Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lessons Learned

We've had some technical difficulties in the mustard world, but it looks like we are back up and running. This Sunday is a pretty significant milestone for us, as it will be our final Sunday as part of the Wadsworth United Methodist Church. The Church has been wonderful, both to serve in and most recently to walk through Chaia's story with us. So we will be at all 3 services and then the Church is hosting a final benefit lunch for Chaia at noon. Hope to see you there! In the meantime, I was reflecting about our time at Wadsworth and had a couple of insights of lessons I've learned. Here they are. Generosity and Health go hand in hand. -One key attribute of a healthy Church is that they give generously. Not just to the offering plate, but to where God is at work all around them. I remember sitting in a Bible Study with a group of about 10 young adults. We were reading about the difference between sheep and goats and how the sheep served the "least of these". The discussion of who embodied that most in the world led us to Africa and before we knew it, we were taking a team there and the Church invested deeply in support of this. This trip has helped to steer the dreams and ambitions of many of the people from that trip. Godly Leadership Involves Both Vision and a Towel -I think often, we settle for one or the other. Sometimes the visionary knows the hill he is to take the people up to conquer, but does not have a servant's heart to love and pastor the people on the journey. Others don't know where or what the Promised Land is, but will care well for the people as they wander aimlessly in the wilderness for 40 years. So vision (revelation from God about where He desires to take the people) is key to effective leadership. But so is the towel, being willing to love, serve and help the people along the way...even though some will desert you, some will betray you, some will reject you. And still, the way of Jesus involves a towel...and ultimately a cross. Prayer Alters the Landscape -Akin to dynamite, prayer changes things. God led us as a Church to a series called ONE PRAYER. As we learned more and more to desire God's Presence and kneel, the hardship and trials the church experienced seemed to heighten. God was readying us for a road that would require us to depend on Him. Want to know how a church is doing? You can measure it's pulse by it's prayer life. I know with all that is in me that the thousands of people who have knelt on Chaia's behalf are why she still has a fighting chance today. We must pray like our lives depend on it...because they do. Old People Who Love Jesus Make Me Giddy -I used to think old people stood in the way of accomplishing what God wanted to do in the Church (half kidding). But more and more I am realizing that the more a church has people finishing the race of faith well, the more of a foundation the next generations have for the future. We stand on the shoulders of the saints who've gone before, paving the way in prayer and costly obedience so that our faith has legs to stand on. To see folks who are much further down the road in their spiritual walk than me still kneeling out of desperation for God to bring revival, still passionate about connecting in Christian fellowship and community, still hungering for God's Word to stir their hearts. As Craig Groeschel has said, "If you're not dead, you're not done." God has a calling for you as long as He gives you breath in your lungs. Shaina and I have had a pretty jaded view of the Church in the U.S. in the past. We have defiantly and arrogantly shaken our fist at God and said, "Is this your bride?" And during our time at WUMC, we have felt God's adamant response, "Absolutely, yes it is. And blemished and imperfect as she may be, She is still my bride and those who love me, love her." Because of my last few years in ministry, I am hope-full about this Church and the Church, that She is indeed God's plan A for the world and there is no plan B.


Anonymous said...

Very powerful. Good luck on Sunday as I'm sure it will be difficult for you guys.... Praying for you and still absolutely kneeling for Chaia.

Anonymous said...

Amen! Praying for you all.

Kati and Justin said...

Ben, this was really a great encouragement to read. Praying for you and the family as you heed to His call. Very excited to be able to witness how uses Shaina, you and Chaia in Columbus!