Discipleship

When Convenience Surrenders to Commitment

On Sunday I was talking with another elder and a member of our church about the distance someone is willing to drive to gather with the church. The question came up because there is a church facility for sale in our community and as our church begins to plan for a long term and permanent location some of us were weighing the possibility.

I thought perhaps it was too far north given our current gathering location so in conversation with the elder we asked for input from the younger member just building a family. His answer was quick, “We used to drive twice as far to get here.” He was right. A year ago his wife and he bought a house closer to our church but before that they were thirty minutes further away and still made the trip.

It struck me that I had been thinking of the convenience of the gathering of the church rather than the commitment our members had to it. This young member had already surrendered his convenience to his commitment and what an example and encouragement that is to me.

When it comes to the life of the church that is really what we are asking, and we should answer. If this worth it? Committing to a body of believers who are running together after Jesus and does that beat out our desire for convenience?

As the church global is refined by a pandemic and there really is no point in being a “nominal Christian” I think this reality will be vital for healthy churches and I hope together, as the people of the Way, we will answer that we have surrendered convenience to commitment. It is where we flourish, serve each other, and become the witness we were called to be.

Onward to commitment.

Discipleship

It’s Time to Build the House

This week I am preaching on Haggai in our series on the Minor Prophets. We didn’t give any thought of the calendar when we scheduled this series so it is surely of the Holy Spirit that a word about taking up the work of building the house of the Lord comes on the one-year anniversary of the last service before pandemic shutdowns.

God’s remnant people had come back from exile with the announced mission to rebuild the Temple. They began the work but face significant opposition and distress. So like any of us facing hardship, they gave up. They stopped the work on the Temple thinking it could never be as beautiful as before. But they did keep laboring, just for themselves building fine houses. Haggai is the word of the Lord calling them to engage again in building His house.

They can do it because he promises to be with them and that what he is building is better. It is the thing of greater glory.

Haggai is about the new Temple. It is about Jesus and his people being made into the Temple of greater glory. But it also has a stirring reminder to us to get back to work.

While many of us faced a pause in momentum or drive for the last year, given the unknowns and difficulty of doing more than maintaining, yet it is likely time that we get back to it. Responsibly for sure but knowing that God is with us and he is building something better.

I think this is true for us at Reservoir Church and it is likely true for you wherever you are. What was the thing God was calling you to? How was the glory of Christ meant to be manifest in your life? What risks were you supposed to take, what energy or resource were you supposed to invest? It’s time. Build the house. The Lord is with you and he build better.

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.