re-experiencing God's love

I have had a bit of a revelation. Yesterday, in the midst of a meeting with district pastors, it hit me. I need to "re-experience" the love of God for me, for us all. When this hit me it was all I could do to keep from giving in to my emotions. Maybe I just should have let go. I just wasn't ready.

Later, when I shared the story with Kim, I gave in. I haven't had that kind of emotional reaction in my relationship with God since I sensed God's call to preach some 11 years ago. And you see where that got me.

But I digress. This "re-experiencing the love of God" seems essential to me, now. It is the thing that must give energy and drive to my part in the mission and that of our church community. My people and our leaders need this experience, too. Without it I fear that we are just playing church, going through the motions. And that is just not enough. May it never be enough.

I emailed my leaders and asked them to pray for me, the message and this Sunday. I then went to work on my sermon. Now that it's done, however, I am not all that pleased with it. When I run through it there is no spark, at least not like I hope I sense on Sunday when I preach it. I am very aware of the fact that I will not likely be able to communicate what I have been feeling, and that saddens me. This reminds me of the phrase I heard once (don't remember who said it first, but I heard it from James Forbes); it referred to the "sweet agony of Sunday morning" -- that thrill at being able to do what I do, seek to communicate something of God, but knowing all the while that I will not really suceed in it.

Of course, you guessed it. As soon as I began to fret over my inadequate sermon, I sensed God saying to me that what he wants to accomplish on Sunday will not happen because of a "great sermon." It will be because of prayer and the presence of God's Holy Spirit in me and among us as a congregation. I pray that I will be filled with God's Spirit. May it be so for us all.

On a related note, I sense a "shaking" of our church and leadership. I sense God is preparing us for something he wants to do in and through us, something new and challenging. If not yet, soon. This both scares and excites me. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. Amen.


war and peace

some days i tire of making peace.
war must be easier.
i mean, destroy it, scorch the earth, nuke it,
   and move on.
problem solved.
conflict over.
resolution, clean cut.
i tire of making peace,
   but i don't want to lose the blessing.
      what to do?
      what to do?


online community, oxymoron?

In the past two weeks I have been seriously taking part in several online discussions. Some have been of the email variety, but most have been through interacting with various blogs. These have been like church for me. I am learning, being challenged and finding ways to challenge others. Occasionally, I even find myself worshipping. I am being held accountable and even "meeting" new people who take the time to email me personally or respond to my comments and check out my blog. Surely this is some form of community, something worth pursuit and time.

I used to think that the concept of community could not be found online, not really. But I'm feeling differently now. True, it looks and smells different than a church fellowship hour or small group meeting (or read the ultra rev's blog on what's been going on at his house lately). But different is not bad. The conversations I've had have all been helpful and spiritually forming. The limited space and time to converse usually means that what is being said is more to the point and meaty, which of course offers yet greater opportunity to grow as we seek to converse with sometimes emotional issues in civilized, print-oriented ways. This, too, speaks of the call to community.

Am I fooling myself? Is online community an oxymoron? Or is it simply another expression of life in Christ that has something to add to all the expressions that have gone before it, as well as those that will follow?


McKnight on Grace-Grinders

I've not been bloggin too much lately as I've been reading and occasionally posting comments on two other blog sites. Wow. What a conversation Scot McKnight's been having on Grace-Grinding. (While you're at it, take a look at John Frye's site.)

Here's a thought I've been toying around with lately (and suggested in one of my comments on Scot's blog), "Is it possible to say anything too good to be true about the Grace of God?" I'll leave it at that and see if I get any discussion. Have at it.