Exhausted on Purpose

I don’t think I have interacted recently with anyone that expresses that they are rested up. Everyone, friends, family, neighbors, all talk of how tired they are, how exhausting life is.

Right? This is our experience, everyone we know and we ourselves are beat down. Now it might be a huge indication that something is off. We are taking in too much or stress has our system wrecked. Children are demanding too much energy, there is never enough juice to match the hours we have to be “on.”

We think diet might help, exercise will do something, or maybe a binge of Netflix and a bottle of wine. But usually we end up in the same place. Exhausted. It certainly might be an indicator of needed change in our lifestyle or circumstance and I think we should pursue that.

But what if you are a Christian? What is exhaustion doing in us, those that claim faith in Christ?

I submit that exhaustion is positioning us to be desperate for something beyond physical energy or a new routine. Exhaustion is leading us to recognize our need for the very presence and power of God himself.

In Christ there is the promise and provision of power that is meant to deal a deathblow to our exhaustion – seriously. Think of Jesus’ words before ascending to heaven after the resurrection. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8). Energy for the mission of life, all of life. Witnessing of Jesus.

Then Paul gives us a picture of our lives, and not just the churchy mission type life but all of it in Christ, Paul said he toiled preaching Christ, “struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (Colossians 1:29) That is not just for an apostle long ago, that’s for you.

Believer, your exhaustion is bringing you to the need for the Spirit to work in you, to free you, to empower you, to enliven you. Run to him, ask, cry out for strength. For the presence of God in your life. That you would work with all of his energy powerfully working in you.

May it be so.

A Persistent Boy and the Faithfulness of God

I found myself emotional while I preached Sunday recounting a gentle reminder from the Lord of continued pursuit of him and I thought I would share it here to encourage you as well.

This last week I have been reading Terry Virgo’s No Well-Worn Paths which tells the story of New Frontiers International and the early days of charismatic renewal in the UK that merged with grace-centered doctrine in the church. As I have been reading of the some of the moves of God, the filling of the Spirit and healings, prophetic words, and boldness in his people, I have been wondering, why not now?

God is the same as he was decades ago. Of course he could pour out his Spirit for his glory and the good of the church (and he has in a number of ways). But hearing the stories I found myself wrestling with God desiring the same gifting and power spiritually as told in the book.

I took my lament into the desert as our family scheduled a day away to rest and reboot. Then Saturday on an early morning hike with my seven-year-old son Ewen, God showed me his kindness.

The night before we had been hiking on the same trail but dinner was approaching and my oldest who was hiking with us wanted to turn back, so halfway through the trail we cut the hike short and returned to camp. Saturday morning though, Ewen could not be stopped. He wanted to press on and arrive at the Palm Oasis promised on the map.

It was such a joy to make the journey with him, talking about life, the groaning of creation for redemption, and how fun it is to grow up together. As we progressed on the trail we turned a corner into a valley surrounded by hills/mountains and beautiful rock formations.

Ewen was ecstatic. “This is so beautiful! If we had turned back we would have never seen this!”

His statement struck me. “If we had turned back we would have never seen this.” As I paused to think about it I knew this was the Lord urging me to keep going. Here I was crying out for the Spirit to move in the church, in my own life, and he was saying, keep coming, don’t stop.

If a small church pastor needs to hear anything often it is this! So with a thankful heart I got back to hiking. We reached the Oasis and had a wonderful time, father and son. Ewen is already planning our next hiking trip.

And I settle back into the routine of discipleship, study, and prayer aching for a move of God, knowing he will, knowing we will keep pursuing him, we will keep going.

Worthwhile October 11, 2019

What a week it has been! The U.S. political landscape is a minefield of really poor choices, and the NBA unsurprisingly has no backbone that a few billion can’t break. So we are desperately in need of something worthwhile to read and be reminded of. Even Ellen Degeneres can’t be friendly with anyone…

Going further back for good memories, five years ago this week our family minivan burned to a crisp while the shop working on it caught fire. And Stacy and I landed in San Diego to interview and preach at a struggling church called Grace Church North County. Oh the memories…

A few bits to take you mind off of it all this weekend.

Bringing back the Epistle! I came across recommendations for the Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp this week. An early second century exhortation to a leader in the church from another. it is well worth the read (five minutes max).

In a world of tweets and texts I think we have lost the longer form refreshment of the epistle. I am determined to bring it back! (Sorry to you whom received the first of such leaders from me!) Read Ignatius’ here.

Next up, what about hospitality? Darryl Dash has a good post about the requirement that elders be hospitable and he unpacks it in a modern context.

“Radically ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God,” writes Rosaria Butterfield. “It brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the gospel in word and deed.” I can’t think of anything that’s more countercultural. And yet I can’t think of anything that is provides more opportunity for ministry to others and joy to ourselves.

Christians must be hospitable people, especially to the our neighbors and strangers. This is how the kingdom goes forth. Let’s be about it. Get in on Radical Ordinary Hospitality here.

Then finally, keep you mind off of current events by shoring up your training for missional communities. Jonathan Dodson has compiled the training his church and ministry has facilitated and you can find it here.

Three sessions from an Acts 29 meeting that are sure to be worth the watch. Check them out here.

That’s all I have for you today. We are enjoying (tenuously because of fire danger) Santa Ana winds in San Deigo County. May you weekend be filled with friends, reminders of grace and the worship of our Savior!

Worthwhile October 4, 2019

The first week of October not only brought cooler temps to SoCal (do’t worry it warms up tomorrow) but a sense that people are exhausted. We are in need of rest, in need of the enthusing only God can provide.

I am praying that you find that rest and renewal this weekend. Endeavor toward it. Slow down. Sit around a table with friends and laugh. Eat delicious food. And take naps. I will try to do the same!

For your reading we start with darkness and tend brighter with three bits to check in on.

This week the New York Times posted an in-depth report on the prevalence of imagery and exchange of child sexual abuse. Technology has made it easier and the sickness has spread over the last decade. It is gross. If anyone suggests evil does not exists ask them what they would call torturing children for pleasure.

It is a dark reality that our law enforcement needs more resources to attack. We also need spiritual conviction and repentence… revival in our land. As I engage with books lamenting the loss of free play for kids and unsupervised decision making, I get excited to give my kids more freedom, then I read reports like this and I won’t let them out of my sight.

Read it. Pray. Think of how you can act for change.

Next is how we contribute online. At a meeting last night a colleague mentioned that she has a staff member who left Facebook because she was only using it to be angry and stir up strife.

Justin Taylor has shared some tips from Paul D. Miller, a professor at Georgetown University who too k party in a significant study.

We sketch here an initial draft of recommendations to structure future conversations. We do not mean to bind the conscience of any believer and we recognize that most of the issues we address here lie in the realm of wisdom and prudence. We put forward these ideas as the best practices from what we have seen, observed, and heard during this project. These are not rules for righteousness, but practices of discipleship and character formation we think are uniquely suited to the challenges of the age we are living through.

The tips are in line with where we get news, seeking out difference and attending church. See all seven here.

Finally, a really good sermon from Andrew Wilson. He was at The Villiage Church in Dallas and spoke on life in the Spirit. I have had a few conversations about this very thing this week and I thought he gave great clues and encouragement toward yielding to the Spirit for all of life. Give it a watch or listen.

Enjoy the weekend. Run to Jesus. Rejoice. See you soon.