Being a Spiritual Door Greeter

Short Analogy #1

Last week, I had the opportunity to go out of town to visit a few very near and dear friends. I had a wonderful time. But the issue was this: I take blood pressure medicine. And without getting too graphic, it dehydrates me in the morning. It is a diuretic. So not only do I drink a lot liquid in the morning, I also get rid of a lot!

Pastor Harvey, why in the world are you letting us know this?

You see, about 90 minutes into the journey, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I just HAD to stop. So I pulled into a Winn Dixie and was met by a nice fellow who greeted me as soon as I walked into the door. I said, “Sir, where is your bathroom?” And he directed me.

On the way out a short time later, the same gentleman was at the door. And I said, “I’ll buy something next time.” He said, “That’s ok. Have a nice day!”

 

Short Analogy #2

Before we had children, I was a different person. I like to think that I have calmed down and am in much more control of myself than I was 10 years ago. I really had an anger issue at times. Sometimes I directed it at those I loved; at other times it was directed in their defense.

Sarah came home from a trip with a sister-in-law very late and very bothered. I knew something was up. After prodding the information out of her, I arrived at the fact that she had been mistreated by an employee of a local club-warehouse-sales place. Even though we had an account that was current, the employee’s computer wasn’t showing it, so she heavily insinuated that Sarah was a liar, cheater, etc.

So I did what any reasonable person would do. I chopped up my membership card into 4 equal pieces. I mailed the 4 pieces to the local store, the regional office, the national office, and the better business bureau, explaining precisely what I thought of their company and why I would never set foot there again.

A reasonable reaction, yes?

 

 

What do these 2 analogies have in common?

We all represent something. The guy in Winn Dixie made me want to go back to Winn Dixie. The girl at that big store caused me to not step foot in there for many years (and I still only rarely frequent the place).

When we go into a store, a minimum wage employee often has the same power as the international president of that company. They represent that store. They are wearing the uniform and a nametag. They have been trained and authorized to represent that store or that company to us. And we as consumers often form a more positive or negative perception of that store based on even the part-time, minimum wage employee.

That employee could think, “I only work here 20 hours a week and barely make minimum wage. I could care less what this company looks like 10 years from now.”

Regardless, as you saw examples of in my analogies, the employees of corporations have that representative power to their consumers. Whether the employees think it is fair or not. Whether the consumer is fair in arriving at that opinion or not. You, Mr. Retired-senior-standing-at-the-front-door-greeter, have a huge amount of influence on whether I continue returning to your store, or stop doing so.

Did you know that it is the same way in our spiritual walk? People know if we are Christian or not. They usually know if we go to church or not. Hopefully, they can put 2 and 2 together by looking at our conduct, speech, and priorities.

And whether we like it or not, we are representing our entire company – that is the church, as well as our CEO – that is, Jesus Christ! We may think we are the lowliest of the low – just a minimum wage door greeter, but our influence over this world and their receptiveness of Christians is huge! And therefore, “poor customer service” simply isn’t an option.

We have to represent Jesus Christ accurately and continually. Because if we don’t, then the reputation of our Christian brothers and sisters, the church, and our Savior is harmed in the eyes of those who need us the most!

Maybe it’d be nice to live in a little box, unnoticed and unobserved by the world. The introvert side of me would enjoy that at times. But today, I will be on display. It is as if I will have a balloon I am carrying around with me that says, “Christian Husband, Father, and Pastor.” People know who I am. They will watch me to see if what I do and say matches up.

They will watch you too. That’s why it IS important what you do. How you do it. What your attitude is. What your speech is. How you present yourself to others. How you act in traffic. In a line at the grocery store. At family reunions. With people who have disappointed you. In every single situation that you’ll face today, you face as much more than an employee – if you’re a believer, you face as one who represents your Savior.

I’ve had people try to convince me otherwise. That it doesn’t matter what they say or do. I’ve heard pastors who can swear with the best of them. I’ve seen people proclaim Christ, but live completely opposite of His teachings.

Don’t take who you are lightly. Seek to provide fantastic customer service today! Remember your actions affect how others see your Christian brothers and sisters, your church, and your God. If people know a Christian is supposed to be one thing, but see us being entirely the opposite, they will have reason to call us hypocritical. Give people a reason to want to know God, not a reason to reject Him more.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

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Living urgently

Have you ever experienced an urgency in your life? Yes – probably so! I experience an urgency on a regular basis as I’m one of those people who utterly despise being late to places. I’m always 5 – 10 minutes ahead, or I’m making myself miserable! So whether there’s urgency in getting the kids to school, or getting the sermon finished, there’s always a deadline that can’t be negotiated!

Last night I had the blessing of hearing my father preach down in Summerdale again. I love dad’s sermons, but I always have particularly enjoyed his topics of end-time and prophecy – Revelation, Thessalonians, Daniel, Matthew (and he touched on all of these passages last night).

Dad preaching last night in Summerdale

Every time I hear a good sermon on the end time, it is like something quickens within my spirit and begins to tell me, “He is coming back SOON! There’s no time to waste!” And my heart begins beating faster, and with a little more excitement, and I realize just how close to the end of this age I believe we are. We are one good situation away from the world barreling straight into the last set of prophecies, and every time I read the news, I ask myself, “Will this be the way in which we are propelled toward the end?”

I remember growing up, being so mindful of the return of the Lord, that I was actually believing even as a young person that I would never live to the age I am now. I believed the Lord would come back before now (see the 1 Thess verse later on in this post for a description of that day).

This morning, I read Philippians, the second chapter. A packed chapter – full of doctrine, and encouragement, and advice. There’s quite a few recognizable verses in Phil 2. Among them is verse 12 – “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” And when I read that this morning, it sparked in me a reminder of how I felt as I was listening to the sermon on the end-times last night.

So often, there is no fear and trembling in our walk. As serious as we are about life, jobs, education, and relationships, it is tragic that we can be the most casual about the one thing with the greatest joy or greatest devastation in our life – our relationship with our Creator. In many instances, people just have a casual relationship with a “guy upstairs,” and there’s no urgency for their walk with Christ and no brokenness for those around them who are lost without Him.

Between last night and this morning, I had already lost that urgency. And it is very possible that I may lose it again before the day is up. Though, I pray that to not be the case.

But to live a life without some knowledge or regards to what God says will still yet happen is to read a book without worrying about the end – is to go to school without worrying about graduation – is about getting a degree with no regards to eventual employment, is to do anything without cognizance of the intended end result. Except, it is on a much greater, and potentially terrifying scale.

I closed my eyes and imagined what it will be like up there. Most of you reading this can probably quote some of or part of the song, “I can only imagine.” And it is a song that gives comfort and happiness. It talks about a place with no pain or suffering.

Revelation 21:4 says,

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And yet, many of us are relying on false promises to attain that glorious end one day.

But do we know the “He” of Revelation 21:4? We can’t know Him based on our own system of knowing someone. We can’t know Him based on our own qualifications for knowing Him. We have to know Him based on what He says about knowing Him. And that involves trusting Him, believing Him, accepting His death for our sins, and living a life of surrender and submission for Him, as His grace helps us to grow in Him.

Some of us try to be a good person, and we end up being a good person. But when you compare our goodness, as good as it can be, to the “Goodness” of God, we fall miserably short, and thus, we can’t experience eternal joy nor a relationship with Christ simply by being a good person. 

Some of us believe that there are many roads to attain that eternal joy, and by having some sort of a spiritual journey or adventure, we will find ourselves “taken care of one day.” However, that is completely contradictory to Scripture. In order to spend time in God’s presence for eternity, we must recall the words of Jesus Christ in John 14:6 –

 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

It is comforting to think about the place that heaven is, but only if I’m sure I’m going to actually be there one day. Of much less comfort should be the condition and worry of one who doesn’t know how they are going to get there, and considers how close to heaven’s opening we may be.

I know many good people, whom I love and respect. Yesterday, we showed a video in church. And one of the statements went like this – “I know of know greater love one could show to his fellow man than to share the hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.”

Don’t try to “good” yourself into heaven. Don’t try to figure it out on your own. I couldn’t do it anymore than you can.

Time is urgent. It is short. I don’t know when I’ll go to heaven – whether my death will send me, or whether I will experience 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

If you believe in God, then that verse probably has one of two effects on you. It either fills you with hope, or fills you with an uncertain dread. One of the greatest experiences the human can have is, I believe, to be experiencing the fulfillment of being caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And one of the most terrifying, desperate experiences we could ever imagine is to watch as others experience that, but we don’t.

I actually believe I’ll experience 1 Thessalonians in my lifetime. I still do not believe I’ll live to be an old man. But regardless, may we live with such urgency that we’ll have no regrets when the end comes, no matter which form it takes – whether we are taken through death, or through this experience – verse 18 of 1 Thessalonians says, 

“Therefore encourage one another with these words.”Image

If you are not encouraged by those words – if you are confused, afraid, or even oblivious, I’d love to talk to you and share with you. I’ll listen. I’ll do my best to answer any questions. But, especially if you are a friend or family member of mine, the greatest love I can ever show you, despite my imperfections, is to show you how to begin your life as a true disciple of Jesus Christ. It would be my greatest honor to do so. And we can grow together.

God knows I’m nowhere close to perfect. Don’t base your Christianity on Christians. Base it on Christ. I’m not your standard – He is. Without Him, we are lost eternally.

So, call, email, or message me!

Questions for Mary

“25 Questions For Mary”

From Max Lucado’s Book, “God Came Near.”

1. What was it like watching him pray?

2. How did he respond when he saw other kids giggling during the service at the synagogue?

3. When he saw a rainbow, did he ever mention a flood?

4. Did you ever feel awkward teaching him how he created the world?

5. When he saw a lamb being led to the slaughter, did he act differently?

6. Did you ever see him with a distant look on his face as if he were listening to someone you couldn’t hear?

7. How did he act at funerals?

8. Did the thought ever occur to you that the God to whom you were praying was asleep under your own roof?

9. Did you ever try to count the stars with him….and succeed?

10. Did he ever come home with a black eye?

11. How did he act when he got his first haircut?

12. Did he have any friend by the name of Judas?

13. Did he do well in school?

14. Did you ever scold him?

15. Did he ever have to ask a question about Scripture?

16. What do you think he thought when he saw a prostitute offering to the highest bidder the body he made?

17. Did he ever get angry when someone was dishonest with him?

18. Did you ever catch him pensively looking at the flesh on his own arm while holding a clod of dirt?

19. Did he ever wake up afraid?

20. Who was his best friend?

21. When someone referred to Satan, how did he act?

22. Did you ever accidentally call him Father?

23. What did he and his cousin John talk about as kids?

24. Did his brothers and sisters understand what was happening?

25. Did you ever think, That’s God eating my soup?Image

The basis of our belief – Part 2 – Christ’s promise to Nathanael

This is an exciting post. Considering the spiritual struggle going inside of me today, this is just wonderful news. I won’t dilly-dally, I’d like to get right to the point:

John 1:48-50

Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”  Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”

Nathanael declared Christ to be the son of God simply because Christ gave a simple supernatural statement in verse 48 (He saw Nathanael, though he wasn’t physically present to do so). Look at verse 50 though:

Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”

How easy it is to get spiritual amnesia, focusing so much on our small problems (compared to our huge God), not realizing that not only does God answer the prayers in our individual puzzle piece needs, but He also is the grand designer of the puzzle!

Basically, Christ was telling Nathanael, “You haven’t seen anything yet!” You think it was amazing, Nathanael, that Christ saw you under a fig tree? Have you yet contemplated that He will also save you from your sins?

Verse 51:

And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

In a visual reminder of the story of Jacob in Genesis 28, Christ reveals that He isn’t just a need-meeter, He isn’t just a “Dr. Feel-good,” He isn’t just a supernatural physician. He CAN be those things, but to relegate Christ to a divine bellhop is to rob ourselves of the opportunity to see who HE really is!

He is King, He is Lord, He is Sovereign! He will be a greater way to access God the Father than the ladder in which the angels traversed in Jacob’s dream. He, being the only possible solution, BECAME the only possible solution to our condition of sin. The miracle which has granted us access to God the Father and the ability to be righteous through Him far outweighs any of our present circumstances, troubles and blessings included!

So whether or not we are troubled, or whether we are blessed – we all have something greater to thank Him for than the circumstances surrounding our own loves. Where would we be without Him?

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