Just something to think about….
Those who have a heart for morality, believe God’s heart centers on morality.
Those who have a heart for orphans, believer that God’s heart centers on orphans.
Those who have a heart for America, believe that God’s heart centers on America.
Those who have a heart for prayer, believer that God’s heart centers on prayer.
Those who have a heart for the church, believe that God’s heart centers on the church.
Those who have a heart for missions, believe that God’s heart centers is for missions.
Those who have a heart for individuals, believe that God’s heart centers on the individual.
Those who have a heart for families, believe that God’s heart centers on families.
Those who have a heart for the Bible, believe that God’s heart centers on the Bible.
And on it goes…
Nothing is as sobering as seeing your sin and weakness and then marveling at the consuming beauty of grace. God has used a book over the past few weeks to do both in my life. I have had to put it down several times because the pain was too great and the worship so strong. Wrestling With an Angel is about a father’s experience with his special needs son and God. The subtitle of the book tells it all: A story of love, disability, and the lessons of grace.
It surprised me that it hit so hard. The chapters are short but the connection to what it means to be a fallen parent regardless of the child God has entrusted you to raise is sharp. I strongly recommend this for all parents. It will help you see your journey in a whole new light. Parenting is never for the faint of heart and some hearts grow through unimaginable pain. Here is an extended excerpt to provide a taste.
The alarm goes off inside my head usually a few moments before the clock on my nightstand sets in motion the events of the morning. It is amazing how the mind and body can sync to a schooled stimulus response, almost to the minute, each and every day.
It’s 5:58 a.m. and I have two minutes before my morning routine begins.
I watch the clock and wait for the alarm. It’s not a desire for more sleep that holds me in place. Nor is it the comfort of my blanket on this crisp, cold, dark morning. I take refuge in my bed for these few peaceful moments to think about my life.
I reflect on my weakness and inability to meet the demands that have been placed on me through the circumstances of my journey. I wonder why God’s plan for my life includes so much frustration and hurt. Then I question why God even has a plan for me at all as I contemplate my sin, self- centeredness, pride, and constant sense of failure.
Suffering seems to be the tool He uses to draw me close. But the very affliction of my soul and the anxious weariness of my heart, things that should force me to run to the light, often drive me furiously into the darkness.
I know He loves me and cares for me but sometimes I cannot understand this strange affection. What kind of love is it that brings so much pain into my life - especially from a sovereign being who has the power to make all things right. And so, by nature,I resist the One who ultimately has designed all these difficult conditions for my good and for His glory.
It’s 5:59 a.m. I want to turn off the alarm, go back to sleep, and wake up in a different place and time. I want to wake up a better man or in different circumstances, something other than what’s right here, right now. I am exhausted already, simply by anticipating the next twenty minutes. Guilt begins to disguise itself as conviction, and so I pray.
Father, forgive me for my sins - cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Make the cross of your Son visible for me this morning as I approach this day. Show me your greatness in the smallness of my life. Lord, I am helpless against what is before me this morning, and I do not know what to do. But my eyes are on you. Please wake my son gently and peacefully. Create in him a good mood and a cooperative spirit. Give him an understanding of your love. Give me an understanding of Your love. Ease his frustration and help me to get him out of bed, cleaned, dressed, and off to school. Create in me the heart of a father, that I might be the man my son needs me to be. Make me like Jesus. None of this will be possible unless you intervene in my life and my family this morning. Lord, before my feet touch the floor, give me strength and grace - especially grace. I am desperate for your grace…
The shrill tone of the alarm clock pierces my thoughts and brings an impromptu amen to my prayer. A bit startled, my heart begins to beat faster, pumping much-needed blood into my reluctant extremities, a slight injection of adrenaline to assure the job gets done.
In this digital age, wisdom and even knowledge are often downplayed in favor of information. Information, available in unprecedented quantities, is no longer seen as a means to a higher and nobler end, a tool by which we increase our knowledge so we might live with wisdom. Instead, information has become an end in itself. We have begun to believe that the accumulation of information some how leads to wisdom, that more information will solve society’s ills and improve our lives. We place our faith in information. In our hearts and minds, having more data and more information will necessarily lead to progress….
…The Bible seems to tell us that it would be far better to know fewer things, but to know those things on a much deeper level. Virtue is not in the accumulation of facts, in winning a game on Jeopardy, but in living a life marked by wisdom, by the application of knowledge. If we are to live in this way, we must be willing to step outside the torrent of information; we must be willing to understand that information is a great servant but lousy master.
As people began to follow Jesus they quickly learned that He expected them to go out into the world and practice what He taught. First McKinney is more than a gathering place. She is a missions-sending center. The strength and testimony of this church is not her seating capacity but her sending capacity. The “attractional” component of the church supports the sending component of the mission Christ commanded in Matthew 28:19-20: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
A couple years ago, when I was serving at Asbury United Methodist Church, the United Methodist Church ran a “Rethink Church” campaign. I don’t know how much rethinking of the church the UMC actually did (can some of you speak to that?) but that’s really what we all need to be doing. Whether we’re coming at it from an emerging church perspective, missional perspective, mainline perspective…we all need to be rethinking church: how we worship, how we run committee meetings, how we do mission work, how we offer pastoral care, how we think about leadership…there is so much we need to rethink.
The question is: are we willing to do so? Are we willing to put aside our own opinions and preferences for something greater? For being able to open the circle wider to allow even more participation by folks not currently a part of our communities? Are we willing to be more concerned about worship being something connects with younger people than whether or not we get to hear our favorite hymns on an organ that Sunday? I don’t know the answers – but if the church truly does think young people should be more committed to the church, we certainly need to be able to ask the questions and have the conversation.