A Pilgrim Prayer for Nomads

For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10)

Abraham the nomad for God and His purposes is also Abraham the pilgrim. At one level, Abraham and Sarah’s journey feels random and strange. They leave their homeland and their extended support network. They leave what is known for what is unknown. From the outside, it could seem that they are merely wandering nomads.

But the eyes of faith see something else. Abraham and Sarah hear God and respond. They live each day, aware of God’s guiding hand and watchful for God’s interrupting grace that will point them toward what is next. Abraham and Sarah wait. They step forward and step back They works and rest. They succeed and they fail. They travel and they are still. And all of this happens in relation to the leading of God. This is the blessed way of those, as Psalm 84:5 says, “whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”

Lord, lead me into the pilgrim way of faith seen in Abraham and Sarah. Though my ways sometimes feel more like nomadic wanderings than anything else, help me to discern Your hand in the midst of my day. And so, Lord, give me Your vision and guide me into Your purposes for my life that I every day and hour might draw me closer to You than to anything or anyone else. Open my ears to hear and my eyes to see. Strengthen my mind to understand and my heart to yearn for You. In this earthly way be my eternal home both for now and always.

One: The Being of God in the Life of the Church – a new series at Eastbrook

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This coming weekend at Eastbrook Church we began a five-week preaching series entitled “One: The Being of God in the Life of the Church.”

Unity is one of the most popular words about human relationships, yet one of the most elusive realities of human existence. In this series we will explore unity from both theological and practical angles, beginning with the nature of God before moving into the positional and developmental unity of the church, the place of prayer in unity, and the ultimate vision of unity for the church. Along the way, we will also talk about practical guidance for living in unity.

You can also join in with a daily devotional for this series here.

Join us each weekend of this series in-person or via Eastbrook at Home.

We’re Family, part 2: David Kasali

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church we continued our annual MissionsFest, a two-week journey of awareness, engagement, and growth with God’s mission. So much has been affected by the pandemic, including having international guests with us. The first weekend we were privileged to hear from Nashat Filmon of the Palestinian Bible Society via video direct from Jerusalem. This past weekend we heard from our good friend, Dr. David Kasali of Congo Initiative and Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo. Dr. Kasali is one of my modern-day heroes of the faith, who I first met many years ago during my time on staff at World Relief and have been blessed to continue to cross paths with for these last several years.

You can view his message video and outline for the message is below. You can follow along with MissionsFest here and the devotional that accompanies the series here. You could always join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.

What Happens When the Church is Activated on Mission?

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

In the book of Acts we see the Holy Spirit set the early believers ablaze for the work of God. We encounter Peter, who steps forth with boldness to preach the good news and thousands come to believe Jesus is the Messiah. We see bold people like Stephen, who speaks of Christ and it costs him his life, and Philip, who shares across cultural and religious barriers to bring the Samaritans to Jesus. We see an enemy of Christ, Saul of Tarsus, become a passionate evangelist and bold church planter, the Apostle Paul.

Acts is an active book where we see the church activated on mission. What does it look like when individual believers and church communities are activated by God for His work? Suffice it to say that things happen.

But let’s look at something we could miss here. Acts is an active book but we also see two things in Acts that Christianity is not about.

Christianity—following Jesus—does not leave us much space for being boring or apathetic. Sometimes in the midst of the world, with all the needs, all the challenges, all the serious situations, we can become overwhelmed by the needs. This sometimes leads us to turn away from the needs of the world, focusing on our own lives and challenges. Essentially, we become apathetic. But activated churches and Christians are not apathetic or boring. They are engaged with the needs of the world because God cares about people and the needs of the world. God is an active, giving missionary God.

At the same time, even though Acts is an active book, it is not a busy book. In fact, there is a big difference between being busy and being active. The early church was activated by the Holy Spirit to join in with God in a focused way for God’s mission. But the early church was not meaninglessly busy. Some of us, when we become Christians, think that we are to become busy for the kingdom. But there is not a lot of space for busyness in the activated church. Some of us need to remember that God is not all that interested in uncommanded work. He wants us to join in with His kingdom mission but not to be aimlessly rushing around with whatever captures our attention in the moment. In fact, what captures our attention may lead us away from the activated mission God has for us. As a wise mentor once shared with me: we may need to consider whether we are more in love with the work of the Lord than we are in love with the Lord of the work.

Activated Christianity is not about being boring and neither is it about being busy. Activated Christianity is not about apathy to the world’s need nor is it about frenzied activity. The book of Acts shows us that the church is activated by the power of the Holy Spirit for the mission of God in the world.

The Demand of Jesus

Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39)

Jesus demands our first love and allegiance. He has not come to be one among many loves but first over all loves. Even our familial ties—the closest of our relationships—must fall lower in priority than Jesus, who is Lord.

Who or what do we love most in our lives? If the decision was before us and we had to choose between that person or thing and Jesus, which would we really choose? We may readily say it would be our Savior, but does our daily life, use of time and money, and all other pursuits show that to be true?

Jesus calls us to a sacrificial life in pursuit of Him. This is a life that may appear as a cross-marked life or a losing life, but that is only because what we often call “life” is not truly life in God’s way. Jesus must first be the touchstone of all existence for us and when He is that we will begin to see what true life is all about.

Are we willing to “die” as we turn toward Jesus? What are we still grasping that we need to release before Him?