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Fair and Balanced 

Eccles. 3:1

"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven."  (NASB) 

Last year the Woman's US Gymnastics' team captured the world championship in Anaheim California, but didn't fair so well in the first day of competition in the Olympic Games in Athens.  The Romanians edged them out in the standings.  Carly Patterson, one of the US gymnasts had a stellar day, leading in the all around competition. Things didn't go quite so well for Courtney McCool who had some problems on the balance beam and stumbled on her dismount.  Commenting on the problems, team captain Mohini Bhardwaj, said ``It's not a big deal. We still have another day of competition. Let's move on. She didn't make any mistakes. She just went aggressive.'' (

Sometimes being too aggressive can cause a person to lose balance in their lives.  In this case, she literally lost her balance on the balance beam, but other times, figuratively it can cause a person to get out of balance.

 How balanced is your life?  I know there have been times in my life when I've been terribly out of balance because I've gone too aggressive at something.  OK, to be totally honest, that last statement was a whopping understatement.

 Because I don't want to get too personal and share all my deep dark secrets, let me illustrate what I mean by telling you about a hobby or two I've picked up over the years. My first "adult" hobby was photography. I learned how to take pictures and develop them during a college course. I took the course with a borrowed camera and the school's darkroom equipment, but later, I decided I  needed my own stuff. Now I have several SLR cameras, all kinds of lenses,  two tripods a couple of digital cameras and of course my PDA takes pictures too. Until our last garage sale, I also had a full darkroom set-up.

 When we lived in Southern California, I took up golfing. Some men in the Church wanted me to play with them so they bought me some lessons at a local Country Club so I'd be good enough. I started with a cheap set of clubs, but graduated to a full set of Link's Irons, woods, and a nice leather bag. I even owned my own electric cart for a while until I traded it to a plumber as a barter for him hooking our house up to the sewer line to get it off of a septic system.

 Of course there was also the "woodworking" phase and the "Baseball Card collecting" period.  About the time I was working on my doctorate, my mother returned to me the baseball cards I'd collected as a kid.  Some of them were valuable.  I was under a lot of stress with my school work and my full-time pastorate, so I decided to get back into collecting cards.  I drug my family to card shows all over Southern California looking for cards of my favorite players.  I did make a wise choice to be a sentimental collector instead of trying to buy cards we couldn't afford, so we didn't spend a ton of money, but we did invest an extreme amount of time in it.

 I  am fully equipped to go fishing on the Ocean, a lake or a mountain stream.  We have an old wooden boat in our garage that I've sunk once, remade several times and have only launched it on a body of water a half-dozen times in the past 5 years.

 If you asked me what my hobby is, I'd have to be honest and say, collecting hobbies.  I have a bit of perspective on these things now, because almost all of this collecting of hobbies took place ten to twenty years ago.  As I reflect on that behavior now, I think it showed that like Courtney McCool I "went aggressive" and lost my balance.  Our text today says, "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven." (Eccles. 3:1 NASB) One key to living life the way God intends us to live it is to do things in their appointed time.  There is a need for us to have balance in our lives in all things even the five purposes God has for us to fulfill.

 We must experience worship, both corporate and private, to fulfill God's will for our lives.  Worship gives us the spiritual energy we need to be able to serve God.  It also keeps us grounded and reminds us that we are living our life for an audience of one and that life really is about pleasing God, not pouring out our souls on temporal pleasures.  Don't neglect worshiping with the people of your church.  Don't let other priorities in your life trump your commitment to your church family.

 But our worship is balanced with the other purposes in our lives, including fellowship.  We fellowship with one another during good times and bad.  We've learned that fellowship isn't so much about eating cookies and drinking punch, but it is about rubbing souls with one another.  This may mean sharing a meal together.  We often open our home up to other believers for a time of fellowship so we can connect with God's people.  But fellowship means more than sharing a meal or an activity.  Real fellowship at its core involves crawling inside of one another's skin learning to understand one another.

 Worship and fellowship draws us closer to God and one another and discipleship helps make us more like Jesus the third purpose of our lives.  This often involves spiritual exercises, discipline, hard work and sacrifice.  It is in balance with worship, fellowship and the other two purposes for our lives: ministry and missions.  In one sense, the first three purposes prepare us for the last two.  But in another sense the last two are mediums for the first three.

 Dr. Warren draws the distinction between ministry and mission by saying one is what you do in the church body and one is what you do outside of the body.  He believes that everyone should have a ministry in the church and be involved in mission work outside of the church.  Here's where the balance we've been talking about is so important.  To be able to do mission work, the church must have a strong base.  In other words, if everyone in the church spent all their time doing missions as their form of service to the Lord, the church would be so weakened that it would implode.  This last week we read about being shaped for ministry.  Are you involved in ministry at your church?  If not, we want to help you get involved because we believe it will not only help keep our church strong and functioning, but it will also help you to grow in Christ.

 I would suspect that more church people are involved in ministry than in missions.  To remain balanced, just as everyone needs a ministry, everyone also needs a mission.  We have several organized mission opportunities at our church.  We do mission projects almost every year where members are invited to do "hands on mission work" on a short-term basis.  We also have ongoing missions work.  We launched a Spanish Mission last year, trying to proclaim the gospel to residents of the Peninsula who speak Spanish. In the first year of existence, we've baptized four people.  Unfortunately, the first family we reached went back to Mexico, but we're trying to reach more.  Many of our members work with another church in our area so our community can have an AWANA program.  Instead of having two weak programs that were in competition with each other, several years ago we decided to send our workers to join with another church in the area.  I spoke to the pastor of that church last week and he said the program is growing every year.  In the place of AWANA, we have TeamKid here when Encounter is in session.  One of the reasons we like this program is because it has a mission component to it and teaches our children the importance of being on mission. 

 We also have several outreaches to the underprivileged.  On Saturdays we feed the homeless, both physically and spiritually.  Every Tuesday we give food to 15-20 needy families, and once a month we host I-Help, a interdenominational program that helps homeless men get back on their feet.  Again, we do more than give them food, our men also come down and provide a program for them. 

 All of these mission efforts can use your help.  But maybe what God is leading you to do is to have a "family mission project." One of our families recently opened up their home for a backyard bible club so that we could proclaim the gospel to their neighbors.  This family mission project resulted in drawing around 20 kids to the study.  We pray that more families will do the same during the Fall break.  Another one of our families opens up their home every Tuesday night to provide a meal and a Christian environment for single young adults who attend colleges in the area.  Another new mission one of our members began was to pass out a list of "good stuff" she's found in the area, and of course, Lighthouse Baptist Church is on the top of the list.  Several families have found our church through that personal mission. Last Sunday one of those families joined the church.

 If you are going to live a balanced Christian life, you will need to also fulfill the fifth purpose for your life what we'll be reading this next week missions.  Being on mission is a necessary component to changing the world, and living a balanced Christian life.

Impact Preaching: A Case for the
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