Wednesday Words: My Further Reflections on Christian Living and Church Leadership from an Older Pastor and Professor: Part 2

I hope you read the first installment of this series on Monday. If so, here are the next of my reflections at this stage of my ministry (again, in no order of priority): 

  1. Prayer is the most difficult spiritual discipline to develop and maintain—and a weak commitment to prayer has often resulted in weak churches in North America. Prayer’s hard because (a) seldom has anyone really taught us to pray; (b) we naturally default into independence and self-dependence before we turn to God in prayer; (c) it doesn’t take much heavenly silence for us to give up on prayer. Meanwhile, our brothers and sisters around the world who face persecution march forward into the darkness on their knees. 
  2. Too often, the high points of our spiritual walk are more past tense than present-tense. We had more zeal for Jesus when we were first saved. We were sponges for the gospel, daily more filled with wonder than we were the day before. Fast forward, though, and our zeal becomes routine . . . normal . . . powerless. Only when we intentionally fight against this tendency in the power of God will things change. 
  3. In our brokenness and weakness, we find our strength in Him (2 Cor 12:10). We know that truth, but I’m convinced we cannot know it experientially until God takes us through the desert. As long as we are functioning in our own strength, we cannot expect to operate in the power of God. When God lovingly breaks us, however, His presence and power are sweet indeed. 
  4. When we have to work hard to identify what the Lord has recently taught us, we’ve probably stopped growing—and there’s no place for that in our journey. I’ve had those moments where it felt like I’d “arrived” and had little left to learn. I’ve had them enough, in fact, that the Lord has sometimes dramatically and painfully taught me otherwise. Today, I’m learning again how much I truly need God, just how complete His forgiveness is, and how much I need Him to continually deepen my heartbrokenness over non-believers. 
  5. Christianity without the church is incomplete, even though the church is messy. I get it when someone says to me, “I follow Jesus, but I want nothing to do with His church.” We’re often conflicted, misfocused, shallow, and hypocritical, yet – and this “yet” really does matter – God loves His church anyway. Like the apostle Paul in his relationship with the messed-up Corinthian church, we are to thank God for each other (1 Cor 1:4-9) and love each other deeply (1 Cor 16:24). In God’s unusual economy, we who are messes gain strength when serving with the family of other messes. 

What are some of your reflections? I’ll continue my thoughts on Friday of this week. 

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