Wow. I just got back from ministering at the Union Gospel Mission. I was a bit nervous before going, because I didn't feel nearly as prepared as I should have been. I didn't practice the songs near enough, or at least as much as I usually do when I do music ministry. I felt really out of touch with God, and wasn't looking forward to doing this thing tonight.
Well, as God is known to do, He says to me, really loud and clear, "It's not ABOUT you, Mike. It's about ME (God) and the people who NEED Me."
Troy, Joe, Dan, John and I led the service, with John playing the piano for the hymns, I did the special music, and Troy brought the message. Mind you, this is a service for about 150 mainly homeless, drug addicted, and alcoholic people, who are mostly in the place to get a meal and a bed. But they know the routine, and usually sit quietly through the service. Many of them know the songs and sing quite well. But we went down to minister, and bring a message of hope to these folks, and did Troy ever bring it. He preached with the conviction of the Holy Spirit and experience, and laid the Good News out for everyone who was there to understand.
And you know what?
6 souls decided that Jesus had the answers to their questions, and accepted Him into their lives. 6 people have a better chance of having peace and joy in their lives, because of God's amazing grace, than they did before. 6 people have more hope than they had before. 6 people are saved and will one day spend eternity with God. What higher calling, what better purpose for life, is there, than spreading that hope?
I am very guilty of not always living my life as I know I should. Paul writes in Romans 7:21-24,
"It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am!"
I stumble and fall and fail to live "christianly" all the time. Paul, the Saint, observes this at work in his own life. But I'm delighted to know that God doesn't hold that against me. When I fall and fail, I cry out for forgiveness, and God picks me up, dusts me off, and tells me "I love you; keep trying; I'll help you". See, the message isn't just that I am a miserable person. No, God also gives each and every one of us the answer. In the very next verse, Romans 7:24 & 25, Paul writes:
"Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."
So, that's why I do things like the Union Gospel Mission. I know my spirit has been set free from the law of sin, and I am no longer under judgement because Jesus died for me and I have accepted his gift, and I want others to have that gift, too. To have that freedom from judgement and condemnatoin.
Oh, I still struggle to master the old self and the old habits, but, thank God, the answer is in Jesus Christ MY Lord.
Oh, and, yes I weighed in. I'm headed in the wrong direction. Sigh. Gotta keep working....