At the close of his second letter to Timothy, Paul tells his spiritual son about some of the hardships he’s endured on his ministry trips, as well as some things to bring to him. He lists several people who have abandoned or withstood him, and those names far exceed those who are currently with him. In fact, he lists only Luke as his current companion (4:11), and he’s requesting Timothy’s presence along with Mark. I find it fascinating that he also asked for several personal effects to go along with the company: his cloak and his scrolls and parchments. Could it be that after a discouraging trip, he’s turning to the comfort of friends? And he also wants his reading material and something to keep him warm? Of course, I’ve always read Paul through pragmatic lens–he only uses what’s necessary to get the job of spreading the gospel done. But, does a desire for some earthly comfort perhaps soften this no-nonsense man of God? It certainly does in my eyes. And who can’t relate to wanting something familiar and comforting in the face of discouragement and setbacks? And why not, like Paul, expect it in friends, books, and a cozy covering. Wasn’t it Linus from the old Peanuts strip who said, “Happiness is a warm blanket”? Too bad Paul didn’t have awareness of a good cup of coffee as well, because I’m sure he would have also asked for his French press.
I use some pretty helpful apps to get stuff done as a pastor, and I thought I’d share some of them with you. I work from an iPhone+iPad but if you don’t, you’ll have to check their availability on your preferred platform.
Need some help with jump-starting your prayer life? Or, maybe managing your prayer lists/requests?
Check out the Echo Prayer Manager by Clover Sites. It has a beautiful interface that is simple and easy to use. I’ve tried several different apps for logging prayers, but couldn’t really get into the groove with any of them. Fortunately, I stumbled across Echo, and it has helped me reengage and maintain regular times of intercession. I use it to keep track of personal and family needs, friends’ requests, as well as for my church.
When you open it, you’re immediately met with the choice to pray from a list you’ve already entered or to add a new one, either of which is available with a simple tap. There are other helpful features, such as an alarm and AirPlay connectivity, that also may be suitable to your needs.
Echo syncs through their website so you can use it on a number of devices, including the iPad.
Echo Prayer App | Free
I’m glad for what my friend Ryan–and others like him–are saying about Charleston and other incidences of violence towards the black community. I agree wholeheartedly and echo his call to do our part for justice.
This hits especially close to home for me as a pastor. To think that someone could be welcomed into the church, observe (and maybe even participate in) the activities, and then perpetrate brutal violence against the people in the room while spouting hate is almost unthinkable. I say almost because this happens more than we’re comfortable admitting–even in houses of worship. And it should sober all of us to the fear that many carry around everyday because of their skin color, speech patterns, or attire.
So, how are you being prompting to get involved? Perhaps it’s by asking tough questions that invite correction to your skewed view of reality. Or perhaps it’s by marching for justice. Or by weeping with those who weep. But whatever it is, do something. Don’t just sit there and accept this as someone else’s problem. We’re called to more as Christians–a higher standard where we cry with the Old Testament prophet Amos, “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24).
Rant on, friends.
I usually posted multiple blogs throughout the day that I enjoyed and even save to Evernote for later reference. But I thought I’d just post them in one place to make it easier. Here are my reposts for today:
I came across this blog post about Bill Watterson (of Calvin & Hobbes fame) and his advice on creative integrity. He says the following, which I just love:
Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential — as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.
You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.
To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.
Don’t give up on your dreams, no matter how many setbacks and discouragements you face. The world needs hopeful visionaries who can see what might be.
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
-A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy
Eugene Peterson, in The Unnecessary Pastor:
The difference between his [Paul’s] life as Pharisee and as Christian was not in his intellectual ability nor in his knowledge of Scripture but in his relation to the Scriptures: as a Pharisee he used the Scriptures; as a Christian he submitted to them.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Chuck Smith passed away on Thursday. He was a major influence in the church of North America, and I really enjoyed stories from his ministry like this one (from Ray Ortlund’s blog).
He was pastoring a little church in Costa Mesa, California, in the late 1960′s, not far from the beach. God began to pour out his Spirit. Teenage kids started getting saved and coming to Smith’s church. But there was a problem. The oil deposits off the coast of California bubble up little globs of oil that land on the beach. If you step on one, it sticks to the bottom of your foot and you mess up the carpet when you get home. So these young people began coming into church right off the beach. They didn’t know they were supposed to wear shoes. They didn’t know church culture. All they knew was Jesus. But the new carpets and pews at Smith’s church were getting stained. One Sunday morning Chuck arrived at church to find a sign posted outside: “Shirts and shoes please.” He took it down. After the service he met with the church officers. They talked it through. They agreed that they would remove the new carpet and pews before they would hinder one kid from coming to Christ. And that wise decision cleared the way for God to visit Calvary Chapel with wonderful revival (Isaiah 57:14-15). I was there when they were holding services five nights a week, standing room only. The breakthrough came when they humbled themselves and chose to care about what God cares about, and nothing else.
I love the passion to embrace the outsider. Check out his biography here.
There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.