Friday, July 30, 2010

Things I Learned from Barbara and Walter

For those of you who don't know, the name Sister Sunshine Charlotte began as this private joke between me and The Husband. He always teases that when we retire we are going to get us a bus evangelism ministry and travel the world street preaching and hosting tent revivals. He says that he's going to paint on the side in big green letters: The Right Reverend Steve Johnson and Sister Sunshine Charlotte and the Traveling House of Salvation Ministries. (He's awesome.) So, this is what he calls me whenever I get preachy about something (hence, they are called Sister Sunshine moments because I'm righteously tearing it up).

With all of that said, this is going to be one of those posts that make some of you squirm. I know it's made me squirm thinking through it. And it's flat out preaching, so read at your own peril.

I've been studying over something lately that's really gotten under my skin. It was also the topic of conversation at the recent WMU function our church attended at Shocco Springs. It wasn't a lesson or session, it was a conversation had with dear, dear heart friends over a meal. It was about service and about devoting ourselves to supporting the things of God. Both are common and spreading problems in our churches.

Here it is in a nutshell: Everyone wants to come to the party, but nobody wants to put it on or pay for it.

I think I'm tired of the entire Christian community (not just my church or yours) sugar-coating our reasons to get out of service to the Lord. Quite frankly, the people of God have become a lazy group of watchers instead of doers. I think this is mostly evidenced when the Nominating Committee comes around and no one will sign up for nursery duty because they've "done their time". Really? Are you dead? Do you still breathe God's air? Well, then I have news for you, Sister and Brother, if you are breathing His air, you've still got something to do for the Kingdom. Cooking, cleaning, praying, giving, going, doing, hammering, sweeping, grilling, puppeteering, teaching, evangelizing, sharing, changing and rocking babies so that mother's can hear the Word...we'd better get up off our collective church backside and start doing it too, or He'll take away our blessing and give it to those who actually deserve it. (Insert Amen Here)

If we really understood how short time is we'd all be tearing it up for the Lord, running the Nominating Committee down at our home churches to please, please let us do something for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, our Sustainer, our Provider, our Healer, the Great I Am, but based on many studies, most of us aren't serving or going or doing or giving--we are sitting and watching and complaining. Hmmm. Makes one wonder if we think the Word is real and alive or that it's a series of 'life applications'.

We had the amazing privilege of hearing Barbara Joiner speak during one of the breakout sessions at the WMU conference. She's the most amazing person--missionary, servant of the Lord, wife, mother, brilliant story teller. I believe she said that she's 83. She told us that one of her greatest joys in life is that she can still sit in the nursery floor at VBS and that she can't teach anything anymore after her STROKE, but she can hold a baby with the best of them. Shame on anyone who uses age to avoid service! Shame on anyone who ever let a physical disability or fear stop him or her from putting forth the very best for Christ! You cannot get beyond physical limitations, but you'd better make sure that it's an actual limitation and not just apathy in disguise. God doesn't let many folks tell him 'no' and get away with it. If you are apathetic about your service at church or refuse to go when called, God just might do the same right back at you.

Or how about this doozy that's been on my mind lately...

I have a dear couple friend. They have been blessed in love and family and finances. After 20 years of marriage with a very modest wedding band set, The Wife expressed a casual interest to her Loving Husband that maybe, possibly, do you think we could upgrade this deal? The Loving Husband indicated on numerous occasions that he felt that was a complete waste (and some would agree). He saw more land to buy and more equipment to work that land and trips and things.

Fast forward.

The Loving Husband was injured in a freak accident while on vacation with The Wife.  He had to have surgeries and lots of down time. The kind of injury he sustained made it hard for him to get up and down, so someone had to stay with him constantly. I had the privilege as friend of the family, to sit with him during his recovery one day to let The Wife go to town and run some errands.

One of the first things out of his mouth as we were sitting there visiting and eating sub sandwiches was that the very second he could get out of that house on his own he was going to take a considerable sum of money directly out of the bank and buy the love of his life the biggest rock he could afford. He looked me dead in the eye and said that all of this land and home and stuff didn't mean anything thing at all without her. He said that she was the most precious person in his whole life and that he was going to show it by doing something that was solely for her and caused him to sacrifice personal wants and needs. He said, "She is never, ever going to be able to forget that I adore her after all that she has done for me and that I love her more than any stupid piece of land."

Wait for it. Wait for it...deep breath...lean in really close so you don't miss it...

How much you love God is directly related to how much you put in the plate on Sunday. It's like telling your children, "Oh, you are the love of my heart and all that I am" and then refusing to feed or clothe them. You love God? Don't just post it on Facebook. Pull out your giving record and let's look at that together, shall we? I can tell the extent of your love and devotion to the things of God and exactly how much you Trust Him for Your Daily Bread by whether or not you put your money where your mouth is. We are a people who give God lip service, but don't prove it by our actions. For shame. We have nothing without the direct Hand of God providing it to us. You'll never one time regret sacrificial giving to the Lord!

Perhaps the most effective way to see where your relationship is with the Lord is to look at your bank statement and look at your church service, and then you can join me prone on the floor in repentance, weeping, begging God to forgive us for not doing more to see souls that are absolutely bound for eternity in Hell saved and redeemed and restored! If not for someone sharing the Gospel with you, someone faithfully putting money to missions in the plate, and that person wiping your nose in VBS it would be your fate also! It is the smallest measure of love and faith to pay if forward.

Pray about your service. Pray about your giving. And prepare for God to challenge you in your spiritual walk in new and exciting ways! Hallelujah, Amen! (Sometimes that Sister Sunshine chick scares me to death.)

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