I did a lot of driving yesterday and today. The German Shepherd we rescued late last year was scheduled for neutering today in east Mesa, about an hour and 15 minutes of heavy traffic metropolis driving away. Driving on a six lane highway through Phoenix in 112 degree weather is not in my top 100,000 favorite things to do. But since the dog's procedure was paid for by the previous owner at this location it was the option I chose. The first half of today I was Uber-Mom. Transporting child B to beginner saxophone practice, then child A to the high school summer conditioning program for incoming athletes and then picking up child B and enjoying a 1 hour break before taking child B to summer advanced band practice with his clarinet. That brought us up to 11 am. A quick trip to the grocery store, then to pick up child A and B from their various locations rounded out the morning.
For me, lots of driving equals lots of thinking. I talk to God, to myself, solve problems in my head, sometimes create problems in my head, and chew on various ideas and thoughts. There are a few podcasts I enjoy listening to also. This morning I listened to the For The Church podcast out of Midwestern Seminary. It was about lessons learned from the collapse of Mars Hill Church.
I'm a mom of teenage boys, a wife, a nurse... I have no theological education. I only have an associates degree in nursing. So why listen to a podcast from a seminary? I find teachings geared toward pastors and teacher and missionaries have much application to me as a mom and wife. In those roles I feel the call on my life to be a disciple-maker. And as a woman in the Christ's global and historic church, I feel the need to listen to the leaders in my time and culture in the church. I listen to know how to pray. I listen to get sober eyes. I listen to identify truth and truth-twisting. I love the church. I love the people who, like me, peculiarly love the Savior they've never seen. Listening to this podcast today about the fall of Mars Hill Church I took away a couple applications for myself personally.
1) Don't get fixed on one preacher. I should take inventory of my habits in listening to preachers. Am I at church because that preacher is there or because God's word is being preached? Does the church have other men besides the lead preacher/teacher who preaches on occasion? Am I using "celebrity" preachers/teachers as my main "diet" of God's word, or am I in the word myself, studying what I have heard taught?
2) Read your Bible! Often! The way God works in my life when the preacher preaches is something special. Faith does come by hearing and often that hearing is through the preaching of the word of God. But it's the word, not the preacher that I need. If I don't know how to get to the word myself and how to digest it and apply it to my life I'll be immature and dependent on a preacher... which is dangerous.
3) Even when things don't go the way we want in church, it's still God's church. He is working all things for good for those who love him... to conform us to the image of his Son. Even the falling apart of a huge church like Mars Hill is under his sovereign design for the good of his people and for his glory. My own experience in loosing a church I loved (which was not due to the same issues as Mars Hill) was hard. But through it, God has refined my faith and has caused me to see the church world-wide and local in her many branches as a beautiful work of Christ in which I too am a part. No one preacher or teacher or even denomination should be how I identify with Christ's church. Paul corrected people in the Corinthian church for saying they followed Apollos, or Cephas, or Paul. I take the warning. I don't follow any pastor or teacher. I am Christ's and he is mine. The pastor functions in his role in the body. I function in mine. And we both worship the same Lord.
I'm looking forward to getting to know the people at Valley Life Surprise. I love the preaching of the word that happens there and the gospel centrality of everything I hear. But I pray Jesus always captivates me... no man. No preacher. And I pray I can be even a tiny part in building up His church here in Surprise, AZ.