Thank you for giving me the gift of sharing your stories. To remind you, I asked you yesterday to tell me how God and his church are changing your lives. I've enjoyed hearing those witnesses and look forward to more.
The first to come through were from the teenagers. Nate McMurphy went from the 9:00 a.m. sanctuary service to the youth Sunday School class and incorporated my request into their lesson. Before 11:00 a.m. my cell phone lit up as though it belonged to a teenager. It was encouraging to read each witness confirming that God is changing lives through the church.
I've thought more about the dichotomy between giving to colleges and giving to churches. I certainly do not begrudge giving to colleges or any other source of good. I also find that often people who are generous with one entity are generous with several.
What I'm reflecting on now is how many of those good organizations that are worthy of our support have their roots in the church. The college and university I support were begun by the church (as were many of the colleges across the country). Many hospitals spun out of churches, include McLeod out of Central. Scouts, Lighthouse Ministries, the Manna House, House of Hope, the BEDS Ministry, Help4Kids, CCC Home Repair group (building a ramp this Saturday-meet at Bazen's Restaurant at 7:30 a.m. to join us), Mercy Medicine, SNAC, Family Promise, Salkehatcie, Santahatchie, Parking Lot Mission-all significant ways of helping those who are in need in our community and all were born from disciples formed by the church. Each is supported by Central.
It's impossible to quantify all the good that comes from and is inspired by the Church Universal. It would take a major research project to quantify the good of this one particular congregation. It is not, however, difficult to see the waves of good that reverberate because of God's work through people here. It is also not difficult to recognize that the changes God is up to aren't just for those on the so-called receiving end of the ministry, but very much for those on the giving end.
Each day, a man raised from the dead challenges us to see and care for the Lazarus among us, which is just one more way he's redeeming those who are more like the rich man's brothers (see Luke 16:19-31). That resurrected man is changing our lives in large part through the church.
I'm grateful for those of you who are sharing your stories with me.