How many of you
know what happens when you bring together the two
substances known as vinegar and baking soda? You make a
miniature volcano, right? From the moment of contact a
powerful reaction takes place creating a lava-like foam
that will billow out until the two substances have
It's kind of like when you shake
an unopened can of soda and then pop the tab. Both are
examples of potential energy that lies dormant until
something acts upon it in such a way that sets it off.
We are like that. Each and every one of us has the
potential of amazing strength and endurance when
necessity calls us to do heroic acts. The newspaper
article in the Gettysburg Times called the men and women
veterans, ordinary people who do extraordinary things.
There is an imaginary line drawn
in everyone's life that says, when something crosses it,
all of our adrenaline is mobilized at once and we are
willing to give everything to save or protect what is
loved. This is the ideal stewardship - to care for and
defend to the maximum - to lay down one's life for the
other. It is the example set by Jesus Christ to
demonstrate the love of God. And it is that example that
is reenacted by each of veterans.
Our soldiers and seamen make
that commitment when they put on that uniform and walk
out the door of their homes, saying farewell to family,
friends, and careers not knowing if they will return
again. And, for all those who have served and for those
who have given the ultimate sacrifice we give them honor
and owe them a debt of gratitude for our freedom and the
kind of lives we have today.
Sadly, war is the answer of last
resort, because war achieves a measure of peace only by
inflicting the loss of life, limb, property, and
personal treasures upon the offender. Yet through the
centuries, it seems inevitable. There seems to be a
natural order of human nature that dictates that any
given society will flourish independently only for a
short period of time and then slowly erodes until its
only course of action is aggression on another society
to solve its problems. Then war is the inevitable
But there is a companion army
that exists in this world today and its mission is to
infiltrate all societies at the deepest level. It is
trained to study and become fluent in their languages
and philosophies, be an influencing factor in the
development of their business ethics and moral codes, to
assist in education and participate in the proceedings
of law and government. It is called upon to develop
better ways to distribute goods and services so that no
citizen will go hungry or homeless or feel useless and
rejected. It is called upon to root out subversive
practices before they become a strong influence. This is
the preemptive strike force par-excellence that
accomplishes its mission without any shedding any blood
or economic resources. And senseless war is avoided.
This army is better known as the
church. It is the secret service of God and God is
calling you into active duty. Our world today can no
longer exist with anyone sitting in the reserve ranks.
It is calling you to mobilize all of the world's
resources, to become active in ways you have never tried
or thought you were capable of. God is asking us to be
the ideal steward - willing to give our lives to
preserve and protect not just our own lives but the life
of all creation.
Look into your hearts. Where
have we drawn the line in the sand? At our front door?
Around our church building? Around our town? Our county?
Our nation? God is asking us to extend that line to the
other side of the globe until it becomes a tiny dot on
the polar opposite of where we stand.
Our church building and this
congregation are merely the headquarters for the
mobilization force that moves outward from this spot
into our society and the world at large. As we read in
the scriptures this morning, we know what the future
holds until the day our Lord returns, but we have also
been given a vision of what the Kingdom is like and we
can begin living that kingdom now and extending it to
all we meet.
This is the season when we
develop the plan of action for the coming year,
rearrange our troops for peak performance, and allocate
the finances for smooth operation of our mission goals.
In the next couple Sundays you will have three
opportunities to influence that course of action. Vote
on the budget, vote on the candidates for council, and
fill out the time and talent sheet. For some reason,
these three tasks have become tedious chores instead of
joyous occasions to serve Jesus Christ.
Let me share with you a story.
At a church meeting, a very
wealthy man rose to tell the rest of those present about
his Christian faith. "I am a millionaire," he said, "and
I attribute it all to the rich blessings of God in my
life. I remember the turning point in my faith. I had
just earned my first dollar, and I went to a church
meeting that night. The speaker was a missionary who
told about his work. I knew that I only had a dollar
bill and had to either give it all to God's work or
nothing at all! So at that moment, I decided to give my
whole dollar - everything I had - to God. I believe that
God blessed that decision, and that is why I am a rich
He finished, and there was an
awed silence at his testimony as he moved toward his
seat. As he sat down, a little old lady sitting in the
same pew leaned over to him and said, "I dare you to do
Now, the reason I am telling you
this story, is not to get you to give the church all
your money… I am asking you to give all of yourself.
Many of us struggle to manage our own budgets and worry
if we are going to lose the home that keeps us warm and
the car that gets us to work. But all of us were gifted
with ideas and talents beyond measure. I believe God had
blessed that "millionaire" with the gift of knowing how
to multiply that next dollar he earned into business
ventures that not only provided him with a profit, but
thousands of others with jobs and a sustainable living.
And, in order to get tax breaks his companies no doubt
gave much away in charitable contributions. That
creative knowledge is what I am asking you to give to
The US military has strategic
technology that is light year's away from the consumer's
reach and always has been. What is on our store shelves
right now, the Army has had for years. Our Christian
army needs to keep pace with the changing needs and
progress of society if we are to be relevant and
effective. The church needs your motivation and your
creativity to reach the longing, hurting people of the
sermons by Pastor Joan