Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: Supreme. Again . (Part II)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Supreme. Again . (Part II)

As an insurance salesman, who both took, and taught, sales training courses over the years, I know a fair amount about selling. That calls for a lot of caution, in Spiritual matters, as I was taught early-on that we shouldn't try to "talk people into" saying what we want them to say. To do that was called "picking green apples".

To this day, calling on selling skills, if I can get a person to answer 7 questions "yes", I can get them to buy what I'm selling. That's unthinkable, when it's Jesus you're trying to "sell".

So that information isn't useful in the church sense, but here's a bit that is: When someone tells a salesman "Your price is too HIGH....", what they're really saying is "Your value is too LOW". Whether it's insurance or salvation or a consecrated life, when they decide against it, they simply don't see the value.

Since posting yesterday, I was reminded anew of how pervasive some of these problems are. Peg had signed up to watch the kiddies during the 10:45 worship hour, and she remarked they'd really had a hectic time. It seems the folks who were to watch one of the rooms simply hadn't shown up, so they'd run all those kids in to Peg's room.

They just didn't show up! And, there are classes of adults assigned the task, each week, of checking to see if there are adequate workers in each room. THEY apparently didn't do THAT, either!

For anyone interested in seeing all those grim thoughts I expressed, earlier, change, the $64 question is why don't people see the value in actually being part of the body (and acting like it), stepping up and using their gifts, coming to the church they joined, hiding some scripture in their hearts, etc?

I lean toward several thoughts, in trying to answer that:
  • One is the collective effect of the sermons they've heard over the years. I believe the spiritual health of a local church is tied to what they're getting from the pulpit, albeit it's greatly influenced by other things they see and hear in connection with the church. Two weeks ago, I taught a Sunday School in which Paul lamented that the Hebrews were still majoring in milk, when they ought to have been majoring on meat. Then, we all went to the sanctuary and heard the sermon, the sole point of which is why people ought to walk down the aisle.

  • Another thing might be that there's still somewhat of a disconnect between church life, and our workaday world. I hammer at my SS Class all the time, that every part of their life is part of their faith life! Their family, their job, their friendships with their neighbors, their participation in church, their recreation, ALL of it needs to be an expression of their faith.

  • Yet another is the teaching in the Sunday School Classes themselves, perhaps lesser but still important. To be blunt, I've seen enough classes in which the teacher read out of the Quarterly, or who talked at length about how hard it is to lead a Christian life, or taught Old Testament lessons without any connection to how we are to live today, that I think teachers get some of the "credit", along with the Pastors.

  • Then, perhaps, there are the examples set by other believers, among whom there seems to be a shortage of victorious living, particularly in the face of adversity.

  • And, last, perhaps there's a total lack of discernment in letting people into the church. If you walk the aisle and say the correct things, you're normally in, regardless of what you did in the prior church. Or didn't do. Ever.
In this setting, it's not hard to see a lot of folks not ever hearing about what sacrifice really is, or what it really means to crucify one's self in service to Jesus, or what a joyous, victorious Christian life even looks like.

I think we've been taught to settle for less. Less than all God has for us ... less than trusting Him, not only with our souls, but also with our lives and everything else we have .. and in what we expect (and even want to allow) God to do in and through us. And it's axiomatic (to me, anyway) that, when you settle for less than all God has for you, you're probably going to get even less than you settled for.

I once heard a Pastor report on a couple he'd visited. He stated they were Christians, but hadn't been in church for 17 years. He said "They're saved & love the Lord ... they just haven't been in church in 17 years". I can understand how easy it would be for a member ... particularly a new believer ... to equate simply having said the right prayer, to loving the Lord,. And never experiencing what that term really means.

That may be the most tragic example, of all, of settling for less.

What I do know is that the devoted, consecrated Christian life is SUPREMELY worth whatever it takes to live it ... regardless of what we may have to do, or not do, to lead such a life. And I don't see that much of that kind of living .. so much so that, when a really devoted servant comes along ... like Troy Smith (who endured and inspired through the ravages of cancer) and his widow Shanna (who inspired folks through their ordeal, and still does), that it's noteworthy.

All our lives should be such. It's worth it.


p.s.: Don't get the idea I'm holding myself out as any kind of example. I, like others, have my own laundry list of failures.



At 6:08 PM, September 05, 2008, Anonymous Lee said...

"The spiritual health of the local church is tied to what they hear from the pulpit."

Amen. Amen. Amen and Amen.

At 6:37 PM, September 05, 2008, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks, Lee. The sad part is there's not much of any place to say this, other than here.

On the other hand, I think there are a lot of churches that think they're spiritually OK as long as the bills are paid and the numbers are up.

As CB says, nickles & noses...

At 8:16 AM, September 11, 2008, Anonymous jonathan said...

I've had this theory that God places in each of us a desire to be PART of something great. To lay down (crucify) our desires for the good of the whole. But sometimes we pervert it to attempt to become great on our own. Maybe it's the same with our relationship to God. Maybe sometimes (always) we try and make the story about us and what we can get, rather than the One who wrote it. I don't know...maybe?
Good post.

At 8:34 AM, September 11, 2008, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...


A desire to be part of something great ... I agree. A desire to lay down our own desires for the good of the whole ... THAT I'm not so sure of.

We (particularly men) do aspire to greatness, and where Jesus is manifest in our lives, we can divorce the desire for greatness from the desire for glory. But I'm not at all sure striving for greatness is encouraged in most churches, which is, to me, sad.

Thanks for looking in and commenting.


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