What’s Happening @ Central
Well, last week was another lesson in how the Midwest can be, destructive. On Monday, as several people were working on projects in the church, a severe thunderstorm blew through the area. During the worst of the storm, a lightning strike hit close-by. It was close enough that I thought I could hear (and feel) the sizzle of the static charge before the actual strike hit. My computer screen went black for a second before returning to normal.
In surveying the damages, the lightning strike took out several electronic devices. The land-line phone on my desk, the converter boxes used to put the slides onto the front screens, the network card in the computer in the Secretary’s Office, and several other network components. Thankfully, we had spare converter boxes for the front screens in the Sanctuary, allowing us to swap out the damaged units in time for Sunday’s worship service. Thanks to Brett Daire and Brianna Allen (and her boyfriend, Joey) for assisting with the repairs. I hope to get all the remaining damaged components replaced this week.
This week I will be working on getting more information about the restoration and repairs of the facility. In speaking with the project manager, we have agreed that the restrooms will be the priority for his crews. I have also requested that he provide an estimate for some additional work. Since 80-90 percent of the flooring in the building will need to be replaced, it makes sense to consider replacing the remaining 10-20 percent to maintain a consistent appearance throughout the church. Also, the hallway ceiling is in desperate need of repair and renovation. These extra items will be pursued, depending on cost, while the other needed repairs are being conducted.
Last week I mentioned the need for us to be purposefully inviting others to come to church. Another aspect of turning Central into a “growing” church is the need to put more information into the hands of church members. For instance, do you know what the current sermon series is all about? Knowing that makes it even easier for you to invite people to a service, as it is knowledge that can be applied to their needs. While I routinely preach messages in a series, I have not always done a good job of letting you know what the general direction of the current series is going to be; what issues it will be addressing. Without that knowledge your ability to make a personal invitation to someone becomes more challenging. Our current series of messages, Journey to the Heart, is using selected passages from the Gospel of John to show that God’s heart is centered on our salvation. By Thursday, I am trying to get the specific message idea out to the church, so you can use it as an aid to invite others to Central. One other thing that you can do is check into Central’s Facebook page during the week. When you see something new, like it and share it on your own page. That way your friends will see the information and possibly be attracted by what you share. It can be a great way to invite someone to attend an upcoming service, especially when it might be applicable to their life.
Thought for the Day
The Gospel of John is a wonderful account of the life and ministry of Jesus. It stands in contrast to the other Gospels, which are known as the Synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke all share more or less common events and tell us what Jesus said and did) by focusing more on who Jesus is. Also, John’s gospel devotes nearly half of the contents to the events in the last couple of weeks before Jesus’ crucifixion. To John, the most important ideas were defining who Jesus is (Messiah) and what His role is (salvation).
John does one other thing, as well. There is a seemingly insignificant encounter between Phillip and a group of Greeks (John 12:20-22). These people were not fully integrated into Jewish society. They were sometimes referred to as God-fearers. They were attracted to the monotheistic religion of the Jews, but had not taken the necessary steps to be considered fully converted to Judaism. In other words, they were still Gentiles. While they were allowed limited participation in the worship at the Temple (they could congregate in the Court of the Gentiles, the outer courtyard), they were not considered to be a full partner in relation to the Lord.
Why would John include this in his narrative of the last days before Jesus would be put to death on the cross?
When Jesus is told about this encounter he tells His disciples something that is key to understanding what is happening. Remember, to the Jewish religious society, the Messiah was only for the Jewish people. Jesus declared that the hour had now come for Him to be glorified and that anyone could follow Him (John 12:23-26). Salvation was not only for the Jews, but for the Gentiles, as well.
It is vitally important for us, as disciples of Jesus, realize that the gospel is Good News for anyone and everyone. The Messiah of Israel is also the Savior for the Gentiles. The heart of God is revealed in the plan of God. Jesus didn’t just die for a select group of people (Jews), He died so that all who would believe in Him might be saved. In 2 Peter 3:9 we read that God desires everyone to come to repentance. There is no one that God does not desire to see saved.
That same desire ought to fuel all of us, today. Regardless of what someone looks like, regardless of what someone has done with their life up this point, or regardless of how different someone may be they are someone who God desires to have a relationship with. We are the ones who have been left with the mission to introduce them to Jesus. Being a disciple means doing what the Master did. Salvation was not something that was intended to be distributed to only a select community. Salvation is meant to be offered to anyone and everyone. After all, Jesus died for the sins of the world (John 1:29), and that includes everyone.