Pastor's Blog
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March 17, 2017, 12:00 AM

Words Matter...

Betsy and I are blessed to be part of a small group that meets for prayer and fellowship and spiritual conversation once a week (at Christ Church we call them “Connection Groups.”) We are currently reading a book together called “The Life You’ve Always Wanted” by John Ortberg. It’s a book about getting in touch with the real target of the Jesus-thing, what God really did when he came among us as one of us. “The primary goal of spiritual life is human transformation.” John writes. “It is not making sure people know where they’re going after they die, or helping them have a richer interior life, or seeing that they have lots of information about the Bible, although these can be good things. Let’s put first things first. The first goal of spiritual life is the reclamation of the human race.” (p. 21) The book builds on that idea by presenting several different “practices” (Celebration, Slowing, Prayer, Confession and others) that are really pathways that God travels with us so that we can live into the reclamation that was secured for us on the cross and the abandoned tomb of Easter morning.

The practice we are looking at this week is “servanthood.” It is the prescription John offers for the tendency we all have to think more of ourselves than we ought to – “the messiah complex” he calls it. We all struggle with pride – every so often, frequently, or habitually – (pick where you are in those descriptions – BE HONEST). All of us – from the Adam and Eve stories in Genesis 3, right down to the present moments of life in the now – have tried to take God’s place – to manage life for God, because we think God needs our help. John says, “In place of pride, Jesus invites us to a life of humility: ‘All who humble themselves will be exalted.”… Humility has to do with submitted willingness. It involves a healthy self-forgetfulness. We will know we have begun to make progress in humility when we find that we get so enabled by the Holy Spirit to live in the moment that we cease to be preoccupied with ourselves, one way or the other. When we are with others, we are truly with them, not wondering how they can benefit us.” (pp. 111-112)

John says one of the primary ways we can pursue humility is through the practice of servanthood. Servanthood involves devoting ourselves to things like recognizing the sacred in the mundane, and seeing kingdom opportunities in interruptions, and being real and honest about and thankful for our weaknesses and limitations. The one that really got my attention was “The Ministry of Holding Your Tongue.” Now isn’t that an interesting phrase – the notion that holding one’s tongue – being attentive to what one says, how one says it, and where one says it – is actually a ministry – a way of serving others. John quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words… It must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him.” (p. 123) Reminds me of something Bishop Tom Bickerton used to say: “Here in Western Pennsylvania, if you think it you say it, and when you say it, it comes out twice as bad as when you thought it.”

The war of words has multiple battle fronts these days: news media, newspapers and magazines, internet news, and of course, social media – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. The “soldiers” in this war include everyone from Trump’s tweets to Hillary’s emails to the Facebook posts that show up on my newsfeed moment by moment. Pastor David addressing Trump’s tweets or Hillary’s emails is wasted energy, but can I say a word to those of us who post things on Facebook - especially to those who are my sisters and brothers in Christ? Can I encourage us to remember Who we are following as Lord? Can I challenge us to keep our allegiance to Jesus front and center when we are engaging stories or situations via social media? Can I remind us that as followers of Jesus it is absolutely right and proper to interact with the issues of our day in the light of who Jesus is and what Jesus says, but we must express our thoughts about those issues in the Jesus way (take a look at Matthew 5-7) I get concerned when I see responses to Facebook posts from folks who I know claim Jesus as Lord that don’t look a lot different from the responses of people who don’t give much time to Jesus at all. As Christ followers, we are to be vessels of grace and peace – calling for rational and respectful conversation about things, even if others would choose to be hostile and heated with their words. And believe me, after writing those last four sentences, I am going to get up immediately and read them back to myself while looking in the mirror. My wife, my daughter, our Administrative Assistant – all would be voices telling me to “practice what I preach!”

 WORDS MATTER sisters and brothers – what we say, how we say it, when and where we say it. Our words either honor the Christ we follow, or betray Him. If you’re game, look back over some of the things you’ve written recently – emails, tweets, Facebook posts – and shine the light of your allegiance to Jesus on them. In that light, ask yourself a simple question: Honor or betrayal?

Now then…….let me hit print and make my way to the mirror…………..

Keep Lookin’ Up!

Pastor David



03-18-2017 at 12:42 PM
Lynn Harriger
I was confronted with love by a special friend about one post I posted! God moment, very careful now! God first in everything!
03-18-2017 at 9:14 AM
Tom Lux
Hi. This is off subject but we met a amazing teacher/pastor at Ft. Meyers. He said he studies and from 4-8 every day. He mentioned that the 20-30 minutes or sermon most Christians hear is close to nothing. He owns a full time business, but the Word is his passion. He teaches/preaches a 5 HOUR lesson at Naples on Sunday but considers Saturday as his Sabbath. He explains the Bible in old Hebrew & Aramaic and considers him self a Rabbi but we do not think he is Jewish.He lives the haircuts or beard cut, wears four (forgot name0 tassels on his pants and that we should too! I could go on but just wanted to share We love ya Tom&joyce.
03-17-2017 at 12:08 PM
Pat Mann
Often I've "opened mouth, inserted foot" and regretted that. I ask the Holy Spirit daily to keep a check on my mouth, to give me the "mind & mouth" of Jesus. I would like to borrow that book from someone, someday.
03-17-2017 at 11:54 AM
Thank you!! We all need a reality check once in awhile.
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