Looking For Stars

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. -Martin Luther King

When I look at the skyline of our times I find myself looking for stars and longing to see more. I hear many people describing darkness but wonder who will provide light for the path that leads to hope. I see many people establishing the validity of their perspective but I wonder who will take up the work to build a bridge that spans the gap.

Such a bridge is only built by love (1 Corinthians 8:1-2). And I think love is one of the most difficult tasks to be done in the church. The quote above is from King’s book, Strength to Love. It is not easy for us to love one another. Actually, it’s impossible in our own strength. We are only able to love one another because we have first been loved by Jesus (John 13:34-35; Luke 7:47).

My primary prayer for the people of Gallery Church Sowebo is that we would grow in our love for one another. This is a work that we are not naturally inclined to accomplish. The church in Thessalonica was taught by God to love each other and we also need to be taught (1 Thessalonians 4:9).  I believe it is only by the work of God that a group of people can love each other beyond their different backgrounds, unique cultures, varying levels of education and numerous levels of income. This is only possible because all the differences are surpassed by the common love of Jesus Christ.

I pray to see such profound love in the church of Baltimore. And I pray that this love would compel us to be radiant stars in the midst of great darkness (2 Corinthians 5:14).

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. -1 Peter 4:8

Gut Check

I’ve had so many thoughts over the first five weeks of planting a church. There have been surprising highs and unexpected joy. At the same time I’ve had my share of gut checks in leadership.

The most significant gut check has been the strength to wait on the Lord in prayer. As a church planter there is so much to do and so much I feel I should be doing. It seems that I’m always trying to catch up to something. As a result I’m always postponing my extended time in prayer.

The Lord has blessed me to walk alongside men of prayer throughout my life and now I’m realizing why such men are hard to find. The demands of our responsibilities and the distractions of our days are always present to devour our time. It takes strength to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).  It takes faith to believe that God acts on behalf of those who wait on Him (Isaiah 64:4).  I do pray but I want to depend on prayer. Even more…I want to be a man of prayer. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  

A sharper axe makes for efficient cutting. In the same manner, a deeper prayer life makes for empowered ministry. I am personally faced with this question:

“Give me three years to start a church. How will I spend my time?”

It’s interesting that the more we have to do–the less we tend to pray. The truth is that the more we have to do–the more we need to pray. I am resolved to wait on the Lord. Like Daniel, I will stop to call out to Him three times a day…because I need Him.

“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” -Martin Luther