Thursday, October 2, 2014

Latte Salute; Scottie Salute; Sermon Salute

Thursday, October 2, 2014
 “O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?” asks the Lord.  “For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight.  I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces—to slaughter you with my words, with judgments as inescapable as light.  I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. 
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.      Hosea 6:4-6 (NLT)
Last week President Obama set off an Internet viral storm with his salute to the Marine Officers, holding a Styrofoam coffee cup in his saluting hand.  Of course the critics weighed-in, dubbing it Latte-Gate.  Then, of course, somebody dug up President “Bush’s” Scottie Salute, as he held his pet dog. 

So…was it insolence, indifference or just plain goofiness?  I won’t add my opinion to that fire, but I do want to talk about the Sermon Salute.

Hosea’s life could not have been comfortable.  He delivered his sermon to the religious/political leaders of Israel (that’s like me preaching to the Bishop’s cabinet).  It’s a safe bet there were few nice sermon, Preacher comments at the door that day.

What provoked this sermon was that God viewed it as offensive that His people were showing up, but their hearts were nowhere to be found.  Thousands of burnt animals on an altar cannot take the place of a heart on fire for God.  God’s mercies and grace were new every morning, like dew on the grass.  But the nation’s gratitude and love were asleep in the pews.

So, what constitutes a heart on fire?
·        Is it a hearty “AMEN” during the sermon?
·        Is it never missing a Sunday worship service or Bible Study?
·        Is it doubling your tithe?  Singing in the choir (loudly)?
·        Is it preaching, teaching, and keeping the church’s records?
Maybe not.

It all depends on WHY you do what you do.

I’ve known preachers who presented sermons they found on the Internet, or in a book, as if every word was their own.  Was that a heart on fire for God?

I once knew a church and community mover and shaker who annually matched the church’s children’s home offering so he could personally hand-deliver it to the board of directors.  It didn’t hurt when it came time to ask for something.  Was that a heart on fire for God?

One man used to clip his nails (loudly) every Sunday as I preached.  He seemed to be able to keep in rhythm with the sermon points.  As I would get to the end of every other sentence, he’d holler out AMEN, punctuated by another “snip”!  All through the sermon it would be AMEN – snip; AMEN – snip!  Was THAT a heart on fire for God?

Well….was it?  Any of them?

You know where I’m going with this; I can’t tell you if a person’s heart is on fire for God, because I’m not equipped to judge the motives of someone else.  But the actions of others are like a red flag that makes you wonder what’s driving the things people do.

And neither are you.

The best we can do is as Apostle Paul warned; we should examine our own heart’s motives and see what is found wanting. 

And while you’re examining, be ready to move heaven and earth to rearrange your thoughts, words and deeds – your whole life if necessary – to agree with what God declares in His Word.

And then participate in Christ’s death and resurrection with a heart ablaze with love for the God whose heart is on fire for you.

For You, Today

World Communion Day this Sunday – Bring the matches!

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