DTR – Define The Relationship

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on the summit of Mt. Washington

So this is how my brain works: “Ooooo, It’s Saturday morning; it’s not even seven o’clock; it’s as cold as the summit of Mt Washington outside; the dog won’t even get up. I think I’ll drive to the church for some Bible-study with the guys!”

I know! Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But, I’ve got to tell you, add in the good coffee that Dan brews before I arrive, and it’s a wonderful way to start the weekend.

Here’s the scripture (part of it) that we talked about today.

The seed is God’s word… The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity… Luke 8:14

We talked about a lot of things, but mostly we talked about how the Jesus story so easily gets elbowed out of our day-to-day world. Not just by the demands of our lives, but by the pleasures too.

I especially like this translation, “The message is crowed out…”

“DTR”:  As we talked, I realized that it’s not the specifics of, “Follow these rules;” Do this;” or “Don’t do that,” that get crowded out by “the cares and riches and pleasures of this life” so much as our relationship with God. In other words, Jesus isn’t talking about a set of instructions so much as an invitation. We are invited to “grow into maturity” as believers, to become deeply rooted followers of the Living Way, to live – and to think – as children of God.

But the Jesus message is choked, suffocated, crowded out, elbowed out of the way, de-prioritized.

Jay Joyner, who serves on the generosity team at WFPC, gave a great illustration in church last weekend. He talked about a work friend who was forced to have the “DTR” conversation with his girlfriend – “DTR” stands for “Define The Relationship.”

Jay went on to point out that all of us need to – periodically – have a define the relationship conversation with Jesus.

Because it’s all too evident that we elbow Jesus out of the way on a regular basis; we de-prioritize our relationship with The Living God until Jesus isn’t even a second-tier consideration as we make our way from day to day.

IMG_0398Coffee, God’s good word, prayer, a handful of good brothers, and a roomful of encouragement. Now that is a most excellent way to roll out the weekend.

Peace – and I’ll see you in church tomorrow – DEREK

 

 

I believe men can be better than that…

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

IMG_0398The older I get (and I am getting considerably older…) the less I believe in coincidence and the more I see providence at work.

Or maybe it’s that I have just become more sensitive to particular issues and am consequently better equipped to see relationships between events?

Regardless, a huge “snap” moment hit me this morning.

It was in the area of “men’s ministry”; or “men’s issues;” they’re pretty much the same thing.

STUFF I DON’T AGREE WITH: The first leg of the providential coincidence was a blog post forwarded my way by a friend. I did not like what I read! It was another one of those “Things aren’t the way they used to be” articles, contending that “real men” have become a rarity, and that church is being “feminized.”

The writer opined that “stranger-danger” is overplayed, complained that “good-natured teasing” by men is no longer appreciated, argued that “young girls” need to learn to spar with older men, suggested that background checks discourage too many guys from volunteering and “cut godly men out of the lives of kids,” and laments that church is becoming a “man desert” where kids are overly shielded.

“Even as childhood gets safer,” the post reads, “parents and society get more worried about child safety. Authorities are now arresting parents for letting their children walk to a park or for leaving them in a locked car for five minutes… Today’s highly managed youngsters no longer have many chances to mix with men they do not know.”

You can read the entire piece at “How Men Became Scary.” Then, if you want to really understand scary, browse through some of the comments posted by “Christian” men who buy this kind of thinking wholesale.

Here’s part of what I wrote to the friend who forwarded the article:

In my experience, non-creepy guys are never rebuffed at grocery store lines, they’re not excluded from working with children, and they are never accused of being perverts. Also, “good-natured teasing” is typically a euphemism for bullying – the writer seems to want to promote the back-slapping, arm-punching, good-old-boy, sexist, chauvinistic status quo. And he’s blaming parental concern for the loss of influence his type of man is facing.

As for this “girls need to learn how to spar with grown men” nonsense… NO! Instead, grown men need to learn better manners, and to learn that sexual innuendo is not appropriate.

I LIKE MY MESSAGE BETTER!! Here’s the “providential coincidence.” Today’s “Play of the Day” email from All-Pro-Dad featured one of my articles for men. It’s titled “10 Encouraging Thoughts for Dads,” and it pretty-much sums up my approach.

My work for AllProDad.com is pretty much the opposite of complaining that bullying, creepy, sexist, patronizing behavior is under-appreciated; instead, I consistently argue that men can in fact be better than that. We need to become New Testament men, learn from Jesus, and exhibit the strong kind of love that’s outlined in 1 Corinthians 13 (above), and in Galatians 5 (below).

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness. There is no law against such things.

The more I read from the high-traffic sites that speak to men, the more convinced I am that I need to write this new book, and I need to write it fast.

Thanks for the motivation, Lord – DEREK

for fathers NOT in heaven (“harassed” is our name)

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:

“Father, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.” – Luke 11 (NLT)

The Lord’s Prayer:

Wednesday evening at church (after an amazing fellowship dinner prepared by our director of food ministries), my men’s small-group Bible-study met to talk about another chapter from Luke’s telling of the Jesus Story.

The focus was prayer. What is prayer? How do we pray? And what can we learn from Jesus? Naturally, we concentrated on The Lord’s Prayer, and the guys shared several powerful stories from their own experience, and how God continues to challenge them to be more deliberate – and personal – in their relationship with Him.

GUIDE: Christ’s words to the disciples make for a powerful guide, and they comprise a practical outline that often helps to keep me on track. I have copied out, paraphrased, and rewritten this prayer many times in my personal devotional life.

Then yesterday – likely because several of the guys are parents of young children – one of my more humorous renditions came to mind. I couldn’t find my original, but I did remember enough to re-write it for the group.

Several of the men asked for a copy. So, here it is; I hope you enjoy:

The Lord’s Prayer for Dads

- We’re the fathers who aren’t in heaven, “Harassed” is our name.

- Our kids won’t come; our will’s not done – not here on earth, not at home, nor at school, nor at the market when we’re trying to pick up groceries, not on the playground… just maybe in our imaginations.

- We need to cut back some on our daily bread, and we’re up to our eyeballs not only in debt, but in trespasses and sin (all three versions apply).

- Lead us not in to temptation, but deliver us from pizza (and Crispy-Cream donuts, and beer, and chips, and the Sports-Illustrated Swimsuit Edition).

- For we have no Kingdom, and no Power, and the closest we come to Glory is the vicarious kind we strive after via our kids’ performances in Elite Soccer and Little League baseball.

- Forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever… at least until they go off to college…

- And, Lord, please save us from arrested development, 25-year-olds still living at home, and perpetual parenthood – Amen (by Derek Maul – with apologies to the original author, J.C.)

TOGETHER: Laughter aside – and most of this is only funny because it’s so spot-on true – our entire conversation was in actuality a long, corporate prayer that lasted over an hour.

Gathering together with a few friends and talking about faith, especially when we have the conversation in the context of scripture, is a form of conversational prayer, and it is one where Jesus has a chair at the table.

IMG_0398Again, all I can do is to tell God, “Thanks,” and realize how blessed I am – DEREK

PS – Check out the new Wake Forest Presbyterian Church website, rolled out this week – www.wakeforestpres.org

drinking from the well

tree at "Abraham's Well"

tree at “Abraham’s Well”

Blessed is the one…
whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water.

When Rebekah and I lived in Florida (and it still sounds strange, talking about Florida in the past tense) it wasn’t very difficult to grow stuff. The best example was the 10-inch pencil-sized cypress Rebekah’s mamma gave us when we first moved in; it pretty much became a Giant Redwood within a couple of years.

our Florida cypress (60 ft tall and growing)

our Florida cypress (60 ft tall and growing)

The challenge in Tampa was always more about not growing stuff: not growing trees in the gutters; not losing your mailbox in an outbreak of Philodendrons; not growing mold in the house; not growing shrubs on the window-sills.

We’d go on vacation for a couple of weeks, return home, and just about have to hack our way through a jungle to get to the front door. Many of Rebekah’s plants didn’t even need soil, there was enough moisture in the air to keep them quite happy.

DSC_0544_2HOLY-LANDS: But in the Middle East, where the Bible-narrative plays out, water is at a premium. The Sea of Galilee, for example, is pretty much the fresh-water supply for Israel. Wars have been fought over interruptions to the Jordan River. Wars have been fought over something as rudimentary as a reliable well.

If you plant a tree in Israel, you had better know for sure where the water is. Otherwise the tree is simply going to shrivel up and die.

This was the reality the psalmist had in mind when he penned the words at the top of this page. Someone who takes in God’s Word on a regular basis, someone who takes pleasure from knowing God, someone who meditates, contemplates, ruminates, deliberates, cogitates, reflects; that person is connected to the nourishing, refreshing well of truth and wisdom in the same way that a tree (like the one at the top of this page, planted by Abraham’s Well) draws life from a reliable source of water.

In Israel - look what irrigation can do!

In Israel – look what irrigation can do!

And it’s not just about visiting the well. It’s about planting ourselves there; it’s about putting down roots in God’s good Word.

Kind of like the first part of our mission statement here at WFPC. “Rooted in Christ.”

Delighting in the Word – DEREK

 

 

 

health, exercise and “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over…”

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“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” – Luke 6:38

Other than being an “attention-getter,” the dog picture (Scout Labradoodle, taken yesterday evening) is also a health tie-in. Scout has been my personal trainer for eight years now, and she continues to make a huge difference.

That’s what I told my doctor this morning, when I went in for a follow-up consult after a round of routine blood-work. I haven’t established a history yet with this practice, so this first time around she wanted to talk about everything in detail.

KUDOS! However, instead of being in trouble, or getting one of those, “These numbers are a real problem” lectures, Dr. S. gave me kudos all around.

“Your numbers are really good,” she said. “I’m very happy. So all I’m asking you to do is the same, only more.”

“The same, only more.” That’s good.

What she was talking about was keeping my weight below 180, eating a lot of fresh vegetables, cooking more chicken and fish than red meat, avoiding too much fried food, not wasting my calories on sweets, and maintaining a healthy exercise regimen.

In other words, my doctor reminded me that health is a life-style, not something I can check off a list.

SPIRITUAL HEALTH: And I couldn’t help but think about my spiritual health, and all the conversations I’ve been having about being a disciple of Jesus. Spirituality isn’t about taking a pill, or getting a shot: – “I go to church every couple of weeks;” “I read up on my Bible-lesson for Wednesday nights;” “I say a blessing before I eat dinner;” “I go to this big-name evangelist conference every year.” Check; check; check; check.

IMG_6029No, not what we’ve been talking about. Spiritual health is a complete diet, a daily discipline, a cumulative exercise.

My mainstay is exercise and diet; walking and nourishment. I walk 8,000-10,000 steps a day (that’s where Scoutie is a BIG help); I try to make all three meals healthy and balanced (or at least 18 of the 21 in a given week). That’s not a pill, that’s a lifestyle.

Following Jesus is a lifestyle. It’s likely several hundred small steps per day, that’s the exercise. Jesus explains the nourishment part in the following way:

“The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” – John 4:14b

“Jesus said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.” – John 4:32-34

My food is to do the will of him who sent me…” I may be doing OK. Jesus may even tell me he’s happy with my spiritual health. But one thing I know for certain, even if I am registering fairly good on the faith scale: “Derek, I’m asking you to do the same, only more so.”

IMG_5993“A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

All right, Lord; I hear you loud and clear – DEREK

Two Prayers (and a small miracle) for Monday Morning

IMG_6033-001Yesterday was a powerful day at WFPC. I need to wait another 24-hours before I write about some of it, but this morning I can share one story and a couple of prayers.

(The above view of the congregation – and the next – comprise a unique perspective for me. I was helping lead worship and had my iPhone camera peek out from behind my hymnbook!)

THE MIRACLE: More on that later. But first – during the 9:00 Praise Service - Rebekah experienced one of those “all preachers have nightmares about this happening” moments. God, however, used it for good and the moment demonstrated – once again - how what’s happening around here has so little to do with us, and is so much about the work of the Holy Spirit.

Here’s the short story:

  1. Rebekah puts her sermon in the pulpit.
  2. Someone else uses the pulpit to make an announcement.
  3. Announcement person gathers ALL the papers on the podium along with their own.
  4. Later in the service, the preacher steps into pulpit to deliver the sermon, only to discover that it is gone!

IMG_5562What made this more interesting is that said unwitting sermon-thief was scheduled to make the same announcement at the 11:15 worship service and – consequently - had immediately gone home.

Rebekah uses a manuscript. She may deviate all over the place, and extemporize frequently, but the manuscript is always in play… Except, that is, when it’s not in the building!

So Rebekah prayed, asked the congregation to pray for her, said, “I remember the opening story,” took a deep breath, and then launched. God took over from there. What followed was an inspirational message that reminded all of us exactly what goes on in worship. We offer our praise, our gifts, our abilities, our resources – our WHOLE selves – to God, and we lay it all at the feet of Jesus.

We offer our praise, our gifts, our abilities, our resources – our WHOLE selves – to God, and we lay it all at the feet of Jesus.

That’s our opportunity. That’s our joy. It just so happened that Rebekah, with the unintentional help of another leader in the church, offered a perfect illustration of what can happen when we give it all – everything that we are and hope to be – into the hands of God.

I love the view from up here!

I love the view from up here!

11:15: Then, at the second service, I was asked to serve as “liturgist.” That means I got to be up front, and lead the congregation in the call to worship, the confession, and the passing of the peace. I also offered the opening “Prayer of Praise and Adoration” and also the dedication prayer for tithes and offerings.

Here they are. I’m sharing the prayers, humbly, as a liturgy for my on-line friends at the beginning of a new week:

Prayer of praise and adoration: Holy and eternal God, author of all life; The One whose existence transcends the limitations of time, space, creation and reason; we stand in your presence this morning in gratitude and in awe.

We could not begin to imagine approaching your holiness with any assurance of personal safety outside the covering of the forgiving love you have given to us through your son, Jesus.

So here we are, full to overflowing with gratitude, wide-eyed with anticipation, and bursting with joy.

Fill this place, Lord, with the refreshing presence of your Spirit; warm our hearts, Holy Spirit, with a fresh experience of your peace; overwhelm each worshiper, Savior, with the compelling truth of the Gospel of Love; inspire us, Jesus, to carry your ministry of grace, peace, purpose and promise into the world where you have called us to serve.

We raise our hands in adoration, and we bow our heads in reverence and praise. AMEN!

Prayer of Dedication (Offertory): Thank you so much, God, for your generous, over-the-top love. All we can do in response is to be that kind of a church – over-the-top in generosity, nothing held back when it comes to carrying the Gospel of Love into this broken world.

May our offerings reflect the extent to which we are transformed by your Grace. Please take these loaves and fishes, multiply them, and use Wake Forest Presbyterian church to change this world for Jesus! AMEN

Power to Become Children of God! (Ninja-discipleship!)

But God raised Jesus up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. Acts 2:24

DSC_0007-001I’ve been ruminating a lot this weekend about the idea of “Living faith out loud.” It’s one of my catch-phrases. When I use it I’m talking about putting faith into practice, about living so that there is no doubt that we are followers of the Living Way of Jesus.

But it’s hard to speak in practical terms about exactly what “living faith out loud” looks like. Then, Saturday evening, getting ready for my “Practical Christianity” Sunday morning Adult-ed class, I ran across the scripture passage quoted above: Having been freed from death, the scripture declares, it was impossible for Jesus to be held in its power.

POWER! OK. I don’t know about you, but I find that idea to be incredibly powerful! We, because of Jesus, have been freed from death. Death no longer has any clout in our lives. Jesus has defeated death, and we have been carried over into that freedom along with Jesus.

Put another way, Jesus launched a new kind of life when he was resurrected on Easter Sunday. He wasn’t – and we’ve discussed this before – brought back to life… instead, Jesus was brought forward into a new kind of life. This is the new life we have been invited into.

Consequently, it could be said of us that, “Having been freed from death, it is impossible for Derek, or Bernie, or Ruth, or Ron, or ___________ (insert your name, here) to be held in its power.”

That is an absolutely radical idea!

Think about your life. Think about the hold things have over you. Missteps, and mistakes? We still make them, but we are forgiven! Anxiety? We have been freed! Jealousy? Disappointment? Free, and free some more! Anger? Rage? Bitterness? Free, free, free! Defeatism and giving ourselves over to negativity? No hold over us, baby! Fear? Lack of confidence? Self-doubt? Jesus has set us free!

DEATH-GRIP: Sin has a death-grip on too many people. This world is paying the consequences every hour of every single day. It’s like the darkness has taken hold in more and more places, including the lives of ordinary people, people who live as if they don’t believe anymore that the light is even a possibility.

But it is not so! Having been freed from death, it is impossible for us to be held in its power!

Free! But free for what purpose. Well there’s, “To love God and to enjoy God forever.” But then there is also the imperative that we go out there and kick darkness’ butt. Ninja-discipleship!

This is God’s Word we’re talking about here; and there is power, there is truth, there is responsibility. We need to know this stuff, and then we need to live as if we believe it.

PROMISE! Listen to this, and then I’ll close so you can turn off the computer and hurry over to church:

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. – John 1:12-13

IMG_5052Jesus has given us “Power to become children of God.” Victory! We’ve got it. Now let’s make sure and use it. Remember, having been freed from death, it is impossible for us to be held in its power!!!

- DEREK

a “family of God” testimony

Kelly, Vivi, Tim, Micah, Liam

Kelly, Vivi, Tim, Micah, Liam

This morning’s post is a simple, “Family of God” testimony. I’m disappointed in the quality of the images (apparently my iPhone was not all that interested in focusing today), but this is about people, not pictures, and about the wonderful privilege of friendship.

Tim and Kelly Black – along with their three children, Micah, Liam, and Vivi – stopped in at Maul-Hall for a “Travelers’ Rest” overnight, halfway between Florida and Pennsylvania.

Tim, who worked on the pastoral staff with Rebekah in Brandon for nine years, has been called to serve as co-pastor at Central Presbyterian Church in Downingtown, PA. This week they loaded up their house in a moving truck and said “goodbye” to a Florida adventure that lasted ten years.

Tim and Kelly arrived in Brandon in 2004 as newlyweds. They did phenomenal ministry in the church and community, and left a decade later with three children, two large, rambunctious dogs, one nervous-looking tropical fish, and the proven experience that ministry can be positive, fruitful, encouraging, and full with promise.

Tim Black & Rebekah Maul

Tim Black & Rebekah Maul

Friday evening we stayed up late talking. And what’s interesting to me is that – although Rebekah and Tim’s ministry together in Brandon was an overwhelmingly positive experience, shared with some of the most faithful disciples of Jesus we have ever known – all of the conversation centered around the exciting opportunities both pastors are engaging in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

The First Presbyterian Church of Brandon experience strengthened, animated, and equipped both Rebekah and Tim. But the transforming power of the gospel is always about moving forward, and the vision – born out of both faith and faithfulness, belief and experience – is strong and compelling.

Or, as Yoda (Star Wars) would have put it, “Strong the vision is in this one.”

IMG_6020LIVING FAITH OUT LOUD: Earlier this week a friend asked me to explain exactly what I meant when I used the expression, “Living the gospel out loud, every moment of every day.”

The idea is hard to articulate, but I believe that, thinking back over the few hours Rebekah and I shared with Kelly and Tim, part of it is the way that our discipleship informs our relationships, our priorities, our actions, and our conversations. We weren’t talking about church so much as we were talking about living as followers of the Living Way of Jesus.

Rebekah and I are thankful that the Black family rolled into Wake Forest, even for just a few hours; we’re thankful for the ongoing friendship with people we love; we’re thankful for First Presbyterian Church of Brandon, where we were all brought together; and we’re thankful that God continues to do new, creative, innovative, and hope-filled things through his children.

Now to him who is able to keep [each one of us] from falling, and to make [us] stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. – Jude 1:24-25

 

“Come home…” Words of promise on a wintry day

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Fall at Maul-Hall

I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand. – Psalm 31:14-15

Today, after a couple of weeks of simply idyllic conditions, Wake Forest woke up to 34-degrees and what is known as a “wintry mix.” I have always wondered what exactly wintry mix meant; and this morning, walking Scout, I learned that it involves getting wet and bone-cold, but without the benefit of actual snow!

But I’m not complaining. “Wintry mix” made for an invigorating morning hike, and the fresh hot coffee was even more enjoyable when we returned home. It’s all part of the refreshing sense of change we’re continuing to experience here in our new home.

Some good news from Rebekah!

Some good news from Rebekah!

SET FREE! Today, for my devotional emphasis, I’m making a departure by recommending that you listen to a sermon podcast; actually, I’m suggesting two. This turns out to be the logical follow-up to yesterdays post – Living Water, and why “lifeless church” is a non-sequitur” – these podcasts offer a window into the spring of life that is bubbling up all over the place here at WFPC.

  • First, a couple of days ago, while walking Scout, I put on my earphones and re-listened to Rebekah’s message from this past Sunday. It was an “Oh my goodness!” experience. I feel it is some of the strongest, clearest, most inspirational preaching she’s ever done! Essentially, Rebekah shared the story of being set free from sin, and what it means to experience salvation. The recording is short, just 15 minutes, and you really don’t want to miss it. Click here: “Set Free”
  • I listened to the second message (October 26) on my Thursday evening walk. This one is a little longer, at 23 minutes, but completely engaging. Rebekah talks about what it means to be a faith community, and about the deliberate “practice” of following the Living Way of Jesus. Click here.

IMG_5993I’M PRAYING FOR YOU: There’s no way for me to know who exactly will be reading this post today. Between subscribed “followers” and additional “hits,” the reach is going to be somewhere around 1,500 people. But I do know that some of you are likely struggling to connect with the transformational truth of the Gospel of Love; and I know that the recordings I’ve linked in this post will tell the story of Jesus in a way that is both accessible and authentic.

It may be a wintry day here in the Piedmont of North Carolina, but God’s invitation is – always – “Come home; I love you; come in out of the cold.” It’s a call to simply allow his deep, personal, love to settle into your soul.

In love, and because of love – DEREK 

living water, and why “lifeless church” is a non-sequitur

For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your descendants,
and my blessing on your offspring. Isaiah 44:3

This week’s Wednesday evening men’s Bible study provided the usual mixture of wit, wisdom, insight, and great questions. Guys shared from their hearts as well as their heads, and – once again – I was taken by the sense of belief and expectancy that seems to be permeating every facet of life here at WFPC.

once again I was taken by the sense of belief and expectancy that seems to be permeating every facet of life here at WFPC.

Rebekah and I have been involved in ministry in three locations: At Trinity Presbyterian Church in Cordova Park, Pensacola; at First Presbyterian Church of Brandon, near Tampa; and here in Wake Forest. Every situation has been completely unique; but one thread of consistency stands out (and this is why today’s scripture speaks to me so clearly) – God always pours water on thirsty land. God always pours out his Spirit.

IMG_5058NON SEQUITUR: To be honest, I believe that a lifeless church is a non sequitur. Non sequitur is Latin for “it does not follow.” “Lifeless” and “church” together in the same sentence comprise what is known as a contradiction in terms.

The church is – by definition – a community of faith; it’s a place where disciples gather together for worship, to encourage one-another, and to be the Body of Christ; church is a community of followers of the Living Way of Jesus.

Therefore, the equation is fairly simple. The answer for dying churches is Jesus. If people are thirsty for God, then it’s not some snazzy new program that’s needed, it’s Jesus; it’s the Spirit, poured out; it’s hungry, thirsty people drinking from the well of living water and then offering a cup to their neighbor because you just can’t keep a lid on that kind of life!

CONSISTENT LIFE: Every faith community where Rebekah and I have made our home has included more than enough genuinely thirsty people. Thirsty people make great disciples because they understand that Jesus will satisfy their thirst. Remember the woman at the well? Jesus offered her living water, and then she immediately told her friends and neighbors, “Come and see!”

Jesus said: “Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” – John 4:14-15

Thirsty people come to Jesus, then there are “streams on the dry ground,” and God “pours out [his] Spirit…” – Isaiah 44:3

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Author Derek Maul – find a list of books at – “click here”

Every time I walk onto the campus here at WFPC (like Wednesday evening) I can hear the gurgle of the spring of water gushing up; I can see the light of life in people’s countenances; I can sense the motion of people refusing to sit still, moved by the Spirit of God to share the good news.

The presence of life at a church is no mystery! It’s God pouring out his Spirit when we give ourselves over, nothing held back, to the Gospel of Love.

- DEREK