Tag Archives: quote

“… I’m afraid he’ll ask me the same question”

ask god question

I’ve always liked this as a quote.  I’m not sure why the “in the mirror, dimly” image came to me, but I took this picture about a week ago specifically to make this meme.

“Sometimes I would like to ask God why he allows poverty, famine and injustice in the world, when He could do something about it…but I’m afraid He may ask me the same question.” Anonymous.

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Engaging in ministry with the poor

The most important part of this area of focus is the word “with.” Too often, we think of ministry “for” the poor, as if it is our job, as those have means, to do things for those that don’t. As a church, we need to be engaged in ministry with the poor. It is not about giving away money. It is about building relationships with our neighbors.

I have said before that “the Kingdom of God exists where the needs of a community intersect with the resources of a loving congregation.”

For a church to be engaged in bringing about the Kingdom of God, it must:
1. Be loving.
2. Know its resources.
3. Know the needs of the community.

The first two seem easy. The first is about motivation. Does the congregation want to make a difference in the world? Many churches are actually more interested in maintaining a building so that they have a place to be buried and married then they are interested in making disciples of Jesus Christ. Yet once a congregation decides they want to transform the world, they must figure out what they are good at. Every Christian has gifts and passions that can be used to serve others. Every Church is made up of gifted Christians that have something to share.

Some churches have great quilting circles. They can create blankets for babies in need. They can sell quilts to raise money for the food pantry. Some churches have a lot of gardners. They can host a Garden Surplus Day, and share the bounty of their harvest with those in need. What are you good at? What do you love to do? Once you figure that out, then it takes time to figure out No. 3.

The third one takes time. It takes energy. It takes building relationships. It means that people in the congregation must be in the community. Where are the poor in your community? Are they in your church? Are they at Wal Mart, MacDonald’s, the community food pantry, the park, school, the tavern? Ask yourself, where are poor people in your community, and how can we work together to make the community better.

Engaging in ministry with the poor was an important part of Jesus’ mission. It must be a part of our mission as a church as well. If you’re wondering how to start, just ask these questions:

1. Are you loving? Do you want to transform the world, or at least the life of one person?
2. What are you good at? What are your passions?
3. How can you use that to help someone else?

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Go into the world

People say that words can’t change things.  I disagree.  Words can inspire.  Words can unite.  Words can make someone stop and think, and sometimes that can change the world.  I believe that the words of Minor Myers Jr. have changed me.  It is graduation season, and every year at this time I think of the words that he shared at my graduation.

Minor Myers was the President of Illinois Wesleyan University.  He was the heart of the university, the classic Renaissance Man, and the example of what a liberal arts education is all about.  His two most distinctive features were his hair and his eyes.  The former always appeared to have recently emerged from a wind tunnel and the latter looked like he was about to wink at you with a shared secret joke.  As the President of the University, he gave the final address at graduation.  The conclusion of his remarks each year were the same.  He would look out at the graduating class and wonder.  I paraphrase: Who will startup the first successful company?  Who will discover a new medical procedure?  Who will write the first best selling book or win the first arts award?  As he looked out at the 500 or so young people that were ready to go out into the world, he would close with these words:

Go into the world and do well.  But more importantly, go into the world and do good.” (Dr. Minor Myers, Jr.)

His words captured me the first time I heard them, and I have thought of those words at every graduation I have been to since.  In fact, I have thought of those words many times in my life.  It’s hard to say if those words changed my life.  I probably would have ended up a pastor, trying with all my heart to do good, even if it weren’t for his words.  But maybe not.

As I sat in the quad in my deep green robe, I was wondering the same thing he was wondering.  The world was open to me, and I was going out into it.  I was hoping to do well.  I’m not sure if I was thinking about doing good.  Here I am, ten years later (has it really been ten years?) and his words have stayed with me.  I don’t know if his words changed me, but they certainly helped form me, and when I shared them in my sermon this morning, I hope they formed someone else too.

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