I’m pleased to report that the second annual Lacombe Leader’s Prayer Breakfast was very blessed. I would like to publicly thank the planning team for all their efforts. This was a well-organized event! I especially appreciated the emphasis placed on praying for our leaders. Mayor Christie also gave a short and inspirational address. And we heard from a fireman who served during the 9/11 crisis in New York. If you live in the Lacombe area, and you’ve not yet attended this prayer breakfast, then I invite you to consider doing so next year. This is a practical way for us to be in the community and to support and pray for our leaders.
This Sunday we go into the wilderness with Jesus as we observe the First Sunday of Lent. Luke 4:1-13 is a common gospel text for this time of year, as it provides some background and shape for the Lenten season. Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness. The season of Lent is forty days. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be spiritually formed for ministry. As we observe Lent, we also are being formed for ministry. We generally avoid the wilderness–a place we associate with emptiness and suffering! But Jesus found the wilderness to be a place of refining and training for ministry. So I invite you to enter the wilderness with Jesus this Lenten season. Come and feed on God’s Word and gain the power to resist temptation. Come and be refined, renewed and prepared for ministry.
A Prayer for Lent (from the Transforming Center [Lenten eReflection])
Lord our God, you alone do we worship, only your word gives life. Sustain your church on its Lenten journey. When we walk through the desert of temptation, strengthen us to renounce the power of evil. When our faith is tested by doubt, illumine our hearts with Easter’s bright promise. We ask this through Christ, our deliverance and hope, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, holy and mighty God forever and ever. AMEN.
On Feb. 10 we take one more look at stewardship via the Robert Heerpsink series: “The Joy of Generosity” (Reformed Worship, March 2001). This has been a good journey for me, and I hope also for you. If nothing else, I pray it has helped to start a conversation in our church about stewardship. How do we use the resources that God has given us? Are we really leveraging them to make disciples of Christ? This Sunday we ask our final question: Why give generously? According to the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, we should give generously for at least the following reasons (outline courtesy of David Garland [New American Commentary]:
1. It will make you spiritually rich (vv. 8–10);
2. It will bring thanksgiving to God (vv. 11–13);
3. The recipients will respond with prayers for you (v. 14);
4. It will advance [and bless] the worldwide Christian community (vv. 13–14).
The Lord calls us to give generously. I confess that I sometimes struggle to do that, as life is expensive and our budget only goes so far. But I’ve been challenged to dig a bit deeper these days and trust the Lord to provide generously, so that we can give generously. And I invite you to do the same. I look forward to becoming spiritually richer as I give more generously. “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15 NIV).
This Sunday (Feb. 3) we continue our sermon-series called, “The Joy of Generosity,” which was developed by Robert Heerspink (Reformed Worship 2001). We will intersect two stories tomorrow–the story of Daniel from Daniel 1 and the story of Oak Hills Church as told by pastors Kent Carlson and Mike Lueken (Renovation of the Church [IVP Books, 2011]). The burden of the sermon is the consumer culture of North America, which greatly affects our churches. Many people come to the worship service to be entertained and inspired more than to be challenged and trained for ministry. As Carlson and Lueken discover, Jesus’ call to discipleship goes against the grain of our religious consumerism, which encourages us to join a church in order to get, not to give. Daniel is a model for us. He courageously confronts the pagan culture of his day and finds a way to obey God in the middle of it. And we are invited to do the same. As always, the promise is that God will reward us for our faithfulness–if not in this life, then certainly in the next.