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Unless I'm All Wet...

March 15th, 2016 by Carl Buffington

Friday Epistle PhotoAnd I am often all wet.

I heard the first splash and scream from my study, then a second, followed by a third. Arriving at the pool, I saw that Emmett was more cautious, working his way into the pool step by step. For all, it was the first dip of the swim season. And I still don’t know how I resisted Abby’s “Pleeeease Papa” invitation, because as I mentioned, I’m usually all wet and my splash is usually in the first wave.

A few weeks ago I had been giving thanks to God for the faith in our family, especially remembering our children and now watching our grandchildren. Watching them and listening to them express and live their life with the Lord is such a blessing and encouragement, and as I gave thanks I wondered where/how they got it.

During my time of pondering and giving thanks, Archbishop Kolini and his wife Freda came to visit. As we spent time together and talked about his ministry to families – Restoring Our Foundations – he commented that the primary Sunday School is always in the home.

And as I write this from home I can hear Mia, Barbara, reading scriptures with Eli as they begin school. We pick him up at Occupational Therapy on Thursdays and then he has dinner with his cousins and spends the night. Then on Friday morning he has his school lessons with Mia. So I knew what the Archbishop said was true.

During this time of pondering and giving thanks, as I read Paul’s epistle for that Sunday (2/28, Philippians 3.17-4.1), I saw something I had not seen before. And this is where I may be all wet, but don’t think so.

I was looking for the place where the eternal and temporal met. Where and how they would come together with the power to transform and change lives for the Kingdom, and how we could live with eternity in mind, in front of us, part of our day to day vision. I shared in the sermon how an eternal perspective can make a radical change in how we live day to day. Here’s the illustration I used:

A one-year-old boy shattered his back falling down a flight of stairs. He spent his childhood and youth in and out of hospital. Gavin Read, the former Bishop of Maidstone, interviewed him in church. The boy remarked, ‘God is fair.’ Gavin stopped him and asked, ‘How old are you?’ ‘Seventeen,’ the boy replied. ‘How many years have you spent in hospital?’ The boy answered, ‘Thirteen years.’ Gavin asked, ‘Do you think that is fair?’ He replied, ‘God has got all of eternity to make it up to me.’

There were four things that I shared from the epistle:

  1. we were to model Paul, follow his example;
  2. we were not live like the world;
  3. we were to realize we are citizens of Heaven;
  4. and finally, we were to stand firm.

It was this last idea that began to unfold for me, stand firm, and when I read in the first chapter that WE were to stand firm, I had a thought that said a lot to me about the church and God’s work in and through it. How eternity mixes with the temporal.

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.” Phil 1.27

It occurred to me that something happens in the community of faith that is eternal and transformative when parts of the body stand firm together, in one spirit. I thought of the recent JC456 retreat. Three of my grandchildren had been blessed out of their socks on it, and I thought of the consistent faith and ministry of its leaders, Thom, Jane, Kris and Erica. I suspect it wasn’t so much the content, or their style, but the attitude of their hearts AND the presence of God that impacted the kids lives! The other pieces matter, but what transforms, changes the soul is the work of the Spirit, which can be loosed by us through our hearts and by our faith. Was this standing firm? Or am I all wet?

I looked back over the years to Christ Church in Madison, IN where all three of our children were born. I think of those who taught them Sunday School lessons, and the core believers who aggressively pursued the Lord, stormed his Kingdom, standing firm in their faith. And realized that something more was happening there than just what we saw. Eternity and time were interacting and “the power that enables him to bring everything under his control” (Phil 3.21) was transforming his body here on earth. It was more than reading the Bible In Pictures For Little Eyes. It was being in an environment where faith was active and loosed! Unless I’m all wet, this was/is exciting, life changing!

Unless I’m all wet, this means that your faith matters to more than just you. Of course it matters to God, but it also matters to those in his body, the church. We may not know exactly to whom, but by our standing firm, our consistency, perseverance, and pressing on as Paul says in this weeks epistle, and doing so in the context of his earthly outpost, this colony of heaven, our Lord moves among us touching various hearts and souls in ways we can indeed imagine if we have the vision for it, that is unless we are all wet. But we aren’t. So, jump in.

Blessings to you all,

+Carl

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Carl Buffington

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