That One Time I Went To the Capitol

The capitol of Michigan that is.

Last week I was invited to give the invocation at the opening of the House of Representatives session for the day. I was profoundly honored to be there among our state government officials and to see firsthand the work they are doing. I was also encouraged, at least in Michigan, to discover so many faithful Christian representatives in our government. The district representative for Plymouth happens to be a pastor as well. 

Here are a few takeaways that I have from my day in Lansing.

  • Representatives are ordinary people. Many of them have full-time jobs outside of their legislative work. They have families, hobbies, and ordinary lives. I think we far too often vilify elected officials as being out of touch.
  • Representatives work hard. Really hard. Between committees, session meetings, meeting with their constituents, and a myriad of other things, they work hard. 
  • We should pray all the more for our elected officials, at every level. The responsibility they carry, the constant criticism they face, the uncertainty of the next election cycle, all of it carries immense burdens. Most are trying to do what is best and good for their constituents, even if others don’t see it the same way. 

I was encouraged by my time at the state capitol and encourage you, wherever you are to be more involved in your state-level government, pray for your representatives, and seek the good of your city. In it we may find our own good (Jeremiah 29:7). 

On Sickness, Sports, and Preaching

 Photo by  Martin Reisch  on  Unsplash

Photo by Martin Reisch on Unsplash

I’m not sure that those three things have any particular correlation to one another, except to say that this present sickness has made me watch and do things that my normally healthy self would avoid. I watched the NFL Pro Bowl. 

I will admit that I was in and out of a conscious state on Sunday afternoon mainly out of pure exhaustion from preaching two services and having either the flu or the cold. I can’t say for sure because the CDC continues to alter the definitions of what is a cold and what is the flu. I have both. Or neither one. I don’t know. 

Anyway as I lay in a semi-comatose state on my couch on Sunday the only thing that sounded remotely therapeutic was the sound of helmet-on-helmet collisions and the soothing monochrome voice of Sean McDonough. Even though it was absolutely the most boring and worthless game of the whole season I allowed it to venture into my psyche as I drifted in and out of sleep. 

In some way that is what preaching on Sunday morning was for me. I crawled in sick because I loved the passage I was to preach so much, and the topic of the glory of Christ was one that I would literally have to be dead not to try and communicate. I remember my introduction — the clever email I found about the Nigerian astronaut that was still stuck on a Soviet space-station after 28 years and all that was needed was my assistance in the form of a bank account to transfer the 15 million dollars to safely get him home. I remember pointing out our need to see the real Christ, not some cultured counterfeit, and I remember very little else. I did this twice. 

I don’t know if it was a good sermon. I suspect that it was a slow roller up the third base line. Good enough. Serviceable. Not great. I don’t know if it helped anyone, or if I should put away some pride next time I’m sick and make the call to the bullpen and let a healthier, better-rested man bring the power of the gospel to bear on the church. 

What I do know, and cherish, is after the first service a kind and humble gentleman came up to pray for me. That meant all the world. I don’t remember much else. I don’t need to. 

I may not endeavor to preach feeling that poorly ever again. But to proclaim Christ was worth it. And if I ever do, perhaps it’ll be on Pro Bowl Sunday and a drug-induced coma will quickly take me away after the church services to soft touch hits and the sons of Brees fighting on the sidelines. 

The Power of Gospel-Formed Resolutions

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As the New Year comes into reality, there can be a sense of concern about the year ahead. What will the next 365 days hold for us? Will they be profitable? Will they be well spent? Will they hold joy and happiness, or despair and difficulty? Add to that concern a layer of shame that takes form in our hearts when we consider the missed opportunities, lack of progress, or downright failures we experienced in the year prior. I didn’t lose the weight I said I would, nor did I complete reading the Bible in its entirety. I didn’t pray. I didn’t give as much as wanted to. I didn’t defeat that habitual sin that has plagued my character.

Read my entire article over at Gospel-Centered Discipleship.

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Books on Prayer

Tonight on Woodside Plymouth's online prayer event (embeded above) I mentioned some specific books to help you grow in your understanding and application of prayer. I have listed them here in one place to help you find them. I've separated them into two categories, "Books on Prayer" and "Praying Scripture." I have found each of these books instrumental in my own walk and growth in "answering God" and aligning better with him in prayer. Also be sure to check out the #PrayFirst Journal that Woodside produced to help you begin this year growing in prayer. 

Books on Prayer

Praying Scripture

Reading for the Reformation

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This year, 2017, marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. On Oct 31, 1517 the German monk, Martin Luther, nailed 95 Theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg as a way of publicly interacting with the Catholic Church, and the Pope, over various issues and abuses he noted in Church. With the invention of the printing press the writings of Luther began to spread quickly and mounted a challenge to the ecclesiastical and political structures of Luther's day. From those initial 95 Theses a movement began that has deeply shaped the world today.

I am a lover of history, and a lover of theology. While one of my earliest critiques of those who talked about Reformed theology was that they seemed to only go back to the sixteenth century, I am confident more than ever that the truths that Luther and Calvin and other "Reformers" spoke of went back directly to Jesus and Paul. They were, in fact, taking us to the intended meaning of the Scriptures themselves when they talked about justification by faith alone. The Reformers developed their teaching on the sovereignty of God, the depravity of humanity, the unmerited grace of God, and the security and perseverance of the saints to glory from a clear and sound method of Biblical interpretation. Reformed theology, is in my opinion, simply Biblical Christianity.

In light of that this year I am building into my reading life a few works on the Reformation that I would recommend to you. They are no more than 250 pages each and are written for the general public. I am going to read Luther on Galatians this year, probably in October, specifically so I get a primary source on the Reformation. I hope these will be of benefit to you, and challenge you in your own understanding of theology and history so that you will grow. Here's to a happy 500th anniversary!