Word & Spirit

Where We Go Next

Entering into the week today with a hunger, an expectancy that I haven’t had in a while. Last week a I was studying and preparing to preach on Zephaniah (our church is doing a series on the Minor Prophets) I was struck again by the love of God for his people. It was expected of course as portions of this prophet mean a great deal to our family. But as Sunday approached I had a sense that we were turning the corner on something, that a chapter was beginning.

As we gathered yesterday for worship there were many sweet moments. We had the largest attendance since March of 2020, with some returning faces recently vaccinated excited to be at church. Singing worship was rich in participation, which is saying something as we sing outside and there is a bit of shuffling between spaces. And in the preaching I was stirred all the more by the love of God for us. Many pastors will know what I am talking about, but during the sermon at one point I felt a very clear move of God, the Spirit was at work and the gospel was going forth with power.

God is so gracious to have given me that moment.

We continued in song with a resounding response to the word. To close the time together we came to the Lord’s Supper as those in need receiving from him. It was a great Sunday for this pastor. And I hope for this church!

The question that remains this morning as I embark on study of Haggai is what of that sense of a new chapter? Where we go next as a people, as a church, as salt and ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. I don’t know the answer but I know we will press into whatever it is. Long for the Spirit to move, proclaiming the gospel for the glory of Christ and seeing our lives transformed. It really is a new day.

Onward to where we go next!

Discipleship, Word & Spirit

Immanuel in 2020

In the spring of this year I was preaching into a camera and I told our church that my prayer for coming through the pandemic was not just that we make it back to normal but that it would be evident that we had been with Jesus during the pandemic. That our hope sustained us. That we served others with joy. That we lived by Christ’s ethic. It was my supernaturalized vision of 2020. I still long for this and I think is is what the great commission lived out looks like.

From a hopeful place in Scripture we hear of what Advent delivers and what those in Christ are meant to reveal. Zechariah is among the minor prophets and in a collection of words from Yahweh through the prophet we hear of calls back to justice and trust in the Lord’s strength and plan. Then in chapter 8 there is a wonderful vision of a coming peace, an expansion of Jerusalem, the city of God.

In the description it is clear that this is the place humanity longs to be. And the far off are brought in. But it is one of the ways they come that stood out.

Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” Zechariah 8:22–23(ESV)

Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you. This is a Christmas passage. Immanuel has come, God with us. But it is also a passage for the journey home to this place of peace. This is what draws the nations. People that have been with God. Not doctrinal statements. Not political preferences. But that God is with you.

As we wind down the year and look forward to another, might this be a bit higher on our list of prayers. That it would be noticeable that we have been with Jesus. That God is with us… that others might come along.

Discipleship, Word & Spirit

New Resource for Pastors and People

Reservoir Church, the body of Jesus people I help lead, is part of a global movement of churches called Advance which exist to plant and strengthen churches. The network is led by PJ Smyth, pastor of Monument Church in the greater Washington, D.C. area.

I have a great deal of respect for PJ and have been served by his kind and humble leadership. Each interaction leaves me more confident in our decision to link arms with Advance.

PJ has just launched a new website as a resource for leaders and believers alike. He has recent posts on preaching to a camera (who doesn’t need help here in times like these.) He also has some keen reflections on miracles, heaven and other topics along with sermons.

You will want to add his site to your list of helpful resources.