It’s been a long day, and I’m beyond ready for bed. But I want to reflect briefly on this day.
Yesterday I felt (hoped!) that the day would be foundational for the rest of the week. I really think that each day will build on the work of the previous days. That was certainly true for today.
This is an intense week, schedule-wise. But today and tomorrow are especially intense days because, in addition to our 8:30 am – 4:00 pm day, we’re also gathering for two hours each evening (7:00 – 9:00 pm) for worship, sharing stories, and prayer. Tonight’s worship gathering was intense.
Every time I come here I’m impacted by the quality of people who are scattered about doing ministry for the kingdom of God. I count it a real privilege to be a teammate to these people in Christian leadership. We enjoy gathering with different people for lunch (locally). And many time, a group of us will travel 15-20 minutes to Nicholasville for dinner. Tonight, seven of us had a nice meal at a two-week old BBQ restaurant called, Sonny’s. It’s a wonderful time of fellowship!
Today, Joleen and I had lunch with two other students. One guy audits a course every six months. That’s unusual enough, but what makes the story amazing is that the guy is 78 years old. Around 1990, he sold his medical practice to go to seminary. He spent most of his years in ministry as a “church troubleshooter.” He also lifts weights and walks everyday. It’s inspiring to see that kind of commitment to God. You don’t have to coast in the remainder of your days. You can keep following God, and be even more radical and daring as you get older!
The first thing that impacted me today occurred during Dr. Molly Scott’s morning devotion (which focused on John Wesley’s sermon on Christian Perfection). I was impacted by the commitment, passion, desire both Jim and Molly expressed to keep growing, even though both are in their 60s. They don’t want to coast. Jim added this evening that he wants to be even more radical, more daring for God.
We spent most of the day reviewing our work on our “personal life plans,” and then beginning to work on our “personal ministry plans.” The challenge here is that for most of us (if not all of us) separating these two plans is hard work. Most people (especially men) define who they are by what they do (i.e. their job). I’m currently wrestling with this myself.
The tendency for many, including ministers, is to “play the game.” Playing the game involves making the right people happy (in the church or denomination) and not making the wrong people angry. But it’s impossible to “play the game” and also be faithful to God! I don’t want to play the game!
We watched a couple clips from the movie, Instinct. We watched one clip early in the afternoon and one toward the end of the afternoon. As we neared the end of the afternoon, a scene from the first clip really burned in my mind. I don’t have the energy to describe the scene, but what I sense God doing (or wanting to do) is to strip away my illusions (of control). I’m thinking about sanctification (a focus this week) as a stripping away of illusions.
I thought of Abraham being “severely tested” by God with the sacrifice of his son. That involved stripping away oh his illusions. I thought of Jacob, who was in control (or so he thought), wrestling with God. God stripped away his illusions. Paul, on the road to Damascus, certainly had his illusions stripped away, didn’t he?
So, what is God wanting to strip away in my life? Well, that’s going to take some serious thought and prayer. But I know what my response must be: abandonment, reckless abandonment. Following Christ is either done with “reckless abandonment” or else it’s not true Christianity!
That’s what sanctification is all about, a process of moving from “casual” to “complete.”
O God, don’t ever let us settle for casual Christianity. Give us courage to follow you with complete and reckless abandonment. Strip away all of our illusions. But please be gentle with us. Thanks you so much for your grace which is at work in each of us!