The Wall Street Journal noted that part of the reason for the massive destruction in the Philippines from Typhoon Haiyan was due to a failure to acknowledge its’ size and power as it approached their shores: “They had simply failed to imagine a storm so large. That failure of imagination, combined with residents’ skepticism …had a deadly and devastating impact. As of this weekend, the death toll reached 5,235 with a further 1,613 missing…They grossly underestimated the havoc the storm would wreak.” Are we grossly underestimating the massive storm that may have already hit our shores? I have been gathering statistics from different researchers for the past six months on the state of the church. Here are a few data points I discovered: An estimated 8 out of 10 youth from evangelical Christian homes walk away from their faith by age 23 (Brown 2006). Less than two out of five who believe the Bible. Read more.
For years I heard the maxim: “Only the one who has learned to be silent is prepared to speak.” I would also add: “Only the one who has learned to be silent is prepared to lead.” Think about it: Paul, after his conversion, spent three years in a silent retreat in Arabia. Jesus spent thirty years of silence until he opened his mouth and began to teach. John the Baptist spent his adult life in the desert before he brought a word from God. Ezekiel said, “For seven days I sat in silence and was dumbfounded.” Job seven days in silence until he opened opened his mouth in anguish. Habbakkuk and Samuel waited before the Lord before they spoke. How can we learn to lead out of silence in the midst of our noisy world and churches? Slowly practice silence…. before, during, and after our words. This is a life work, and it can. Read more.
Pastoral busyness is a “blasphemous anxiety to do God’s work for Him”(Hillary of Tours). I reread Eugene Peterson’s The Contemplative Pastor in preparation for my sermon last week on Sabbath. Written 24 years ago, who would have imagined how much our busyness would have increased? A “busy pastor, ” he argues, is like being called an “embezzling pastor” or an “adulterous pastor.” Our calling is to pray, bring God’s word out of quietness and solitude, and to listen to others with unhurried leisure. The roots of our frenetic activity come from two sources, says Peterson: 1) vanity and 2) laziness (it is easier to let others decide how I will spend my time). Take a deep breath. Close your eyes for a 2-3 minutes. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Ps. 37:7). Read Peterson’s book. Remember: It is very difficult, if not impossible, to lead people to a quiet place beside still. Read more.