Back in the fall, Southern Seminary professor and friend Bruce Ware joined us for "Theology Weekend." It was an honor to have him with us for the weekend. It was especially great to have some time to informally chat with a hero of mine in the faith. We had lunch at Addison's, and I shared with him my struggles with joylessness and anxiety that have been constant battles in church planting. He shared two words with me that I hope stay with me for the rest of my life. They are: Dependence
There's nothing really complicated about this, friends. His point was that if we realize how dependent on the Lord we are and live conscious of that reality, we can't help but see what God does and then live as thankful, joyful people. It's in thinking it's all up to us, being dependent upon ourselves and our strength, that we find ourselves grumbling and worrying. Dependence, of course, gets expressed in prayer, particularly petitions, as we go about our days, asking God to work. Thanksgiving also gets expressed in prayer, looking more like prayers of praise. Seeking to become dependent and thankful, we become prayerful. And that prayerfulness makes us more and more dependent and thankful.
I was hit deeply by Bruce's words. But, of course, I filed them and then went back to my self-reliant, anxious life. Then, a couple of weeks ago, in the midst of some amazing things happening - things only God could do - I found myself really worn down and desperate for a break. I was sapped of my strength. But it was if God was saying, "Kev, look what I am doing. You need to rest. You need to trust me." I'd heard horror stories of church planters like Mark Driscoll and Darrin Patrick wearing themselves ragged, literally making themselves sick in the process of launching a church. I knew I was well on the way toward that.
But God has recently used a couple of other things that have brought back to mind Bruce's words and are giving me hope. First, I've been reading this fantastic book entitled Spirit Empowered Preaching by Art Azurdia. It has reminded me of my great need to rely on God the Spirit in everything I do, but particularly in my preaching. I will post a more detailed review of the book later, but God has used it greatly in my life.
Second, today my friend Kevin Cawley of Redeemer Fellowship came and preached this morning at Karis (listen to it here). He looked at Mark 2-3, teaching us about the Sabbath. It was the best message on the issue that I've heard. He really reminded me that I needed to rest and acknowledge God's work. He challenged me to see that my lack of rest was due to my idolatry - trying to build my own kingdom and get the glory for myself. I'll mention more about the sermon in this week's Gathering review, but God really spoke to me through the message.
The book I've been reading and the talk I heard today really served to reinforce those two big words I want to continue to impact me deeply - or, should I say, impact me truly this time. Do you live a dependent life? Do you rely on God for everything? If you do, you'll be thankful. If you don't, you'll be anxious. Pray for me. Go before the Lord yourself. Ask Him to do whatever it takes to get you and me to that peaceful state of trust in Him.