The results can be powerful. It is no small thing to experience connection with mothers who have the same struggles, or with those who share a passion for the same oft-disregarded hobby or unusual social cause. Those wounded by the church often live in mental isolation until they discover someone who has also been wounded. These groups reflect a powerful truth in a world that often is shaped by a lack of understanding: You are not alone.
It is the Spirit’s raison d’etre to shine the light on Christ. The Spirit is often called the “shy” person of the Trinity because of this. He is content—no, zealous—to minister to the church the Father’s blessings in the gospel of Jesus. He quickens us to desire Christ, illuminates the Scripture’s revelation of Christ, empowers us to receive Christ, and imparts Christ to us even in his own indwelling. For this reason, then, any church or movement’s claim of revival better exalt at Christ at its center, or it is not genuine revival.
Here’s my confession. I’m overwhelmed. 2017 has been challenging so far. Lately, with every sermon that I preach, I imagine one of my old seminary professors sitting on the back row and giving me the Bless Your Heart Look. I haven’t felt very effective in the counseling sessions that I’ve been leading. The solutions just don’t seem to come as easy as they do in the books. And I’ve felt inadequate as a leader. I feel like I need to be more of a CEO, the buck stops here, my way or the highway type of leader but the reality is that that’s just not me.
That leads to the blank page. I’m supposed to write an article filled with biblical and practical wisdom that will inspire pastors to be better leaders, counselors and preachers, all the while knowing that I need to be on the other end of that article. I need to be the reader, not the writer. So I sat in my office, staring at a blank page.
One of the great strengths of Tolkien’s work is its grounding in history. One of the great weaknesses of the contemporary church is its detachment from its own history. Few of today’s Christians have a clear sense of how the church came to be. They know of Acts and Reformation and Billy Graham, but the rest is a blur. They do not know their forebears, the ones who faithfully proclaimed and finally handed down the faith. They have no grounding in history—their own history.
Everything else on the plate will be eaten until there will be only the lonely green stalks left on three plates, and there it will sit. And sit. And sit. Until it starts to get cold and mushy, and the act of eating the asparagus will move from being distasteful to downright disgusting. At some point, inevitably, I will have to put my hands on the table, look them all in the eyes, and say clearly: “You will eat that asparagus.”
The only question at that point is who can play the waiting game longer.
A favorite from the archives:
You wouldn’t think it’d be that hard to write a letter, but this one has a very specific purpose, because it’s also my term paper for my apologetics and outreach course. I am to write a letter to a friend, a family member—someone I am close to—bridge the gap between their beliefs and my own, and encourage them to pursue Christ.
And until last night, I’ve been stuck.