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Pastor Rudy Sheptock

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Imagine you were tasked with running a factory that made kazoos. By what standards would your factory's success be measured?  

The employees might be the busiest, hardest-working crew on the block, but we don’t judge success by utter exhaustion. The factory may be all the rage because the building is shaped in the form of a giant kazoo, but all the bells and whistles of its place of business don’t justify a positive rating. The factory's manual may also be second to none in precision, details and lofty work goals, but this, alone, won’t make the observers sing its praises.  

A kazoo factory should be making quality kazoos being purchased and played for all to hear. 

What is a church's purpose? Is it to be a secret society of tight-knit cliques hiding from the world’s influence so they may speak an insider language and carry their big Bibles that might be building more muscles in their arms rather than changing hearts? 

Did you know that in Scripture, a synagogue, temple, chapel, tabernacle, building or other meeting place was never called a church? The church is something we need to be, and not so much a place we need to go. 

Ken Davis, a well-known comedian in Christian circles, told a classic yarn the other day on his daily Lift FM radio show about four houses of worship in a small Texas town. They included the Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist and Catholic churches.  

Each location was overrun with pesky squirrels causing great damage to the property.  

The Presbyterian church called a meeting to decide what to do about the squirrels. After much prayer and deliberation, they determined the squirrels were predestined to be there, and they shouldn't interfere with God's divine will and sovereignty.  

At the Baptist church, the squirrels made themselves a nuisance in the kitchen and surrounding fellowship hall. The deacons met and decided to round them up and serve them at their next pot luck supper, as the main course.  

The Methodist church got together and decided they were not in a position to harm God's creations, therefor they humanely trapped the squirrels and freed them a few miles outside of town.  

Three days later, the squirrels returned, but it looks like the Catholic church came up with the best, most effective solution.  

They chose to baptize the squirrels and register them as official members of the church. Now, they only see them on Christmas and Easter.  

This parable is both funny and sad at the same time because if you were passionate about someone and something, would you be content to just check in twice a year whether you needed it or not? 

What is a Christian's mission? Is it to ensure that said believer is doing enough noble deeds to outweigh not-so-upright behavior? Can you God's assignment to His disciples and be satisfied to relegate it to the back burner?  

Christians were called to be active, learning, living followers of Jesus. Our eyes are not to be preoccupied with anything less than focusing on the One who ultimately fuels and fulfills our faith. How can you follow Jesus if you don’t know Him enough to even discern the direction He wants you to travel? 

Christ's church is a body, family, and living organism made of humans. We have been commissioned by Jesus to go into the world and not be satisfied to bunker down in a posh and perfect facility. 

God has equipped us for an adventure that is nothing less than outright incredible. The humbling yet motivating truth is that God has chosen to carry out His kingdom's eternal work through us, His church. The angels would have completed the assignment in half an hour, and we’ve been at it now over 2,000 years, but more often than not, it’s because we allow ourselves to get distracted by the presence of the squirrels and miss the Holy Spirit's true power. 

I am beginning a new weekend series, studying the letter from Paul to the Corinthians for the church to soar triumphantly, as God designed us to do. We need to be properly aligned, so the engine of the Spirit can empower the Body of Christ to drive alive and well.  

I am calling the journey “God’s Body Shop.” Jesus is our Divine Mechanic, and we need to allow Him to pop the hood so we can become the ideal working vehicle, taking the great news to the surrounding crowds and not waiting for our audience to come to us. 

My goal is that we reach people from where they are and take them to where God wants us to go eternally. We were not made to look great in the showroom, but are supposed to take this show on the road. While we will forever be anchored to the Bible's truths, our methods must adapt to reach people where they are. 

I want to close with a classic story that circulated during his last season as head coach of the Green Bay Packers. Certainly, those who worked for and around him knew the game of football, but on this day, Vince Lombardi faced a difficult challenge: where to begin after yesterday’s humiliating defeat.  

There was little he could say to his team that hadn’t already been said. There were few aspects of the game they had not practiced and analyzed extensively.  

The men were professionals. They knew their performance on the field was atrocious. They knew their performance bore no resemblance to their game plan. They were angry, frustrated and disappointed, to say the least. In his remarkable manner, Lombardi met the challenge head-on. 

Picking up the familiar oblong, leather ball, he went directly to the heart of the matter. Deliberately, he brought everyone’s attention back to the basics, with five simple words - “Men, this is a football.” One of his players, who understood exactly how much they needed to review the essentials, spoke up. “Hold on, coach, you’re going too fast,” he said. 

The challenge before us today is similar to Lombardi’s.  

In the church today, there are few matters we haven’t studied and discussed extensively. There is little to be said that will not sound familiar, and yet, there is much room for growth in effectively carrying out Christ's mission.  

Just as Lombardi began that day by forcing his men to look at the game's fundamentals, we begin by examining the purpose that lies at the heart of everything we do. We begin by lifting our “football”—our purpose—and reviewing exactly why we are here so that we can be transformed into the Body of Christ we are supposed to be. 

ED. NOTE: The author is the senior pastor of The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South, Court House. 

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