Heritage Series: Strong and Courageous

Major League Baseball is about to take its All Star break pausing a few days to celebrate the best players in the game.  A starting roster of players from the two Leagues, selected by the vote of the fans, will take the field and carry on a tradition dating back to 1933.  The balance of the squads will be selected by the managers and coaches of the respective All-Star teams.  The National and American Leagues have each won 43 games with two ending in ties.  For baseball aficionados the “real” season begins after the All Star Break.  This year there are close races in all of the divisions with several teams vying for first place.  In the past this is where teams emerged from the pack and won Division, League and World Series titles.  Who will finish the “real” season strong and be among the elite teams in baseball lore?

In some ways, the Heritage Series is like the All-Star Break for GateWay.  We honor the foundations, the founders, and the faithful and celebrate what God has done.  In leading us through the Heritage series Pastor Ed reflects not only on how far we have come but also encourages us to boldly move forward.  Be strong and courageous, GateWay.  As we begin the next 150 years of ministry in Visalia (if the Lord allows and waits longer for His second coming) we too, like Joshua, stand ready to cross “this” Jordan and fulfill Christ’s calling to go and make disciples.  

The “real” season for us is not the past but what we do with today and the times ahead.  We opened our fiscal year last weekend with approving new leaders, affirming our budget and renewing our challenge to impact Visalia and beyond.  In our post-modern age it is not enough to have the best programs, facilities, music and teaching.  And even though our music and teaching from Ed is second to none in Visalia we must not succumb to the temptation to work for five stars on Yelp or any other rating site.   What we must strive for and succeed in is to make a Jesus-difference in the lives of our families, friends, co-workers, neighborhoods, and city not merely be the “best.”  Each one of us at GateWay must take up the modest goal of making a significant Jesus-difference in at least one person’s life over the course of the next twelve months.  As the body of Christ known as GateWay we must make a difference in Visalia and then to the ends of the Earth.

You may be asking, “How do I make a difference?”  As Ed stated, we have the vision that anyone who does not have a home church or does not know Jesus in Visalia will walk through our doors.  One way to make a difference is to invite unchurched people to GateWay.  In our town of nearly 140,000 people, approximately 20% of the population is in church on any given Sunday.  This statistically means we have over 100,000 potential people we can invite to church.  Another way is to join a small group this coming season and united we will make a difference in our community.  There are plenty of other ways both inside our church family and without.  Come to GateWay and see.

One thing I do know about making a difference – we will need to be strong and courageous; Strong because the forces of evil and indifference are mighty; Strong because it is so easy to seek and be comfortable; Strong because we must be one in the Spirit and not factionalized.  We will need courage because the pull of tradition is steady and creates closed hearts and minds when we need to welcome new people, new ways of reaching people and new life in our own hearts and relationships with Christ.  We must be courageous and step out and up from the foundation of 150 years of ministry in Visalia.  In a couple of weeks the Heritage Series will come to a close and the 2018 edition of the All-Star Game will have been completed.  Then the “real” season begins.

Shalom

P.S.  Last week in writing about Dr. Howard Clark’s presentation I typed Psalm 42 when I should have typed 46.  I sincerely apologize for any confusion or disrepute caused to Dr. Clark, GateWay Church and Pastor Ed.

Bill YoshimotoComment