Let Justice Run Down Like Water

The voice of your brother’s blood
cries out to Me from the ground.
                                                        – Genesis 4:10

I am ashamed that this week we, as a nation, are known for the words “I can’t breathe.” My heart breaks that George Floyd died crying out for mercy, as he did this week. I don’t know all the details of what happened leading up to the moments that George Floyd died. We may never fully know. And the details will never justify his death. But the fact that this happened as it did, I find myself thinking, “We can do better.”

In his 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. quoted the Prophet Amos, “But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream” (Amos 5:24). We can do better. We can pray for better. I think we would all agree that George Floyd’s blood cries out “let justice run down like water.” 

I do not believe that this terrible happening defines who we are as a nation in 2020. But it does remind us of how much we need the unifying mercy and grace that are only ultimately found in Jesus, through the gospel. And only when He rules and reigns will the cry of of the prophet Amos be fulfilled. 

Lord Come Quickly! 

Pastor Miles

P.S. I know that some will be tempted to read way too much into the words above. I ask that you stop, wait, and pray before you respond. I’ve thought and prayed a lot about what to say, if anything, as it regards this situation. Additionally, I would encourage all of you who name the name of Christ to not engage in arguments on social media at this moment. We would do well to remember the words of the apostle James, “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). 

What Do You Want Me To Do?

So he, trembling and astonished, said,
“Lord, what do You want me to do?”
                                                              – Acts 9:6

I’ve often thought that Paul’s question (above) from Acts 9 is one of the most important questions you and I could ask

Saul of Tarsus had spent (perhaps) years waging war against the early Christians. Finally, as he approached another city, seeking out followers of “the Way” (Acts 9:2), he was met by the risen Jesus. And as Saul lay on the ground, enveloped by the light of the glory of God, he asked, “Lord, what do You want me to do?

Those words are an acknowledgement of submission. They revealed that Saul was not only recognizing the truth that Jesus is Lord, but that he was also setting himself to follow and obey Him as such. Now, it is one thing to say the words, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” It is quite another thing to actually obey Him when He tells you “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Have you acknowledged the Lordship of Jesus in your life? Have you begun to seek His will? Have you set yourself to obey His word? Maybe you might say, “Well, I don’t know what He wants me to do! If only He would tell me, I’d do it.” There’s one really good way to know what Jesus wants you to do. He’s given us the revealed truth of His word, and He desires that we would hear and heed it.

Right now, in the midst of our Covid shutdown, a lot of people are taking this as an opportunity to ‘reboot’ and establish some new norms in their life. I hope you’ll take this opportunity to make God’s word a part of your regular daily routine, if you haven’t already. One of the simple ways you can begin to do that is by listening through the Scriptures with The Listening Plan, or The Daily OT

My Hope…

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

These words may be familiar to you. Especially if you grew up in a more traditional church. They were written by a hymn writer (Edward Mote) in the 19th century, and they’ve been song in churches worldwide, nearly ever since. I find that they fill my mind frequently when I am conftoned with challenging circumstances, which, in this life are both normal, and always temporary

Those two things are super important to remember and meditate upon. Trying times and challenging circumstances are normal, and always temporary. Even when they seem to go on for a prolonged period. 

As we find in the Psalms, that’s a good point for a SELAH (a short pause, to breath and think). 

We live in a world that is broken. I can’t reiterate that enough. We are reminded of the brokenness of this world a lot right now. And sometimes the brokenness of a broken world can be somewhat overwhelming. Our souls can be troubled. Has your’s been troubled recently? If so, it’s normal. And ultimately it is temporary. 

Mote’s hymn goes on to say …
I dare note trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand. 

I want to encourage you to take a moment to pause and breath, today (SELAH) … and to maybe mediate on Mote’s hymn. You can download the full lyrics, here

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18). He also wrote…
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
– 2 Cor. 4:17-18

I’ve shared these passages many times in the past, and quite a bit more recently. But they truly are worth thinking on. 

Just Thinking » Covid-19

It’s a Sunday afternoon. Most Sunday afternoons I get home from the church, right about this time (it’s 2:15pm), after preaching 3 messages. Today was the third Sunday I didn’t do that, because the message was recorded on Video, and played (and watched) online. This, as they say, is the “new normal” for churches. It is a strange new normal. Especially in that this is Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday and Easter (next Sunday) are really important “events” for pastors and churches. For all intents and purposes, they still are this year, but our celebration of them is entirely different. If you had asked me even two weeks ago if I thought we would be celebrating Palm Sunday and Easter online only, I would given an emphatic “no.” But here we are, our new normal. 

I have to say, I am really grateful for our leadership and staff team. I feel that our team members have adapted to this very well, and—as the leader of this team—I’m super blessed. Though it has been a fair amount of work to get it all moving in a new direction. Additionally, I’m really interested in seeing how God uses these challenging circumstances to move His church out, into the new marketplace (which, in 2020, is not so new, at this point). 

In Acts 8, God used trying circumstances to move the early church out of Jerusalem, and into Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts. Jesus had predicted this move in Acts 1:8. He promised that the Holy Spirit would fill and empower the Church, and that they would be witnesses in “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts.” But by Acts 8, the church was still in Jerusalem only. And it’s not like Acts 8 was only a few weeks after Acts 1. It is likely that Acts 8 was years after Acts 1. The church was stuck. 

The earliest work I did in ‘ministry’ was helping the church I grew up in (which happens to be the church I now pastor) get content online. In 1996 and 1997 I helped the church build its very first website. At that time we started archiving my pastor’s audio messages online using Real Audio (some of you might remember that technology). In the (nearly) quarter century that has passed, I’m sad to say that a lot of churches still have a website that looks like it was made in 1996, and they didn’t—until recently—have much in the form of audio/video content on their broken and old site. But trying circumstances have changed that. 

The trying circumstances of the early church (persecution, largely from Saul of Tarsus) pressured the church to move out, into the wide-open mission field they’d previously been called to and empowered for. And, if we can receive it, the trying circumstances of Covid-19 has pressured the church to move out into the wide-open mission field of the Internet; a place we should have been taking ground in all along.

Yes, the content that is being put out by a lot of churches is not (yet) highly produced. But at least the content is out there, and now we can get better and better at it. This is a good thing, and I am rejoicing in these trying circumstances, because I believe God is going to use this for His glory, and for the growth of His Kingdom!