, except the church?
Even when we take a look around our own congregation, the breakdown of the family is obvious. How many of our students come from single parent or absentee parent homes. I know that several you have mentioned how your heart aches for those whom God has given to us to minister. We had nineteen students on Wednesday evening for Mosaic. Of those nineteen, only five have parents who attend Preston Wesleyan. Three of those five are PK’s (or preacher’s kids.) What a mission field we have.
In case you think I have a one tracked mind about Mosaic, I’m not only concerned about those students who don’t feel loved in our community, but with any who doesn’t feel loved by the church in our community. When I say the word church, I mean the visible body of Christ in Martinsville and Henry County. Do we hear those who are crying out for help, or are we too busy with our own agenda to hear them?
Mark Hall writes, “They are all around us. To become numb to their pain is to become numb to the heart of God and the suffering of His only Son.” What does this have to do with worship? Romans 12:1 says, “1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?” We’ve already discovered that everything we do is an act of worship. Everything we do gives glory (or worship) to the object of our worship. Who is your object of worship? Is your object of worship the Lord God Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, and his Son, Jesus Christ, the only one born of the Father, or is it someone or something else. There is more to worshiping God than coming to church for an hour or two a week. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus. In the Gospel of John 15:5-8 Jesus says these words, “5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who parts from me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you stay joined to me and my words remain in you, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted! 8 My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father.” Jesus calls us to work for Him; to do the things that he wants us to do. If we don’t he will cut us off, just like a bad branch on a tree. So, let’s be practical about this. What does that mean for Preston Wesleyan Church?
Jesus commanded his disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 to “19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” I’m sure that no one would disagree with me on this point. Most of us know that Christ gave us this command and we should do it. Jesus never promised that this would be an easy command, that’s probably why he added the “I am with you always”. We serve Christ in a broken world. There are those who pass by our church everyday who are going to hell. How do we reach them?
If you’ve read my blog this week and as I mentioned at the beginning of the sermon, I weeded and spruced up the flowerbeds in front of the parsonage. Were the weeds easy to get out? No! These weeds seem to spring up roots everywhere and get attached to the soil easily. In order for me to weed the flowerbed, fix the brick edging and place woodchips on the flowerbed, meant that I was going to have to get dirty. When we get involved with the lives of those outside our church, it could get messy. Like I said the other week, people misunderstood Jesus. People will misunderstand us. But if we are doing what Christ has commanded us to do, that is all that is important.
Paul writes this in Romans 10:14, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” In order for us to gain a hearing, people must know that we care about them. The old cliché “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care is really true.” I try to model that as your shepherd. I have some great help in my wife Pam in doing this. Pam truly has a shepherd’s heart. Each week Pam and I look around the congregation and see who might need an encouraging word. Many of you have received cards. This is part of our ministry of caring. I have a great deal of love for this congregation. Pam, the family and I felt called of God to come here and be your shepherd. It was not taken lightly. We prayed about it a lot. Several months ago, a someone in our congregation took some of our students out to eat after church on Sunday morning. I could see the joy her face as she described the time that she had with the kids and I could see the disappointment on her face as she told me the heartbreak of taking the kids home after lunch. Matter-of-fact, she tried to take one of our students home and mom said just to keep her for the afternoon and bring her home after evening church. (Is that sad or what?) I thank God for those of you who are in the congregation who give of yourselves for others. There are many of you.
Mosaic Student Ministries is one opportunity to reach out to the students of Henry County and Martinsville. If Tuesday night’s report on StarNews is anything close to accurate we have a tremendous opportunity for ministry. There is a world that needs us.
Let me close and challenge you with this. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:20 “We are Christ’s ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, ‘Be reconciled to God!’” Paul is telling us who are in Christ that we are his ambassadors to speak to the world for God. That is cool and yet sobering in one fell swoop. Paul commands (urges) us to speak as those Christ himself were speaking and pleading to those around us who don’t know him, “Be reconciled to God!” That is our job to be Christ’s ambassador and to bring others into right relationship with God. Be listening this week to their cries. Be Christ to a world in need. Be His hands and feet.