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!

Culture, Discipleship

Walking in the Truth

The little letters of John the Apostle are so helpful in giving a glimpse into the pastoral heart. Care for those you lead and teach. He uses the first two to establish the church in love, the vital ingredient of a life in Christ. Then in the third letter he leans on truth.

Of course it is the truth of the gospel, of the kingdom of Christ and his reign. But I think it also pertains to all truth. Having character enough to wade through what is heard or seen and landing our perspective on the truth. Not our preference, not our opinion, but truth. John even calls out someone by name for putting the self before truth… dangerous territory.

But it is John’s expression of joy that got me today as I read it. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 4 (ESV)

His greatest joy is being told how his children (those that he has fathered in ministry) walk in the truth. They don’t frequent in conspiracy or opinion or as he calls it “wicked nonsense” (v. 10), they are firmly planted in truth. They cast off the cultural version of “your truth” and understand there can only be one truth.

I understand this joy first hand. In a year where everything seems to be turned upside down and the prevalence of false narratives abound, there is something encouraging and joy-inducing when those you shepherd cling to truth, champion it, and share it with others. And because I am learning to recognize this of the pastoral heart, I am committed all the more to pursuing truth as an example. After all, that is the biblical call.

So whoever your pastor or shepherd is, think of them as John the Apostle, walk in truth. With clear eyes, and an open heart, be confident in the good news of Jesus and search out of real truth wherever it may be found.

Discipleship

They Did Not Thirst

“This season is very revealing…” This has been my sentiment as we continue through 2020 full of her pandemic and racial tension. When shaking happens, things are uncovered and our deepest hopes, bias, and perspectives are revealed. This has been a significant reality in the church and while it does not make for the easiest relationships or partnerships, it is good.

I brought this reflection to my reading this morning and Isaiah 48’s recounting of the refining of Israel. It is essentially God retelling the ways he has used circumstance to chisel away at the hearts of his people. To reveal their disobedience and to show the way of trusting his will and way. “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea;” Isaiah 48:18

There was hope for them still and it was in recounting the faithfulness of God.

Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea, declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it, send it out to the end of the earth; say, “The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob!

They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and the water gushed out.” Isaiah 48:20-21

I was talking to a few pastors just yesterday and they mentioned the “battle weariness” of this season of ministry and I can relate. Simple things are not simple anymore and rapid transformation in the church is not only exhausting, it is like the fires have been set to be quite a bit hotter.

Yet we, like Israel, can recount the faithfulness of God in the midst of the refining. We can return to him in repentance and reliance on his grace and power. We can live “hydrated” by his Spirit as we, ministers and the rest of us, persevere through the unknown of tomorrow.

Some of us need to take some breaks; get off of social media and replace the time with Scripture. Some of us need to have more real conversations where gospel reminder is the end point. Some of us need to keep being bold where voices have been absent. And some of us just need to get away, to a place of solitude to be with the Father.

All along the way my prayer is that we would look back on this year and say we did not thirst as we journeyed through this desert, that the Lord’s provision was gushing out. Will you pray that with me?