Thursday, April 22, 2010

Faith Works 4-24

Faith Works 4-24-10

Jeff Gill


Secrets and Hidden Agendas, Not So Much




Spring is a beautiful time, but not always a very calm one. "Be still and know that I am God," says Psalm 46:10, but this is often a season of ferment, turmoil, and uncertainty.


Board meetings get tense as the winter deficit is barely balanced out with the Easter bump; plans for vacation season activities reach fever pitch, whether VBS or camp or special series' for adults and families; visitors are either making or not making a choice to return after Easter.


Pastors feel the stress of the Easter season not quite ease out of their lower back muscles, but a summer vacation is neither on the calendar nor in the cards; lay leaders start horse trading responsibilities for the post-Memorial Day Sundays.


And I think you could blame it on tree pollen if not the Adversary himself: people just get a bit wacky. The fringe stuff starts to get handed around during coffee fellowship (Madalyn Murray O'Hair: still dead, people!), long-simmering questions come up in Sunday school, and there's always someone asking for an evening Bible study of Revelation.


Just to help clear out some of the spiritual underbrush for the spring/summer season . . .


There is a God. All creation, no matter how you read the signs and chronologies, points to an intention and plan somewhere behind it all.


Death is not the end. Spring is when any child should be able to start to make sense of this fantastic belief.


The Bible rocks. No, seriously. We're talking the wisdom and discernment of three millennia, sorted and culled in a process that took place right out in the open, written in Hebrew & Greek which are, yes, "foreign languages," but not so strange that any thoughtful person can't use a few simple tools to double check for themselves, translated by dozens of prayerful, careful, thorough teams into many translations. Read any three translations side-by-side of a common passage, and feel the underlying truth start to come alive for you, maybe even something a bit more Alive than that.


Jesus did not get married, didn't have any children, and so they didn't end up ruling France or hiding stuff in Scottish chapels, he didn't have much in the way of advice to give anyone, then or now: he just kept pointing out what God was doing, until all that was left was to [ital]be[end ital] what God was doing.


That woman on the other side of the church who keeps looking at you that way? She doesn't hate you, that's just how she looks. She can't even remember your name. she has acid reflux.


All those people who are trying to stop your ideas? They don't object to your ideas at all. They don't like any ideas, and haven't for decades.


The end times? We're in them. Have been since the Ascension. Get over it. As John Wesley said, asked about it while weeding, "First, I would finish working in my garden." Neither the day nor the hour – that seems straightforward enough for anyone.


Your budget? You have plenty of money. You may not have enough to do what you want to do (translated: "what we need to do…"), or what you hope to do, but compared to a church in the Congo whose weekly offering is about $2.27, you're rolling in it. What is God calling you to do with that?


Is God speaking to you? My prophetic answer is: Duh. Constantly. Sometimes you need to be quiet (Ps. 46:10 again), and sometimes you just need to pay attention (Prov. 26:11); sometimes God speaks directly to us through the Bible (read Augustine's "Confessions" for a wonderful example of this) and sometimes indirectly through others (also read the "Confessions" for a tale of children at play when the saint was at pray).


God has said quite a bit with strong emphasis and unambiguous meaning (Deuteronomy 30:19), and no little amount of wisdom that adapts itself to the hearer's need and situation (Acts 2:42); God speaks to your heart all the time, but you need to not try to understand that all alone. You need others to help you sort out your own indigestion from the movement of the Spirit, and you need others to help you actually do what you've never really had any trouble hearing clearly from the start.


Or as a brother in ministry once said to me, "Giddy-yup."


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him a story at or follow Knapsack @Twitter.