Life is Precious to the Lord

Exodus 1:16-17

Central Theme:  If life is precious to the Lord, then life should be precious to us also.

 

Introduction—I asked a young mother who was a volunteer to bring up her baby.  I asked her to tell about feeling him before he was born.  Was he alive?  Was he a child before he was born?  Was he a baby right after he was born?

       5.     Have a member read Exodus 1:16-17.

 

       I.     Tell the story of Moses as a baby.

              A. God’s people had respect for human life.

              B. They would not kill the little babies.

 

      II.     No matter who tells you different, you must have respect of life.

 

              A. God wants us to respect life, even our own lives.

              B. We are sometimes encouraged to do dangerous things.

              C. I had a good friend who was encouraged to go out to the bars and drink and even get drunk.

              D. She became an alcoholic.

              E.  She is now a very sick person.  If you had known her years ago, you wouldn’t recognize her now.

              F.  She listened to other people; she did not have respect for her own body.

              G. God made each of us and we should have great respect for everyone.  We should start with respecting our own bodies.

 

      II.     Each of us should respect human live.

              A.  Not just little babies but each other.

              B. We show respect for life by living clean and good lives.

 

Conclusion–God‘s people did not want to kill the babies.  They respected and wanted to save lives.  We should show respect for life also.  We should start with respecting our own lives.

Yesterday was one of those busy, busy Special Gathering days.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  We function much like a community-wide youth group, a lot like Young Life.  Our purpose is evangelizing and discipling people who are developmentally disabled. 

We like to say that socially our members are kind of stuck in junior high, without the attitude.  Which means that we get to do a lot of fun things that junior highs enjoy doing.  This also means that we get to go to a lot of parties.

Yesterday, after Melbourne Special Gathering there was a huge county-wide Christmas party given by the Brevard County Recreation Department.  It was held on Merritt Island in the central part of the county.  Melbourne is in south county. 

Years ago, we learned that if we wanted a decent attendance on the day of Country Christmas, then after church, we needed to provide transportation to the Rec Dept bus that took everyone to Merritt Island.  Therefore, after our Special Gathering program, I drove some of our members to the bus pick-up spot. 

Because the bus didn’t leave until 1:30pm, lunches were needed but one member didn’t bring his lunch.  On the way to the bus pick up, we did a fast-food drive-thru run to get his lunch.  We got to the bus spot and found a picnic table.  As everyone was eating, I noticed that Carlos, one of our higher functioning members, wasn’t eating.  “Where’s your lunch?”

“I don’t have one,” Carlos said, grinning amiably from ear to ear.

“Why didn’t you say something when we went through the drive-thru,”

“You didn’t ask me,” Carlos said, still smiling.

“That’s because you had a lunch box.  I asked you if you had your lunch, didn’t I?”

“No.  You asked if I had my lunch box.  I have my lunch box.  I don’t have a lunch.”  His smile had faded somewhat as he realized the depth of my confusion.

The others hurried to finish their sandwiches and apple sauce.  We piled back into the van, found the nearest restaurant to get Carlo a lunch.   We got back to the pick-up spot with time to spare.

I then left for lunch.  I was to meet a family with a child who has been diagnosed within the autism spectrum.  After church, my husband had invited them to lunch with us.  I was now about 45 minutes later than he thought I would be.  Nevertheless, we had a jolly time, laughing and sharing during our meal.

I dashed home to help my husband get his wheelchair out of his car and then I went to Country Christmas.  The party was in full swing by the time I arrived.  Santa was jolly.  The band was superb.  The college corral who entertained us was amazing.  Our members were happy, dancing and joking with each other.

I left that party to go to Vero where an annual Christmas splash given by the Aktion Club was to begin at 6pm.  This is a formal dinner/dance that rivals County Christmas in it’s importance to our Indian River County members.  On the way, I called a volunteer who had come to Special Gathering even though she was violently ill.

“I plan on going to the hospital after this,”  she had confessed to me after our worship.  “I don’t want to go into the Christmas holidays with a sinus infection.”

However, she told me that after SpG, she had taken an over the counter medication and was much better.  “What are you doing?” she asked me. “After this long day, you must be heading home.” 

“I’m heading to Vero for the Snowflake Ball that the Aktion Club gives every year.”

“You are going to have so many crowns and so many stars in your crowns when you get to heaven,”  she said.

“No,” I laughed.  “You don’t get stars or extra crowns for partying.”  We both shared the moment with laughter.

Actually, there isn’t much that I do in my position as area director of Special Gathering  that isn’t just plain fun.  I really don’t expect to get any crowns for having decades of laughter and amusement. 

If our heavenly stars are wonderful memories of people who work hard to please, then I’ll have tons of them.  If our stars are sharing eternity with amazing people, like Carlos who are extremely careful to answer each question precisely correct, then I’ll have more than my share.  If our crowns come in the form of smiles shared and warm joy eaten with a cold dish of ice cream, then that will be enough.

As I get older, I find that words and actions are the important things of life.  Joy and delight in each other sharing God’s amazing grace makes our time worth while.  What are some of the things that you find are valuable in your life?  Who are the people God has put into your life who bring you extra joy with their care and concern for others?

There are a group of pastors who minister in rural Florida who have become my friends over the years.  We meet each week for prayer and fellowship.  As program leader of The Special Gathering which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community, I occasionally feel like a fifth wheel in pastor’s groups.  However, from the beginning, this group of pastors was different.  For one thing, they meet every week.  It’s a prayer/fellowship group where the men and women are free to share their concerns and problems. 

It is an interesting group.  There is a former boy evangelist who grew up in the pulpit preaching, leading praise and worship and seeking God.  He is now a respected pastor who has pioneered two churches in the area.  There are four or five Pentecostal pastors and their best friend is a fundamental Baptist.   The Lutheran pastor who left the area two years ago but keeps in contact through e-mail and phone calls is another female.  The Episcopal priest is a renegade even in conservative Florida Dioceses.  Two of the men are youth pastors who are not yet 25.  

One young pastor in our group is finishing up his thesis for his doctorate.  One of the pastors has been so successful that he regularly teaches in a large Christian university in Central Florida, even though he has no college education.   There is a former magazine editor and a former Wal-Mart employee.  Four or five of the men own motorcycles; most of them drive a truck.  Though one of the trucks is a Cadillac Escalade.  A former strong man evangelist –known to fold frying pans, rip phone books and break layers of bricks–rounds out the group. 

I’m the oldest person in the conclave.  They have shown great respect for me and affectionately call me “one of the guys.” They listened to me whine for more than five years regarding a problem that was greatly effecting my personal life.  Because they were mostly a group of men, they expected me to get to be bottom line quickly and to bring my concerns to a speedy conclusion. 

This has been the best counsel and the most compassionate stern advice I’ve ever received.  They let me whine for about four minutes; then gently ask,  “And what can we pray about?”  There is much more that I could say about these supportive, wonderful pastors; but the best thing that I can say on this Thanksgiving Day is “Thank you for being my friends and letting me be ‘one of the guys.'”