Monday, May 23, 2011

Side Street - Hope Sunday

     Hold on, we are on the exit ramp of our Journey.  We will return to see one more thing from the Noah story.  We will look at Noah's first act once he got off the ark.  It wasn't kiss the ground.  That's what I would have done.  That and ordered a "biggie fry" from McDonalds.
     Our side street today is in response to a great day at our church.  We had Hope Sunday, which is a day on which the church has the challenge and opportunity to sponsor children in third world countries.  World Vision was the organization that was featured today.  Just a bit of trivia, World Vision is the world's largest non-profit organization.
     I don't want to focus on World Vision, although it deserves all the attention it gets.  I don't even want to focus on the children that were being sponsored, as adorable as they each are.  What I do want to focus on is what it did to our church.  We sometimes fail to see all the peripheral benefits when we are responding to World Vision, Compassion Int'l, Feed the Hungry, etc.  All we see are the faces of these precious children.  However, it was far more than these kids getting sponsored.
     Let me make three observations of what took place Sunday.  Before I finish writing this, it might turn into 5 observations.  Some significant things happened that I feel will have a lasting impact on Crossroads Community Church.
  1. The Youth stepped up and took the lead without being asked to.  They did it on their own.  The first three children sponsored were by three teenagers who plan on using their own money to flip the bill.  That means that "things" moved down the priority list and the "least of these" moved up the list.  That is huge.  That first step or action toward a life of selfless response puts these young people on a course that will change their life forever.  It may have just saved them from the "American Dream" of more and better.  It shows a sense of personal ministry developing within their hearts.  It is easy to go to church for years without ever developing the idea that we are all ministers and must personally respond to God's tugs on our hearts.  Our young people provide a spark that we adults need.  Youth, I am proud of you!!!
  2. Our adults were challenged.  We should be the leaders, not the ones being led.  Masks seemed to fall and some real honesty showed its beautiful face.  One lady shared, "It's just a matter of making adjustments so we can do what is right."  That was truth unleashed.  Things that consume so much of our budgets have such insignificant value compared to investing in the lives of the poor and needy and in many cases the orphaned.  Once again, as with the youth, it is a step in the right direction.  It is step toward laying up treasures in heaven, rather than laying up earthly treasures.  Not only the desire to do it, but the desire to share it and validate it was evidence  that God was working in the hearts of our people.  We can go weeks without any tangible signs of God's working.  That is sad, but true.  Hearing the testimonies of those who have been sponsoring for awhile validates that obedience to God is a fulfilling experience.
  3. God responded.  The objective was to sponsor children.  The result was that hearts were moved toward authentic ministry.  We all felt the divine moments.  Our hearts were lifted as God responded to our giving and obedience.  When you do right, God deepens you, which will eventually expand you,  ministry capabilities grow.  Children were sponsored and that's a good thing, but as significant, hearts were challenged and changed.  Do we really need to pray about this kind of thing?  Do we need to ask God who we are to be neighbors to?  Do we need to ask if we need to help the widows? Do we need to pray about whether or not to witness, to serve, to love?  Of course not!  When we do these things we invite God into the equation. That is when the journey gets exciting.
I consider it a privilege to be a part of growing people.  People who are actively seeking to be real and make a difference.  Proud of my fellow travelers.  You moved me more in the right direction.  If you were one who was nudged, but not moved, you still were turned in the right direction and together we can JOIN THE JOURNEY.

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