Tis the season to be thankful. I see lots of my friends posting things on Facebook they are thankful for this November. They are turning it into a month of thankfulness rather than just one day. Nice job.
I like to say that I don’t take my blessings for granted. I really do know what a charmed life I lead. I have been blessed with good health, a wonderful family, a roof over my head, food in my belly, more than a couple cute outfits, and friends that bless my socks off. I serve a living Savior who is “the author and perfecter of my faith” (Hebrews 12:2). I have no real complaints. No real ones. I have some fake ones that like to scratch at my joyfulness, but all in all while my life is not perfect, it’s the perfect life for me.
This morning I learned of something else that I am thankful for. I am thankful that I attend a church that knows it’s all about “the one”. The Bible teaches that our God is like a good shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine good sheep who hang around and do the right sheep things, and goes to find “the one” lost sheep that has wandered off. The Bible says that all of heaven rejoices when the lost one is found.
I learned today that there are seven billion people on the Earth. That’s kind of mind blowing. Someone has determined that about 4.9 billion– give or take- of those do not know Jesus or accept him at the Messiah. I’m not sure how they determined that number. A door-to-door campaign seems unlikely. Still, should today be the day Jesus makes his grand return, that’s a lot of people looking at a very bleak eternity. I also learned that if you lined up all of those people front to back, that line would circle the globe at its equator over 37 times. Got that picture in your head? Those are God’s lost sheep. He loves the rest who love him back, but he longs for those who are out there and lost.
Today I learned what my church is doing about this, and I was impressed. I know other churches are doing things, too, but I felt just a bit of holy pride today for the work that is going on around the globe to reach those lost sheep from Church of the HIghlands. Can you tolerate a little brag?
420 Highlands members (two of them were my sons) went on short-term missions trips this year. I also learned that my church is going into hard places. Places where the church must still be underground, for not to be means persecution or death. Places like China, North Korea, Yemen, and Jordan. One Jordanian church leader from a church of ninety attended an EQUIP (an organization that trains Christian leaders my church partners with) and got the skills he needed to go home and train 200 other leaders and now his church has grown to 1,000… In JORDAN. (That’s in the Middle East… I thought others might be geographically challenged, like me.)
Today I learned that through our church planting organization (ARC), that 58 churches have been planted with those new churches giving over $8 million to missions this year.
But what about here at home? I learned that at our Christ Health Center we served the poor in our city with over 7,000 visits for medical, dental, and counseling services this year. The Birmingham Dream Center logged over 25,000 hours of service by the Highlands Dream Team. Those are just regular folks that go to my church.
I also learned that I can be really short sighted. I worry and plan and strategize over my little life so much. Every detail becomes a focus of my attention. So often I fail to look beyond my little patch of the world, to see beyond my small concerns, to the greater ones next door, across town, or around the world.
While alone I can only do so much, through joining with other believers, so much more can be done for the Kingdom. It’s about the 4.9 BILLION people who still walk this life everyday apart from God. And it’s about the ONE, because every ONE matters.
I know my church is not alone in the effort to further the Kingdom of God both here and abroad. So what’s going on through your church? If you’re not sure, go find out. Give your money, your time, and your gifts to help. It’s not that your issues don’t matter, they do. But looking outside of yourself to the really bigger picture will help keep all that stuff in perspective.
I needed a little perspective today. Maybe you do, too.