I received a Jury Summons in the mail the other day. My first thought when I saw the envelope and purpose within was not a nice one. My angst was probably driven by a number of reasons. I was spinning a dozen or more mental and emotional plates all at the same time that day and the thought of driving to downtown Houston in early morning traffic is a favorite of no one. This duty just added to my present depletion. Finding a way out of it was probably my second thought. Reschedule? Quickly move out of state? Join the Marines? Fake symptoms of the West Nile virus? After all . . . I had been in Africa three years ago.
When the dust cleared and after a couple of days of processing, I was able to reassess the situation and reminded myself of how blessed I am to be an American citizen. I have often suggested that the best education for American teenagers would be a requirement to live for a month or more in a third world socialist country before graduation. That would sure reduce the amount of complaining going on these days. In addition though, I’m also thinking that this might be a good thing for many Americans of every age.
Despite whatever problem we might be dealing with, I can assure you there are other places on the globe where your conditions and contextual expectations would be much worse. I also thought about whoever the poor souls might be who are facing legal trials over the next month and possibly the ones I’d be expected to serve on a jury for. If I were in their shoes; would I want someone doing everything they could to get out of this role, or someone being still and compassionately listening to all sides of the case and truly working to discern accurate justice? Honestly, I’d probably want someone like me who is trying to follow Jesus as a juror member of whom I knew would be praying for wisdom. Thus, that is what I needed to be.
This whole process also caused me to look at the local church as well. Often times we look at the local body of Christ as something which exists for us. We ask questions of the church in regard to what we are going to get out of it. What are the others going to do for us? How are we going to get our needs and desires met? However, when there is a need for our attention or time, we suddenly become too busy with other life pursuits to lend a hand. Sometimes this is just a sad reality. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it.
Yet when we look at what the authentic church is and what Christ calls for, we have new reason to serve instead of firstly being served. In numerous places in the Bible we see illustrations of the true church being comprised of many different people who all fit together tightly being blessed by each other and blessing others. Then of course there is the pattern of Jesus who said that he did not come to “be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many” and “greater love has no one than this; that he lay down his life for his friends.” Truly, Jesus demonstrated the greatest act of service by dying for your sins and rising again. Jesus offered salvation and showed us a new way.
America, or any country for that matter, would be a better place when its citizens were first looking out for others rather than for number one. This application is obviously true for followers of Christ who have tasted the grace of Jesus. The more we look for ways to serve instead of expecting to receive, the more the love of Christ will expand and in fact, we will all be blessed by this sacrificial fruit.
Yes, there will be tough times when our schedules must be interrupted or our desires set aside for others. But the end game will be much more beautiful for all concerned.
What about you? How can you serve others today?
What does it look like to take Jesus to the cities of the 21st century? Sunday Night Discussions is back this week and we’re asking that very question. It is estimated that today over half the population of the earth lives in cities and outlying areas. This change in global demographics also touches race, ethnicity, and religion. How can the Kingdom of Heaven be advanced is this new world reality. Join Robert and me here Sunday at 8p central as we welcome Luke Greer who serves with Global Cities Initiative and the Orchard Group. Orchard has been planting churches since 1948 in New York and is now reaching out into the major cities of the world.How big of an issue is this and how can we be involved? Feel free to send questions in early via here or our Google Plus page. During the show questions and comments can be sent in via both mediums and we will be giving away a copy of Why Cities Matter by Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard toward the end of the show. Forward in the book is written by Timothy Keller. So grab a friend and plan to participate as we kick off another season of SND.
BTW for the Dallas and NY Giants fans, we will have an audience member keeping us posted on the game score.
Yup . . . it’s going to be great!
Honestly I thought it was just another cynical blog post. A joke! That’s what I thought two days ago when I first read that Mayor Ann Parker and her staff had sent out subpoenas for the sermons from a number of high profile preachers in Houston. I mean the whole thing just sounded a bit too Orwellian with thought police in tow to be real. However, as the hours went by and the day on the calendar changed, more and more posts came out and new articles like this one by ABC News confirmed the insanity. I’d expect this from the former Soviet Union where Deb and I lived for two years. Certainly North Korea would be appropriate. America though seemed out of the question. But thus it is true. The city of Houston has sent subpoenas to some ministers who have taught a Biblical stance on homosexuality.
Because I do not technically live within the Houston city limits I don’t expect to get a notice in the mail; at least for now anyway. Even if I did I’m not sure I could comply as I don’t actually write out sermon manuscripts. If called upon though I’d have no problem inviting anyone and everyone to check out my sermons online or even better yet, to drop by and see us at The Crossings for one of our Sunday morning gatherings. I’ve never preached a purely topical sermon over Homosexuality and especially with Mayor Parker at its core. For argument sake though, if I did, I suppose it would go something like this. Here is a quick and simple, deductive sermon outline with 4 points that I might preach. (more…)