Discipleship

Pomegranates and the Christian

It is pomegranate season, or at least the tail end of it. When the trees are full and the fruit falls easily and the red, juicy flesh is ripe for the enjoying.

Our back yard has one such tree and it has been a delight for these six years (and no small amount of work for our harvester Stacy!) This year the kids were creative and decided to sell the pomegranates to raise money for Buddy Break, a respite program for families with kids with special needs.

As the harvest has come though, I can’t help but see the Christian in the pomegranate. And as I study the Sermon on the Mount I see it all the more.

You see, pomegranates grow from a bright pinkish red flower in the spring to the hardened dusty colored ball in September. You know the pomegranates are ready when you see them begin to break open under the force of the fruit inside. The bright purple proves them.

Now, bear with the illustration, the believer is formed and grows under the stress of life. The seasons of heat, and little water. Avoiding, if we can, the ‘birds’ or ‘rats’ that might try to pluck and harm us. As we persevere, something is happening inside. There is fruit welling up, getting strong and ready to be seen.

Then we are broken open and what is inside is bare for all to see. We don’t prefer the brokenness, but it is the way. And if we have found our source in Christ and his life, then the fruit is sweet and draws others to glorify our Father who is in heaven.

I am praying that this is a fruitful season for you as you trust in Jesus, and let the light of Christ shine in you.

Discipleship

Reservoir Leadership Track

2020 was destined to be a year of growth and deeper roots for our little suburban church. Our leadership had claimed the theme of “Building Together” as we felt that coming through years of transition and replanting we were poised to spring ahead in many ways. Individual ownership of the church was increasing, meaning people were stepping up to do the work of ministry, and our identity had seemingly formed around the preaching of the gospel and living in response to the grace of Christ.

Then the pandemic began seven months of disruption in every category of life, environmental, political, spiritual, and others. So the momentum met its end. The growth became a tension of keeping who was committed. Building together transitioned to a desire to just be together.

While we still face the pandemic realities among the good decisions we made was to launch our leadership track anyway. It was designed to be a vital six-month cohort for learning and formation around the vision of the church as the elders set a priority to equip and release more leaders at Reservoir. The first round was to be undertaken by the elders so there were already formed relationships making it easy to execute.

For sixth months (so far) we have read, written about, and discussed material in four key books. One to establish the need to pursue the inner health of our souls (David Benner’s The Gift of Being Yourself). One to present a vision for how the body of believers could live Kingdom lives together (John Tyson’s A Creative Minority). Another to give us a framework for the life of the church, especially as one desiring to be multiplied (Alan Frow’s Broken for Blessing.) And a fourth to stir the hunger in us for renewal among us and the people of our church (Mark Sayer’s Reappearing Church). Every week we have a video meeting to discuss what we are learning and where we are heading. We have laughed, struggled through concepts, and prayed fervently for one another and the church.

We have missed out on some of the planned family meals meant to go along with the Leadership Track but I have found our time to be greatly encouraging and aligning for the elders. I don’t think I have known a time when we were as united as we are now and we have a rooted honestly that has strengthened our relationships.

Scott, Bill, and John have sharpened me and I think they would agree our time in these books and conversation with one another has been fruitful. It has truly been one of the bright things in the church sustaining a tired pastor!

We are looking forward to rolling out the Leadership Track to others in the church, when we get a bit further along in this disruptive season. As we do I am sure others will find the time just as valuable and worthwhile. It turns out we really are building together and what is forming is exciting.

Discipleship

The Grace of Reading the Bible with Committed Friends

The pandemic closed our preferred meeting location (a local Starbucks – suburbia has few great coffee choices.) As you can imagine then we missed a couple of months of our early morning meetings. We were forced to get creative and meet in the parking lot instead.

It has been a great way to affirm guidelines for social distancing and continue studying Scripture together.

Today we read an imprecatory psalm and thought through how we pray for those opposed to us in light of Christ. It was a rich conversation on trusting in the Lord’s care and purpose and we set out for the day with renewed determination to trust and pray.

I am thankful for these committed friends. We need them. You need them. Do what you can to find them. Open the book, and read.