Today Is The Day Of Small Things

When we do little things right, big things happen.

Sometimes we do not do the little things because we do not like the little things we should do. But the reality is that by not doing the little things, we will never be able to do the big things that would be the culmination of all those little things. Great things will come if we are faithful in doing the little things.

Jesus taught, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much” (Luke 16:10 ESV).  He later shared the idea that if we are faithful in the little things, then God will give us bigger things to do (Luke 19:11-27). Jesus wants us to know that our faithfulness is what matters, whether it is in great things or in the most minor things.

By doing the little things today, we will find ourselves where God wants us to be tomorrow. Often we would like to make a sweat free, giant leap, but most accomplishments in life do not come without a lot of hard work beforehand. One does not become a pro athlete without all of the sweat and hard work. Nor does one become a great musician without putting in hours upon hours of unrecognized practice. People who make things look easy can do that because they have put in a lot of hard work on small improvements behind the scenes. The same is true with churches. Each one of us has to work hard, doing the small things that make our church great, in order for our church to reach the next level.

In Zechariah, the prophet writes about people who despise the “day of small things.” We might find ourselves doing the same thing at times. Instead of doing the small things that would make our life better, we lose the battle of small things. Life is rarely wasted by a lack of desire for big things. Who doesn’t want a lot of money, a fulfilling career, an amazing family, an awesome community, or great friends? Unfortunately, those things are not magically achieved because we want them. And they are often not realized because the effort is not put into the small things that are necessary to bring them about. We waste our time on the television or the internet when we could be doing small things that would improve our life. Those are just two obvious areas, but we can waste time on a myriad of activities. We all have good excuses to not do the things we should be doing or to do the things we should not be doing, but in ignoring the small things that we could do to improve ourselves, we miss out on all the small steps we need to take to get where God is calling us. And ultimately, we miss out on being who we could be.

It’s never too late to get on track. Maybe God wants to do a small thing in you. It might be a reminder in the back of your head that you keep putting off. It could be a change that you know you need to make but you just keep avoiding. Whatever it is, God has more in store for you, but it has to start with that small change. If you don’t do the small thing, then the big thing that is in store for you down the road will never come your way.

We all know the familiar words of Neil Armstrong, when he became the first man to walk on the moon: “One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.” Neil’s step off of the Lunar Lander was just one small step. But it was the culmination of a lot of people taking many small steps one after another, time and time again, working together, diligently in pursuit of what they wanted to achieve. Someday, if we keep faithful in the small things, we will notice that we have made a giant leap too. In doing the small things, we can rest assured that we will find ourselves right where we are supposed to be.

And our church can only be the church that we are called to be if we all do the small things that we are gifted at doing to get us there. Or maybe we aren’t even gifted at it yet but God wants to develop that gift in us. So just do what you are feeling God wants you to do even if you don't feel particularly qualified. Tomorrow may just be the day of big things, but only if today is the day of small things.

A Prayer For Me And The Church

This angers me. 

For those who think homosexuality is a sin, there is a line that should never be crossed. And this is it.

Daniel took on the collective guilt of his people in a prayer while an exile in Babylon despite not participating in their sins. And this pastor's behavior is a terrible sin. We must change. We must be better. We must show Jesus' love.

So if you are a Christian, please pray with this reworked prayer of Daniel's prayer. This isn't about nonChristians but about our failure as Christians to be who God wants us to be. We must change.

Oh, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled. We have turned aside from being loving and crossed into hate too many times. We have not listened to your teachings, which you brought yourself to all of the earth.

Righteousness is on your side, O Lord, but open shame, as at this day, falls on us, the people of your Church, those who are faithful and those who are stumbling, who find themselves in all sorts of places to which you have driven them because of the treachery that they have committed against you.

Open shame, O Lord, falls on us, our pastors, our leaders, and those who have come before us, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God to live a life of love, which Jesus modeled for us when He walked among us.

All the Church has transgressed your law of love and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. So the curse and the oath written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against you. He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our pastors, by giving us over to our own selfish desires and allowing us to toil away at this institution we have created.

Just as it is written in the law of Moses, we toil in vain without your blessing. We did not entreat the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and reflecting on his grace and blessing. Instead we tilted at the windmills and attacked others. So the Lord kept watch over our toil and watched its fruitlessness. Indeed, the Lord our God is right in all that he has done; for we have disobeyed his voice.

And now, O Lord our God, who sent your Son down to earth and established your kingdom through the Church and made your name known even to this day — we have sinned, we have done wickedly. O Lord, in view of all your righteous acts, let your anger and wrath, we pray, turn away from your Church, your holy people; because of our sins and the iniquities of those before us, your kingdom and your Church have become a disgrace among all our neighbors.

Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his supplication, and for your own sake, Lord, let your face shine upon your desolated sanctuary. Bless our work for your glory. Incline your ear, O my God, and hear. Open your eyes and look at our desolation and the Church that bears your name.

We do not present our supplication before you on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of your great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, listen and act and do not delay! For your own sake, O my God, because your Church and your people bear your name!

Hate The Sin. Love The Sinner. Really?

There is a popular saying among Christians under a lot of attack lately: "Hate the sin. Love the sinner." It's origin is unknown, but its meaning has roots in Scripture.

Jude wrote, 

"But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. (Jude 1:20-23 ESV).

Keep yourself in God's love, but hate the garment stained by sin. In other words, "Hate the sin. Love the sinner."

We must hate sin, yet we must always love the sinner. That is what the phrase teaches. Let's look at a sin that we would all consider a sin without question to test out the teaching. Murder, for instance. Let's substitute sin with the specific sin of murder. 

"Hate murder. Love the murderer."

We can all agree with that, right? Murder is horrible. It destroys. It hurts people's souls. It leaves families in despair. I hate murder with all my being. Yet, despite finding the sin of murder totally reprehensible, I am still called to love the murderer. I'm called to love the murderer and help bring healing to their lives.

Yet our natural instincts tell us to hate the murderer. We would much rather hate the sinner along with the sin. We want to hate the pedophile, the rapist, and the terrorist. But then we are reminded of this powerful teaching, "Hate the sin. Love the sinner." It is to our detriment to discard that teaching that keeps us in check.

And those who aren't wrestling with with loving sinners while hating sin don't understand that we can love someone despite their actions. Actually, we must love everyone despite their action. It is a misconception that we hate people who we think are sinning. And on the other end, we are sometimes viewed as too loving and accepting when we choose to love those who are, from our perspective, the most disgusting.

Which leads to me. I am a sinner. I can still be loved despite my sin. God loves me despite my sin. For while I was a sinner, Jesus died for me. He didn't die for me because I was perfect. Actually, His death is meaningless to me if I live pretending that I am perfect or that I must be perfect to receive His grace. He died for me because He loved me. And He didn't just die for me; He died for all of us. He died for the worst of us. He died for the murderer and the pedophile. So that in Him, we can move beyond the mistakes, the sin, that separates us from him into the life that He has called us to.

So in our debates on what is or isn't a sin, let us never ditch the concept that we are to love the sinner while we hate the sin.

Hate the sin. Always love the sinner.