10-30-16 Mission to the Church: Preparing God's People to Build Up the Body of Christ (guest speaker Tom Kelly)

Ordinarily, I write these Updates mid-week, but I wanted to write this one earlier on so that I could avoid any appearance of being swayed by how the Cubs play in the sixth game of the World Series on Tuesday.  I mean, I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I was gloating if we won, or that I was trying to find “meaning” in losing.

See, I was wearing a Cubs shirt yesterday, and I fielded questions and comments about it not only at our church service, but also on the sidewalk in Normal by a fellow whom I’d never met before.  As I told all of them, I’m not a Cubs fan simply because they’re in the Series, or simply because they won the pennant this year.  No, I was a Cubs fan in 2014 when they finished in last place.  I’ve been a Cubs fan since I was a kid, since Jack Brickhouse would yell “Hey, hey!” long before Harry Caray yelled “Holy cow!”  In fact, the beauty of true Cubs fans is that none of us can be called “fair weather fans,” since there’s so seldom been fair weather associated with the Cubs in my lifetime... at least not with any consistency.  No, I’m a Cubs fan (even when they play badly) because I’m committed to them as a team, regardless of what happens.  So you can only imagine what a fan like that feels like in a year when his beloved team (that never wins) finally reaches the World Series...

But I’m also a Wendy fan, even when we chafe against one another within our marriage.  And I’m a Megan and Alex fan, even when they screw up at school.  I’m even a Buster fan, even when he tears something up that meant something to me.  Because I’m committed to them as my family.  And I’m a God fan, even when my life gets hard, or when He calls me to things that I’d rather not do.  Because I’m committed to Him as my Father.  My commitments don’t waver when things are rough -- and if they did, they couldn’t really be called “commitments,” now could they?  No, devotion and commitments are long-haul, enduring things that have nothing to do with our situations and everything to do with our relationships... and you and I need more of those kinds of commitments in our lives.

Take for instance Tom and Janice Kelly, our missionaries who came to visit with us yesterday.  They’ve been ministering in Mexico since 1982, and they’re finally retiring this year.  They shared about a lifetime of genuine, God-honoring relationships that have made so many differences in so many lives over the decades.  And the beauty of solid relationships like those is that, even though Tom and Janice may be retiring, the lives whom their lives have touched will continue to go on touching other lives, who will then touch other lives, etc.  So long as we’re alive and breathing, our lives can be making a difference in the lives of those around us -- we’re all ministers of the Good News, and none of us ever truly retires from ministry in this life.

So I encourage you to decide today (well, actually, to decide every day, each day) to be used by God to change the world around you, if only in small ways.  I started a conversation on a sidewalk in Normal with a baseball fan about the World Series, and ended up talking about having a devotion to God that far outshines my devotion to my favorite team.  When his wife and daughter came out of a shop to rejoin him (in fact, they started by apologizing to me and saying, “Oh, did Dad corner you about baseball?”), he and I both assured them that we’d had a really good conversation, and as they left, he genuinely thanked me for talking with him and putting it all into a deeper perspective.

How can you touch a life today, who will then touch another life tomorrow?

How committed are you to living every day like someone who really is a God fan, more than anything else?

And what is your commitment to God really based on?