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Spare Change October 2018

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Recently, two stories of public shaming have made headlines.  One man well known and the other not. The first was Geoffrey Owens who was working at Trader Joe’s in New Jersey when a woman snapped a picture and posted it online.  He is an actor formerly on The Cosby Show. He was publicly shamed for a moment, before scores of people turned to support the actor. The   other man was a man that was shaving on the train when, again, his picture was posted online to shame him.  It was then found out that this man was homeless and was given a train ticket by his brother to go stay with another family member. He wanted to look presentable, so he was shaving in public on a train. Neither of these men should have been made to feel bad for their predicament.  I read these stories and felt lachrymose. I have had the same feeling when the website “People of Walmart” came out to shame individuals that looked or acted strange in Walmart. I just don’t see why we must shame people, especially if they are downtrodden.

As Christians, we should never publicly or privately shame someone.  Our attitude should be one of humility and love toward our fellow image bearers.  Look at Paul’s advice in Philippians 2: 3-8, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

I love how Paul tells us to count others more significant than ourselves, this is how we should look at other people.  If we see them through the lens of humility, as more important than us, it will be easy to love and serve others. Our mind should not be like the world, rather we are encouraged to have the mind of Christ.  I don’t think Christ would think that the “People of Walmart” is a funny site. I try not to take myself or life too seriously, but I find it hard to believe that God would approve of such mockery of His beloved creation.  Each person has been crafted by God to bear His image, this is the distinction between us and all the other animals on the earth. We bear God’s image, this should mean something to us. So, when we see a poor soul that's unkept or dressed poorly or has a physical or mental issue we should not laugh, rather we should see them as God sees them---as a precious creation.

Our example for this humble mindset is Christ.  Paul tells us that Jesus, who is God, did not claim His rights as sovereign ruler of the universe.  He didn’t command that we bow before Him. He didn’t stand in front of us adored in all His glory and splendor. Instead He emptied Himself and came to us as a servant.  Born into humanity so He could be like us, and then doing the most sacrificial thing He could ever do; He died on the cross for us. What if Christ looked at us as we look at others?  What if He judged us for our hardships and bad choices? What if He looked down on our slobbish behavior or our propensity for idols? Christ refused to do that, instead He empathized with us, became like us and died for us.

This is the ultimate example of humility and one we need to keep in mind before we laugh at another human being. Of course, I like to have fun and don’t mind some good-natured kidding, but there must be a limit.  We need to be able to tell the difference between joking with our buddies and really making fun of someone in a hurtful way. We must learn to see everyone as Christ sees them, which means learning to serve them. One easy way to serve someone is to pray for them.  If you find yourself making fun of someone, even in your mind, start praying for them. This will train your mind to see them as God sees them. Also, give them the benefit of the doubt. You don’t know their situation, so don’t judge them for things you don’t know about.  Then if you have the opportunity, get to know them. You never know how interesting or amazing they might be. Finally, find ways to share the gospel with them. Remember Jesus died for them and the only difference between you and them is the gospel.

 

Posted by Bryan Gotcher with

Student Ministry October 2018

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Dear Church Family,
What is discipleship? Another good question is, why should we care? Well, all Christians should be concerned with what it means to be a disciple and how disciples are to live. The reason for this is that God makes it clear in His Word that anyone who aligns himself with Jesus Christ is one of His disciples. To be a Christian is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. And it follows that if you do not know what discipleship means, then you will not truly know how to follow Jesus. You may be a Christian who loves God, but you might always feel like something is  missing. Or, even worse, you might be missing out on all sorts of blessings that God wants to give you, and you don’t even know it.

So what is discipleship? Simply put, being a disciple means being a learner of someone else. Based on that definition, you can be a disciple of almost anything. You are a disciple of teachers in school, disciples of YouTube channels, disciples of friends. While this might be true to an extent, when we talk about discipleship, we are talking about something a little deeper than that. We’re talking about discipleship as God’s Word describes it. The biblical picture of discipleship is that of full devotion of one’s life to a teacher’s doctrine and way of life. When Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, it wasn’t to follow Him over to a table to talk for a few minutes and then see each other the following week. It was a call to become apart of Jesus’ life. They were leaving their lives behind and becoming a part of His life. They were not only to listen to Him and learn, but also to watch Him and    imitate. That is exactly the task of every disciple today as well; to learn from and imitate Christ.

The point I am making is that many of us forget this from time to time. Some of us may have never even thought about being a Christian this way. Many of us thought that being a Christian was simply asking Jesus into our hearts so that we can be forgiven and go to heaven with Him forever. And that is true! But it is actually much more than that. When we ask Jesus into our hearts, we are really repenting of our sin, asking for forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and claiming Him as our Lord, the One to whom we devote our entire lives. He becomes our Lord and Savior, and we become His devoted disciples. We are given the Holy Spirit, and our desires start to change right away. Instead of loving self, we love God and others. Instead of following our hearts’ desires, we follow Jesus. Our desire, actions, our entire lives becomes Jesus centered. We want to grow more and more to live like Jesus, and we want others to have that same experience. That is what Christian discipleship is all about.

That is what the Student Ministry is all about; Making disciples of Students, and equipping them to grow and make more disciples. DNow weekend is one way we do that. We spend an entire weekend together learning, applying, and living out God’s Word so that we can better live like Christ and for Christ. This year is about Jesus’ idea of Christian community. We want to grow in how we live in Christlike community with one another… even in the midst of drama. If you are a parent or grandparent of a student, I want to highly encourage you to sign them up for DNow so they can be encouraged to live more like Christ and receive all the blessing of abundant life that He gives. It is one of the best investments you can make in the life of a student. 

Sincerely,
Brian Van Doren

 

Posted by Brian Van Doren with

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