Monday, August 31, 2009


For those who are regular readers of this blog, you have noticed a long silence through the month of August. It is not because I am done writing, or that God is done working with me, rather it is because I took and extended time away. I took a long overdue rest. During the time away, God showed and spoke many things to me. One of the loudest voices was in the area of rest.

Those who share a passion and zeal for God share in a common problem, we have a hard time stopping. Our whole lives become wrapped up in the ministry God has put before us. This is not a bad thing, in fact I think that is what God desires from all of us. The problem comes in with our in ability to seek and practice rest. To take time apart one for physical rest, two for a mental, emotional and spiritual rest. This does not mean we take a vacation from God, in fact it means more intensely connecting with God. Rest means taking a break from all the other pieces of ministry and mission, to focus more completely on God and the priorities of God.

If you are leading a ministry or mission and you are convinced you cannot step away, it is time to take your pride to the altar. If you cannot stop, and your whole life is defined by going on to the next place people need you, again it is time to go to the altar with that pride. it doesn't mean we step away from God, and it doesn't mean we stop working for the Kingdom. It means we catch our breath.

It is possible to become too obsessed with the rest or time away. Many gifted and talented persons forfeit great works of God because of an unwillingness to press through. Still there are times when God offers us the opportunity to rest, do we take it? For those who pastor, the church will be fine. For those who support a pastor, encourage the pastor, and lead in covering the gaps. As I come back from a month of rest, I am feeling foolish for not doing this before. My passion has returned, my anxiety is low, and focus is sharp. By taking time away, I will be more effective in the mission of God than if I would have simply pushed through.

May we all have a pattern of rest.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Discerning Prayer

Prayer is one of the most acclaimed of the spiritual disciplines, and rightfully so as it is the primary conversation tool between humanity and God. Still this is one the disciplines I and many others have struggled with through the years. More than simply sharing with God what is on our hearts, and really hard, listening for what is on God's heart, there is the times of discernment. Prayers of discernment can be some of the most difficult to work through. Why because it has to do with a choice and a future. When a choice and a future are a part of the equation, there is a lot of room for human desire to slip in.

Right now the church I serve is in the midst of discerning some next steps. The join is I have wonderful leaders with a passion and heart for God. The challenge is we are all very driven people with our own ideas of what the church should be about. The work of discernment will involve sifting through our own stuff, so we can see clearly what God is calling the church to next. More than that, we will have to sift through all the good ideas, along with the great ideas to get to the one which God is calling us toward.

Discerning prayer is not a simply one day or one month activity. No, discerning prayer is a long haul discipline where we allow God to speak to us, and allow God's desire become our desire. This means a process of hearing and checking. Hearing what God has called, and checking over time and place to see if we have heard accurately. What might seem like God speaking this morning, might look differently two mornings from now.

A second component to discerning prayer is the need to be done in community. When discerning the next place God is calling, we must trust God to speak to all those discerning not just me. There must be a group of people who are engaged in the same process. The ideas that rise up, if the calling of God, will all come together without sales pitches or argument. Simply God will call and we will discern.

As one might guess this is not an easy or short process, yet it is the kind of work which moves the Body of Christ to the next places. This is the kind of work churches must be willing to do if the mission is going to be accomplished. In case you were wondering, the mission is to go make disciples of Jesus Christ. May we all be willing to do the work of discernment.