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Pastor, Writer, Contemplative

Archive for Lent

Finding Serenity As A Church Planter

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COMPLAINT

I have found myself laboring and complaining. Looking up at God and wondering worrying fretting about the fruit and the Harvest. I wonder why toil is so… toilsome. I wonder why by the sweat of our brow we make our bread. I wonder and question God, more than a little resentful. Exhausted. Tired. And with no choice but to press on.

But then I look at my hands.

STRONGER

They are bronzed and hardened and strong. They have worked the earth and tilled the soil. I look at my faith. It has worked wonders, seen miracles because it has learned to extract Self from the equation of life. I have grown stronger through such seasons of life.

SERENITY.

I am learning that the secret to being content is serenity in the midst of all and any of life’s storms. I’ve given up trying to avoid storms or control them. Futility. I merely accept them now, and walk the path I must follow today with whole-hearted acceptance. Thank you God for serenity. Thank you that I am not afraid anymore. Thank you that i am stronger.

The Concluding Prayer of the Church

God, you have prepared in peace the path I must follow today. Help me to walk straight on that path. If I speak, remove lies from my lips. If I am hungry, take away from me all complaint. If I have plenty, destroy pride in me. May I go through the day calling on you, you, O Lord, who know no other Lord.

– Ethiopian

Holy Week Maundy Thursday: Seeing With Eyes To See

blindSeeing

MAUNDY THURSDAY, April 17

Mark 10:46 Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.”

Many years ago a boy born with congenital blindness was offered a then-state of the art corneal transplant. After the lengthy recovery and the bandages were removed, the momentous occasion signaled the obvious pressing question: “What do you see?” To which an equally unremarkable response: “I don’t know.” The boy perceived a varying brightness in front of him. Requesting to touch that moving thing, and upon making eye-hand contact with the physician’s waving hand, he excitedly exclaimed, “It’s moving!” Doctors and philosophers alike learned at that moment that “turning on the lights” does not necessitate sight, but the ability to see had still to be learned; light and eyes were not enough, and in that regard to give back sight to a congenitally blind person was just as much the work of an educator as it was of a surgeon.

Jesus was very much concerned in this passage (and in the preceding) with spiritual sight, as much as He was concerned with physical sight. This story of the blind man in many ways frames the larger theme of spiritual sight and (in)ability to see “with eyes to see and ears to hear.” And along the way, surprisingly, it is so often the blind who are given access to true Sight while those who think they see the most are truly blind.

Don’t be deluded; is your “sight” Sight?

For true seeing is so often precipitated by the admission that we don’t yet see, or understand yet. In that sense, Easter is for the doubting, for the faltering. It is in this posture, this admission that “I do not yet see” that we can be granted sight as a gift; I have been reading the classic by C.S. Lewis, Surprised By Joy. What an apt title. In his pursuit of Joy, it eluded, and only in the admission of its loss did it come as surprise.

These remaining Holy Days stay your vigil. Your number WILL be called. It will surprise you when it comes. And you will be blessed. So “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.”
– PW


This Holy Week, we at Harvest will be bringing to you daily reflections from Pastor Wayne’s study through Mark to aid you in your own personal reflection and prayers throughout this last week of Lent. If you are in the Houston area, join us for EASTER SUNDAY at Harvest at 9:30am!

Holy Week Wednesday: The Upside-Down Community

Keith Haring, Ten Commandments

WEDNESDAY, April 16

41 Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John. 42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Years ago in the 1960’s, Illinois was issuing automobile license plates, starting with the number “1”. Paul Powell, then Illinois secretary of state, had to decide who would get the much-coveted number. Much to the indignation of thousands, he decided to solve the problem by assigning it to himself. His reason? “I’m not about to assign it to someone and make about a thousand other people feel hurt.” So he conveniently assigned it to himself.

The opportunism and the resentfulness directed at it is not lost on us in today’s passage. By seeking to be “first in line” the Zebedee brothers took self-help profiteering to ugly new heights. And we all feel indignant about it. Because we wish we had done it first. They were only smarter and faster. Next time we will be.

And thus begins the vicious cycle of envy, jealousy, ambition, competitiveness, and finally unbridled will to power.

See how devilish we become.

C.S. Lewis, in remarking on his own beginning transformation into the Christian faith recognized the stark, unbudging evil within: “For the first time I examined myself with a seriously practical purpose. And there I found what appalled me; a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds. My name was legion.”

Of all the unchallenged evils within us, will to power seems to be the most tolerated, almost acceptable in society. After all we live by the maxims, “the early bird gets the worm”, “God helps those who help themselves.”

I warn against such unbridled self-preservation.

The Gospel of the Upside-Down Community challenges this notion of unabashed self-advancement, and replaces it with the counter-cultural notion of placing others first; not subjugating but serving, not wielding power but giving it up.

This Holy Week we are reminded that “even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” May you find deep dignity and gratification as you re-direct your self-will towards others instead and live a life of service and unselfishness.

– PW


This Holy Week, we at Harvest will be bringing to you daily reflections from Pastor Wayne’s study through Mark to aid you in your own personal reflection and prayers throughout this last week of Lent. If you are in the Houston area, join us for EASTER SUNDAY at Harvest at 9:30am!

Holy Week Tuesday: “What Do You Want Me To Do For You?”

Jesus washes his disciples' feet - John 13:1-17

TUESDAY, April 15th

35 James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

When I was about five or six, I was visiting Coney Island with my dad. We stood before The Cyclone, a legendary, rickety roller coaster that seemed as benign to me as the rollercoasters I saw people riding on TV. Until I actually got in the seat and began the horrifying ascent towards the sky, feeling every rail tick and crick by, I realized how deluded I really was about the actual experience; I endured ten minutes of sheer and constant torture that culminated with me back on the ground, vomiting up all of my previously-eaten ice cream. Of course before all this began, before I hopped in the saddle, my dad would ask me with a bemused, knowing look on his face… “Are you able to do this?” “Positive” I said. “I am able.”

Fresh off the heels of Jesus’ grim pronouncement, the Zebedee brothers are looking out for number one: themselves. It is opportunism, profiteering, and self-seeking at its worst. Add to the mix that they really “did not know what they were asking.” Jesus seems to patiently go along with their little pipe dream of glory, without bursting their bubble: “Are you able to do this?” When they say succinctly, “We are able”, I get the sense they still don’t know what they’ve really signed up for. The roller coaster life of discipleship – the actual experience of it – would be no joyride, and it would indeed culminate with their “drinking the same cup” and “being baptized with the same baptism” of Christ.

Knowing in retrospect what He’s talking about, would you still get on the ride?

There is another thing about this passage too important not to mention at least briefly, in closing. Keep it in mind because it will come up again later. Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” This deliberately worded phrase is repeated again later on. Amidst all the talk of glory and titles, Jesus is waiting tables. He is service-minded. He will mention later on about how the true path to glory is not in “subjugating” or “wielding power over others” (literal translations) but coming in and among as waiters, attendants, servants, slaves. One of my professors at Regent, J.I. Packer describes being a servant as “devoting time, trouble, and substance.”

If I can summarize what servanthood means for me today:

It is stepping outside of myself to do for others what has no benefit for me; simply giving for the joy of giving. The result is something no self-seeking can attain – deep and abiding Joy, selfless Joy.

May we find another Way, another Path to glory this week that is not through accolades, ambition, and accomplishment, but rather the way of constant downward movement, subverting our own impulses to power, and taking the posture of servants instead.

– PW


This Holy Week, we at Harvest will be bringing to you daily reflections from Pastor Wayne’s study through Mark to aid you in your own personal reflection and prayers throughout this last week of Lent. If you are in the Houston area, join us for EASTER SUNDAY at Harvest at 9:30am!