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Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Long Haul

This morning I was privileged to go with most of the Program Staff from Central to hear Pastor Dave Johnson from The Church of the Open Door in the Twin Cities talking about "Staying in Ministry for the Long Haul." While nothing Dave said was earth-shatteringly new, his talk provided an excellent review of many things I have known but too often forget. I'm planning to take a few days to process some of these tidbits and share some of his insights and wisdom with you here.

One key area he spent time on -- we talked about the story of Samson. Remember Samson? If not, go to the book of Judges in the Old Testament and read about him. It's almost like some trashy tabloid when you dig into this story! Samson has superhuman strength, given by God. He comes to rescue the Israelites from their oppressors, the Philistines, who lived along the coast to the west of Israel. In spite of his call from God, Samson is shallow and ruled by his appetites -- mostly his appetite for beautiful Philistine women. Yet God continues to use him.

How often have you seen someone -- maybe even yourself -- who is able to do amazing ministry work for God but doesn't have the depth of character to get through the hard times without injuring themselves and those around them? Dave pointed out that the ability to do some kind of "anointed" ministry does not guarantee that we will do the hard work it takes to allow God to transform our character. Further, it is only a transformed character that will allow us to get through the hard times with wisdom and grace in a way that minimizes damage to ourselves and those close to us.

So the hard question -- how are you pursuing God and asking him to transform your character? (This is different from asking him to transform the characters all around you!) One of the chief spiritual disciplines -- Dallas Willard says it is the number one discipline -- is that of solitude and silence. When I am silent, says DW, I can begin to hear the noise within my own soul. That is why we avoid silence and solitude so much!

Okay, that's probably enough for you to chew on for the moment. Get off the internet and go spend some quiet time!

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