Friday, June 15, 2012

The Open Door

Every other summer, we have a family reunion in Nashville, Arkansas, the birthplace of half of my ancestors. Much of my heritage, including spiritual, comes that from that state. The following is about a small church in Arkansas, trying to follow the Lord. It is from April 2, 2007.

My sophomore classes spent their time today covering the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man. It is a glimpse into the afterlife from the mouth of the Savior that challenges what many of these kids have been taught. There is recognition and memory, there is awareness, and physical attributes are ascribed to the dead. We know the Lord may have been speaking in a way we might comprehend, but I also include that because Jesus used a name, some scholars believe this is no parable but an event lifted directly from a scenario in the next worlds. I mention that Jesus defines Lazarus as a beggar. Some students feel it is an insult to bear that title but I point out that the poor man was the one saved, not the wealthy one. Trying to make it applicable, I recounted a recent incident where a man asked me for money so he could buy supper. Normally, I would help but the guy was drinking a beer in a paper bag so I politely declined. Some, but not all the kids thought I made the right choice. Glory demurred, feeling it was not my job to determine how he would spend the money, basing her argument on Jesus' command to feed the hungry, which had no corollary stating 'unless they are drinking beer.' Maybe she's right and I should give and let God sort it out. It would be easier if there was a step-by-step manual for each case that arises.

In this month's edition of the Christian Chronicle, there is a neat story about a little church in Remmel, Arkansas, except it's not as small as it was. The congregation, stagnating as so many rural churches seem to, began simply opening its doors for community meetings to discuss relevant issues to those in this tiny agricultural village. There was no pressure and no preachiness, simply reaching out to those with the hurts a cruel world can dish out. They came...and found acceptance. Love lead to prayer and prayer lead to revival. That small band of disciples began ministering to the meth users and all the other sinners in town. They began sending the village youngsters, one hundred strong last summer, to church camp and footing the bill. The kids pull the parents into the orbit of the gospel. In four years, nearly ninety souls have been baptized into Jesus Christ in an era when many country churches are calling it quits. Of course, the congregation is sprinkled with ex-cons and addicts, the former lost souls that are hungering for the truth of Jesus Christ. In John 4, while lingering in a Samaritan village, Jesus tells his men that a great harvest is all around them; they just needed to see it. The vision of believers in Remmel, Arkansas now measures 20-20. I wish it were contagious.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us daily."
Sally Koch

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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