It wasn’t always this way, but we are at a point in history when, for most of us, it is easier to know of someone at a distance than it is to know the people who are close to us.
Two hundred years ago you could barely avoid knowing your neighbors, like it or not, and being known by them, while almost everyone outside your immediate vicinity was virtually unknown to you and unknowable.
One of JD Walt’s recent devotionals at Seedbed made me think about this when he pointed out how strangely and deliberately opposed Jesus was to his own fame.
So here’s the question I’ve been asking myself: would I rather be well known or known well?
Truthfully? If I’m going by the indications of my life it looks like I’d rather be well known. I do things to try to expand my “platform” on the one hand, while doing little more than dipping my toes in the shallow end of those pools of relationship where I might be diving.
In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul says “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror: then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I am fully known."
And I want that. I want to see face to face and know fully and be fully known. But I’m also terrified at the prospect. I don’t feel I’m ready for it. I’d like to make some changes before I’m thrust into that place of intimate and mutual knowledge. I’d like to approach God with the benefit of filters.
But God is not interested in some instagram version of me.
So these are some things I’m coming to terms with:
Fame is toxic for those who don’t achieve it and it is toxic for those who do.
It is a dangerous thing to want to be well known.
For one thing, it is an objective with moving goalposts. Make it your goal to get a thousand followers and you will arrive at that lofty peak of notoriety and survey the landscape and see that there are summits above your own on which other people are standing. And as you look at them, your standard of “well-known” will shift so that you will now feel more obscure than you did when you started.
For another thing, aspiring to fame will make you feel disconnected from who you really are. You will present yourself in ways calculated to make you more appealing than authentic.
Being well known is unsatisfying.
Our souls desire the intimacy of being comprehensively known, even though we run from that intimacy. We are conflicted and acting at cross-purposes with ourselves.
It is telling and significant that the euphemistic language employed by the King James Version of the Bible to talk about sexual behavior is that of “knowledge.” “And Adam knew Eve his wife and she conceived.”
It seems quaint, right? But it also helps us understand how intimate it is to be known in either sense of the word, and how you could want to be known and also be afraid of it at the same time.
Being well known is a very poor substitute for the intimate pleasure of being known well.
Churches that can help people to be known well will have an advantage in the days to come.
If people end up recoiling from the expectations of social media notoriety and go looking for safe personal intimacy, we would hope that they would go to church to find it.
But too often churches are run as though the church itself is primarily useful and effective to the extent that it is a good platform for a good pastor. Think about the biggest churches you know and ask yourself if you know more about that church or that church’s pastor. You might not know anything about that church at all beyond its name and who its pastor is.
And many of these pastors do use the platform to very good effect, preaching sermons and writing books and developing leaders with a positive impact far beyond the boundaries of their “parish.”
But for enduring Gospel effect, it is better to have a church that makes lots of people known well than a church that makes a few people well known.
Discipleship and small groups
So if you are ready to shift your emphasis from being well known to being known well, where do you start? By engaging in discipleship and small groups. By offering to lead someone or to be led by someone along the "way everlasting." By asking your pastor for help in connecting with people other than your pastor. By doing life with other believers with the goal of complete authenticity in a context of safety and love.
A natural pearl occurs when a piece of grit works its way into an oyster, after which the oyster, to defend itself from the irritant, secretes layer upon layer of coating fluid on the piece of grit until a pearl is formed.
Christmas, as a global celebration, is a lot like that pearl. Layers and layers of the shiny and smooth have been built up to protect the world from the irritant at its heart. Twinkling lights, cheerful colors, elves, ugly sweaters, bows, gifts, tinsel, snow, Bing Crosby, reindeer, candy canes, silver bells - the world's oyster has been adding layers to this pearl for about 2000 years now. And it's as lovely as you would expect a pearl to be.
And Christians who object to all of this stuff can have a point and miss the point at the same time.
Yes, the world finds the incarnation to be an unbearable irritant and protects itself from the grit of Jesus' birth by layers of shiny pearl. But it does not, in doing so, defeat the grit. The grit is not neutralized but enshrined. Every pearl is a temple devoted to the power of a particle. And if the pearl appears to succeed in obscuring the grit, it also succeeds in keeping it securely right at the heart of things.
And what is the grit that is intractably at the heart of Christmas?
Jesus was born as an act of war. His incarnation was a dramatic escalation in the heavenly fight for our redemption and he was born, unequivocally, that he might die. His birth itself was violent in the way that all births are; it featured blood and raised voices. And, though it was a crudely ineffective gesture, Herod's slaughter of the Innocents is very much a part of the nativity.
In both relative and historic terms, Jesus was born into an underprivileged household. The account of the nativity highlights the lack; lack of housing, lack of furniture, lack of resources, lack of privilege. Time and sentimental depiction would render that poverty less offensive, but think about it very hard and you will see it for grit. Jesus' parents had to worry about things like food and clothing. And their example prevents us from using our own bank accounts as a reason for why we can not be obedient to God until our circumstances improve.
The manner of the incarnation is a rebuke to the elite, to the connected and entitled. Jesus' parents were pedigreed, but they were powerless. The birth did not happen in Rome at the height of its power, nor Imperial London or cosmopolitan New York. Jerusalem, it turns out, was a fine place for Jesus to die, but for his birth a backwater village was called for. And the only elites who play any part in the nativity are wise men who show up so late that they have nothing to contribute to the event but worship, gifts, and the threat of a danger that came from their penchant for palaces.
This is the gritty thing at the heart of Christmas that will always be the biggest source of painful irritation to the world. Jesus birth was not a divine excursion, or the heavenly equivalent of a semester abroad. Jesus left the courts of heaven and endured nine months of gestation, an ignominious birth in squalor, the peril of adolescence without modern medicine, and all the worst this world has to offer so that he could, as an adult, die for the sins of those who killed him. And it wasn't because of sin in the abstract that he came, but for sins as specific as the straw on which he lay in the manger. It was for my particular sins and your particular sins. And what amount of built up pearl could ever make pleasant as irritating a piece of grit as that?
No, this grit at the heart of Christmas is made beautiful by the pearl built up around it, but no amount of pearl could ever make it safe.
And so I'm happy to wish you a merry Christmas, a Christmas with all the lustrous pearl the season has to offer. But I'd also wish you an irritating Christmas, one where the grit at that heart of the season makes its way into your own heart.
Back in 2004 the band Modest Mouse released the album “Good News for People Who Like Bad News.” I’ve thought about that title more than once this year. The year 2020 has been full of good news for people who like bad news, hasn’t it?
And not only is it easy to focus on the negative stuff; it’s necessary to acknowledge it all. That’s an important part of the grieving process.
But there is good news and cause for optimism, too. If you’ve felt unsure about Furnace Brook Wesleyan Church and had concerns about how it will come out of this, I’d like to give you five reasons for optimism.
We are making more and better disciples for Jesus. Our efforts have not been put on hold and they are bearing fruit. People are getting discipled and are meeting in small groups in person and online. We baptized 8 people earlier this summer! Our live streamed services have expanded the scope of our ministry; on youtube, facebook, and PEGTV each week many people are edified by our worship and teaching who never joined us in a building. Our mission is how we decide to do what we do, and it’s also how we measure how well we’re doing it. So take heart.
The leadership of Furnace Brook (Pastor Tate and the Board) have made difficult decisions in a timely fashion. They have looked at the budget with clear eyes and have taken necessary steps to reduce overhead and to put us in a sound financial position to bless others and to go into the future with confidence and margin.
Our church has elasticity in our spiritual DNA. We have demonstrated again and again that we are willing to be flexible in our pursuit of God’s will. And this leaves us uniquely suited to not only survive but flourish in the upheaval of this season. God is doing a new thing and our church is not so brittle and backward facing that we will foolishly resist him. And God rewards supple wineskins with new wine.
We all miss our building, and no one more so than the pastor. But the Board of Furnace Brook is wisely committed to the process. We are earnestly investigating all sorts of possibilities, but we also have the patience needed to make sure that we get this right. We are determined to end up with a situation that is forward looking and that takes into consideration the ministry requirements of this new season that we are in. That’s huge. The place where we arrive will be so good and so right as to redeem the journey by which we came to it.
Prayer and Revival
We are committed to prayer and to revival, and this is no small thing. This isn’t the spiritual stuff you say to check off the spiritual box. Please consider signing up to join us on September 25 for “A Night with New Room.” You can participate from home or join us in one of the locations we hope to set up for the purpose. And from now to then, would you consider taking the Psalm 85:6 challenge to join us in concerted prayer? And let me tell you something personal about my own prayer: I have been praying really hard for the last several months and God has consistently responded to my prayer by giving me a sense of peace and a conviction about the good things to come, even if he has been vague on the details.
So be encouraged. The things in our favor greatly outweigh the challenges we are facing and God is with us.
We all hate those seasons in our lives or areas of our lives where the tires just spin and there doesn’t seem to be anything that we have control over or any meaningful way to accomplish our purposes. Perhaps there is a broken relationship where you’ve done everything that you can do from your end. Or perhaps you’ve filled out all the job applications there are to fill. Or you can’t leave until your quarantine is up. And, yes, we hate these times and places in our lives, at least in part because we’ve been taught to reckon our value by the things we do. If I am in a position where I can’t do anything I feel “worthless,” which is a remarkable thing to think of a person who was redeemed with the “precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”But “there’s always something you could do” someone will object. Maybe there is always something you could do, but it’s wrong to say so, even if it’s true. When I am stuck, when, for better or worse, I’ve done all that I can do, scripture tells me to be still and know that He is God. The alternative in such a situation is to be active and prove that I am not.
But not just as a matter of spiritual effort. Don’t pray in such a way that you are “doing” prayer, being incapable of doing anything else. Pray as an expression of lament. Pray because your situation stinks and God loves you. Pray to take God into your confidence. And, though your prayer doesn’t “accomplish” anything it will have the effect of reminding you that there is a God and that the success of your brief participation in the eternity of which he is Lord has less to do with your activity than you might think.
Don’t make a virtue of your impatience. If you have done all that you can do and God has told you to wait, then wait without embarrassment. Do the hard work of rejecting your insecurities about waiting. No one is “merely” waiting who, in waiting, is doing that exact thing that God has commanded him to do.
Rest is a good use of those situations where you are denied the pleasure of having meaningful work to do. Rest is an investment in future activity, true. But it’s valuable in and of itself, apart from any indirect contribution to my productivity. Your rest is valuable for the simple reason that you are. God gives rest to his beloved ones.
In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Jesus tells us about ten brides who go out to meet the bridegroom who ends up being a long time in coming. There’s nothing for them to do but wait and sleep as they do. At midnight the cry rings out. He has come and it’s time for them to join him, but five of them neglected to prepare for the wait or its conclusion and they have no oil for their lamps and are left stranded in the dark.
There’ve been times when I thought, for instance, that my problem was that I was excluded from the conversation and there was nothing to do about it. And then, when I was suddenly invited to participate in the conversation, I found that I had nothing helpful to say.
Maybe the worst thing about those times and places where I am incapable of making good things happen, is that I am still very capable of preventing good things from happening. And I usually do that by closing off avenues of assistance, downplaying my need and denying my helplessness when concerned people offer their assistance. Of course you’d rather be the one coming to someone else’s rescue than being the chump in need of rescue. But a cheerful acceptance of your dependence on God and the people he uses is, itself, an act of worship.
As a church, we are doing our best to be smart, timely, and flexible about responding to our changing circumstances. And it's important to us that you know what's going on. Read below for Furnace Brook's latest news and updates.
1. We will be changing locations.
Ever since our initial three year lease ran out we have been trying to make a more permanent arrangement for our church. It has felt as though all of our efforts to get a long term lease or a purchase agreement for our current location or for another property have been thwarted and that's been very frustrating. Leasing month to month has made us feel insecure; but now it looks providential. The lease we have been paying is much higher than we can afford to pay for a building we can't meet in or than what we would expect to pay on the other end of this crisis. And we are not locked into it. So we will be moved out of our current location at 67 Gecha Lane by April 30th.
What this means:
During their time in the wilderness the Israelites experienced calamities and plagues, suffered violence and want. And yet, every indication is that the number of Israelites who came across the Jordan was actually greater than the number of Israelites who had come through the Red Sea!
Let that be true of us! We can do the work of growing in our faith now. We can offer the Word of life to our friends and neighbors now, inviting them on the journey with us. And when we meet again, as we certainly will, there will be people meeting in person with us for the first time who had been meeting with us virtually for some time, who came to faith through the nimble, adaptable, unflappable, mission-over-comfort ministry of our church for the glory of God! We can't wait for that day.
From time to time we like to share with you some resources and things to enrich your life and faith walk. Some of it is stuff that you will have no use for, and some of it is stuff that could change your life. And some of it will prompt you to share stuff with us: please do! We would love your suggestions and feedback.
I had only had the three children in my care for a short time when I brought them to the Department of Children and Families office in the Asa Bloomer building in Rutland to meet their mother who was, understandably, anxious to see and touch her children again. We went into the office waiting room and waited until a concerned social worker could meet us to escort us to a room further inside the offices where we sat and waited.
The children looked around speculatively, trying to decide which of the tattered toys they’d like to fight over first. The rooms reflect the fact that DCF cares. Efforts have been made to furnish them with a wide range of safe toys and furniture conducive to family interaction. They have been painted in cheerful and pleasant colors.
No family ends up in that room without there having been considerable heartache and grief to bring them there. The time spent in that room will be the high point or the low point of someone’s week; and sometimes both at once. And if families are important so are the spaces where “family” is permitted to happen.
DCF Work Project
We want to honor the work that DCF is doing and the families for whom they are doing it by making sure that these emotionally significant places fully reflect the way we all feel about what happens in them. Our Office of the Department for Children and Families in Rutland County has given us the opportunity to renovate and refurnish their two visitation rooms, the places where children in custody can have supervised interactions with their families. We are going to replace old, tired toys and furniture and redecorate the rooms so that they will be positive places where fractured families can maintain connection with dignity. And we need your help. Find out more here.
The other thing we've been given an opportunity to help with is the "store" that DCF maintains with clothing, toiletries, and other items that would be helpful to families with children in custody as well as foster families and all those in need. DCF is in need of help with sorting and stocking items and would be grateful for assistance with staffing the room.
When their mother came in I felt a lot of feels. I ached for her and for the children. I felt insecure. I felt hopeful. And I felt more than a little out of place. But I can only imagine what she and the kids felt in that moment. Since then, I’ve logged hours in those two rooms and others like them, and I know that there will always be a need for rooms like this until Jesus comes back.
But, speaking of Jesus coming back, do you know what he’s doing in preparation for his return? He is preparing a place for me in heaven. He is getting rooms ready for when a family fractured by sin can be reunited with the Father in heaven. If that’s how Jesus is spending this time, it feels really appropriate for us to spend that time in much the same manner: getting rooms ready so that fractured families can be together in a gracious and well appointed place.
If you are interested in joining us in this effort (or in helping us to staff and stock DCF’s “store”) please follow this link to the page on our website where you will find more information and a chance to sign up.
By Joel Tom Tate
It’s been quite the month or so in the pulpit of Furnace Brook Wesleyan Church. We’ve been preaching through 1 Corinthians and it turns out that Paul has a lot to say on the topic of human sexuality. (Listen to some of this month’s sermons here.)
This Month We've Talked About Sex a Lot.
So we have squirmed and laughed uncomfortably and held our breath together. It’s been good, but it’s been . . . uneasy.
We’re aware that there is a caricature of the church as a finger-wagging place where everyone is hung-up on sex. “It’s all sex, sex, sex with them. They need to just move on.” We know this is a thing that people think and say and, implicitly, we hear that the more mature you are the more “over it” you will be.
And the church does not want to seem ridiculous or immature. We don’t want to confirm the stereotype and push people away. And the result, sadly, is that a child is more likely to hear about drag queens at the local library than an adult is to hear about married sex at church, regardless of how much the Bible has to say on the topic.
And the Bible has a lot to say on the topic. From the Old Testament law to Jesus’ instruction in the Sermon on the Mount to Paul’s letters to the various churches, the Bible is remarkably frank and explicit about human sexuality (2 Corinthians 12:21, Ephesians 5:33, Galatians 5:19, Genesis 2:24, Hebrews 13:4, 1 Corinthians 6:18). It’s strange how much more prim and cautious churches are than is the Bible which those churches preach.
In many of our churches, we have effectively ceded discussion of the topic to an aggressively mistaken and hostile culture in an act of self-censorship. It amounts to a crisis of self-confidence. We might fear God enough to practice his teaching, but we fear the world too much to preach it.
Pastors shouldn’t seem strangely intent on working it into every sermon, but neither should they seem reluctant to mention it, as is often the case. Recovering a good balance starts with understanding why we might be reluctant to cover the topic and why we should do it anyway.
Why Do Christians Avoid the Topic of Sex in Church?
Two reasons why we wouldn’t want to discuss sex in church:
1. Hot button, divisive issues.
Some of the reluctance to inject delicate and politically charged issues like “marriage equality” and transgenderism into the worship service is not only understandable, but admirable. If our goal is to reach lost people for Jesus why would we put stumbling blocks in their way? Taking a “Jesus first, social issues second” approach makes more sense than a “social issues first, Jesus second” approach (starting with the social issues will often mean going no
further.) But the problem with this approach is that you can not separate Jesus the Lord from Jesus’ teaching on human relationships, including human sexuality. You can no more lead with Jesus and defer social issues to some
conversation in the distant future, than you can entice someone to consider broccoli with an appeal to its nutrition, while putting off to some later date a consideration of its taste and texture. (And, yes, I know that how you feel about
my comparing Jesus to broccoli will depend a lot on how you feel about broccoli.)
2. Sexual Fatigue.
Ironically, living in a sex-saturated culture does not necessarily stoke the flame of passion to a roaring flame. In fact, it can suffocate the libido in the same way that an all-you-can-eat buffet kills the appetite. Imagine living at the Golden Corral, waking up there, going to bed there, feeling bloated and queasy all the time, and imagine how you would groan if once a week you had a chance to go outside and enjoy a break from the sizzles, scents, and clinking of cutlery and on one of those occasions someone tried to talk to you about food. This, I think, is a real problem for us and one that Paul did not have to deal with in his cultural context. It doesn’t mean we should give people a break from talk of sex, but we might have to bring it up in a manner that is different from Paul’s.
Why Should Christians Talk About Sex in Church?
While those reasons to not talk about sex in church are well and good, I think it’s important that we discuss sex in church anyway. Here are four reasons why:
1. To not is to surrender.
My grandfather once took me out in the middle of Lake Champlain in an old rowboat that was both leaky and low enough in the water that even mild waves might lap a little over. We had two coolwhip bowls and I was almost constantly employed in the business of bailing. When I expressed my frustration with the bailing he told me that I could easily lose the war against the water but I could not win it, except by getting safely back to the shore. Neither the leaking water nor the pervasive culture will take a break just because we do, and if we fail to bail out each other's boats we are consigning each other to dreadful swampings. Not discussing sex in Church surrenders the discussion to the world, whose beliefs do not line up with God’s design for sexuality.
2. It is pertinent and of interest to everyone.
The topic of human sexuality applies to every person, regardless of age and situation, and most people have a lot of questions on the topic. If people are concerned and curious that’s an “in” the church can’t afford to ignore.
3. Scriptural fidelity
If all scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching and edification (2 Timothy 3:16), then our preaching content should be roughly proportional to scriptural content. If God felt it was worth revealing we should, in humility, consider it no less worthy of proclaiming.
4. Romantic hope
If you listen closely you will hear that a lot of our cultural language about sex is tinged with a sad cynicism. Real romance has been a casualty of our sexually permissive and libertine culture. And the church can create space for real romantic hope for longing people by restoring a biblical approach to sexuality wherever we can. Where people follow God’s heart for human sexuality there is more sexual joy and romantic delight. As Christians, we should be aiming to understand and apply God’s word in all aspects of our lives (Colossians 3:16), including (but not limited to) sex and romantic relationships (2 Timothy 2:15).
Written by Joel Tate
This past Sunday (8/25) Pastor Joel talked about building a faith that would survive the fire (listen to the full sermon here.)
If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.
- 1 Corinthians 3:12-14
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? - 2 Corinthians 13:5
Paul’s metaphor of building a house reminds us that our faith, like a house, requires a strong foundation, sound materials, careful workmanship, and ongoing maintenance.
It is a good faith practice to regularly audit your faith life, or have a ‘building inspection’ for your faith building. Are there materials at your disposal that you didn’t have when you first started building your house? Have you used some building materials that are worn out or unsturdy? Regular faith examination can be painful, but is an important part of spiritual health.
Consider asking yourself some hard questions about your faith life. Determine how sturdy your building is, and do the hard work of making repairs where needed. Below is a list of questions to help you do a ‘building inspection’ for your faith.
John Wesley’s list of 22 Questions for Self-examination that you may adapt to the purpose of a “building inspection”:
Prayerfully consider each of these questions, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you anything that you may need healing in, that you may need to repent of, or that you are unaware of. Contact the church office if you have any questions or would like to discuss the questions above. You can email the office at: email@example.com, or call (802)483.2531.
How to be a Good Building Inspector
Self-examination is important, but we all have blind spots and gaps in our knowledge. Building inspectors are tasked with intentionally seeking out faults in a home in order to strengthen the whole structure. This can be a painful process for the homeowner, but is beneficial to the longevity and usefulness of the home.
Christians have a role to play in building each other up. This is no easy task, and should be done prayerfully and delicately. Below are some guidelines for how to lovingly assist your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Principles for building inspectors:
We are all being built up in the faith, and came to Jesus broken and sinful. The beauty of our Savior is that he has saved us (past tense), but is also actively saving us (right now!) in our daily lives by building us up to be more like him. It is our privilege to grow our faith in Him daily, and to reach out to those around us to know him more deeply. As a church we are committed to making more and better disciples: more by sharing our faith and blessing our community, and better by encouraging and equipping each other in the faith daily.
Questions? Would you like to have a ‘Building Inspection’ done? Contact the church office. You can email the office at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (802)483.2531.
Furnace Brook is blessed with many things, one of which is our Pastoral Intern Abigail Elliott. Abbey has been focusing her efforts at the Brandon Campus this summer, but will be transitioning to a more to the Pittsford Campus as the Brandon service winds down this fall.
Below is an update on Abbey as it pertains to her Ministry and our Church.
Your Pastoral Intern is still alive. Life is crazy but I wanted to take some time to update you with some things going on in my life. I finished my undergrad at Castleton in December. Since then, I’ve started my second construction season with the Agency of Transportation and started working at Head Start preschool. I’m loving both jobs. The fall sports season is underway; I’m coaching cross country at Otter Valley and cheer on the Rutland Raiders because Cody [Abigail's boyfriend] coaches football.
On top of that I started my Masters of Divinity program at Wesley Seminary in June and started my second semester a week ago. It’s a crazy, exciting, and stressful journey. I’m excited for what God has in store for us.
This past summer, Furnace Brook held a service in the Brandon Town Hall. It was an amazing growing experience. I loved the less formal environment, the interactive teaching, and taking communion every week. Unfortunately, we were a smaller group than I intended it to be, but I believe God planted seeds for better things to come.
Here are some things you might want to know about what is happening in my life:
1. I am currently attending Weslyean seminary at Indiana Wesleyan.
I'm passionate about sharing the Gospel, and I'm excited to see how God is going to seminary experience to bless my community. It’s exciting to be excited about something. My undergrad classes were interesting but I wasn’t eager to learn. My seminary material is thought provoking, applicable to my current ministry content, and it’s encouraging. My classes so far have focused on spiritual health and changing the culture of evangelism in the church. These things are essential for a healthy church so I’m looking forward to sharing my findings with you all.
2. I'm staying in the Word and feeding myself spiritually with blogs, devotional, and podcasts.
Here are some of my favorites:
My time reading is consumed by seminary material and construction specification manuals. Work work work. If I have free time, I enjoy reading DCF books, Jane Austen, and running/health books. I like short and sweet because I’m rather impatient.
3. God is teaching me through leadership experience, and growing me in ways I didn't expect.
I can’t do everything and not everything is going to work. It has been extremely difficult to let things die so that better things can be born. It seems to be a season of praying and waiting. As I mentioned before, the Brandon Campus did not go as well as I hoped it would. As a result, we have decided to take a break from meeting at the Brandon Town Hall to enter into a season of prayer and evaluation. It’s hard to stomach but I’m confident God will carry us through. And honestly, perhaps less stress will be good for me ;) . Zechariah 4:6 says, ‘“Not by strength or by my might, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord of Armies.’ God has ample strength and I’m grateful for the strength He gives me.
4. I am praising God for his work, and seeing the fruit of the Holy Spirit in my ministry.
I started discipling two women who are young and eager in their faith. I’ve been praying for discipleship opportunities for about 6 months as the initial people that I wanted to disciple fell through. Discipling these women happened organically and is totally providential. I’m thrilled and humbled to be able to disciple these women. Both women see spiritual formation as an essential ingredient in their spiritual lives.
Discipleship is so important to me because I care deeply for the spiritual health of the people around me. Spiritual maturity isn’t something we can do ourselves. During discipleship we implement spiritual disciplines like Bible reading, scripture memorization and time alone with God. This process of spiritual formation creates a life lived with intentionality. As we work through the tough stuff, the Holy Spirit reveals to us our purpose and calling. As a result of this maturing process we become rooted and grounded in love which leads to a desire to share and invest in other people. It is an internal process with an external reaction.
I can’t wait for the time in the life of Furnace Brook where every person is either discipling or being discipled. Please be praying for us!
Please Pray for me.
Please be praying for time management: having the proper priorities,and patience. During my busy days I can lose sight of what is important or sometimes I take on more than I can handle. Please be praying that I prioritize the things God wants me to be dealing with rather than what I deem as important.
Abbey Elliott, Pastoral intern
Furnace Brook Wesleyan Church Blog