There were so many evidences of God’s grace today that I don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll start with the morning. I woke up and got a text from Chris Barksdale, a brother in Christ who pastors The Hollywood Church not too far from where I live and where our church meets. He let me know he was praying for me and our church. That encouraged me this morning because I was discouraged about my sermon preparation and the final form of it going into this Sunday’s gathering. I thought it was flat and needed more, but there was no more time. And even though I don’t think the preaching went well this morning because of the flatness of the final form, I’m glad God answers the prayers of Chris and others who pray that God’s Word would bear fruit beyond my preparation and preaching.
The gathering today of CrossView Church was challenging for me this morning. It was hard to concentrate for a number of reasons. We had a first-time gathering leader. We had no microphones this morning. We tried to learn a new song with a song leader who had no mic. Bad idea. But God reminded me in the middle of that of what’s important in that moment, namely, resting in him and trusting that he has purposes behind all this. It’s easy for me as a pastor to be focused on the stuff going on and not God. And I didn’t focus on God well for the gathering on the whole. But in that moment of feeling unease God reminded me that he wanted my attention and focus. What a blessing.
Then God got me through the sermon and let me say true and biblical things that I trust will be used by him to encourage and build up the church. God’s grace overcomes flat sermons. I’m realizing how much I need to improve as a preacher and how bad my preaching can really be. Praise the Lord Jesus!
Lunch was good. I met with most of the men and challenged them to train hard in biblical conviction (doctrine) and character of life in accountability today. We’ll start training together next Sunday and I look forward to the months and years ahead with these men and the several ripple effects that will come about through them at CrossView and wherever God sends them in the future.
Our members’ meeting was good. I’m so bummed that two close siblings in Christ are leaving to Arizona! Eleazar and Heather are such a blessing to our church! I’ll miss them and the way they served us well. It was a joy to have El to lean on as a leader. God showed me growth in Heather serving other girls and engaging them with Christian intentionality which encouraged me regularly. We prayed for them and said a short good bye to them (it was way too short and abrupt for me but the circumstances couldn’t change it).
We decided as a church to take responsibility for the discipleship of 5 people, thus adding 5 members to our church. And we’re glad that these 5 will also be taking responsibility for us as Christians and committed to our church as a whole. Each member is a unique gift from God. I am excited to see some of the ways God will use them to build our church, exalt Christ, and evangelize the lost. And God will do it in and through them far more than I will ever be able to see with my limited perspective, knowledge, and awareness.
Frances and I got to hang with another brother today for the afternoon and dinner. This brother has been an encouragement to me ever since he became a Christian and hanging out with him was refreshing. I confessed to him my spiritual dryness and need for prayer and revival. We talked about God, our lives, church, work, and our mission in LA. And lots of laughing. I love laughing. Laughing at myself is a plus because I get laughter and a unique opportunity to grow in humility and not take myself so seriously.
This was quite a full Lord’s Day today. We even bowled with extended family and friends after dinner. The most encouraging thing for me from this day as best I can tell was time confessing where I’m weak to my brother. What a joy to benefit from the “streams of mercy never ceasing” from God, the fount of every blessing. I didn’t mention all the streams today. And I’m not even aware of the half of them.