“shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the world of life…”

Communion at Chalice Christian Church

Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. – Philippians 2:14-16

with Rev Greg Ott

Sunday morning I enjoyed the inspirational 9:00 worship service at Wake Forest Presbyterian, taught my discipleship class, then jumped in my little VW TDi to zoom-zoom 194 miles for 3:00pm worship at Chalice Christian Church in Virginia Beach.

The occasion was the installation of my friend Greg Ott as pastor. It was a signal moment in a sometimes difficult journey in ministry, and I wanted to be there, to simply stand with him in encouragement.

I write a lot in this space about relationships; especially faith-based community, and spiritual friendships among men. We live in a culture where men are routinely discouraged from being honest about who they are – from embracing their feelings, from admitting vulnerability, from giving emotion any kind of a toe-hold, from loving one-another in the way Christ modeled love, from stepping outside of the carefully crafted veneer of “man-up,” machismo, and defensive sexism – and Greg has been part of a group of guys I first met in Virginia well before we moved to Raleigh, who have encouraged me in my efforts to change the parameters of the conversation, inviting men into a discipleship where Jesus – not the politics of chauvinism – is our teacher and guide.

At the reception I read a letter from our mutual friend Ray Gryder, and then had two very short thoughts to share from my own heart – one to the group, and the other just to Greg. Here they are:

  1. “Paraphrasing my favorite scripture from Philippians 2, it’s my prayer that, as pastor, you shine like a star in the universe – pointing the way to Jesus – as you hold out the word of life.”
  2. And then, “I feel a spirit of hope and promise in this place. You already know how I feel about this: So long as even a small group of people believe with passion – there’s not a church in this world that does not have the potential to grow, and to become renewed with life and purpose.”

So this is our calling, as Twenty-first Century Christian men:

  • To follow Jesus as faithful disciples;
  • To develop authentic relationships with other believers;
  • And to shine like stars in the universe, as we hold out the word of life.

Happy Monday, friends, let’s live like we mean it! – DEREK

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