Pray for Healing for The Split Church

Our youth pastor preached on Sunday and delivered a great sermon on the need for good works. His sermon struck a chord with me and reminded me of the deep division in the church which must be healed if we are to be all Christ needs us to be on this earth.

With Christ as Foundation, there are two elements of Christian Life: Personal Growth and Good Works. It seems to me that much of the church has split along these lines with each half focusing on one or the other of these elements.

The first branch I’ll call evangelical. It focuses on Personal Growth. ┬áIt tends to be conservative, to vote Republican, to focus on evangelism and sanctification. It is fiercely anti-abortion and tends to be thought of as “holier-than-thou” and unfeeling toward social needs and justice. Some would identify this as “white” Christianity. In John 3:16 this branch focuses on “whosoever.” Salvation and Christianity is considered more personal than universal.

The other branch focuses on social justice, good works, if you will. It tends to be politically liberal. It gets behind social movements: civil rights, gay rights, etc. It tends to be pro-choice. It is often identified as the “black” Christian Church. In John 3:16 the focus is on “the whole world.” Salvation is often though of in universal rather than personal terms.

It is sad that Christianity has divided along these lines. I see these elements come together only rarely. In fact, the only place I see it is in prison ministry. That ministry excites the evangelical thread of the conservative Christians and the social justice thread wound in liberals. It’s wonderful to see these two completely different branches come together in these rare works of ministry. During these times the participants from both sides are careful to avoid talking politics or certain deep theological issues. Instead they focus on loving the unloved and listening and watching as Jesus changes hearts.

To my way of thinking it is crucial that these divergent branches find ways to communicate and come together more often in the cause of Jesus. I think both sides recognize that time is short and the return of Jesus can’t be far off. The world desperately needs to see the church united and being all that Jesus calls us to be providing foundation for personal growth and a life of good works as well.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to fall on all of Jesus’ church and to bring unity of purpose under the banner of Jesus. Nothing else will work.

Be blessed.


Work Ethic

My wife is a great lover of plants and planting. Over the years this love has resulted in a mass of flower beds in our back yard. Each spring we would weed the beds and mulch them planting plats of spring and summer flowers and the occasional experimental plant.

Recently Rosemary has gained an allergy to wasp stings. She has to carry an epi-pen at all times. Living where we do we have tons of wasps and working in the yard is no longer an option for her. With my knee, which I originally injured doing spring mulching, I can no longer do much in the yard either.

When Jonathan, our Youth Director, announced a “slave day” fund raiser to help build a school in Africa it seemed a chance to get at least some of the needed yard work done. The cost of getting the beds done professionally has become prohibitive. I scheduled our yard on the work day and asked my good friend Gary if I could borrow a trailer to haul in some mulch. In typical Gary fashion, he actually went with me to get the mulch and delivered it to our home.

I hadn’t expected to get all the the needed work done, just to get a start on it. One youth, her mom and one of the youth group leaders showed up. They worked like “slaves” for four hours hauling mulch, pulling weeds and spreading the mulch. Nearly all our beds were done as beautifully as they were ever done by professionals. In addition, I had the benefit of visiting with cheery workers all afternoon.

We are prone to complain about the younger generation. The spoiling of our kids has come back to haunt us. I can’t comment on all youth, or even all our youth group. But I can say I was impressed by the work ethic of one youth, her mom and her youth group leader and Rose and I are extremely grateful.

The Christian Work Ethic is alive and well at Amana.

Be blessed, we sure are.