Fast Food Faith

In the fall of 1986, I spent a few months working at Burger King. I was in college so my hours were evening and late night. I did washing and cleaning, manning a cash register and food preparation. The one thing I remember most about that experience is that the burgers go from completely frozen to completely cooked on the broiler in just a minute. Fast food, for sure.

The culture we have made, where we want to have everything done so quickly, has invaded our faith too. We want an emotional appeal that will transform our lives in an instant. We want to take our kids to one event that will get them “saved.” We want one good sermon to change the heart of that man who beats his wife. We want God to use one song to overcome the temptation we cannot seem to beat.

But a religion made of instant moments, like a diet of fast food hamburgers, will not produce health and well-being. Our faith is molded and sustained in the same way that physical health is: regular, healthy choices. An occasional fast food meal can fill you up and give you something useful. An occasional religious event can provide a spark of energy.

But it is will not sustain a life.

To be a Christian means to follow Jesus in His teachings and His will for our lives, day after day. It is not glamorous. It does not make a celebrity. It is walking by faith and living in righteousness each day. It is selfless service, fellowship in a community of Christians and dedicated prayer and study of the Scriptures.

As church folks, we are often guilty of promoting a fast food brand of Christianity. We want instant results. We want the excitement of a new flavor each month. We don’t want the hard and tedious work that is required to build something truly constructive and blessed. But with God’s help, all things are possible.

Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC

Advertisements

A Voter’s Guide

When I was in the 4th grade, I was elected class president. It didn’t take long for me to prove that I really wasn’t up to the job. I can hardly imagine that anyone wants to take a job in politics in America today. The elections are just a few weeks away. Most of us just can’t wait until those commercials are over.

There are a lot of people telling us whom we should vote for. Particularly if you are a Christian, you will have a lot of people telling you that certain candidates are the clear choice for Christians. I try to stay away from partisan politics as much as I can, but as a pastor, I do think that there are some guidelines I can suggest for how a Christian should approach the voting process.

Be involved. I do believe that Christians should vote and be involved in the political process. Electing officials is a complicated process. However, when we refuse to participate, we are allowing those who don’t share our values to dictate all of the choices. Find out as much as you can from reliable sources about the candidates in the election.

When choosing a candidate, character and intelligence should matter more than political party. I don’t think a Christian should be a slave to party politics. The complicated way that we do law-making means that no party or individual will do everything the way you think it should be done. A candidate who has integrity and intelligence will work to do the right thing not just the expedient thing.

Recognize that on most issues, there is no simple “Christian” position. Left-wing Christians tell us that we should be in favor of every program that supposedly “helps the poor,” and right-wing Christians want to support anything that puts God in public life. Many issues like these do not have clear answers. Honest Christians disagree about many political issues.

Insist on the truth. Be fanatic about it. It’s pretty clear watching only a few campaign ads that groups and candidates are willing to lie as part of the political game. It is a sin to lie, even if the lie helps your favorite candidate to get elected.

Pray for the candidates and the process. One specific command in scripture is to “pray for the king and those in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2). We should pray for our elected officials and for the whole political process.

These are just a few guidelines I believe that Christians should follow as they evaluate candidates and prepare to vote in the November election. May God guide us with His wisdom.

Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC

Pastor Appreciation

October is Pastor Appreciation Month. I don’t know when this tradition began. It is nice to hear and see people around the community talking about how they appreciate their pastor.

Having served at Rocky River Baptist Church for 18 years, I have felt a lot of appreciation and affirmation during that time. In many ways, our congregation has modeled the way a church should appreciate its pastor and his or her family. In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, I want to declare my appreciation for Rocky River Baptist Church and for all the churches that show proper appreciation to their pastors. I want to do that by mentioning some of the important ways that Rocky River has shown their appreciation to me over these years.

One important means of support and appreciation is simply to pay the pastor a decent wage. A church can only live within its means. You cannot pay a pastor beyond what you can afford, but if a church is stingy with its support of its pastor, you can be sure that it is not a church that God can bless. I can say this without worrying about how Rocky River members will take it. They have always supported us financially in a very generous way.

Another important means of support is to love the pastor’s family and respect family and leisure time for your pastor. Pastoral work is stressful when it is done well. A pastor may spend day after day dealing with nothing but problem people or crises in the lives of church members. A pastor is on call at any time. A church that does not respect and insist on times for family and times for refreshment in appropriate leisure is not supporting the pastor as it should.

Pay attention to the sermon and the pastor’s teaching. Most people would never be able to produce and deliver several meaningful and inspiring talks in one year, much less having to do it every week. Sometimes the sermon will be more meaningful to you than it is at other times. God has called your pastor to teach the scriptures to you for your growth. You don’t have to agree with everything your pastor says. But if you allow God’s Spirit to speak through your pastor, there will be some nugget for you to find.

Finally, seek to grow as a Christian and serve Christ through the church. Nothing encourages a pastor more than to see the church of Jesus becoming more mature and faithful. This is the greatest desire of our hearts.

I am so grateful to have served at a church where many people are doing these things on a regular basis. That makes me declare this as PASTOR APPRECIATES THE CHURCH DAY! Thank you, Rocky River Baptist Church, and all you churches that treat your pastor right! God will bless you!

Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC

Only by Prayer

Human beings have done some amazing things. The advances that have been made in science and technology have produced positive results for millions in terms of things such as better standards of living and improved health care. No doubt about it, human ability is something to celebrate.

But in human history, the scientific advances have always left questions unanswered and problems unsolved. We cannot do everything. For example, we may be able to recognize a righteous person, but we cannot create one.

In the gospel of Mark there is a story where Jesus arrives on the scene after a father asked His disciples to cast a demon out of his son. The disciples were unable to do it. Jesus promptly casts out the demon and when His disciples ask Him about it, He says, “This kind can come out only by prayer” (Mark 9:29).

Some problems are only surmountable on our knees. We cannot see it with our natural eyes, but there is a spiritual reality going on around us. God can take care of our demons. He wants us to acknowledge Him and ask Him for help. As John reminds us, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

We have become so accomplished that we often forget that some of our most pressing problems can only be handled by the God who invites us to go to Him in prayer. But if we go to Him, He can handle them. Often, it’s the only way.

Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC