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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ingrown Toenail

As soon as it is available, if you haven't heard it yet, go to The Church of the Good Shepherd's 2006 Sermons and listen to pastor Stephen Baker's Ingrown Toenail sermon (March 12, 2006).

This is a wake up call for us as followers of Christ, fishers of men, the salt of the earth and the light on a hill. As pastor Baker said, Jesus did not command us to be salt, just called us salt. He did not command us to be light, he called us light.

What He did was shame us if we are not salty salt. If we do not flavor, preserve and penetrate our world with the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we are the same as the world around us, then we have lost our saltiness, our effectiveness. Did you ever think about the wish-washiness of unsalty Christians. The are inoffensive to be sure, but they also have nothing to say. There is no reason to listen to them.

He did command us to let our light shine before men. He said, as if it were to go without saying that you don't light a light and hide it, but you put it up high to shine for everyone to see and benefit from.

pastor Baker parodied our behavior as those holed up in a fort, lobbing unbelievable flaming messages of salvation to the savages outside the walls, but refusing to make actual contact with them; refusing to open the doors, and let their light so shine before them.

Was this, Pastor Baker asked, what our Lord did? No! He left the Purity of Heaven, so much purer than any environment we could create for ourselves in our little buildings, and plunged Himself into the muck of our existence. Are we to expect our path to be more pure than our Master's? Are we to refuse to get dirty, when Jesus Himself patiently fielded the foolish questions of the wise men of his day. He offered himself up for the sins of his enemies. He bled and sweat and cried for those so far lower than Himself that they cannot be compared to his holiness.

But, we refuse to listen to the foolish talk of the unsaved because it offends us. We won't befriend someone of a differing belief because they don't believe what we do. Jesus had twelve people very close to him, who usually did not understand things correctly, and one of them was a traitor! Jesus did not exclude Judas from the inner circle, and He know Judas from his mother's womb.

You don't know the end of the days of that person you won't befriend. Are you greater than your Master?

Oh, Father,
Forgive me for thinking I am too good to hear the foolishness of man. Forgive me for closing my heart to the dying people around me. How can they speak the language of Heaven, when they are bound to this earth and serve the prince of this world?
Send unbelievers into our lives, to live and move and have their being so closely that we will hear the desperation of their souls, and remember the egypt from which You have redeemed us. So burden our hearts for these people that to not speak would cause our mouthes to burn. Give us the love for You that will be revealed in our obedience; and for others that will be revealed in our countenance, our words, and our obedience to You.
In the name of Jesus Christ the Righteous Savior, Amen

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