Summary: Sixth sermon in the summer 2006 Series, “Being God’s People by Serving, Obeying, and Giving.”
26 years ago this past spring, I had a couple of employment choices presented to me as a college senior. One was a two-year stint as a missionary in the Philippines. The other was an offer to relocate to Dover, New Jersey, find a job and help serve a local church at the same time.
I took the New Jersey offer. I flew out in early July 1980. I remember flying from Philadelphia to Newark and having the closest experience I have ever had with airsickness as we flew through turbulent air in what I call a ‘puddle jumper.’ It was also, so far in my life, the only glimpse of New York I had have and I saw the twin towers of the World Trade Center stick up through the smog and haze of that July day as I flew into Newark airport.
I left New Jersey a week later. I couldn’t find a job, there were some misunderstandings with the family I was staying with, and so I flew home.
I felt defeated and I remember that I hung my head as I entered the terminal at the Dayton airport because I felt like I let God, family, and friends down in not making it out east. But as I would discover God had other plans.
In September, I returned to my college as an employee and worked there one year. Then I moved to Indianapolis to serve at my first church, the church where I met Susan and from that point, my journey, so far, has brought me here.
One of the reasons that I rejected the Manila offer and that the New Jersey experience was cut short, was due to the fear of, one the one had, raising my support and, on the other hand, the lack of available work to help me get on my feet. In other words, I lacked the resources, both material and internal, to be successful.
Have you ever been asked to do something or felt led to do something that you believed was a God thing and when you took stock of the resources and situation, you felt intimidated and confused? Did you wonder if it would work out? Did it? Did it fail as sometimes it does?
About 12 years or so later, I remember organizing a meeting about small groups at one of the churches that I served. I carefully planned the agenda and made sure that all participants had copies of the material that I was to go over. I had refreshments ready and arranged the room so that discussion would flow. I waited with excitement.
Nobody showed up. I was devastated. Many had told me that they would be there. But no one came.
After I collected myself, I reviewed what happened with some leaders in the church. I don’t remember all what they said, but we rescheduled the meeting and moved it to our apartment where we had a wall-to-wall crowd and people expressed interest in small groups.
However, when the senior minister weighed in on the proceedings, he said he did not want small groups.
Ever have that happen to you? Ever organize something and it not succeed? Or attempt to develop a great idea only to have a key person shoot it down?
About 5 or 6 years later I was asked to chair a committee who was trying to organize a parenting conference in the school district where that church was located. Now these parents had kids, especially middle and high school, in the district. I only had a toddler (I don’t think that Daniel was born yet) and did not even live in the district! To top it off I was asked at the last moment to lead the meeting of this group.
Ever been asked to give of your time to something that you were not sure of? Ever been a part of a group that you felt unsure about belonging to? How did you handle it? Did you take the risk or say, ‘no thank you?’
I took the risk, I got the group organized, and we organized a great conference. I ended up on TV doing a live interview about it and we had around 500 persons show up for the conference! But, we had persons who were willing to give of their time and ability to make it happen. Funding was already present for the event to take place and so the resources were available because somebody gave.
What does it mean to give? When you hear the word ‘give,’ what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
(1) We are moving toward the conclusion of our summer sermon series, ‘Being God’s People by Serving, Obeying, and Giving.’ We have spent time in 1st Corinthians and now 2nd Corinthians and we have been looking at the values of serving, obeying, and giving so that we can fulfill our vision of being a ‘fully following and faithfully functioning church.’