Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. – Romans 12:10-13
It’s always exciting to be part of something that is alive, dynamic, full with enthusiasm, and growing. This has been true consistently in the faith communities Rebekah and I have been privileged to call home. Trinity in Pensacola, First in Brandon, and now Wake Forest here in North Carolina.
Authentic life tends to replicate itself – at least that has been our experience.
Then, within those churches – and in addition to being a fully engaged member – I have always had my particular focus. To be honest, I believe it’s critically important that “the pastor’s spouse,” not only be a visible faithful presence in everything – from Sunday worship, to fellowship activities, to Wednesday nights together – but also to be involved in ministry initiatives.
In Pensacola, my joy was the amazing Kaleidoscope class and our life together as young families. In Brandon it was the Praise Team, my adult Sunday school class, training small group leaders, and a covenant group for men. Here in Wake Forest, I love being visible and engaged; I teach adult Sunday school, I do a lot of informal “connecting,” and – my signature contribution – I am involved with men’s ministry.
This is what I’m talking about in terms of how exciting it is to be part of something that is alive, dynamic, full with enthusiasm, and growing. And that’s especially gratifying when it happens in a context where too many churches have seen disappointment and decline across the board.
So we are deeply grateful to be in yet another Presbyterian Church that is so full with life, with a passion for Jesus, with young families, with so many children, and with a sense of mission that spills out from our campus and into the world.
I am likewise blessed to be involved with a busy, engaged, all-about-Jesus, growing men’s ministry. We now have five groups of men that meet for Bible-study, prayer, support, encouragement, and mission. I’m pleased, but not satisfied, because there are still a lot more guys (some who don’t even come to church yet) who would benefit from this level of discipleship and accountability.
The Point of this Post!
Which brings me – at long last – to the actual reason I started to write this post (yes, I am easily sidetracked!). Yesterday my Wednesday evening group enjoyed a valuable discussion around the question of what we do – day by day – to make sure our “spiritual antennae” are up and operational.
Then – as is our custom – we went around the table and each man (13) shared a joy, or a prayer request, or both. We do this in the understanding that Jesus is among us, that God is already an active part of the conversation, and that this time of sharing is in itself a prayer.
When I closed with a more formal prayer, here is how I introduced it: “This prayer will begin with two minutes of silence. One hundred-twenty seconds will seem like a long time, but it’s not going to be empty. I want you to look at the two guys sitting to next to you, left and right. Now, remember what they shared this evening. I want each one of you to use these two minutes to pray for those two men.”
I’ve got to tell you, that was a beautiful two minutes. I prayed for Robert, and for Eddie, sitting next to me, and I felt the presence of God in a deeply real way. I could feel love, and conviction, and blessing spilling out all over the room.
“Thank you so much, Lord God,” I prayed, “for Eddie, for Ray, for Bernie, for Brett, for Rick, for David, for Paul, for Larry, for Wayne, for Michael, for David, and for Robert. Be with them, fill them with your presence, and use them to bring your light and goodness into the world where we serve you. Amen.”
Then, and because of the way they had prayed for one another, I felt this mantle of love and care and blessing come down and rest on the group.
This is the church, friends. This is why Rebekah and I are here. I love the people in this community so deeply and so dearly. How could I possibly not?