Because the Days are Evil

I lost a good friend last week.  His name is Phil Presley and he now lives in glory!  I’ve always been blessed by older men in my life.  Having lost my dad at the age of 19, I’ve learned much from those God has placed around me regarding manhood.  Phil was one without a doubt.  I got to participate in his memorial service last night and the testimonies flowed of Phil’s love for the Gospel and intense devotion to making it known in the world.  To say the service was inspiring would be an understatement, it really was about a life lived to the glory of God.  I got to share the Gospel alongside of Phil on many occasions, got to bless many people together in the community through practical ways, assist people struck by tragedy, and have him love my kids.  God used him greatly to build the Kingdom … and still is.  People came to Christ last night hearing how the story of Phil was the story of the Gospel in his life.

For me, Phil’s life will always call me to Ephesians 5:15-16.  As those redeemed from darkness and made alive in Christ, our call is to “redeem the time.”  Make the most of every opportunity.  When God puts an idea for ministry on my heart, when the Spirit impresses on my soul a call to action, I hear Phil telling me to not put it off, to not just talk about it, and to be a man of action.  We always reminded each other of the great quote “Expect great things from God, Attempt great things from Him.”  Careful living (v.15) is not about being cautious, it’s about being careful to not waste your life, careful to not miss an opportunity to serve someone up good dose of Gospel.  I’m always struck by the motivation the apostle Paul gives in that passage – “Because the days are evil.”  It seems foreign to our thinking.  We motivate by telling someone, “these are good days, he’s a good guy, good things are ahead.”  Paul motivated by saying these are “evil days”.  Why?  If we knew the days were good, we’d grow comfortable, procrastinate, and become apathetic.  But when we recognize this world is headed down the road to ruin, we feel the urgency of the call to “redeem the time”, to make the most of every opportunity.  Maybe it’s talking to that neighbor, praying for that waitress, or getting involved with that hurting family.  I venture to say, it’s not about you and I trying to figure out “what” to do as much as it is determining “to do.”  

The effectiveness of Leroy Chapel will not be what we do inside our four walls, but what we do outside them … making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.

Be Careful to Not Live Carefully,

Pastor Mark

Embracing Thomas

I found myself this morning in the post-resurrection account of Jesus in the Gospel of John and was struck by the disciples interaction with Thomas.  You remember that during Jesus’ first appearance to the disciples on Sunday evening, Thomas was absent.  John points out to us how the other disciples told him all about Jesus’ appearing and then with strong language Thomas declares, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”  

Of course I muse on what happened next.  The disciples offering up every evangelistic technique known to man to convince him of the truth, offers to pray for him, maybe even a search party to go find Jesus so Thomas wouldn’t go to bed in unbelief.  John gives us none of that.  But what he does give us is quite instructive — “Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them.” There it is! EIGHT DAYS LATER.  They didn’t shun him, push him away, or in anyway distance themselves from relationship, they embraced him.  A week had gone by and he still felt like he belonged to the band of disciples, yet remained unbelieving.

Of course we know the end of the story and Jesus’ appearance and invitation to doubting Thomas, but I find it helpful to note the response of the disciples to Thomas and Thomas to the disciples from his unbelief to his belief – belonging.  It was Jesus, and nothing short of that, removing Thomas’ unbelief, but it was the disciples embracing that kept him there.  Thomas belonged and through his belonging, at just the right time, Jesus shows up and belief comes with him.  May we embrace the Thomas’ and invite them to remain, belong, find acceptance, until God opens their eyes and they see and believe.

With you in building a belonging community,

Pastor Mark