—-this is a reminder—-
everyone you know is broken.
everyone you work with has deep wounds.
every person who annoys you is broken.
you are broken.
love others in their brokenness.
grow a big heart towards those who are limping.
I recently picked up a copy of “The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus” by Brennan Manning. I have never read anything by Brennan, but have been thoroughly impressed by some of his sermons.
I’m going to blog through the book. Now, some people go through a book because the published sends them an early copy if they agree to blog about it. This is obviously not the case. However, after reading the introduction, i thought that this book might warrant some serious reflection and the occasion outsiders perspective. I think this blog will serve those functions greatly.
In forward is written by Larry Crabb. Crabb gives us a guide to wrestling with the ideas in the book:
“Concepts create idols,” wrote Greogry of Nyssa. “Only wonder understands anything.” The eminent German theologian Karl Rahner, who died in 1985, wrote: “Some thing are understood not by grasping but by allowing oneself to be grasped.” As you read these pages, I pray that you allow yourself to be grasped, and that you “pause awhile” and let yourself be broken.
Last week I sat down with some of my volunteers at Starbucks to chat. I’d been serving at Sawmill Covenant Church for almost a year.
I asked them this question: “As we look back at the first year, where have we seen God show up?”
For the next hour, we told stories. Stories of meeting new students. Stories of working with pain. Stories of trying really hard to make small groups work and failing. Lots of stories.
The one thing in common with all those stories. They didn’t involve me teaching. They didn’t involve a game. Almost every single story of God’s hand moving in our ministry was tied directly to a time where we opted for less structure over more.
My goal for the second year: carve out more time to listen to God. I want to carve out more space on Sunday nights for students to meet with God. I want to carve out more time in our volunteer meetings to pray. I want to carve out more time in my own life to slow down, shut up, and listen to God.
John Wesley famously said, “Pray like it depends on God, work like it depends on you.”
I would like to rebuttle.
What if I worked like it depended on God?
***I know that some people use excuses like this to opt of sacricifcing and serving and giving. I think God has equipped us and desires for us to “work.”
Sometimes I think we miss the point. I think we show up to church because we like it. I think we get together in a building we like to sing songs we like and listen to a sermon we like.
We act like church revolves around us. I act like church revolves around me
It revolves around God.
Act like it.
I have a personal trainer. He puts me through grueling workouts and – by the end – I pretty much dispise him. He makes me do more when I think I can’t. He pushes me to finish the workout even though my heart near failure and my vision is blurry (i’m not exagerating). At the end of yesterday’s workout I asked him, “Do people ever just get pissed off at you?” He replied, “Yeah, all the time. I have one women who I train who always calls me ‘a&%hole’.”
He went on: “I mean, I know I’m making people work hard. They’re paying me – voluntarily – for results. So that’s what I’m pushing them towards. They can quit whenever they want.”
They he said something that struck me so deeply: “I come in here everyday and see people jogging or doing the eliptical and you know what…they never change. You know why they never change? Because it’s easy.”
How many times, do those of us who are part of a church body – slink back from really challenging people?
Think about this you paid church staff: People are vountarily paying you. Just like my personal trainer, they’re paying you (and me) for results. They want a pastor. They want to be lead like sheep. Yes, sometimes they’ll complain. Heck, they’ll even refuse to do the workout you’re giving them. But ultimately, no one is forcing them to be a part of your church.
So the challege is to push. Push harder. Push deeper. Push them to the extrememes. Ask them to do hard things. They may complain, but that’s what they really want.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. ~Hebrews 11:1~
In student ministry, we have the difficult blessing of striving to teach adolescents – who are develoing (but haven’t mastered) the ability to think abstractly – to act upon something which they cannot see.
If you figure out how to do this, let me know. Actually, let everyone know because it is pretty obvious that we’re not getting it. There are a million different theories, methods, values, and ideas about how to make that happen.