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Archive for June, 2012

What is it to Serve?

There was a woman who had four children. She had them later in life, so late, in fact, she thought she would never have any children at all. Not long after the fourth child was born, her husband died. She never remarried and raised them alone. They were her greatest blessing and joy. She gave them all that she had. She loved them with all of her heart, and all that she did, she did for them.

The children were each a year a part in age. While three of them were healthy, one, one was sick and required attention and could not live without the help of his mother. He was her second born. But even with the best care and the love from his mother, he would probably never make it to the age of 30.

When the oldest turned 26, the woman had a stroke, and it became difficult to care for her son that depended upon her for life. She decided to call the other three before her and ask them to take it upon themselves to care for their brother. She said, “just as I have loved you and given all that I have to you, I ask that you show the same love towards your brother.”

The oldest, who was 26 and had recently finished law school and started a promising career as an attorney, took her by the hand and explained that she would be unable to help. “I have my whole life ahead of me. Why should I be burdened by my brother who will only live a short while. Place him in a home, and I will pay for his care there.” With that, she got up and left.

The next child was her third born, and he had been waiting at the foot of the bed. He had recently graduated college at the top of his class and gotten engaged. The mother looked at him and said, “and what of you my son, will you care for your brother?”

The young man took his mother’s hand and said, “I love you, and I love my brother, but what can I do? I am one person, and I have my whole life before me. I want to marry and start my own family. Place him in a home, and I will be sure to come and visit him.” With that, he got up and left.

It was at that point, the mother noticed that her youngest was not even in the room. Of all her children, he had been her rebel. He barely finished high school, did not go to college and had a problem with drugs and alcohol. She hung her head and was saddened that he hadn’t been brave enough to deny the duty. She called out to him, “Peter, where are you? Please come to my room. I would like to speak with you.”

Thirty minutes went by, and Peter finally entered the room.

She looked at him, and he looked tired. “Where have you been? Didn’t I ask you to come here so that I could speak with you concerning your brother?”

Peter said, “Momma, I was with my brother. He was sick and needed water. I helped bathe him and gave him some soup to eat. I have cared for him since you had your stroke. What is it that you wanted? Do you not want me to care for him? My brother and sister tell me that you are going to put him in a home?

I would like to stay here and care for him. Please don’t put him in a home. As you loved me, I want to love him. As you have done for me, I want to do for him. I have a very limited time to show him how much I love him, and I don’t want to miss that opportunity.”

The woman was happy because she knew her spirit was in Peter, and he loved as she had loved. He served as he had been served.

 

Why do you volunteer for a ministry? Why do you help the least of those? Why do you serve? Whether it is leading a bible study, working at a food kitchen, building a home, visiting the sick, or donating your time to any number of groups or people, why do you do it?

Does it help you sleep at night as you toss and turn from guilt because you have a great job while others are unemployed, because you have so much money while others have only pennies, or because you can dine at nice restaurants while others go hungry?

What is the motivation? Why go through the motions?

Do you have to do it because of court-ordered community service? Because the church says you should do it? Because it makes you look good to all your friends? Why? Because your spouse nags you? Why? Why do it?

I will tell you why you are to serve your brother and sisters. God has instructed you to help your neighbor. He expects us to help his flock and be there for them when they need us.

 

Matthew 25 ESV

31  “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 

I could show you verse after verse in the Bible where God asks that we love his flock; it is his second greatest commandment next to loving our Father in Heaven. Many of the Ten Commandments deal with the treatment of others, like not killing, stealing, and baring false witness. Jesus told many parables where the moral was love your neighbor.

But I’m not writing this to ask you to follow parable examples, or acts of disciples or of people long since gone from this world. Our God is a living God, so I’m asking you listen to him as he speaks to your heart. If you see someone lonely, befriend them. If you see someone hungry, feed them. God will put in your heart what he wants you to do. It won’t be in a book; it will be where you can feel it; it will live within you.

As God loves you, he will reveal to you where you shall love others. It may be small like taking a co-worker out to lunch, or the task might be large like becoming a minister. You might even deny it for years and years, but God has eternity, and your life is but a heartbeat to him, so he will wait, and he will persist with his voice in your heart.

When you follow the spirit of God and serve with love, you will be filled with joy. You will know compassion. You will be happy. I promise you that. As old Ebenezer Scrooge learned in A Christmas Carol, when mankind is your passion, your soul is reborn, and you will never know the darkness of death but only the light of everlasting life.

 

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forsaken

memories kick my ass
screaming, punching, holding nothing back
i fall in agony
i pray in disbelief
at what i’ve become
that a man who once was
now barely a shadow of what is
god
i hate you
for leaving me alone
to face
this
this
this emptiness that held all i had
that
in the utter blackness of my soul
pages have been ripped out
destroyed beyond repair           of
religion’s scotch tape
i just want to punch something
for the happenstances of my life
detoured off my plan
my plan
what became of my plan
yes
what became of my plan
god
i hate you
for leaving me alone
to venture
on your path
why have you forsaken me?

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