Thursday, December 3, 2015

Loving the least lovable: Christians must be the example

Loving the least lovable:  
Christians must be the example   
by Rev. Jack Hulsey

 I like the idea of having accountability partners, someone who's painfully honest with us about our shortcomings.  Being told you're doing wrong isn't easy to hear, but it is much easier to have someone who knows and loves you to tell you these things rather than having to find them out the hard way.  In a profile of pastor and author Stu Weber, Dave Goetz wrote that, “Weber developed a temper which exploded into its full glory in high school and college.”  Upon entering the military he found that his temper only got worse and hindered the development of his relational skills.
It got bad enough that early in his ministry he stopped playing church league basketball entirely, because that famous temper kept flaring up embarrassing both him and his church.
But then 10 years of relative quiet went by.  "I hadn't had a flash temper for years," Weber said.  "I thought, the Lord had been good.  I'm actually growing."
Then his oldest son made the high school varsity basketball squad.  "I began living my life through my son."  Weber terrorized the referees. On one occasion, seated in the second row, he wound up on the floor level with no recollection of how he got there.  As a result, he got some very nasty letters from church members which (he says now) "were absolutely right on." 
But then he got another note: "Stu, I know your heart.  I know that's not you.  I know that you want to live for Christ and His reputation.  And I know that's not happened at these ballgames.  If it would be helpful to you I'd like to come to the games with you and sit beside you."
The letter was from one of his accountability partner's.  "He saved my life," Weber says.  "It was an invitation, a gracious extension of truth.  He assumed the best and believed in me."
How do we love someone who stumbles?  Do we believe in and hope the best for them even when they fail?
Anyone can love lovable people.  But as Christians we are called to love the least loveable, because if we don't, we're no different from the pagan world. 
God loved us all when we least deserved it.  If we are able to mirror him, and be the witness he's called us to be, then it is up to us to show his love to the world out there that today needs it more than ever.

For a Definition of "Commitment" Look Under "Volunteers"

For a Definition of “Commitment”
Look Under “Volunteers” 
by Rev. Jack Hulsey

It is not often that I have the opportunity to acknowledge the work of Woodlake Baptist Church’s volunteers. Commitment within a church body is of critical importance and it occurred to me that within Woodlake Baptist there are many examples of Christian’s committed to the work and without them this church would not be the church that it is today.

Our organizational chart has 150 plus names on it, folks serving in every position from the Benevolence Committee to Chairman of the Stewardship Committee.  Some of these individuals are serving in two, three or four different positions. In Baptist life, our committees tend to be the brunt of far too many stale jokes and cheap shots (a group of people who can't decide how to do what one person can't do on his own, etc.), but here's a fact we all have to learn to deal with: this system of church government permits you, the member, more say and more influence than Democratic governments do.  The government of the typical Baptist Church could easily be a model for secular government to imitate. We can thank our committee members – volunteers all – for this.
If they were not fully committed to carrying out the work we profess to believe the Lord has given us to do, it would show up in virtually everything that happens in this church body.  As it is we have numerous key functions being carried out by volunteers that most larger churches hire people to take care of. We can't do without Sunday school. We can't do without a church treasurer to manage the business end of things.  We can't do without a group to formulate our annual budget or schedule our mission trips or prepare the hundreds and hundreds of meals we have for special occasions. We certainly can't do without people to take care of the maintenance and upkeep of this physical facility. We can't do without Vacation Bible School. And with all the advances in computer technology that keep coming along – and the reliance we place on that technology for record keeping and financial accounting – we are increasingly dependent upon someone to offer constant technical expertise.
Those are all fields for which the mega-churches hire experts and pay them big money. But at Woodlake Baptist Church, everything described above is handled by volunteers – volunteers so dedicated, so committed to his or her mission that we can call upon them 24/7 and they'll be right on the case, no questions asked. 
There are lower-profile committee positions too, positions that don't have the glamour and glitz of some of the others. Each and every one of them, however, contribute something very necessary. The Bible says to let our commitment to the work reflect our commitment to the Lord. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23).  That is what I see mirrored in our volunteers. They are pulling this church’s oars, and I hope we appreciate them for all they are worth.