El libro de Lucas me cautivó

En mi curso de NT este trimestre, se nos pidió que escribiéramos una explicación simple de una Parábola, dando su entorno, propósito, temas, etc.

Seré honesto cuando diga que nunca me he sentado y leído la totalidad de Lucas y Hechos de una sola vez. Fue muy revelador. Las conexiones entre las historias, el énfasis en los pobres y luego darse cuenta de que Lucas escribió su evangelio para animar a los primeros cristianos. Recopiló las historias específicas que eran tradiciones orales, otros escritos, etc. y las unió en este orden específico para un propósito específico.

En lugar de compartir mi propia escritura, quiero compartir un extracto de mi libro de texto. Este libro está sacudiendo mi mundo. Nunca he leído la Biblia como diSilva escribe sobre ella.

Este es un artículo titulado Lucas y formación ministerial.

David Arthur DeSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation, Second Edition. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2018). p 325-328

Dando forma a una comunidad de restauración.

La compilación de dichos y parábolas de Lucas centrada en el corazón de Dios para los perdidos indica claramente su deseo de nutrir el mismo corazón entre las comunidades de discípulos. La iglesia que toma en serio la palabra de Lucas será una comunidad de misericordia y amor, que buscará activamente la restauración de las personas caídas, reflejando el carácter del Dios que convocó a la comunidad.

 

Lucas le da a sus sucesores, a saber, líderes cristianos contemporáneos, la tarea continua de construir el tipo de comunidad que puede convertirse en un lugar para que los quebrantados encuentren sanidad. Solo cuando los miembros individuales de la iglesia sean conquistados por la visión de un Dios que busca y salva a los perdidos, que sana a los quebrantados de corazón y que anhela impartir su santidad e integridad a nuestros seres fragmentados y quebrantados, una iglesia cumplirá su servicio a Dios y al mundo.

 

Uno de los obstáculos para lograr este fin es nuestra tendencia dentro de la iglesia a enmascarar nuestra propia caída y quebrantamiento, poner nuestra mejor cara en la iglesia y no confiar en los demás para ayudarnos a buscar la restauración completa de Dios de nuestras propias vidas. Actuamos como Simón el fariseo, que de hecho puede creer que tiene poco que necesita ser perdonado, por lo que no somos libres de prodigar amor a otros, como la mujer que sabía que había sido perdonada mucho y perdonado profundamente (Lucas 7: 36- 50)

 

Esa historia nos anima a enfrentar los pecados que nos pesan, a ser dueños de ellos para que podamos ser liberados de ellos y experimentar la libertad de expresar el amor y la gratitud que siguen. También dirige a la comunidad de fe a responder a tal vulnerabilidad como lo hizo Jesús en lugar de como lo hizo Simón. Es decir, la comunidad no puede responder a alguien que sufriría heridas graves o vulnerabilidad a la tentación al sugerir que dicha actividad está fuera de lugar entre las personas respetables.

 

Solo cuando la iglesia tome el carácter de un grupo de “Pecadores anónimos” veremos que ocurre una transformación profunda e interna. Cuando existe un espíritu de comunidad, la iglesia puede convertirse en un refugio para todos los que buscan huir del pecado y la ira venidera, donde aquellos que aún no se han encontrado con el corazón de Dios pueden encontrar no condenación, sino amor, restauración y libertad. Una forma de vida dañina vivida aparte de Dios.

 

Lucas busca nutrir una comunidad que valora e invierte no solo en facilitar la restauración del pecador y los perdidos, sino también en la liberación de aquellos atados por ciclos de pobreza u opresión en cualquier forma (Lc 4: 16-19). La parábola del hombre rico y Lázaro (Lucas 16: 19-31) y el ejemplo de Zaqueo (Lucas 19: 1-10) declaran que no podemos ser íntegros hasta que seamos sensibles y respondamos a las necesidades de nuestros hermanos y hermanas indigentes. . La difícil situación de los pobres es una enfermedad social, y mientras nuestros corazones permanezcan endurecidos ante los necesitados, con nuestras anteojeras puestas y nuestro enfoque en otra parte, nosotros mismos participamos en esa enfermedad.

El Evangelio de Lucas, como el Cuarto Evangelio, presta más atención al papel de los samaritanos en el ministerio de Jesús. La animosidad entre judíos y samaritanos está bien documentada en el Nuevo Testamento (Mt 10: 5; Lc 9: 51-56; Jn 4: 9; 8:48) y tiene profundas raíces en la historia de Israel (las tensiones y conflictos entre los reinos divididos de Israel y Judá, con sus centros de culto rivales de Gerizim y Jerusalén; las historias divergentes de Israel y Judá, ya que cada uno fue sometido a una experiencia diferente de exilio y retorno).

 

Sin embargo, los samaritanos se destacan en el Evangelio de Lucas como modelos ejemplares de discipulado (Lc 10:33; 17:16) y en Hechos como el objetivo de la misión cristiana (Hechos 8). De esta manera, Lucas proporciona un modelo de cómo los discípulos de Jesús deben mirar a aquellos que son designados como forasteros, que “no son de nuestra especie”, que viven en el “lado equivocado” de algún conjunto de pistas según los estándares de etnia, religión , nacionalidad u orientación sexual. Jesús y la iglesia primitiva miraban a los samaritanos desde el punto de vista del plan de Dios, que buscaba la restauración de la casa de David, de la cual los samaritanos (a pesar de las extenuantes objeciones de los judíos) formaban parte, y por lo tanto se esforzaron. por su redención y su inclusión.

 

A medida que seguimos escuchando el llamado de Dios para llevar su salvación a todos, se nos desafía audazmente a cruzar esos límites dibujados humanamente y no mirar a cada persona a través de la lente de ningún prejuicio humano o responder en especie cuando hablan a nosotros por su prejuicio (ver Lucas 9: 51-56) pero para buscar su redención en el amor de Dios.

 

Liberando a los creyentes de las ideologías nacionales.

 

Las cosas no han cambiado mucho. Ya sea que vivamos en China, Alemania, América Latina o los Estados Unidos, nacemos y crecimos en una ideología que promueve y apoya los valores, poderes y sistemas de esa sociedad.

 

Lucas ejemplifica una tarea esencial de todo líder cristiano: la articulación clara de una ideología distintivamente cristiana. Esto invita a los discípulos a descubrir dónde los valores y suposiciones que han asimilado desde la infancia difieren de los valores y propósitos de Dios para la humanidad y la comunidad cristiana.

 

En efecto, esto significa liberar a los discípulos de reducir su respuesta al evangelio a lo que encaja perfectamente en las estructuras de valores, expectativas e instituciones de la sociedad secular. Al igual que los lectores de Lucas, las iglesias modernas podrán tomar un testigo revolucionario (sin embargo, también como las comunidades de Lucas, sin una revolución sangrienta).

 

Esta es quizás una de las tareas más apremiantes para el cristianismo estadounidense, cuya historia distintiva (con su ideología de la “nación cristiana”) ha tendido a reducir el cristianismo a una religión civil. Sin embargo, los cristianos de todo el mundo pueden identificarse con esta tarea con la misma facilidad: desde discípulos que confrontan la conjunción de la ideología sintoísta y política en Japón hasta discípulos en Taiwán que aprenden cómo desenredarse de la adoración de antepasados ​​mientras aún honran a sus familias, a menudo en El costo de despertar una desaprobación y sospecha significativas.

 

Dinero.

 

Un(a) pastor(a) nunca debe avergonzarse de predicar sobre el dinero. Él o ella solo está siguiendo el ejemplo de Jesús, especialmente el ejemplo establecido en el Evangelio de Lucas. La riqueza es un ídolo aún mayor en el mundo moderno que Mammon en el mundo antiguo. Esto es, por supuesto, un peligro especial en Estados Unidos, Europa y en todas partes donde han surgido nuevos mercados capitalistas y las corporaciones globales establecieron su presencia, haciendo que la promesa de riqueza ahora sea mucho más accesible (aunque solo sea una promesa) para tantas personas más. Sin embargo, debido a la idolatría de la abundancia de riqueza, incluso las personas en el mundo occidental que viven a un nivel muy superior a los ricos en los países de “Majority World” se consideran a sí mismos y otros los consideran pobres. Dentro de una cultura que dice “más para mí”, es difícil incluso escuchar la palabra de Lucas “compartir con todos”.

 

Antes de que un individuo pueda responder al evangelio como Zaqueo, debe desaprender las definiciones de lo suficiente y suficiente que ofrece nuestra sociedad (si comprende estas palabras) y aprender una definición que realmente se ajuste a la necesidad humana en lugar de a la humana. deseos y expectativas. Esta es una tarea difícil cuando toda la industria de la publicidad vive capacitándonos para “necesitar” más. Debemos aprender que para amar a nuestro prójimo como a nosotros mismos, debemos usar nuestras posesiones tanto para el bien de nuestro prójimo como para el nuestro.

 

Lucas es muy consciente del poder divisivo del dinero. El acaparamiento de riqueza separó al hombre rico de Lázaro porque el hombre rico valoraba más el dinero que la vida de su vecino. La codicia por una herencia enfrentó a un hermano contra otro (Lucas 12: 13-15): valoraban más el dinero que el parentesco. Durante años, Zaqueo fue aislado de sus compañeros de Judea porque valoraba el dinero por encima de la solidaridad con su pueblo. ¿Cuántas relaciones cercanas se destruyen por dinero?

 

¿Cuánta amargura y tensión se arrastran en una relación o incluso en la iglesia a través de la competencia por el control sobre cómo se gasta el dinero? La solución de Lucas es simple, desde un punto de vista teórico. La riqueza de un cristiano pertenece al Señor, para ser utilizada como el Señor lo dirige por el bien de todos en lugar del bien del “dueño”. Esta actitud permitió la calidad de la comunión que se encuentra en la iglesia primitiva, la realización de los deseos de Dios para los humanos. comunidad (Hechos 2: 42-47; 4: 32-37). En definitiva, el verdadero bien de uno solo se puede lograr en concierto con el bien de todos.

 

Oración.

Lucas subraya la importancia de la oración y la espera en el Señor en ambos volúmenes, sonando un recordatorio para los pastores y laicos que siempre es oportuno. Jesús ora a lo largo del Evangelio en los puntos clave de su vida y ministerio: ora en su bautismo (Lc 3:21), en su transfiguración (Lc 9:29), en el jardín por la fuerza antes de su pasión (Lc 22: 39- 46), y en la cruz, tanto para los demás como para él mismo (Lc 23:34, 46). Se renueva a través de la oración en medio de su ministerio agitado, alejándose incluso de las multitudes expectantes y necesitadas que claman por su atención (Lc 5:16).

 

Jesús busca la guía de Dios en una vigilia de oración durante toda la noche antes de seleccionar a los Doce (Lucas 6:12) y ora por sus propios discípulos para que se mantengan firmes durante los momentos de prueba (Lucas 22: 31-32). A lo largo del Evangelio, Jesús se revela como una persona de oración cuya vida de oración es tan poderosa que los discípulos quieren aprender a orar de él (Lucas 11: 1). Jesús modela la priorización de mantenernos cerca del corazón de Dios y renovados por la presencia de Dios para que nuestro ministerio fluya del poder de Dios en lugar de consumirnos.

 

Lucas 11: 5-13 nos asegura que Dios escucha y ya está dispuesto favorablemente hacia nosotros, incluso más que un buen padre humano hacia su hijo. La parábola del juez injusto en Lucas 18: 1-8 nos anima a persistir en la oración, ya que si un juez humano corrupto eventualmente será movido a usar su posición para reivindicar a un peticionario persistente, ¿cuánto más será el buen juez de todos? reivindicar a su pueblo.

 

Sin embargo, Lucas no convierte esto en declaraciones generales sobre cómo Dios cumplirá cualquier oración que ofrezcamos. Más bien, tiene la intención de que estos dichos nos impulsen a orar específicamente por el Espíritu Santo (Lucas 11:13) y por la justicia (Lucas 18: 7), dos peticiones que Lucas dice que Dios no decepcionará. Esto nos lleva a dedicar una energía considerable en nuestras oraciones corporativas e individuales a buscar la guía y el empoderamiento del Espíritu para el avance de los propósitos de Dios, y a clamar ante Dios en nombre de todos los que sufren injusticia y opresión (por ejemplo, nuestras hermanas y hermanos en todo el mundo que sufren hostilidad y pérdida por el bien de su confesión).

 

Como en Marcos, la oración sigue siendo el camino para encontrar la fuerza para superar la prueba y la debilidad, para permanecer firmes en nuestra lealtad y para mantener la consistencia en nuestro caminar durante el período intermedio entre la ascensión y el regreso de Jesús (Lc 21:36; 22: 40)

 

En Hechos, la oración se vuelve aún más prominente. Los creyentes siempre están “dedicados a la oración” (Hechos 1:14; 2:42), y los cristianos con frecuencia disfrutan de momentos importantes de oración juntos (Hechos 12: 5, 12; 16:25; 20:36; 21: 5). Ante los desafíos de ser testigo en una sociedad que no apoya, los discípulos encuentran un valor y una visión renovados al orar juntos (Hechos 4: 23-31). La oración siempre precede a recibir orientación directa y oportuna de Dios, a menudo en forma de sueños o visiones (Hechos 9: 11-12; 10: 9).

 

Si tomamos a los apóstoles como nuestros modelos, entonces los ministros serán ante todo mujeres y hombres de oración. Así como los apóstoles, enfrentados con innumerables tareas y responsabilidades, decidieron que la oración y la proclamación de la Palabra de Dios eran su primera prioridad, así Lucas desafía a los líderes de la iglesia de Dios hoy a hacer de la oración el centro de su ministerio.

 

Si la actividad del ministerio amenaza con acortar o eliminar nuestras temporadas de oración, podemos estar seguros de que la efectividad de nuestro ministerio disminuirá proporcionalmente. Los ministros y otros líderes cristianos no solo orarán solos (un efecto secundario de nuestra privatización de la religión) sino que también pasarán un tiempo significativo en oración junto con otros ministros, líderes laicos y compañeros de oración.

 

Estabilidad.

La historia de María y Marta habla de manera oportuna a una sociedad cada vez más frenética y frenética (Lucas 10: 38-42). Jesús señala a Marta, y a todos nosotros que somos muy parecidos a Marta, a la necesidad central de la vida. Si poseemos esto, da vida a todo lo que hacemos; si nos falta, no podemos compensar esa falta, no importa cuánto hagamos. Lo único necesario es sentarse a los pies de Jesús, pasar tiempo en su presencia sin distraerse y escuchar su palabra. Esta es una palabra difícil de aceptar para muchas personas.

 

Es una palabra difícil de creer en una sociedad activa donde se enfatiza tanto hacer y visiblemente lograr. Pero si algo debe sufrir este día, Lucas dice que no puede ser nuestro tiempo para pasar con Dios. Tenemos libros para leer, reuniones de comités para asistir y hojas para rastrillar, pero antes que nada, tenemos que sentarnos a los pies de Jesús, esperar en el Señor y buscar el rostro de Dios. Esta palabra se repite en los salmos del antiguo Israel: “Espera al Señor”, “Busca el rostro de Dios”, “Una cosa he deseado, contemplar la belleza del Señor y aprender de Dios en el templo de Dios” (Sal 27 : 4, 8, 14).

 

Desde un punto de vista mundano, “esperar” en el Señor cuando hay trabajo por hacer parece una procrastinación o evitación. El desafío de Jesús a Marta y a todos los que se parecen más a ella que a su hermana es invertir esa mentalidad y dejar que la forma en que pasamos nuestro tiempo nos ayude a ser guiados en todas las cosas por el Espíritu de Dios, no impulsados ​​en todas las cosas por las demandas de nuestros estudios, nuestras congregaciones o nuestras propias ambiciones.

 

Lucas habla no solo a los profesionales religiosos, sino a todos los que progresarían en el discipulado, que buscan dejar atrás los viejos dolores y los patrones que han grabado en sus mentes y corazones. Sanidad interior, formación a imagen de Jesús, crecimiento en el discipulado; todo esto depende de pasar tiempo en la presencia de Dios, sentado a los pies de Jesús. En última instancia, ese es el lugar donde se reordenan las vidas, se sanan los corazones, se alcanza el equilibrio y se encuentra la estabilidad. Nuestros corazones nunca encontrarán descanso hasta que descansen en Dios, y descansar significa pasar tiempo descansando en la presencia de Dios.

 

A Alcoholics Anonymous es tan exitoso porque todos sus miembros se identifican como personas que necesitan ser liberadas de la adicción al alcohol, y porque sus miembros se alientan y se apoyan mutuamente de la manera más intencional para evitar que los demás se rindan al ansia de un bebida. La organización, fundada en gran medida en los principios del Nuevo Testamento, ahora puede enseñar mucho a las iglesias que han perdido ese enfoque y energía.

Luke rocked my world!

In my NT course this quarter, we were asked to write a simple explanation of a Parable, giving it’s setting, purpose, themes, etc.

I will be honest when I say that I have never sat down and read the entirety of the Luke and Acts in one sitting.  It was so eye-opening.  The connections between the stories, the emphasis on the poor– and then to realize that Luke wrote his gospel to encourage the Early Christians.  He compiled the specific stories that were oral traditions, other writings, etc and put these all together in this specific order for a specific purpose.

Instead of sharing my own writing, I want to share an excerpt from my textbook.  This book is ROCKING my world.  I have never read the Bible the way diSilva writes about it.

This is an article entitled Luke and Ministry Formation.

David Arthur DeSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation, Second Edition. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2018). p 325-328

Shaping a community of restoration.

Luke’s compilation of sayings and parables focused on the heart of God for the lost clearly indicates his desire to nurture the same heart among communities of disciples. The church that takes Luke’s word to heart will be a community of mercy and love, actively seeking the restoration of fallen people, reflecting the character of the God who called the community together.

Luke gives his successors, namely, contemporary Christian leaders, the ongoing task of building up the sort of community that can become a place for the broken to find healing. Only as individual church members are won over to the vision of a God who seeks and saves the lost, who heals the brokenhearted, and who yearns to impart his holiness and wholeness to our fragmented and broken selves will a church fulfill its service to God and to the world.

 

One of the obstacles to achieving this end is our tendency within the church to mask our own fallenness and brokenness, to put on our best face at church, and not trust one another to help us seek God’s full restoration of our own lives. We act like Simon the Pharisee, who may indeed believe he has little that needs to be forgiven, and so we are not free to lavish love on others like the woman who knew she had been forgiven much and forgiven deeply (Lk 7:36-50). That story encourages us to face the sins that weigh us down, to own them so that we can be released from them and experience the freedom to express the love and gratitude that follow. It also directs the community of faith to respond to such vulnerability as Jesus did rather than as Simon did. That is to say, the community cannot respond to someone who would work through serious hurt or vulnerability to temptation by suggesting that such activity is out of place among respectable people.

Only as the church takes on the character of a “Sinners Anonymous” group will we see deep, inner transformation happen. When such a community ethos is in place, the church can become a haven for all who seek to flee from sin and the wrath to come, where those who have not yet encountered God’s heart may find not condemnation but love, restoration, and freedom from a harmful way of life lived apart from God.

 

Luke seeks to nurture a community that values and invests itself not only in facilitating the restoration of the sinner and the lost but also in the liberation of those bound by cycles of poverty or oppression in any form (Lk 4:16-19). The parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31) and the example of Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1-10) declare that we cannot be whole until we become sensitive and responsive to the needs of our destitute brothers and sisters. The plight of the poor is a social sickness, and as long as our hearts remain hardened to others in need, with our blinders on and our focus elsewhere, we ourselves participate in that sickness.

 

Luke’s Gospel, like the Fourth Gospel, gives more attention to the role of Samaritans in Jesus’ ministry. The animosity between Jews and Samaritans is well documented in the New Testament (Mt 10:5; Lk 9:51-56; Jn 4:9; 8:48) and has deep roots in the history of Israel (the tensions and strife between the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, with their rival cult centers of Gerizim and Jerusalem; the diverging stories of Israel and Judah as each was subjected to a different experience of exile and return). Nevertheless, Samaritans are prominently featured in Luke’s Gospel as exemplary models of discipleship (Lk 10:33; 17:16) and in Acts as the target of the Christian mission (Acts 8). In this way Luke provides a model for how Jesus’ disciples are to look on those who are designated outsiders, who are “not our kind,” who live on the “wrong side” of some set of tracks by the standards of ethnicity, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation. Jesus and the early church looked at the Samaritans from the point of view of the plan of God, which sought the restoration of the house of David, of which the Samaritans (despite the strenuous objections of Judeans) were nevertheless a part, and therefore strove for their redemption and their inclusion. As we continue to heed God’s call to bring his salvation to all, we are challenged boldly to cross those humanly drawn boundaries in outreach and not to look on each person through the lens of any human prejudice or to respond to them in kind when they speak to us out of their prejudice (see Lk 9:51-56) but to seek their redemption in God’s love.

 

Freeing believers from national ideologies.

It was easy for people living in the first-century Mediterranean world to buy into the myth of their society, namely, the myth of the Roman peace. All the visible symbols of the deified emperors and the deified goddess Roma, the civic festivals and holidays built around the family of the emperor, and the public discourse about the great debt the world owed Augustus and his family conspired to lull people into believing in that ideology. Things have not changed much. Whether we live in China, Germany, Latin America, or the United States, we are born and bred into an ideology that promotes and supports the values, powers, and systems of that society.

Luke exemplifies an essential task of every Christian leader: the clear articulation of a distinctively Christian ideology. This invites disciples to discover where the values and assumptions they have imbibed since childhood differ from God’s values and purposes for humanity and for Christian community.

In effect this means liberating disciples from reducing their response to the gospel to what fits neatly into the value structures, expectations, and institutions of the secular society. Like Luke’s readership, modern churches will be enabled to take up a revolutionary witness (though, also like Luke’s communities, without bloody revolution). This is perhaps one of the most pressing tasks for American Christianity, whose distinctive history (with its ideology of the “Christian nation”) has tended to reduce Christianity to a civil religion. Christians from around the world, however, can identify with this task just as readily—from disciples who confront the conjunction of Shinto and political ideology in Japan to disciples in Taiwan learning how to disentangle themselves from ancestor worship while still honoring their families, often at the cost of rousing significant disapproval and suspicion.

 

Money.

A pastor need never be embarrassed to preach about money. He or she is only following Jesus’ example, especially the example set in Luke’s Gospel. Wealth is an even greater idol in the modern world than Mammon was in the ancient world. This is, of course, a special danger in America, Europe, and everywhere that new capitalist markets have arisen and global corporations established their presence, making the promise of wealth now so much more accessible (if only as promise) to so many more people. Because of the idolization of the abundance of wealth, however, even people in the Western world who live at a level far above the well-to-do in Majority World countries consider themselves and are looked on by others as poor. Within a culture that claims “more for me” it is difficult even to hear Luke’s word “share with all.”

Before an individual can respond to the gospel like Zacchaeus, he or she must unlearn the definitions of enough and sufficient that our society offers (if it understands these words at all) and learn a definition that is truly in keeping with human need rather than human wants and expecta- tions. This is a difficult task when the entire advertising industry lives by training us to “need” more. We must learn that to love our neighbor as ourselves, we must use our possessions as much for our neighbor’s good as for our own.

Luke is keenly aware of the divisive power of money. The hoarding of wealth cut off the rich man from Lazarus because the rich man valued money more than the life of his neighbor. Covetous- ness over an inheritance pitted one sibling against another (Lk 12:13-15)—they valued money more than kinship. For years Zacchaeus was cut off from his fellow Judeans because he valued money over solidarity with his people. How many close relation- ships are destroyed over money?

How much bitterness and tension creep into a relationship or even into the church through competition for control over how money is spent? Luke’s solution is simple, from a theoretical standpoint. A Christian’s wealth belongs to the Lord, to be used as the Lord directs for the good of all rather than the good of the “owner.” This attitude enabled the quality of fellowship found in the early church, the realization of God’s desires for human community (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37). Ultimately the true good of the one can only be achieved in concert with the good of all.

 

Prayer.

Luke underscores the importance of prayer and waiting on the Lord throughout both volumes, sounding a reminder to pastors and laity that is always timely. Jesus prays throughout the Gospel at key points in his life and ministry: he prays at his baptism (Lk 3:21), at his transfiguration (Lk 9:29), in the garden for strength before his passion (Lk 22:39-46), and on the cross, for both others and himself (Lk 23:34, 46). He renews himself through prayer in the midst of his hectic ministry, withdrawing even from expectant and needy crowds who clamor for his attention (Lk 5:16). Jesus seeks God’s guidance in an all-night prayer vigil before selecting the Twelve (Lk 6:12) and prays for his own disciples to remain firm through times of testing (Lk 22:31-32).

Throughout the Gospel, Jesus reveals himself as a person of prayer whose prayer life is so powerful that the disciples want to learn to pray from him (Lk 11:1). Jesus models the prioritization of keeping ourselves close to the heart of God and refreshed by God’s presence so that our ministry will flow from God’s power rather than consume us.

Luke 11:5-13 assures us that God hears and is already favorably disposed toward us, even more than a good human parent toward his or her child. The parable of the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-8 encourages us to persist in prayer, for if a corrupt, human judge will eventually be moved to use his position to vindicate a persistent petitioner, how much more will the good Judge of all vindicate his people.

Luke does not turn these into blanket statements about how God will fulfill any prayer that we offer, however. Rather, he intends these sayings to spur us on to pray specifically for the Holy Spirit (Lk 11:13) and for justice (Lk 18:7)— two petitions that Luke says God will not disappoint. This leads us to devote considerable energy in our corporate and individual prayers to seeking the guidance and empowerment of the Spirit for the advancement of God’s purposes, and to crying out before God on behalf of all who suffer injustice and oppression (e.g., our sisters and brothers throughout the world who suffer hostility and loss for the sake of their confession).

As in Mark, prayer remains the way to find strength to overcome trial and weakness, to remain firm in our loyalty, and to maintain consis- tency in our walk during the interim between Jesus’ ascension and return (Lk 21:36; 22:40).

 

In Acts prayer becomes even more prominent. Believers are always “devoted to prayer” (Acts 1:14; 2:42), and Christians frequently enjoy significant times of prayer together (Acts 12:5, 12; 16:25; 20:36; 21:5). In the face of the challenges of witness in an unsupportive society, the disciples find renewed courage and vision by means of praying together (Acts 4:23-31). Prayer always precedes receiving direct and timely guidance from God, often in the form of dreams or visions (Acts 9:11-12; 10:9).

If we take the apostles as our models, then ministers will be first and foremost women and men of prayer. Just as the apostles, faced with myriad tasks and responsibilities, decided that prayer and proclamation of God’s Word was their first priority, so Luke challenges the leaders of God’s church today to make prayer the center of their ministry. If the busyness of ministry threatens to shorten or eliminate our seasons of prayer, we can be sure that the effectiveness of our ministry will be proportionately diminished. Ministers and other Christian leaders will also not only pray alone (a side effect of our privatization of religion) but will spend significant time in prayer together with other ministers, lay leaders, and prayer partners.

 

Stability and the single mind.

The story of Mary and Martha speaks in a timely way to an increasingly frenetic and frantic society (Lk 10:38-42). Jesus points Martha—and all of us who are so very much like Martha—to the core necessity of life. If we possess this one thing, it gives life to all that we do; if we lack it, we cannot compensate for that lack no matter how much we do. The one needful thing is to sit at Jesus’ feet, spend time in his presence undistracted, and listen for his word. This is a hard word for many people to accept.

It is a hard word to believe in an active society where doing and visibly achieving are emphasized so strongly. But if anything must suffer this day, Luke says that it cannot be our spending time with God. We have books to read, committee meetings to attend, and leaves to rake, but first and above all, we have to sit at Jesus’ feet, wait on the Lord, and seek God’s face. This word is echoed in the psalms of ancient Israel: “Wait for the Lord,” “Seek God’s face,” “One thing have I desired, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and learn from God in God’s temple” (Ps 27:4, 8, 14).

From a worldly point of view, to “wait” on the Lord when there is work to be done seems like procrastination or avoidance. Jesus’ challenge to Martha and to all who resemble her more than her sister is to reverse that mindset and to let the way we spend our time help us to be guided in all things by God’s Spirit, not driven in all things by the demands of our studies, our congregations, or our own ambitions.

 

Luke speaks not only to religious professionals but to all who would make progress in discipleship, who seek to leave behind old pains and the patterns they have engraved on their minds and hearts. Inner healing, formation in the image of Jesus, growth in discipleship—all these depend on spending time in God’s presence, sitting at Jesus’ feet. Ultimately that is the place where lives are reordered, hearts healed, balance attained, and stability found. Our hearts will never find rest until they rest in God, and rest means spending time resting in God’s presence.

aAlcoholics Anonymous is so successful because all its members identify themselves as people in need of deliver- ance from addiction to alcohol, and because its members encourage and support one another in a most intentional way to keep each other from giving in to the craving for a drink. The organization, founded to a large extent on New Testament principles, can now teach much to churches that have lost that focus and energy.

Just the beginning…

When we arrived to the States 7 years ago, I was heartbroken.  It was a really tough transition (that many of you who care to read this helped to us walk through).  I was lamenting to our missions pastor about how we had no idea how long it would take us to accomplish the different things we felt led to during our time state-side.  We had 3 goals (besides surviving reverse culture-shock and figuring out US life): Leo’s citizenship, either one of us (or both) getting our master’s degree, and doing some kind of higher-level seminary classes/training so we could get back on the mission field asap.

We had high hopes.

Then we had to survive.

Then we got jobs that gave us some fulfillment. We bought a house, and tried to surrender this season to God’s plans, not ours.

Then I got pregnant, and we welcomed the blessing of Elias into our lives.

I stepped down from vocational ministry for the first time in over a decade and dedicated myself to home-making and bulked up my music lessons.   I volunteered at church with worship and the kids choir when I could, but stepped down when Elias hit the “stranger danger” stage of infant hood.

All the while, the dreams we had before we came to the US were still in our minds… but we had no idea how that could happen with already being over-stretched.

We stayed in contact with new friends in South America, and when the petition came in for us to travel down in the summer of 2019, we decided to go for it.  Either we were going to step out in faith or keep listing the never-ending stack of reasons not to try.

So, we took our son and traveled for 2 months to Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia.  I’ve blogged a bit about the first part of that amazing trip.  I will get to more of it as I can, but one thing I walked away from after the summer was this: I need to go to seminary.

My dad is an American Baptist pastor.  The American Baptists have long accepted women into all levels of leadership- head pastors as well as empowered lay-leaders.  But truth be told, I don’t really remember hearing many women preach when I was growing up. Probably because I was always where my dad was, and if he was somewhere, he was the one preaching.

There have been distinct fundamentalist male (and female) voices in both my formative years and years of missionary service who have had very specific ideas of how women can serve the Lord.  For some reason, amidst all the affirming voices I have been honored to serve alongside in both the American Baptist and Assemblies of God (and more recently the Foursquare and Vineyard Movement), the fundamentalist voices seemed to be the loudest.

And, even within the affirming voices, there were messages of “I agree that women can serve in any area of the church, I would just prefer not to attend the type of church where a woman is a head pastor”. Or “the weakness of a woman in leadership is…..”.

Leo and I have had so many conversations about vocational ministry over the years.  He always encourages and challenges me.  Most recently, he said “babe, you’re really the one holding yourself back.  You have to get over your fears, get those voices out of your head and step into this next season.  People will always be critical, but you have the choice.”

I cried my tears of fear and insecurity, talked to trusted friends and mentors, and took the step to apply to Fuller’s online program.  When I reached out to people I have journeyed alongside and admired in their vocation to ask if they would be willing to write a reference, it was a resounding “YES!”.

The day after I finished my application, I remember thinking about a girl I used to mentor.  She bravely posted one day about some specific dreams she had for her life–one  being given a full-ride scholarship to seminary.  I didn’t even utter the words, but the thought came to my mind “It would be awesome if I could get a full ride.”

Later that evening, I got an email describing a very specific full-ride scholarship offer.  It was for students entering the MDiv or International Studies program, entering in Winter of 2020. The woman it was in honor of had just passed away in the summer of 2019.  She was a USAmerican, married to a Mexican, who worked on the border with kids and youth.  She and her husband developed all kinds of programs to help kids with Biblical literacy as well as community development.  She was amazing.  Her legacy is amazing. I felt like the scholarship was meant for me.

I applied.

I found out that I was accepted while I was on the phone with my dad.  The email popped up, and I opened it.  I hadn’t told my parents about my application yet.  I figured I would wait to see if it could actually happen.

The next day, as I was sharing at my dad’s church about our summer trip, he put me on the spot and said “would you like to share with the congregation what you told me last night?” I was shaking as I explained that I had gotten accepted into seminary.  The church erupted with applause.

I found out that I was awarded the full-ride scholarship a few weeks later.

We had about a month to get our routines in place… laundry, cleaning, cooking, a play-room/study room set up, and then it was time to jump in.

I’m on week 3, and still on a very steep learning curve.  I haven’t written papers in 20 years.  I am a late-night person, so instead of scrolling facebook or Insta or binge-watching shows, I am now diving in to all the reading, so excited about what I’m learning! But that often means that I’m up until 3 or 4am (the night hours are the only hours I can really concentrate), and then living on 5-6 hours of sleep.

When I talk to moms who are going to school while their kids are in school, they have no idea how I function on so little sleep.  But coming out of the infant/breastfeeding/night-wakings time of parenting, this is nothing!

One of the laments I spoke out loud to our missions pastor seven years ago was this: “I don’t want to have to wait until I’m in my 40’s to step out into what God has for me!”.  Isn’t that hilarious?!?!

So, here I am… a 40 year-old toddler mom who is going back to school 20 years after she graduated (yes, I did finish my bachelor’s degree at 20… lol!). It’s never too late!

I have no idea where this is going to lead.  Leo and I have some dreams that those closest to us know about and are helping us discern. But right now, it’s the training ground. It’s learning as much as we can so we can pour out.

I will be using this blog to write about the things I’m learning/processing.  I’ll also be posting links to articles that my professors send our way. My focus is on Race, Cultural Identity and Reconciliation, so those topics will come up frequently.  I would love to have you on this journey.