So our last Sunday at First Covenant Church until December just had to be chaotic, like it’s like a cosmic law or something. Don’t get me wrong--it was a great day--but there were just 142,000 different things going on, and it was hard to make sure that we got everything in.
First off, we took part in dedicating little Elizabeth Doremus to the Lord this week. Her name means, “God is my oath,” and that’s a great way to start off your life--remembering that God is not only your foundation, but also the sure and certain hope in which you place all of your confidence. He is the promise that we take our oath on, and it’s in Him alone that we should place our unqualified confidence.
Melinda Merz was also able to share a bit about her ministry with YWAM in Australia (and, by extension, various other parts of the globe), and she’ll be having another, more extended discussion coming up in August (Wednesday the 14th, if I remember correctly), so mark your calendars so that you can join us for that.
Actually, let me amend that--mark your calendars so that you can join them for that. As of tomorrow, I’ll be on vacation for two weeks, followed by a three-month Sabbatical. If you’re not familiar with what a Sabbatical is, the idea is that, just like each of us should take a day each week where we refrain from our livelihoods so that we can stop and remember the God who sculpted us and give Him the attention that He’s due, it can be helpful for pastors (or teachers, or doctors, or any professional, really) to take a step back and make sure that they’ve got a sense of perspective on their calling. No, I don’t feel burned out. No, I don’t feel like I’ve lost my objectivity or perspective. But then again, I’ve spent a decade focused on the ministry here at First Covenant, and it’s probably not a bad idea--as an act of worship to God and as an investment in my future productivity as an administrator--to take that step back right now so that I can rest, reboot, and be able to objectively reevaluate things when I get back. Please pray for those who will be running things and ministering to the church family in my absence.
Now, it’s a little ironic that we ended Nehemiah this week, looking at how, after more than a decade of service to Israel, he’d stepped away for a little while and come back, only to find that everything he’d worked for was in the process of falling apart. The wall and the Temple were still standing, but now they were just stones--the importance of seeing them as reminders of God’s holiness and priority had been lost. The promises that the people had so emotively made at the end of chapter 12 had been dropped by the wayside, and people were more interested in doing whatever they felt like doing.
I feel very fortunate that I don’t need to worry about that with First Covenant--this is a good church family, filled with solid people who are committed to following Christ. But it’s still probably not a bad idea for all of us to stop and consider how important it is to regularly stop and consider our lives and how we’re living them. Are we worshiping God--actively placing Him first and foremost--or only sorta worshiping Him? To be genuine worship, you have to mean it to be worship--you have to make the conscious decision to make what matters to God what matters to you, to remind yourself that God is the god of your life, that you aren’t, and that that’s a good thing. And for it to be really healthy worship, you need to live out your life tomorrow as if you meant your worship today.
I’ll sign off now and give your eyes and ears a rest for a while. Take care, and may God bless and keep you. We’ll chat again in December...
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.” (Exodus 20:8-10)