Monthly Archives: May 2021

The greatest force for good in the world is the local church

It’s not the government (no matter which country’s flag happens to fly over you)

It’s not a corporation.

It’s not a service organization or NGO

It’s not even a denomination.

The local church is greatest force for good in the world.

It’s the local foot soldiers in the Lord’s Army, who come together weekly for a sweet fellowship, anointed worship and spirit empowered rejuvenation. Once inspired these “boots-on-the-ground” march into our dark world wearing the full armor of God and sharing the light of Jesus. It’s the redeemed reaching the rebellious; the faithful seeking the faithless; and the liberated showing the road to freedom to the slaves of this world. It’s people filled with the love of Jesus caring for their neighbors. It’s pastors and others tending to the sick and lonely. It’s followers of Jesus sharing the love, justice and compassion that they have experienced to those who have yet to discover the transformative grace of the Lord. Then it’s coming back together in the local church as Sunday rolls into the next week to be invigorated and readied to get back into the fray once more.

Local churches are the ones following the command of Jesus to make disciples. It’s the local church that is baptizing these new followers. The local church that is teaching newbies in the ways of Christ. It’s local food pantries feeding the hungry. Local ministries that are making a difference. No other agency, program, government entity or denominational initiative is doing these things so well in so many places. The local church is the listening, learning, loving agent of Christ throughout the world. 

But local churches can be messy. Everyone doesn’t think alike, look alike, vote alike, like the same music or leisure activities. Members don’t even agree theologically always about the small stuff (the big stuff like “Jesus is Lord!” on that we completely agree!). But together, the local church says, “Let’s make our little corner of the world, a little bit more like heaven.” They pray that God’s Kingdom would come and His will done in their locality as it is in heaven. The forces of hell are putting up a fight, but the King of Heaven is greater. He empowers us collectively to break the gates of hell and rescue the perishing.  He calls us jointly to be his instrument in the world. (Notice the lack of pluralization of the word “instrument” was intentional). To be most effective, the local church must be one. One Lord. One baptism. One body. One task of winning our world for Jesus!

The local church enables us to do what we can’t do alone. We need Jesus and we need each other. When Jesus is holding one hand and our local church body holding the other, we will see the mountains of sin, injustice and corruption moved. We’ll see the evil forces flee. We’ll see God’s kingdom come.

The local church, at its best, is the greatest force for good in the world!

Famous Mother’s Quotes (If They Lived during the Covid Pandemic)

Colonel Sander’s mom: I’d don’t care, how good the chicken is—stop lickin’ your fingers.

Jesse James’ mom: Not just in the bank, wear your mask all over town, young man.

Charles Pfizer’s mom: The “P” is silent but you are not. Quiet down, I’m watching Wheel of Fortune (fyi… Charles Pfizer lived from 1824-1906. I’m not sure Wheel of Fortune had premiered yet.).

Macbeth’s Mom: Wash your hands (a little Shakespearian humor)

Neil Armstrong’s mom: What do I have to do to keep you from going into crowds? Send you to the moon?

Chuck Noland’s Mom (the guy Tom Hanks portrayed in Castaway): Quit complaining about being alone. At least Wilson didn’t talk back. Try quarantining with a fifth grader who has no interest in learning math and you have no idea how to teach it.

George Costanza’s mom: If you are going to be a hand model make sure you use hand sanitizer. Oven mitts and hand sanitizer. (Obscure Seinfeld referenced joke).

Mike Tyson’s mom: You think that heavyweight hits hard, wait until that lil’ nurse gives you two jabs in the arm.

Bill Gates’ mom: If you thought the Windows 97 virus was bad…

Luke Skywalker’s mom: The Pfizer is strong in this one.

Those are all dumb.  

This Sunday is my annual Tie Wearing Sunday, aka Mother’s Day. I preach in a tie to honor my mom (she liked it when I would wear a tie). Now that she’s in heaven, I doubt that she cares that I have a tie on or not. Still I wear one to remember her. Hope you can honor your mom or the special ladies in your life—one of the best ways is bring them (or join them) in church.  

Divorcing the Bride of Christ (the Church) and Why I can’t do it

Who’s NOT coming back to church? That’s the big question many churches are asking these days as life is slowing getting back to normal. Some of those who aren’t coming back have…

  • gotten used to watching on-line.
  • used the pandemic as opportunity to shop around for another church.
  • extreme health risks and are still uncertain of the safety of gathering in crowds.

But the majority of the non-returners (from my observation and conversations) are those who have concluded that the Church offers no reason for them to return. If the Church is the Bride of Christ (it is) then these folks are heading to divorce court. The reasons for this divorce (in their minds) are irreconcilable differences. The Church has (pick your poison) become too political (a valid complaint), not political enough (a valid complaint), full of hypocrites (true since the earliest church: see Ananias and Sapphira, in other words, a valid complaint), not relevant (often true), and an assortment of other reasons (my personal favorite: the preacher stinks). Many of those complaints are legitimate evaluations of the most recent Americanized version of the Church and its preachers. 

Still I can’t divorce her. Here’s why: If Jesus is the Bridegroom and the Church is his Bride, and if Jesus is living in me, then how in names of all the fake and phony prophets (too numerous to count) can I divorce the Bride? I am called to love her (warts and all). Yes, she has problems. She’s not perfect. Far from it. The Church includes me and (this is not breaking news) I am far from perfect too. (I can show you emails and/or the social media posts from folks vouching for my imperfections). Still, if Jesus loves the less-than-spotless Church, then I had better love her too.

Like in a marriage, I am called to love the Bride and help her in any way that I can. Like a dress maker or beautician who readies a bride for her wedding, we are called to beautify the Bride through our loving actions.  The Bride of Christ is not looking like a beauty queen these days. As a result, it’s our job not to abandon her in her time of need but to seek her beauty once more. Make her better. Pray for her. Notice her shortcomings (not turning a blind eye) but determine to be a part of the solution in a godly, fruit-of-the-spirit kind of way (not in a pot-shots-on-social-media-while-slamming-the-door-behind-us sort of way). We must elevate and edify her, if we want her to bloom once more.

Divorce her?  It’s not an option, not as long as the Bridegroom is living in me.