Scientists cannot directly observe black holes, but they can infer their existence. They do this by examining the impact of gravity's relentless pull. I can appreciate that. I only need to "look within" to verify the black hole in my heart.
Last week many of our church family and friends benefited from the Global Leadership Summit. Over the years, I've learned that to maximize this annual event, I must disengage from my weekly preaching responsibilities.
The ancient maxim "Know yourself" applies. Trying to glean from the Summit while simultaneously preparing for the Sunday message is not a good combination. The bifurcation of focus diminishes what I get and what I give. Consequently, when the Summit rolls around, I ask someone to preach in my place. This year it was my long-time friend and ministry colleague, Casey Cleveland. Casey is an all-star. He is a Christ-honoring leader, an honest and able man doing honorable work through The Avenue Church in the city of Delray Beach just north of Boca. I love him dearly and respect him greatly.
In preaching parlance, Casey "brought it" on Sunday. That is to say God worked through him to bring us a powerful message from Acts 5:12-42 entitled, "Empowered By The Spirit For Ministry." Our church needed this. Here are six things I jotted down in my notes:
- Don't forget that you are a part of God's revitalization project in the world.
- When it comes to the gospel, we demonstrate it (live it) and declare it (speak it).
- You have the Holy Spirit so that you might be able to live out the more risky walk-out-on-the-water life of Jesus.
- You are capable of more. As Casey said, this is not a rah rah "I believe in you! You can do it!", but "I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit in you." In other words, the Holy Spirit empowers to accomplish more for God.
- Not only are you capable of more, more is expected of you -- not to win God's favor -- but to advance Jesus' name.
- It won't happen until we are desperate before God and come to him in prayer -- with other believers -- to plead for God's power and God's wisdom for these days. God works through his people gathered together in prayer.
It was a great message. Now about that black hole in my heart. It seems that unless I intentionally work to apply the Sunday sermon to my life, it will shortly disappear -- swallowed up by the gravitational pull of massive amounts of other stuff in my life. In other words, what was a "fantastic message" on Sunday will have no real impact on Monday unless I intentionally work it into my life. I like the way Moses reminded the people of God to impress the Word of God into their lives:
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 ESV
To paraphrase Moses, I must write what I hear on the iPad of my heart. Here is how I am doing that this week. I am taking the last part of Casey's message as my first order of business -- to pray for God's work in my life and in our church. Here's my prayer plan for this week:
- Tuesday: Review the key points of the message and pray with Riney (my prayer partner).
- Wednesday: Review the key points of the message and pray with our Leadership Team.
- Thursday: Review the key points of the message and pray with Shannan before I fly to Brazil.
- Friday: Review the key points of the message with my Brazilian hosts and pray with them.
The pull of daily distraction will quickly swallow the Sunday sermon UNLESS I take action. That is not to say I must do the work that only God's Spirit can do, but that I must take action on what God's Spirit impressed upon me to do.
What did you hear this past Sunday? How are you going to work out that message in your life? Don't let the black hole swallow up its impact.
"Scientists can not directly observe black holes ..." from "Black Holes" NASA Science/Astrophysics in www.science.nasa.gov/focus-areas/black-holes/. Accessed August 18, 2014.
"Gravity's relentless pull ..." from www.hubblesite.org. Accessed August 18, 2014.