Outpost Ministry and Life

As parents we have wondered when it would be okay to introduce our kids to the classic movie Dances With Wolves. Maybe Kevin Costner’s best role and such a memorable movie for us Gen Xers. Of course the themes in the movie are not too devastating for our kids (11, 8, 6) but we remember them as bold because of the age we first watched.

Thinking of the lone soldier sent to serve at an outpost which he finds deserted relates significantly with small church ministry.

At times it can feel like, as the lone vocational pastor, I have been sent to run an outpost without battalion. Much of the work to be done falls into my hands and with few true partners in the labor, it can be an isolating experience. Like Costner’s character you have a couple of options. Go crazy and find yourself in the bottom of a pond. Or do the work, repair what is broken and restore the outpost. It’s exhausting and endless but beats the alternative.

I am thankful that I have among me wonderful people hungry for more of Jesus. They encourage me onward, but I can hear the whistle of the prairie as a desolate place if I spend too much time looking at the wrong things. It gives me empathy for other pastors in the small places. Faithfully toiling and bringing pleasure to God.

So friends if you find yourself in the deserted outposts of our day, press on. You are kept by Jesus for his glory. He will build his church and he will give you rest.


Pervasive Sabbath

I just listened to a podcast on countercultural Christianity. It’s a conversation between pastors working through various topics and how Christians are to act or react in light of Christ’s claim on us. I like it so far.

This particular episode was covering Sabbath. It’s a vital piece of life. Rest after work not as an earned reward but as a recognition that we need refreshing and we are not God.

I think the church could do far better in advocating for healthy rhythms of life for believers. Sabbath should be subversive, to borrow an adjective from another popular book. But what I have noticed in nearly every contemporary tome on eliminating hurry or carving out rest as the way of Jesus, is an utter lack of familiarity or relationship with the wage earner.

Most of the voices calling for an embrace of Sabbath are those of the affluent. Perhaps not everyone is “wealthy” by their own definition but they expose their lack of experiencing the tension of sacrificing hours of work or feeding their children.

God tells us he will judge those that oppressed the wage earner (Malachi 3:5) so how can we advocate for what is right and good without ignoring the poor?

Let’s start by serving them. By making friends. Entering into their lives as Jesus has. Maybe the church should create Sabbath gap funding to provide for the least. Or we can advocate for higher wages as a ways to pervasive Sabbath among all of us.

Let’s do it different. For the glory of Christ and the good of the kingdom.


The Settled Hope of Christmas Eve

The anticipation has led us here. To the day before. Even in the wake of a trying year we know tomorrow will come.

We grieve for those who can’t say that and do so with the fixed and firm hope that this day brings.

Like shepherds tending our flocks, there is still work to be done. But we will have the opportunity to look up and hear the announcement of a child.

This side of the first Christmas Eve we know the ramifications. The redemption that will be worked. The new life that is to be found in the child born king. It is then with this knowledge we breathe in the peace that this promise holds.

Jesus has come and he is coming again. Both truths anchor us and give us a settled hope. May our day before be rich in reminder, and his real presence with us.