Love built a stately house, where Fortune came,
And spinning fancies, she was heard to say
That her fine cobwebs did support the frame,
Whereas they were supported by the same;
But Wisdom quickly swept them all away.
The Pleasure came, who, liking not the fashion,
Began to make Balconies, Terraces,
Till she had weakened all by alteration;
But rev’rend laws, and many a proclamation
Reforméd all at length with menaces.
Then enter’d Sin, and with that Sycomore
Whose leaves first sheltered man from drought and dew,
Working and winding slily evermore,
The inward walls and Sommers cleft and tore;
But Grace shor’d these, and cut that as it grew.
Then Sin combin’d with death in a firm band,
To raze the building to the very floor;
Which they effected,–none could them withstand;
But Love and Grace took Glory by the hand,
And built a braver Palace than before.
George Herbert, The World
This quote is a big winner each time it’s posted, it hits hard and in the ribs. This week I came across the full context of the quote in Peterson’s work, Under the Predictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness. It’s among the last of sabbatical reads that I am finishing up, and I thought the page this oft-shared snippet comes from would be worth posting. It’s in the middle of a section regarding the importance of place and locality to ministry – that pastoring is irrevocably intertwined with the soil your church lives in.
…the more local life is, the more intense, more colorful, more rich it is, because it has limits. There are boundaries to the local. Nineveh is three days’ journey across. These limits, instead of being interpreted as limitations to be broken through, are treasured as boundaries to be respected. No farmer looks on his or her fences as restrictions to be broken down or broken through as a sign of progress. The fense is a border, defining the place. When I know what is mine, I know also what is not mine, and can live as a neighbor.
This has immense applications for pastoral work. For one thing, it locates our work in what we can actually do, among the people for whom we have primary responsibility. For several decades now, under the influence of the myth of progress and in ignorance of the craft, the term pastor has been a gunnysack into which all sorts of tinker’s damns have been thrown. We run all over town, from committee to committee, conference to conference, organization to organization, doing all manner of good work, scattering seed in everybody’s field but our own. Very often our reason for doing this is that it seems more important than the humble task we have in our own parish; it seems more urgent, and it certainly gets more publicity. But if we can discipline ourselves to our parish, our congregation, we will find something far better. Teilhard de Chardin was not a pastor but a scientist. He gave, though, accurate witness to pastoral experience when he wrote, “I discovered that there could be a deep satisfaction in working in obscurity—like leaven, or a microbe. In some way, it seems to me you become more intimately part of the world.” The pastoral itch to be “where the action is” should be resisted.
This summer I’ve been reading the work of George Herbert, and it has been deeply encouraging. I’ll be posting some of his work on a weekly basis for a while. A friend points to the practice of reading poetry as a means to force yourself to slow down and fall in step with the author. Herbert’s work has done this for me in spades. Enjoy!
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d any thing.
A guest, I answer’d, worthy to be ere:
Love said, you shall be he.
I the unkind, the ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love too my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?
Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.
George Herbert (1593-1633)
things will be slow here for a while, not that they have been fast to begin with.
my family is entering into a season of sabbatical over the summer – something I am grateful that our church provides for the pastors.
i’ve got more than enough books to read and am trying to set my page-turn expectations low, but the nap quotient high.
as I close things out tonight and tomorrow I’m thinking on these two statements from dallas willard:
You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.
The most important thing in your life is not what you do; it’s who you become. That’s what you will take into eternity.
Hoping this time brings depth in life through slowness of heart, and affects not only who I’m becoming, but my family.
if you think of it, we’d love your prayers for our time together.
Life is busy, and it’s easier to dream of escape than to face the reason we stay busy: We crave distraction to avoid feeling things at a heart level.
Sitting in a room of pastors, talking about the need for becoming a more wholehearted and centered person, I couldn’t help but blurt out, “It will just require slowing down, and that’s frustrating.”
The tension in my heart fit the words on my lips because life doesn’t slow down anymore. Wanting to think clearly, seize moments and live wholly—these ideals are lost before my email inbox, the vibration of a device and the next meeting to lead. It’s the phone in our hand for no particular reason, the handful of apps we check multiple times a day, the inability to shut it off and be in one place with oneself for one hour. When we turn the device off, it’s the disconnect that can be frustrating, creating impatience, anxiety and shortness of heart because we’re no longer used to taking a guilt-free moment of quiet for ourselves or the people we are with.
It’s frustrating to slow down.
Here is where a pastor and two sociologists are helping me. God is using their words to help slow the pace of my heart when I can’t control the pace of the world around me. While there is nothing new under the sun, these are concepts I’m asking the Lord to help me truly learn and put into practice.
Read the rest on The Village Church Blog
In an effort to provide examples of testimonies of faith to his church, Jonathan Edwards penned sample testimonies that he would accept into membership.
I read through these tonight and was encouraged by the language. I’ve been away from my friend for some months as reading seminars have picked back up – so it’s nice to spend some time with his work.
Here’s a sample of what I found:
I do now appear before God and his People solemnly & publickly to profess, so far as I know my own Heart, the following Things: namely that I do believe that there is one only living & true God, who is the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost, who is the great Creatour and supream Lord of Heaven & Earth; and having been made sensible of his divine supreme Glory & Excellency, do Chuse Him for my only God and Portion, chusing conformity to Him & his service and the Enjoyment of Him as my highest & sweetest Good: And as my Parents gave me up to Him in my Baptism so now I profess to give up my self my Heart & my all to Him. I believe that God at first made man in his own Image, & entred into a Covenant of Life with Him, forbidding Him to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; But our first Parents fell by eating the forbidden Fruit, exposing Themselves & their Posterity to the wrath of God & Eternal death; But God in mercy sent his son in our Nature to redeem & save us. And I now profess to yield the Consent of my Heart to that Covenant of Grace which was seal’d in my Baptism, and to comply with my Part in that Covenant . namely that in a sense and full Conviction of my own utter sinfulness misery & Impotence, & Just desert of Gods Eternal Rejection & wrath without mercy, and the utter Insufficiency of my own Righteousness, I do with all my Heart believe the Truth of the Gospel of Christ; and having been made sensible of Christs glorious Excellency & sufficiency as a saviour, and the Excellency of the way of salvation by free Grace through his Blood & Righteousness; and by the Holy sanctifying Influences of his Blessed spirit, effectually disposing to holiness of Life; I profess to receive Him as my saviour, my Heart cleaving to Him and Acquiescing in Him as the Refuge and Rest of my soul & Fountain of my Comfort; And renouncing all ways of sin to accept of Christ as my King and great Example to follow Him & obey Him in all Things as long as I live, making my Temporal Interest & Pleasure in all Things to give Place to his will & Honour . I renounce all the Enjoyments of this world from being my Happiness, and Chuse Heaven for my everlasting Inheritance and Home . And as I now desire publickly to Join my self to the People of Christ, I profess to be united in Heart unto Them as Brethren of Christ, resolving to serve & follow Christ our common Lord, in union & fellowship with to the End of my Life, and to perform all those duties that belong to Them as members of the same Family of God & mystical Body of Christ. And as I desire to be admitted to the Lords supper, that Feast of Love, I profess an universal Forgiveness, Love & Good-will towards mankind; and promise to be subject to the Government of this Church during my abode here.
The Online Yale Edwards’ Collection is a treasure trove to be plundered.
The last few months I have been working and reworking my way through Zack Eswine’s work, The Imperfect Pastor.
Many nights I could only make it through 2-3 pages before I had to put it down, pray, and examine what was happening in my heart as I read.
Zack’s done a few podcast interviews lately (here and here). At the tail end of the latest one, In the Room, host Ryan Huguley asks,
What is it that you would want to say to young pastors and church planters? When you think back on yourself 20 years ago, what do you wish that you would have known? What would you say to yourself?
Now it’s not 2-3 pages that I have to pause, pray, and examine – it’s merely a few sentences spoken aloud:
That you’re already enough. Before you had the title of pastor or church planter, you prayed and The Lord heard your prayers. You looked to Jesus and The Lord was faithful to you. He was your portion and you were His.
Before you were ever a pastor or did anything like that, He was already enough for you, and you were already enough for Him.
Don’t let false ministry measures rob you of that truth.
Yea, that’s what I’d say.
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.