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Spring is nearly too much for me. The sheer thrill of warm sunshine, the wonder of growing things, the glory of flowering trees and the smell of warm earth; I can barely contain myself. I feel like a 5-year-old boy on my birthday about to open the presents with cake and ice cream waiting. It’s too good and too much, an overload of the joy-capacitor. The weight of the glory strains what this mortal can handle. I can’t help but think that this experience is a small foretaste of the first day in heaven.

Why are we taking on this new task of offering English as a Second Language classes? The purpose of ESL ministry is to share the Good News of Christ in word and deed. In Matthew 25, Jesus describes some of the characteristics of his people. These good deeds are not the basis of their salvation, but the evidence or demonstration of it: “The King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…”

Have you noticed how the Apostle Paul repeatedly references multiple associates—“fellow workers” and “ministers”—with whom he serves. As Colin Marshall and Tony Payne observe, “Up to 100 names are associated with Paul in the New Testament, of which around 36 could be considered close partners and fellow laborers.” [2] For example, there are Prisca and Aquila (Rom 16:3), Apollos (1 Cor 3:5), Tychichus (Eph 6:21), Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25), Epaphras (Col 1:7), and Timothy (1 Thess 3:2), to name just a few. In a word, Paul carried out his ministry within the context of a team.

I’m convicted by how easily contemporary Christians (me included) act like these fruits are nice-but-not-necessary features of the Christian life. We can all recite them, but how many of us intentionally pursue them? How many of us are deeply conscience stricken when they are not evident in our life? I know some of us are, and I’m deeply thankful for you. But, I feel like my vision of piety has been heavy in how-to-respond-to-God and insufficiently focused on the fruit of the Spirit – which is heavy in how we respond to people.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, a light upon my path.” That’s how I memorized Psalm 119:105 as a young boy at Lamont Christian School. It’s hard to describe how much more precious that truth has become 50-some years later. I say that because I feel increasingly disoriented in today’s society. So much has changed.

Conspiracy theories have a way of grabbing our attention. Joe Carter defines a conspiracy as something that “…explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot, usually by powerful conspirators.” Whether it’s a fake moon landing, flat-earthers, the illuminati, or the reptilian elite (yes, you read that correctly), there is something simultaneously sensational, humorous, and pathetic about these claims.

Like yours, my heart has been heavy with grief this week in the wake of the evil suffered by Christians in Nashville. And, perhaps like yours, my heart has struggled to find words to speak to God in prayer.

Have you ever dialed 9-1-1? I will always remember, in vivid detail, the night our middle daughter had a febrile seizure. She had a spiking fever, convulsions shook her little body, and her eyes went blank as she dribbled saliva and vomit out of her mouth. Our world fell apart. We thought for sure we were losing our baby girl.

I read a book on my most recent study break that has really gotten my attention. I’ve begun sharing it with the staff here, and hope to do the same with the Session. It’s not a “Christian” book – but it applies directly and powerfully to how we live together, as followers of Christ, in our families and our church.

By now you know that Harvest Church is hosting a special conference this spring called “Caring for One Another” (Friday-Saturday, April 21-22), featuring Dr. Ed Welch. Perhaps you’ve wondered, “Why should I attend this conference?” Great question! Here’s offering several reasons for your prayerful consideration: