Thursday, January 28, 2010

Making myself at home

I am trying to get settled and get to work here at Good Shepherd, but to be honest I am finding it a little difficult. A big part of it, I think is that the office doesn't really feel mine. It is full (pretty literally) of other peoples left over stuff, stuff the church had no other place to put and stuff that probably belongs here - but doesn't feel like its mine to use yet.
So I am going to be doing some clearing out over the next few days and I am going to try to make it as much mine as I can - until the rest of our stuff gets moved here next week.
As I am in the midst of this it struck me that this is how it probably is with us and God.
We need to allow God to move in and make Himself at home in our lives - including taking down and getting rid of the stuff that doesn't belong to him.
Wow, that doesn't sound easy or fun, but I think that is exactly what we need to do if we want to begin to live into the call of God in our lives and live up to who God created us to be.
I don't think this is the headline I was going for, but maybe we need to let God be the interior decorator of our hearts, souls and lives. Okay, seriously I need a better line than that, but I really do think that is the idea that we should be going for.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Maybe we can chew on this together

So, in my last post I said that I would have something else later, well, its later now. As we are in the midst of this transition something I read from Mark Batterson (pastor at National Community Church in Washington, D.C.) has really been sticking with me and I can't help but think it is a God thing, so below is what he wrote in a blog post:

"Purify yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." Joshua 3:5

Your potential is determined by your purity. If your motives are pure, there is nothing God cannot do through you. Instead of focusing all of our energy on planning the future maybe we ought to focus on purifying ourselves. After all, that is how God prepares us. You want to be used by God? Purify yourself. You want the favor of God? Purify yourself. You want to experience peace and joy? Purify yourself. You want to see God do wonders? Purify yourself. Or maybe I should say: let God purify you. You can't do it yourself. But Christ has done it for you on the cross.

The way you prepare yourself for tomorrow is by purifying yourself today!

How? It starts with repentance. If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Confession is spiritual cleansing. Purity is a deep cleaning if you will. It involves the deep recesses of your heart and mind. It includes the hidden motives of your heart. It includes the secret thoughts in your mind. You have to look in the mirror for a long time! You have to be brutally honest. You have to give God all access to everything. But if we make purity our goal, God will do wonderful things! That is the Biblical pattern.

By the way, that probably means we'll go through some painful things. Purifying always involves some fire. But God redeems our pain and uses it for His gain! And it's the painful things that makes the wonderful things so wonderful

I came across this post as I was preparing one of my last messages for 2nd Mile at Highland, and I talked about it then but it has really not left my thoughts since then.
We talk all the time about what God can do and that He has a plan for us, etc. But so often I think we (or at least I) act like we are somehow spectators to the whole thing. I mean, I firmly believe that we can't do much of anything without God, but it seems to me the whole point of all of this is that God has chosen to do this (His 'plan') WITH us.
So we have a part to play in it and I think it starts with this idea of purity. It makes sense, God wants to do amazing things in us, through us and for us but we have to allow that to happen. We have to open ourselves up to God and while God does the heavy lifting, we have to focus on making ourselves 'usable' by God.
If our lives are full of things that run counter to God and his will, how much room have we left God to work? If we have put all sorts of things on our list of priorities before God (like work, money, power, influence - even good things like family and friends) how can we expect God to transform us and use us to do great and wonderful things.
This is what I have been trying to focus on - the work of purifying myself so that God might use me to do the amazing, wonderful and great things that he has had set aside for me from the beginning of the world. In the midst of all my fear and anxiety about these new things God is calling us into, I really do trust that if I focus on that, God will handle the rest. And the really amazing part is that we can't even do the purity bit by ourselves - that is the Holy Spirit working in us and through us.
So anyway, thats where I am. Back to work.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

So Now What?

Last night was the big examination by the Presbytery of Boston. Things went smoothly as I thought they would and now all the 'hurtles' (read: hoops) to go through before officially becoming the pastor of Good Shepherd have been jumped through. After the installation service on Sunday afternoon I will be officially on the job.
All of that is great news, but it leads to an exciting and troubling question . . . what now?
Parts of that answer are obvious, I get to know the congregation and the people that make Good Shepherd what it is, I start planning service, writing sermons and creating a calendar for the year.
But I guess I am wrestling with a more existential question. Like why am I the one God has called to this particular place at this particular time? Not that I am doubting anything, because I am not, but just trying to discern all that God has planned and how I can faithfully respond to what I have been called to.
To be honest I am a little scared about what lies ahead. I am definitely excited too, but living with uncertainty has never been my strong point and I feel like, except for knowing that I am the one preaching each week, all the rest of my responsibilities are at least a little bit uncertain.
But God is good and I know our job is simply to do whatever it is that he puts in front of us. So my job for this week is trying to figure out exactly what that is.
I will have more later - something I have been chewing on for a while - but this is enough for now.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hey look, I joined the aughts!

As I am about to embark on a whole new chapter of life and ministry with fam in Massachusetts I thought it might be a good time for me to take a stab at this whole 'blogging' thing.
Seriously, I have felt like I should be doing this for a while, but just didn't have the slightest clue what I could put up here that might be of interest to anyone else.
I am still not sure that I have anything 'interesting' for anyone else to read, but I am going to take a shot at it anyway. This will mostly be a space for me post sermon transcripts, prayers of particular poignancy (to me at least), random thoughts and other musings about life, fatherhood, ministry and the adventure of (trying to) following God's call.
Come along, share your thoughts and maybe this can even be a place where meaningful conversation can happen.

In Christ,