Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Finding Your Place

An Inkling
Everyone I meet from East End Fellowship is passionate, and in a most winsome way.
What’s East End?  You can check out the particulars at eastendfellowship.org.  But the short of it is that it’s a church that’s more than a church – it’s a Christ centered community – in the east end, on Church Hill.  It’s a combination of people who have long since lived there, mostly African American, and people who have moved there to be with them, mostly Anglo.  It’s not a community in the sense that they all live in shared housing and have a common purse, although there is much sharing of living space and resources.  It’s a community in that they are centered on Jesus Christ, and they are proximate to each other.  That means that their lives intertwine in multiple ways – not just on Sunday mornings, but by sharing meals, hanging out together, engaging common neighborhood concerns, and so on.
Living close to each other is not the only way to do ministry, but it’s one lovely and biblical way.  And it produces a passion that’s hard to duplicate with groups whose gathering is only occasional, and who have little in common otherwise.
East End folks have found their place.  They are centered on Jesus with each other.  Where’s your place?  Think neighborhood.  Your place can be geographic.  But it can also be a social circle, professional network, or common pursuit.  It can be any “place” where you live day in and out. 
What does it look like to be a Christian in that place?  Or better yet, what would it look like to be centered on Christ with others in that place?  Passion comes with being so placed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Your Investment Counselor

An Inkling
Ever heard it?  Ever said it?  “Gosh, if only I’d invested a couple hundred bucks in Apple stock in 2000…”  “If only I’d bought just a corner of a field in 1980 out west of Richmond in Short Pump, I could retire now…”  “If only someone with an eye for how values would change had told me where to invest…”
Such investment regrets come with the retrospect of changed value:  i.e., that which was of very limited value is suddenly very valuable.  Or, more exactly, that which seemed limited in value was in fact just hidden in value.
Might the day come when we look back on our lives and say, “If only I’d invested in…”?  It surely will.  But actually that day will have no regret, which like the other heartaches of a broken world will have been swept away in the Savior’s triumph.  But that day will suddenly clarify what’s truly valuable.  And if the words of Jesus are any indication, it won’t be what seems so valuable now – Apple stock, Short Pump real estate, etc.
“If only someone with an eye for how values would change had told me where to invest…”  Actually, he has.  Are you buying?
What a deal!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Holy Spirit Testimony

An Inkling
Two months ago John and Katie Francis and I went out to Natural Bridge one day to visit with and video Lou and Nancy Skidmore.  Skid was one of the pastors here in the 70s and 80s, and had a huge impact on St. Giles.
Shortly before Skid came to St. Giles the Holy Spirit had filled him anew.  That poised him to serve well here as the Spirit’s wind blew widely in our congregation.  On this video Skid gives some vignettes of both his own and St. Giles’ renewal.
We sought out Skid and Nancy because 2012 is St. Giles’ 75th Anniversary, and we’re focusing on what God has done here.  He has done amazing things, changing thousands of lives – and that’s no exaggeration! 
The point of attending to what God has done is not to glory in the past, but to learn to be more attentive to what God is doing now by having the horizons of our expectations expanded.  And hearing what God has done here over the years is definitely stretching.
Watch and enjoy!  And let’s seek God’s guidance through the various events of our 75th Anniversary celebration, so that we can be about what he wants to do next through St. Giles.
To be continued…. (praise the Lord!),

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

God's Actionable Goals

An Inkling
On the inside cover of my prayer journal I write my goals for the year.  Then I look at them periodically through the year, and think about what I’m doing (or not!) to accomplish those goals.  So far I’m still pondering on goals for 2012. 
The common wisdom about goals is that they should be “actionable” – i.e., stated specifically enough that you can act on them and measure the results.  That makes sense.  Vague goals don’t provide much guidance for the daily decisions that apportion limited time and energy.
But this year I’m leaning away from actionable, and more toward “be-able.”  When I look back at the end of 2012 to see what was most important, I’m confident that it won’t be check marks next to actionable goals.  I certainly have some things that I need to do, and I intend to pursue them.
But if I read the scripture rightly, they are second tier.  Jesus was very clear:  the most important thing that any of us can do in 2012 is to love the Lord, and to love those he has given us in our daily interactions (Mark 12:28f).  Such love proceeds from being – the state of the heart.
How would that look in 2012?  What resources enable growth in such love?  I think the actionable steps aren’t love itself, but they do posture me for what God would do to grow me in love – things like worship, prayer, study of the scripture, service, etc.  The Lord finds such things “actionable,” and the change he brings shows in the heart.
I think my 2012 goals are beginning to shape up.  How about yours?
Happy New Year!