Discipleship Team Members
"To maintain the Church. . .to grow the Church . . .we must BE the Church!"
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Isaiah 55:1-3, 6 & 7
Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, My steadfast, sure love for David.
Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near;
let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that He may have mercy on them, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
The Word of the Lord. THANKS BE TO GOD.
If you are a cable TV or Dish Network subscriber, have you noticed that at any given time of day you are likely to see the same movies on the menu again and again?
There’s a reason for this.
Network execs know that people with a remote control in their hand do not always want to watch an entire movie, but really enjoy “dropping in” or “stopping by” a movie just to catch one particular scene. After watching that scene, they will surf on to another movie to drop in on.
It seems perfectly normal in a culture of convenience. A harmless habit, perhaps, when we don’t have anything else to do like, say, read a book!
Still, all habits, even the most “harmless” ones, have a way of shaping our lives and our faith journey. Our habits are those practices that will make us who we are. If we get used to a 15-minute fluff break, will we have the capacity for an hour of thoughtful reflection with the one we love who needs us at the end of the day?
Maybe, maybe not! But if our attention span is shaped to take pleasure in 15-minute gulps it is less likely that we will be able to give our full attention to anyone or anything, including God, for more than a few minutes. That is the subtle way that habits work in our lives. We don’t notice the effect until much later, and even then we may miss the reason for our actions.
Here’s the kicker: Too often we approach discipleship as something we can “drop in” on, or “stop by” whenever we feel like it. In fact, the common complaint about Christians is that too many are Sunday Christians, and not Monday Christians. Christians for one day of the week, then checking our faith at the door for the rest of the week.
That is a spiritual trend that most of us would rather not admit. A style of drop-in spirituality or drop-in discipleship where we nod to God for a few quick devotional minutes and then we are on our way, business as usual. A little taste of worship here, a sip of Bible reading there, not too deep and nothing that challenges our imagination. It is a momentary feeling of satisfaction, just like a little movie viewing of our favorite scenes. But if that is all we ever have time for in our lives with God, then it is a false comfort, a habit that will keep us from going deeper with God and drinking deeply from the well of life.
This sort of religious fast food is not the stuff to nourish us for our faith journey and discipleship. Growing in our relationship with God is not going to happen with just a little dip here and a sip there. God has something much different in mind, a life that is far deeper, richer and more fulfilling than a quick fix.
The prophet Isaiah presents a different vision, in which we are invited to embrace the abundant life in the presence of God. What this suggests is not drop-in or dropout discipleship, but a drop-by and stay-by discipleship.
COME… God sets the table, but we have to pull up the chair. The disciple has to respond to God’s faithfulness by taking action of his/her own.
BUY… Or buy into. Commit. Take the step, the leap, the plunge.
EAT… Partake. Experience. Taste. Savor the goodness of God.
LISTEN… Pay attention. Be attuned to the voice of God, and tune out competing voices.
HEAR ME… Tune in so that the voice of God can be heard. Get rid of the noise and interference that can drown out the voice of God. Dig out the spiritual earwax that reduces the voice of God to a muffle.
SEEK THE LORD WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND… Pursue single-mindedly, search diligently for, make the presence of God a priority. Take advantage of the opportunities to walk with God while you still have them.
FORSAKE… Abandon whatever does not work for your relationship with God. Decide what is holding you back, and let these things go.
RETURN TO… After letting go of the bad, grab the good. Turn to what is right, good and positive. Turn to God for forgiveness and mercy.
This is the heart of it! If we order our lives according to conventional wisdom, then none of this is going to make sense. But if we “come” and “buy” into a higher reasoning, a different way of doing business, a divine wisdom, we will align our lives with the divine purpose.
The life that God invites us into is not a drop-in relationship or one that involves a few minutes here and there whenever it happens to be convenient. Rather, a life of faith with God is one that feasts on the riches of a deep and abiding relationship with Him. It is not a fast food religion that God wants. No, the prophet tells us it is much more like a long, sumptuous dinner, lingering over the meal, savoring the taste, enjoying the conversation. This kind of journey with God means spending the necessary time pursuing this relationship; the kind of time that one would give to any pursuit that is worthy of our full attention.
“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” Indeed, Isaiah’s question should be hung as a banner over the entrance to our malls and our places of work. What will we do? We will come, buy, eat, listen, hear, forsake and turn to God who calls us to Himself. Dropping in or stopping by is not enough. Discipleship is an adventure we want to be a part of from start to finish.
Franciscan Morning Prayer
Lord Jesus, I offer You this new day because I believe in You, love You, hope all things in You, and thank You for Your blessings.
I am sorry for having offended You and I forgive everyone who has offended me.
Lord, look on me and leave in me peace and courage and Your humble wisdom that I may serve others with joy, and be pleasing to You all day. Amen.
St. Francis of Assisi.
John Lutheran Church
1001 Central Avenue
Ocean City, NJ 08226
The Reverend Mark P. Bruesehoff, Pastor
Pastor’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Church office: email@example.com
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