Thursday, September 20, 2012

A New Wind

There’s a new wind blowing through our church today.  In some places it’s just a faint stirring in the trees, but in other places it’s a gale-force wind that’s really stirring things up. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland (Isaiah 43:16).  Sometimes it might not seem like it, though.  With the proliferation of blogs and social media, the public voice of the church is singing a lot of different songs, not always good ones.   I think it’s no wonder that we have trouble getting some people interested in becoming part of our churches because we spend so much time publicly complaining about them.  Grandma always said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  Grandma was so wise.  And she was echoing Paul, who said, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).  Which is why I’m very excited about the free book I downloaded yesterday here.   I’ve only read the introduction so far, but I like what it says and the premise behind the project.  I really hope a lot of people are interested in this book. I think they might be, because one question I’ve heard from people in all the churches I’ve been involved with over the past couple of years is “what do we do?”  They’re concerned about declining attendance and aging demographics and know they need to do something about it.  I like the fact that they’re asking, and I appreciate that they seem to know that there’s not one simple answer.  Well, ok, maybe there is, but it’s really just the beginning of the answer—prayer.  And I think that’s the other cool thing about them asking the question, because I know many of these people have been praying and that’s part of what prompts them to ask in the first place.  God’s at work through those prayers and in those people.  And he’s calling them to a lot of different things, not all the same things.  And some of them will work and some of them won’t, but at least they’ll have been tried.  I don’t think we should expect overnight successes.  Yes, things move faster in our modern world, but “making a way in the wilderness” isn’t quick work.  It takes many years of running water to dig a river bed, or to reroute that river bed, but it’ll happen slowly but surely.  To use my other weather analogy, gentle breezes are refreshing, but gale-force winds do damage.  I’m sure there’s a time and a place for both the breeze and the wind, as well as for the trickling stream and the rushing river (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).  However God chooses to work in a particular place and time, all I know is I want to be a part of it.  Don’t you?

“Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.” Joel 2:23 

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