A few months back, my wife and I were invited to a couples wedding shower for a friend’s daughter in McCalla. More specifically, it was in the Letson Farms subdivision. Because my wife was one of the hostesses, she had to be there early. Since it was torture enough for me to have to attend a shower at all–whose idea was it to start inviting men to these things?–I decided I didn’t want to spend any more time there than required, so I dropped her off and headed off to find something to do for an hour.
I remembered that a cousin of mine in California had traced our family tree, and he had discovered that Letson Farms was land where some distant kinfolks had once had a dairy farm. My cousin had also found that my great, great grandfather was buried in a church cemetery that is located right near the subdivision. So, I thought I’d go for a walk through the graveyard.
It is an old cemetery, though it’s now right off of I-459, with graves dating back to the early 1800’s, including one person who was a veteran of the War of 1812. I found the section where several grave markers displayed the name “Letson,” and there was the headstone of my grandfather’s grandfather. Beneath his name on the marker were two things: A set of dates: 1833-1902; and the simple statement: “Tho’ lost to sight, to memory dear.”
I was reminded of a sermon I heard once, and a poem quoted within in, entitled “The Dash.” It pointed to the “dash” in the middle of those two dates on a tombstone. We all know that the first date is when the person was born, and the second was when they died. But when you think about it, it’s that simple horizontal line in the middle that represents their whole life.
And really, though it’s usually ignored, it’s that punctuation mark–the dash–that counts most. It’s not so much when you started, or when you’ll stop, as what you do with the time between the dates. Or, more specifically, what you do with your “dash.”
So, I have to ask: What are you doing with yourdash? What kind of legacy are you leaving, by the kind of life that you are living? We can all choose, intentionally, what we do with the time God allots us here on earth, to invest it in those things that really matter, and to live in such a way that leaves a legacy that honors Him.
I pray that your dash is blessed this week, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
“The church exists by missions, just as fire exists by burning.” That famous quote from theologian Emil Brunner speaks volumes about what drives the people of God to do what they do and be who they are. We are, if nothing else, a mission organization.
It is so encouraging to see that heart for missions continue to spread around this family of faith we call Shelby Crossings. It
This Sunday, we’ll “send out” a couple who are literally selling out (and selling off their belongings), buying a one-way ticket to Uganda, to commit their lives to making disciples and serving Jesus by loving the people there in His name. We’ll also be sending out a team from our church going to Lesibovu, Swaziland–for the third straight summer–to minister to the children at the CarePoint there. We already have another young lady from our church family who is spending her summer serving in another area of Swaziland, and we had another who just returned from a couple of weeks on mission in the jungles of Peru.
On Tuesday night, a group from our church will make their way to downtown Birmingham for the second time in nine days to serve dinner to the homeless men of the Firehouse Shelter. It won’t be across the ocean, but it will be living out kingdom ministry to “the least of these,” just as our Master commanded us to do.
This week, we also delivered more than 500 items of food that our children collected during our Vacation Bible School last week, to a local mission organization to be distributed to those in need. And we will soon be sending another 100 pounds of beans and peas to a different food pantry ministry that serves our community.
And that’s not even mentioning the dozens of ministries and missionaries around the world with which our church partners, both with our prayers and our financial resources, to share the gospel, plant churches, and meet the needs of the orphan and widow.
Yes, this may be a bit of an exceptional week, but in some ways it’s just a picture of who we are–at least I hope that’s true. Which brings us back to Brunner’s quote from above. He was saying, in essence, that a church that is not “on mission” is, well, whatever it is, it’s not really being a church. When we cease to be missional in our theology and our methodology, in how we think and in what we do, then we stop functioning as the New Testament church. We’re merely a social club, interested only in our own comfort and well-being. And that doesn’t look anything like the Biblical picture of the Body of Christ.
All of us have a role in our being a mission-focused body, whether it’s going, praying, giving or just living the gospel on your block every day. Thanks be to God that we’re doing that a little more each day. And thanks to each of you for your obedience in following Jesus.
I do count it a privilege to serve you–and serve with you–as the pastor of such a great church. I’m praying for you, and I look forward to seeing each of you on Sunday.
At the risk of dating myself–and I did enough of that in high school–this Sunday, July 20, will mark the anniversary of one of the most momentous events of my lifetime. I was just a kid on that date in 1969 when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon. It was a really big deal. I still remember vividly the excitement of that historic night when we got to stay up late and hear Armstrong say, “One small step for man…” as he took that first step onto the surface of the moon.
In reality, Armstrong was one of 218,000 people involved in making that first lunar landing happen. He may have gotten most of the recognition, but he would have been the first to tell you that it was a team effort. He never would have made it to the moon had it not been for a team of thousands of committed individuals who had worked day and night for years to make it happen.
Our walk as believers–and the ministry we carry out as the church–is likewise a “team sport.” God intends for us to work together to do what we could never do by ourselves. As our church’s core values state, and the outdated signs on our warehouse walls remind us, “every member is a a minister,” and “what we do, we do together.”
That is never truer than when we as a church join together for a wonderful ministry effort like this week’s Vacation Bible School. So many of you have worked tirelessly to plan and prepare for our VBS, and then we’ve seen more than seventy volunteers come together to give of yourselves as partners in ministry this week. Truly, the Lord has been honored, and I’m excited to see the fruit that He is bearing in the lives of the children, as well as the adult and youth workers.
Thanks to each of you for your sacrifice and service, and thanks be to God for the eternal things He is doing in the lives of boys and girls this week. Please continue to pray that “He who began a good work, will continue to complete it in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)
“I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” –Psalm 133:1
Let me start off by saying that I know that church is not a place, but a people; and we don’t “go” to church, weare the church. That is fundamental to all that we are at The Church at Shelby Crossings, and I believe it is more than just semantics. It is a mindset that determines how we see church, and how we “do” church week to week, outside the walls of our building.
Still, in our culture, so many people automatically assume that “church” is the place we go, or the service we attend on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. Whatever we call it, I hope we can all agree with the psalmist that we are glad for every opportunity we have to gather with God’s people in the (ware)house of the Lord.
The truth is, many are not so glad. They attend more out of obligation, or religious duty, or guilt management than because they love to celebrate God’s grace in their lives or hear His truth proclaimed. I would suggest that how we “go” determines a great deal how glad we are when we get there. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions this week on how to “go to church.”
First, may I recommend that you make the effort to go to church
I would also suggest that you go to church
So, let’s “go to church” this Sunday–on time, looking to serve instead of to be served, and e I’m praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to being back with you this Sunday.
“The land of the free, and the home of the brave.” At least that’s how the “Star-Spangled Banner” describes these United States. Whether that is still true in either instance is very much in question.
For many of the freedoms upon which this nation was founded have been slowly eroding, especially those involving our public faith in God. Many of us have allowed voices in our culture to convince us that the “separation of church and state” denies any matters of faith in the public arena. We have often shrunk back in our bravery and given up our freedom to be “Christian,” and the world we live in suffers dearly for it.
Which brings us to tomorrow, Independence Day, 2014. As our nation prepares to celebrate her 238th birthday, we would all do well to be reminded of the godly heritage on which this nation was founded. It is a heritage that is being increasingly imperiled by those who wish to purge our Christian ancestry from contemporary culture.
We need look no further than our first president, George Washington, to understand the roots of godly acknowledgment by our forefathers. In September, 1779, the House of Representatives, after passing a resolution calling for a day of national prayer and thanksgiving, received President Washington’s response:
It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits and humbly to implore His protection and favor….That great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that ever will be, that we may then unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people…
You have to wonder if certain segments of our society wouldn’t try to run the “Father of our Country” out of town on a rail for such comments today. Even so, as hard as they may try to remove God from our national heritage, they cannot. History will not allow it, and we mustn’t allow it.
As we celebrate America’s birthday with food, and family, and fireworks, let us not take lightly the godly heritage which has been passed down to us. Let us be brave to stand for our freedom. And let us recommit ourselves to being distinctly Christian in our citizenship, for that is what our nation needs most.
Happy Birthday, America! And happy Independence Day to all of you, free and brave. Have a safe and blessed holiday weekend.