Yesterday was an interesting day at FCC to say the least - let me recap: We awoke to ice, ice and more ice - the trip in from Chestnut early Sunday morning took more than double the usual time - not fun! The morning was really a blessing - I truly enjoyed sharing a sermon inspired by longtime Lincoln Christian Seminary Dean, the late Enos Dowling - a message entitled "Love is like that." So thankful for Mr. Dowling and so blessed to share my own compilation of "love" stories that move and motivate.
Attendance ended up being stronger than I anticipated and it was an honor to be able to pray with multiple members throughout the day. Then, on the way home from church about 2pm, one of our staff told me to check out Facebook - our church was being criticized and by former and current members and/or attenders - the social media "pile on" was in full force. What a kick in the gut! I thought about this all day - certainly not the first time this happened to our church or to me personally and it will not be the last (especially after this blog post) - but painful none the less. As a result, I want to share several reflections:
#1 - I am reminded this world is not my home - bottom line. I am reminded we have to keep the main thing the main thing - bottom line. I am reminded I cannot control what others think, feel, type or share - bottom line. All I can do - and all you can do - is your very best to love God with all your heart/soul/mind/strength and love others with passion and priority.
#2 - I am reminded we are in a spiritual battle and the enemy doesn't want peace and unity to reign.
#3 - I am reminded the church is made up of imperfect people - and I am at the top of that list! Sadly, people fail one another and sometimes it is not pretty! We must make the most of every opportunity to be the salt of the earth and be the light of the world and to love others in the name of Jesus.
#4 - I am reminded of the very negative side of social media - Facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. Social media has been such a blessing - we are able to communicate with hundreds, even thousands, quickly and effectively - in minutes. On a personal, level, I have been able to stay connected with folks from all over our state, the country and our world!
But social media can be ugly and awful and really do damage to the church and faith. Nothing is more heartbreaking than when a church is trashed on social media. I can promise you God is NOT honored by such behavior. Followers of Jesus don't stop being followers of Jesus when they log in to Facebook or other social media.
Here are a couple of suggestions to keep in mind before posting on social media or responding to someone's post - no matter the topic at hand:
** Is what am I typing/sharing God honoring? Would God be pleased with what I am about to type?
** Would I have the courage to say this to a person's face? Or am I hiding behind the social media platform?
** Does this bring about unity and peace and build up the body or am I creating division and pain for others?
** What would Jesus think about my words? Would He give me an Amen or would he shake his head in disappointment?
Let's be the very best we can be when it comes to our words. Our words matter - bottom line!
Keep the following in mind:
TONIGHT - Wild Game Feed - 6pm in the Family Life Center - all are welcome!
RELOAD for Men - 6am TOMORROW - Family Life Center - all Men are welcome to study and eat breakfast w/ us!
MOBILE FOOD PANTRY - Saturday at the American Legion - 9am - noon - FCC is in charge of volunteers - can you help?
ALLISON HITCHINGS ordination - next Sunday February 18 at 9:30am in the Sanctuary!
ADAM BRUCKER returns - Adam will be back w/ us next Sunday - preaching during both morning worship services and also preaching the ordination sermon at 9:30am!
Finally, I am asking for YOU to pray for my friend Derek Ried and his family during a most difficult season of life. Derek and I have a shared passion - cycling. In fact, he has started a ministry entitled End of the Earth Cycling - raising money for cross-cultural youth ministry by sponsoring various rides all over the USA. In May of 2016, Derek lost his father tragically - he was killed while cycling and preparing for a multi-day ride. Then, last week, his mother Denise was killed tragically in a head-on accident near Hoopeston, IL, not far from her home. Derek has lost both of his parents in accidents over the span of just 21 months - I cannot even imagine. So will you pray for Derek and his family?
Blessings to each of you,