Why Church? Week 6:
Pastor Terry Inman
One of our favorite tourist stops near Yellowstone Park is the “Wagon Wheel Trading Post” in Gardiner MT near the Roosevelt Entrance.
It’s a small mom and pop, shop with Cowboy and Indian memorabilia, Yellowstone collectables, polished rocks, arrowheads, antiques and lots of other interesting junk. There’s a great chocolate milkshake next door.
While browsing, Mary picked up this very helpful handwritten tourist guide to the park. Here are a few items that I thought were informative. There are more animals in the park than people and the best time to see them is when they are out there!
All the animals speak English except the wolves—they speak French. Pastor Ron will be happy to know they are Canadian immigrants.
I especially appreciate this one. A buffalo becomes a bison around age 6. The mother sends the little tyke out the door with a lunch for his first day of school, waves goodbye and says, Bye-Son!
Speaking of Buffalo. I was disappointed to learn that Buffalo wings do not actually come from Bison and Elk to not really bugle through their horns.
Apparently humans in Yellowstone don’t speak English. More than one deer should be deers and herds of Elk should be Elkies. Go figure?
On my way out of the “Wagon Wheel Trading Post”, I met Dianna for the first time. As I passed the check out counter I thanked her for letting us browse with free popcorn. The thought came to me. “Ask her if there is any kind of blessing we could leave her as we go.”
That’s when Dianna told me her husband Larry is suffering with some heart issues. I could relate. We prayed together and talked a bit. Then she told me Larry was a semi-retired Baptist Pastor there in Gardiner!
So why am I telling you about the real deal at the Wagon Wheel? Maybe God knew I needed to be sensitive and Dianna needed to know God really cares about Larry. This is just one simple act of “neighbor loving”.
This is the final message in our series, Why Church?
DON talked about worshiping together.
TIM talked about growing together.
DAVE talked about learning together.
BRENT talked about praying together.
RON talked about serving together.
Today let’s talk about sharing together.
Jesus didn’t tell his followers to go to church. He told His church to go into the world. Here’s his final instruction in the Message, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all.” (Mark 16.15 MSG) If there was ever a time when people need to hear good news its now!
It’s a 45 min drive along the Yellowstone River from our retreat in the Paradise Valley to the Park. Just outside Gardiner MT in the middle of nowhere there is a restaurant called “The Lighthouse Café”. They serve a great lamb burger. However the Thai veggie stir-fry is out-of-taste and the “Lighthouse” seems way out of place.
Hopefully we really are really DBA “doing business as” Harbor Light!
Dr. Dave Gable the former assistant superintendent of the Southern California District of the Assemblies of God is the interim Pastor of the Garner Community Church and the head chaplain of Yellowstone Park.
We have been friends sense the early seventies. He is a biblical scholar and great communicator. Out of kindness he invited me to speak in Gardner and the Yellowstone Chapel. Now that’s off my bucket list!
Driving to church in a very heavy rainstorm, we passed the “Lighthouse Café”. I was reminiscing about out our move to Fremont. Twenty-three years ago just before turning on to Lighthouse Ave. in Monterey the Lord confirmed our move from North Hollywood to Fremont.
When I asked God why Fremont, I was impressed with this thought, “you’re a lighthouse” I’m sending you to guide people though storms and into a safe harbor. God so good to quickly calm the storm.
This Montana downpour delayed us a bit and we walked into church late. The first thing I noticed in the small foyer of the Community Church was a painting of Jesus standing in a boat calming a storm.
The day before five officers where gunned down in the line of duty in Dallas. We continue to be in a global storm of increased violence. The polarizing politics of our Political Conventions, Blue on black violence, Black on blue violence, Vets killing cops, Terrorist attacks, endless mass shootings. Our nation is in a dark and intense storm.
Summer storms are frequent in Montana. It can suddenly get dark, windy and wet and a few minutes later it’s calm and sunny again. The reprint of Jesus calming a storm on the Sea of Galilee reminded me of the first time we went fishing on Yellowstone Lake in the early seventies. Apparently it can get very choppy in a hurry out there.
We are living in turbulent times to say the least. The rhetoric alone is enough to raise my blood pressure. Most people we encounter are in some kind of personal storm. I’ve said it before, “we are ether headed into one, in the middle of one or hopefully coming out of one. It’s called life.
It occurs to me that one of the most effective ways to share the good news these days is to be a peaceful calming influence in our friends and neighbors lives. This is one way to “love your neighbor” as yourself.
Isaiah said, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion,“Your God reigns!” (Is. 52.7 NIV)
Life gets out of control. People need to know “Our God Reigns”! This is good news, not bad news. We are here to proclaim peace not strife.
The apostle Paul compares a Roman Soldiers outfit to preparation for Spiritual Warfare. Among other things he mentions some unusual combat boots.
“your feet are to be fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
(Eph. 6.15 NIV)
We have to keep our boots on.
Roman’s soldiers were sure footed in spiked sandals for distance and endurance. We are God’s foot soldiers. We don’t fight with conventional weapons. We need to be always ready to promote peace and good news!
My favorite “readiness” scripture is Peter’s words,
“In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (1Pet. 3.15-16 NIV)
The foyer painting I saw in the Gardner Community Church is from a real story in (Luke 8) about calming a turbulent storm. As a physician Luke is thorough in his story telling. Jesus invited his disciples to sail across the lake. They were seasoned sailors and fishermen.
A few years ago my wife and I took this Holy Land excursion. It ended with a fish fry on the west bank. It was a nice day. I remember the water was like glass but apparently it can get stormy in a hurry.
This sail must have started out smooth. Jesus took a nap. Then a squall “came down on the lake” so sever that the boat was getting swamped.
These tough guys were apparently not wearing life preservers and not real confident swimmers, because Dr. Luke says, they woke Jesus up, yelling “Master, Master, we are going to drown!”
Jesus, always looking for a good object lesson, stood up and “rebuked” the raging wind and the waves. “Peace-be still”! The storm subsided and all was calm. Then he mildly rebuked his disciples, “Where’s your faith?”
They had just participated in feeding five thousand-plus with only a few loves and fish now they’re afraid of capsizing at their own profession.
They were impressed, Luke says, “In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Storms are overwhelming, but Jesus is overcoming!
The very next thing that happens in this narrative is really wild. A naked, homeless, demonized man from the local graveyard meets them on the shore. Jesus frees him from a legion of demons, and drives them into a herd of suicidal pigs. I’m not even going to try to explain the significance of all that. Except to say the fearful townsfolk weren’t very appreciative.
This former maniac now calm and in his right mind wanted to join the disciples but Jesus told him to stay in town and share his story with his frightened neighbors. I would love to hear the rest of that story!
For the disciples this story really started in the boat. Previous to this occasion, near the same shore, Jesus gave a large crowd his radical teachings on a “blessed life”. It’s called the beatitudes or blessings.
It includes things like poverty and spiritual wealth, grief and comfort, humility and strength, hunger and fulfillment, mercy and purity, persecution and peacemaking.
(Matt. 5.3 NIV)
Next Jesus told this crowd of seekers to be the light of the world. He said,
“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matt 5.16 NIV)
So here’s my simple tour guide for taking friends and neighbors through life’s storms to safety in Jesus Christ. Here we call it rescue!
KEEP CALM in the middle of the tempest--people’s spiritual lives may depend on you. Stand up and calm their wind and waves.
Always be aware that your life is not about our destination its about the journey. BE ATTENTIVE to the God encounters with people along the way. Always be ready with love, peace and good news!
Our words, and works can stir up the storm or still the storm. We can navigate people closer or further away from a safe place in Jesus Christ!
Let me leave you with this good word from the Apostle Paul. “The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
(Gal. 5.14-15 NIV)
Contention is consuming our culture. It’s an ugly and frightening storm. Paul continues taking about being led by the Spirit. He says there is no law against the fruit of the Spirit… “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5.22-23 NIV)
Here’s some good advice for sharing together in turban times. “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining (grumbling) or arguing, (disputing, debating) so that you may become blameless (faultless spotless) and pure, (unmixed, authentic, real) children of God without fault (innocent) in a crooked (bent, twisted) and depraved (distorted) generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—
(Phil. 2. 13-16 NIV)
“Holding out” the word of life is much more than words. Jesus is the “word of life”. He is in us! So let’s avoid complaining and arguing and be faultless and genuine shinning stars in a dark, and stormy culture!
Why Church? Because the world is desperate for the authentic body of Christ to bring glory or “brilliance” to its head the Lord Jesus!