Lead with Joy

We’re talking about trials this morning.

I’m not a fan.

But I am a fighter.

Consider it pure joy, James says, whenever you face trials of many kinds.

I want to dismiss him out of hand.

And then I read about the word consider.

It’s also translated lead.  Go before.  Go first.

I hear echoes of Joshua headed out to conquer Jericho.

It would make sense to lead with fighters.

The ones with strength and tools to dismantle a wall.

But the commander of the Lord’s army is clear.

Lead with the worshippers.  Lead with the ark—the tangible evidence of the presence of God.

Lead with a song.  With a shout.

Lead with joy.

Friends, the truth is that I feel like I am facing a wall.

A trial in the most literal sense.

And I want to lead with the fighters.

It makes sense.

And so I struggle to linger here

When there is strength to be built and tools to be gathered.

But I am choosing to lead with joy.

Not the giddy happiness that relies on circumstance.

But the settled hope of one who has seen redemption with my very own eyes.

The stubborn faith of one who knows the tangible evidence of the presence of God.

The day may come to fight.

And don’t you worry, I’ll be ready.

But this day, I am choosing to lead with joy.

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Love that surpasses knowledge

I’ve got two pages of sermon notes from the last couple of weeks.

Little seeds of thought that might or might not sprout into blog posts.

I’ve spent the past half hour staring at them and, friends, they are not sprouting tonight.

It’s this… this that is catching me.

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love may… know this love that surpasses knowledge.

(Ephesians 3:17-19)

I like knowledge.  Give me a Greek word and a concordance and I am in my glory.  I’m weird like that.

But here’s the thing.

It’s not knowledge that draws me to repentance.

It’s not knowledge that rescues me from my own mess.

It’s not knowledge that gives me hope for redemption that is so much bigger than me.

It’s Love.

During the closing song at church today, I felt a very clear call to respond in a specific way.

And you wanna know what?

My first response was nope.  Not happening.

And in the fifteen seconds that I wrestled with God, it wasn’t knowledge that won me over.

It was Love.

Love that’s never failed before.

Love that provides enough for our needs and more than enough for us to share. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Love that calls us to not be afraid, but just believe. (Mark 5:36)

Love that rescues us from our mess and amazes us with hope for the future.

Friends, if we know nothing else today, let’s know this.

Let’s know it together

This Love that surpasses knowledge.