Over the last six years, I have frequently found a piece of paper and scribbled an idea into the blank space. Sometimes the ideas come while I am driving in the silence of my car, other times they happen during a conversation, and often they come to me during worship. I scribble down a line or a phrase and then put it in my pile of papers to process. Those words will then get written or typed into a notebook. Then they become the fodder for this blog and my sermon series.
Recently I was flipping through the pages and noticed some patterns. Several of the topics come up again and again in my thinking. Here are the three biggest concerns of my life and ministry as seen in my notebook.
1. How people become spiritually mature. What is it going to take to get you to grow in your faith? I want to help people to become more like Jesus in the ways they think, feel and act. Sometimes I teach from a passage in the Bible and other times through practical steps learned from life experience. I long for everyone to become fully mature believers no matter where you are on your journey with God now. My question for today is, “What are you doing this day and this week to develop a life fully committed to God?”
2. How we view and relate to people who call themselves believers. This one takes several pages to cover completely in my notebook. What should we say to new believers? What do we do about people we don’t like or agree with who come into our lives? Some of the latest thoughts have been focused on false or fake believers. The Bible repeatedly refers to false teachers, false apostles, and Christians who are only after self-interests. One of the most significant issues every follower of Jesus is going to face is how they relate to the other followers of Jesus. How might God be pushing you to grow in your love and understanding of those who also call on his name?
3. What it means to be the Church body. As a Church leader, I am always hoping to learn and grow in my knowledge of this thing that I lead. I want to know the best practices and the worst habits. I want to know how to engage the world while remaining faithful to Jesus. The people who follow me should know my hopes and dreams for God’s people. There is so much to learn about being the body of Christ, and I want the Church I lead to be fully equipped to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our community. What are you learning about the Church lately that is worth repeating for the benefit of everyone?
At this moment I have pages of scribbled notes and incomplete thoughts. One day all of them will probably make their way onto this blog or into a sermon. I did find it fascinating that I can write an idea and then go back a year and find a similar idea already written down. I guess the writer of Ecclesiastes was correct, “There is nothing new under the sun.” My ministry is repeating the same basic ideas until we all reach unity in the faith, which should take a lifetime.