One of the ‘behind the scenes’ things that goes on in our CLF Leadership Team is the care that they take for me and my family. That was evidenced over the weekend of April 17-18. I had scheduled for Dave Quilla to take the pulpit, but really needed to spend the weekend with one of my sons (as you can imagine, we enjoyed some baseball). Our pastoral team didn’t blink at my request. Throughout almost 20 years of being the ‘lead’ pastor at CLF, these men have faithfully served me. They watch for signs of fatigue, offer words of encouragement, and have regularly checked in on me. For those of you who might wonder how churches can protect their pastors from burn-out or from carrying too much of the weight, these men are great examples of how to do this.
With that said and a weekend ‘off’, it was really good to be back at church this past Sunday. I love our church and love teaching God’s word to our church. The receptivity to God’s word, the eagerness to worship and fellowship, and the overall joy of being in the same room together is so much fun!
Sweet Grandma Betty
I’m sure many of you heard the news that Betty Harris (Karen Ferguson’s mom and Brian Ferguson’s and Jill’s grandma) went home to Jesus on April 11. This past weekend, we celebrated her life at her burial on Friday and memorial on Saturday. It was a unique emotional experience. Lots of tears and lots of joy. Strange mixture. Grandma was an amazing Christian lady. She died at 95 and we still very active. He mind was sharp and her love for Jesus strong. She took meals to shut-ins who were 20 years her younger and wrote personal notes to people everyday. One of the things that Betty taught us, beyond loving Jesus with all your heart, was the importance of staying active in selfless service. I’ve watched through the years as people get older and some have ‘retreated’ to their homes or to vacation and pulled out of serving people. A strange thing happens to them…they start to shrivel and their minds seem to leave them sooner. But Betty (while given some tough heart challenges) stuck with selfless service well into her 90’s. Just a few years ago, she was going to the gym 3 days/week! It seems to me (and I realize this is merely anecdotal evidence) that her selfless service, kept her active, and helped her mind continue to grow. Our family has benefitted greatly from Grandma’s example and love for Christ.
One of the things that I’ve been particularly burdened about as a pastor is to take the ‘weirdness’ out of spiritual gifts and if I can be frank here, take the ‘weirdness’ out of being a Christian. By that, I acknowledge that there will be times when being a Christian or God doing something miraculous will seem ‘weird’. But, this ‘weirdness’ is more of a result of something be out of normal, not because we as Christians made it ‘weird’.
This is really true when it comes to spiritual gifts. Especially with the more ‘manifestational’ gifts like tongues, healings, and prophecy, things get really weird, if we don’t take God’s word seriously with regards to the order and expectations. I think this is one of the things going on in Corinth. They were so out of order that non-Christians thought they were crazy. And my concern has always been that we represent God correctly, and we see spiritual gifts as something ordinary or normal, in the life of a Christian and in the life of the church.
Now, be sure to hear me correctly on this: there are times when things will get awkward, with the gospel. You know it and I know it that there will be times when we have to say ‘no’ to certain things and say ‘yes’ to Christ and some folks just won’t get it. But, we don’t have to manufacture those times. For example: it would seem to me, as I read the stories of healings in the Bible, that these were very natural interactions, that God supernaturally intervened. One example I love is in Acts 3 when Peter and John encountered the man who was lame from birth and they told him, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And the guy got up and walked. When you read the rest of the text, there doesn’t seem to be a show from Peter or John. When the crowd saw it, they glorified God, they surrounded Peter, and Peter told them about Jesus. Then they moved on. It was anything but showy or extravagant. Going through life, stuff happens, respond to it in faith, trusting God, and when God intervenes, talk about Jesus to the people who saw it.
Now, let me finish this part by saying one last thing about spiritual gifts in this blog (because I’m going to say a lot about them in the weeks ahead): most spiritual gifts are very ‘normal’. Think about the ones that get listed: mercy, leadership, giving, service, wisdom, knowledge, etc. There are only a few that get the big headlines, which are the ones I mentioned earlier. So, I think it would benefit us to not worry so much about the ‘out of norm’ gifts, as much as we concern ourselves with being faithful to God, everyday, and respond to the Spirit’s work around us with faith.
From the Cheap Seats:
- 4 Carabao Cups in a row! Thank goodness Kevin DeBruyne’s ankle was not serious. Champion’s League with PSG this Wednesday.
- The Rangers stink.
- The NFL Draft is this weekend. I’m excited to see how this things goes. Lots of trades already and probably more to come.
I hope you have a great week, looking to Christ and enjoying His grace.
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.