Aiming Faithfully

Garett Kelli

The disciples were asked to watch and pray while their Shepherd soon to be Savior went off to pray. Distracted, not sensing the importance of the training and the hour they found themselves in, they quietly fell asleep. How alone Jesus must have felt. Yet in just a short while he would endure the cross and let God be famous.

Pastors feel this way sometimes too. Lonely. Yet their faithfulness to their calling keeps them steadfast knowing they are truly never alone and that Jesus is nearby. Never wavering to the allure of slumber or limelight although both sometimes seem appealing they keep moving forward. Big boisterous voices wagging fingers in condemnation or watered down gospels get applause and a sensation of grandeur for a moment while the pastors in the trenches of community work year after year to train those at the sound of their voice to listen for the voice of Jesus. Let God be famous.

Beth Moore said, “Cynicism is just arrogance pretending to be smart.” We can criticize the church and/or their leaders, tell you how we would do it, tell you that she is irrelevant but we would be exalting ourselves and not the one who reigns supreme. Let God be famous .

No, it would do us best to serve and love faithfully. When my husband was a young pastor a pastor and mentor told him, “Doug, if you want to make a difference in your community, plant deeps roots in the city, buy a pick up truck, and serve the people.” In other words, don’t quit. Make a difference where you are planted. Serve God faithfully, do what you can do for people and let God be famous.

The Shadow Of Tribalism

When we began to speak of our tribes several years ago, I embraced the concept wholeheartedly. Growing up third generation American my ancestors told stories of why we needed to stick together against racism and for survivalism in a country that didn’t always embrace its diversity. Tribalism embraces a poverty mindset that says we must preserve ourselves in the midst of those who would take away who we are.

Growing up in California I was privileged to have grown up with a wide variety of culture yet even then there was tribalism. When we go to eat Chinese Food in China Town we know there aren’t going to be stores where we can buy tortillas.

So the concept of “streams” and “tribes” didn’t signal any alarms until I began to examine how we use them. We use them to keep people rounded up and to keep others out. We hang onto to a sense of who is in, who is allowed to visit, and who is definitely out.

Jesus came to dispel tribalism or at least redefine it. He brought about the discussion and complexity of community while he mingled with many. When Jesus is among the people his mother and brothers show up to talk to him.

Matthew 12:46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

In fact his detractors questioned his choice of dinner companions.

Matthew 9:10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Ultimately the inclusivity of whosoever is what brought him down. The tribe could not fathom sharing their lives with those who did not belong and that is the shadow which we walk in today because tribalism is still our thing. When we determine who is in and who is out not based on qualification but based on standing within the tribe we are acting out of the lack instead of embracing the abundance Jesus tried to bring. When we decide we can’t live in community within the confines of a tribe not because of evil but because of our perceived notions of where we stand within that tribe it shows we have yet to pick up our cross and follow Jesus.

As I struggle to dispel the concept of tribalism and embrace inclusive community I doubt this will be the last post on the topic but it begins the process of discovering my role in it all.

Prayer For My Journey

1AC6FDBB-D623-4637-8A03-5AA9C70494EDI still look for your input and find it missing. I absentmindedly go to Facebook looking for your comments or look for our last text and email to see what you have to say about something. After years of your advice where does one go to hear wisdom from a godly sage?

Peers? No, my peers are on the same journey I am on. Maybe different circumstances but they aren’t looking back to advise their younger self as you were with me.

I remember the last time we spoke you said God had spoken and he was taking you on a new journey. You were so happy to hear and waiting in anticipating of what it might be. You said, “Oh Honey, at my age to be doing a new thing is exciting and scary all at once.” What we didn’t know was that the new thing was going to be your greatest calling.

A heart attack the very next week and the words that I didn’t want to hear, “Nothing more we can do.” But you rejoiced. Your voice was breathy and strong as you said, “Oh Honey, I so love you but don’t pray for my healing. Pray for my journey that I not tarry here. I am excited to see Jesus face to face.” Then in your sarcastic way, which maybe would have scared me if you hadn’t have said it but you said, “I have friends coming out of the woodwork wanting to pray for my healing. I don’t want them to pray for my healing, I want them to pray for my journey. Honey, tell them not to pray for my healing.”

So when Pastor Ida called to find out the details, I spoke up as you have taught, “She is ready to go. She asked that we not pray for her healing but for her journey.” Pastor Ida comforted me as only she can. She was a dear, dear friend to you and has been wonderful to me.

The last call when you assured me that they were treating you well and spoiling you rotten and that you loved me didn’t go unnoticed. You wanted us to know how much you loved us and you didn’t want us to worry.

Even in your passing from this temporal life to your eternal home you taught me to stand strong on my faith. You never ceased being a mentor in this Jesus life we live.

To always follow Jesus.

To put your fears aside.

To carry on because an unimaginable hope awaits.

To pray for our journey.

One step at a time.

So today if you are reading this, my spiritual mother, Doris Avila has gone on to be with Jesus. Never one to be shy about her faith she taught me to stand strong. Over and over again she offered advice, counseled, prayed, gave words of knowledge, heard my heart, told me when I was wrong, and loved me through it all.

If you don’t have a mentor, I urge you to get one. Then I urge you to listen. My very first visit to her home she corrected me. “We say Grace in this home before we put food in our mouth.” I was embarrassed at my misstep. I apologized and got on with the meal because as I was to find out, she was an excellent cook. To think, I would have lost all of that precious advice had I walked away offended. Instead I stayed and listened and gleaned. Find that one, my friend. She will make your journey one of blessing. As you read this, pray for my journey as I walk it out without one who always had a listening ear. That voice for me is gone in the physical realm but her words still ring strong in my heart. May it be so for you.

 

Twisted Theology

@MrChurchGuy writes: When people say that “God showed up” for their worship service, do they count Him in the attendance numbers?

If so, does He count as 3 or just as 1? 😊

God Showed Up

 

The statement that “God showed up” or “God is here” always puzzles me. Jesus shows up whenever two or three are gathered. Why are we, Christ followers, surprised when the Bible turns out to be true?

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” ESV

If you are new to this Christian faith please forgive us. Sometimes we have these Christian-ese statements that we can’t back up with scripture which I’m sure may confuse you.

You see, when we are surprised that God showed up we forget that God is omnipresent. He is everywhere all of the time. We also make the false assumption that Jesus only shows up when we perform for him. If in fact, the church is the bride of Christ then that would make him a pretty bad fiancé, and since we know that he isn’t, then the statement doesn’t hold true. You can find comfort in God. At the whisper of His name He comes.

When we are further surprised that he showed up at church, well, please look around. I’m sure there were more than a few of you there and I’m taking a big leap here but I’m guessing at least two people in that group and hopefully three showed up with a heart that was ready to worship their Savior.

 

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So the conclusion I make to these statements is that these are heart issues of the person professing to see or feel Christ’s presence in a service. The fact is we all have issues of one sort or another and sometimes those issues get in the way of our relationship with God and could sometimes cause us to not have the feeling of being in his presence. It doesn’t make it so, but perception is what we have to go on as humans.

Jesus is in the unlikeliest places. Places you and I would never think he would be, and yet, there he is, whether we feel him or not.

So, grab a friend this week and pray together, if you’re blessed, grab a few friends and pray. I guarantee you he will be there for SURE. If you find yourself alone say a simple prayer and He will be there. If you find yourself not able to utter a sound, too broken to grasp for words, or too blessed to formulate the words to explain the gratitude you feel, or you just plain don’t know what to pray for, even that works, because the Holy Spirit comes and helps us.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. ESV

God really does show up! Because the truth of the matter is God isn’t out there somewhere. If you’ve answered the call he is living inside of you and wherever you are there he is.

 

 

Keep Fighting

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In the midst of a carjacking in 2001 I cried out to Jesus. I heard Him powerfully speak, “Keep fighting, he is just as scared as you are.”

This morning as I awoke from a dream, I saw myself standing with a sword lifted in front of me. I knew deep down that I would never have to use it in the natural realm but that I had been properly trained to. The sword felt comfortable in my hand and the grip was made to fit me. This sword had been given to me as a gift and I had studied its use and practiced to be able to use it with skill. In that moment as I stood my ground it was enough to know that I knew how to use it and that I could, and would, push through fear to victory.

If, in fact, everything happens for a reason, then the carjacking taught me a lesson. I may fight like a girl, but with God I am mighty and equipped to defeat anything that is coming my way that is not of God. So are you.

What have you been through in your life that has taught you to know who you are?

Now ask yourself, are you properly trained? Do you know how wield a sword? A weapon in unskilled hands will be turned against you.

When You Say Nothing At All

 

Opinionnoun – a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

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In the world of ministry, as in the political arena I suppose, your own voice becomes not your own but rather you must decide and calculate, what the cost or gain will be to actually have an opinion on something. There is a unmerciful machine that rages forward and unforgiving attitudes still prevail. Just ask Rob Bell or Jen Hatmaker two Christians who dared have opinions in our world. Books, endorsements, and speaking engagements were pulled immediately. The idea of keeping a public page on Facebook and a private page of Facebook or just getting off of social media completely is in full force. Ask people privately what they think and get a view of people who are deciding that in order to speak to everyone you can offend no one.

So I stopped writing about controversies because I didn’t want controversy in my life. I    wanted to speak to everyone about anything. I wanted to hear opinions and views that weren’t my own because that is where I either solidify my view or see a perspective I    had not seen before and thereby change my mind.

Only that goes completely against who I am. I sat as a small child at the dinner table and discussed politics and world  views with my parents. In fourth grade I wrote to President Gerald Ford and I received an answer. I don’t have an opinion because I’m a Christian, or a pastor, or a woman. I have an opinion because I have a brain who is forever learning and wants to be challenged.

“But you’re going to have to minister to people who don’t share your view and they won’t be able to receive from you because of it.”

WHY? Because we can no longer tolerate an opinion that isn’t ours. We’ve become so engrained to think that if they do not think or do things as we do then they are against us. They aren’t of our tribe so therefore they are out.

Luke 9: 49John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.” ESV

Mark 9:38“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” 39“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40for whoever is not against us is for us. NIV

Only here’s the thing: When we say nothing we say much. While quiet observation serves while opinions are formed there are also two camps forming, those who think you are with them and those who think you are against them. Ultimately this is really not about you. It’s internal strife turned outward. It’s intolerance. Sadly, it’s prevailing in America.

What would you say if opinions truly mattered and we were really a free people?

 

Don’t Freak Out

Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

I often hear believers say, “I’m waiting on God.” They then quote Psalm 46:10 but only the first sentence. “Be still and know that I am God.” While they are correct that is a complete sentence, I don’t think it’s a call to inactivity. To quote The Princess Bride:

Means

It is said that whenever Martin Luther heard news that was disheartening he would answer with, “Come let us sing the 46th Psalm”. In other words, don’t freak out, God has got this. All of your effort and worry and doubt is calmed by the Great God of Jacob, your Father. The only one that should tremble is your enemy because he forgot you are armed with a God who loves you and who has given angels charge over you.

Exodus 14:13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” 

Very much like the Be Still verse is this verse in the midst of adversity. The Israelites have escaped slavery and they come to the Red Sea with the Egyptian Army charging down on them. They are faced with what looks like two choices, death by sword or by drowning and Moses starts this rally with, “Fear not, stand firm.” Are you kidding me? How do you not freak out at this moment? He ends the rally with what should calm us, the know that I am God part, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” In panic mode we make irrational decisions so the phrase and posture is the same, don’t freak out, God has got this.

Mark  4:39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Jesus is asleep during a great storm where fishermen were at the helm of a boat. It should have been relaxing but this great storm comes along that even men who know how to navigate the sea freak out over. Sometimes the things that you think you have control over take momentary control over you. That’s when Jesus comes in and calms it down. “Peace! Be Still”.  He speaks to the enemy let them rage no more against you for they don’t know who has your back.

Be still is not an excuse to do nothing. Be still is a posture of confidence as you continue your journey. So no more excuses of why you can’t. Instead stand firm, don’t freak out and move in the direction God is calling you to.

What have you been avoiding, or have been freaked out over, or is keeping you up at night with worry? Can you Fear not, stand firm, be still and know that He is God?

Then keep moving forward!