Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Working the Harvest

Today's post is going to be a little different than the rest--this blog is generally where I collect thoughts on service to Christ, service to His Body, service to others. Maybe this experience fits better than I think....

This last Saturday our community hosted a Children's Festival. This may be the eighth year the street has been blocked off and booths that celebrate children and provide activities has been set up. The "empty lot" that now sports a permanent stage and landscaped walkways hosted puppet shows, dance troupes, and magicians. Music flooded the street and local businesses and organizations handed out crafts, books, and decorated cupcakes. I was privileged to work alongside my friend, Sandy, in presenting the good news of Jesus Christ.

We set up our canopy for Good News Club, hung our banner, and prepared to make bookmarks that presented the gospel with five simple colors and shapes: the black heart (all have sinned, Rom. 3:23), the red cross (Jesus died for our sin and rose again, 1 Cor. 15:3-4), the white heart (God's forgiveness when we agree, 1 John 1:9), the green tree (growth in friendship with God and Christlikeness, Rom. 8:29), and the gold crown (our destiny is eternal, Rev. 21: 12, 15). With each child that came to our canopy, we offered to make a bookmark--each child was guided through the process of using a paper punch and colored paper to add shape and color to their otherwise bland cardstock of words and Scripture references.

When we got home that night, 100 bookmarks were gone! In 5 hours, Sandy and I had the opportunity to present the gospel to nearly 100 children--and send it home with a children's tract from Child Evangelism Fellowship and an invitation to join our Good News Clubs in the school or to join the Mailbox Club (where lessons are sent and feedback is provided). How exciting!!

Even this morning, God burdened me to pray for the police officer who came to our booth before the event began and asked, "So what's the good news?"; for the family from Chicago with tattoos, ear plugs, and what initially appeared a scoffing attitude only to leave having shared first names and heard the news of Jesus' love; for the little girl who wandered near our canopy three times before her parents would let her stop. We continue to pray for those children who have attended AWANA and vacation Bible school with us, who have heard the message, and "just don't get it." Sandy reminds me that it is God's work. We are to remain faithful and present the good news of God's love--even if the children hear it only once each year. We covet your prayers for the work of God in our community and in the lives of those He continues to draw and save in our small corner of the world--and around the globe.

Monday, September 22, 2008

One of the Wait Staff

How often do we equate waiting with Christian service? We wait in line at the grocery store, at the bank, at a traffic light. We wait for our next paycheck, for our children to grow to that next stage, for the end of the day. We wait for God to provide that "one" thing that will satisfy us, to change a spouse, to change circumstances. We wait, and wait, and wait. But not patiently.

Psalm 123:2 says, "Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, until He is gracious to us." These people were waiting--but their waiting on God was active, not passive.

Faith is waiting. It is the act of waiting on God to fulfill my needs instead of seeking to meet them myself. Faith is confidence that God knows my needs and will supply them in glorious measure through Christ (Phil 4:19). The action of the servant is directed at the master. The "eyes of servants," "the eyes of a maid" look to the one who is being served. This does not stop their service, or hinder their service--the service continues uninterrupted because the heart of the servant is intent on the Master.

The Master, our God, is kind, good, and gracious. Do I truly believe this? For this is faith, this is the mechanism that fuels any true service. We cannot please our Master until we believe His existence and believe that He will reward those who faithfully serve Him (Heb 11:6). Service that comes from a heart of fear or obligation is sporadic, incomplete, and futile. But service that is intent on the Master is a lifestyle, a way of being, that results from a heart of faith.

In what area(s) of life am I seeking to meet my own needs, fulfill my own desires? God's Word reveals His heart: that my investment in His kingdom, in His Person would overshadow my own needs--real or imagined (Matthew 6:33). A life as His servant does not require more time at church (although that may be a by-product) or flailing myself for past wrongs, but actively, devotedly listening to His voice and walking in obedience to His Word, believing His grace is sufficient.

"He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).

Will I choose to live a faith-fully or self-fully today?