Monday, March 4, 2002

Honk for Others

by Blake Cromwell

I wanted to express my support to my brothers and sisters who are members of the Catholic churches in the Kings County. As a Pastor who has served in this community for 19 years I have observed the devotion of these Priests and have been challenged by their commitment to their flocks.

Over the years I have been a member of the Ministerial Association of Hanford and worked together with all denominations and churches in our city. Currently the President of the Ministerial Association is Father Dan of Saint Bridges Church. He is doing a wonderful job as our current President. I have come to appreciate him for his love for God and people.

On occasions I have shared with Father Dan responsibilities in funerals and community projects. I have found Dan to be a man gifted to serve the church and this community. I know of no other minister in town who is as busy as he is and still he keeps a joyful attitude about his work.

It seems in the last few weeks every time I pick up a paper or turn the news on there is talk of the problems within the Priesthood. No doubt we all are glad that those who have done wrong are removed from places of influence. The Bible says, “Judgment must begin at the house of God.”

My concern is that those who have devoted their lives to God not be judged with those who should be. The simplistic solution given that the problem is a Priest’s vow of celibacy is just foolishness. The fact is those who are sexual predators are more often married than not. The Bible clearly states that an unmarried man can serve the Lord undistracted and that celibacy is a high calling.

I have just read a book on unselfish teamwork that used the example of geese flying in a V formation. These insights can help us stand with others who are going through difficult times.

First, it has been learned that as each goose flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird following. Flying in a “V” formation adds at least 71 percent greater flying distance than if each bird flew on its own.

In other words, people who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another. I appreciate all the churches in Hanford that believe that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord. Each church is headed in the same direction and in that we help each other.

Secondly, geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. As for myself and my church we desire to be cheerleaders to the other churches in Hanford. To often Christians become critics instead of encouragers when accusation and gossip is flying.

Thirdly, when a goose gets sick or is wounded and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly again or until he dies. Then they launch out together again. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone were as committed as geese. It is an infamous saying that Christians are the only people who shoot their wounded.

The church is all about bringing people to Christ. Jesus prayed that Christians would be supportive of one another and through that mutual commitment to each other the world would have a witness of who Jesus Christ is.

As for me I am going to keep honking to all those who are humbly serving in churches in the Kings County. Why not give a honk to your local church this weekend and encourage your Pastor?

Friday, March 1, 2002

Dealing with Warts

by Blake Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell addressed the famous French painter, Peter Lely, declaring: “I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all, but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts and all; otherwise I never will pay a farthing for it.”

Cromwell’s words contrast with the common attitude in all of us to be real but not too real. Too often Biographers (especially biographers of Christians) reveal only the shinning highlights and accomplishments while leaving out the valleys of failure and discouragement that are normal to every life.

In contrast to this, the Bible is the most honest of all books. It reveals the true nature of man, “warts and all.” There is no sugar coating the failures of those who God used to do great things. I have always found it encouraging to read of weak men who became strong through God’s grace and patience.

In the book of Proverbs it says, “A good man will fall seven times and rise up again.” The Bible is very clear that life isn’t always victory to victory rather it is “three steps forward and two back.”

The Bible is realistic and it encourages us to be realistic about others and ourselves. If you beat yourself up emotionally and won’t forgive yourself for failure maybe you have an unrealistic view of man. Maybe you should take another look at God’s Book on humanity. The Bible doesn’t see man as a demon or as a deity. No, man is created in God’s likeness and has great capacity for good or evil. He needs a Savior because he is imperfect and needs saving.

A good Bible search reveals the ups and downs of those who God used. Noah after building an ark and being delivered from the flood fell to the temptation of drunkenness. Moses lost his temper and murdered a man. Adam and Eve took a perfect marriage and turned it into a nightmare. Peter the Apostle revealed his racial hatred and even lied about knowing Jesus Christ.

The question is, “Did God reject any of those who fell?” No, all those who sought God have been forgiven and found grace to be different. All of the men and women of the Bible are examples of God’s forgiving grace.

Of course, there are some who use forgiveness as an excuse to never change. They call themselves Christians but they are not striving to be like Christ. The Bible calls that hypocrisy. God’s forgiveness is not provided as an excuse to sin. His forgiveness is there if we sin as we attempt to be godly.

The great encouragement to all sincere people who are wanting to be Christ-like yet find themselves once again in the pit of failure is that God sees you, “warts and all’ and still loves you. Father God isn’t discouraged with you and you have not shocked Him by your pitfalls. He desires that you would bring yourself to Him, confess your need for Him, and trust Him to transform you into the image of His Son.

Our change will happen but probably not as fast as we and others we would like. Don’t give up because of failure, reach up to His forgiving grace and begin again. This weekend why not take another step forward and attend a church in the Kings County.