Not long ago I heard someone make a statement that caused me to stop and wonder (I do that a lot). He was talking about his marriage and his statement was, “When I married my wife, I married up.” “I married up” really seemed like a strange thing to say. I suppose that what was meant is that his wife’s family came from a higher economic bracket than that of his family, but to be honest I am not really sure.
So I began to wonder about our use of the word up. At McKinley Community Outreach Center we say we want to give people a “Hand up, not a hand out”, and we try to do that. In some offices people climb “up” the company ladder hoping to reach the top floor one day. And some of you will remember the TV show, “The Jeffersons”, their theme song talked about “moving on up to the east side”.
In our culture it appears that we think up is better than down. We want to move up, marry up, climb up the pay scale and style of living. We spend our whole lives striving to keep climbing until we reach the top of the mountain, whatever that mountain may be for us, vocational, financial or political.
That is why our Advent Series is really intriguing to me, “The Down to Earth God.” We will be taking a look at Jesus, the Son of God, who lived in heaven and one day came down to live on the earth as a mere man. He came down to be like us and experience what you and I experience. The question that arises in my mind is “WHY?”
I think He came down to our level so we could understand just how much God loves us. And I think there are many more reasons that I want to share with you throughout this season of Advent. So come take a look with me about “Up” and “Down” and see what God has to teach us this season.
- Pastor Don
Happy Thanksgiving! I wanted to be the first to say that to you. We are entering the month of November and for me that is Thanksgiving time. I love gathering with family and sharing meals together and I also love thinking about why I am so thankful.
Let me share with you something that happened to me not long ago that taught me a very valuable lesson. It was one of those weeks where I was feeling behind and I was in my office working on things that needed to be done because of the timelines that require them to be done by the end of the week. That day we had two calls to the office from folk who needed help with either food or housing or some other emergency need. As I was returning to the office from lunch a man was standing at the back door of the church ringing the buzzer to gain access. Our office volunteer told him the pastor was not in the office and he would have to come back later.
As I approached him he asked if I was the pastor. To be honest I hesitated before I answered that yes I was. In my mind I had already determined that here was another person coming to the church for help and I knew that if we could help him we would never hear from him again.
“How can I help you”, I asked. He said he was really upset and needed to talk with someone and could I talk with him. He then said something that caused me to pray for forgiveness and reminded me of why I do what I do. “I am trying to get a job”, he said, “but the person won’t call me back and I don’t know what to do. Will you pray for me?” All he asked from me was to take a few minutes to listen and a prayer for strength and guidance. “I can do that”, I said, and I did.
A few weeks later he called the office to let me know he had applied at another job and just received the call that he was hired. He wanted me to be one of the first people he told.
Lord God, I am humbled and so thankful that You invite us to be a part of Your ministry. Thank You Lord, for always being there for us, and never being too busy. Thank You for the church, that place of hope in a community. Your church is for all people, including those who need a place to go when it seems there is no other place. Amen.
Last month I spoke to you about how God values you as a person. This month I want to continue down that same path but with a little different thought.
God does value people. We know this because He sent His Son to bear the burden for our sin in order to forgive us and restore us to a place of honor. This shows us that part of what God does is to bring value into the life of people. We also know that Jesus has called us to continue His ministry here on earth, and if we are called to be the people of God, does that not mean that we too should see the value in people?
Having said all of that, it brings me to this question, “How can I bring value to another person’s life?”
I first heard this idea from John Maxwell, a Christian pastor and author. He tells of trying to teach this principle to his grandchildren by asking them, “How will you bring value to somebody today?” He tells the story that on one occasion a younger grandson responded by saying he was going to open the door at the store for older people. The next day, John Maxwell says, his grandson told him he had opened the door for 67 people and he even smiled at them.
Adding value to another person’s life does not involve enormous amounts of cash or even a lot of time, it often just takes a simple act of kindness. We know that Jesus healed people and did powerful miracles, but I think many times the most precious gift Jesus gave to people was when He noticed them and stopped to listen to their stories. Most people just want to be noticed. Most people just want someone to listen to them and show that they matter. You can do that! And by doing that very simple act of kindness, you give value to another person.
There is an old story asked by a wise old sage, “How does one eat an ele-phant?” The answer is, “one bite at a time.” I would ask, “How do we change the world?” The answer is, “one person at a time.” Let’s go change the world.