pastoral care

God’s Self-Revelation and Pastoral Vocations

Some time ago, I had a friend who asked if a family member could call me to discuss chaplaincy (throughout the year, I’ll have a few of these conversations with people who want to know more about corporate chaplaincy).

The family member called and shared her interest in the work of the chaplain. As I heard her share, I wondered what compelled her to this unique form of ministry. After all, she was young (very early 20s), attending college, and trying to figure out next steps. And I don’t get a lot of late teens/early 20’s calling me and asking about how to be a chaplain. I was very intrigued to hear more of her story.

“Can you tell me a little more of what is drawing you to chaplaincy in this season of life”, I asked.

Without disclosing too much information, she had experienced great losses in her family and was moved by the idea of helping others process their losses, their medical heartaches, and walking with families through these difficult times.

I still remember sitting in my home office and wondering, “Wow! This chaplaincy work will continue well beyond me!” It’s the first time I had this sense that, 1) I’m getting older and will not be a chaplain forever, 2) God is calling young people into the ministry, 3) What is my responsibility in passing down what I have learned.

After we finished our conversation, I sat in my chair for what seemed like hours, praying for her, wondering about God’s Kingdom, and how God will continue to call people to serve His purposes for this world. I felt very small and humble.

As I’ve been reading John’s first pastoral letter, one get’s the sense that something special is happening: “That which was from the beginning…”

God not only is the chief creator of the world and the cosmos, but He is also in the business of revealing Himself to us, to humanity. God has been doing this since the beginning.

In his letter, John is making a case that God did indeed take on the form of flesh that He might dwell among us (the Gospel of John, ch.1). Simply put, God is in the business of self-revelation!

Two stories: the young woman feeling a call to pastoral vocation and God’s self-revelation.

The young person feeling something happening inside her heart, something calling her to be a certain type of person in this world.

A God who so loved the world, His own creation, longing to liberate, heal, redeem, and renew…this God is not hidden from us.

God will continue to reveal himself to humanity and will not stop calling women and men to the ministry of shepherding, proclaiming, bearing witness, and being in fellowship with God and others.

Tonight, I’m grateful for the conversation I had with this young woman and for John. I’m deeply grateful that God longs to reveal himself to us.

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pastoral care, urbana18worship

Revelation Update #2

 

I have this painting in my office.  It’s called a pantocrator and it depicts Jesus as righteous and just (holding the book of the Law), as well as offering a sign of peace (a sign of faithfulness and mercy).  

Jesus as a Just and loving Emperor.
Jesus as a peacemaker and faithful Emperor.

Revelation 4 is captures the central image of the whole book:  Jesus is Lord (Caesar/Emperor). The throne room scene is about painting a picture of true reality.  

Reality gets us dealing with what’s at hand.  Sometimes reality feels painful and overwhelming so we hide, try to control it, or give in.  

John is getting a dose of reality:  Jesus rules and reigns with power, justice, and peace.  The invitation to open the door that is standing in heaven is to enter into right reality, which will cause us to fall down to our knees in worship.

May you and I have a vision of reality and surrender to it.  It’s the best good news for our lives that aligns us towards our true selves in Christ and redemption in this world.

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pastoral care, urbana18worship

Revelation Update #1

Revelation Update #1

Any Star Wars fans on the team?! 🙂

I tripped out when they came out with episodes 1-3, mostly because I couldn’t conceive the back stories they were going to tell. It didn’t make any sense to me so I rely on my son’s, Christopher and David, to relay the stories to me.

John’s writings in Revelation are kind of like Star Wars in the sense that the order they were released in doesn’t make sense. John’s visions aren’t sequential. This means that he could be sharing a vision and then the text says, “And then I saw…” and it’s a completely different episode…maybe episode 7 when he was just on episode 2.

One way to keep the story straight is to remember the main vision which begins at chapter 4: “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven.” (Rev. 4:1)

Paul Spilsbury says, “…John is summoned through an open door in the sky. On passing through this door he comes face to face with a panorama of breathtaking beauty and majesty–the throne room of God (if such a place could be called a room). This initial scene is the hub of the whole book. Everything that happens after it is like spoke, radiating outward from this vision of God on his throne…” (p.45)

If you ever feel lost in the book, go back to Revelation 4…and bow down in worship before the One who calls you his own.

If you want more Revelation resources, message me and I’ll send you what I have. And if you’ve found anything helpful on the book, let me know as well! 🙂

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Uncategorized, urbana18worship

Urbana18: Nothing new in Revelation

[NOTE:  This year, I have the opportunity to play drums for the Urbana conference and be the band chaplain.  From their site:

Urbana is a catalytic event bringing together a diverse mix of college and graduate students, faculty, recent graduates, pastors, church and ministry leaders, missions organizations and schools.

I’m posting thoughts/reflections on being musicians, ministers, and mission-minded that are shaped by scripture, tradition, and our own experiences.  This year, Urbana has chosen the theme “Faithful Witness” and the book of Revelation to discern our role in God’s mission for the world.  I’m also using a rubric of character, competency, chemistry, and culture to organize thoughts and ideas.]


Eugene Peterson says that there is nothing new being said in the book of Revelation.  I found that deeply profound given that my pentecostal/dispensationalist background gave me a sense that Revelation was about futuristic, catastrophic events occurring on earth.  Rapture.  Wars.  Famine.  Earthquakes.  The Anti-Christ (Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, The Pope, Barak Obama, Trump).

So when I read Psalm 93:1,25, I was yet again reminded of Peterson’s adage:  there’s nothing new being said.  God has been saying it “…in the beginning”.

The team has been thinking about Revelation 4-5, which has been dubbed “The Throne room scene”.  What John saw then is what the Psalmist says thousands of years prior:

1 The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;

the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.

2 Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.

Your statutes, Lord, stand firm;
    holiness adorns your house
    for endless days.

Why does the Lord reign?  And why is that good news?  And how does the Lord rule and reign?  That’s probably the most important question for me.  In other words, whose in charge and are they worthy of leading?

In the marketplace, a company takes its shape and form from the leaders (those who rule and reign).  The manner of leading trickles down the pike and influences each person.  Leadership is very important.  It sets vision and values which impact the culture of a company.

As Christians, we profess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  He rules and reigns with justice, mercy, and unfailing love.  That’s a great description of a leader!

As musicians leading people in worship, I’m a bit holy-scared!  How and why is that God would choose to use some rag-tag people with unclean lips and impure hearts to lead people into His throne room?  I’m not trying to paint a sad picture of our depravity, but in some ways, God’s presence doesn’t allow me to stay unexposed.  All things are brought to the light and because he rules with justice and mercy, I’m in good hands.

Someone taught early on my musician formation that we play because we motivated and compelled to worship the living God.  When I play at church, people come up to me and say, “I knew it was you playing today…I could feel you.”  That means a lot to me because I want every beat to a passionate prose of worship to the living God.  I’m captivated by this Jesus as King figure!  I’m moved by His love for me and for you.  And I want the music to reflect it.

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