Pastors and ministry leaders carry a heavy weight when caring for the needs of so many people in their congregation and surrounding community.
In the past two years during COVID, I’ve read a number of helpful books ranging in categories from understanding culture, to Biblical and theological studies. I’d like to preview and recommend a few of them to you.
Like many New Yorkers, I lived (and often still live) from a place of unhealthy reliance on my work as a source of my identity, rather than as a healthy expression of it. So I went through a process of relearning to hold my identity (lower-case i) as a performing artist in New York much more loosely in particular. I had to hold that gift out to God and say “Lord, use this gift (and me) as it seems best to you.”
We pulled up to the emergency entrance after days of vomiting while my blood pressure took a nose-dive. I tested positive, resulting in instant banishment into a quarantined room. I pulled out the computer from my backpack and spent three hours asking individuals, community groups, and church prayer lines to pray for me.
An autoimmune disease that had been lying dormant surfaced early this year with life-changing force. Overnight my world completely shifted.
Even though I turned her down, she befriended me, and over the next few months, she and her friends became my friends. I was attracted to the way they loved one another and me, and was often amazed by their generosity and care. I eventually accepted one of their many invitations to come to church because I grew to trust them and love their community. About a year later, in large part thanks to their persistence, I became a follower of Jesus.
On May 3rd, we will begin a new special Podcast series — Questioning Christianity with Tim Keller — specifically designed for people who are exploring Christianity, but don’t yet have a personal faith in Christ.
Christians must recognize that they do have things to do to prepare for renewal, but that ultimately it is God’s wise sovereignty that will determine whether and how the church is renewed. Many see a metaphor for this concept of renewal in Elijah’s confrontation with the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18. The prophet builds an altar, but it is only God whose fire can ignite it. Christians looking for revival, then, are “building the altar,” praying that God will use their efforts to bring a fire of revival with a movement of his Spirit.