Rehearsal

Bullseye

Did you ever do target practice before?  Shooting at something with a gun?  My Aunt Sherri (2 years older than me) used to have a b-b gun when we were kids, and we’d target-practice all the time.  As a teenager at Boy Scout Camp, they had a shooting range with 22 caliber rifle targets.  My brother used to get in trouble there, because not only couldn’t he hit the bullseye; he couldn’t hit the target!  He’d accidently shoot the clothespins holding the target and the instructor would think he was doing it on purpose.  My brother was a lousy shot!

What’s a bullseye?  Everybody knows it’s the center of the target – the spot you aim for. As Christians, we have a bullseye too.  Our bullseye – our center – what we aim for – is Christ; to be more Christ-like; to have an intimate relationship with Christ – to make Christ the ‘center’ of our life.   If we want to be in the center of God’s will, we need to be in the center of His Word.  

Did you know the Bible has a ‘literal’ center – a bullseye, if-you-will?  The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117; the longest is Psalm 119.  The ‘literal’ center of the Bible – Psalm 118.  There are 594 chapters before and after Psalm 118.  Add 594 + 594 and you get 1188.  What is the center verse in the Bible – the ‘bullseye’?  Psalm 118:8.  What does that verse say?  ‘It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.’  We spend so much of our life hitting the clothespins and falling short of the bullseye.   It’s time to refocus, re-aim and seek the bullseye – Our Lord, Jesus Christ!  Remember, when things get tough, our relationship with God doesn’t get us around trouble, it get’s us through it!

Rehearsal

Praying Hands

Ever hear of Albert or Albrecht Durer?  They were brothers and both were promising artists..  Both wanted to go to college, but couldn’t afford it, so they hatched a scheme.  They flipped a coin; looser went to work in the mines to help pay for the other’s schooling.  Albert lost the toss and went into the mines; Albrecht went to school.  He became famous; a wonderful artist.  Time came for him to go home, and return the favor.  Long story short – Albert was unable to attend school because his hands were so broken and racked with arthritis he couldn’t hold a brush anymore.  This inspired his loving brother to produce one of the most famous artistic creations the world has ever known.  We call his work ‘The Praying Hands’.  (A replica of his brothers hands.)    The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look and remember, no one ever makes it alone!

Christ Have Mercy, How to Put Your Faith in Action’ (by Matthew Harrison) talks about relationships!  We were made for a relationship with God and with each other.  James 4 says ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you.’  My daughter graduated Salutatorian from her High School class and there was a lot of haughty talk about her accomplishment until I reminded her it was a rather small class!  She lost sight of the fact that self-made people often worship their creator.  (Think about that one).   I would urge you to do two things this week.  First, make a list of 10 people who helped you become who you are today and thank God for their presence in your life.  Second, pick someone who helped you in your life, and send them a thank you card.  Thank You Lord, for all the people You have placed in my life; the people who have befriended me; who have nurtured me; who have helped shape my character!  Ephesians 4:   ‘….walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’

Rehearsal

Lifesaver

June, 1967.  Sitting on the beach, watching people swimming in the lake; hundreds of them.  Notice a kid on an inner tube who had floated out past the ropes.  A minute later, I notice the inner tube; but no kid.  Where did he go?  What should I do?  Do I get involved?  Do I ignore what I saw?

I don’t know why I got up and raced over the beach and swam like crazy through those hundreds of  people, out into deep water – but I did.    As I approached the inner tube, the kid was about 3 feet down, struggling to get to the air.  I pulled him up.  When he broached the surface, with a look of desperation, he said simply ‘Help Me.’  Out of all those hundreds of people, that little boy was alive because, by the grace of God, I noticed his plight and I did something about it.

Are you a lifesaver?  You can be.  God has called us to follow Jesus’ example and serve.   Remember the picture of Christ, washing the disciple’s feet?  We are called to be ‘Footwashers’ for Christ.  The Book of  James puts it this way: ‘15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?’  Remember our theme this year ‘Get out of the Boat; Give Hope!’  John Maxwell has said ‘People don’t care what you know; until they know that you care!’  Show YOU care by helping someone today!  Matthew: 25:40   40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Rehearsal

Stand and Wait

One of my favorite poets is John Milton; often compared with Shakespeare as one of the truly great English writers.  After going blind,  Milton wrote the poem ‘On His Blindness’.  In the last line, he reflects that even with his disability, he has a place in God’s world, he wrote these famous words ‘They also serve who only stand and wait.’  A more modern reading would be: ‘Those people who only stand and wait also serve.’

Did you ever notice at a ‘State dinner’, there are always servants (or “servers”) standing by, in addition to the servers who are bringing food, pouring beverages and clearing dishes.  Or, maybe you haven’t noticed those other servers who stand in the background because they stand so still, they look like “part of the furniture,” “part of the wallpaper.”

I am struck by the number of people we have at Our Savior that provide critical services to us that we never think of – the bulletin folders; the altar people; the food preparers and servers; the drivers; the yard maintainers – and the list goes on and on!  These are the unsung heroes of Faith, the people who ‘Stand and Wait’.  This is what the Lord says of them:  (Matthew 25)  ‘ 34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

On behalf of a grateful congregation Thank You for your service; your reward is great in Heaven! (verse 40) – 40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Rehearsal

Why are you a Christian? My Story

1 Peter 3:15 (KJV)  “ …be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…”

Last month, I asked you to put in writing ‘Your Story’.  Hope you did.  Thought you might like to hear mine:

I like to say I was born in the Lutheran Church, but that isn’t exactly accurate.  I was raised in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod from the time I was two years old – I cannot remember a time when the Church wasn’t the main thing in my life.  It seemed like my family had no social life outside Church – all our friends were there and we were constantly doing stuff – working, playing, serving, worshipping – everything together there.  (Almost) everything was accompanied by a meal too – oh, those potlucks and sauerkraut suppers!

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t feel God was real.  I saw Him in a thousand faces: my Sunday School teachers, my choir leaders, the Pastors, the church-workers and of course, all those wonderful Christian people we knew at Church!  Most of all, I saw Him in my Mother, and my Father.  They lived God’s love, as an example to me and my brother.  Were any of these people perfect?  No, sinners all!  But, somehow, for me, what I ‘caught’ was ‘the saint’, not ‘the sinner’.  What I felt was the love, joy, peace, patience – the fruit of the Christian character – they didn’t only ‘tell’ me about Jesus and His love – they ‘showed’ me; everyone of them!

That’s why I’m a Christian, and what my faith means!  I hope I can pass along to others, what was given to me!