I can’t believe it is November. 2019 has been flying by and I suppose that is great because it get’s us that much closer to the return of Jesus!
This week was a busy one so there is one item worthwhile that is fresh and couple that I came across cleaning out older files. Let’s see if they hold up!
The one item you must check out this week is the lastest bonus episode of This Cultural Moment. It is a recording of an interview session among some leaders at the global Alpha conference.
Mark Sayers, John Tyson, and Pete Hughes discuss revival and renewal with Todd Proctor. It is no a long session but within there is so much good fruit.
Keenly for me was a statement by Tyson: “I don’t want to partner with just people who believe what I believe but want what I want.” That being revival. Such an important word and guiding principle in this season of leading a church.
We so often align based on foundational theology but the outworking of that, or our goal for ministry and life, are different and we waste time spinning tires. What if we find and disciple those most hungry for spiritual renewal, what could the Lord do among us?
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.
We have been talking about the elements of renewal or revival in some corners of the church and one dear saint sensed a calling to pray for a holy fear of God to permeate the church. While our modern first response might be hesitancy (who wants to endorse fear), when we have a biblical context for what it means to have an abiding reverence for God, then the environment shifts and the soil is prepared for revival.
To this end, this Saint shared her thinking on what the fear of the Lord looks like in a climate of revival.
“A Climate for Revival
“Holy Fear Outside the Church: Understanding one’s position ->Holy Fear (horror, anguish, woe) coupled w/ hope->Redemption and Salvation
“Holy Fear Inside the Church: Understanding One’s position->Holy Fear (humility, awe, wonder) coupled with hope->Revival and Further Sanctification”
May we inside the church understand our position, made righteous by Christ, and live in humility, wonder, and awe with a defining hope for more.
Is Fall actually upon us? In SoCal that means overnight temps in the 50’s and 60’s with daytime temps between 75 and, well 100. Ha. I occasionally miss a Midwest autumn with the smell of falling leaves and chill in the air. It smells like football season and Thanksgiving. Ah, nostalgia.
This week I have a trio of phenomenal articles and a video, all worthwhile. Take up and read, and watch.
First out of the gate was a stirring piece by Jared C. Wilson on the recent suicide of Jarrid Wilson. No relation just the same name. “There Should Be Two of Us” is honest and a reminder to all of us that our friends, the people we associate with and those around us can all suffer from depression. Maybe we become more equipped to love, stick with, and care for those in pain.
I am doing well now, and have been for a long time, but I know the feeling of everything being too much, the weight of the fear of never getting better, the emotional drowning of all those breakers and waves. I have heard the lies that nothing will change, that nobody really understands, that people would be better off without the burden of me, and all the rest. And in brief doubtful moments I believed them.
That is the enemy speaking. I don’t know what brought me back from the brink, really. A different kind of fear, I suspect. The fear of missing out on what might happen tomorrow. More than likely, tomorrow would be just the same as today. Every day seems to bring the same pain, the same worry, the same hopelessness. But what if tomorrow’s different? Do I want to rob myself of finding out? And do I want to hurt those I love? A residual curiosity about what might happen if I don’t give up thankfully proved slightly stronger than the despair.
For seriously depressed persons, I know these thoughts don’t come easily, if they come at all. For those seriously struggling with suicidal thoughts, the illness crowds out rationality and logic, as well as sentimentality and hope.
But it is in these moments, perhaps, that faith is most faith. If you cannot see the light, as the saying goes, cast an anchor in the dark. Doubt your doubts. Believe what you can’t.
Next a call to weak leadership by Darryl Dash. It’s not what you think but a call to biblical leadership fully aquainted with weakness and the need for the Spirit’s power to lead.
“I’m convinced our most common leadership model within the North American church resembles that of the Corinthians. We long for the so-called super-apostles. We want the gifted, the successful, the articulate, the men and women who get things done. Our leaders are allowed to suffer, but only in the past tense. We want winners, people who’ve beat the odds…It’s time to rewrite our leadership playbook. It’s time for leaders who’ve learned the power of weakness.”
Dash looks at Paul in 2 Corinthians for guidance and I think he is on to something. This last week I have been meeting with groups in our church to discuss a new network partnership for us. These talks have also brought on questions of the church’s future and I was quick to share that like Paul I am often “burdened beyond my strength.” And that is exactly where I want to be so I keep trusting Jesus.
Thirdly, this bit from the last book written by David Powlison shared by Justin Taylor. In it Powlison gives a front row view of a heart given to Christ. What it means to suffer and have hope. Ultimately hope in our Savior.
In the midst of my confusion, unbelief, and fear of death, God used Ezekiel 36:25–27 to bring me to faith. It was my first encounter with the belt of truth that Jesus gives his people. It was my first encounter with the sword of the Spirit that exposes and heals. At that moment, I knew the truth of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). It was God who shone his light into my heart and awakened me from the slumber of sin and death.
Now more than four decades later, I am staring death in the face. Instead of my faith failing, the promise of a new heart holds true. God is still shining into the darkness of my heart to give me the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. The reality of death has made the truth of God’s Word come alive to me.