Discipleship

Pastor Keep Running

As I slogged through my morning run in unseasonably warm temps a conversation I had more than twenty years ago came to mind. I had been on a similar run with a good friend in college. I was older so surely wiser and we were discussing getting ahead in life, conquering the goals we had given ourselves and the like.

Then nearing the halfway point of our planned run my friend slowed down and exclaimed that he was done. It was too taxing and he was too tired to keep going. I then attempted to coach him about running through our “walls” and persevering. “If you want get to the next level, succeed at what is ahead of you, you need to keep running when you don’t have anything left.”

The reader will understand that this had more to do with than just running. I don’t know if he remembers the conversation, or finishing the run like a champ, but he has done well for himself so he figured it out somehow.

But as I was running this morning, it wasn’t perseverance to finish the physical run I had on my mind. Instead perseverance to finish the spiritual race we are called to run. Specifically, the call of pastors to keep going, to stick it out and lead in hard places.

Over the last several weeks I have been exhorting the church about having enough hope to persevere through the transformation we experience in Christ as part of his church. It is far too easy to bail out when there are churches more aligned with my political perspectives or preference of music etc. But we are made for the long haul, in community.

Then the Lord returns the question back on me as I have been preparing for a brief sabbatical to find some refreshment and rest.

I have a high view of God’s sovereignty, but I wonder how many churches miss out on fresh moves of God, or have them delayed, because pastors pull the ejection chord when things get hard or don’t live up to the ideal in our heads. For some this means leaving ministry, for others it can be finding a new flock that looks and feels more ideal.

Now I know the Lord calls leaders to new endeavors as he aligns the church to match his desires, but I wonder how many pastors convince themselves they are hearing a call when they really need to tap into some perseverance.

This is where the fruit is, this is where relationship is forged. This is where discipleship happens. This is what are called to.

So pastor brothers, keep running. The grace of Christ is sufficient for you even when it feels like you don’t have anything else, he is enough. Keep taking the steps, keep preaching the gospel, keep surrendering yourself to the transformation of the Spirit and see what he might do in and through you.

The Lord will refine you as he refines the church. Be up for that. And stick with them.

Whenever you go out, walk together, and when you reach your destination, stay together.” – Augustine

Discipleship

#forwardtothenew

I am convinced that the pastoral vocation is not one of mandating behaviors or ordering people to live in a certain way (how great would that be?!) but rather inviting those you shepherd into the life of faith. To living from the grace of Christ, in a vastly different way than our prevailing culture. To sacrifice, valuing others, experiencing the presence of Christ among other things. Revealing your life as persuasion for others to join the Jesus way.

From this realization and alignment then I have been thinking today about what it means to move forward, into a new sense of life, instead of “getting back to normal.”

Normal wasn’t working. It was riddled with anxiety and the glossing over of the ills of society, as long as I got mine who cared. Even faith too often served as an accessory versus a priority. But what comes next doesn’t have to look or act the same as before.

We have the opportunity to be formed by this moment for what’s next, for great moves of God in the church, for fervent evangelism in our communities, and unrelenting love of our neighbors, the least among us. We can make surrender to Jesus and the newness of life he provides our main thing.

This is what I am up for. Forward to the new. I don’t think I can argue you into it. That sounds exhausting anyway. But I can let you see what it looks like as I attempt it. I can let you in on how I battle to find joy and trust in the Lord in the middle of highs and lows. I can show you places where renewal is taking root and invite you to join in.

You don’t have to follow me, but I do think you should follow Jesus. At least that is who I plan to keep following. And he wants you to step forward to the new.

Grace

Fulfilled in 2020

As we enter into a new year, we have begun a new reading plan to journey through the Bible. This morning in the first installment one word and theme jumped out to me. Fulfilled.

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing…” Ezra 1:1 (ESV)

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet…” Matthew 1:22 (ESV)

Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David…” Acts 1:16 (ESV)

God is in the business of fulfilling his promise, his word. This is how the Old Testament enriches us. We know that his word does not return empty but is accomplished. Ultimately the promise of Immanuel is fulfilled making all the other promises part of the the anticipation for a Savior. Jesus has come and he has fulfilled the law for us that by grace we would be children of God. All of God’s promises are yes and amen in Christ.

In light then of the New Testament we live boldly knowing that what God has declared will be fulfilled. He is bringing us all the way home.

As I reflected on this the Spirit brought to mind prophetic promises the Lord has given me and here on the first day of the new year the reminder of his faithfulness to fulfill.

What is it that you are anticipating being fulfilled in Jesus this year? Is it confidence in your identity in him? Restoration of relationships that have been broken? Comfort or the ruling peace of Christ in every corner of life? Ask the Lord to give you an awareness of how he is working fulfillment, rest in the grace of Christ and live. God fulfills.