In Debt

I had only been a pastor for a very short time in southwest Virginia. Our congregation was meeting in a 24’ x 36’ cinderblock building, painted on the inside and outside. No air-conditioning. No classrooms. No restrooms---had to have good kidneys to attend our church. The monthly mortgage was $87.43. We finally convinced a bank to trust us with a new mortgage of $7,500, which would pay off the remaining debt and give us a little money to open restrooms, paint and fix up the ugly old building if we did all the work ourselves.

The new mortgage would be $84.01, which would be $3.42 cents less than the previous monthly payment. We held a congregational meeting. One of the men present---maybe there were four men total---stood up and said: "I am against borrowing 'cause the Bible says: 'Don't owe no man nothing'."

Probably not more than 25 people were present. The body had the wisdom to reject the negativism. We did remodel. Later we added classrooms. Later we bought land and built a new sanctuary with classrooms in a premier part of the town across from the only golf course in the area.

Debt? I owe.

I owe my parents. Laila's parents. School teachers. Professors. Friends. Children. Laila. GOD!

I am so in debt that mornings I wake up thinking how to PAY! Days are not long enough, and I will not have enough years to pay my DEBT!

The Apostle Paul mused that if he had anything to glory in it would be the CROSS of Jesus! His whole life was wrapped around a debt to Jesus.

At Covenant we are a people in debt. Bought and purchased by the blood of Jesus who died on a cross, we live to bring honor and glory to our God. All we are and ever hope to be as a congregation is to serve in the courts of our Lord. The surrender of ourselves, our possessions and our lives in worship is not sacrifice but worship. To come before Our God as servants is the highest honor.

We celebrate the goodness of the Lord. Can we forget Rose Williams in a wheelchair, who lives alone, who rides a public bus to schools, colleges and special events to teach students, read her poetry and testify with a joyful heart?

Do we forget Jesse Clowater? Accident. Brain injury. Not supposed to live, but did. Not supposed to walk. Coming to church in a wheelchair until one day he asked his mother to stop the wheelchair as they entered the sanctuary. It seemed forever until he stood and using a walking stick wobbled down the aisle. Now even the walking stick is NO LONGER NEEDED!.

Do we forget Kenny Brown who has lived 57 years in a wheelchair? One Sunday morning, he prayed: "God, turn my feet toward the cross." God started a healing process in his crooked feet. His feet have now straightened enough for him to stand on them!. For the first time in 57 years he got out of our wheelchair and into his bed by himself. His body had been bent low, with his head toward his knees. He can now sit up straight and lift his hands toward heaven in praise for the first time in his life!

Start counting the miracles. Keep on counting. Addicts brought to Jesus and delivered. Marriages healed. Missionaries sent. Babies not aborted. People from prison to ministry. Untold numbers redeemed from sin to citizenship in heaven. Keep on counting.

This Sunday we will celebrate. We will honor our God. We will enter with praises. We will sing. Rejoice.

This Sunday we will have prayer and anoint with oil. Pastoral staff, ministers and Elders will receive those who wish to be anointed with oil after the sermon about the meaning and significance of anointing oil.

Debt. We will die with debt. But until we die we have the opportunity to offer ourselves as living sacrifices in gratitude for our redemption by Jesus Christ. We have the privilege to express appreciation to others for their kind investment in our lives. We have responsibility of duty that justly commends the efforts of those who came before us to give us opportunity. We have the incredible task of living to prepare for our children and others who will follow after.


In His Service, Pastor Bare

Colossians 2:13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.