For any of you who are looking for insight into how God has been forming and shaping me, with a view to gain some insight and fuel for your personal walking with Jesus, I’d direct you to the vlog I’ve been keeping since March. The newest entries are under “Pastor’s Vlog”.
As of late, I've been looking at the book of Psalms through the lens of C.S. Lewis' devotional writing Reflections on the Psalms. His insight from the perspective of a professor of English literature has been very helpful in getting to the heart of these beautiful poems that express the depth and breadth of human emotion so well. If we want to learn to seek God's heart, to call out to him in trouble, to pray faithfully during difficult circumstances, there is no better guide than the Psalms. They are reminders that the challenges we face today are nothing new, and that as God has been faithful in the past, He'll be faithful to care for us today.
Leeann and I have also been reading through the book The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay. It was recommended to me by a friend, and even a few short chapters in, it's been enlightening and encouraging to know that there are other Christians out there who are putting words to the struggles we are collectively feeling. It's life-giving to express the reality of those struggles, but even better to know that we serve a God who has always been faithful to lead His people to places of health, abundance, health, growth, and salvation.
One other note (and the reason for the title of this post): I recently heard another pastor say something about preaching and prayer that was notable. I'll paraphrase as best I can: preaching is something that involves a certain amount of native skill, but prayer is something that is only deepened and grown through long seasons of practice. All of us are called by Jesus to share good news with those around us (preaching). Perhaps not publicly, in front of a group of people, but certainly in our private conversation. It takes work to hone that competency, but we have Jesus' promise that He won't leave our side as we try, stumble, fall, and get back up to try again. We have his authority to share good news by virtue of our baptism into His family.
All of us are also called to pray, and this too is something that is especially honed by long seasons of practice. But here's the rub: it's not about rehearsing the right words (flowery, poetic words or more common words). It's about spending time with God. Knowing His heart through HIS Word. Patterning our words after those who have gone before us in faith. Trusting that He hears and answer in better ways than we can ask or imagine. That takes practice. That takes being willing to fail. It takes an open, moldable heart.
So that's my prayer for you, for me. That as we seek the Kingdom, in God's Word, in the world around us, in our everyday interactions, that God would shape and mold our hearts to be more inclined toward His. That we would lean into the challenges He gives us, not away from them. That He would encourage us to keep going when we get weary, and to step forward faithfully when we feel afraid. Above all, that we would trust Him and His promises. That the blessings of His Word would never be lost on us. "Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us — to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21). Blessing on your journey.
Adventure is out there!