This weekend I was back preaching at my church Journey. It seemed longer than it was since I preached at JCC. It was great to be back. We kicked off a series called MYSTERY that will culminate on the 3 services of Christmas Eve. The series is basically looking at those seemingly harmless Christmas card type phrases that really are loaded with destiny altering mystery & meaning. The one we looked at this week was IMMANUEL – GOD WITH US. We looked at Matthew’s account of the Birth of Jesus. The meaning of the story is punctuated with Matthew’s citation of Isaiah 7:14.
I loved the scripture reading. It seemed appropriate for this series:
Christmas is about God with US. In the providence of God I recently got my hands on Frank Laubauch’s book Letters by a Modern Mystic which is all about experiencing existentially the presence of Jesus. There is a very cool edition of this formerly out of print classic recently released with a wonderful forward by Dallas Willard.
We’ll be featuring it in our bookstore over the next couple of weeks.
Here’s the quote from the book that we had on the screen.
The sense of being led by an unseen hand, which takes mine while another hand reaches ahead & prepares the way, grows upon me daily. I do not need to strain at all to find opportunity… As for me, I never lived. I was half dead. I was a rotting tree, until I reached the place where I wholly, with utter honesty, resolved & then re-resolved that I would find god’s will. Frank Laubach – Letters by a Modern Mystic
Here are a few more personal reflections & highlights from my journal:
• The idea of recognizing God’s presence in our past as an intermediate step to recognizing it in our present was my favorite part of the message. I loved the spiritual exercises called “An Exercise in Sacred Memory” & wish I could have given it more time.
• JOSH HAWLEY was here on Friday afternoon & for the services. I loved hanging w/ JOSH on Friday. He’s such a great guy. He’s faithful & You’ve made him fruitful. Thanks for the blessing that he is to the church in Fresno.
• DEDICATING DAVE & KAREN’S BABY – What a privilege!
• Great SURF SESSION on Saturday morning. It was like playing w/ house money. I didn’t think I would be able to paddle out, but it worked & I was able to surf the NEW BOARD. I loved the way it surfed. It was fun catching a ton of waves & getting used to the channels.
• SELAH – I went there & started not really having much of an idea what You had in mind. Then J did that song about surrender & “no other gods before Your face” – I knew there were people fighting battles to really surrender. I fight them all the time. That seemed to break things loose & instead of me hoping for 7:15 to come ASAP, we ended up going long.
• Cookie’s prayer over me & the fam & her vision – aerating & the encouragement – that was cool.
• Visited my MOM on Saturday – not too bad & the trip was quite smooth. I am grateful.
This ministry season is a very intense one. It seems overwhelming at times. But its also one of the best times of the year.