May 9, 2022

 

Craig's Comments 

    
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalm 51:17, NLT
  
Have you ever been broken? I don’t mean having your feelings hurt if someone steals your parking spot at the grocery store or if you didn’t get the gift that you wanted for Christmas…I mean sackcloth and ashes broken before God. That is a whole different feeling. We can’t fully explain it and we may never understand it, but life takes significant turns over which we have little to no control.
 
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Our responses may vary from person to person and in various situations. Some see the writing on the wall and decide that the cards that they have been dealt are always a losing hand while others seem to effortlessly float through life without a care in the world. Sometimes that feeling of being sucker punched or having the wind knocked out of you just makes you want to wave the white flag and say that you just can’t go on any more.
  
Whatever your brokenness looks like, the truth that we neglect often is that God can redeem your broken state. That doesn’t make it pleasant or enjoyable, but God’s Spirit is able to dig deep within our lives and remind us that we have a well of joy that can be found in the deepest moments of life. Corrie Ten Boom reminds us that, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” So no matter how deep your pit feels today, God is able. It may come in the form of an instant solution or require years of walking step by step in obedience despite the fact that you don’t understand.
  
I was reminded recently in the context of a small group Bible study (that I was not leading), how God reached into the brokenness of Mephibosheth who was disabled and practically helpless in an ancient culture of limited assistance. Yet even in his darkest days God reached into his desperation and elevated him to the king’s table! Many of us will never be elevated to the king’s table (nor desire to be for that matter), but God is able to touch our lives in such a way that our circumstances drastically change in the course of a day.
  
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A PMBA pastor has defined his purpose as “navigating brokenness.” When I first heard that, I thought that his statement was an obvious explanation of the ministry and work of a pastor as he relates to others. Months later, I have come to appreciate that it may very well still entail navigating his very own brokenness in the course of his life. Regardless of our desire and/or calling to help others navigate brokenness, there is a real need to still embrace our very own brokenness. 
  
When mobilizing the church to be on mission and even plant other churches, we are mindful of the brokenness of our world as well as our own experiences of brokenness that enable us to help others. God uses each and every valley of your life not to sabotage your progress as much as a type of refiner’s fire that will renew and strengthen us through some of the most difficult times. This strength will be at our disposal through the challenges of life, but also as we seek to help them navigate brokenness. What a refreshing blessing to encounter someone who not only sympathizes with our devastation, but empathizes having walked that road as well. 
  
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Where is God opening doors for you to redirect your seasons of brokenness from your personal growth to the needs of others who need to learn from you? Could it be in some type of direct discipleship of someone in your own circle of influence? Maybe God would open doors for you to mentor someone and shine the light of Christ into a life that is surrounded heavily by darkness. Wherever it may be, don’t let that brokenness go to waste! Put it to good use and see how God might use that “fertilizer” for something beautiful that you never dreamed or imagined.
  
A wonderful example of this will be in our region in the upcoming months. Dean Barley in cooperation with Vineyard Camp and Brim’s Grove Baptist Church will be extending opportunities to PMBA churches to meet Ukrainian young women who are fleeing the devastation of their country by Russia and will be serving in the context of a Christian camp. They will be available to share in churches as well as with families as guests in their homes!
  
If we can help you connect such dots by sharing local opportunities or areas of need in our community, contact us today!
  
Walking in the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings,
  
Craig
    

April 4, 2022

 

A Word from Walker

 
Oftentimes, we move through life so quickly that we miss opportunities to revel in God’s creation, enjoy his blessings or connect more deeply with others. This need to slow down hit home with me the other day as I was picking up sticks in my backyard. My dog, Beau, was playing “grab-the-stick” every time I tried to throw one into the woods. He then would run around in circles in joyful exuberance as if he were winning some kind of contest. At first, I became aggravated with him for interrupting the progress of my work, but then something made me pause and reflect. I noticed the sheer joy on his face as he engaged me. Then I began to notice how green the yard was and how blue the sky seemed. The crisp air felt invigorating, and I became aware of how peaceful I felt at that moment. I let go of some worries as I stood in the same spot for about five minutes just soaking in the glory of that afternoon.
 
But, the idea of rest is good in principle but hard to actually implement. Spring brings with it a ramped up need for cleaning up and clearing out. For example, my wife and several family members have been working diligently in preparation for an estate sale of her mom’s property. She is really good at this type of thing, but I know she will be glad when it is finished.
 
It is so easy to stay busy doing important things, one after the other, that we wake up one day to find that it has been a while since we truly rested. God rested on the seventh day from his creative endeavors (Gen. 2:2-3). He didn’t need to rest but modeled it for us so that we would fix a time in our week when we could enjoy the peace and wisdom that only resting can bring. I am reminded of how poorly I do this, but I am working on it because I really need it on so many levels.
 
I hope that you make rest a part of your regular weekly rhythm. To lead renewal in your church, you need to be a renewed person, and this can only come through the strength that the Lord can bring. I wish for you and your family a restful, renewing Easter Season.
 
Your fellow servant in Christ,
Walker