The Power of A Single Welcoming Word

My oldest brother, Rick Cunningham, received a letter in the mail the other day. It was from a friend who had once been a member of the church where Rick had served as minister.  This lady was now a member of a church in another Texas town, several hundred miles away.   In the letter she wrote this:

“Yesterday, our minister, John Knox, was telling about his baptism at Sunset in Lubbock, TX when he was 20 years old.  He was a student at Lubbock Christian University after flunking out of Texas Tech.  He had   never darkened the door of a church building until he met his LCU friends.  At some time in there, he had a girlfriend who was also a student at LCU, who lead him to Christ.  Anyway, when he was baptized, he came up out of the water, up the stairs to re-dress, and he was met by an older man with a towel who simply said ‘Welcome.’  John went on to say how much that one word meant to him then, and how it stayed with him through the years.  He said he had kept it in his heart to this very day.  He related instances of seeing this man, many times over the years, whenever he visited someone in a Lubbock Hospital… there this man was visiting people nearly every time.  John said that, because he had so many connections in Lubbock, he always checked the Lubbock obituaries.  There, he said, in last week’s obituary, was the name Joe Cunningham, the man who was first to welcome him into the Kingdom, and whose welcome had touched his heart for all these years.” 

Of course, this kind of witness to my dad’s life does not surprise my brothers or me.  This is the kind of man Pop was.  But I wanted to relay this story here to simply remind us of the power of a single word when it is uttered by someone whose heart is filled with love and welcome.  We  never know how un-welcome people feel around us, so when they are confronted by someone who is genuine in their welcome, it can have a powerful and lasting impact.  Pop likely never knew this story even though he was the central character.  And you may never know how your words of welcome impact someone else…. But that person knows.  And it may have a lasting impact on how they feel about life.  And, after all, isn’t this exactly how we think Jesus welcomes us into His Kingdom?  “Well done, good and faithful servant…. Come on into the joy of your Master.”

(The following is an article by Ray Fuson that challenges us on our spiritual walk with God during 2018. I hope you enjoy it).

It's a new year–did we grow personally in 2017, and how will we pursue 2018? Genesis 1:26 says, "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness..." Romans 8:29 says, "To be conformed to the image of His Son, the first-born of many brethren." First, let's understand that Romans 8 explores in depth the work of God. Moving a Christian from the carnal nature to the spiritual nature is the work of the Holy Spirit in a process the Bible calls "sanctification." It is important that we understand that the work of the Spirit is a life-long process com­pleted only at the Resurrection.

Question–Can the Christian reflect Christ's image perfectly all the time? I don't believe we can in this life. If we could, we would not have to fight this spiritu­al battle each of us fight every day. Instead, I believe that there are moments when Christ is more evident than others–and then there are other moments when self and the flesh get in the way.

Sometimes, we may reflect and see a milestone of growth in our walk with God; but more often it is the little steps–little ditto marks that point the way. For­tunately, the blood of Christ makes up the difference.

The litmus test for us is found in Galatians 5:22-23 which says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-Control ..." Can we truly say that we continually express agape, or storge (family love), or even phileo (friendship love)? Of course not! Is it joy (the glad expectation of God's deliverance), or is it our own happiness we seek? Is it peace (the calm assurance of God in control), or the world's peace (the cessation of conflict)? Is it patience or is it our hurry–our "want it now"–that drives us to reach our destination?

The Bible says in 1 John 4:8, "God is Love". How much of God is love? All of Him and all of Him is joy, peace, patience, etc. I think we need to return to the burning bush on the mountain of God, take off our shoes because we are on holy ground, and hear God say, "I AM is My Name!"

When we bring that into the context of Galatians 5:22–I AM  Love, I AM Joy, I AM Peace, and I AM Patience–we get the whole complete sense of who I AM is and our relationship to Him. Our walk with Him becomes more than just a stroll. He can take our little steps, our ditto marks and keep drawing us to Him; making and conforming us to His image. Not an easy task–rather it is His love and His pa­tience allowing us to take missteps like a parent with a child, guiding us the whole way.

May "I AM" strengthen us to do His will and may we continue to grow in the nurturing love of His Son this coming year!

 

(If you were blessed by his thoughts like I was, please tell Ray "thank you.")