“On Earth as it is in Heaven?”

We love to pray, diverse-classroomYour kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven[1]... , but are there areas we are missing?

While I was serving as a Pastor in a small city in Virginia, I attended a meeting in Atlanta. At the meeting were leaders of the 27- ethnic fellowships in the SBC.  Next to me was the president of the Vietnamese Fellowship.  During one of the sessions he quietly slid a Gospel Tract toward me. I took one look at it and saw it was written in something I couldn’t read that I assumed was Vietnamese. So I quietly slid it back and said, “We don’t have any Vietnamese in my area.” He pushed it back to me again and said, “Go to your local nail salon.” So, at a meeting in Georgia, a guy from Arizona, who has never been in Virginia, told me where to find Vietnamese people in my neighborhood.

I started taking a look around. I noticed more distinctly that there were more than just black people and white people in my city. The owner of the nail salon was Vietnamese. The owner of the beauty supply was Korean. The owner of the motel was from India.  My doctor was from Kenya and my wife’s doctor was from the Philippines.

I looked inside my predominately African American congregation and there were people from Uganda, Ghana, Jamaica, Trinidad, Panama and St. Croix. There were Caucasians of Irish and other European ethnicities.  What I came to realize was that our church, in a little southern town, was looking more and more like the Kingdom of God. While the numbers of the various ethnicities were not great because of the demographic of our community, the openness of our church was great.

How did it happen?

1.      We had a Pastor led commitment to missions.  Since the end of my college days, I have traveled for vocation and vacation in 32 countries on 5 continents. Every year for 19 years while I was at that church I, the pastor, led one of our international mission trips. This helped me and the members of the congregation to develop and maintain a true Biblical WORLD View. Sometimes we have a Biblical view, but it’s really a Biblical COMMUNITY view.

2.      We led the church as a Church that was Black, rather than as a Black Church. We were a church that was Black because we were in a community that was demographically black. That meant we could embrace and celebrate our heritage and black Americans, while at the same time being open to accept and embrace people that were not black Americans. I believe that if you hold up your ethnicity over your Christianity you may consciously or unconsciously be closed to God’s greater Kingdom work. If we see ourselves as a Black Church, White Church, Korean Church or whatever, it means that all who come to us must conform and become what we have declared we are. However, if we see our Christianity first and our ethnicity only as representing the people we currently serve, we remain open to God leading others our way who may not be what we have been, but are a part of God’s greater Kingdom agenda.

3.      We celebrated every member of the congregation.  We had flags that hung in the Sanctuary, but the only flags we hung were those that represented countries we as a church had travelled to on Mission, or countries in which our members were born. We did international potlucks, dress in the attire of your native country Sundays and we were open to new songs members brought from their homeland or from a mission trip.

Multi-cultural experiences can grow when we are authentically Kingdom-minded believers. We love to pray, Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven[2]….

[1] Matthew 6:10 (HCSB)

[2] Matthew 6:10 (HCSB)

FOUR KEYS FOR SUCCESSFUL FAMILIES

Read Psalm 127 and reflect with me on what it takes to make our families successful.

  1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.   2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eatB for he grants sleep to those he loves. 3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. 5Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

  1. Work in Partnership with God. (127:1) There are some things we cannot do on our own. God must be a participant in the family building process, but we must work at it also. For us to work at it without the Lord is like beating our heads against a brick wall. For us to believe that the Lord will build our family without our efforts is folly. We are laborers together with God. (1 Corinthians 3:9)

Watching out for our family members is part of the process, but there is a limit to what we can see and the places we can go. We need to know that when our family goes its several ways each day, and when we sleep each night — There is a God who is watching. He is the Lord. Sometimes called Jehovah-roi, The God who sees me.

  1. Pattern Your Life to Love God (127:2). The Bible is not merely a book of good suggestions, wise sayings or a suggested way of life. The Bible is the Word of God. We cannot just follow the trends of the day, or do our own thing and expect God’s blessings. How long have you been struggling trying to find satisfaction, peace or success in your life, only to have them continually elude you?

My friend, you can rise up early and stay up late, but you will  not find what you’re looking for until you seek to live a life that pleases God. — He gives rest to those who are in a love relationship with him!

Why do you expect God will bless your life if you’re living like you don’t love him? All of our troubles are not the result of our disobedience, but some of them sure are! How many of us, right now, have our whole family in jeopardy because of our unwillingness to live according to God Holy Word?

  1. Pour Yourself into the next Generation. (127:3-4) Too often people see children as a nuisance, an interruption in my goals and objectives, a burden or as someone else’s concern.

We are all part of an eternal continuum. We are born as part of a heritage and we are responsible to leave a heritage. Each of us has the responsibility to try to leave the world a better place than it was when we entered it. Each of us has something unique to offer. There is no waiting for such a task and there is no retirement from such a task.

I have heard people talk of this text likening children to arrows and quivers, and remark, “That was OK for then, but we don’t use arrows any more.” Look beyond the time oriented surface to glimpse the eternal truth. What can we learn about Arrows & Warriors that we can use them. The warrior cares for the arrows. He keeps them sharp, clean, ready and available. The warrior sends the arrows at an appointed time, in a definite direction and toward a definite goal. Isn’t this the task we have —  to pour our lives into children, to care for them, keep them sharp, send them off toward their goal.

  1. Work to Develop Every Member’s Potential. (127:5) Every member of the family must be encouraged to Define their dreams, Determine their destiny, Herald their hopes and Grasp their goals. You may say, “Oh you don’t know my family…” and you are right. But I do know there is a Family where you can find faithful brothers by the thousands and encouraging sisters everywhere you go. There is a Father who is patient and loving, who will always work to get the best out of you,  who will never let you struggle alone and  Who Knows How Much You Can Bear!!! I’m talking about the Family of God. Why not go to Church this Sunday?

God bless our families. AMEN.

BeautyBeyondBones

Because we’re all recovering from something.

Lifeway Voices

Trustworthy, Christian perspectives on life

Urban Gospel Way

Your Urban Gospel Hotspot

African Gospel Lyrics

Praising God... African style!

Ken Braddy

Navigating the New Normal

Brenda Croston

Croston Ministries

Croston Ministries International

Mark A. Croston, DMin.

Discover WordPress

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging