photo © 2008 David Hopkins | more info (via: Wylio)This morning we sang a Paul Baloche song in church that goes "As morning dawns and evening fades, You inspire songs of praise that rise from earth to touch Your heart and glorify Your Name." I think the imagery of the song rising up from Earth to Heaven is beautiful, but this morning it made me think about how God causes all kinds of things to rise from the Earth toward Heaven. Trees, plants, animals... and His Son from the grave and us with Him. It struck me that God's will always tends toward things rising up from Earth and moving toward Him. Maybe that's part of the reason that many Christians like to stretch out their arms and hands toward Heaven when they sing worship!
After the music portion of the service, we had what we call "baby dedications." Basically those are just a time for new parents (or even not quite as new parents... one of the children we prayed over today is in the toddler class!) to kind of present their children to the church, pray for a safe and Godly upbringing for them, that sort of thing. For some reason I started thinking about my own two kids and how sometimes I'm pretty sure they think my wife and I get great mirth and joy from making their lives miserable. That is of course not the truth of the situation, but I was a kid once... I remember feeling that way sometimes! I realized today, though, that my job as a parent is to make my kids' lives harder... if they are not doing the right thing. My job is to make sin as difficult and unpleasant as I can, but when they are doing the right thing, my job is to grease the rails for them and empower them to succeed. I never thought of myself as a standing-in-the-way kind of parent, but if I'm standing in the way of my kids getting hurt or messing up their lives, I'll stand in the way of a speeding train if I have to!
Later in the service our associate pastor was talking about some of the things we are doing as a church to help needy people in the community, and I was thinking about how I usually feel sort of disconnected from those kinds of church ministries. After all, nobody asked me if we should help that person pay his rent or give him groceries or whatever. But then I realized that just because I don't make the actual decision to help that particular individual person, it doesn't mean I'm not a part of the decision... because if someone had asked me my opinion about it, I'm fairly certain I would have said "yes." In fact, I think it's safe to say, based on what I know about the people in my church (and I've spent time visiting with quite a lot of them), that we would as a body say "yes" if we were asked whether we should help someone who needed our help. When there's unity in a church body, the pastor knows that when he says "yes," the church says "yes." Come to think of it, the reason the pastor says "yes" and the reason the church says "yes" is because when someone calls out to Christ Jesus for help, His answer is "always yes" — within constraints of the church's budget, helping hurting people is always a top priority. That's how I feel, I know that's how my fellow church members feel, and I know it's how my pastor and his staff and board feel... so if Jesus says "yes" and leadership says "yes," and the church is of one mind with leadership, then the church also says "yes!"