Today I accepted the call to be the next pastor of First Baptist Church, Kennett Square. I have been talking with the search committee for over six months as we have sought to discern God’s leading, guiding and directing. Our family is excited, nervous and looking forward to the challenges that come with packing up and starting afresh in a new community. I will be starting in early June with Nancy and Rayann following in early July while Joseph heads to NC state sometime in August. This summer will be marked with times of transition and change for our family…can’t wait to see what autumn will bring.
The article, Helping the “Healthy” crossed my screen this morning. In it Craig Barnes raises the point that our churches have developed plans and programs to reach the prodigals and help them return to the loving arms of the Father but there is another group out there that just a badly need to experience the love and forgivenss of the Father. A group who may find it harder to experience that amazing love simply because they aren’t aware of how much they really need it.
“…not being a flagrant sinner is a particularly seductive means of rebellion. This was essentially Jesus’ point to the Pharisees. Those who have notbroken the rules may be farther from the Father’s arms than those who’ve broken most all of them. Sin is anything that separates us from God, and nothing does that quite like not feeling the need for mercy.”
Remaining separated from God because we have luled ourselves into a sense of complacency or self-sufficiency by believing that we are “good people” who do “good things”. It may be our own thoughts or the words of others around us…but when we begin to believe that we have life all figured out and have put our house in order we no longer find ourselves in such radical need of experiencing the love of Jesus. [Read more…]
A lot of people have been asking really good questions about why I have chosen to work outside of formal pastoral ministry for a season. It is a very personal decision, which I find difficult to explain in ways that others understand (or accept). The best language I have found, at this point, to help people understand is the language of the two C’s. What follows is the last newsletter article I wrote for Church in the Acres.
Three days from now I will be starting the first journey down to North Carolina. I am filled with feelings of excitement, anxiety, sadness, loss but most of all there is a sense of peace that we are following God’s invitation for our family at this time. Recently I was reading that we should not be surprised if people do not understand our decisions and actions as we seek to live in obedience to the Spirit’s leading in our lives. Too often the only way we can begin to understand or process what God is doing in another’s life is to try to make sense of their behavior based upon our own experience. The truth is that while there may be themes which are similar, or seasons that most people seem to progress through it is impossible for any of us to fully understand what God is doing in someone else’s life. As I have sought words to help explain my journey and the decision Nancy and I have made to leave Church in the Acres I found myself talking about the two “callings”. Calling, with a capital C and calling, with a small c. [Read more…]
Today I worshiped with the people at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte. It was one of the most amazing church experiences I have had in a long while. The Children’s choir was amazing. There was a 91 year old man who sang “His Eye is on the Sparrow” in such a way that it brought tears to my eyes. At 91 years old, sitting in a wheelchair he sang with such conviction and heart that there was no doubt he had indeed experienced God watching over him. His testimony reminded me that just as God cares for the sparrow he cares for me.
I am convinced that the sermon Rev. Herb Rhedrick gave was for me. [Read more…]
One of the things I have learned through this time of transition is that people desperately need to understand and make sense of decisions and direction you are taking. If it does not seem rational to them their response is quite often something akin to, “you are crazy.” They view the moves you are making as foolish and unwise.
Herein lies the problem, when did we ever come to believe we could make sense of the leading and directing of God? Noah, build me an ark. Moses, go tell Pharoh it is time for my people to leave Egypt. Lazarus, come forth! Joshua, you have too many men to go into battle. David, go do battle with Goliath. Zacheus, come down for today I want to eat in your house. You can hear them can’t you…people who were near each of these events and did not understand what was going on. Whoa, that is one stupid move. I would not have done it that way. What in the world are you thinking my friend, that is risky and dangerous. Yet in each story people are responding in obedience to the leading of God.I believe our inability to understand, or even accept, what God is doing in somebody elses life revolves around the way we look at life. We tend to look at life, and the decisions of others through the lense of our own experience rather than trying to see what God is up to, what God is doing, what God may be working to accomplish in their lives.
I am on break during a conference I am attending at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. The conference is titled “How to Read the Bible for all its Worth”. I will share more about the conference later but right now I want to share an amazing worship experience I had this morning.
We were invited to take a few minutes out of corporate worship for personal prayer. As I began to pray I offered up prayers of confession, seeking the forgiveness of God for failing to do what I know I should do and forgiveness for doing those things which I know I should avoid. In that moment of quiet I felt a frustration, how many times have I prayed these prayers, how many times have I confessed the sin that is a part of my life and yet I continue to struggle, continue to fall. Part of my prayer was, “Lord, I am tired and weary of needing to come before you to confess sin…how weary you must be of hearing my confessions.” As I sat there in the filled chapel, alone with God the music began to play and we entered into corporate worship again…this is the first song we sang…
Newsboys, “You Are My King”
I’m forgiven because You were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well, Your Spirit is within me
Because You died and rose again
Amazing love, how can it be
That You, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love, I know it’s true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do, to honor You
I was weeping inside as I heard God’s reply to my prayer of confession…we went on to sing that great hymn by Horatio G. Spafford “It is Well with My Soul”. When we got to verse three God was once again speaking out to me…
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
“Thank you God for meeting me where I was, for lifting me up, for reminding me once again of your amazing love for your creation and of your love for me. I’m forgiven, I’m accepted, I’m alive and well, Your Spirit is within me because of your Amazing love…It’s my joy to serve and honor You In all I do.”
May God find me faithful…
I have just finished cleaning up my office at home. I took the nite to spend with my family and when they retired for the evening I started to straighten up and clean. It looks pretty good…won’t last long but looks good now. Anyway, sitting here at the computer looking over the shelves of books and resources I am reminded of something Archie Parish shared during his presentation earlier this week. I had heard it before, will hear it again and it will, unfortunately, probably continue to be true. He said, “that the average Christian in America has way more knowledge about things of faith than they will ever put into practice.” He was making the point that many of us have read more than one book on prayer, know more strategies to have a healthy prayer life and yet we fail to put much of it into practice.
Looking over the resources in my office I bet I have collected well over two to three thousand dollars of resources in this room alone. All of them good, I get rid of the weak ones quickly because shelf space is precious. A lot of information, lots of great ideas on ministry and helping people grow spiritually. Tonight I wonder how much of it has been put into practice? What do people do who don’t have access to such resources? I imagine that God is no less real to them because they have not watched the videos or read the books that line my shelves. The disciples had Jesus and each other.
Sitting here tonight I am thinking of how blessed I am. All the resources at my fingertips. Am I making the best use of them? Am I a more devoted follower of Jesus because of having access to them or am I just someone who is growing in knowledge and struggling to put things into practice?
God, I thank you for the many blessings in my life. Thank you for the rich treasure of resources at my disposal to help me grow in relationship with you. As I grow in knowledge may I grow in practice. Let it never be said that I knew more than I practiced.