Friday, January 25, 2013


As I was going about my usual business this morning a young man appeared at the door of the church administrative offices.  Unlike the the beautiful Spring-like weather we had yesterday, today it is quite cold outside.  Yet, this young man was dressed only in jeans and a thin t-shirt -- no jacket or sweatshirt.    He was obviously cold and anxious to get into the building.

Sadly, I was a bit apprehensive to let this young man in from the cold.   You see, the church is hardly immune from violence.  Helping people in need can be a risky business.  Discernment is required.  In fact, I could not help but think of two pastors who were killed in separate instances in the last year or so right here is North Texas -- both undoubtedly in the midst of what they thought was a good thing -- trying to help someone in need.

After a quick assessment, I opened the door.  The young man all but pushed his way in the building in his rush to escape the cold (which did not immediately give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about my decision).

As it turned out, this young man was lost.  He had taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way and couldn't quite figure out how to get home.  And, to compound matters, his cell phone battery was drained, making it impossible for him to let his parents know what had happened.  He wanted to warm himself, recharge his phone and call home for directions.  The story ended well enough.  We recharged the phone and I was able to find his home on Google maps and explain how to get there.

As we visited while waiting for the cell phone to recharge, the young man explained that his family has a standing protocol to follow when anyone is lost -- which is to find the nearest church and ask for help.   In fact, this young man confessed to me that he is somewhat directionally challenged, and has had to rely on this protocol several times in the past.

As we talked, a couple of things came to mind.  The first was just a reminder that Jesus is all about finding the lost.  And, if Jesus is all about finding the lost, shouldn't we be all about that too?

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Luke 15:3-7

The second thing that came to mind is that even believers get lost from time to time.  By that, I do not mean that all believers stray or lose their salvation.  I just mean that we get off track, unfocused or distracted every now and then.  Even when we are trying to do our best, even when we are well-intentioned, we can get lost for a variety of reasons.

We can get lost because of pride -- thinking that we have all the right answers.  We can get lost because of the worries of life -- consumed by the weight of whatever issues we might be facing.  We can get lost because of insecurity or guilt -- somehow thinking that we are not good enough or that the sacrifice on the Cross was not enough to cover our particular sins.  

But, there are some simple things that we do to find our way again.  First, we can pray for God's guidance.  Even when we think we are doing the right things -- maybe especially when we think we are doing the right things -- we need to seek God's will for our lives through prayer.  We can have great plans that spring from great motives.  But it really doesn't mean all that much if they are not God's plans for us.

Second, we can go to God's word.  The Holy Spirit just seems to have a way of leading me to the right scripture for whatever circumstance or question I might be facing.  You may think you are hearing the voice of God in your prayer time, but that feeling needs to be tested and confirmed in scripture.

And, finally, I kind of like the advice that the young man I met this morning got from his parents -- when your lost find a church.  The church is full of people who are, well, human.  And as a consequence they may not have all of the right answers.  But, they know someone who does.  And in the meantime they can support you, help build your faith and love you.

God bless.


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