Archive for February, 2013

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.
—Habakkuk 3:17–19

There are seasons of life when it feels like you’re living in a desert. The landscape is parched, you wonder if you’ll ever bear fruit again. Everything is bare and life itself seems to be in question. This is life in the wilderness.

Though it’s counterintuitive, Scripture tells us this is a moment for praising God and giving thanks because that’s often when i realize, yet again, that my only hope rests in “my faithful Savior Jesus Christ…who has paid for all my sins with his precious blood… [and that] he watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven (Heidelberg Catechism, answer to Q.1 “What is your only comfort in life and in death?”).

I once had a pastor who said, “In the Bible, when you read that someone is heading into the wilderness, you know they won’t emerge from the wilderness without being changed in profound ways.” No one goes voluntarily into wilderness; but if that’s where you find yourself, don’t try to fight your way out. Pray that God will lead you out once his work has been done in you.

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Clued In

You want to know what being missional looks like? This article in HuffPost is thought provoking. I know so many churches that talk about being missional but don’t have a clue (or don’t care) what’s going on in the neighborhoods around their church. Some of the students at the seminary are working in and “exegeting” the neighborhood around the seminary – one of the most poverty-stricken, crime-ridden neighborhoods in Atlanta. Within about 1 square mile there are more than 30 gated churches. These are places of “worship” on Sunday but barred and gated (or simply empty) against the neighborhood the rest of the week. One student asked, “if churches are supposed to be hospitals for sinners, why don’t they keep hospital hours?” In response to this challenge and others like it many churches say, “Yes, but the church isn’t the building. The church is the people and we’re about preparing the people to be the church when they’re sent out from here, to be the church in their own neighborhoods and work places.” That’s a laudable goal. But I wonder if this just gives permission to comfortable Christians to stay in their comfort zones. “God would never ask me to put myself at risk. Safety first.” Oh yeah? Well Jesus “became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood (Jn 1:14, MSG)” and it got him killed. I think Jesus must weep every time he looks around his neighborhood and sees one of these empty, barred and gated places of “worship”.

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