Movers and shakers

Titus 1:1-9

In The United Methodist Church, meeting your new pastor starts with the Introductory Meeting. As the name implies, the meetings are a chance to introduce the church to the pastor and the pastor to the church. 

I’m not sure anyone really knows what they want to say or ask at these meetings. But something that seems to come out much sooner than later is the first clue in. The clue in is when people have told me who the movers and shakers are of the congregation.

I appreciate the gesture.

The assumption is the pastor may want to get things done. These are the people to help make that happen. To be sure, some things need moving and other things need shaking. While those occasions come and go, the need for prayer remains constant.

So, among my first questions is who are the people who pray? The people who you would call first when you needed someone to pray for you? Now, there are people who pray. Many Christians would probably say they do. But then there are people who live and breathe prayer. I want to know who those people are. They are the real movers and shakers.

I call him the real John Fletcher. 

He was the man John Wesley picked to lead the Methodist movement after his death. Why did Wesley pick him? I’m sure he had good organizational skills. And I’m sure we would consider him a good leader. He wrote well and people respected him. But others have said of him what I bet was key. That “John Fletcher stained the walls of his room by the breath of his prayers.” 

The apostle Paul left Titus in Crete to establish God’s church in a place that needed it. Crete was not a place of peace or love. That’s probably why Paul went there. His charge to Titus was to find the right people to teach and lead the church. To the point, Paul’s outline of who to look for did not include specific leadership skills. Instead, he was looking for evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

In our churches today, those are the qualities we need to seek and nurture. Jesus said we could move mountains by faith. Then why do we try so hard to do so with programs and new leadership models? Let’s get moving and shake up the world by committing to prayer and fasting. By living in the hope of eternal life. 

Stay blessed…john

Left with what’s right

Luke 6:6-11

Give left-handers a break! Right-handers have always forced them to live in a right-handed world. That all stems from old thinking. 

Did you know the word sinister relates to left-handedness? Or that in China there are no left-handed people? A Chinese person may be born left-handed, but she will not stay that way. The word awkward means something about the “wrong way.” I bet you can guess if that’s the right or left way.

I never paid attention to the TV shows that depicted the red devils and angels on a character’s shoulders. If the creators wanted to be real to common thought, the devil would be over the left shoulder.

So, imagine in Jesus’ day a man whose right hand had withered. What does he have? Chances are, that is his strong hand. At the very least, the right hand is a symbol of strength. His withered, he has none.

It’s no mere inconvenience.

As this man stood before everyone in the synagogue one day, Jesus asked a question. He spoke to religious leaders who considered themselves doorkeepers to all things righteous. Jesus said, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?” 

Was he suggesting the man’s life had been destroyed already? Well, the doorkeepers’ eyes were already fixed on Jesus. They wanted to see if he would heal the man. Notice the man never said anything. He was just there. Everyone knew this man’s struggle.

Of course, Jesus did heal him. Gave him his life back. And he did it on the Sabbath. Was that prohibited work? Not to Jesus. God sent our Lord to show us and give us abundant life. To the doorkeepers it was unacceptable.

Now, this is my imagination. After Jesus healed the man, Luke says the others “were filled with fury and began discussing with one another what they might do to Jesus.” As they sat in the synagogue, they began to think how they could quell his ministry. They had to have turned their faces away from the holy activity in front of them. Turning toward themselves to plan, they turned away from God. They were now facing the wrong way.

Let’s be careful with door-keeping today. It isn’t wrong to be left-handed. Obviously. It isn’t’ wrong to need healing. But it is wrong to get in the way of God’s transformation simply because you don’t like the way it looks. Right?

Stay blessed…john