Archive for the ‘blog’ tag
I’m looking for response to my article in Heartlight.org today, entitle “ALL!” I’m also looking for response to the post yesterday called, “A Heart for the City.” Help me out with some insight here!
Why is it so hard to be a church that is committed to reach “ALL” people?
How can we as believers reach out to “ALL” and not just to people just like us?
How can we learn to love the people of our city more and include them in Jesus’ circle of grace?
(Please share your responses below — don’t forget to put in the number code or the responses won’t post! Thanks.)
It’s hard when you have to face your own words. Sunday was frustrating on many fronts for me. When I arrived at home from preaching two services and a pre-marital counseling visit, Donna sensed something was not quite right with me. After visiting with me awhile, she said, “You feel defeated, don’t you?”
I admitted that is where I was at the moment — well, where I was most of the afternoon.
Preaching post-mortems are always pretty rough for me; I am nearly always too hard on myself and how the morning went. I am just frustrated that we seem to have the same technical problems over and over and in the process, my heart-felt response in worship has become dampened. Part of it is that I have been a bit depressed, off and on, since returning from Africa. So much of what we focus on — what I focus on — when discussing church seems so shallow and selfish. Yet it still matters to me as a matter of excellence and offering my best and our best to the Lord. When I lose my passion in worship, I’m a whole lot like a sailboat without a keel and rudder: I’m left to blow in whatever ill wind catches me.
Thinking through my message convicted me that I am guilty of not hearing my own message about staying on the journey — my Heartlight article today covers some of the same emphasis. I want to see movement and passion. I want to see message move us to mission. I don’t want to feel like I’m dosing out spoonfuls of water to sponges and then watching the water evaporate over the course of a week only to see the same dry sponges return the next week without any observable movement or change, they’re just back for their weekly dose of water.
Is it the process of preaching?
Is it the way we do church?
Is it me?
I know late Sunday nights are not the best time to look at such things. I may feel totally different by tomorrow morning — or at least a little different.Thankfully for me, friends from our care group came over and I was profoundly blessed by their friendship and conversation. Donna was precious as she showered tender attention on me after our friends left. During the process, through friends and family, I was gently nudged to hear the words the Spirit game me to share … words I needed to hear.
Remember your destination: becoming like Jesus — be like Him until you go home to be with Him.
Remember the journey can be long: stay committed.Remember what maturity is: realizing you haven’t arrived until you’re at home with Jesus.
So I’m just before sleeping myself into the beginning of another week with many of the same challenges of the previous week … and the one before that and the one before that … But I’m trying to trust the words I shared with others are words I must hear and apply to my own heart.
But it’s hard staying on the journey when the landscape doesn’t change very quickly and the problems seem to be the same from week to week. And it’s hard to stay on the journey when you’ve come to the conviction that we’ve got to change some significant, meaningful, organizational things about how we do church and refuse to be misled by cosmetic and faddish things.
Let’s help each other hang in and stay on the journey!
If you got some suggestions for me and others who are reading the blog, then please suggest to me resources that have blessed you on your journey. What words of encouragement you would offer to someone who, like me, gets a little bogged down and distracted on the journey? How do you find strength to stay on the journey?
What we sometimes call worship, but it’s often not.
What we long to share with those we love, but often don’t.
What so many of us want in our daily lives with God, but often won’t.
What the name of the slum is that I sat in this morning claims to be, but isn’t.
I sat in a matchbox-sized house — 7 foot by 9 foot, one wall a little over 5 foot tall and the other about 9 foot tall. Sweat from my hair ran under my collar and down my back. The light filtered into this tiniest of homes through the crowded doorway. Eight souls share this cramped box called a house on Celebration Hill, in Kampala, Uganda.
Over the shoulder of a child standing in the doorway, I could see the beautiful mosque on top of the hill. Other than the call for afternoon prayers that filtered down the hill from the mosque and spilled into this neighborhood, the mosque’s presence offered little visble impact, and even less solace, in the lives of these people caught in death grip of poverty. This is supposedly a largely Muslim neighborhood, but the lack or morals and the darkness of the “night” in this place are really testimonies to the lack of faith, no matter the claimed religion.
We were gathered to learn and to love from this family. The mother went to her knees to thank us for our presence. She openly shared her deepest concerns: a better relationship with her husband and better health for herself and her children. Underneath lay the other request: a way to escape the poverty and a way to replace her secret income from her home brew that only brought a more recognizable blight to her neighborhood.
The father of this family, her husband, worked part-time with the anti-terrorism police. He showed up near the end of our visit and proudly put on his uniform — hat, shirt, baton, and rain hood. She dyes some kind of clothing or rope, but also runs a business that provides the “celebrators” with their neighborhood hooch, a home brew, and her only income. But drunkenness and sexual attacks are result of this awful brew during Friday reveling on Celebration Hill. Like the neighborhood around her, this mom-wife-brewmaster is trapped in the squalor and deep poverty of poor choices, poorer opportunities, and the poorest kinds of hope.
Little by little, this family is being led out of the cycle of poverty and self-defeating choices, by the one reason to celebrate on Celebration Hill: a church partnered with Compassion International to give children in this neighborhood a figthing chance. Unlike neighborhood flight in the U.S. as a neighborhood “changes demographics” (Code for “changes racial composition”!), the leaders of this church come from outside the neighborhood to redeem it and bless it. Many of them have escaped the traps of self-defeating behaviors and are committed to help these people find a reason to hope and a way out of the darkness.
For a few moments, I was blessed to be in indescribable squalor and yet feel that I was among people who truly lived it when they prayed, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Many of you already know about the upcoming Uganda trip with Compassion International. If you are not aware of the details, check the “Uganda with Compassion!” tab at the bottom of the picture above. It will give you many of the details.
On my heart today is the success of the trip: our hope is to get more than 500 children sponsored each month. So I’m asking anyone the Lord touches with this plea to sign up to be a part of the prayer team. Through the comment feature below, I ask that if you are willing to be a part of the prayer team that you offer a blessing or prayer in the comments you leave. This will be your way of committing to pray for these efforts. Thanks!
For the next several weeks, I am asking you to be in prayer for us with two primary prayer targets:
- Hearts of people to be touched so that we can find at least 500 monthly sponsors for children throughout the world through Compassion International
- Compatibility, good health, safe travel, and redemptive influence for our team going to Uganda and that we are a blessing to the children and Compassion staff with whom we interact