Called To Be Sheep!

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By Bill Naron

Image courtesy University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

The other night, my wife and I began talking, and not just small talk. We were talking about the topic of service. I know, so typical, let’s talk about service the week going into Thanksgiving. Well, give me just a few moments to be super cliché. So, back to my wife (Sam) and my discussion, which went super late into the night. We talked about what it may look like to begin to try to infuse attitudes of service into the fabric of our family. So, wouldn’t you know that after this conversation my biblical character calendar would be talking about hospitality/service, and I would stumble upon a story in one of my favorite blogs about a family who began serving together. I just have not been able to stop thinking about this topic!

Mark 10:45 (KJV) says, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” It says that Jesus Himself came to this earth to minister, or serve. He did not need to be served, but was sent to us to serve us people who were not worthy, people who were undeserving. He came to meet us in the place that we were in, no matter where that was. This makes me think of how every morning I drive down Portland Avenue, and it comes to a point where the road goes under an overpass of I-5. At this point, at any given point in time, there are numerous homeless people, and it just seems that more and more are filling the area day after day.

As a passionate follower of Jesus who desires to grow and change to be more and more like my Father and less like the world, I believe we must pull back the curtains and examine our hearts. I get the hindrances; there is just not enough time—we have soccer, piano, violin, and the list go on. Maybe we just do not feel called to do so, it is not in our ability, or maybe we feel it poses a lot of risk and danger. But Jesus Himself says that even He did not come to be served but to serve. And 1 Peter 4:10 says that with the gifts we received we should serve others.

If I am a passionate follower of Jesus, serving those around me is my calling, serving those in need is in my abilities, meeting people where they are at and serving and giving is something that is commanded of me! For Sam and me, the discussion has been, What would be a practical application of serving and a way that we can speak this core piece of the gospel to those around us? I believe that this is what needs to be done, especially if you have a family with small children. Find simple, practical things that can be done, such as making up care bags to keep in your car to give to those in need as you cross paths with them.

The next thing that was a huge epiphany for me was that I need to be willing to help and give to anyone who expresses a need, not expecting anything in return. It means that homeless guy on the side of the road. It does not matter what he does with what I give him; what matters is my heart in giving it to him. We are called to give and to serve and to not worry about receiving thanks or about whether they are really in need of it or not. Jesus served us, and we did not do anything to deserve it, and by that He set the example for how we are to serve.

In Matthew it talks about the Father separating the sheep from the goats in the end; He says to the sheep that when He was hungry, they fed Him, and when He was naked, they clothed Him, and when He was a stranger, they took Him in. To the goats He says to depart away from Him, for they did not do these things. And when the righteous asked when they had seen Him in these states, He said that what was done to the least of his brothers was done also to Him.

The challenge I see before us is this: if we view people through the eyes of a loving and caring Savior, then whatever service we do unto them, we are also doing unto Him, out of obedience to Him, and out of an abundance of love for our Father. So, the question is, Are we going to be sheep or are we going to be goats?

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What would you have done?

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This last Sunday, July 31, we celebrated and prayed for five couples who have taken on the responsibility of fostering seven children, five of whom are from one family. I can’t think of a better expression of the transforming power of the Gospel in the lives of our Father’s family than this. This fills my soul with gratitude at a very deep level.

In June, Donna McKenzie was reflecting on this situation and she wrote down her thoughts, which I want to share with you. I’m deeply thankful for her reflections. They affirm the work that God is doing in our midst.

Pastor Martin

By Donna McKenzie

Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others.

Romans 12:4-5 TLB

A few months ago a very difficult situation was brought to light in our church. It is something you can’t imagine happening in your little community, yet it did. Information was gathered and when the time was right it was decided it needed to be brought out to the congregation. To be honest, I was concerned. Something like this could easily tear a church apart. As the information was shared there was concern, a lot of questions, and emotions. Understandable so. Questions were asked in love and genuine concern. Then I watched as this community began to process this together and saw an amazing thing happen. I saw our church body step up to love this family in ways that a lot of churches would not have. In such a small congregation having four families step up to foster these five children is a unique and wonderful thing.

“We belong to each other, and each needs all the others.”

We are all part of one body, each one needs the other. I was at Bible study a few weeks ago, and witnessed this first-hand. That night, as awkward as it sounds, two of the foster moms and the biological mom were all in attendance. Near the end of the evening, prayer requests were being shared. The biological mom shared her heartbreak over what has happened. As she shared, something beautiful started to happen. In that moment we all, including those two foster moms, who are so lovingly caring for this women’s children, circled around her to pray. With tears flowing, prayers were said for the mom, the foster moms and ALL members of the families involved. It was an uncomfortable, strange, awkward, emotional, yet beautiful sight.

Yes, there were/are a lot of emotions and unanswered questions surrounding this situation, but for that moment those were set aside. There was no judgment or condemnation, just moms praying for a hurting mom with a heart of compassion. It was a perfect picture of the unconditional love of Jesus being poured out to this hurting member of our body.

The healing will be a long process. I know this has been an unusual growing experience for everyone. There will be other challenges to overcome. I do know none of what happened was a surprise to God. He brought about the truth of this situation at this point in time. God knew in THIS church these kids would be unconditionally loved and cared. I have no doubt God has and will continue to bring about beauty and his glory will shine in and through this very difficult situation.

And the king will answer them, “I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of min, you did it for me.

Matthew 25:40 (NET)

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Do We Really Care?

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By Brian Sharpe

Does eternity matter? Do we really care? I would think that we would say yes to both of these questions. However, the problem is that most of us care about image or offensiveness more than we care about others and their eternity.

Now I’m confessing to being a part of the problem. A couple weeks ago I preached on being peacemakers in our world. I also talked about how we need to just invite people to things like the men’s dinner. Well, last Saturday I was working in my backyard in my shed. My neighbor was in his backyard with his new wife. I’ve talked to my neighbor on several occasions. I knew men’s dinner was that night and I was trying to figure out how to bring it up. I asked my neighbor if he needed help, since he and his wife were taking down a tree. He said they had it. I continued to work in my backyard. When I was done my neighbor was still cutting up the tree. I didn’t end up inviting him to the men’s dinner. I felt bad. I didn’t have the opportunity. At least, that’s what I told myself.

Now I’m not saying we should be abrupt and forceful in most cases. But I’m also not saying we should wait until “the right time.” I need to be bolder. I need to care more about the people around me. I keep hearing that my actions show my belief. Can you tell I care about the people around me based on how I’m living? This makes me think of a song that came out several years ago by Brandon Heath. I need to see people as God sees them. I need to have the love for others that God has for them. I need to be a peacemaker. This is what God is laying on my heart. I pray that God will challenge you with it as well.

“Give Me Your Eyes”
By Brandon Heath

Looked down from a broken sky
Traced out by the city lights
My world from a mile high
Best seat in the house tonight
Touched down on the cold black top
Hold on for the sudden stop
Breath in the familiar shock
Of confusion and chaos
All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared?

Chorus:
Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the brokenhearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see

Step out on a busy street
See a girl and our eyes meet
Does her best to smile at me
To hide what’s underneath
There’s a man just to her right
Black suit and a bright red tie
Too ashamed to tell his wife
He’s out of work
He’s buying time
All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared?

Chorus

I’ve been there a million times
A couple of million eyes
Just moving past me by
I swear I never thought that I was wrong
Well I want a second glance
So give me a second chance
To see the way You see the people all along

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