Eugene Peterson, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Nexus of Discipleship

I am a person who loves the Scriptures, especially in the original languages.  I love to research the text, and learn what is said in the tongues of the writers themselves.  Four feet of my bookshelves are filled with books on Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Coptic, Akkadian, Syriac, Latin, and German books.  God gave me this aptitude for language.

I know the church can use someone like me.  I have no doubts of that.  I remained concerned as to what my place is in the church, since I do not know if they can handle me as a pastor.  

Several years, I attended a small group meeting led by some very good friends of ours.  One night, our small group was praying for Kresha and I, and someone spoke a word over me.  They said, you are a “professor to the people.”  This confirmed something the Lord specifically spoke to me about, in my calling to flow as a teacher to the body of Christ.  I love the church.  My heart is for the church.  My heart for the church is to see it deepen so it can bear the weight of what the Lord will set on her foundations.  My favorite group of believers to deal with is that category labeled the “doctors of the church.”  When I hear someone mention the “doctors of the church,” I think of people who many years from now, the church will look back on and say, this man or woman saved us a lot of trouble by teaching us this or that dynamic by the power of the Holy Spirit.  

I want to be that kind of man, like Gary McGee, who finished strong, taught the church much about her history, treated we his charges with the irenic dynamic utterly missing from so many scholars, and fought the battle with cancer in such a way that make many of us who don’t have cancer wish we lived our healthy lives the way he lived a life in illness.  

I want to be that kind of man, like David Falls, who endured the trials of malignment and slander as did David to Saul, and, after 10 years was vindicated by none except God Himself.

If such a calling, as “professor to the people,” places me in the context of a pastorate for the rest of my life, I want to attack that calling with the vigor Isaiah prophesied concerning those who waited on the Lord, and help my flock know the word of truth.  I want that congregation to shine like stars and hold out the word of life, in the midst of a dark world.  

If such a calling, as “professor to the people” places me with the chance at a post in a university, raising up the next generation of scholars, then I want to study to show myself approved, that my students shine like stars in the dark halls of that university.

Deitrich Bonhoeffer tells us about the difference between cheap grace and costly grace, and the call to discipleship.  I want to walk in my calling living according to the principle of costly grace, and I want to know that at the end of my life I did what I was called to do, like Eugene Peterson.  Between these two men of God, we gain a full understanding of what is means to handle the weight of discipleship, by which we make disciples, and men and women of God, who are able to handle the weight of the integrity for which the world will curse us like Job’s wife.  Are you ready for that weight?  It’s inconvenient all the time, and requires us to live in a state of normal that the world will find quite irritating.

For I live only to see Your face
So shine on me…

Did Someone Say LENT?

The following is from the desk of Jennifer Page.  I am with her.  This is one time of year I really enjoy for three reasons.  

1) I am joining many millions of believers in actual intercession, seeking to be more like Him and conformed to His death, that of our Lord.

2) Despite my obvious Pentecostal leanings, I remember what my Methodist pastor, Richard Nussel once told me. “Don’t forget where you come from.”  Unlike most Pentecostals I have encountered who came out of high-church traditions with the testimony they were delivered from that bondage, I actually hold my 14 Methodist years as a precious gift from God, during which my mother and the church of which I was part protected me from our hometown’s fundamentalists and evangelicals who balked at my understanding of salvation and relationship with Christ.  To this day, every time this year comes around, I remember to pray specifically for the movement of the Holy Spirit within the UMC, desiring the Lord break through and out amongst the membership.  I pray for the fruition of a dream I was given years ago in Nashville.  

3) I still affirm Wesley as the preeminent theologian of the last 500 years, who himself fasted Wednesdays and Fridays, and mandated the same practice on anyone upon whom he laid hands.  This is the reason so many modern day believers do not flow the way they should flow (independence from relying on the Holy Spirit).  They forget the part of the text that says, “WHEN you fast.” 

And so, without further adeiu:

From the desk of Jennifer Page

I’m actually the wierdo that LIKES this time of year when Christians all over the world enter a season of fasting and prayer together called Lent. (By the way, it starts TOMORROW! Are YOU ready…?)
Most often, those of us who participate in Lent will decide to give up something for the season, like chocolate. Most people I know like to grumble about this practice, and even fewer people I know actually do it, but I like to challenge myself to make each year harder than the one before. Over time, it grew to encompass more than just my diet.
For example, last year I gave up, among other things, sleeping in a bed, hot water for bathing, and changed my diet. Already accustomed to eating just one meal a day most of the time, I allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted for those meals only on Sundays and Wednesdays when I was going to be around my family or at church. The other five days out of the week, (when you weren’t looking), I could only have soup and bread once a day, and whatever I wanted to drink that wasn’t carbonated.
It wasn’t the uncomfortable rest sans bed or the freezing water for bathing that was hard. It was the work of going about my daily life, just another ordinary church-going neighborhood gal.
I got to see food, smell food, carry food, watch OTHER people EAT food, *and* clean up after them…all day long, five to seven days a week, (but never on Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights).
And if you wouldn’t mind tipping me, by the grace of GOD, I might be able to pay the bills this week. Thanks.
P.S. Don’t forget to smile.
…all Lent long. …and still keep up with daily study of the Scriptures and the regular office hours for prayer. (YOU try it, score a 10 on the nice scale, and thEn come talk to me.)
It was hard.
But that’s what I say on the other side of it now. Just like the year before that and the year before that. But going into Lent is always the same, too, even though what I do is different each year. Because I like to make it harder than it was the year before.
So every year there is always the same tension with GOD even though no two seasons of Lent have ever been the same from one year to the next. It usually goes something like this:
“NO-O-O…! I can’t…!” I yell at HIM honestly, tears streaming down my face. “How can YOU even ask me to do that?! That’s too hard! I CAN’T DO IT!!!” And I throw a two-year-old tantrum in the privacy of my living room alone with HIM.
“Exactly,” HE says to me.
You want to know what Lent is about? What does it mean? Why would you ever do you do that to yourself?
That’s it right there.
“NO-O-O…! I can’t…!How can YOU even ask me to do that?! That’s too hard! I CAN’T DO IT!!!”
That’s Lent.

Well put, sister Page.