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Scripture Reference: Philippians 4:4-13
Sometimes I think we Christians talk too much about our brokeness. We say things like, "We're all just sinners," as if that explains everything or that is all that God wants us to be. While it is biblically true that mankind is fallen, we also need to recognize that we are made in God's image and that we were made for something more than our brokenness.
The church today desperately needs people who are heroes. We need people who rise above our broken state and demonstrate that God is working in our lives. This demonstration isn't for our own glory, but for God's. We do ourselves and our Lord a disservice if all we focus on is our sin, because other people are watching. Why would someone want to come to Christ if all they see is a bunch of self-focussed, navel-gazing, whiners who project defeat? How are our children supposed to grow into a vibrant and powerful church for a new generation if the message they get is that we cannot live up to God's expectations, so why bother?
Have we read 1Timothy 1:7? We aren't supposed to be a bunch of shrinking violets or milk-toast weaklings! God gives us the power to conquer sin in His name! Can I get an Amen?!?!?!
In Philippians 4:8, Paul calls on us to focus on the good things, to ingest a diet of healthy thoughts about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. God's word is at the heart of all of this, but it also includes the stories we read, the shows we watch, the art we see, and the actions we contemplate. How far these things truly are from the steady diet of mental junk food that we get from television, movies, and much of what passes for entertainment in our world. Paul tells the Philippians to fill themselves up with good stuff, not garbage. The same holds true for us today.
He then goes on to tell them in Philippians 4:9 that thinking about good things isn’t enough. His message, which is consistent throughout the Bible is that we are supposed to put these things into practice. He tells the Philippians that any example they saw in him should be put to work in their own lives.
This is where we need to take a hard look at our church today, and let’s not stop there, we must look into our own lives as well.
Where are the heroes? Who are our examples? Where are the older men and women who we can look to in order to see faith put into practice in daily practical ways?
If you are a parent, ask yourself honestly; “Are the daily choices that I make in my money, my schedule, and my actions an excellent example or a poor one for my kids?” Do you teach your kids to be generous and thrifty with their money or do you demonstrate wasteful spending and rampant materialism? Do you teach your kids the importance of solitude and simplicity, or do you allow them to fill their schedules and your own with an overload of activities? Do you teach your children selflessness and service, or do you put your own selfish wants and desires first?
If you don’t have children, or if your children are long grown and out of the house, then ask yourself; “How can I be an example to the next generation of Christians?” Can you volunteer time as a mentor to a new believer? Can you help out with Sunday School? Can you lead a service project to give others in the church an opportunity to experience God’s work? Can you bless a ministry with your time and money in a sacrificial way?
Let’s build a vibrant church of powerful men and women of God. Let’s be an extended family of people who can be honest about our shortcomings but not let them defeat us. Let’s grow together, passing the message of hope and power to others.
Let’s be heroes that provide examples for the next generation to follow.
Here are five practical ways to become a hero:
- Read the biography of a hero such as John Wesley, Jim Elliot, Corrie Ten Boom, or John Newton. Read the writings of Charles Sheldon, Shane Claiborne, Chuck Colson, Erwin McManus, or others who call you to action in your faith. Then brainstorm some ways you can follow their example in your own life. Then do something about it.
- Make a commitment to turn the television and internet off for a week. Use the time you would have spent on these activities to serve others by volunteering at Neighborhood Ministries or at one of MVCC’s ministries (call the church office at (602) 955-9414 for some ministry opportunities.
- Select a ministry and begin helping out. Make a donation that is over and above what you would normally give to bless this ministry. Volunteer your time to work in the ministry. Commit to support the ministry with your time and money for a year.
- If you are a parent, take a break from extra-curricular activities, team sports, clubs, and the dozens of other outside activities your kids have taken on. Commit to coming to church as a family every Sunday for the next three months. After church, go to lunch as a family and discuss what each person learned at church that day. Talk with your kids about how they (and you too) can put the lessons to work this week in practical ways.
- Join one of our Revo Groups at MVCC. The focus of these groups is on putting faith in action through regular meals together, regular study together, and regular service together. For more information on joining one of these groups, contact our church office at (602) 955-9414.
Pastor Rodger – 05/2011