Discipleship

They Did Not Thirst

“This season is very revealing…” This has been my sentiment as we continue through 2020 full of her pandemic and racial tension. When shaking happens, things are uncovered and our deepest hopes, bias, and perspectives are revealed. This has been a significant reality in the church and while it does not make for the easiest relationships or partnerships, it is good.

I brought this reflection to my reading this morning and Isaiah 48’s recounting of the refining of Israel. It is essentially God retelling the ways he has used circumstance to chisel away at the hearts of his people. To reveal their disobedience and to show the way of trusting his will and way. “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea;” Isaiah 48:18

There was hope for them still and it was in recounting the faithfulness of God.

Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea, declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it, send it out to the end of the earth; say, “The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob!

They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and the water gushed out.” Isaiah 48:20-21

I was talking to a few pastors just yesterday and they mentioned the “battle weariness” of this season of ministry and I can relate. Simple things are not simple anymore and rapid transformation in the church is not only exhausting, it is like the fires have been set to be quite a bit hotter.

Yet we, like Israel, can recount the faithfulness of God in the midst of the refining. We can return to him in repentance and reliance on his grace and power. We can live “hydrated” by his Spirit as we, ministers and the rest of us, persevere through the unknown of tomorrow.

Some of us need to take some breaks; get off of social media and replace the time with Scripture. Some of us need to have more real conversations where gospel reminder is the end point. Some of us need to keep being bold where voices have been absent. And some of us just need to get away, to a place of solitude to be with the Father.

All along the way my prayer is that we would look back on this year and say we did not thirst as we journeyed through this desert, that the Lord’s provision was gushing out. Will you pray that with me?

Discipleship

Pastor Keep Running

As I slogged through my morning run in unseasonably warm temps a conversation I had more than twenty years ago came to mind. I had been on a similar run with a good friend in college. I was older so surely wiser and we were discussing getting ahead in life, conquering the goals we had given ourselves and the like.

Then nearing the halfway point of our planned run my friend slowed down and exclaimed that he was done. It was too taxing and he was too tired to keep going. I then attempted to coach him about running through our “walls” and persevering. “If you want get to the next level, succeed at what is ahead of you, you need to keep running when you don’t have anything left.”

The reader will understand that this had more to do with than just running. I don’t know if he remembers the conversation, or finishing the run like a champ, but he has done well for himself so he figured it out somehow.

But as I was running this morning, it wasn’t perseverance to finish the physical run I had on my mind. Instead perseverance to finish the spiritual race we are called to run. Specifically, the call of pastors to keep going, to stick it out and lead in hard places.

Over the last several weeks I have been exhorting the church about having enough hope to persevere through the transformation we experience in Christ as part of his church. It is far too easy to bail out when there are churches more aligned with my political perspectives or preference of music etc. But we are made for the long haul, in community.

Then the Lord returns the question back on me as I have been preparing for a brief sabbatical to find some refreshment and rest.

I have a high view of God’s sovereignty, but I wonder how many churches miss out on fresh moves of God, or have them delayed, because pastors pull the ejection chord when things get hard or don’t live up to the ideal in our heads. For some this means leaving ministry, for others it can be finding a new flock that looks and feels more ideal.

Now I know the Lord calls leaders to new endeavors as he aligns the church to match his desires, but I wonder how many pastors convince themselves they are hearing a call when they really need to tap into some perseverance.

This is where the fruit is, this is where relationship is forged. This is where discipleship happens. This is what are called to.

So pastor brothers, keep running. The grace of Christ is sufficient for you even when it feels like you don’t have anything else, he is enough. Keep taking the steps, keep preaching the gospel, keep surrendering yourself to the transformation of the Spirit and see what he might do in and through you.

The Lord will refine you as he refines the church. Be up for that. And stick with them.

Whenever you go out, walk together, and when you reach your destination, stay together.” – Augustine

Culture

Living with Breath

Many of us are waking up numb after a weekend of watching the festering wound in our nation pour out its infection. We need change. We need a move of God. We need Pentecost again.

I have long appreciated the preaching of Chicago pastor Charlie Dates. Yesterday’s sermon “I Can’t Breathe” is an important one. It helps us see our theological errors when it comes to image bearing. Give it a watch and ask for the wind of the Spirit to give all of us breath.