Thursday, August 20, 2009

Being moldable....

No. No. No. No. Maybe later. No. Let me pray about it and get back to you (they don’t usually and if so, the answer is mostly no). No. No. No. No. and No. 

I haven’t developed a stuttering problem with my computer keyboard, I’m just listing typical responses this year to our nominating committee who’s been tasked with the responsibility to ask people to serve here at Calvary in various ministry responsibilities. This is an unprecedented response from God’s people in being unwilling to serve in ministry this year. Many have said yes and have taken on more than they are already doing because they don’t want to see ministry hindered, but sadly, the majority are saying no to requests to serve the Lord Jesus at Calvary. In my devotions the other morning, I read God’s instructions to Jeremiah the prophet to go to a potter’s house and observe what happened. God demonstrated to Jeremiah the children of Israel were like clay in the potter’s hand, he molded the clay from a “marred vessel into another vessel as it seemed good to the potter to make” (Jer.18:4). In talking with the Lord about this dire situation of people saying no to requests to serve, I realized the problem is that people are not willing to be molded the way God intends. Later in chapter 19, Jeremiah is told to go purchase a flask from the potter and take it out and break it in the presence of the leaders as a sign that God is going to break the children of Israel for their idolatry and disobedience. In our  case, I believe we’ve made an idol out of convenience. If it is not convenient to serve, we say no. If it requires commitment and faithfulness, we say no. If it will interfere with our leisure, pleasure our hobbies or whatever else we can imagine, we say no.

Now I realize that everyone believes they have a good reason for saying no and maybe that’s true. There is an epidemic of people not being willing to serve and we are facing some serious problems in our various ministries if people don’t say yes to serving. Last year, we had an average of 85 children in our AWANA ministry, but as of today, we still have no AWANA commander and fewer workers. We could be faced with the very real possibility we’d have to say “No” to some kids and limit our ministry to a certain number of children. How do I pick which kids will not be allowed to come? As of this writing, we do not have a chairman for our food services committee, could we be forced to say: “Calvary will no longer provide any food for anyone and the kitchen is now closed for lack of leadership.” We have no preschool director who can organize our preschool and extended care workers. Would we be forced to say “All preschoolers must attend worship with their parents.” What message would this send to young families we’re trying to reach? While it is true, we have some dedicated servants but many of these folks have been doing multiple jobs for so long, they are flat exhausted. I understand that in a real & tangible way from my experiences in church life.

We are living in critical days in our society, culture and church life. I believe the Lord’s return is soon, but He is delaying so everyone has an opportunity to hear the gospel and be discipled.  The Great Commission mandate of making disciples does not afford the luxury of not serving the Lord Jesus, our Commander in Chief. Last year in Harford County, 3012 babies were born and 1727 people died. How will we reach those children if we limit our ministries to young families and do not care for their children? Nearly 5 people step into eternity in our county every day and the reality is, most of those people will be in Hell forever. How can we rest and be at ease when the Potter is trying to mold us into servants and soldiers to reach these people? So are you moldable? If God wants to make you a children’s worker, will you be moldable? If God wants you to be a kitchen servant, to feed someone who comes to Wednesday worship and then gives their life to Christ, is that okay? If you don’t have a place of ministry, when will you say yes? A disciple of Jesus Christ must be a servant, that’s God’s plan, that’s God’s purpose for you. Souls are hanging in the balance while you pray about it. God is molding me and shaping me into being a pastor, something I did not choose on my own. What about you? What has the Potter chosen for you? Praying in my little corner for laborers for the harvest…

Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

Thursday, August 6, 2009



We live in a day and age that is saturated with self-interest, self-satisfaction, and just plain selfishness all round. This "what's in it for me" attitude permeates every sector of society. I have a friend who was a police chief tell me once they have such difficulty in finding qualified recruits and when they find them they have to deal with the attitudes of selfishness where they don't want to work graveyard shift because it interferes with their sleep or ability to party and they balk at having Sunday & Monday off. I guess they want to "protect and to serve" if it's convenient. If you manage employees, or own a business; I bet you are saying "Amen" on that.


Sadly, churches have to deal with this kind of societal attitude as well. "Me-church” is what people are looking for because after all, "it's all about me." So people are content to come enjoy the children's programs, the youth events, the fellowship, and the music (if they play what I like). If the preacher makes me feel good, I'll keep coming. Ask the "me-church" crowd to help by getting involved and serve in a ministry - "no way, we're out of here. After all we're not "members" anyway. We'll go down the road to the mega-church where no one knows me." No commitments, no ties, no accountability, nothing to cramp "my style." Some church members in many cases act this way too. When asked to serve, they respond with something like "I'll pray about it" which has become code for "not in this lifetime." I call this phenomenon "buffet Christianity." People pick and choose much like a buffet what they like and leave what they don't, usually the "service" component gets left like beats at a salad bar.


Our culture has replaced Christian commitment involving sacrifice and service, investing in others, carrying the cross of Christ daily as His bond servants with a non-committal, non-denominational, lukewarm, touchy-feely, consumer driven "church" which does little more than entertain, let alone make disciples.


As I was patting myself on the back for my commitment to the God who saved me and basking in the glow of my self-approval, casting stones at all these self-serving people who come to church off and on; I read in my morning Bible study yesterday Is. 20:2 "...'Go and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet'. And he (Isaiah) did so, walking naked and barefoot." Verse 3 continues telling us that God had Isaiah do this for three years as a sign against Egypt!  Almost to add insult to injury, this wasn't even a sign for the people of Israel; it was to send a message to a foreign nation. God had His prophet walk around naked for three years in a humiliating condition for foreigners! Isaiah did this; he was obedient to his God because Isaiah was not pastor of "me-church."


I thought of my own commitment to Jesus and I immediately thanked God for not asking me to do this. They'd throw me in a nut house and I'd lose everything because no one would believe the explanation! I also had to repent as usually happens when I read God's Word. I was forced to examine my own commitment to the Lord. Am I willing to pay any price, do anything my God asks me to do?  Would I be willing to suffer shame, humiliation and embarrassment to reach people who are foreign to me? Old Isaiah did and so did all of God's prophets and His Apostles. They were obedient because they were committed to the God who created them, the God who loved them and redeemed them from their sin. They all understood it is not about "me." It's about God and what He wants to do in order to reconcile people to Himself.


I wonder how many people will go to Hell because some Christian somewhere decided it wasn't convenient for them to witness or to serve in some ministry at church. I wonder how many pastors who were burned out or discouraged might have stayed in the ministry if they'd have had a bit of Isaiah's commitment. I wonder what the fabric of our church would look like and how many people we could reach for Jesus if we found some modern day saints who moved their memberships from "me-church" to "He-church".  So next time I'm given an opportunity to serve, minister, or sacrifice something for Jesus, I think I'll remember old Isaiah, walking around naked for three years...   Hmm, maybe what you and I are being asked to do is not that big a commitment after all? Something to think about, from my little corner to yours...  

 Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

Posted via email from Pastor Ralph