Fast forward almost 36 years. Jo and I are much older, and so is J.R. And, having pastor'd at the church, and been encouraged by John R. I have come to love and appreciate him and his wife. So, today I was glad when I opened the bulletin and saw that he was preaching. In my opinion, with every sermon he preaches, I love each sermon more than the one before.
Today he sang a bit during his sermon as well! He spoke on the return of Christ and "rising" with the Lord. He talked about how some people want to predict the exact time - and give so much time and effort to that. He suggested in closing that we keep three things in mind:
1) that we don't try to figure out the return of Jesus BUT
2) that we keep doing our assigned tasks as servants of the Lord. He said we are servants to the end - no matter what age! I loved this. He talked about how "servants" are not thinking about themselves but that they invest themselves in the healing of others and what they have to give to others. It is about giving...
3) and that we need to be ALERT - "on guard". He said that sometimes it is easy to get sucked into the culture in which we live. (oh, this hit deeply as I have a burden for a few of my friends, people I love deeply and yet I don't know what to do to help, as I watch them make choices that are not life giving or Christ honoring)
There were a couple quotes that I wrote down, that came from JR's lips to my ears... and gave some real good food for thought. He concluded with the encouragement to us ~ "do tasks in love and compassion for the purposes of healing."
So Lord, how do I do that in the cases where my heart is so heavy? Am I the one that can speak your Truth into the situation? Are the hearts soft for these words? When do I hold accountable and when do I just listen? Can I be a friend who loves and supports but also a friend who calls to task? Are the two possible? Oh Lord, have mercy on us all...
This last quote was actually the first one that I wrote down when he said it - and I will admit that when he spoke this, it just fell on my heart... and as I have mulled it over a bit - I know I need to continue to mull. (O Lord, help me figure this one out and to be love-filled not love LESS!) Here is the quote from JR: "strange how loveless we can be when we think we've got it right!"
oh, ouch. I get this on a number of levels. Lord, O LORD, please give me compassion, and grace. Help me to lay it down. to lay it ALL d-o-w-n. After mulling this over a little - I have come to this realization: I think I am healing because when I heard this quote - it resonated with me deeply ~ but it didn't boil up within me! ( O Lord, thank you for your healing... and thank you for teaching me, and impressing on me the way you want me to be - please Lord, make me more and more like YOU!)
Today is Sunday. Thank you Lord for this day. Thank you for the contentment you have brought to my heart! O Lord ~ I love you!