I hit the sand early this morning. 6:30 a.m. I was immediately curious if Lucy would walk by. I wrote about her last year.
6:30 turned quickly into a beautiful sunrise and 7 a.m. The shadows were giving way to the blue and orange invasion of the sun. The morning moon captivated me, but looking upward seemed to untether me from earth. I wondered if Lucy had literally done the same. Was she still alive? In her eighties last year when I met her, I wondered of her demise. I wondered of her eternity. I was kind to her last year, but I never spoke of Jesus. I wonder…
Lucy walked feebly by at about 7:15 a.m. I was delighted, and will try and talk with her tomorrow. Thanks, God.
A brief study of temporary vs. lasting kick started me. Luke 12 and II Cor.4. I love this study I’m sharing with Jon, Mark, Samuel, and Jack. (The guys are going to Skype me tonight so we can talk and check in.) Oswald Chambers took me into some deeper meditation about working for God or with Him. I hope I don’t try to do what only Jesus can by attempting to work for God. I want to see God move powerfully and hope that my leadership is more with Him than merely for Him.
Study break is always a great time to think ahead, pray, and plan. My new book project idea came from last year’s study break. Doing a year of prayer originally came from my study break. The Luke series began taking flight first during study break.
This year I’m being drawn more and more to Ephesians. I’m praying through a 2011 series on Ephesians and the church. After reading and praying through the first 14 verses of this amazing book, this could be another loooong series. Wow. In just 14 verses Paul packs a theological suit case full of stuff like: being chosen, grace, God’s sovereign plan, bringing all things under the headship of Jesus, the deposit of the Holy Spirit, and a few more jewels. I needed the near ocean just to soak and process a bit. Ephesians would be a great series on the Church… the Bride.
I started and then put Mark Driscoll’s “Vintage Church” down so I could take a long walk with my bride. I like the way Sherry and I talk and parent and do life together. I love her, and I like her. My bride is a precious gift that fits me like a 23-year-old, custom fitted, comfortable glove.
After reading halfway through “Vintage Church,” I was reminded how much I also love the Bride of Christ… the Church. After 24 years of serving full-time, I still love the Church. After heart aches, messy relationships, and church world pain, I still love the Church.
Driscoll does a good job of handling Church theology and dealing out practical, thought-provoking application attached to that same theology.
What is the church? What is her function? According to Driscoll, many pastors and church members have a hard time answering these basic questions. (My Ephesians series seems more and more necessary.)
One rightly repeated point “Vintage Church” drives home is regeneration. The church should be all about transformation and regeneration. Regenerated hearts and lives that point to Jesus becomes central in defining the Church.
This idea of regeneration is what many new and emergent churches are missing. Post modern churches are focusing more on what they do, and not so much on what Jesus did/does. That’s huge!
Younger generations are dismissing the slickness of the programmed, consumeristic, modern church of their parents, and going for anything that feels even remotely spiritual. A beer with the guys and a conversation about spiritual things is weaving it’s way into new definitions of church. The Bride’s purity and white dress is being replaced with a newer style that seems to feature many shades of acceptable gray.
“Vintage Church” however, covers basic doctrine forgotten but needed by many. What is a Christian, what is the Church, church leadership, church membership (this one has me thinking) baptism, communion, and preaching were theologies Driscoll made refreshing to read throughout the first half of his book. This was great stuff for a pastor to read on study break. My wife, on the other hand, wouldn’t like to read anything without a prairie, a family of eight, or an Amish person named Beverly or Janette. Sherry and I tend to disagree on our choice of books. (smile)
I loved the “Vintage Church” push for preaching. NOT sharing, chatting, or discussing, but rather proclaiming the authority of scripture and the power of the gospel with passion. I love to preach. I love everything about it. I love the prep. I love the struggle, the prayer, the longing for creativity, the energy, and what God does through preaching. I love the miracle of the blank page every Thursday. I love the importance and urgency of preaching. I love the transformation and regeneration God can cause through preaching. I love how God uses preaching, and calls preachers to preach… still today!
I believe this is how God uses me best. It’s my top 5% that I must focus on. Thank God Cumberland is a church which allows me to do this very thing. It was healing for me to read Driscoll’s words, “Good preaching and teaching takes time, so short messages may not be the wisest. The better a preacher and the longer a sermon, the younger and larger the congregation tends to be, because God honors the preaching of His Word.”
I have worried a bit about length of my messages as we’ve dove head first into expository preaching and teaching through books like Luke. Driscoll’s words put a little smile on my face, and probably raises eyebrows on others! (smile)
Driscoll suggests churches love on the pastor’s wife and kids so that the pastor can better focus on preaching. This must be why Sherry and I believe CCC is a very healing place. So many do this very thing for my family and me. Sherry feels loved. My kids are allowed NOT to be boxed-in pastor kids… and because of that, they love Jesus and the church. I will forever be grateful for this grace gift rarely found in church world. It effects my preaching.
I recalled this past Sunday when I came out of the offices coughing. Leanne Watson quickly grabbed a couple cough drops and sent me on my way to preach. I don’t think this is an Alan thing as much as it is an authority of the scriptures and the prominence and necessity of preaching with the Bride of Christ. How very cool and right is that? Is it any wonder I love to preach?
I love the Bride of Christ. I loved reading about Her today through the eyes of Mark Driscoll. I love Sherry, my bride. I really enjoyed talking with Sherry under the beach umbrella today. These unplugged times of intentional rejuvenation are critical for us. I think great communication with my bride helps me to be more effective in communicating to and preaching for the Bride. God I thank you for both my bride and Yours.