Beginnings

This was an article for the August newsletter at our church.
Have you noticed that it is almost universal that we human beings get excited about beginnings? Everything from the birth of a baby to the start of a race is filled with a variety of pomp and circumstance accompanied by a frenzy of excitement. As crazy as it sounds for some, even the first day of school is met with a measure of excitement. Think about it, children and teenagers head off to the first day of school decked out in a new wardrobe and sporting all new school gear, because it is a fresh beginning. We could almost go so far as to say we have a love affair with beginning things.
As excited as we tend to get about beginnings we have a reputation within our culture for lacking follow through. Our excitement over finishing well is, let’s say, not so universal. For whatever reason or reasons we can sometimes lose sight of the excitement of driving the last nail or finishing the last mile.
At the end of this month we are celebrating the legacy of MorningStar Baptist Church to finish well. We are closing the chapter of the first 50 years of ministry only to begin a new chapter looking to the next 50 years. My desire is that this would be a celebration of magnanimous proportions! Anyone can start a church, but not everyone can celebrate 50 faithful and fruitful years, and every one of you have made some contribution. It is because of the availability of so many faithful followers of Jesus Christ that we are having this celebration. My encouragement to each of you is to invite those who have been a part of this spiritual legacy to be here on the weekend of August 27-29. This will be our opportunity to thank one another for each other’s faithfulness, and also, to collectively thank God for His gracious hand of blessing. I would also encourage you to invite some friends who you’ve been praying for. I can think of no better way to celebrate 50 years of ministry than to ask God for a harvest of souls coming to know Him – and that will require that we scatter some seed and invite some friends and family who need Jesus. As we all pitch in we can make this 50th celebration one to remember.

Time to Reflect

I am headed to my 20 year high school reunion this weekend. Special occasions like this always put me in a reflective mood. Personally, I like to reflect. I like to evaluate the ebb, flow and patterns in my life, even though I don’t always like what I see and what God tells me I must do about it. Still, I have enjoyed reflecting during the last several weeks prompted by said reunion. See, I wasn’t living my life to honor God 20 years ago so there is a lot of ebb and flow since that time. There have been a lot of devastating patterns overturned and replaced with life-giving, God-honoring ones. I like to stop and just rejoice when I come across things like that. God doesn’t allow me to stay there long though because there are still so many patterns in my life that need to be surrendered to His Lordship. I’ve got a long way to go, but God has certainly brought me a long way too.
There is another special occasion coming up that I hope will prompt the same kind of reflective mood in all of us. It is the 50th anniversary of MorningStar Baptist Church. What a great time for each of us to prayerfully evaluate the ebb, flow, and patterns of life and ministry for this church. What a great time to rejoice in the ways in which God has revealed and replaced destructive patterns in this ministry. God won’t allow us to stay there too long though because He still has work to do. He still has life-threatening patterns to uncover and root out in us individually and collectively.
We are going to have a wonderful time of celebration August 27-29. There will be old friends and new. There will be memories made and memories remembered. There will be food (of course, we’re Baptist!), there will be music, there will be laughter and surprises. But in the midst of all of that I want to encourage every one of us to also allow this to be a time in which we intentionally, passionately, and fervently seek the Lord asking Him to reveal to us His perspective of this ministry past, present, and future. For those who do, I assure you it will be the highlight of this special occasion.

Under Control

I’m reading a book right now by Ravi Zacharias, The Grand Weaver.  He recounts the building of the ark by Noah, highlighting how God was so particular with the details of how it should be built.  God provided specifications for particular materials and exact measurements but there were two critical things left out; a sail and a rudder.  Imagine building a boat that big then being in the middle of catastrophic conditions with no means of controlling the boat.  God made it imperative that in the design of the ark Noah be willing to trust Him.

God has a way of doing that doesn’t He?  Abraham was sent on a journey without a map or even a destination, Joseph reached his childhood God-dreams through a lifetime of nightmarish circumstances, and Gideon was sent into battle with a handful of rookie recruits against a veteran legion of mercenaries.  So many accounts from Scripture and my own life affirm what Zacharias observes, “God has made it imperative in the design of life that we become willing to trust beyond ourselves.”  I would add God delights in this.  Yes, I said delights.

Quite often I think we struggle to see the delight in it as God does.  We tend to think things would be better if we were in control.  If we had the map, the steering wheel, the last say then everything would be, well…better – in my (insert your own name) humble opinion.  But it also means the loss of faith, which means the loss of hope and feeling continually crushed under the weight of a world full of pain and suffering. 

God has designed us and delights when we live by faith, when we “trust in the LORD with all [our] heart, and do not lean on [our] own understanding.”  The blessed life is trusting the One who knows more than we do and is good – though He isn’t safe.  So how are you doing?  Are you asking God to include a sail and rudder or are you just building as He’s told you and leaving the control to Him?