Archive for April, 2013

Small Enough

Posted: April 29, 2013 in Faith

Over the past year God has really been teaching me lessons about trusting Him to be my peace in the midst of turmoil. This song, “Small Enough” by Nichole Nordeman really speaks to me at this time.

Small Enough – Nichole Nordeman
Oh great God
Be small enough
To hear me now
There were times when I was crying
From the dark of Daniel’s den
I had asked you once or twice
If you would part the sea again
Tonight I do not need a
Fiery pillar in the sky
Just want to know you’re gonna
Hold me if I start to cry

Oh great God
Be small enough to hear me now
Oh great God
Be close enough to feel you now
(Oh great god be close to me)
There have been moments when I could not face
Goliath on my own
And how could I forget we marched
Around our share of Jerichos
But I will not be setting out
A fleece for you tonight
Just want to know that everything will be alright
Oh great god be close enough to feel me now

All praise and all the honor be
To the God of ancient mysteries
Whose every sign and wonder
Turn the pages of our history
But tonight my heart is heavy
And I cannot keep from whispering this prayer
Are you there?

And I know you could leave writing
On the wall that’s just for me
Or send wisdom while I’m sleeping
Like in Solomon’s sweet dreams
But I don’t need the strength of Sampson
Or a chariot in the end
Just wanna know that you still know how many
Hairs are on my head
Oh great God (Are you small enough)
Be small enough to hear
Me now

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Forty-Five Minutes Alone with God

Posted: April 29, 2013 in Faith

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The weather is getting warmer. Snow is finally melted. Yesterday it reached 88 F. Today should be equally warm. I took the opportunity to ride the motorcycle in to work. I live about forty-five minutes from the office. That’s a pretty long stretch with nothing but wind and road noise to listen to. It’s typical for these rides to turn into conversations with God. For some reason I’m able to really pour out my heart to God while on two wheels in a way that I can’t normally.

Today’s prayer was about direction, vision, etc. It would not quite be accurate to say that I was at a crossroads. It’s more like a traffic circle with about six or seven outlets. I feel like I’m going in circles and starting to get dizzy…and a little discouraged (some days more than others).

This verse greeted me when I powered up my computer:

Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
— Psalm 27:14

It may not provide the direction I was looking for, but it does encourage that God is listening, has heard, and hasn’t forgotten me. He has a plan and will let me know when to exist the traffic circle. For now, I am encouraged. I’ll probably need another assurance in a few hours (a few days at most), but for now, I am encouraged.

Revitalization & Reformation

Posted: April 26, 2013 in Church

With all I say on the topics of mission, outreach and church planting, and as critical as I tend to be about existing churches, some might conclude that I don’t care for the established church. More so, that I am apathetic at best (or even antagonistic) toward the revitalization of dying churches. This would be an inaccurate understanding of my stance on the matter.

The various letters of Paul paint a beautiful picture of the church being the body of Christ. Individual churches are the local manifestation of that body. Scripture also calls the church the bride of Christ. Jesus sacrificed himself, shedding his blood, for the church. These tell us that Christ himself loves and is passionate about the church. To have the mind of Christ (or to strive to have such) means that we too must care about the church…both the newly born as well as the aged.

Church planting is all the rage now. That’s a good thing. We need to be plowing forward, establishing fresh beach-heads in the continual war for men’s souls. Starting new churches is a must. But, we also must not forget about our aging veterans either. Church planting is easier than revitalization. It’s often easier to build a new house from scratch than to renovate a dilapidated one. That does not, however, mean it’s not worth the effort. There are better analogies though. If the church is the bride of Christ, then simply allowing a church to die is similar to allowing a marriage to crumble through inaction. If it’s the body, then allowing a church to close without doing everything in one’s power to reform is akin to allowing a person to die because the operation would be complex and expensive with no guarantee of recovery.

Ultimately the work of reviving a dying church belongs to the Holy Spirit. We are called to go and make disciples, baptizing and teaching them all that Christ commanded. We are called to plant and water, but it is God who causes increase. This is true in mission work as well as church revival.

Be faithful to the word of God. Be available to be the Spirit’s tool. Be willing to roll up your sleeves and get dirty.

Introvert Extrovert

Posted: April 25, 2013 in Church, Life

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People are often surprised, as they get to know me better, to discover that I am an introvert. This surprise stems from a misunderstanding of what makes a person an introvert vs. an extrovert. I tend to be high energy, outspoken, dynamic and passionate. Performing before or preaching to crowds in the thousands doesn’t phase me one bit. But when these times are over my energy crashes and I need solitude to recharge. Sundays after church are nap time for the whole family. Partly because the kids do need to rest, but mostly so I can have the downtime necessary to recharge and be a good husband and father later on in the day. That is the core of the introvert/extrovert dichotomy. How does one recharge their batteries? The social interaction spectrum is wide, with much room for variation. There are introverts who truly do hate public settings of any kind, who are shy and border on being agoraphobic. Though the stereotype, it’s not really the norm. While most introverts may struggle with small talk (I had to learn this skill and practice it), we’re not generally isolationists.

Having perused literally hundreds of ministry job descriptions I’m surprised and bothered by the number of times a church has stated that they are looking for a person who is extroverted. Further digging tends to reveal that what they really want is someone who is dynamic, friendly, and able to engage in social situations. These qualities have very little to do with being an extrovert vs. being an introvert.

An article on the Gospel Coalition addresses Four Lies About Introverts that would be a valuable read for introverts in ministry who struggle with a seeming disparity between their personality and their call as well as for churches considering ministry candidates.

Look into a Pastor’s Heart

Posted: April 25, 2013 in Church, Faith

Most church goers have no idea the pressures their pastor(s) feel. The joke about pastors only working one hour a week is something we laugh at and pretend to brush off but, honestly, it’s quite offensive. Here is a link to pretty good article on the Gospel Coalition blog dealing with the joys and pains experienced by the pastor’s heart:

The Pastor’s Heavy Happy Heart

Here is one of the items on the list:

It breaks his heart to have his family judged or attacked. He’d rather be drawn and quartered himself than to watch the woman he loves endure harsh judgment, misrepresentation or unrighteous standards. He rather lose his own life than to lose his children from the church because they couldn’t face the daily pressure of living in a congregational fish bowl, unable to be themselves, unable to find grace all the other children receive.

That’s where I drew the line. I love my family more than I love the church. I care for my family more than I care for the church. I wouldn’t simply rather lose my life than see my children walk away from the faith; I would rather lose my soul to eternal damnation. No, I will not allow my family to be abused. The only options I saw (and perhaps I was mistaken) were to either start calling people out publicly and fight back or to walk away. It seemed in this case that the former would do more harm than good to both the church and my family so I opted for the latter. It was really hard to explain to the kids why we were leaving and they still don’t understand.

Never Been Unloved

Posted: April 23, 2013 in Faith

Last night driving home this song came to play on my MP3 player. The truth of God’s love and grace again washed over me causing me to tear up in gratitude.

Never Been Unloved by Michael W. Smith
I have been unfaithful
I have been unworthy
I have been unrighteous
And I have been unmerciful

I have been unreachable
I have been unteachable
I have been unwilling
And I’ve been undesirable

And sometimes I have been unwise
I’ve been undone by what I’m unsure of
But because of you
And all that you went through
I know that I have never been unloved

I have been unbroken
I have been unmended
I have been uneasy
And I’ve been unapprochable

I’ve been unemotional
I’ve been unexceptional
I’ve been undecided
And I have been unqualified

Unaware – I have been unfair
I’ve been unfit for blessings from above
But even I can see
The sacrifice You made for me
To show that I have never been unloved

Unaware – I have been unfair
I’ve been unfit for blessings from above
But even I can see
The sacrifice You made for me
To show that I have never been unloved

It’s because of you
And all that you went through
I know that I have never been unloved

Man of God

Posted: April 22, 2013 in Life

Here is another song which has impacted me lately:

Man of God by Audio Adrenaline

Sometimes I’m a liar sometimes I’m a fake
Sometimes I’m a hypocrite that everybody hates
Sometimes I’m a poet sometimes I’m a preacher
Sometimes I watch life go by sitting on the bleacher

But I’ve never been left alone
In any problem that I’ve known
Even though I’m to blame
There were times when things were dark
And I’ve been known to miss the mark
But someone fixed my aim

Sometimes I’m a man of god
Sometimes I’m alright
Sometimes I lay down close my eyes
And pray to god

Sometimes I don’t feel good
It’s hard to start the day
It’s hard to climb the obstacles
That sometimes come my way
If I make it, I’m a good man
Am I a bad man if I fail?
I know I’m never good enough
So I let grace prevail

But I’ve never been left alone
In any problem that I’ve known
Even though I’m to blame
There were times when things were dark
And I’ve been known to miss the mark
But someone fixed my aim

Sometimes I’m a man of god
Sometimes I’m alright
Sometimes I lay down close my eyes
And pray to God I’m ready for the night