Pastor’s Ponderings, January 2019

Two Questions?

Every day, and in every decision we have a choice between two questions, “What do I want?” or “What would God want?”  While we might like to think the answers would be the same, they are frequently very different.  If our focus is on pleasing ourselves, then our answer will be selfish and centered on our own desires.  If our focus is on pleasing God, then our answer will be centered on what God would desire, even if it requires a sacrifice from us.

When Philip asked Jesus to show him the Father, Jesus responded with His own question, asking Philip, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me?”  Jesus explained, adding, “The words I say to you are not just My own.  Rather, it is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work” (John 4:10).  Jesus was essentially saying that in seeing His actions and hearing His words, Philip had seen and heard the Father, because Jesus and His Father were One.  Later, Jesus used the illustration of the vine and the branches” to stress the importance of our remaining connected and being one with Him.  Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in Me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).  So what does this have to do with our questions, or perhaps more to the point, what we want and ask for?  Jesus provides us with insight into what we should ask for, saying, “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).  Jesus is essentially saying, that if we are one with Him, and abiding in His Word, then we are going to ask for what He wants (God wants) rather than what we want.  When we ask for what God wants, our requests glorify God and will be answered.  When we ask for what we want, failing to consider what God desires and His Word teaches, our requests are self-centered, do not honor God, and will not be answered.

Jesus’ Word has instructed us, His Church, to make disciples of all people.  We have discerned through prayer and listening that the people God has called us to reach are young families with children in our community who do not attend a church.  We have asked God in our “212 Prayer” that “God’s will be done.”  He has answered our prayers, sending us so many new families that our sanctuary can no longer contain them in one service.  We are now taking the next natural step, adding a second service to make room for even more families.  In doing so we’ve again had to choose between the two questions, “What do we want?” or “What would God want?”  So what does God’s Word say we should do?  Do we put our desires first or the needs of those we’re called to reach?

Ask any family with children, or consult any church growth expert and you will be told, that after a long week of work and school, families are exhausted and do not rise early on weekends.  Actually, since our announcement to move Sunday school to 10 am, a number of families have already shared that they will now be able to bring their kids to Sunday school because they simply could not get them up, dressed, fed and out the door by 9:00 am.  We even have young parents saying they will now be able to volunteer as teachers.  Also, the new 11 am worship service has been designed to fit the needs of young families with children, containing more music and less formal liturgy.  Both services will continue to offer a “blend” of traditional and contemporary music because we want anyone who comes to either service to experience music that feeds their spirits.  Placing Sunday school between the services will provide an opportunity for all, young and old, to share and grow in our faith together.  Everything has been carefully thought out to be inviting to those God has called us to reach, and to fit the needs of the majority of our members.  Some may have to make sacrifices so we can remain focused on “What God wants!”

Your fellow servant in Christ,

Pastor Harold