Endurance

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Endurance

Genesis 16:1-6

The Birth of Ishmael

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, and Sarai said to Abram, “You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her.

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude.” And the angel of the Lord said to her,

“Now you have conceived and shall bear a son;

you shall call him Ishmael,

for the Lord has given heed to your affliction.

He shall be a wild ass of a man,

with his hand against everyone,

and everyone’s hand against him;

and he shall live at odds with all his kin.”

So she named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El-roi”; for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

Revelation 2: I-7

The Message to Ephesus

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands:

“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance. I know that you cannot tolerate evildoers; you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them to be false. I also know that you are enduring patiently and bearing up for the sake of my name, and that you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this is to your credit: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.”

Today I am preparing for week 2 of Vacation Bible School. This evening will commence the second three-day extravaganza where we open the doors of the church to children in the neighborhood and invite them in to experience the love of Jesus in an age-appropriate fashion. For those of you who have helped lead VBS before, you know both the excitement and the exhaustion of it, because, lets just be honest: it is often easier to love, serve, and teach slower moving adults.

This word today is not for church workers though. It is for the parents of those children we only borrow for a few hours each week. We, the church, do not raise your children and so the depth of that task is left to you. Yes we may be dealing with 100 others just like your child all at once, but you handle the joys and heartaches day in and day out, and that takes a special kind of endurance.

Can you imagine being in Hannah’s position. Having just given birth out of wedlock at her mistresses request and then thrown out to die in the wilderness with her newborn child. God came and comforted her, provided for her, but her trial was not over. It was just beginning. It’s one thing to get a behavioral diagnosis of your child from a relative or teacher, or even a doctor. It is quite another to hear it from God.

He shall be a wild ass of a man,

with his hand against everyone,

and everyone’s hand against him;

and he shall live at odds with all his kin.

That’s not a good diagnosis. It’s not something a parent wants to hear about their child. It puts gray on your head fast. Yet this “wild child” would receive a similar blessing as Isaac… an uncountable multitude of offspring. His name, like Abraham, Isaac , and Jacob, would be known across the ages. In some ways it is even more remarkable because Ishmael and Hagar both quickly fade from the story here, yet their legacy lives on today.

I believe God gave the Ephesians the key to that endurance needed to follow Him and embrace the call He has on our life. He told the church at Ephesus to remember the love you had at first. There will be days when you will want to give your child back to God. It is those days that you most need to remember how tiny and helpless they were when they were first born… And how humbled you were to be given the task of raising them, that task does not get easier over time. It grows with them. God calls us to repent from our wounded pride and remember the gifts God has given us and that it is only by His provision that we make it through each day. We endure by placing our trust in Him.

Where do you struggle with endurance?

Chosen for Greatness

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Chosen for Greatness

Genesis 21:8-21

Hagar and Ishmael Sent Away1

The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.” The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.

God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

Romans 6:1-14

Dying and Rising with Christ

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

We are trained from young ages to look for the heroes and villains in stories. We may have Walt Disney to thank for this in part. this tends to b. a very anthropocentric, or “human-centered” view. Our reality has a lot more grey in it, as well as a host of other colors. Those stories we continue to tell ourselves of Mayberry and Middle Earth are simply myths that call out situations and present cases for values such as love and loyalty. The result of these myths is the fact that, from time to time, we make hard choices for the benefit of all rather than our own self-interest. The myths are worth keeping, but it does not make them any less a myth.

These myths are why I love the bible. It, by and large, is not written as myth and legend but as witness to God’s goodness. Every hero in the scriptures has weaknesses and faults, and these faults are displayed in ink across the centuries for all to see. David’s adultery, Moses’s murder, Noah’s drunkenness, all the genocide and incest displayed… but not out of pride. They are displayed to show that God can and will call greatness out of anyone.

To be chosen by God is to be called up out of our league, beyond our skill, talent, and ability. It is not just grace that extends the invitation. It is grace that carries us through. Ishmael, a child born out of disobedience, step-brother of the chosen heir Isaac, was still blessed so that his own descendants survive today as the Arab people and followers of Islam. This great competitor of both Judaism and Christianity is only here today by the grace of God! How might they factor into God’s plan for our world?

There is a key that unlocks this redemption into greatness. It is death. In order to walk in the new life by the grace of God, we must let go of our old life. Jesus lived and died that example for us. The resurrection was the first of many of a life offered up to God and lifted to new greatness that only God can see and only God can do.

What greatness has God lifted you to?

How can you offer yourself to God today?


  1. (Gal 4:21–30)

Chosen for Revelation

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Chosen for Revelation

Ezekiel 29:1-7

Proclamation against Egypt

In the tenth year, in the tenth month, on the twelfth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him and against all Egypt; speak, and say, Thus says the Lord God:

I am against you,

Pharaoh king of Egypt,

the great dragon sprawling

in the midst of its channels,

saying, “My Nile is my own;

I made it for myself.”

I will put hooks in your jaws,

and make the fish of your channels stick to your scales.

I will draw you up from your channels,

with all the fish of your channels

sticking to your scales.

I will fling you into the wilderness,

you and all the fish of your channels;

you shall fall in the open field,

and not be gathered and buried.

To the animals of the earth and to the birds of the air

I have given you as food.

Then all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know

that I am the Lord

because you were a staff of reed

to the house of Israel;

when they grasped you with the hand, you broke,

and tore all their shoulders;

and when they leaned on you, you broke,

and made all their legs unsteady.

Luke 11:53-12:3

When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

A Warning against Hypocrisy

Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered by the thousands, so that they trampled on one another, he began to speak first to his disciples, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops

One of the most prized gifts of the Spirit throughout history has been the gift of prophecy. Through this gift, we receive revelation from God as knowledge we could not discover on our own. It is related to the preaching of the prophets in the Old Testament, as well as the preaching of the Apostle’s in the New Testament, and the witness of those persecuted for their faith throughout history. Because it is such a powerful and necessary gift, it is a very desired gift. Because it is such a desired gift, it has been sought after and sometimes imitated out of jealousy and ambition. The abuse of it has caused schisms and destruction in faith communities, which has led large numbers of Christians to avoid anything “prophetic” altogether. However, this reaction, the neglect of this gift, has also brought about stagnation and the slow decay in many of these churches as well.

Look at this list of Global megachurches and their US counterparts. Researchers have noted the rise of the Pentecostal churches across the world. Certainly, the gift of prophecy is not the only factor here, but it is an important aspect of this movement.

When we compare our present world with the early New Testament period, it is important to get some facts before jumping to name-calling. For example, the Pharisees often get a bad reputation in the bible and we have lots of examples to show this. It would be easy for us to assume they would be opposed to the gift of prophecy, therefore anyone today who was opposed to prophecy could be called a Pharisee and given their reputation as a stumbling block for the work of God. However, actual digging in the scripture and historical research shows that the Pharisees had a high regard for the Old Testament prophets and if they questioned the contemporary use of prophecy it was with good reason. Scripture shows us that there was 500 years of silence between the last prophet and John the Baptist – and remember, the Pharisees were there at the Jordan River getting baptized like everyone else too. AIso, you may recall that some of Jesus’s dis ciples were Pharisees. The Pharisees believed in the gift of prophecy but were cautious, wanting to be sure it was legitimate.

The Sadducees on the other hand guarded the ritual of worship and sacrifice and focused primarily on the Torah , or Law of Moses found in the first five books of the bible. Of all the Jewish sects, they would have been most threatened by the gift of prophecy and quickest to silence it. For then, the threat was not doctrinal, but political… which leads us to today.

I believe most of our struggles with the gift of prophecy has to do with the political and social power that we see coming along with it. There is an underlying assumption that whoever God is revealing heavenly information to, should be the person calling the shots. We sometimes excuse this power play by saying “It’s not me, it is what God wants.” Some of the world’s most heinous atrocities have been committed with this excuse. Notice what Jesus says though. All secrets will be revealed. Having the gift of prophecy does not grant yon holy authority. It simply makes you a messenger for God. A vital role, to be sure, but one that can be held by anyone. The Pharisees were hypocrites, not because the dismissed prophecy, but because they wanted to keep it for themselves instead of serving God and giving it away.

Where have you experienced the gift of prophecy?

What is the most important message God wants you to share and who does He want you to share it with?

Chosen for Persecution

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Chosen for Persecution

Genesis 35:1-4

Jacob Returns to Bethel

God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and settle there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your clothes; then come, let us go up to Bethel, that I may make an altar there to the God who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak that was near Shechem.

Acts 5:17-26

The Apostles Are Persecuted

Then the high priest took action; he and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said, “Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.” When they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching.

When the high priest and those with him arrived, they called together the council and the whole body of the elders of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the temple police went there, they did not find them in the prison; so they returned and reported, “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were perplexed about them, wondering what might be going on. Then someone arrived and announced, “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” Then the captain went with the temple police and brought them, but without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

In 2000 years, I am not aware of any given time that Christians were not persecuted for their faith somewhere in the world. Today we often think about Islamic extremist groups, but Christians have been persecuted by Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Pagans, Atheists, and in some of the worst cases – by other Christians. Sometimes it occurs between differnet denominations or church affiliations. (For a good example of this, see the history of Ireland.) Other times it is more personal. Within the last week, two different people have told me that if you are experiencing conflict in the church, it is a sign that you are doing something right as a pastor. There is something to be said about challenging others to grow and being more than just a “people pleaser”. My own personality seeks the creative growth that occurs in conflict resolution, not the drama of the conflict itself.

We don’t live on persecution, but we live in a world that does not understand God. Jacob faced persecution in part as a consequence of his own deceitful actions against his brother. This particular passage though points out the unique presence of idols as a factor in his search for freedom and providence. He was trying to reach his own Promised Land and they riches and items used for worshipping false gods were slowing him down. He commanded them all to be buried away, his own and those of his servants and family. We are persecuted enough as it is, we do not need to add insult to injury by taking the idols of others. While many missionaries have gone into foreign countries and done just that (which sometimes constituted an act of war) you may notice that Paul and the other disciples did not mess with the idols of others except in one occasion where Paul cast out a spirit of a slave girl selling idols – and wouldn’t you know, Paul faced immediate persecution for it.

Persecution is promised to us. Trying to escape persecution is like trying to escape God. It doesn’t work. However, we are not called to simply lay down and die. We are called to stand as witnesses of God’s mercy and grace. Whether we find miraculous deliverance, as the Apostles did numerous times in prison, or are forced to flee to the next town like Paul in many of his journeys, we are called to invited others, even our persecutors, to receive God’s mercy and grace. If they reject that invitation then we move on.

There is a time that each of us will face a final suffering, which may come in the form of persecution. In this moment, we do not follow the example of Jacob or the Apostles, but instead we follow the example of Jesus Christ Himself. Our deliverance on that day will not come in the form of physical rescue. It will come in our shaking off our mortal flesh and being reunited with our Lord and Savior. That is the day we fear the most in our flesh, but desire most in our spirit – the greatest deliverance of all.

Persecution is an integral part of our story. It is only in the darkness that the light is most noticed and most needed.

Where do you see persecution in the world today?

Where do you face persecution for your faith?

Here is a news brief from 2015:

Chosen for Privilege?

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Chosen for Privilege

Psalm 86

Supplication for Help against Enemies

A Prayer of David.

Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,

for I am poor and needy.

Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you;

save your servant who trusts in you.

You are my God; be gracious to me, O Lord,

for to you do I cry all day long.

Gladden the soul of your servant,

for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,

abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;

listen to my cry of supplication.

In the day of my trouble I call on you,

for you will answer me.

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,

nor are there any works like yours.

All the nations you have made shall come

and bow down before you, O Lord,

and shall glorify your name.

For you are great and do wondrous things;

you alone are God.

Teach me your way, O Lord,

that I may walk in your truth;

give me an undivided heart to revere your name.

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,

and I will glorify your name forever.

For great is your steadfast love toward me;

you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

O God, the insolent rise up against me;

a band of ruffians seeks my life,

and they do not set you before them.

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,

slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Turn to me and be gracious to me;

give your strength to your servant;

save the child of your serving girl.

Show me a sign of your favor,

so that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame,

because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me. “

Hebrews 2:5-9

Exaltation through Abasement1

Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. But someone has testified somewhere,

“What are human beings that you are mindful of them,

or mortals, that you care for them?

You have made them for a little while lower than the angels;

you have crowned them with glory and honor,

subjecting all things under their feet.”

Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

Privilege is a dirty word, particularly in the fields of politics and culture. The 20th century in America provided a century of transition from government supported slavery to the claim of political, economic, and cultural power for those outside the category of wealthy, white male. We are also beginning to see other divisions beyond race and gender that influence our lives as well. Language barriers as well as geography play an important role as well. States which were once considered industrial powerhouses form part of what has been called the Rust Belt today which means privilege is reduced for everyone there. The debates continue over which things in life are rights and which are privileges.

Spiritually, we all share the privilege of being chosen by God to receive life and to receive grace. The fact that we have not earned either shows it to be a privilege. While our culture reels against the idea of being privileged by trying to point out any ways we have not been provided for compared to others, we all know someone who has it worse than us. So, rather than falsely denying our privilege, perhaps we should embrace it.

David was an expert in privilege because he had been on both sides of it. In a short period of time he had gone from neglected shepherd to military hero to being hunted by his own nation, seeking refuge in the courts of his enemies. When he finally became king, he recognized that his life had been spared on more ocassions than he could count. The author of Hebrews notes the privilege of being created human – that even the angels in heaven are not as privileged as us in God’s esteem.

What privileges do you enjoy thanks to God and others?

What responsibilities do you have as a result of those privileges?


  1. (Cp Ps 8:1–9)

Chosen by God

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Chosen by God

Nehemiah 9:1-8

National Confession

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. Then those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their ancestors. They stood up in their place and read from the book of the law of the Lord their God for a fourth part of the day, and for another fourth they made confession and worshiped the Lord their God. Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the stairs of the Levites and cried out with a loud voice to the Lord their God. Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, “Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.”

And Ezra said: “You are the Lord, you alone; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. To all of them you give life, and the host of heaven worships you. You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham; and you found his heart faithful before you, and made with him a covenant to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite; and you have fulfilled your promise, for you are righteous.

Luke 6:12-19

Jesus Chooses the Twelve Apostles1

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Jesus Teaches and Heals2

He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them. “

There is a certain honor associated with being chosen. Some of us live for those moments. Others live in dread of them. Most of us are a mix of both, depending upon the situation. There are at least two different factors in determining our response to being chosen.

1. Who chooses us.

Being chosen creates and shapes a relationship between the Chooser and the Chosen. Standards and expectations are created – sometimes overnight. The 12 disciples may have had good impressions of Jesus, but I guarantee things changed the moment He called them out. Brides and grooms may have gotten to the point in life where they just want to be married and not alone anymore, but it makes an enormous difference who you marry, and, once you are officially wed, things usually change. Knowing (or not knowing) just who chose us matters.

2. What we are chosen for.

The “what” makes a big difference as well. We have very different responses to winning the lottery for $1 million and having your name drawn f. the military draft. It makes a difference in commitment as well. We can always refuse, but some callings involve a longer decision time than others. It is easier to be chosen to teach a bible study than to become a foreign missionary, for example. Yet sometimes, the greater the commitment the harder it is to refuse.

When we truly think about the truth that God, the creator of everything, chose us to be His servants, messengers, and adopted children, it is hard to refuse. The only way we can escape the call is to ignore it or at least claim ignorance. Any attempt to take God seriously is going to change our lives?

Who has chosen you?

What has God chosen you for?


  1. (Mt 10:1–4; Mk 3:13–19a)
  2. (Mt 4:23–25; Mk 1:35–39; Lk 4:44)

Chosen to Move

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Chosen to Move

Genesis 25:7-11

The Death of Abraham

This is the length of Abraham’s life, one hundred seventy-five years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre, the field that Abraham purchased from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried, with his wife Sarah. After the death of Abraham God blessed his son Isaac. And Isaac settled at Beer-lahai-roi.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5

Chosen for Salvation

But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

Request for Prayer

Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere, just as it is among you, and that we may be rescued from wicked and evil people; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will go on doing the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

This week is packing week for many United Methodist pastors across the country. They will be moving to new churches in new communities and preaching their first sermons there in just under two weeks. We live each year through this season of anxiety or anticipation (depending upon how our current job is going) worried that this might be the year we get moved. When I feel overwhelmed by the concerns of moving I remind myself that there are many others, people in the military for example, who are often called to move much further and with far less notice than I get. Overall, it is not that bad at all. But I am still thankful that I am NOT packing boxes and moving this year.

Why do pastors move at all? Whether we are part of an itinerant system or receive a congregational call the fact is most pastors serve more than one church in their lifetime. The reasons are varied from seeking promotions, accepting calls to specific ministries or places, trying to move closer to family, conflict at work, better jobs for spouses… pretty much any reason anyone else ever changes jobs. Overall, Senior pastors tend to have smoother transitions than youth pastors, for example, who change every 18 months on average. Underneath the church traditions and policies though, I think there are 2 truths that guide this whole process.

1. We are created to move.

Abraham and Sarah were buried in land they had to purchase because at 80 years old, God called them to move. It was that faithfulness in packing their lives up and following God that started the people set apart as God’s own chosen people. Paul was not called to stay in Jerusalem and start the church there. God sent him to spread the gospel everywhere, and God calls us to do the same. Some people believe that there are two types of Christians: those called to move and those called to stay… which heads to the second truth.

2. We have to move to live and grow.

Living things move. Even if they, like trees seem in perceptively slow. When we stop moving, we die.

Church congregations are no exceptions. We feel the tension, the need for growth And change which requires movement. When the tension becomes unbearable, something has to give, and practically speaking, it is easier to move a pastor than to move a church. While hundreds (maybe thousands) of pastors are moving this month dozens of churches are closing their doors for the last time, in part because it was easier for them to just keep moving their pastors than to do the hard work of moving the church to the people that need to be touched by God’s saving grace. Easier does not always (or even usually) mean better. Dying requires less effort than picking up your mat and walking to someplace new.

What is moving in your life?

Where is God calling you to move?