Tag Archives: church fellowship

Haggai; Caring For The Church

I’ve shared that our pastor obeyed God’s call to minister at another church, leaving us pastor-less for the time being. We certainly miss him. But what an exciting time to be a part of this fellowship!

I thought about us, and other churches like us with pastor search committees, as I read what God had to say through Haggai. The Jews had neglected the Temple, they let it fall into ruin. Yet their own homes were state-of-the-art. Maybe an exaggeration, but God said:

Because of my house, which remains in ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. (1:9)

God was doling out discipline for their lack of care for His house. Now I’m not suggesting our church is in ruin because Pastor Whit is no longer here. Quite the opposite is true. In fact, the three men who have filled the pulpit since Pastor left have all had a similar theme – Don’t stop!

We’ve been encouraged not to think of this season as “limbo.” We’ve been challenged to step up our service and giving instead of sitting back and waiting until we call a preacher. Why? Because this isn’t Pastor Whit’s church. Never has been. Never will be. This is God’s church here on this island. And WE are charged with it’s upkeep and growth.

We had our quarterly business meeting last Sunday evening. The various committees gave reports, and we were caught up on where we are in the pastor search process. My heart was blessed as the reports were given, how excited people are about ministry opportunities in and through our church, how much prayer is being given for each area of service, and how much we are seeking God’s will for our future. I don’t see this church fellowship going into ruin any time soon!

But the potential is there. Not just for us, but for any church looking to call a Shepherd. Not just for us, but any church fellowship in transition.

For some people, it might be easy to step back a bit during these times, to sleep in on Sundays rather than taking a chance on the potluck preacher who is speaking this week until we call an interim. It might be tempting to cut back on giving since we’re not paying a preacher right now. (Who couldn’t use a few extra bucks each month?) It might seem we are within our rights to turn down ministry opportunities until we see where this thing is going.

But God needs us to keep his house in good repair – not because of a pastor – but because it’s GOD’s. Haggai reminds us there are consequences to pay for neglecting God’s house. I know we can apply this to our church fellowships as well.

You most likely have a pastor at your church. Are you letting him be the sole carer of God’s house? Are there things you should be doing to make your fellowship vital, fruit-bearing, and beautiful? Many times things start falling apart slowly, almost imperceptibly. We get used to passing by that door hanging off its hinges. We get used to not seeing the Smiths or Joneses in Sunday School, before we forget they were even there. Giving is down, but we don’t even realize the pastor’s salary has been cut, or that there is no money to repair the roof.

Dear one, we have the honor of caring for God’s house, for caring for His Church, for caring for his children. Let’s determine to keep His house in full repair, running on all cylinders, and being a bright light in our communities for Jesus’ sake.

With or without a pastor in the pulpit.

 

May 25 – Mow The Lawn

1 Chronicles 23-25

Everyone had a job to do. These chapters tell of the division of responsibilities for the Levites. Some were purifiers, some bakers, some were assigned to offer burnt sacrifices, and 288 of them were assigned to the praise team.

Often in Scripture we read about the division of labor: God’s people coming together to use their gifts and abilities in service to the Lord. I believe it’s a theme we in the 21st Century still need to apply to our church fellowships.

Has God laid on your heart to volunteer in the nursery? Do it. Maybe the person who is filling that position now is being called to teach a Sunday School class. Maybe in that Sunday School class there is a little girl who needs to hear the Gospel from this person.

Have you thought about mowing the church’s lawn on a regular basis? Maybe that’s God nudging you to serve in that way so the pastor can spend more time visiting people than sitting on the mower. Mowing the lawn is an important service. Should you be the one doing it?

There is something for you to do within your church fellowship. Being an elder, serving on the bereavement committee, updating the webpage, helping with VBS, putting flowers on the altar, pulling weeds, being a greeter, singing in the choir, washing dishes… In fact, your church will not be as effective without your obedience to God to use the gifts and abilities He blessed you with.

We need healthy churches. I pray your church is one because you are faithful.

April 6 – Safe Places

Judges 19-21

Where do you turn when you feel lost, or afraid, or overwhelmed by the circumstances of life? I hope you all can answer that question by saying you go directly to God in prayer.

But I’m talking in addition to that. When you get up off your knees, where do you go to feel safe? Who in your life represents that safe place we all need from time to time?

Judges 19 tells of a Jewish man traveling with his wife and servant. It was getting late in the day, and they were close to a town of non-Jewish people. The man decided to travel a bit further because he did not want to stay with foreigners. They went, instead, to Gibeah, a town of the tribe of Benjamin.

First of all, the travelers were ignored by their fellow Jews. No one offered to take them in until an old guy showed up and invited them into his home. Read the account for yourself. It’s horrible what happened.

Shouldn’t we be able to feel the safest with our families? Shouldn’t we be welcomed and cared for by those related to us? And shouldn’t the same be said for our churches?

This story made me think of those who have been hurt or betrayed by people in their homes, or in their churches. We probably all know someone who tells of mistreatment at the hands of those who they trusted to care for them. Maybe you have experienced that pain yourself.

If you describe your home as a Christian home, is it the one place on earth your children feel the most welcome, the safest, the best loved? Even when discipline is required?

Is your church fellowship warm and caring and forgiving? Or is there gossip and jealousy and pride running rampant? Do your members have reason to trust and support each other?

If there is hurt going on, don’t just stand by and let it happen. That makes you just as guilty as the one inflicting harm. Let’s put our homes and churches in order and set them as the standard for which everyone else strives.

Our Christian homes and our churches need to be the safest, most caring and loving places in the lives of our fellow Christians. And making that a reality is something you can do.

Dear God, I pray for all of us today as we take a look at our homes and our church fellowships. Convict those of us who are guilty of holding grudges, or having a mean temper, or who gossip, or are jealous… I pray that you will help us to repent, to speak up against mistreatment of our brothers and sisters, and to demand that our homes and churches be the safest place for a Christian to be. May You be glorified as we love one another like You love us.

March 6 – We Are Family

Numbers 26&27

These chapters in Numbers are about family. Moses was counting the men from each family because God was preparing them to receive their portion of the Promised Land.

Reading this certainly has me thinking about my family. I like being one of the “Zehner girls.” I am blessed to have been born into this particular family, even with all our imperfections. We were raised by parents who loved each other, and us. And we were encouraged to love the Lord.

However, the generations of Zehners before us were people who largely ignored God. Alcoholics, unfaithful spouses, kids from the wrong side of the tracks. So when a Zehner married a Kindinger, that ball stopped rolling.

Yes, I was blessed to be a part of this family, and my sisters and their children continue to be a blessing to me all these years later. But not everyone reading this blog has had the same experience as me. Some of you have been wounded by your family, and wear the scars of neglect and abuse.

So did my Dad. But I thank God he made different choices than other members of his family. So can you.

I worshiped this morning with people I love, none of whom is remotely related to a Zehner. I walked through those doors and was greeted by people glad to see me. I made it a point to say Hi to someone I hadn’t seen in a few weeks. And it was my pleasure to invite a woman visiting for the first time to sit with me. I sat there and shared the Lord’s Table with these dear people, sang hymns and songs of worship together with them, drank in the message about Jesus’ last days on this earth.

Here’s the thing. All of us, no matter to what family we were born, have an opportunity to belong to a family of believers. I hope you are a part of such a fellowship, loving and serving and worshiping and caring for each other.

Family is important in the Bible. Moses was preparing the people to enter the Promised Land. But they weren’t going solo. They were going together with their families.

I would encourage you to cherish those people in your home. And if you find yourself alone, I pray you will find a Bible believing fellowship where you can develop close relationships. Yes, we who know Christ as our Savior are members of the Church, the Kingdom of God. Everyone Moses counted that day were members of the Jewish nation, the children of God.

But they each had a smaller, more intimate identity, too. It’s called family.

I’m praying for yours.

Father, Thank you for coming up with the idea of “family.” Thank you for Bob and Ginny, Peggy, Kathy, Nancy, and Sally, my family. Such good memories. Such blessings yet today. Thank you for nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, all of whom I am privileged to love. And I thank you for my two church families. Bless those dear ones at Bellville Baptist Church in Ohio. Bless the Frederica Baptist Church family in Georgia. I love being a part of both of these fellowships of believers. I pray for those reading this blog who have been hurt by family members. I pray for those who have been hurt by church family members. God, I pray that you would heal and encourage each one. And, God, I pray that we all will find that family connection within our church walls. We want to enter that Promised Land shoulder to shoulder with people who love us, and who we love. And thank You for being the best Father ever. Above all, I love being Your child.

 

Feb 10 – Let Me Do That

Exodus 33-35

Did you think of your church fellowship when you read these chapters in Exodus today? God moved people to action. And they obeyed. Some gave of their material possessions. Some gave of their time as they used their talents for sewing, building, carving, designing…

The Tabernacle would be made by hundreds of people, working together, following God’s leading. This is what being a church is all about.

There is a dear woman in my church who loves to sew. God laid on her heart to start a sewing ministry, not knowing how many women would even be interested. But she was faithful. Once a month from five to twenty five women gather in the fellowship hall. Some bring sewing machines, some have scissors, some bring irons. They have made Salvation Dolls and sent them to a missionary who uses them to introduce children in Africa to their Savior. They made draw string bags to put in the boxes for Operation Christmas Child. They’ve made walker bags for a nursing home in our neighborhood. They’ve made neck pillows, bookmarks, snuggle pillows for a children’s hospital, blankets, and they’ve only been meeting for about a year.

My sister feels led to minister to elderly women in her church who live alone. (Happy Birthday, Peggy. I love you!) Through her church’s visitation ministry, she visits about five women every month, takes them to the grocery if they need, takes them to lunch or the doctor, prays with them, or just sits with them. She sends them cards, and calls them just to say hi.

There is a church where a few retired men got together and formed a committee that will pick up used appliances, clean and repair them, then give them to needy people in the community. They fix furniture for the same reason.

I’ve shared that my church provides a free meal every month for the community. There are several people in this tiny fellowship who organize, cook, serve, and clean up month after month for about 100 people who enjoy a hot meal with all the fixins.

Some people are called by God to teach Sunday School, work in the nursery, mow the church lawn, cook, clean, sing, work with Youth groups, give financially.

And when these people follow God’s lead, great things can happen for our churches in Jesus’ name.

Do you feel God’s call to some ministry in your church? Don’t depend on someone else to obey your call. Step right up and say, “Let me do that!”