I just finished reading The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. It is easily one of the most incredible books I have ever read. It is a modern day classic and a timeless treasure in the annals of modern church history. There is so much that I could say about this book – I was underlining like crazy. But suffice it to say, this book has totally rocked my world, and I highly recommend it! Be forewarned, however – you will never see the world in the same way. In fact, I am personally going on an extended fast to digest the powerful messages contained in the book and to discern what God wants me to do with the challenge that has been placed at my feet.
In the book, Shane talks about two tax collectors who had encounters with Jesus – Zaccheus and Matthew. One of them left his job to follow Jesus, the other redefined his job. This is the question I am confronted with. Not to leave my job right now – I know that the Lord brought us to our church for this season, and I am committed to fulfilling my commitment. But, down the line, does God want us to stay within the traditional church context and allow this transformation within me to redefine what I do – why I do what I do, and how I do it – and thus affect a Jesus revolution internally? Or would He lead us to start a new work that embraces these transformational values from the inception? May the Lord speak. May I have ears to hear.
During my quiet time this evening I was meditating on and studying Psalm 23. I am practicing an ancient form of Scripture reading called Lectio Divina which means “divine reading” using a book by our friend Duffy Robbins called Enjoy the Silence. I mentioned the book and talked about lectio divina in a blog a couple of days ago if you want more information. I highly recommend it to you. As I was meditating on the words of this passage, I decided to go to the original Hebrew text. As I studied I put together a paraphrase of Psalm 23 from the literal Hebrew words. It was a fresh and insightful for me to consider this great passage. May the Lord encourage you through it as well.
“The Lord is my leader and provider, I shall not be lacking; I shall not fail. He makes me rest in a pleasant place, He protects and sustains me as He guides me along peaceful and quiet waters, He cause my life to return to its proper rhythm. He guides me along the track of right and justice in order to honor Him by showing forth His character. Even when I walk weakly through the gorge with the shadow of death cast over me and calamity all around, I will not be frightened or overwhelmed with fear, for You are right there inside me; Your rod of authority, and your walking stick of guidance bring me great comfort and assurance. You arrange a table and prepare a meal, inviting me to eat in full view of those who want to cause trouble for and even kill me. You anoint my head with oil; I am filled to overflowing, and I am completely satisfied. Truly goodness and beauty and kindness will chase after me every day that I am alive, and I will abide and remain in the family of the Eternal God forever and ever and ever.” (Paraphrase by Rev. Kevin Mahaffy, Jr.)
Several weeks ago I called our Town Hall seeking contact information for our congressman. No, I wasn’t trying to stir things up politically. I needed his help to get bailed out of jail. (Just joking!) As I was listening to the pre-recorded menu, the voice said, “For Youth Bureau press x.” Youth Bureau? Smithtown has a Youth Bureau? I quickly grabbed a pen and jotted down the extension. I couldn’t believe it!
This past Monday I finally made the call and set up an appointment to go and meet with the director of the Youth Bureau. Yesterday Adriana and I showed up to the office building on Main Street downtown. Even in our little town it was a little hard to find. Why? The sign for the Youth Bureau was not in front of the building, or even on the door. The sign was on the side street in front of the neighboring building. When we arrived we met the director, Patsy. I thanked her for carving out some time to meet with us. I explained to her that we had been working here for three years, and I was pleasantly surprised when I found out we had a department dedicated to the youth of our community. She said that my response was a common one due to the lack of visibility, even physical visibility, in the community. She shared about the history of the youth bureau – how it started, how it was run, the great opportunities the future holds, etc. I told her that I wanted to serve in any way that I could, and that I wanted to get the kids from my youth ministry more involved in the community. We also talked about networking for various things that are happening that would benefit teens and parents of teens. Before we ended our time she invited me to come to the next gathering of community leaders who are committed to young people. I left so excited about this new open door!
Our theme for this next year is REACH, and this is the opening of a door that will allow us to get outside of the four walls of the church and to start being the Church! May the Lord help us to see how we can be salt and light in our world.
Had a really fun evening with my daughters today. My wife had to go and speak at her gathering with the pastors’ wives, so I was home alone with the girls. They asked me yesterday if we could make cookies together, so we did. From scratch. My kind of scratch, though. That means I didn’t buy them made. We had to turn on the oven, open the Betty Crocker box, mix the ingredients, insert them into the oven, and exercise tremendous patience as we waited for them to bake. That’s scratch for me. lol We made brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Family Memory Makers!