"You Have to C to Gain Vision"
Pastor Tom Millner
Ecclesiastes 9:10, 1 Peter 4:8-13
SpiritSong Worship Center
August 2, 2009
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom."
This week I read a story about a teenager who was thrown out of his own home for being gay. He wandered the streets of this "gayborhood" in search of a place for refuge. He found bars, predators, AA, NA, HIV wellness meetings and adult entertainment venues. Where was the refuge he sought? Where was the safe space where he could be accepted and loved for who he was, as he was? Where were you? Where were we? "I didn't know, you say!" Rightly so – neither did I. It doesn't change the fact that this guy had real needs – He didn't know we were here either. Why...Missed opportunity – to love as we have been loved.
This week a middle-aged man learned for the first time that scripture that had been used to clobber him and damn him eternally did not mean that at all. For the first time he learned what it meant to have been created in the image of God – to have found a place where he can finally feel safe to worship God and be who God created him to be. This church was here for him. Love was extended to him – not some mushy feeling stuff, but real words, real live concepts, real live persons, present for HIM!
This week, the partner of an HIV ravaged man needed the presence of a person of faith to share his heart with. He needed to tell his story and the story of his comatose, near death love. He needed the presence of another warm hand on his love's sweaty forehead, jaundiced and imperiled, as we prayed together for God's presence with both him and his comatose love. Someone helped him find us – we were able to be there. We are all blessed to have acted in love.
This week, a young woman discovered the richness of possibility in relationship by understanding more about how she was viewing the other through her own tainted and pained experience. She learned more about what it means to see but a poor reflection and to know that in the act called love lies clearer vision than ever before. This church was there for her. We thank God for the richness of being in service to him.
There are many more stories in this "emerald" city. Some are tragic, some are inspiring, some may be boring, but none are worth ignoring! They're the stories of real live, honest to goodness reflections of God's divine creation – human beings!
The COHSS Vision states: "COHSS is a thriving network of ministries devoted to the spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ in the lives of individuals through local and virtual avenues, meeting spiritual needs while attending emotional, relational, and physical requirements, reflecting the love and grace of God to all He leads our way."That's our VISION…Something happening both now and in a future state – Much like the Kingdom of God…it's within and not yet fulfilled! The strategic planning committee will be meeting soon to nail down the final tactics for strategies that we prayerfully believe will take us to fulfilling our future state. Wonderful words, a concise pathway, doors of possibilities, stairs to new heights. All of these things will take us closer to the heart of the stories in this and other emerald cities. What's really standing in the way of getting there? COMMITMENT!
Now I'm not saying there's a lack of commitment in this Body of Christ! Everyone is committed to something here. To what is the question – better yet, to WHOM? Want to know to what you're committed? Look no further than you actions – words and deeds. Both come from the heart. We get ourselves involved and deceive ourselves into believing we're committed. Let's take ham and eggs as an example. We've got a chicken and a pig. The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed! He had to give up himself to make the dish – for someone else's consumption!
In our scripture today from 1 Peter we hear these words: "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." There he goes again, talking about love… love, love, love, love---we're feeling love… love you – love you- love you… NO --- it's not just words, it's hard work. The greatest act of love EVER demonstrated by to through and for mankind was the death of the man Jesus, nailed to that not so glittering and glowing cross on a hill called Calvary, over two thousand years ago. He wasn't just involved – He was committed!! NOW THAT'S LOVE! This world didn't need a soft, mambi-pambi, Sunday school Jesus – it needed the REAL THING – One willing to suffer the sins of the world, to give His very life so that you and I can live forever in the presence of our perfect Creator. And, He's now living and breathing inside each of us, ready, willing, and able, to live out His love in and through us – the only thing He requires is COMMITMENT! Some even call it "faith in action." Some call it "dying to self." Scripture is full of examples… and in the final analysis, we have to be willing (committed) to put Him first in our lives and ourselves and others in second place. Commitment is an act of will – it's born in a decision, moment by moment. Looking to other things to fulfill what is right before us can be harmful in the long run.
You've heard the story about Ferdinand the bull? No… Well, old Ferdinand was frolicking frivolously within the pasture so caringly provided for him. He happened upon a barbed wire fence separating his pasture from the field beyond. He knew enough to recognize that the master had placed the barrier there to keep the two fields separate. However, Ferdinand wanted his way and saw the grass as greener on the other side of the fence. He reasoned that if he got a long enough start and leapt high enough, he could overcome the barrier and be Ferdinand the bull over the entire domain. He trotted back what seemed to be 25 yards from the fence, kicked up the grass with his two hind feet, lowered his head with eyes toward the mark barreled toward the fence. He leapt forward, gaining greater height than ever before, but just short of the mark. Now, he's just plain Ferdinand!
Folks, the COHSS pasture is full of opportunity – God put you here for His purpose – He's given you everything you need – including each other… He isn't just involved with you, He's committed. He's not giving you a little of His grace – He's giving us ALL of His grace. How do I start –
D understand that to which you're Devoted
E look at where you spend your Energy
C are you using the example of Christ?
I are you being more than Involved?
D start with a heart that is Dedicated
E remember your actions are Eternal
Ready to be committed?