“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.”–1 Cor. 1:27
Several years ago, Bruce Larson wrote in his book Wind and Fireabout the interesting life of sandhill cranes. And since I know your week would not be complete without hearing some fascinating information about sandhill cranes, I thought I’d share it with you.
These large birds, which fly great distances across continents, have three remarkable qualities. First, they rotate leadership. No one bird stays out front all the time. Second, they choose leaders who can handle turbulence. And then, all during the time one bird is leading, the rest are honking their affirmation.
That’s a helpful reminder of a good model we might want to follow at Shelby Crossings as we rally behind our new team of elders who have been led by the Lord to provide spiritual leadership for our congregation. We recently announced two “new” elders who were carefully selected through a process of nomination from the church body, evaluation by an elder selection team, and a time of seeking God’s will for His direction and guidance. Both of these men have served as elders before, and will join five other elders who are holdovers from previous years.
Our new elders are Todd Cotton and Tom Vines, and they will join Skip Coulter, Mark Young, Lafero Ralph, Joel Wallace and Ken Letson on our elder team for 2011-12. We also want to recognize and express our appreciation to the two elders who are rolling off, James Vines and Ryan Smith, who have served faithfully during some difficult times of transition in the life of our church the past three years.
It’s important that we realize, like the sandhill cranes, that we need leaders who can handle turbulence. This is especially important as we seek to be the kind of church that truly makes an impact on our community in an increasingly hostile world. We also need leaders who understand that leadership is to be shared, “team players” who understand what it means to serve one another. But most of all, we need to be a church that knows how to get behind our leaders and honk our encouragement. That’s a key ingredient in helping our flock continue to fly high.
This Sunday, March 27, as part of our worship service, we’ll have a short time of affirmation and prayer for our new elders, as we as a congregation rally around these shepherds and offer our support and encouragement. I hope you can be with us for this special time. I also hope you will be actively praying for The Church at Shelby Crossings, that God would keep His hand of blessing on our church and would lead us through these men of God.
And don’t forget to “honk…if you love Jesus!”
I’m praying for you, and I can’t wait to see you Sunday.
The tree was not sturdy enough to climb, so the pastor decided that if he tied a rope to his car and drove away a bit so that the tree bent down, he could then reach up and get the kitten.
He did all this, checking his progress in the car frequently, then figured if he went just a little bit further, the tree would be bent sufficiently for him to reach the kitten. But as he moved a little further forward, the rope broke. The tree went “boing!”and the kitten instantly disappeared into the air, sailing out of sight.
The pastor felt terrible. He walked all over the neighborhood asking people if they’d seen a little kitten. Dead or alive. No. Nobody had seen a stray kitten. So he prayed, “Lord, I just commit this kitten to your keeping,” and went on about his business.
A few days later he was at the grocery store, and met one of his church members. He happened to look into her shopping cart and was amazed to see cat food. Now this woman was a cat hater and everyone knew it, so he asked her, “Why are you buying cat food when you hate cats so much?”
She replied, “You won’t believe this Pastor,” and told him how her little girl had been begging her for a cat, but she kept refusing. Then a few days before, the child had begged again, so out of frustration the Mom finally told her little girl, “Well, if God drops you a cat from heaven, I’ll let you keep it.”
She told the pastor, “I watched my child go out in the yard, get on her knees, and beg God for a cat. And really, Pastor, you won’t believe this, but I saw it with my own eyes. A kitten suddenly came flying out of the blue sky, with its little paws outspread, and landed right in front of her!”
I have to admit, I’m a little skeptical of that “true story,” but I have seen God come through in some pretty miraculous ways, reminding me that “nothing is too difficult” for Him. That’s the focus of our new series of messages, “When You Need a Miracle,”that we’ll be continuing this Sunday at Shelby Crossings. I hope you can join us for it.
More than anything, I hope each of us is living expectantly of God’s intervention in our lives. He has a way of dropping His blessings into our laps, and all He asks of us is that we trust Him enough to pray. So, what are you asking God for today? Whatever it is, look up…and be careful! You just might get what you ask for!
I’ve watched so many people on Facebook this week–and especially students–counting down the days till spring break. I can’t say that I blame them. All of us need a break every now and then.
It seems that no one ever wants to be broken, though it’s a common theme biblically, and a wonderful virtue that we even sing about in many of our contemporary worship songs. But most often it’s something we’d rather sing about than experience first-hand.
Interestingly, the word “broken” occurs 28 times in the book of Jeremiah, and three more time in the book of Lamentations (which Jeremiah authored). The weeping prophet, as Jeremiah was called, was a man whose heart was broken by the sins of his people and the tragedies of his times. It’s not hard to feel his sadness sometimes when he writes things like: “Why did I come forth from the womb to see labor and sorrow?” (Jer. 20:18).
Would Jeremiah have avoided the brokenness he experienced had he been given the option? I think he probably would have. Most of us would do likewise. But I’m not sure we should miss the opportunities of the “breaks” that come in our lives, that lead us into brokenness. Even if they are painful.
Just think of how greatly God used Jeremiah despite–or even, because of–his broken heart. He drew people to God in his own day, he prophesied the return of Israel from exile in future days, and his book has been ministering to the world for more than twenty-six centuries.
So too, God used difficult times in the lives of so many of the great leaders in the Bible. It was through their brokenness that He was honored most.
In an interesting play on words, the apostle Paul wrote that the God of all comfort is able to comfort others with the comfort with which He comforts us in broken times (2 Cor. 1:3-7). We can’t always avoid broken hearts, broken relationships and even broken promises. The truth is, for whatever reason in His providence, God doesn’t want us to avoid those things. He wants instead to use them to “break” us of our tendency toward self-sufficiency and increase our faith and dependence on Him. Even if it’s hard. And most often, it is.
When our brokenness is laid at the feet of Jesus, He can use our shattered circumstances to draw others to Himself, and we can rejoice in spite of our pain. After all, Jesus was broken and spilled out for us.
My prayer for each of us this spring break is that God would continue to break us, to mold us, and to teach us to trust Him as our full sufficiency. He is enough.
They are called Dude Perfect – six guys from Texas who started videoing crazy impossible basketball shots from their backyard, which went viral on YouTube. It got so big they began to make money off advertisements. They’ve now made shots from the top of a stadium and out of an airplane! What started off as a simple lunch bet became an Internet phenomenon. But more than that, they’ve used their skills for good. For every 100,000 views, they give advertisement proceeds to sponsor a Compassion child who lacks daily necessities for life.
Another place found “Compassion that is Crazy” is within our college students. Recently, they were challenged to sponsor a Compassion Child for one year. That’s $38 a month for a year. They responded not to one child’s needs but to four, as they are committing to give $152 a month to meet the needs of “the least of these.” Pretty crazy for a group of students have little to no income.
Maybe you can’t make a shot from a moving airplane (maybe you can, but don’t try it!). But you can use your talents, resources, and social network to spread a love for the poor. Start where you are. Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed a hundred then just feed one.”
Read Deuteronomy 15:11. Moses said, “You will always have the poor with you” but a few verses earlier he said, “There shall be no poor among you” (v.4). So which one is it Moses? God’s Word is saying there would be no needy among them IF all of Israel obeyed God’s commands to be generous.
Professing to have faith in God without possessing a generous life toward the poor is not the kind of faith God required. God calls us to be generous and open handed with all our stuff while always having the less fortunate on our radar. Some might wonder, “How can an ordinary person like me give to the poor?” Often we only think of the poor as the homeless guy downtown that begs for money. The poor among you includes that guy, but there are many other kinds of poor. Some are poor financially, but many around you are poor in friendship, education, health, and most of all, poor in the sense that they lack a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is no excuse to neglect the literal poor but to expand our view of poverty around us. Many think, “I do not have enough to help someone” which usually means, ‘I don’t have enough to help someone and still have enough for what I want.” Helping the poor requires sacrifice and carrying burdens. What can you give up and sacrifice in order to serve “the least of these?” How can you be a change agent to get others involved?