Pastor’s Page June 2021

“Everybody’s talking and no one says a word,” began John Lennon’s song Nobody Told Me from the mid-70s. At the end of the previous decade, the movie Midnight Cowboy featured the song Everybody’s Talkin’ with the lines, Everybody’s talkin’ at me I don’t hear a word they’re sayin’ Only the echoes of my mind. Both songs captured the notion that we live in an age of endless noise and self promotion that has only been exasperated by the rise of the Inter- net, social media, and all its related technologies.

Poor Solomon could never have imagined this when he wrote in vexation in Ecclesiasts 12:12: “My son, beware of any- thing beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” After a while, all those words and voices become nothing more than noise. The more people talk, the less they add to the conversation, especially when they speak from their human nature.

And that’s the folly that the Bible speaks of throughout its pages. “Knowing better” than God has done nothing but gotten humanity in trouble since our days in the Garden of Eden. And yet, that’s what the majority of people traffic in when they discuss the Bible. It’s all about opinions over- laid on scripture or special verses cherry-picked out of con- text to defend one’s point.

I think we have a beautiful form of church governance. We are congregationally governed, which means the ultimate power and the last word rests in the hands of the gathered members of the church. However, to be truly effective, the gathered members have to be the priesthood of all believers (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6; I Peter 2:9) fully committed to serving God and worshiping Him in Spirit and Truth (John 4:23-24).

Being congregationally led isn’t an exercise in democratic decision making. In reality, it’s a monarchy which proclaims Christ as the Head of the whole body (Ephesians 5:23). The true member of the Church will have the mind of Christ and will stand in accord with

other members (Philippians 2:2). Therefore, when the body gathers in its truest form, there is no need for elections and there would be no division or differences of opinions. When we gather, we may begin from different perspectives—with disagreements even—but in the end, the Holy Spirit will bring us into a unity of thought, mind, and action. [A good example of this is found in Acts 15:1-35].

To accomplish this, we need to speak less and pray more. As I mentioned last month, that is why this summer, I am calling us to pray on a weekly basis. If you cannot be here, please pray at home. Commit to seeking the Lord and His Word for us. Come without pretense and with- out an agenda. Learn to pray to the point that your are exhausted so that the Spirit needs to intercede with groanings too deep for words (see Romans 8:26-27).

As Paul wrote in II Corinthians 12:10, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Our strength and our power comes from God and through the Holy Spirit. It is not from within ourselves. Therefore, we need to pray in such a manner. In prayer, we do not seek to validate ourselves, but to align ourselves with the heart of the Father. To do that, we pray in Christ and led by the Holy Spirit.

Doing so, transforms the nature of our prayers. Instead of delivering petitions to God for ourselves or those closest to us, we learn to pray for others, especially those truly other to ourselves. We discover how to pray for our enemies and those who would persecute us (Matthew 5:44). This is the power of prayer as it shapes our hearts to conform to the image of Christ as we are transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:1-2).

Prayer is more about letting go of self it is seeking the fulfillment of our desires and needs. That is why prayer and fasting often go hand-in-hand. Fasting is about letting go of the things of this world, so we can better grasp hold of God and recognize that He is our all-in-all.

I hope and pray that you will be able to join in the times of prayer. I pray that you will come with a humble heart seeking to hear and with a desire only to speak when prompted by the Holy Spirit. I hope you will dedicate yourself to fasting in preparation. My desire is that you give yourself wholly to God, seeking His holiness and

righteousness as it comes to us in Christ. Even if you can- not be here in person, I hope you will pray during those times and in additional times with other members of our local church and the larger Church.

The more we pray, the more we will hear from the Lord. Like the Apostles gathered in Jerusalem on that first Pentecost, the message we receive may come in different languages, but it will be the same message that helps to unify our congregation (Acts 2). That unifying message eventually leads to transformed lives to those who hear, which causes actions of true ministry—the mark of true disciples. In turn, the ministry of proclamation and service in Christ lead to growth in the Church and changed lives all around (Acts 2:42-47). But it all begins in prayer (Acts 1:14).

This is a time to heed the prophet Joel’s cry:

Consecrate a fast;

call a solemn assembly.

Gather the elders

and all the inhabitants of the land

to the house of the Lord your God,

and cry out to the Lord.

Joel 1:14

These are the days to gather and pray and cry out to the Lord.

With love and faith and service,

Pastor Randall