Museum or mission

zzzzA number of years ago, someone challenged me with the question, “Are we trying to build a museum or a mission?”  They were talking about our church (not the one I’m currently at), and the challenges we were facing.

I think that’s a great question.  Have we set out to build a museum or a mission?  A museum will contain many great memories off the past, and people may or may not come by to see them.  A mission, on the other hand, will not be an exhibit, but a journey to those who need to know Jesus Christ, and all that He has done for us.

Sometimes it seems that most of the business of the church is about the “museum.”  Memorials, buildings, and something static you can stand there and look at.  Why don’t we worry more about our mission, which will always be somewhere else, somewhere in the community, or somewhere in the world, where we are proclaiming the gospel.

It’s real hard for me to get excited about a museum, but easy to get motivated about mission.  Rather than working to enhance what we have on our site, why don’t we pour our efforts into going someplace else, where someone, anyone, needs to know about our Savior?

Whenever I’m really quiet at a meeting, it’s usually because the discussion has digressed into museum talk, rather than mission dreams.  I try to be patient and listen, but it’s hard not to say, “Who cares?  Let’s do something meaningful for the kingdom of God, rather than ourselves!”

Mt. Calvary

Last Thursday night (Feb 5), I attended one of the new sanctuary worship services at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, right next door to us.

As I arrived, I introduced myself to one of the ushers (she was dressed all in white) and she told me, “I will seat you.”  She took me right down front and sat me in the front row in the center.  I was honored.

I should mention that Mt. Calvary is an African-American congregation. I was the only caucasian in attendance that night, but that was OK.  I vicared in Baltimore, MD, and we were the token non-blacks in our neighborhood.  It brought back many good memories of that year.

This is a pretty traditional black Baptist congregation.  And I say that with great respect.  They know how to worship!  Everything the pastor said was meet with comments from the congregation.  The guest preacher was excellent, and worked from the assumption that this is God’s word and we’re going to listen to it and it’s going to do something powerful tonight.

There was always something going on.  People arriving.  Some standing, some sitting.  Some singing along, some listening.  Some setting up musicl instruments, some responding to the preacher.

I thoroughly enjoyed the two hour service and hope I’ll have the chance to worship again there soon.  They offered me a seat on the dais, but I declined, not wanting to draw too much attention to myself.  It would have  been very hard to drift off during that service.  My favorite quote from the preacher: if people  bought pews to put in their homes, they would get a pretty good night’s sleep!

5 Hour Energy

The commercial for 5 Hour Energy says they sell 2.5 million of them each day.  I guess the odds are pretty good that you’ll encount2005_chaserenergy_bottlegifer someone wired on that stuff today or any day.

What do you do to renew your strength?  Take a nap (one of my favorites)?  Take a walk?  Get a snack?  The gist of Isaiah is that trusting God will renew your strength.  Everyone gets weary, even exhausted — except for God that is.

BTW, they also have an extra strength version of their  product in case regular just doesn’t do it for you.

First look at Sunday, February 8

bald_eagle_soaringThe Old Testament text is Isaiah 40:21-31, ending up with the familiar (at least familiar to me) “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.”

Isaiah reminds his readers that God can pretty much handle everything.  From His perspective “above the circle of the earth,” earthly princes and rulers don’t present much of a challenge to Him.He never loses track of the stars, so why would you think that He doesn’t care about you?

There’s the challenge.  It’s easy to feel like God either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about your situation.  If He did, He’d act, right?  He’d do something.

The idea of waiting for the Lord is then tied to mounting up with wings like eagles.  Eagles can catch an updraft and soar for hours, not expending, but regaining energy.  What updrafts can we catch so that we aren’t killing ourselves trying to do everything and make things work out?  When might it be better to wait and trust the Lord rather than try harder?