Numbers represent people. God cares deeply about people. To suggest numbers don’t matter is silly at one end and a dangerous form of denial on the other. We have made a “personal” relationship with Christ so personal and so subjective that we have few quantitative ways to measure growth within the Church other than numbers.
Lent reminds us of the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness, which he was led into. Now wait a second, does this suggest that there are times when God leads us into the wilderness, not just out of it? Yep. And guess what else? The wilderness can be a very messy place.
I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. (Ezekiel 34:26)
I don’t use the word blessings very often. It’s not that I don’t believe in blessings or that I haven’t been blessed in many ways, it’s just a word I don’t use. If I’m honest, the main reason I don’t use the word blessing(s) very often is because it feels spiritually loaded.
Fasting has never been a spiritual discipline I’ve been very good at practicing. The times I have fasted haven’t been without meaning but haven’t moved me as much spiritually as I would have expected. Honestly, one of the biggest takeaways I’ve had after each time of fasting has been the amount of time I think about food. I don’t think I’m obsessed with food, (or perhaps I am and don’t realize it) but I did realize I think about what I’m going to eat, want to eat, should eat, shouldn’t eat, what kind of snack I want while I sit at my desk, etc. a lot.
The ashes are a tangible reminder of our mortality. A physical reminder of how short our time is in this life. We are but a mist that appears for a short time and disappears (James 4:14). The ashes remind us to mourn for our sins and of our need for confession and repentance. I believe there is life in the ashes.
Lent. The Latin version (Quadragesima) means forty, as in the number of days Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting before beginning his public ministry. The English version (Lent) initially meant “spring” and also conveys the idea of long, as in the days getting longer in the Spring. Whether you find yourself “giving something up” or “taking something on” for Lent, it is a season which holds the potential for significant spiritual renewal and growth.
I’ve always dreamt about being fluent in Spanish. Unfortunately, I’m not. Not even close. I know enough to survive but that’s about it. My M.Div. work forced me to spend time with Greek and Hebrew. Those are different things altogether. So basically I’m left with my native tongue of English and the struggles that come along with it.
Happy New Year! I know it’s a few days late but I feel like my new year just “officially” started yesterday. It was the first day back in my office after: a hybrid paternity leave for the birth of our third child Cecil, the Advent season, and holiday busyness/fun with family. I’m excited to see what’s in store for 2015 and thought I’d share some of those things as well as a few of my goals for the new year and “word” for the year.
There are millions of conversations happening, and have been for a number of years now, that a ridiculous number of churches are failing to engage in. These conversations are happening each and every day in and outside churches and yet the voice of so many churches is nowhere to be seen or heard. Facebook has over a BILLION active monthly users! Twitter has 284 MILLION active monthly users! Instagram has over 200 MILLION active monthly users!
Churches, where are you?
Effective preaching is both an art and a skill and we’ve all heard (and some of us delivered) sermons that seemed to lack both. They are not interesting, lack substance, seem to go on forever (when in reality only last <15mins), and leave us feeling disconnected. While engaging one’s audience is the goal of all public speaking, here are 4 ways to make preaching more engaging…