13 thoughts from the last week, from the mind of Pastor Greg…you have been warned.
Sunday was a beautiful day. It was brilliantly sunny, with a slight chill in the air. Just perfect. And it was beautiful inside the church as well. We continued on in our series “Finding Our Mission” by identifying our starting point: Beginning with prayer. We looked at how through prayer, as taught by Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:18: ‘…we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.’
So that is our goal in prayer; not to bend God’s will to our desires, but for us to become so in tune with God and his ways that we begin to see the world as God sees it. Then, and only then, can we begin to do the work set out before us, and begin to be a blessing to those we come in contact with. This is good stuff!!
Here’s what Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C., said regarding prayer, and the lack thereof, in his church:
Wow! I think the very first thing that comes to mind is we would get bored. Soren Kirkegaard said boredom is kind of the ultimate sin.
I don’t think you can live a Spirit-led life and be bored at the same time. So when you stop praying it takes the supernatural element out of what we’re doing and the church becomes a club.
There’s no conviction of the Holy Spirit, no miracles—then the church stops being a movement and becomes a museum to what God has done in the past.
If you want God to do something new, you can’t keep doing the same old thing. You have to do something different, and I think prayer is the difference between you fighting for God and God fighting for you.
So if we stop praying, we’re on our own and I don’t think we’re going to get very far.
When you start praying it begins to create some of that momentum you can’t manufacture—it’s God beginning to move (emphasis mine-Greg).
In honor of Martin Luther King, and his fierce and focused leadership…
King’s tour-de-force was his ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’; it is very long, but worth your time. I especially love the closing paragraphs…oh to have his vision and vocabulary! You can read it here.
I recently finished an interview/memoir/autobiography of Vaclav Havel, the former president of Czechoslovakia (Disturbing the Peace). I’m compiling my notes for a separate post, sharing leadership lessons learned in his book, especially as they pertain to the church.
What I continue to marvel at is how God uses the least and the last of us to lead change in our world. The faults and foibles of Dr. King and President Havel have been well-documented; what is important to remember is:
1.) We are ALL sinners saved by grace through faith, and
2.) We ALL have fallen short of the glory of God, and yet…
God uses us. No matter our shortcomings. No matter our humble beginnings. No matter what. God uses those who are open to his leading. We have been blessed. Who are we blessing?
I’m always frustrated by people who draw such deep and wide lines in the sand when discussing particular issues. Let me give you an example. I am not a gun lover. As a matter of fact, I am 48 years old and have never held a gun in my hands. Ever. Of any kind (excepting a few plastic guns when I was the sheriff of my street when I was 8). But I also respect the law of the land that guarantees the right to bear arms. I just choose not to bear arms. The frustration arises when my ‘patriotism’ is questioned; how can I be an American (more to the point, how can I be a God-fearing American, which attempts to categorize people politically) and not have a gun? goes the argument. My choice to not own a gun has nothing to do with my political or religious beliefs; I don’t like guns. They scare me, and I’ve never been so afraid that I felt I needed one for protection. It is that simple. Maybe you like guns. I don’t. And that’s okay. You probably don’t like brussels sprouts; I love them. But because I love brussels sprouts does not mean that I am a better person, or that I support the American farmer more passionately than you do. I just like brussels sprouts, and I don’t like guns.
I love looking through flower and seed catalogs. ‘Tis the season of the gardener’s hope. THIS is the year, I always say…and maybe it is! I’ll let you know!
The Patriots lost to the Ravens, but somehow I managed to carry on…With all due respect to Ray Lewis, I think he has been hit one (hundred) too many times in the head in his career. His after-game interviews and news conferences are becoming too painful to watch. He seems to be losing his grasp on reality. In all seriousness, the NFL is now finally beginning to see the results of long-term full-throttle head-to-head contact. And it isn’t pretty.
Off the Bookshelf: What I’m reading this week…The Professor and the Madman, by Simon Winchester. This is a fun one, right up my linguistic alley. It’s the story of the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. Does that sound exciting, or what?
The North American Mission Board of the SBC is gearing up for major church planting action in Boston. Yeah, weird. We think of mission work mainly as an overseas, Third World endeavor. But one of the largest unchurched people groups IN THE WORLD exists in the northeast corridor of America (from Baltimore to Boston). NAMB and its Send: Boston initiative needs your prayers, support, and involvement! Here’s a link to get you started. Boston is where I was born and raised, so I have to admit a pang of sadness (but not shock) and also jealousy (for those who are going to be called to lead churches in that area).
Bragging time. In the span of a couple hours earlier today, my oldest daughter came home to take her two youngest siblings (our only two kids still left at home) to the movies (The Life of Pi), and my middle daughter came home to engage in some stealth gift-buying and planning for another family member. I have some awesome kids.
Bragging time, part two. There is nothing more special to a pastor than to see members of the body being a blessing to one another. To watch mature believers ministering to the hurting in the midst…well, it just doesn’t get any better than that. God is so good, and has blessed our church abundantly. We also know that our work is not done, both individually and as a church body. But I can’t imagine going forward with any other group of faithful followers of Christ. We’re not perfect, but we’re okay with that. And acknowledging that is always a good first step…
From the twisted, brilliant mind of the late Shel Silverstein: