Friday afternoon again and so its time for some reflecting on the week that has been. The point of these posts is simply to reflect on the high points, and low points, along the journey of each passing week. The question I am asking is what stands out to me as I look back across the previous days? What is helping to shape my personal journey? What was memorable or noteworthy? The picture of Jesus walking on water reminds me that this journey is a faith walk. And, because it is, it's worth learning, which requires reflecting, along the way.
Certainly one high point of the week was the DFW Diaspora Roundtable that the Lord has led me to develop in 2013. This was our second Roundtable of the year in support of building the DFW Diaspora Missions Alliance. If you're not familiar with this new ministry initiative I invite you to check out www.DFW4UPG.org. This work is indeed a faith-walk that began in 2011 when the Lord started to open my eyes and heart to the many different people he was bringing to DFW and to our nation. I have written about how this came about here.
While on the way to 121 Community Church in Grapevine, the host site for this Roundtable, my car broke down. I was heading to our gathering expecting over 40 leaders to attend. Additional stress is not something I need, as 2013 has certainly been a rough road health-wise. "Is the enemy doing everything he can to keep this work from moving forward?" I needed to ask myself. My friend Dennis came to my rescue and we arrived 90 minutes later than I had planned. On the drive, I said to Dennis "Sometimes I think I'm crazy for trying to do this," meaning building this ministry network, running these meeting, and seeking to "mobilize DFW to reach DFW." Who am I after all to be doing this? Wouldn't it be easier just to kick back and focus on rest? I mean, I am in a cancer battle after all, so why spend so much effort on a new ministry initiative?
But then I reflect on a response I received following the meeting from Mike, a local mission pastor who simply said: "This is so needed. thank you." I reflect on the fact that one church had 4 of their staff attend, after sending a couple of folks to our first meeting in January. I reflect on the value of over-hearing one leader who had connected with a another leader for the first time say "I think this was a divine appointment." I reflect on all the positive responses from our time together Wednesday and the traction we've gained in such a short period of time, for an initiative a leading pastor had told me "isn't going to work" back in February. God is up to something and is asking me to live by faith, not by sight. By the way, he asks the same of each of us.
This week, one of my favorite Christian thinker died. Dallas Williard was 77 and succumbed to stage 4 pancreatic cancer. My first introduction to Professor Williard came when I read "Divine Conspiracy" as part of a team reading assignment with Concerts of Prayer Greater New Yorker, I think in 2002. Dallas had a profound understanding of the Kingdom life we are called to live that shaped my own thinking about the Kingdom. My own cancer battle has gotten me both started and then off track in writing more about the Kingdom. I have a mostly finished manuscript I call "Quest for a Kingdom Life" that one day I hope to publish. It gleaned much from Dallas. It has been my personal quest to live as Dallas writes about when he says,
“The greatest issue facing the world today, with all its heartbreaking needs, is whether those who, by profession or culture, are identified as ‘Christians’ will become disciples – students, apprentices, practitioners – of Jesus Christ, steadily learning from him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner of human existence.”Rest in peace, Professor Williard, your wisdom will surely be missed but your work and the hope you express of Christians learning to "live the life of the Kingdom...into every corner of human existence" will live on. In fact, I know a number of people seeking to live this Kingdom life, including my young friend James Harvey who is Kingdom-wise beyond his years. I am learning a lot from James these days, even though he is young enough to be my son. Check out some of what he's doing at ILoveWoodbine.com and the depth of Kingdom understanding he expresses in this blog post.
Thinking about my friend James, this week I posted a quote from a Barna study on Facebook that said in part:
"Leaders who hope to alter the spiritual journeys of today’s Millennials need to embrace something of a ‘reverse mentoring’ mindset, allowing the next generation to help lead alongside established leaders. Millennials need to find spiritual rootedness, but that’s not simply to preserve old ways of doing church."
As I reflect on this week, yesterday I had coffee with Monnie Brewer who is old enough to be, well my older brother, 12 years old than I am. Monnie is a man wise from many years of serving the Kingdom mission. Over coffee, I told Monnie I want to be learner. That is a value I communicate as much as I can, since as we grow up in age we realize just how much we still have to learn. More than ever, I think, we need to be in an active learning mode so that we can apprehend the Kingdom life Dallas Williard writes about, that James and Monnie live out across their generations, but that too few today seem to spend much time living.
In closing, I want more than ever to walk by faith, not by sight. Faith-walking requires practice and learning which is why the Lord gives us this journey to walk with him. The very essence of the word disciple is to be a learner. We can only realize the Kingdom life as we learn of Jesus, his ways, his truth and his life, about His Kingdom. I am reminded of what Jesus says to his followers in Matthew 11:29:
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."TGIF!