Discipleship

Three Months of Ministry and More

Haggai is a short prophetic book that packs a punch. In a good way.

The Prophet was used by the Lord to stir the people back up to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem in 520 BC. The Lord spoke, the people listened and headed his call. The Temple was rebuilt. It is a story of empowerment and presence, and the promise of something far greater.

It is Immanuel experienced and foretold all the same.

What strikes me though is that all of this happened in three and a half months. Haggai gives us the days that words came so we can map it with precision. And that is all we know of Haggai. Three months of ministry that the Lord used for so much more.

Something seemingly small, with significant ramifications.

I wonder how many of us do ministry and commit to the small things without a realization how the Lord uses it. Speaking as a pastor of a small church, we should not despise the time we have, or the reach we have. God will call his people through whomsoever he chooses. It can be the three-month prophet, or the small church pastor, the high-caliber missionary, the large church discipleship ministry. The Lord works. He builds and he uses materials we least expect.

Brothers and sisters, keep going. The Lord will use you. For three months and so much more!

Discipleship

Jesus Didn’t Want My Capacity

The last year of pandemic slowness has given plenty of opportunities for contemplation and the plotting of a new course when it comes to ministry. Even so, I was going at a pretty slow pace before the government sanctioned separation. A small church, few demanding people paired with an intentional embrace of the slower things of life left me with a clearer view of what it was Jesus was after when he claimed me for himself.

I used to pride myself on my capacity. I could manage a number of important things with ease and I was sure the Lord would tap into my efficiency and ability to further his cause. Working in an influential governmental position and still leading at our local church all while embracing married life gave me some sense that I could handle whatever was thrown at me. Eventually the vocation shifted to pursuing education and ministry but my view of my own capacity still ruled. Of course it was pride having the run of my heart but so much of what I heard among my tribe of Christianity and from the leaders of the large church where I worked seemed to demand high capacity personalities if success was to be found.

To that end, I think I was successful. A flourishing ministry, leadership opportunities, a brash personality that seemed to plow through what others couldn’t surmount. It was my resilience, my capacity to manage and move fast that made me appealing. Maybe to some but the deeper problem was that I thought it was what Jesus wanted of me.

It wasn’t.

As I transitioned to a different context, one where it wasn’t my capacity that mattered but my steadiness, I began to realize that Jesus wasn’t after my entrepreneurial mentality, or aggressive style of leadership. He was after what he wants from everyone, my heart.

He desired for me to live a life of repentance and dependence, not trusting in my ability to accomplish but on his power to keep me. He wanted more of the territory of my heart, the corners I have kept to myself he wanted to rule in. He wanted me to surrender to his will and way and that would mean my capacity wouldn’t matter. In his gracious care, he brought me to a season of life to be able to see it. To repent and set out to surrender with each day.

Of course he isn’t done with me. And he is not done with you. You just might be surprised that he isn’t interested in the thing you think he is, he wants your heart. Maybe today is the day to give it over to him. I promise it is a life-long endeavor, but we all need a start.

Here is to seeing rightly, to making the start, and giving Jesus your heart.

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!