It’s been a while since I posted something new on my blog so I decided to make a fresh start. I have removed all of the old blog posts and am starting fresh. So, as I turn over this new leaf, my attempt will be to post at least one blog post every week. There may be weeks where I post more, but my goal is to consistently post something new every Thursday morning. That being said, this blog is generally meant to be read by anyone and can be shared anyway the reader chooses. However, with this post, I have a specific reader in mind; Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church. I would like for as many PH members and attenders to read this as possible, and I invite PH members and regular attenders to share with other PH folks that may not receive it.
I now have had the honor and privilege as serving as your Pastor for four months now. What a pleasure! When a pastor arrives at a new church, there are tons of “unknowns”. The pastor doesn’t know peoples sensitivities. The pastor doesn’t know what the “sacred cows” are. We pastors tend to bring our experiences from past churches into any new charge, and sometimes those past experiences tend to shape how we approach new ministry. I tend to believe that this is human nature. I also believe while it is human nature, there is good and bad to doing this. So for the past four months I have been observing more than anything.
In the world of pastoral ministry there are generally two thoughts about arriving at a new church. First, and most common, is this: “Don’t change anything until you have been there at least a year.” Second, which is far less common is; “Change everything you can as quickly as you can.” It wouldn’t surprise many of you to recognize from my preaching, that I fall more into the second category than I do the first. However, I have discerned from day one, that my immediate job is to observe and get to know folks. I will continue to do so and look forward to the relationships that will be built and strengthened in the months to come.
That being said, I have been preaching and teaching a lot about the purpose of the Church. In my sermons you have heard me reference the decline of the American Christian Church. You have heard me talk about how I believe the church needs to step back in time and follow the example of the Church in the First Century in order to move in God’s will for our future. I’m no fool and I know that you aren’t, so I understand that the way I preach implies change.
I have also shared with you that I am always moving toward or looking for revival. The problem with living that way is that it’s almost like a child trying to teach himself or herself how to read. The kind of revival I believe God is leading us towards is something that most of us have only heard or read about. The child who sees another child reading, knows that what is happening is important and that child decides that it’s time to learn to read. We understand though that for the vast majority of humanity, that child needs help from the a reader in order to learn how to read. They need to be taught! It’s no different when it comes to revival. Google defines revival this way: “an improvement in the condition or strength of something.” and “an instance of something becoming popular, active, or important again.”
By referencing that particular definition, am I saying that “revival” or improving the condition or strength of PHUMC is required? Absolutely! As a pastor, if I ever quit saying that, then I need to find something else to do. Regardless of where we are on our spiritual journey, individually or corporately, He calls us to making disciples. He calls us to minister to the poor. There will always be those who don’t know Jesus and there will always be the poor. For that matter, until life on earth ends, there will always be the captive, the sick, the hungry, the blind, and the lost. Literally and figuratively. Church, we have a charge to keep and in following Jesus, there isn’t going to be a time where the charge we have to keep lessons.
In referencing that definition I am also saying that it’s time for Jesus to become more popular, more active, and more important AGAIN. Why? Jesus is God, and God is all powerful right? Correct! However in His power and authority, God has chosen for us to be a part of His magnificent plan. This means that the Christian life is not meant to be lived on the sidelines. The Christian life is just like a river. Rivers flow and move in one direction, all of the time. However it’s as if the American Christian church has become more like a pond. God doesn’t move into a contained space, like a pond. The Spirit of God is supposed to flow through its host like a river! Unfortunately we have many churches in our country and around the world where God’s Spirit flows in and stays, eventually becoming stagnate. And as the Spirit of God lifted itself from the Israelites, it too will leave a church where it’s becoming stagnate. While I have seen and been in churches where it seemed as if the Spirit had left, I don’t believe that is the case at Pleasant Hill.
You have had a hard couple of years. Yet here you are, shinning as a light on a hill! Those of you worshiping at PHUMC know who God is! You believe that Jesus is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do!. I honestly believe that PHUMC wants to be used by God for revival! I believe that God’s intention for PHUMC is revival! But in order for us to be prepared for God’s intent in Holy revival, I believe that like the child I referenced early, we have to learn how to receive that revival. Unlike the child however we don’t have to find a “human revival teacher” in order to accomplish this. While it would be great, and might even happen to have someone who has experienced a corporate revival before, where God’s Spirit showed up in mighty ways, and people came to a church only because lives were being dramatically transformed and relationships were being miraculously mended, I don’t believe a human teacher is where the primary answer is. I believe that all we have to do is ask. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matt 7:7 NIV) Seriously, I believe if the people who follow Jesus and attend PHUMC enter into a season of praying individually and corporately in a mighty way for this community and beyond, and we are consistent, and keep asking, God will show up and revival will occur.
Last night at Wednesday night bible study I showed a thirty seven minute video. We are starting a new Wednesday night teaching series where we are going to be looking at the history of Christian Revival. The video we watched was one of Dr. Dennis Kinlaw giving his account of the Asbury Revival of 1970. Dr. Kinlaw was at the time president at Asbury College in Wilmore Ky. Below there will be a link to the video and I’d like to encourage you all to take 40 minuets out of your day sometime in the next few days and watch it. My prayer is that by watching this video, a seed will be planted within us all, and the Spirit will nudge us even closer to the revival I believe He wants to send.
It is an honor to be your pastor!