Pastor Judly Adams a pastor who lives in the inner city of Kingston, Jamaica has allow the Psalmist to teach him how to pray. Kingston is a very poor city where many are untrained, unskilled and therefore unemployable. Many people this pastor works with go to bed hungry, just getting by on handouts. Many families are headed by single women who if they find jobs at all, get rock-bottom wages, not adequate enough to take care of even one child. And then there is violence. Listen how he puts it:
“Violence has certainly increased recently. Many more people than usual have died violent deaths. Much of it comes down to fighting between gangs who support opposing political parties. This area is rife with gangs, and their style of life is revenge – an eye for an eye. Innocent people get caught in the crossfire. And then, too, you have sporadic robberies. Just last week a businessman was gunned down in broad daylight because he refused to hand over his vehicle to some robbers who were trying to make their escape.”
Here is his prayer of disorientation:
Look here, Lord
Things were bad this week in our community.
Someone was shot and killed.
The gun violence keeps increasing.
People are afraid.
Where are you Lord?
Are you asleep?
I need your help.
You’re the one who brought me into this place, so this is your problem too.
Are you going to enlighten me and show me how to respond to this?
Are you going to intervene?
What do we do?
What are you going to do about this situation?
Now if you meet this pastor, you will find that he is one of the gentlest men you will ever meet. Yet his is not one to mince words when he is asking God for help. He tells it like it is. He was no doubt trained by the Psalmist.
Some of you know that this year I started working at the National Director for Church Planting with V3, which you can learn a little more about here. I’m excited about a number of things we have going on, including some new learning communities for church planters starting up this fall. We have been going through a branding process and so I wanted to unveil our new logo today (just above). We are in the process of developing our website, which will go live in mid to late September. So what do you think of the logo?
“Sometimes we experience a terrible dryness in our spiritual life. We feel no desire to pray, don’t experience God’s presence, get bored with worship services, an even think that everything we ever believed about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is little more than a childhood fairy tale.
Then it is important to realize that most of these feelings and thoughts are just feelings and thoughts, and that the Spirit of God dwells beyond our feelings and thoughts. It is a great grace to be able to experience God’s presence in our feelings and thoughts, but when we don’t, it does not mean that God is absent. It often means that God is calling us to a greater faithfulness. It is precisely it times of spiritual dryness that we must hold on to our spiritual discipline so that we can grow into new intimacy with God.” - Henri Nouwen
We live at an amazing time in history, when we have the ability to connect with people from all over the world, to share our faith and to build up the body of Christ. I love to travel to different cultures and learn from people of other cultures as well as share the things that Christ has put on my heart. I’m thankful to live in a time where I can take a plane to places like Indonesia and bring God’s word to God’s people in different cities.
One of the things I enjoy doing in my “spare” time is meet people from different countries over the internet, especially through facebook and/or twitter. I try to connect with those who don’t know Christ and then it seems that Christian leaders from those same countries somehow find and connect with me. I especially enjoy connecting to cultures and countries where the media seems to demonize, and countries that our government puts in a bad light, because I am convinced of God’s love for the whole world.
Last week a pastor in an “unnamed” country facebooked me and asked if I could speak to his young adult group. I told him I’d love to visit, but probably couldn’t come out that way till next year. He said, “Oh, I was thinking you could share with our group through Skype”. I said, “Sure, I think we could work that out.”
So tomorrow I will be connecting to this congregation in a country in the Middle East with a huge Muslim population. Please pray with me as I share with them about living a life of faith. We live in interesting times, and I’m thankful to God for the opportunities to live out and share the good news in so many ways.
Lord, life’s a whirlpool.
So much to do.
I rush around, faster and faster,
intent on today,
Never looking beyond the immediate.
My good intentions,
wet and waterlogged,
slide down the plug hole,
on the blurred edge of vision,
people stand, beckon, call.
So indistinct I can pretend
I don’t see them,
except to myself.
But I rush on.
a little largesse on the way.
Greasing the palm of charity.
My once bright conscience dulled
with tarnished generosity.
Encrusted rust, self-damaging.
My own collecting boxes
full of good intentions,
And yet, Lord,
there are moments
when I hear your voice.
Soft, yet insistent.
Your voice, coming,
not from some cloudy heaven
but somehow centered
in the people I ignore.
And when I take my courage in both hands -
and doing that
means putting down my diary first -
and turn to them,
I find I’ve turned to you.
Among the lonely.
You are the neighbor I ignored.
The injured on the Jericho road.
And when I walk by,
on the other side,
I sidestep love,
and I’m the lonely one,
Self-exiled by my busyness.
Lord, help me try again.
Find time for others.
Find time for you.
A good friend of mine and a group of his friends help to provide soul-care and spiritual direction for pastors, which they call The Table. The Table is a two year communal experience where you will give attention to the state of your soul and the true longings of your heart. You meet intermittently throughout the two years, and get some individual spiritual direction throughout the time. Click here for more information and an application. Go to the very bottom of the page to get some specific dates, and spread the word if you know of any pastors that might be able to use something like this.
Missiologists Andrew Walls and Cathy Ross are editors of the book Mission in the 21st Century: Exploring the Five Marks of the Global Mission. Cathy Ross works for the Church Mission Society in Oxford, and Professor Andrew Walls was formerly the Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World at the University of Edinburgh. While the editors say, “the five marks are neither a perfect or complete definition of mission”, the are rich “with potential and they do form a good working basis for a holistic approach to mission.” As you read the five marks that they explore in this book, consider writing a reply of what your five marks would be, or which marks you agree with or disagree with, or which would you keep and what would you add.
THE FIVE MARKS OF MISSION
1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
2. To teach, baptise, and nurture new believes
3. To respond to human need by loving service
4. To seek to transform unjust structures of society
5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth?