My Friday tidy office is mysterious messy on Monday. Here’s what I found today:
1. Garlic – I found a plastic grocery store bag with a garlic in my office. My wife mentioned that this was from friends at church. They had a garden and were sharing! Pretty awesome. This time of year a lot of that goes on in the church. Our family garden is about ready to yield an abundance of tomatoes, and many of them will be making their way to the Share Table at our ministerium summer lunch program, one location of which is Faith Church. The sharing combined with the emotional peace of working and tending our garden has become very meaningful to me. Maybe you know the feeling. I strongly encourage people to grow their own food as much as possible. Doing so brings amazing benefits on many levels.
2. $10 bill – An anonymous donor left this in my office with a note saying that it should be used to help our Faith Church campers going to Twin Pines this summer. Each year Faith Church budgets funds to help send campers from our church to our denomination’s summer camp, Twin Pines. This year we had more campers go to Twin Pines that what we planned on! That is a great problem to have. So we’ve been asking our congregation to give a bit extra to help those campers. It is wonderful when people respond. For many, it is a request they love giving to, because Twin Pines has a special place in their hearts. For 50 years Twin Pines has faithfully served the Lord as place where kids head to the Pocono mountains, have a blast, and learn about faith in Jesus. My kids LOVE Twin Pines. The staff does an amazing job caring for and reaching out to the kids. My oldest son has spent the last two summers serving on that staff, he loves it so much. And my wife and I are deeply grateful for how the full-time staff invests in the lives of the summer staff. Since coming to Faith Church in October 2012, I don’t know how many times I’ve been to Twin Pines, mostly for retreats. I love it there too. And I pray that God continues to bless Twin Pines, to use it, and to send a lot more $10 bills it’s way so that Twin Pines can continue to make a great impact of many people.
3. Baha’i brochure – A friend from church attended a local Baha’i gathering in recent weeks, and he brought back information. I am very thankful that he did so, because he knew I would be interested in learning more. I very briefly studied Baha’i doctrine and practice in a college class 20 years ago, and I had forgotten much. I was glad to hear that my friend was warmly welcomed at the Baha’i gathering. Interestingly I came across an article in the last month or so that also mentioned Baha’i. You can read it here. Believe it or not, Baha’i is the second-most numerous faith in South Carolina! While Christianity is the #1 faith in all 50 States, have you ever thought about what faith is number 2? In every State the #2 faith is a tiny percentage compared to Christianity, and as the article mentions, it doesn’t take much to be the #2 faith in South Carolina, which is massively Christian. But it is compelling nonetheless to think that Baha’i is second. The essence of Baha’i teaching is that all faiths lead to the same destination, and thus we should love all people. I respectfully disagree with the first part of that sentence, and I wholeheartedly agree with the second part. In the pamphlet they say that, of the great religions, none of the Divine Teachers claim to be first or last, as evidence that all faiths lead to the same place. Then they quote Jesus saying “if you had believed in Moses, you would have believed in me, for he wrote of me.” I take issue with this because Jesus’ intent was not to place himself equally in a line-up of famous teachers, and thus that all faiths are equal. In this quote he is actually doing the opposite, saying that Moses was pointing to someone greater. Moses was writing about the Messiah, the Savior, of whom no one is comparable. The Jews to whom Jesus was speaking knew what Moses meant, they knew what Jesus was insinuating, and they didn’t like it. What I am referring to is the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, that he was the promised Messiah. He said without hesitation that he and God the Father are one. Again the people in the crowd that day knew what he was saying because they picked up stones to kill him, as stoning wsa the punishment for equating yourself with God. He lived to teach another day, but not for long. Just hours before his crucifixion, he would tell his disciples “I am the way, the truth and the life…no one comes to the Father except through me.” That kind of exclusivity is hard for some to swallow. I admit that it can come across as harsh or unrealistic, but Jesus was trying to be hopeful and helpful. When you take into account that the very next day he gave his life for us because he loves us, his sacrifice puts the statement into a different color. And then when you think about his resurrection, his victory over sin, death and the Devil…and how he wants to see his new life work its healing in all of our lives…Wow. What is available in Christ is amazing. I am not here to knock on Baha’i. I’m here to say that new life in Jesus is the only faith that truly makes sense to me.
Well…now it’s time to clean up this mess!