Learning to Pastor: Help My Unbelief

I have been wrestling with these words from Jesus in John 14 -

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
Last night during our small group gathering we had another great discussion of the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6 and then we made our usual transition to prayer.  Instead of a time where we share our needs and the needs of those around us (which is great), the time really focused on how God had answered our recent prayers.  We heard how God had specifically answered prayers that our group had been praying over in recent days.

 

There were stories of God drawing a young man to himself who we had bathed in prayer… and a story of God’s healing hand on a precious little baby… and a story of God delivering a beautiful little girl out of some recent oppression.  Each of these had been our group’s prayer list and on our groups lips as they interceded for these hearts in need.  It was an undeniable affirmation of God working miracles for His glory in our midst.

 

God has me in a place where I desperately want to grasp the fullness of what he meant with those words in John 14.  As he was preparing his listeners for his departure and for the arrival of the Holy Spirit, he made some really huge statements.  He made promises and extended authority… he spoke of POWER (Acts 1:8)… and here I sit as one who has been given those promises, authority, and power and yet so often I forget that he heals the sick, delivers the oppressed, and redeems those who seem ‘too far’ away from his presence.

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The Ultimate Conductor: Is God Really Working?

It is easy for me to throw my hands into the air in despair because I can’t see God working.  Honestly, I look for God to provide or work in a very specific way and when he is not working in that way I don’t think he is working at all.  If there is any sort of constant in my life as a pastor it is that God does not work based on my expectations.

I was encouraged by how God replied to Habakkuk’s cry in 1:5-11.  God choosing to use the nation of Babylon might have been THE most unexpected way that God could have worked in that situation.  God is saying, “I am working in ways that you would never expect or understand.”  That should be encouraging to us.  In those moments when you look around in frustration and you feel alone and abandoned by your Father in Heaven… you can think twice… you can be reminded.  You can be reminded that God is working in that very minute and no matter how hard you look it will be impossible for you to completely comprehend all of the ways he is working.

I recently discovered Eric Whitacre.  He is an incredible contemporary music composer.  He had the genius idea of creating a virtual choir for one of his compositions.  He tells the story of videoing himself conduct the composition in isolation.  He sent out a request for people to record themselves singing their voice part of his choral composition and send him the YouTube video.  He received over 2000 recordings from over 58 different countries.  Eric had the video submissions edited (and of course some didn’t make the cut – I know wouldn’t have) into one piece with the voices singing in harmony and him conducting the performance.  It is an incredible work of art and I am an instant fan of Whitacre.

Each of these individual videos were recorded in the isolation of their home or bedroom.  They were completely isolated and sheltered from one another.  Eric was able to hear all of the voices and he smashed them together in harmony.  God has a view of history unlike we can ever imagine.  He is the conductor who hears, knows, and sees every moving part past, present, and future.  You and I are blessed to play and instrument in the greatest symphony ever played.  We are able to sing a part in the greatest choir following the most skilled conductor ever known.

Just because you can’t see how God is working it does not mean that he isn’t working.  Be encouraged today that his artistry is more than either you or I can truly comprehend.

Have you ever felt like Habakkuk?  Have you ever felt like God abandoned or had forgotten about the events unfolding in your life?  What was it that encouraged you to push ahead?

Authenticity in Prayer

Facade is the suburban disease.  We all have a tendency to project a veneer of perfection in all areas of life.  We want to mold the way people think about us and often times that means not being ourselves.  For some crazy reason we try to fool God with that veneer as well.  Ludicrous isn’t it?  Somehow we think we can fool our all-knowing and all-powerful God into believing some rouse about our true feelings and/or actions.

I’m neck deep into a well neglected book of the Bible called Habakkuk.  I’ve been studying, reading, and praying through this book in an effort to stretch myself and in turn be used by God to stretch others.  I feel like I am constantly encouraged by the relevancy within every single book of the Bible…. even Habakkuk!  The book begins with these words from Habakkuk -

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?
Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.
So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.

He is not pulling any punches. Our friend ‘Haby’ is letting the gates of his emotional swell explode forward.  He isn’t trying to hide what he feels or what he thinks.  He is laying bare, in complete honesty and authenticity, exactly what is on his heart.

I remember when my wife and I began dating and things turned serious.  I remember being outside sitting on a trampoline at her Dad’s house having that pivotal conversation of extreme honesty.  We shared honest feelings, mistakes, regrets, and victories.  We chose to tear away even the slightest presence of any veneer that might have been present in the earliest days of our relationship.  At that moment we were completely honest with each other.  I can remember our relationship deepening beyond expectation that through that conversation.  It set a precedent for honesty and depth that has been with us for over 13 years.  Can you imagine what your relationship with God would look like if you were willing to let go of the facade?

I am confident that God desires complete honesty in our relationship with him.  In Luke 22:39-46 we see a deep honesty and authenticity modeled by Jesus as he is speaking to his Father. Have you constructed a facade the limits the honesty of your prayer life?  Would you be willing to be completely honest before God with all of your feelings, hurts, thoughts, and questions?