Friday, May 29, 2009

Martha Syndrome

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have a hard time slowing down to listen to the Lord. Life gets so busy with so many different commitments. Leading a church plant, raising a family and trying to affirm precious friendships all press for my time. Yet I know deep in my heart that spending time to reflect and wait on God is of central importance. I am a doer and troubleshooter at heart and it is difficult to shift gears some times. Even reading the scriptures can become an exercise in gleaning information verses listening for God to speak. Luke in chapter 10 of his gospel records the events at a dinner gathering. Martha invited Jesus and His followers into her home, and proceeded to prepare a meal for the whole company. Mary her sister sat in rapt attention listening to Jesus as he taught. Of course Martha felt slighted and went to Jesus to complain about Mary’s unwillingness to help her. Jesus knowing what is in her heart, tells her not to let worry and distraction cause her to miss what was important. How easy it is to be overly occupied and too busy to sit at Jesus feet. It is interaction with Jesus that fuels passion and mission. Duty can only take us so far. How different life is when we are hearing God clearly and revelation is flowing to us! Springs of living water become a reality!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Faith and Grace

I have been thinking a lot about grace and faith. As a young Christian I was taught that faith was a means to move God. We were taught that there are principles of faith that God would not ignore. If we only believed, confessed and acted we could get what ever we had set our faith toward. As I have walked with God I find that I don't believe that God is so easily manipulated. Don't misunderstand me, faith sits central to our life in God. I do believe that we are to confess God's Word and put into practice, but in a response to a relationship and revelation from God. My view of 'faith principles' has been shaped by the message of grace. Grace in the Greek carries the idea of God's influence on our hearts. God speaks to us by His Spirit; we are designed to be a people of revelation. Faith is the response to an encounter with God. Consider Gideon, frightened, hiding in a wine press. An angel appears and makes a declaration that Gideon is a mighty man of God. It was that revelation that propels him into the destiny that God had for him. To some Gideon’s ongoing conversation and request for confirmation was a lack of faith on Gideon’s part. Yet it speaks to a remarkable act of grace and revelation. It was in that encounter that dynamic faith is fostered and released. As a Bible teacher it is easier to contextualize Gideon’s request as unbelief and to discourage people to look to an encounter with God, than to set them up to the possibility of God not responding to their request. We some times dumb down the mystic nature of Christianity to avoid any need to wrestle with God. Jacob wrestled with God and carried the reminder for the rest of his life. We need more divine encounters. Another truth that has come as I consider grace is that life is more about God and less about us. We were created for His pleasure, yet some how we can lose that perspective and shift to ‘my happiness, my dreams, and my fulfillment’. In all the heroes of faith we see recorded in the book of Hebrews, it was more about how they responded to God and His purposes for their life. Life is complex; God’s ways are far above our own, He moves according to His own sovereignty. We are called to a living and dynamic relationship with God let us seek him and avoid resorting to formulas to find our way. When we “hear” God, then let us believe, confess and act with confidence.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Simple Expressions of Love

A group from Journey and the Year Team from Silver Creek Fellowship met and provided lunch to approximately 70 homeless man and women beneath the Center Street Bridge. It has been rewarding to see building friendships with these folks and to see a growing sense of community among them. A couple from YWAM came out and played music while our team set up tables and chairs and then served as waiters and waitress to the folks. Piping hot spaghetti and fresh hot coffee hit the spot. One fellow said "We were treated with dignity and respect, thank you", and he went on to say how he appreciated how people served him and his friends. When it was time to pack and clean up it was wonderful to see so many pitch in to help. After it was all done we realized that this would be the last time the Year Team would serve with us as their terms are ending and they will be returning home, home to England, France and Missouri. We all gathered for a group picture and then everyone was on his or her way. It was a great day to show the love of Jesus in a practical way.