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Spare Change - February 2021

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THAT’S NOT FAIR! How many times have you heard that?  I am sure we have all heard this phrase uttered many times before, especially those of us that have kids.  How many times have you said it yourself or, even more convicting, how many times have you just thought it?  The problem is when we camp out with the “not fair” kind of thinking it affects how we act.  It can lead to pride, hatred, unforgiveness, idolatry and a host of other sins.  While we will tell our kids, “Tough, life’s not fair!” to their cries about imbalances in life; do we as adult Christians live that way as well?

The problem is the world is full of unfairness.  It has been a part of the fabric of our universe ever since the fall.  Even the fairest system of justice is tainted by sin.  It affects us on the playground, on the ballfield, in our homes, in our jobs, and every other aspect of life.  It is something the Christian must come to grips with.  True fairness or justice will not be achieved until we live in the New Heavens and New Earth under God’s direct rule.

However, in one respect I am thankful that things are not fair.  If fairness was God’s primary way of dealing with us, then there would be no grace.  I am overjoyed that God does not give me what I deserve.  Rather, through the blood of Jesus, I get what I do not deserve--mercy!  So, in that respect we can be grateful for the unfairness of God; but that does not make the unfairness of the world any easier to swallow.

The difficult thing is if Christians want to live according to the scriptures then we do not have the luxury of beating the drum of unfairness.  We must respond with grace and humility and that is easier said than done.  The wonderful thing is we have a great example in our Savior, Jesus Christ, of how to handle unfairness.  He taught us how to respond to it in His teaching and then lived it out in His life.  The greatest example we can see is how He was treated when He was arrested and sentenced to death.  Even as deplorable as His death by crucifixion was, He asked the Father to forgive those that hung Him on the cross!  What an example of grace and humility in the face of vicious cruelty.  That is the attitude with which we are to live every day.

To do this we look to Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:38-43, You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

There is so much here, more than we have time to unpack, but the long and short is this verse is pointing us to show extreme grace in the face of unfairness.  The examples given in the passage show us we should be able to see an injustice done to us and give grace.  We need to read these verses carefully and understand the illustrations Jesus is using.  He is not saying that sinners are not guilty or that people that break the law should not be punished.  He is keying in on how we react to injustices done to us specifically.  Instead of getting angry and lashing out we must be reserved and have a gospel mindset.  One that serves, loves, and prays for the offending party.  That is how Jesus handled things in his life and that is how we are expected to act.

I know...I know...I know...this seems impossible, right?  I believe with the power of the Holy Spirit we can live like this.  We must make Jesus number one and do away with our proclivity to get offended easily.  If we do that, we can live out the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22) which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  That is the only way we can live as Jesus prescribed. And, yes, we will have to give more grace than we want to give and receive much less than we think we deserve.  But isn’t that what Jesus did His whole life?  I am thankful I have a Lord and Savior that does not treat me fairly!  I pray I can do the same for those around me.

Posted by Bryan Gotcher with

Spare Change - January 2021

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Servants of the Lord, I SEE YOU!

Recently I have been reflecting on what it takes to make ministry happen.  I have been in full-time vocational ministry for 16 years.  This past year has been a new and different season, unlike any other, and it has me thinking.  I work hard at ministry and most ministers that I know work hard. They put in countless hours doing administration, counseling, discipleship, teaching, running programs, visiting people, and on and on.  But there is one thing I have learned in all my time in ministry…I cannot do it alone.

For a while now I have sought to live out Ephesians 4:11-16, it is my ministry theme verse. 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

This verse so clearly lays out that all saints (that is believers) are meant to do the work of ministry.  The goal of the minister is to unite, teach, train, and shepherd the flock so we can perform the ministry.  The outworking of that is  spiritual maturity.  Have you ever thought about that?  When a minister performs his God-given role of leading and training, the church is blessed. When saints engage and do the work of the ministry, that is building up the body of Christ, they are matured in their faith.  All the things listed in verses 13-16 come from the church working this way.  It is so important that a minister works hard for the Lord to fulfill his calling and it is equally important that believers work hard in ministry.

That being said, we have a wonderful church that engages in ministry.  In fact, when I started this article, I simply wanted to say thanks!  I try to look for ways to show appreciation for our volunteers.  I know they sacrifice so much for the ministry.  I know that I do not show my gratitude in sufficient ways.  How can I?  What is acceptable for someone that sacrifices time, money, and skills?  There is no gift great enough, so today I simply want to say...I SEE YOU!

- Senior citizens using your golden years to serve the Lord.  You are using the time you could be relaxing, but instead choose to serve.  You are the lifeblood of the ministry – I SEE YOU!
- Single Moms that are juggling work, kids, school and now church.  You have so much on your plate and your extra time is limited.  The fact that you spend it serving the church humbles me. You have my heart – I SEE YOU!
- Moms in general, work so hard to take care of their families.  You make sure your kids learn and grow; you work, teach, feed, clothe, clean, and then come to church and serve so faithfully – I SEE YOU!
- Dads, we often feel like we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders.  The pressures of work, projects, and family can be overwhelming at times.  When you give your time at church, I know that it is no small sacrifice, so I say to you – I SEE YOU!
- Unseen and unknown servants that fill our food pantry or care for our children during a worship service or do countless  other things that go unnoticed.  No one may ever know what you do but I want you to know that I could not be an effective minister without you.  You serve with glad hearts and are content to go unrecognized, but I want you to know – I SEE YOU!

To those servants and the countless others, I love you and I SEE YOU!  I see what you are doing, and I want to say thank you!  The Lord is pleased by how you serve, and you make our church a more faithful God-honoring church.  As we look to 2021, we do not know what will happen.  It might be another crazy year, however there is one thing I know for sure…we will do ministry that honors the Lord and builds the body.  You are a huge part of that, do not ever underestimate your impact.  No matter how small the task, God sees you and is pleased!

Happy New Year & God Bless!

Posted by Bryan Gotcher with

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