Blog posts from Calvary Burlington
I think throwing up is pretty much the worst way to start the day. I mean, yes, worse things can happen, but for me, that’s a pretty rough 6am wake-up. I found myself at the start of a day where I eyed the soda crackers suspiciously, not knowing whether their bland taste and texture would eventually wage war inside of me, or whether my glass of ginger ale would be an ally or a foe. Cautiously, I avoided both, and spent the day laying in bed as the energy slowly drained out of me.
That was my Saturday a couple of weeks ago. Just an awful day.
And then came Sunday.
Pastor Aaron had graciously offered to lead worship, but I wanted to come in to do what I could. So I sat at the keyboard and sang a little. Mostly I was just getting through. I was empty. In so many ways, I was empty.
And I’m so glad I came in to church that morning because it was one of the best worship experiences I have ever had.
There is something beautiful and freeing about knowing in a very real way that you don’t have anything that you can bring to God – that simply your presence is enough (because sometimes even that can be difficult).
There’s an album I love by Shane and Shane called “Bring Your Nothing” and in describing the idea behind it, Shane says “The only thing I bring Him is what put him on a cross, and I bring that in and He trades it for everlasting life…”. That hits me pretty hard. There is nothing we can do to redeem ourselves, but when we come to God In humility – when we bring our nothing – God does an amazing work in us, through us, and for us.
My challenge and my prayer for you this week, is that you embrace your “nothing”. Don’t feel guilty about it and don’t just accept it; rejoice in the knowledge that when God invites you into his presence, all He wants is you.
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost. (Isaiah 55:1)
Jolene Sanders, Worship Director
Inadequacy is something that we all, if we're being honest, struggle with at different times in our lives. We feel inadequate in our jobs, our families, our relationships, or even in our church. As 21st century humans, we are fraught with the perils of our self worth, our value, our contribution both to society, and to God. I am however encouraged to know that this feeling of not being good enough is something the Apostles also felt and wrestled with. It encourages me to know that they not only overcame it to accomplish great things in the name of God, but they turned it around to be a reflection on the goodness of God.
The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, writes the following; starting in chapter 12, verse 7:
"But to keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud. Three different times I begged the LORD to take it away. Each time he said, 'My gracious favour is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weakness and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Paul recognizes that without this “thorn in my flesh” he would be prideful in his own accomplishments. But because of this weakness he cannot boast in himself, he can only boast in the way Christ works through him.
So when you are feeling inadequate, worthless, weak, or otherwise unworthy, remember that Christ's power works best in your weakness. For when you are weak, then you are strong.
“Aaron, there is a fine line between pastoral manipulation and motivation, make sure you stay on the motivation side and leave the other side to God.”
As a young pastor, these words were drilled into my head by my mentor. It was a truth that was to be lived at every turn when it came to pointing people to Jesus. When you think about it, using guilt to get someone to do something is always the easy means. We can get anyone do to anything if we guilt them into doing it but then we motivate them to grow in Christ, then Christ does the work and produces results that only the Holy Spirit can do.
All this to say, whenever we talk about prayer and our need to reengage in the practice, it’s super easy to dive into the guilt/manipulation world. It’s really easy to bring the hammer to feel the sting that we don’t pray like we should and that we could always resolve to do better.
I want us to understand that this is not the tactic that we are going to take when we talk about prayer this month. God wants us to do better than guilt; He wants us to come to Him because our hearts are inclined to Him. He invites us to come. My task as your pastor is to motivate us all to see the beauty that exists in communication with God. Not for what He will do for us but for what He wants to do in and through us.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
How’s that for motivation? The writer of Hebrews motivates us to see the confidence that we can have in coming into God’s presence in prayer! Building on this, starting January 14, we want to spend four weeks motivating and encouraging us in the area prayer in our church.
Prayer is integral to the of the life of our church. If we want God to move in power in our lives and in our church then it has to begin with prayer. To supplement the weekly preaching and worship ministries on Sunday, some of events that we are looking forward to are:
- A 24-hour prayer day (1 hour shifts/signup)
- Encouraging weekly prayer huddles across our region
- Evening concert of prayer & worship
- Daily encouragement prayer emails over the series
- List of requests
- A social media campaign (#thechurchthatpraystogether)
- Using the PrayerMate App as a tool to help us
No matter where you are in your prayer life, it’s our vision to take the next step in growing in our discipleship at Calvary. I am looking forward to the journey. I know you will also. I think 2018, by God’s grace could be our best year yet! Let’s come together in prayer in see what God does in our lives and in the life of our church.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,” 1 Timothy 2:1
Pastor Aaron Groat