Summary: Answers the question: Are you a bold pioneer who is exploring new non-traditional ways of expressing faith and interacting with the Body of Christ - or are you just skipping church and quietly backsliding?

Dakota Community Church

April 29, 2007

Vital Signs

I recently went to the doctor for a general physical. Besides being violated, and crying all the time for about three days, it was only mildly horrifying. I was sent home with a blood pressure monitor to keep an eye on my “stage one hypertension”. An appointment was made for me to see a dietician who put me on what she called a ham diet, it sounded great until she explained that ham was an acronym for Half As Much. Now I am going to be going for a stress test because apparently the ministry is famous as a line of work that leads to break downs and other heart related illnesses.

I’m learning that I need to keep a closer check on my health, to not take it for granted so much, to stop neglecting and abusing my health and the body God has given me.

Not all of us are good at picking up on the warning signs around us.

If your wife refers to you as “the ex” when she is talking to the milk man – that could be a vital sign you are missing.

If the boss keeps talking about how much more efficient the temp who filled in while you were on sick leave was – that could be a sign you are not picking up on. When co-workers start greeting you with, “Are you still here” – it may be too late.

Here’s a test.

You drive up to the house after a long day at work. The lawn is still not mowed and there are skateboards and bikes and toys all over it, you have to get out of the car to move junk out of the way before you can even park. When you open the front door you are greeted by the sound of children screaming, there is the smell of dog feces in the air and there are toys strewn on the floor everywhere you look. Your wife is at the top of the stairs looking like she has been dragged through an old west town behind a horse and when she senses your displeasure she greets you with a loving, “What is your problem?”

If you picked up on the vital signs you quietly respond; “Nothing honey, just glad to be home.”

If you failed to pick up on the vital signs you scowl and say, “I can’t smell dinner.”

There are often parallels between the natural and the physical. Just like the heart rate monitor the doctor sent me home with there are monitors we can use to keep an eye on our spiritual vital signs.

The church is going through many changes, especially the younger generation. Many once automatically accepted patterns are being questioned and re-examined. Things like the importance of Sunday morning attendance, the need for buildings to congregate in, the amount of money that is spent internally as opposed to externally in meeting of real needs. These are important issues and I think it is a good thing to evaluate them.

One thing I think we need to be careful of at times like this is the risk of deceiving ourselves. It is possible to say that we are in a time of transition; that we are searching for a new kind of more “Christ-like” Christianity, but instead to be slowly losing spiritual ground and drifting from both God and Church.

Today I want to give you three vital sign monitors. If you check these and they are in the healthy range, then you know you are a-ok. If they are out of whack, you may be fooling yourself and drifting into dangerous waters.

1. I am connecting with God on a daily basis.

Healthy Christians connect with God daily!

How do we know this important and not just a tactic pastors use to make people feel guilty and to keep them coming to church?

Matthew 6:9-13

This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Notice that He begins with worship. – Intimate worship is a part of connecting with God.

Notice that we are to submit to Lordship, how often do you need to be reminded of that?

Thirdly he brings up provision and actually says “daily bread”. I think this should be about more than just natural needs. I think it has do with planned spiritual development as well.

Then it is on to relationships with others forgiving and being forgiven.

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