3030 W. Van Buren, is an unlikely place for a church. In the day it was a motor court, now it’s a large tent open at both ends. Under the tent are three rows of tables that are broken, and stained. The table’s chairs are no better, for no two are alike. At one end is the pulpit, often in the sun, and the other end there is a constant stream of wandering people. Who goes to this unlikely church? The homeless go there.
How does one serve such an unlikely church? First you bring music, for the homeless have restless souls, and music soothes their restlessness. You bring the Word, Jesus is the Christ, to feed their souls. You bring clothing, for the clothes they have don’t last long on the streets. You bring food to feed their bodies. It is at the serving line where their desperation is most visible, for there are always elbows. Who knows when they last ate, or when they will eat again?
3030 W. Van Buren is an unlikely place for a church, but it is where Christ is preached, souls are ministered to, shelter is given, bodies are fed, and people find Jesus. Yes it is unlikely place, but it is Christ’s church, and that is why we were there.
His Word Goes Forward,
My son has relocated to a new city, so he is church shopping. Last Sunday he visited a church near his apartment. After the service he called to tell me about the church. He said, “Dad, I had to leave, for they spent the entire service criticizing others about their sins.” I recalled this truism, “The chief insult we have about others is actually our chief compliment to ourselves.”
After the phone call I read this, “The Church itself has not yet grasped the fullness of the love of God in Jesus as seen in His attitude toward sinning men. Never were his lips disfigured by the curve of contempt. Never did His face convey to sinning men the assumption of superiority. Never did he say a hard thing to a sinning soul.”
Jesus loved sinners, made friends with them, did not patronize them, or denounce them. Oh that the Church might begin to share the love of God as revealed by Jesus. That love is not a pity that excuses wrong, it is love that dies for wrong. The measure in which we have seen God as Jesus revealed Him is the measure in which we are prepared to be the friend to sinners.
I’m One Too,
I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving Day. I think it’s our nicest holiday, for it has not gotten out of hand with commercialism. It still remains a time for family, a time for reflection, and a time to thank God for his blessings.
As we begin our holiday season I’m reminded of something Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” These are great thoughts for us to reflect on in the days that are ahead.
As we celebrate this year take a moment to remember Dr. King’s words, and then pray for the church. Remember our progress as a church is not inevitable and therefore, we need to continuously stand watch over it. Not resting on our story, but letting God write his story in us.
We are almost through the dog days of summer, and the signs that autumn is not far off are all around us; school is starting, football camps have opened, and new fashions are in the stores. Despite those signs most of us have shown up today for church in our shorts, sandals, and carrying water bottles, for the heat is still with us.
To the year rounders’ the heat doesn’t matter; it’s a beautiful desert day. There is no way for us to suppress our joy of this day, for Jesus Christ lives! And because of that I can face today, and tomorrow. Today I’m reminded of a saying on the front of a church, “This church stands for life. And we know that life comes through Jesus, the Son of God, crucified, buried, arisen, and returned to the Father, where he has made ready a place for those who live through trust in him.”
While the world is focused on other things, today we are focused on the gift of life God has given us. What will I do with it? I will respect it, protect it, be grateful for it, and share it. I will not ignore it, abuse it or hoard it.
I read the following saying this week, “A painted fire throws off no heat.” It caused me to think, for it accurately describes the perilous state of today’s Christian. What is a painted fire? A painted fire is: Ethics without enthusiasm, principles without passion, and desires without denial of wrong; all these are painted fires throwing off no heat.
Our land, our families, our churches are filled with painted fires; those who attend the right church, sing the hip hymns, and don’t speak his name in vain, but find the whole thing boring and lame. There is no passion, no heat, no flame, for they have come so far and see it all as no gain.
The Christian today has no fire, no force, no light, and no song in their heart; they have become just painted flames. A poem by G. Campbell Morgan’s accurately states what the Christian has become, “Faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly null.”
Acquire the fire,
I often mention the park across from my home and that’s because if often reflects slices of our society. One of those slices that I see on most days is a kids pick-up game of baseball; no adults, no uniforms, and no trophies just baseball for the fun of it. The kids that show up for a game are good, for you can see line drives, shagged flies, cut-off throws, and double plays.
What I find really interesting is how a game begins. A kid shows up with his glove, bat, and ball and lays out some stones for the bases. Then he sits in the grass and waits for his buds. When enough kids show up the game begins.
My wife pointed out to me how their game is much like church. They wait for each other to show up. They practice to make themselves better at what they love. Everyone who shows up is accepted. They help each other improve through encouragement. Their shouting and laughter is like singing. Finally, there is a great amount of joy in doing something they love.
Baseball and church, who knew,