Monday, April 22, 2013

Revival

It never fails. Whenever a tragedy strikes, or especially when tragedy strikes, someone always proclaims our world's need for revival.  And I couldn't agree more.  So let's talk revival.

Yesterday's sermon was based on Acts 9: 36-43, which portrays Peter's raising of the dead disciple Tabitha. The text concludes with Peter moving on to a tanner named Simon, but not before leaving behind a revival:  "This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord" (NIV). There was revival in Joppa that day.  By believing in the Lord, those who were spiritually dead were made to be spiritually alive.  

This is the fruit of revival. When non-believers or pre-believers become believers in Jesus, revival is taking place!  And when people become followers of Jesus, everything about life changes.  Hopeless living becomes hope-filled living.  Joy-less living becomes joy-filled living.  Selfish living becomes selfless living.  The presence of the Holy Spirit begins to move us away from sin and evil and urges us to pursue holiness and love.  Isn't this what we long for, especially after last week's Boston Marathon bombings or last December's Newtown massacre?  Of course it is.  But where does it begin?  Let's go back to our text from Acts.

 Interestingly enough, the revival in Joppa did not begin with those new believers.  It began with the church.  It began when those close to Tabitha recognized their loss and cried out for help.  That's where revival begins. 

If we truly wish to see revival, I suggest we take a good long look at our own spiritual health.  Maybe what our nation (and our world!) needs is for God to breathe new life into our churches. As God's Spirit begins to renew and revive our own faith, the results will ripple as if a stone has been thrown into a body of water.  With that in mind, here are three prayers we can begin to pray:

1.  We can pray for the honesty to understand that maybe something inside of us is lost or (gasp!) even dead.
2.  We can pray for the willingness to admit that we can do nothing to restore what is lost.  
3.  We can pray for the humility to cry out to the One who can do something aobut what is lost or dead within us.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Reflections on the Boston Marathon Bombings

Grace and Peace,

Earlier today I had the privilege of interviewing two candidates for a campus ministry position at Wyotech.  One of the candidates was curious about my interest in such a ministry.  It didn't take me long to answer.  I quickly said, "There are students at Wyotech who need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, and I believe it is our job to tell them."

After a long day of interviews and good Christ-centered conversation, I called my wife.  She promptly told me about the tragedy unfolding at the Boston Marathon. My reactions were many.  I experienced disbelief and anger, fear and pain, sorrow and concern.  And then I remembered the sermon I preached on Easter.

If you were in worship on Easter Sunday, you heard me say very candidly that my "Holy Week" was more of a crappy week.  In all honesty, Holy Week 2013 was a painful week of ministry for me.  It was one of those weeks pastors hope to avoid, a week that felt like Good Friday without the promise of Resurrection.

As evidenced by the bombings earlier today, our world is filled with Good Friday-like pain.  The depth of human brokenness is deeper than any of us realize, and I admit, there are days even I grow weary with the pervasive problems of sin and evil.  There are days (much like today) when evil seems to drown out even the boldest proclamations of Good News.  But this perception never lasts.

When Saturday of Holy Week rolled around, I was challenged (perhaps by the Holy Spirit?) to reflect on those moments when Christ was present, but due to my obsessive concentration on all the bad news of the week, I did not notice.  I felt awfully sheepish once I recognized the number of times I allowed the Good News to pass me by.  Here I was preparing to preach the Resurrection while missing the Resurrection all around me!

Today there are people who need to hear and experience our God of Good News.  They may be students at Wyotech or citizens watching evil unfold on a national level.  Who will point to Good News?  Who will stand in the midst of Good Friday moments and proclaim, "This is not how the story ends!?" Who will if not you and I, the very ones who claim to be Easter people?  As you mourn, cry, grieve and express anger (rightfully so) over today's events, may you also have the eyes to see the Resurrected Christ even in the worst of moments-- and help others to see as well.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Well, this is my first venture (call it a leap of faith) into the world of blogging.  I'm a pretty good conversationalist, but deep inside I'm truly an introvert.  Mostly what I hope to do in this blog is continue the sacred conversations God begins with us during worship, Bible study or even in those less "official" moments where we are gathered together in His name. Maybe we'll sow some seeds.  Hopefully and prayerfully, we'll always point to Christ!