There's a problem with this before it even gets started. I want to run something by folks who have a bit of standing and notoriety in the Evangelical Christian world. What's the problem? I don't really know anyone like that, so they'll never see this. I guess I'm just putting it in the wind, and maybe some lesser known folks might find some benefit.
What's so important that it merits a post whose target audience will never see it? I would like to encourage or maybe humbly challenge or just remind those with a little evangelical clout that what they say/post/publish does not affect just them. Of course, this is obvious. Isn't that what comes with having a platform? More people hear you; more followers appreciate what you say; more folks disagree. You get to deal with the accolades and the acrimony.
But there is another sort of effect that you will never have to deal with, but I will. I'm thinking of the impact of what you say on thousands of small churches in thousands of small towns and cities across the country. You write something with the potential to be controversial, and all of a sudden Paul in the pew wants to know what his pastor thinks about the latest kerfuffle you stirred up. And now the pastor of First Church of Nowheresville who had nothing to do with the kerfuffle and, in his small ministry, had little or no reason to address it, now has to address it.
He didn't write the post. He didn't stir up the controversy. You did. But now he has to deal with it. And maybe you just opened up a potential rift in that church that would not be there without your post. It's not hard, for example, to think of examples of big evangelical leaders dropping diametrically opposed dogmatic statements about a given issue. And people in the pews of that little church who were previously fairly content to keep their opinion to themselves are now validated by a well-known preacher. And now they are slightly less content with or perhaps a little more hostile toward their own lesser-known pastor (or fellow congregants) whose take is different than theirs.
What's the point? With great platform comes great responsibility (or something like that). You have a stewardship of being known. Sometimes hard things need to be said by a voice that will be heard by many. Sometimes controversial things need to be published from a broader platform. But sometimes they don't. Some of the challenge of your stewardship is knowing when and what to say and when and what NOT to say. So this is a simple plea. Before you click publish, consider what difficulties your words might cause. Not only online or in your own bigger congregation (think about that too, of course!). But think also of the impact and challenges and division your words might create that you will never have to see or deal with. The small town pastor of the small church in that town thanks you.
*Tap, tap, tap* Hello? Looks like the blog feature of the website does still work. How 'bout that?
Not many mornings ago, I was feeling a sense of, well, I'm not sure what exactly: a combination of guilt, being overwhelmed, wondering what I could (or should) do about some pretty ugly and sad things happening in our world.
As many of you have, I'd seen some horrific news coming out of Afghanistan. At a humanitarian level what is or will be happening to Afghans, US citizens remaining there, allies of the US, Christians, women, and others who find themselves on the wrong side of the Taliban's naughty/nice ledger is appalling. The pandemic is still a thing with all of it's attendant suffering. An earthquake in Haiti had left hundreds dead and thousands more homeless and fearful. On top of these global things, a local acquaintance recently had to leave their home because it had become a physically toxic, uninhabitable place to live. His words in a text: "We are in bad shape here & struggling to hang on."
As I sat in my comfortable chair, in my air-conditioned home, bills paid, free to worship according to my faith and conscience, and relatively healthy, I had the feeling I mention above: overwhelmed, guilty, wondering what I could/should do. I suspect I may not be the only one feeling something similar (if not now, then perhaps under other circumstances you've faced). Here are some principles I think we can bring to bear at times like these. I'll divide them into two categories seeking to alleviate false guilt but keeping us on the hook where we should be.
Avoid false guilt
Don't avoid showing genuine, tangible compassion
This is clearly not an exhaustive list. Just some thoughts. Feel free to add yours in the comments here or on social media. The goal is not to leave us feeling neat, tidy, and unmoved by suffering. I hope we deeply sympathize with those who suffer. Then we want to funnel that sympathy into proper compassionate action without feeling needlessly guilty. If you're doing nothing, there's a problem. If you're overwhelmed with guilt about things beyond your control, there's a problem. As with so many things we need balance. God help us.
It's something you've probably heard almost since the pandemic began. "Can't wait until things are back to normal!" And as the time frame for the return to normalcy stretched from weeks to months now to a year, the desire and even desperation for normal has only grown. I get it. I can't wait either. I'm ready for masks to return to the domain of superheroes and kids who dress up like them. I wish that social distancing only referred to taking a step back from someone who has a different conception of personal space than you.
But should everything go back to normal, to the way it was before? Maybe it would be good if a few things stayed the same.
Back to normal? Hopefully not in every way. What would you add to the list?
I preached this as a sermon a little over a month ago. True story. It may sound like I went all self-help and felt-needs, but I think if you give John 11:1-16 a read and listen to the sermon that it holds up.
So here's a summary for those facing illness. These things can be helpful for major illness, minor, Covid-19, or something else. For the full take and context you can listen to the sermon here. Or look here for the message on John 11:1-16.
From the sickness and death of Lazarus: 7 things to do when you or a loved one is sick.
Earlier today I posted on facebook and tweeted this: "Let's give grace today, friends." I want to unpack that a bit.
Greg Holladay - June 8, 2020
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Greg Holladay - May 25, 2020
May 27, 2020 - Comforting the grieving
Dear GBC Family,
Below is what you need for an at-home time of worship. I pray God will meet with each of us around our time in His Word and bless and encourage us. For now, our plan is to gather for worship in person at the church building next week (May 17) at 10:30am. Please pray for wisdom and help for that!
Thank you so much for your continued generous giving that has come into our new PO Box! Since giving is part of what we do when we gather on the Lord's Day, if you are able to continue financially giving during this time (and we understand if you are not able!), we ask that you mail checks only (no cash) to that P.O. Box:
Grace Baptist Church of Warsaw
P.O. Box 1383
Warsaw, IN 46581-1383
May God bless us all as we seek to honor him on his day!
Order of Service
This first video has some announcements, our call to worship (and OT Scripture reading), and opening prayer to start off today.
Call to Worship/OT Scripture Reading: Psalm 98 - This Psalm calls us to sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things (verse 1). Then it lists some of the marvelous things that he has done (verses 1-3). Then it calls creation and all people to praise the LORD (verses 3-8) as we anticipate the Lord coming in judgment (verse 9). The sermon passage in John today speaks of Jesus as judge, and we can worship Him for his just, righteous judgment.
Hymn: TH 15 - Come, let us sing unto the Lord - instrumental with lyrics; congregational singing - this is taken from Psalm 98 as we praise God for the great things he has done and for the fact that he will justly judge all on the great day of Jesus' return.
Hymn: GBCH 113 - Before the Throne of God Above - instrumental with lyrics; congregational singing - Jesus is the judge, but he is also the advocate for all whose faith is in Him alone!
Scripture Memory: Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” (ESV)
Prayer: - Confess sin and rejoice in God's forgiveness; thank God for blessings; pray for our missionaries in Europe (Emadis in Ireland; Baldwins in Serbia; Leightons in Spain); pray that God would help you to receive the Word of God as it is preached; pray for other family needs and needs of others in the church; pray for the various needs related to the pandemic - the sick, those caring for the sick, the unemployed, the decision makers, efforts to slow it to be successful; please pray for our preparations to meet publicly next Sunday for worship.
NT Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:31-46 - the sermon passage in John's Gospel today speaks of Jesus as judge. In this passage from Matthew's Gospel, Jesus tells more about what the day of judgment will look like.
Hymn: TH 241 - Day of judgment, day of wonders - instrumental with lyrics; congregational singing (if you use this link, you'll probably need the lyrics from the 1st link) - this hymn speaks of how that day will be a joy for God's people (verses 2&4) and a terror for God's enemies (verses 1&3).
Preaching: See video below
Prayer and Benediction: Included in the video below
When I quote Scripture In this blog, unless otherwise indicated, the quotations are usually from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission.
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