Monday, August 11, 2014

The Strength of the Kingdom

This past Sunday, we had the wonderful opportunity to honor a woman who is faithfully serving the Lord at Hillcrest.  Doris Hurst turned 80 and we celebrated her birthday.  Unlike many people in her age category, she is still going strong.  She is still teaching the children in our preschool Sunday School class.  Each week, she comes up on Thursday to prepare her classroom and then shows up 30 minutes before Sunday School to welcome every child.  She has ministered to so many families over the past several decades and is still making an impact.  At the end of the service, we called forward everyone who has been taught by her or whose children have been taught by her:  Over 90% of the congregation came forward.  As we laid hands on her and prayed for her, I was thrilled to see how one life can impact so many others.

This is the model Jesus set for us while He was on the earth.  He simply invested in twelve men and those men invested in others.  The Kingdom of God has grown and grown until it has reached us.  I know many people who like to discuss and argue great theological questions.  They enjoy finding fault with those who theology doesn't quite measure up and nit pick on them.  However, the strength of THE church is not found in these Wannabe Church Guardians.  The strength of the Church is found in servants like Doris.  The servants who humbly going about investing the basic truth that Jesus loves us and is our Savior are the ones who are changing eternity.  There are countless and unnamed millions of saints faithfully serving the Lord as best they can.  They won't get notoriety on this earth and they don't have the theological pedigree to argue with the Wannabes.  These humble saints really are the ones on whom the Kingdom is built.

I am grateful that we had the opportunity to thank Doris Hurst for being such a Godly example for us to follow.  I am thrilled that my sons have had their first taste of God's love at the hands or Doris Hurst.  I pray that you will be a servant like Doris.  Remember that you are the ones who have an impact on the Kingdom, so keep grinding.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Getting Called Up

In professional baseball, players who are drafted have to prove themselves and earn their way on to a major league team.  Only one player has ever been drafted and gone straight to the major league team without spending time in the minors.  His name is Bob Horner and it happened for the Atlanta Braves back in the 1970's.  All other players have to prove themselves at each level before they can advance, so by the time they make it to the major league team they have already played years of baseball for their organization.

Here is an example from the San Francisco Giants of those steps a player must take:
A Short-Season:  Salem-Keizer Volcanoes
Low A:  Augusta Green Jackets
Advanced A:  San Jose Giants
AA:  Richmond Flying Squirrels
AAA:  Fresno Grizzlies

Elliot Blair speaking with Thaddeus before a San Jose Giants' game

So a player may take as many as five or six years to advance from Salem-Keizer to San Francisco and the majority of minor leaguers will never play an inning for the major league team.

Three weeks ago, we had a player from the San Jose Giants share his testimony during Sunday School.  Elliott Blair is a 46th round draft choice of the Giants who had spent most of last season and all of this season at San Jose.  He shared about his walk of faith with us and it was an honor to hear how this man of God is following the Lord.  Well, last week, Elliott got called up to AA Richmond.  We actually saw him play at Stockton on Monday and he gave one of his broken bats to Thaddeus. Two days later, he was on his way to Richmond and played his first game on Sunday.  He also go his first hit on Sunday and we pray that he will advance to San Francisco so he can be a witness for Christ.  But now he has to prove himself at Richmond before he can advance to Fresno.  He is still a long way off from the majors, but he is getting closer.

Elliot at Hillcrest Baptist Church

I wish we would take the same view of our maturity in Christ.  Unfortunately, we just presume that if someone has been coming to church for a certain amount of years then they must have grown in their faith.  So we then give them ministry assignments and hope that it sticks.  Many of us even think that God should see us as faithful, even though we have never proved our faith or our steadfastness.  Unfortunately, I know many Christians who have been coming to church for years but still are immature in their faith.  They have not grown, but feel like they are mature.

Here are what I have seen are the marks of a maturing saint, one who is trying to advance from Low A to Advanced A or from AA to AAA in their faith.  you probably have other marks, but these are mind:
-He is faithful in small group participation (Whether that is Sunday School or weekday small groups)
-He is in God's Word every day.  He has a devotion time or quiet time (Whichever phrase works for you)
-He is accountable to others who are walking with the Lord.  He has invited them into his life to check on him or call him on things.  He doesn't get upset when lovingly confronted by one of these mentors.
-He is pouring himself into the lives of others.  It may only be one person, but he is helping others grow in their faith.  We always grow more when we are leading than when we are being led.
-He is sharing His faith.

So how are you doing?  Baseball calls the minor league system "Player development".  Maybe we should call discipleship "Saint Development".  The Church is dependent on raising up new leaders and we must continually be developing stronger disciples.  Those disciples are the one who build up the next generation of followers.  All of us should desire and aim towards making it to the majors and our church should help us in that development.  If you are a member or attend Hillcrest Baptist Church and would like to develop as a saint, give me a call and let's start you on that journey.

Let's let you get that call up to the majors!