Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tough Acts To Follow

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us . . .
Acts 15:28

Those words were spoken by James -- Jesus' half brother. He was also an influential leader in the Jerusalem church. You probably know that he wrote the book of James.

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us . . .

What seemed good? The first Church Council's decision that non-Jewish believers did not have to follow the rites and rituals of the Law of Moses to be saved. In this instance nearly all the decision makers had grown up under the minutia of the Pharisaical law -- heaped upon the details of the Mosaic law. Yet, It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us . . .

The Spirit's desire to go against the grain of all we have grown used to and comfortable with should always be on the table for discussion. He is the One whose job is to lead Christ's church into a constantly changing world -- in order to change the people in it. There is only one way God's people can remain relevant -- the decision of it's leaders must always be driven by -- It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us . . .

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Pray Also For Me

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel . . . Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20

Paul knew how he should preach. But Paul also knew that he needed the prayers of other believers if he was to preach as he should. He believed there were times when the prayers of others would determine whether or not he would have the right words at the right moment. Twice, the apostle asked his friends to pray that he would be fearless rather than timid! Paul believed that prayer support could make the difference as to whether the mystery of the gospel would be made known or remain obscured.

I am not ashamed to say--like Paul--I crave prayer support. I recognize as never before how desperately I need the intercession of fellow Christ-followers. Without their prayers I may not identify, or have the courage to carry out God's purposes. Depending on people who pray is not the same as being dependent on people. Just as Paul voiced his need for the prayers of his friends, I, too, voice a deep, deep desire for the prayers of mine.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Before the Clock Strikes 12

(Due to problems with my site I was unable to post this until today)

It is 6 p.m. straight up as I begin this post. In 6 hours we cross the threshold of 2007. I took a four-mile walk this afternoon. As I strode along, I noticed that my pace would often synchronize with the tempo of Steven Curtis Chapman’s music from my iPod. It occurred to me how my hike reflected real life: a mixture of major and minor keys, sometimes cheerful and fast paced, sometimes a little melancholy and reflective. My favorite song is “The Great Adventure.” I have listened to it hundreds of times. It’s a song that vividly expresses the themes and adventure of walking with God. Whether life is cheerful and fast paced, or melancholy and reflective, I go to that song to get my life centered.

2006 has been an adventure. To be candid, it seems there were more valleys than usual. Often it felt like I descended into one ravine after another. There was a lot of heartbreak associated with being a pastor: seemingly endless funerals, tragic and senseless deaths, fractured relationships, problems that wouldn’t go away, misunderstandings, and many, many distractions. Looking back, I know that I spent a lot of time praying. Many of my prayers were desperate.

2006 affirmed the truth that the longer you walk with God—the harder it gets. Faith is deepened through trials and situations that God alone can resolve. Depth of relationship is always God’s desire for our lives. This year I have seen God allow pain and discomfort to linger, rather than bring relief. I have learned by observing the lives of others, and through personal experience, how desperately we need God’s grace.