Posted tagged ‘Renewal’

Moses and Joshua Renewal

March 30, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      March 30, 2015

                                       

If I typed the letters “M” and “J” on this page many of you who are reading this would instantly think of Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson. It’s the end of March…March Madness…basketball frenzy time…Spartans in the Final Four (My excitement is showing!).

But since I’m a pastor who has “been through it” more times than I can count “MJ” also has another meaning for me…especially since we just went through a Renewal Weekend at our church.

“MJ” is short for “Moses and Joshua.” If the church is to experience renewal it needs to be a “Moses and Joshua Renewal.” Moses was in the final part of his journey. Joshua was in the first half of his. For that time in the history of the Israelites…from wandering in the desert to crossing into the Promised Land…it took both men to bring the people along in the journey. It took the elder and the younger walking together to figure things out.

I firmly believe that renewal amongst the people of God is a multi-generational event. Back in the 1980’s a multitude of churches bought into the idea that growth was tied to attracting people who look like you. Racially, economic class, theological beliefs, and such! The last twenty years has resulted in a new twist on the church growth idea: churches growing because they are focused on one or two generations. Elders worship with elders. Youngers worship with youngers.

Here’s the thing! Moses needed Joshua’s energy, strength, and courage; and Joshua needed Moses’ wisdom, experience, and depth.

Some might raise the point that the generation that exited Egypt, wandered in the desert, tested the patience of God, and questioned their leadership had to pass away before the Promised Land could be reached. That’s spot on, but think about those years of wandering. How often did those of Moses’ generation share their experiences, their mistakes, their “If I could do it over again” moments? There is a recent song by the group “Mercy Me” entitled “Dear Younger Me.” It tells of someone sharing with a younger version of the desire to talk about past errors in order to help prevent the younger person from doing the same.

Church renewal is everyone on the journey together, not just those you like or don’t get on your nerves. What would have happened if Joshua would have decided that Moses was too archaic and traditional to stay with him, so he departed “to start a new ministry?” What would have happened if Moses would have decided he wanted to put down roots in the desert and told Joshua if he wanted to go any further that was his choice? Leave him out of it!

One thing that needs to be understood: Leaders are called to lead. Seldom are leaders called to leave.

Leaving is a contemporary version of satisfying the self. It’s the statement that our culture has bought into that says “It’s all about me!”, but simply clothes in a spiritual sweater.

What would happen if the people of God committed themselves to Moses and Joshua renewal?

Another MJ moment!

Stripping Away The Build Up

March 24, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                               March 24, 2015

                                     

     The high school where I coach basketball had the wood floor in the gym stripped down and refinished last summer. About twelve years of wax was taken off in the process, and then it was refinished. The result was amazing! It was as if a totally new floor was awaiting us. The brightness and shine of the new floor was so intense that I thought we might even be able to practice without turning the overhead lights on.

I think about that as our congregation is heading towards a Renewal Weekend of special events and worship gatherings in a few days. As a person of faith I recognize that- forgive the expression- there can sometimes be a build up of wax that takes us to a place of spiritual dullness and apathy. The relationship loss it’s specialness, the sacredness of the divine and human walking together. We lose sight of our blessed state, the incredible love story of grace and redemption.

At that point there needs to be a stripping away of what ails us. The Spirit needs to be allowed to do a work that may involve pain and hard discovery. Repentance enters through the front and back doors of our soul. Confession tears away the denial. There is a cringing of what we know is difficult to hear.

But then after the stripping away of appearances there comes the process of restoring and being renewed. We become amazed at the cleanness that we assumed was always there. We are amazed by the fact that we hadn’t come to this point sooner. Why had we been so reluctant? Why the delay? What blessings did we already miss?

Different people come to the point of restoration and renewal in different ways. There isn’t a guidebook to follow…seven easy steps to getting your glow back! It is slower for some, quicker for others, but at the end of it there is a sense of clarity and assuredness. Perhaps it is the peace of the Spirit, the closeness of the Father, the journey with the Son.

And we walk with new hope and purpose, like a child whose heart has been broken but then healed whole again.

Renewing the Dead

March 23, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      March 23, 2015

                                      

There is a TV series that a lot of people are wild about entitled The Walking Dead. (Full Disclosure: I’ve never watched it) My understanding of the show is that people get turned into zombies or several dead-like humans. I’m sure there is a lot of tension, at least one bad dude who hasn’t turned into a zombie yet, love twists, and complicated situations.

Some weeks in ministry I feel like the walking dead. Spirit is on life support, prayers are a whisper, situations at church take my breath away, and when I wake up in the morning I can’t wait to go back to bed that night.

Our church is having a “Renewal Weekend” in a few days. It’s an event that came out of a Sunday school class! Some are amazed by that because the pastor didn’t initiate it or get the idea for it from attending a seminar. But…yes, several people in that class felt the leading of the Holy Spirit to bring it to me to see what I thought and I said “Go for it!”

It’s interesting that the closer the renewal weekend is the more predicaments I seem to be dealing with in church.

So here’s the bottom line! I’m so…so…so ready to be renewed! The team that has planned it has emphasized that this is an event that I will be able to “take in”, not lead or be involved in the preparation for. I’ve had about three meetings over lunch with some of the planners, but next weekend I will be soaking up, not dishing out.

Here’s a hard thing for people to hear! Sometimes pastors have nothing in the tank. They are in danger of being one of the walking dead, trying to find life and “a new word from the Lord.” People don’t like to hear that, but it’s the reality. Jesus went off by himself quite often. Sometimes we don’t know exactly why. We know that he would go off to pray, but not necessarily the reasons for the timing of it. Perhaps he was getting ticked off by his disciples and needed a break from them, or wanted to get away from the noise, or the endless cry for miracles to be performed and healing in people’s lives accomplished. All we know what he would suddenly cast out the daily itinerary as quickly as a demon and head to the high country.

This will be the first Sunday since mid-October that I will not have the responsibility of delivering a word from the Lord…almost six months.

That tells of another pastoral dilemma! Pastors have a high degree of thinking “It has to be me” in the pulpit on Sundays. Although they mean well, I have people tell me that when I’m not speaking on Sunday morning attendance falls. Pastors take on that burden of being present…all the time…24/7…morning, noon, and night.

We think it’s what we should do, but even tires need to be rotated once in a while!

Trust me! This is not meant to be a whine-and-cheese blog entry. I take responsibility for not taking care of my spiritual health. I love my congregation, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that they love me. It would in some ways be easier if I was despised. The love keeps you going, but sometimes love needs to say “Take a break!”

That break will be this weekend! Amen!