April 2016


The year is 1917. The world finds itself being swallowed up in war—“The War to End All Wars”—and young Americans begin to hear and heed the call. It is a call to arms, a call to volunteer, and a call to defend our most precious possession as Americans. Freedom. In the midst of this setting, the call takes on the form of a recruitment poster that has become famous throughout the world. The poster depicts a personified nation (we call him “Uncle Sam”) aiming a finger of call at his audience with the caption, “I want you for the United States Army,” boldly proclaiming the call.

From time to time we have a call that rises from the church. It is not personified in a poster inspiring the hearts of Christians, but it is a compelling call. When God wants a job done, He sends His Holy Spirit to call out the person or people who are right for the job. The call is one that is evident to the person called as well as to the Body of Christ—the church.

For WWI soldiers, the answer was to enlist and become part of the armed forces that helped protect the world as we know it. For the Body of Christ, the call is addressed by those who volunteer to be sent and by the Church herself as she sends out the ones set apart. The Holy Spirit wants you to send, and He wants you to go. How will we respond to the call?

“Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.” (Acts 13:3)

Advertisements

Commercials teach us a lot about endurance. Take for instance the candy on a stick: “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?” According to the advertisement every animal that the boy asks admits to biting the lollipop well before licking to the chewy chocolate center. Even when Mr. Owl wisely puts the question to the test the candy coating is bitten after three licks. And the announcer suggests, “The world may never know.”

We also learn from commercials that the Energizer Bunny keeps going and going because of the power of Energizer batteries. And Timex teaches us that their watches are so well-made that they “take a licking and keep on ticking.”

Commercials aside, we have been called to keep going and going and going in our lives lived for Jesus. It is the mark of faith and calling for a Christian to continue living for Christ. How are we to keep on keeping on? Our answer lies in our relationship with Christ. He sends the Holy Spirit to give us the power to endure. We spend time with Him to ensure that our decisions are godly and trustworthy. And we commit ourselves to Him for service and care—we serve Him, He cares for us. And we endure until the last moment of time.

“Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.” (Hebrews 12:1b-2)

Note: I am a long-time supporter of the Cooperative Program of the SBC. It is a hallmark of how Christians and churches can cooperate toward the goals of the Great Commission. Here is an article which hopefully sheds some light on how cooperation can work when done right.

One of the key concepts in Southern Baptist life is represented by the word “cooperation.” It is the desire of our churches to work together to accomplish more as a fellowship than one congregation could do alone. Today is Cooperative Program Sunday—a day when Southern Baptists celebrate the spirit of cooperation with one another. The idea of the Cooperative Program dates back to 1925, when our convention chose to look for the right kind of method to accomplish more toward missions, evangelism, and church growth—doing it together.

This is the foundation on which not only the convention is based, but also our state association and the local association. It is our privilege to serve together, combining our efforts as well as our financial resources to work toward completing the task of evangelism and missions. Cooperation allows the stronger churches to support the struggling churches, and all of the churches to work together in the fields that are ready for harvest.

Next week, we have an opportunity to put feet to our cooperative spirit by joining one of our struggling sister churches during the evening worship service. Join me as we worship together with other Kaskaskia Baptist Association churches meeting together in St. Elmo for an evening or worship, prayer, and support.

“Everyone should look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)

Why have cell phones become so important to us? Just look around—everybody seems to have them, and as likely as not, they are surfing, texting, or talking on them? When they beep, ring, sing, or whatever it is they do, we pause what we are doing to at least look at them to see if the call or message is important.

I have a theory about the importance of cell phones—after all, we have decided that we can’t live without them. My theory is that these annoying devices are so important because we want to get “the call.” We may not even know what the call may be or mean, but we certainly don’t want to miss it.

The Christian life starts that way—with the call. Some people get it, while others miss it. But it is an important call, and one that if we are to have a full and meaningful life in this world (and life at all in the next world), we must answer. When you answer the call, will it be to accept the responsibility, tough as it may seem, to follow God’s will? Or will you allow others to take your place in the handiwork of God’s kingdom? God sends out a call constantly—will we answer or be passed over?

“Follow Me,” [Jesus] told them, “and I will make you fish for people!” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. (Matthew 4:19-20)