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At the monastery prayer experience from a few weeks ago, we spent time doing Lectio Divina, praying through the Scriptures while taking time to listen to the voice of God through unique words or phrases that seem to jump out at you. God does that sometimes, His Spirit prompts, speaks, if we are quiet enough to listen. Sometimes, He speaks in our noise as well.
While doing Lectio Divina this morning on Psalm 16, Philippians 2 and Luke 22 (Theme: Humility of Christ), and Mother Theresa on being the Bread of Christ, these are the words and phrases that the Spirit brought out with a brief description of how they intersect my daily life:
SHALLOM. PEACE. Mother Theresa said, “don’t resort to arms…” In issues of the heart, things that bother us, we can resort to arms, to a war of words, to complaining and arguing, judging others and being negative. I see this often. The Spirit kept saying to choose the path of SHALLOM, the way of peace, not of arms. It doesn’t mean let people walk over you, it doesn’t mean be a door mat or don’t speak your mind, but it does mean to keep a spirit of peace in your heart and conversations.
HONESTY and INTIMACY. The more I do church, the more a longing to have intimacy in my relationships. We don’t gather just to put on a show, or to serve the putting on of the event, we gather to serve yes, but we serve out of intimacy with one another. We must create places where our people are being transformed. People in the Body have more and more a need for genuine transformation and less a need to be busy. But this is tough, some are more resistant to transformation than others, many would just want to be busy doing church, but we can’t afford this. Just look around at the broken marriages, broken college students lives. We must provide places for intimacy to take place and from there move to missional, apostolic living as a norm not a program.
MISSIONAL and APOSTOLIC. It’s not enough to be in community, connected and in small groups. This intimacy must find its way towards a life of discipleship, a life of good works that flow out of the Spirit’s conviction and the grace of God. There is darkness and there is light, the Gospel is central to our methods, that IS our message, not friendship alone, or mercy and justice alone, not worship alone, but Jesus on a Cross, dying for our sin, taking our place to satisfy the divine anger due us, to give us life and purpose, to provide significance and depth of meaning to our lives. That is my passion, we don’t serve a message, we serve a person, Jesus.
GOSPEL. Well, I mostly said it up above, but this is central to our conversation. The blood of Jesus, Satan, the Cross, the Resurrection, the sacraments, the Eucharist, baptism, worship, justification by faith alone, good works as a sign of our faith, a life of love to our neighbors, to the poor and the orphans (they actually exist you know!), the widows and elderly and sick (they also exist all around us). This is our uniqueness and our message, this is my passion.
And this is not for pastors alone, I hope it is what pastors focus on. This is for everyone of you as a human, as a follower of Jesus, as a disciple and member of His Body. This is available to you. Consumerism, what car you drive, how much money you make, what clothes you can buy, what theme your children will choose for their birthday, your favorite TV show, these are not the priorities of the kingdom. We will have these things as we live a life of faith and service and helping those in need.
Just yesterday, I both failed and had success in being a servant not a star. I failed in that I shuusshed a dear lady who wanted to get some worship CD’s for her family in Nigeria, she had asked me all week for them and on Sunday, I basically ignored her need in the name of having to get ready for, get this, worship! I also left my 75 year old neighbor alone who was in church for only the 2nd time since I’ve known him. He is hurting with all kinds of kidney and prostate issues, but there he was in the front row saying hi to me. I gave him the ol’ pastor-busy-Sunday-hello and sent him on his way. He wandered around the church after the service ended, and yes it was the 100th year anniversary and I had around 75 artists, designers, tech,etc. that were counting on me. Nonetheless, my heart was too busy for Howard. What he needed was for one person, me, to walk him to the lunch area, sit with him and introduce him to others in the church. Instead, I hung out with the beautiful, cool people of the church, taking pictures and the like.
On the positive side, the service was great, but I felt the Spirit was in counseling a couple in need. We spoke of marriage, my wife and I, our dating, our working on stuff, conversations we’ve had lately. We spoke for 30mns, they were visiting from out of town and I could tell they don’t get this often. At the end they said, “do you give marriage seminars and can we come?” The husband added, “deep stuff David, deep stuff.”
This is my life, a combination of God and self of service and stardom of life and death, trying to become the man I’m called to be, while dying to this unstoppable force to let it be about me. But praise be to God, that in Jesus we have His power at work in us. Hallelujah!
I know God was in the big things of 100 years of Bethany history, but he was not in the self-serving, self-promoting, look at me that was just a step away. He was in Howard’s need for a friend at lunch, in this lady’s hunger for worship in Nigeria, in this couple’s need for marriage counseling. That is where the Spirit is working in my life, pray for me that I listen to Him more next time and yet be thankful that He still worked through us.
Into the future,