Culture, Discipleship

Walking in the Truth

The little letters of John the Apostle are so helpful in giving a glimpse into the pastoral heart. Care for those you lead and teach. He uses the first two to establish the church in love, the vital ingredient of a life in Christ. Then in the third letter he leans on truth.

Of course it is the truth of the gospel, of the kingdom of Christ and his reign. But I think it also pertains to all truth. Having character enough to wade through what is heard or seen and landing our perspective on the truth. Not our preference, not our opinion, but truth. John even calls out someone by name for putting the self before truth… dangerous territory.

But it is John’s expression of joy that got me today as I read it. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 4 (ESV)

His greatest joy is being told how his children (those that he has fathered in ministry) walk in the truth. They don’t frequent in conspiracy or opinion or as he calls it “wicked nonsense” (v. 10), they are firmly planted in truth. They cast off the cultural version of “your truth” and understand there can only be one truth.

I understand this joy first hand. In a year where everything seems to be turned upside down and the prevalence of false narratives abound, there is something encouraging and joy-inducing when those you shepherd cling to truth, champion it, and share it with others. And because I am learning to recognize this of the pastoral heart, I am committed all the more to pursuing truth as an example. After all, that is the biblical call.

So whoever your pastor or shepherd is, think of them as John the Apostle, walk in truth. With clear eyes, and an open heart, be confident in the good news of Jesus and search out of real truth wherever it may be found.

Culture, Discipleship, Grace

Diminished Unhealthy Urgency

This pandemic is changing us. In uncomfortable ways and in some good ways. Let’s focus on the good to get through the difficult.

As I began my day this morning I was contemplating a newer reality for me, something that has taken place especially the last month. Usually I would wake up with a list to conquer, places to be, and an anxious urgency to get it all done. While I still have the same list of tasks the number of places and start times are different. But the anxious urgency has been diminished.

I have the same portfolio of work, and even the same number of meetings (which are virtual or outside at a distance). But the sense of a crushing burden of the week is different. And I am okay with it.

In the last year we saw the publication of numerous books on eliminating hurry as the cure to what ails us but those books often failed to deliver a fulcrum that could bring us into a different way of life. COVID did.

The pandemic, if we allow it to, can shift the things we value and the way we approach life. If we are lost to the idol of politics are self-righteousness there isn’t much hope, but if we start to value our neighbor, our family, even our enemies for the image-bearing souls they are, we might value the time we get with them more. We don’t feel like an intrusion like we used to. We take the time for connection. We learn again what it means to set aside our preference for the other and this is the way we grow.

The pandemic is also changing our pace and what a gift this is. Time is becoming less of a commodity. Even though some days feel like Groundhog’s Day (the movie) we don’t have the same pressure to fill each moment with meaninglessness.

I wonder what other ways the pandemic is shifting the way we live, the way we see the world, and where we place our hopes. For now I thankful for the diminishing of unhealthy urgency.

Culture, Discipleship

Where Are The Words?

Today on Twitter a freelance writer asked the ether if she was the only one that has faced slowness in the writing process during the pandemic. A pastor I follow chimed in that for him even the sermon writing process was feeling more difficult. These two, and others I have heard from, match the struggle I have been having. Wondering where the words are.

I am not a prolific writer, other than the weekly sermon (I supposed that’s a ten page paper each week, researched, outlined, and drafted), I haven’t had the itch to start new projects or even put thoughts in my journal.

Perhaps there is a numbness that follows so much news, and so many opposing views. An exhaustion in processing said information and trying to communicate decisions to a varied audience. Or maybe we can add creativity to the list of enterprises devastated by COVID!

I remain hopeful. Words will come. After all, plenty of people are saying and penning very thorough pieces pertaining to the pandemic and politics. I am praying my words come through on other topics!

So here is to stimulating the writing muscles, spreading the words around and doing more writing.