No, I am not talking about a bank … that would be Fifth Third – whatever that means. And I am not even talking about first-time experiences for me. I am talking about five different individuals who all reached out to STL for the first time this past week! How exciting – and, since they reached out in three different ways, we probably could add a third to this fifth!
Two of them showed up for worship on Sunday morning after one contacted us to ask a few questions. I had a nice conversation with them, received their phone numbers and names, and have initiated follow-up contacts. It was also my impression that others in worship interacted with them as well. Now I need all of you to pray for “K and J” that they return …
Two others worshipped with us on-line and commented that it was their “first time” doing so. I Private Messaged them both and received a return phone call from one. She was referred to us by a member of our on-line family who winters in Florida. Since she (“L”) lives more than 30 miles away, I pray she becomes an on-line regular … and that we are able to further assist “K” (first-timer #2 who lives in Eastpointe) in becoming “connected to Jesus and to the STL family” … which just happens to be the STL mission statement!
And then there is #5 … “R”. I am not sure how this conversation began. He has yet to join us for worship, but we have met and been in communication in a variety of ways. His questions are challenging – as is his life situation. But God in Christ is definitely @ work, and I am praying with curiosity about what he will do next.
If you have ever wondered if God is still @ work, growing his kingdom in this world TODAY, I suggest you keep reading.
I will be retiring in about 5 weeks, but before I do, there is a good chance that I will be involved in 5 baptisms. Two are teens. One is an infant. The other two come somewhere in-between. This is a doubling action of the Five Firsts … where, rather than reaching out to STL for the first time, they will be receiving the eternal seal of being children of God, members of the body of Christ, and heirs of eternal life.
And then there is this little thing happening on February 12. It looks like somewhere between six and twelve (or more) individuals will be placing themselves under STL’s umbrella of spiritual care and becoming members of our Mission Team. If the number gets up to 15 – which it could – we would complete the triplet with a three times “five firsts”.
And should you think that God in Christ may be slowing down, there are five others who are first in line to be in the next group.
In a recent home visit, someone made a comment that I have heard many times over the years. “I would not want to be raising young children in this world.” My counter, which I believe is supported by the above paragraphs, is that I believe the stage is being set for a great awakening.
Here is another list of five: war … inflation … sickness … fear … violence. How about we add a second five to these: pride … lust … hatred … prejudice … shame. Perhaps we could even add a third fifth: abandonment … lying … slander … bullying … despair. What all of these three fives have in common is that none of them are firsts. They have all been around nearly forever … and will continue to be for nearly forever.
The important word here is “nearly.” You see, they all entered our world at the same time … in Genesis 3. And they all will be eliminated from our lives as we enter into the new creation when Christ returns. This will be the “Final First”.
Until then we can be sure of two things. One is that this last list of three fives will always be around. And the second one is that God in Christ will be @ work rescuing, saving, and sealing individuals into his eternal kingdom. I think this may well be what Christ was talking about when he said, “Behold the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16.32-33)
And rest assured, this means that there will be many, many more “five firsts” like I experienced this week … and that God is not done with K, or J, or L, or K-2, or R … or YOU!