Saturday, July 11, 2009

"...These brothers of Mine..."

Matthew25:31-40 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him then He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and he will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. The King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and cloth You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

I would like to write about a subject that is for me a passion. That is ministering to people who are marginalized by today’s society. These are human being made in the imago Dei, the image of God; yet are considered non-productive or even burdens on society. Mainly I am referring to the elderly, the chronically ill and the disabled.

In our franticly paced lives, we have to feel productive at all times. If we aren’t multi-tasking we are not managing our time effectively. We are always responsibly paying our bills, taxes and saving for kid’s college tuition and our own retirement. Yep, we’ve got things well in control. We drive the kids to school or soccer practice, and we turn a blind eye to the “bum” (excuse me “homeless person”) on the corner with a sign. We go to church on Sunday and wonder in passing where the “old couple” who sit in the back are; but the thought passes. We see a news program about people suffering from “chronic fatigue syndrome” and think, “oh, another ‘designer disease’, it’s all in their heads”.

Why should we be concerned for these people? After all, isn’t that what the government is for? And really, I don’t want to pay anymore taxes to support people who are nothing more that burdens on society, they should be doing something productive. After all, isn’t it written “those who don’t work don’t eat”? I mean really, we have Medicaid and disability insurance for people like that, don’t we?

Now, I am making an assumption who my “audience” is. So I am speaking to Christians. Right; now as my friend and pastor says “Ok, do you have your feet on the floor?” What does Jesus teach concerning care of the “least of these”? And truly what does it mean to care? Do you think we always have to “throw money” at a problem. No, sports fans, God is asking for something much more important…You! Your time…the most valuable thing God gives you. An investment of yourself! Can you not find 1 or 2 hours a week to visit someone in a nursing home? And in this era of instant messaging, do you still know how to write a letter? Why not start a correspondence with someone house bound? Could you take the time to send a note? What about volunteering at the local homeless shelter once a week?

Honey, if you say you are a Christian and you are proud of the fact that you tithe and attend regularly and read a little Bible and don’t cuss and are pleasant and kind to people just like you (see Matthew 5:46)…even giving an encouraging Bible verse to co-workers who are having a tough day…What do you think will happen when you face Jesus in heaven? Do you realize that even Judas Iscariot cast out demons?

Matthew 7:21-23 “ Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you…’”

So what are you going to do?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Weeding the Garden

Isaiah 51:3 Indeed, the Lord will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and sound of a melody.

I am so excited! I now have my very own ministry! Yep, I now minister to the rose garden at my church. I am including a before picture so you get the idea. The gardens around the church have not been really cared for in well over three years (and frankly I think longer than that), but although it is going to be a ton of work; I am so glad to have the chance to do this. And I had forgotten how much I enjoy gardening and the outdoor physical work…I grew up on a small farm and did spend years working on horse farms…so I do know a little about caring for gardens.

But as I got started with the first section of weeding and pruning, I realized that this is why I need to be patient in my own life and with the desire I have to serve God, I am not ready. Like this garden, I have been un-weeded and un-pruned for over 12 years. I had a few straggly blooms bravely trying to come out, but for the most part I have been fallow. Now I am back with the Lord, and the real work has to begin; the weeding, and pruning, and re-planting…the list is huge and will take a long time. If you get the picture of a fallow field, un-planted for years; you have weeds, small unplanned trees, briars and rocks brought up by the frost. So my spirit is a mess. But on the bright side, if you know anything about farming, you know that the “soil” of my life actually has had a rest and now with clearing will be ready to be used. But like the garden; the clearing will take time.

So maybe an analogy can be like planting perennials…First year is resting, second year is root growth and third year is top growth…So we’ll see.

John 15:1-2 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.