Why are you here? That is the question that we all have to face at one time or another. That question can be answered with a deep answer or a simple one. Recently, I read that Arlington ISD had a chance to take more than 300 students on a field trip to participate in a major task and take part in history. The school loaded up their students and brought them all to the new Texas Ranger baseball park. The students did not go there to see the architectural marvel or to learn all the details of building a new facility. Rather, they came because they were needing them to flush toilets. Whenever a large building is built like a stadium, the concern is that everyone wants to use the toilets at the same time, like at the seventh inning stretch or at halftime. So, the construction company enlisted the school to help them run water in all 2600 sinks and toilets. As I watched the news coverage about this, I was amazed at not only all the students but all the news media and photographers. In the coverage, there were students going in one stall and then in another flushing toilets but there were also at least three to five news people taking pictures. The event was a big event and necessary, I guess, but it makes me wonder is this really important?
It is a good thing that the students got the opportunity to participate and to help. For many students, they may actually remember this more than any math or English class. It shows how in life we have opportunities to make a difference and while they may be good, are they important? In everything you do, it can be “good” or “educational” or even “helpful.” But is that why we are here?
Are we here to be “good?” Are we here to be “helpful?” Should we do things that teach others? The answer to all these questions is- YES. But is that all there is? The answer to that is no. The Bible tells us that we are special and made for a purpose.
Ephesians 1:11 says “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (NIV)
This passage shows that God chose YOU! God has a plan for you and only you can complete this task. The reality is that should excite us and scare us at the same time. The task God has for you is one that may not be as easy as flushing toilets and hopefully be much more important. The reality is many of us know this but don’t really believe it or act on it. Our lives are often so busy that we can barely squeeze God into it, or feel we have done everything already so we can now stop doing anything. The reality is that while flushing toilets seems silly it was critical for them to prepare to open the new stadium, but can you imagine if the students went home and said I don’t have to go to school anymore because I have done this and now my life is complete.
The current sermon series is found in Ephesians and I hope you can see that you are special-chosen. I hope you see you are needed- adopted. I hope can understand that God is not finished with you yet. First Baptist needs you and I want to challenge you to examine your life and ask yourself, “Why am I here?” Look at your time and where you put your time, your money, and your interests. I want to challenge you to see if it aligns with the “plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” What do you need to change to make it? I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!
Merriam-Webster.com defines family as "the basic unit of society consisting of two parents rearing their children." I don't disagree with that definition, it is accurate. But here in 2020, in our modern world, I do believe that definition is too narrow.
In the United States today, more people than ever before are living in families that have been reordered by divorce. Single-parenting is a common norm. Extended family, grandparents, aunts & uncles, rarely live in the same city as their family...oftentimes across the state or country from one another. Some folks are now spending holidays with close friends rather than travel long distances to be with biological relatives. (Ever heard of "Friendsgiving?!") Our definition of family has broadened in recent times.
This widened concept of family is nothing new to the church. The local congregation has always accepted the widows and orphans, the displaced and the refugees. But I think the church is missing some opportunities for community because people have "forgotten" their need for connection. With our cell phones and our laptops and our tablets always at the ready, we can communicate with long-distance relatives at the stroke of a key but that won't replace the need for real-life, real-time, in-person connections.
I am coming to believe that the biggest impact that our church can make on our community is to live out a forward-thinking definition of family. In fact, I like Merriam-Webster.com's definition 4a: "a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation: FELLOWSHIP." Let's make that common affiliation be our LOVE FOR JESUS and let's open our lives to others by making connections! Let's get to know our neighbors and let's attend their kids' ball games or band concerts as an extra set of grandparents when their long-distance ones are unable. Let's offer to babysit for the young married couple who have no relatives living nearby. Let's share our garden's bounty with the single mom and her children. Let's use our God-given talents as a retired educator to tutor that kid struggling in math. Let's open our home to cooking lessons or afternoon fishing trips or whatever else we have to offer!
Church, let's open our lives to the people around us, who don't necessarily look the same or live the same, and form some connections for Jesus! Let's make 2020 the year that we define FAMILY, not only by blood or similarity, but by our common need for a Savior!
I have recently been thinking about some old hymns I enjoy. "Soon and very soon we are going to see the King", "When we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be", "We shall behold Him". "The King is coming". Besides talking about seeing Jesus face to face, which is awesome, these songs talk about the celebration of seeing loved ones. I was listening to the radio and heard "We Are Almost Home" and "I Can Only Imagine" both by Mercy Me. As Christians we get so excited about what is to come. We are so blessed it is overwhelming at times. In 1 Thessalonians 5 we are told to be ready for the day of the Lord. It says"9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." Come join us in the choir at 5 o'clock on Sundays as we sing some old and some new songs praising Jesus and building each other up.
Please stop by our Church Library in the Dorcas classroom and see the books that were added to the collection over the summer. There are about 65 of them! Thank you very much to those who donated. There is a list of the new books in the purple folder on the desk and “New to Our Library” bookmarks in the books on the shelves. To check out a book, just enter the date, book title and your name in the spiral notebook on the desk.
01 Robert Rogers
08 Byron Ryder
15 Charlie Waters
22 Don Yeates
29 RC DIttmar
01 Mike Wilkinson & Mike Heffler
08 Phil Skelton & Bill Womack
15 Gary Danford & Raymond Pierson
22 Susan Hawthorne & Cindy Early
29 Mike Wilkinson & Mike Heffler