January 5, 2022

 

Craig's Comments 

 
Nautical Telescope vs. Kaleidoscope
2022
 
Looking into 2022, my natural inclination is to pick up a spiritual version of a nautical telescope and peer into the dreams I have for this new year. One of the lessons of the past two years is that life is incredibly fragile. Thus, endeavoring to peer too confidently into the new year may prove to be an exercise in futility.
 
Concentric circles
 
Romantic notions of knowing the future often assail us as we would like to have a greater grasp of our present circumstances and how they might progress in a way that appeals to us. While this is desirable for many, it is not always God’s design. I’m reminded of Saul’s visit with a fortune teller/medium/witch in Endor in 1 Samuel 28.
 
The Message paraphrase reads:
Saul prayed to God, but God didn’t answer—neither by dream nor by sign nor by prophet.
So Saul ordered his officials, “Find me someone who can call up spirits so I may go and seek counsel from those spirits.”
His servants said, “There’s a witch at Endor.”
 
While Saul’s spiritual “Hail Mary” seems ill-advised, still we have people among us who provide such services because the reality is that people still seek them! I can think of two in Winston Salem, and there are likely more.
 
As you gaze into 2022, does your view of things through that nautical telescope seem cloudy and unsure? Do you feel like Saul when the Philistines were breathing down his neck, and you need answers yesterday? We all feel that urgency for answers in life, but God’s design is not always one of immediacy. Some questions may endure for years with little true resolution. That is when God reminds us to walk by faith.
 
Before you throw up your hands and accuse me of preaching, just relax and walk with me a bit further. What if God’s telescope was really a kaleidoscope? You might not see many wonderful visions off in the distance, but the reality of what is before you may still be very promising despite the Philistine standing right behind you! It doesn’t feel good, easy, or even exciting when life threatens to take you out, but God is able to remind us so many times, “I’ve got this!” That is essentially what faith is all about. God is greater than your Philistines. He can wipe them out with a kid who throws stones!
 
So, if you are finding yourself like Saul and your GPS is set to visit a witch or trust in the latest fad that promises peace, remember that God is bigger than all of that. May you see so many things in your kaleidoscope that communicate the thriving faith that God has called us to. May the colors of his creation, salvation and sanctification continue to fill you with hope that He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we think or imagine, when we trust Him.
 
We are doing the very same at PMBA this year as we continue to walk by faith and not by sight. Many churches have faced significant challenges through this battle with Covid-19 (including the Delta and Omicron strains). We have been blessed to walk steadfastly with everyone as a network of autonomous churches seeking to grow and thrive as God has called us to do. That beautiful kaleidoscope remains as churches who are blessed with resources and vision are supporting others in need and advancing the gospel together for God’s greater glory.
 
I’m personally excited about the Missions and Church Planting portion of that kaleidoscope as well. There are so many good things that are emanating from the hearts of our churches as we collaborate and champion the cause of Christ above all others. Community impact and planting remain exciting areas of growth as PMBA churches seek to serve faithfully in so many regards. In addition to the planters who are engaging with the Triad Church Multiplication Initiative, we are praying that God will raise up a whole new breed of unconventional microchurch planters who will not seek to amass funding as the foundation of their church, but simply strive for changed lives who form churches similar to those seen in the book of Acts.
 
There are also many other ways that God is moving across PMBA to grow and extend the reach of the gospel through the lifeblood of networking churches. The unity that continues to form and set the example for others is yielding fruit that we may have never anticipated fully. Churches advocating for one another and praying for one another are working together and seeing fruit in wonderfully unexpected ways. It is this fruit that we have seen this year that gives us a foretaste of all that God may choose to do among us in the days to come. We remain prayerful that such blessing extends to your church as well.
 
As a network, we continue to “connect the dots” by seeking to have our fingers on the pulse of the many ways that the Holy Spirit is moving among us. If we can assist with such connections, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. It is our joy and pleasure to support and celebrate the many ways that God is already at work among us!
 
Craig