One of my best friends in ministry had a saying that I've latched onto over the years. He says, "If you don't know what to do, go to where the people are." He was a part of a campus ministry, so to him that meant go to the campus and be with students. For me, this meant making time to meet with people in times and places that worked for them.
I could, I suppose, wait around for people to come to me at the church...but I'd rather be proactive. So I often call people, meet for coffee, go for lunch or visit people in their homes. I go to where they are. Just this week, for example, I'll share meals with two people from the church, visit a family in their home and spend the weekend with over a dozen leaders from our church on a retreat as we plan for the future of Six Points. One of my professors calls this a "ministry of presence."
Jesus uses the idea of a sheep and shepherd often to describe his role to us. He is the good shepherd. The title Pastor comes from this same idea. I am supposed to know my sheep and they are supposed to know me. I work, along with a team of leaders, to care for and guide people into being fully developed disciples of Jesus. That's the job. Sometimes this happens through a sermon (and the prep work to get the sermon ready) but often it happens over a cup of coffee and conversation.
A good shepherd has to get out of the office and out into the field...because that's where the people are.
P.S.: If you want to meet up for a cup of coffee (or lunch, or a walk on the Monon while we chat), just reach out. I'm always up to meet, talk and listen.
Officially our 21 Days of Prayer series is over. This past Sunday we wrapped up this teaching series that had included sermons, devotionals, a cool app and some wonderful videos from leaders in our District. I hope you took advantage of this special focus on prayer and were challenged to spend additional time with God.
But, I hope that just because the series is over, the focus on prayer won't end. I hope that we have been challenged to become a person of prayer every day, not just during a certain series. I also hope that we wouldn't stop focusing on prayer as a church, but become a praying church. Of course a praying church is really just a church full of people who pray. We pray together, we pray alone. We pray in the good times and in the bad. We pray when we are in need and when we are in plenty. We pray at all times. That's who we are and that's what we do.
Jesus modeled this. He spent much time in prayer with His Father. He often went off to pray alone. It is good for you to take time to pray. That might be the most important thing you EVER do! We can work and work and work...but without prayer our work will never achieve what we might have with God's help. Prayer is to be the lifeblood of the people of God.
So, on day 22 or 23 or 87 or 5,687...we should still pray and not give up. We should seek to grow in our prayer life. We should pray in new ways. We should seek intimacy with God through communication with our Heavenly Father.
May we become people of prayer, now and always.
I remember that, during my freshman year of college, I attended a retreat with other ministry majors. During a time of worship I heard lots of people using a word that didn't make sense to me because they were using it as a good thing when I understood that word to be bad. The word was broken. They kept talking about being broken before God. Broken by their sin. Broken by His love. Broken.
It took me a while, longer than I would like to admit, to understand what they meant. I always understood that broken is bad. We throw broken things away. Broken things are junk, disposable. I had a hard time understanding how being broken could be good.
But the truth is we are all broken. We try to hide it. We put on a strong face and suck it up, but deep down we know that we are broken people. But admitting that would show weakness and so we put on a mask of being "fine" and go on with our lives. We might tell a few people, a trusted friend or pastor or therapist about our pain, but mostly we keep it buried and hidden from all in case they were to see the truth.
This week, as we prepare to lay Logan Gellert to rest after a two year battle with cancer, many of us are visibly broken. Tears are gonna flow. Emotions are going to be seen. We will take off our masks and others will see our brokenness. And I think that's good. It's good to let others see your need. If we hide our pain and pretend to be "fine" then nobody can help. Broken people need love, hugs, prayers and support. I can't fix your brokenness, but we can be broken together and care for one another.
But it's also important to be broken with God. He already knows, of course, that you are broken. Our masks don't fool him. But when we admit our pain to Him, cry out to Him; He hears us and He can help us.
Psalm 147:3 says "(God) heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds"
It's ok to be broken. It's good to be real. Take off the mask. Let others see. Talk to a friend. Give a hug. Pray and talk to God about your pain. He cares. He heals.
Broken is beautiful.
I had a wonderful conversation today with a church member who wished I had added something to my sermon this past week about the Lord's Prayer. They made a great point and I agree that what they wanted to hear was both true and good...but, I just can't teach everything that is true about every verse in the Bible; it's just not possible. So, sometimes really good stuff ends up on "the cutting room floor" not because it isn't good or true.
In fact, on a regular basis, there are things I WANT to talk about that I don't; because it might not be helpful or would take too long or distract from my main point...or just because people will get hungry and mentally check out. So I edit and cut and it's painful; but necessary.
A lot of the stuff that gets cut ends up in other places, like a class I am planning for this Spring that started as a sermon that I'm not going to give or a sermon I might preach in the future.
But I want to focus less on what I DON'T say and remember that God will take what I DO say (or teach or write) and use it for His purpose. I believe that the Holy Spirit is just as present in my sermon prep and editing as He is when I am delivering the sermon. I trust that God will take my words (and more importantly His WORD which I deliver) and use it to teach, convict, move and challenge. I leave it in His hands and pray that what is given will be received and bear fruit.
Mark 4:23 "If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear."