Jesus compared His kingdom to a mustard seed – almost invisible, apparently powerless, defeated, and insignificant. Yet He assures us it will grow into something magnificent that will cover the whole earth (Matthew 13:31-32). This smallness was a scandal then. It is a scandal today. In our efforts to copy the ancient great cities of Rome, Athens, and Corinth, and our desire for “real disciples” who aren’t like Peter, James, John, Thomas, and Judas, we end up chasing after goals that aren’t His. We easily miss His movements. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (EHS) is a mustard seed that has rediscovered and applied a few simple biblical truths. For example: Slowing down for loving union with Jesus is the foundation of all leadership. We are to lead out of a marriage, or our singleness, as a sign and wonder for Christ. Spiritual formation requires we break the sinful patterns of our family of origin and culture. Read more.
Your best, most fruitful decade of your life will be in your 60′s. Your second most fruitful decade will be in your 70′s. Your third will be in your 50′s. How might that perspective change your priorities today? I know you are in a rush. God is not. His kingdom really is like a mustard seed. It starts out insignificant, powerless, apparently defeated, and marked by suffering and death. It appears nothing is happening. It is almost imperceptible. We want the glory of Rome, Athens, Corinth, and Ephesus. And we want it now! Jesus didn’t build quickly. He chose 12 country bumpkins from Galilee. One didn’t work out. He was not in a rush. …read more
Your best, most fruitful decade of your life will be in your 60’s. Your second most fruitful decade will be in your 70’s. Your third will be in your 50’s. How might that perspective change your priorities today? I know you are in a rush. God is not. His kingdom really is like a mustard seed. It starts out insignificant, powerless, apparently defeated, and marked by suffering and death. It appears nothing is happening. It is almost imperceptible. We want the glory of Rome, Athens, Corinth, and Ephesus. And we want it now! Jesus didn’t build quickly. He chose 12 country bumpkins from Galilee. One didn’t work out. He was not in a rush.
Bruce Gangnier’s sculpture of Moses Striking the Rock captures the one of the great temptations of leadership. Moses was commanded by God to speak to the rock so his “church” (2-3 million strong) might have water to drink. Instead, out of great frustration and anger, he struck the rock twice with his staff (Numbers 20:7-12). Moses never sees the Promised Land. Many of us miss the joy and peace of leading others in Jesus’ name (our Promised Land) because we are anxious, fearful, angry, frustrated and tired. The people get their water, as the Israelites did, but we pay a steep price. I have struck the rock more times than I want to count. Why? There are 2 temptations: 1. To build our own kingdom. We become unsure if we can trust God to grow our churches. So we help Him along, initiating programs and ministries to move the church along without consulting Him. 2. To force things because. Read more.
This comes from Archbishop Oscar Romero who was killed in his church in El Salvador by a right-wing death squad on March 24th, 1980 out of his commitment to the poor. It expresses my prayer for Rich and NLF as we prepare for his installation on Sunday. A Future Not Our Own It helps, now and then, to step backand take the long view.The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction ofthe magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.Nothing we do is complete,which is another way of sayingthat the kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said.No prayer fully expresses our faith.No confession brings perfection.No pastoral visit brings wholeness.No programme accomplishes the church’s mission.No set of goals and objectives includes everything. This is what we are about:We plant seeds that one day will grow.We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold. Read more.
I have spent 26 years planting New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, NYC. That is over a quarter of a century ago. That was my assigned task from God (1 Cor. 3:5-11). It has been a great journey. On Sunday I will hand over the “watering of these seeds” to Rich Villodas, my 34 year-old successor. (I will then take my new role as Teaching Pastor/Pastor-at-Large in NLF). For months I pondered the final sermon I would offer to the NLF family. What is the essence of the seeds I have planted? What are the seeds I pray they cherish, water, and grasp more deeply in the years to come? I distilled the answer to four seeds:1. Being precedes doing2. God is hidden in the marginalized3. Race matters4. God’s ways are little and slow. Take a look. You can also download the mp3 also from the NLF website. 26 Years of Lessons at NLF from New Life Fellowship on Vimeo.