Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Searched and Known.

Our friend Colin spoke in the Sunday morning service here in Ashton a few weeks ago.

Colin's a good guy, and is preparing to pursue full-time undergraduate studies at Nazarene Theological College soon.

He chose Psalm 139 as his text, a passage that easily cracks our top-ten favorite psalms and also inspired the lyrics to a little-known MercyMe song from their pre-famous, playing-church-camps days.

"O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways...

"Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it. Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast...

"For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made...

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139 (NRSV)

It is, as Colin noted, an intensely personal psalm. Note the repeated use of the word "you" and "I," for examples! The writer, King David, shows honesty and integrity in the face of (repeated) failure and confusion. He was a murderer, and adulterer, and a selfish leader...but he was also "a man after God's own heart." The difference, it seems, was his willingness to allow God to continually reshape and refocus his thoughts, speech, and actions. 

"I know from personal experience that seeking God honestly can be scary...terrifying even!" Colin testified. "God doesn't wish to see any of us hurting. He doesn't want tot see us n pain. But he can and does use these experiences to teach and strengthen us."


Monday, August 19, 2013

An Awkward Thing

Life as coffeehouse ministry consultants can be an awkward thing.

At times, it is exhilarating: the thrill of travel, the joy of building new relationships, the challenge of exploring extant coffee communities.

At other times, we ache (like the Apostle Paul) for missed fellowship with all of our friends and family members in the different churches and ministries and shops we've shared life with along the way. We remember them in our stories, in songs, and in our prayers.

Sometimes we just get really tired. :)

And it always feels a little strange...because we are seldom actually starting the projects that we help develop, and as foundation-layers, we're not likely to see all of the long-term fruits of our labors.

But we're encouraged by passages like this one from John's Gospel:

"'But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and gatehring fruit for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper may rejoice together.

"'For here the saying holds true, "One sows and another reaps." I sent you to reap for that which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.'" John 4:35b-38 

And so it is with us. Sometimes we sow, sometimes we labor, and sometimes we get to reap a little.

But it's God who makes things grow!