Stripping paint… How ministry can be tough when you don’t get to see the end of the project.

DSC01756This past weekend I was on a retreat with High school students from Big Rapids, Muskegon, and Grand Rapids. I loved it.  I loved talking about Christ with them and on the first night we spent talking about the term whatever.  We focused on whatever we do, we do it for Jesus.  If we hold the door open we do if for Jesus, If we clean up after dinner we do it for Jesus, If we scrape paint we do it for Jesus.

We scraped a lot of paint.  In fact when we arrived we had thought we would be painting.  We came to finish this great project.  Instead we spent 8 hours scraping one building.  It was hard work.  The building was build in 1957 and had at least 6 coats of paint on it.  The process was spread paint remover goop on building, wait 30 minutes scrape, get off a layer or two,  and repeat.  If you waited too long it got dry and stopped working. At one point someone said “Wow this is hard work.” And I said “Yes and we are paying to do it!” It was hard and to be honest. I am not sure we all had the satisfaction of seeing a completely striped building ready for paint. Being the scraper of paint is tough work and not very satisfying.

So I think scraping paint reminds a lot of being a disciple of Jesus. Sharing Jesus with students, friends, families, enemies and everyone in between is tough work.  Sometimes when we spread the good news you don’t get to see it finished. even after you spend a lot of time on it.  We would love for it to happen so quickly. We would love to be able to pray, talk and conversion happens.  You don’t always get to see the beautiful building God is working them into.  You see siding that looks beat up.  You see the little bits of stubborn paint on a person that just isn’t wiped clean.  Sometimes at the end of your time with the building, you don’t see the finished project just a building you worked on.  I can be so frustrating.

I tried to tell the students this weekend.  This project isn’t complete.  We did what God had planned for us to complete.  We followed Jesus. We served and one day the whole project will be finished.  It wasn’t our job to finish it was are call to start the project.

As you think about that person, or family who needs to hear about Jesus, and are frustrated that the job isn’t done remember we all play a part and sometimes we don’t get to see the finish just are part of the process.

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  1 Corinthians 3:5-7 ESV

 

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You can’t swim alone…Faith is something lived out in community.

DSC00958American Christianity is way too focused on individuality.  I constantly here from people “faith is personal, and none of your business.” Faith is a me and God thing leave me alone.  That is hog wash.  This Christian walk is not about being alone.  It is about walking together with others.  It is not just a you and God thing.God’s kingdom here on earth is not just about you.

So for all of you who are mad and screaming at your screen calm down. Stop screaming at the screen it is weird when someone is screaming at a screen.  Second our faith is lived out in community.  Yes your faith is between you and God but it is lived out in community.

Regular worship attendance in a Church is less than once a month.  People who are coming to worship are coming and running back out the door.  Many seem do to it when they have nothing else going on. This is a sad thing.  This is a work of the devil to get us isolated so we can be picked off.  So he can drown us in our own sin.

The early Christian Church thought of the sanctuary as a nave or ship.  They talked about it as the place people came to be together in faith.  Where they could lift each other up.  My comment to people who say they don’t need to come together for worship is “You can swim in the ocean for a long time but without a ship you will die.”  As disciples in Christ we are called lift each other up. We are called to

This week is Holy week.  I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ that they would come and gather with us to hear about what Christ has done for us.  That we may look at each other this weekend reminding each other of our sin, and the work Christ did for us so we could experience forgiveness from God.   We live this faith out in community and that is what we need to encourage each other to do.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV