Challenged and convicted!

Here’s something I’ve done for a few days now… Instead of praying at night I’ve said “Lord, what do you require of me?”… Now the prayers I’d say in the night are said in the morning, along with my usual morning prayers. I believe in praying in the morning and night everyday – I truly believe God loves to hear our voices! Me asking that question each night has been convicting and I would say the convictions are much needed. I’m not talking about the conviction that makes me acknowledge my sin, but the conviction that makes me question myself, my thought process and challenge my thinking, morals and reasoning.  

The words of Micah 6:8 have called me to do what some would say I’m crazy for  even thinking about but I think it’s how Micah 6:8 calls me to action: it calls me to love EVERYONE including those that make it hard, it calls me to do what is right when it’s hard, it calls me to seek Gods leadership and guidance in doing justice and loving mercifully. We are called to speak truth with boldness.  Micah 6:8 is a scripture used to support our ideas of doing what is right, but I say it’s a scripture that calls us, a scripture that unites us, a scripture that encourages us, a scripture that convicts us. 
Now, if Micah 6:8 calls and convicts you, as well – here are my suggestions: consider becoming part of local efforts to help people in need,  non violently fight for what is right, research issues that are not just and how you can help, give of your time and gifts to make this world better, don’t just give money, lend a helping hand, be a true stakeholder. It’s going to take ALL OF US to do justice, love mercifully and walk humbly with God! 

This is bigger than us!

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to speak at the annual Baptist men’s breakfast that my church hosts. While I talked about what we do in the after school ministry and how we would join God in the journey, I’m reminded that this idea of what we are doing is bigger than us is one that relates to our Christian journey, work and witness – it is bigger than us!
Eugene Peterson paraphrased the bible in contemporary language known as the message, while the wording is different, I have found it to be quite challenging. Listen to how he has paraphrased Paul’s words in Philippians 3:1-6… 
That’s about it, friends. Be glad in God! I don’t mind repeating what I have written in earlier letters, and I hope you don’t mind hearing it again. Better safe than sorry—so here goes. Steer clear of the barking dogs, those religious busybodies, all bark and no bite. All they’re interested in is appearances—knife-happy circumcisers, I call them. The real believers are the ones the Spirit of God leads to work away at this ministry, filling the air with Christ’s praise as we do it. We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts, and we know it—even though we can list what many might think are impressive credentials. You know my pedigree: a legitimate birth, circumcised on the eighth day; an Israelite from the elite tribe of Benjamin; a strict and devout adherent to God’s law; a fiery defender of the purity of my religion, even to the point of persecuting the church; a meticulous observer of everything set down in God’s law Book.
Simply put Paul’s says he is a part of something bigger than himself – we all are – but Paul is upfront about his inadequacies and calls out others inadequacies.  In a confessional tone Paul says “We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts and we know it…”[1] we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.
The realness and humility of the statement, we are a part of something bigger than ourselves   is what I believe is the threads of fabric that holds First Baptist Church together. A church that responded to Gods call to start an afterschool program for middle school children in Jackson County where we have a 16% poverty margin; this is bigger than us! We will welcome these children and their families into the First Baptist family – loving, embracing, and encouraging them! This is bigger than us. We are embarking on a journey, which will allow 6 college students to mentor children; the majority of mentors are planning to have careers that involve children, this is bigger than us. We will provide children with life skills, character development, team building, recreation, homework help and whatever else God has planned! I stand here challenging you to come on a Tuesday or Thursday between the hours of 3 and 6pm to serve alongside myself and college mentors as we seek to be the presence of Christ to middle school children. This is bigger than us!
Yes, this is bigger than us and we are on a faith stirring, soul shaking, grace filled journey to serve those in Jackson County and we will have to go where our best and worst prayers take us, yes, we will go “where I [we] don’t know and never be the same…”[2]

[1] Philippians 3.2-6, MSG
[2] Bell, John; The Summons