July 27, 2015

Responding to Jesus’ Command

After Nancy retired as a teacher in the Penn Yan Central Schools, we bought a 23- foot trailer, hooked it up to our Explorer and visited much of the country each fall for several years. Everywhere we travelled, we looked for a church to attend on Sunday morning regardless of the denomination.

We had many good experiences, but we also visited several churches where we were ignored. We were not greeted or introduced. No one made us feel welcome.  We do remember one church in Williamsburg, Virginia where we were greeted by one person. He was another visitor.

In a recent Parable titled Faith and Courage, I quoted Pastor James McDonald from Walking World Ministries who reported that 4,000 churches close their doors every year and 3,500 people leave the church every day. 

Jesus final instructions to us, as recorded in Matthew, were: 
go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey  everything I have commanded you.”  
Congregations dwindle, in part, because they have ignored Jesus’ command  to make more disciples They disregard strangers, they fail to reach out to their lost sheep, and they no longer speak for Christ in their communities and around the world. 

July 13, 2015

Faith and Courage

I recently heard a young priest deliver a homily about courage. He began with a question, "Why did the turtle cross the road?" the answer was, “To get to the Shell Station." The priest suggested, “That took courage.”

The scripture that morning was from Mark and it referred to the evangelists Christ sent out in pairs to preach repentance, cast out evil spirits and heal the sick. They were instructed to take no money, no extra clothing or anything of value, only a staff and sandals. That took courage!

The priest spoke with obvious faith and passion, challenging the  congregation to find the courage to live a Christian life especially by reaching out to others in need around the world.

About 75 percent of Americans claim to believe in God, and many demonstrate their faith by reaching out to those in need by sharing their time, talents and resources.  Americans are consistently among the most generous people in the world. 

At the same time, the percent of Americans who demonstrate their faith by worshipping in religious services is rapidly declining.  Pastor James McDonald from Walking World Ministries recently reported that 4,000 churches close their doors every year and 3,500 people leave the church every day!

If you believe in God but you have developed a casual attitude about your faith, I urge you to demonstrate your conviction and your courage by reconnecting with a congregation of fellow disciples.