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HomeChurchesRev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column

Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column

by John Howard Farmer

Visit the Irvington Baptist Church website

Time to get moving

Sometimes our faith gets so comfortable that we fail to take appropriate actions for our own good. While we’re all shut in perhaps we can reconsider how we intend to proceed whenever it is safe to do so.

Wait, I know that we are encouraged to “wait upon the Lord,” (Psalms 37:9). But we are not to be lethargic. God, who so wonderfully made us, gave us a grand computer lodged between and betwixt our ears. Coupled with our hearts, we have a perfect duo for doing the Lord’s will.

Yes, we often rush on ahead of God. Then beseech him to undo what we have just done. 

I know all this. Yet I encourage each of us to get on with matters at hand. I suppose what I dare risk is that we are called upon to act upon our faith. God planned the grand escape from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 6-14), after they had lived there 430 years. God called Moses to serve and gave him the commission to succeed and a helper as well (Aaron)… all that notwithstanding he expected him to get on with it.

God had prepared the way. God dealt with Pharaoh in miraculous actions. Moses had the bones of Joseph under his arm and his eyes set for the Holy Land.

Moses was spoiled. God had weighed in with astonishing power. Through frogs, snakes, fish, blood and death he had worked miracle after miracle in the courts of power. Yet he held a hard hand on Pharaoh and then wrenched the slaves from his grip. I believe that Moses got a big head over the power. He slowed in his actions and begged God to “do it again, Lord.” Boy, do I hear myself in that plea. Do it again, Lord, do it again.

Sometimes I forget that God has given me feet, which can take me away from danger. I tend to forget that God gave me a heart with which to love myself. He gave me mercy and grace to free me from the consequences own sin and guilt. 

God finally said to Moses “stop praying and tell the people to get moving,” (Exodus 14:15). Wow, doesn’t that fly in the face on “wait upon the Lord?” Not really but it does get us to start to realize that God has set the path—but, it is of little use if we fail to walk the way. Our faith lacks muscle when it does not call us to accountability. I am a free moral agent, responsible to God for my actions and equally important, for my lack of same.

The message of God of old, to Moses, is still applicable to those of us propose to lead his contemporary followers. Our job is at least in part, to get the people moving. Often it will be a sizable task. God holds the power and looks for people willing to do the work. Moses was given a flock entrenched with over six generations of business as usual.

For all my love and appreciation of the way things are, and were, I feel a compulsion to nudge the flock over which God has called me to “get moving.” It is not a leadership quality that some appreciate. 

If Christian churches are guilty of any corporate sin, it is that of over massaging the days gone before. Rather, we should be praying, asking, studying and preparing, to lead the church into God’s future. We don’t even have to understand what that future holds. But be careful. God gave Moses the authority to lead, not drive, the believers out of slavery. Those of us in office at local churches are in part responsible for having kept the flock of God feeling guilty. Guilt enslaves us all.

Most of the models for successful church growth are rarely applicable in the Northern Neck. Many of these very successful models have at their heart major programs involving youth. The only problem with that is that our God is giving us men and women, on a journey here, that already own considerable seniority. Ours is a community welcoming middle age retirees from afar and locals maturing by the pewful.

So what’s a pastor to do? Don’t ask me. Ask God. I recognize that it is easier to sit back and say we ought to do something for the young people. I am guilty as well. Many of my weekly Reflections are slanted toward the youngsters around the area. Look carefully at the flock to which God has called you. How many women in your charge are wearing maternity clothes? How many young married couples are you signing on? In church after church our newcomers are in fact retirees, with gifts, skills and talents….and needs.

How is it, do you think, that God wants us to act? Galvanize those who were there when you came with those who’ve come after. Together follow God to the promised land. There is no one model that will work universally. Just make sure that the model properly reflects the issues and interests of those to whom we’ve been called to serve. 

Pastoral ministries are not always evangelical ones. Yes the message of salvation always has a high place in every church. The one model that will not fail is the one of servanthood. How well are we pastors at leading, teaching, making disciples of folks willing to be servants among us? There is plenty of work to do in the vineyards in which we work. Look about your flock. Build on the foundation before you. Forget about what’s over in the other pasture and “get the people moving!”

Sure Moses’ faithful folks set free, grumbled loudly; but God held Moses accountable for the journey. He had already set the destination.

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