Saturday, May 31, 2008

Whoever Has Ears to Hear...

Recently I changed my blog title from "Collin Packer's Blog" to "Sightings, Sounds, and Sniffs of the Kingdom." While I thought my old title got the point across, I thought a little more creativity might be worth my time.

I like the new title. I believe God is still very much at work in the world today. Scripture does not describe our God as one who created the world only to let it spin without his hands at work in the world. From the beginning, God has remained among his people. He always seems to show up in different ways though. For instance, off the top of my head I can remember God showing up as a gardener, a bush on fire, a cloud, a pillar of fire, a group of strangers, a presence among the Tabernacle, and as the God-man (Jesus). Apart from these specific instances, he also shows up in a variety of other ways. He sends manna and quail for the Israelites, fire down on the altar on Mt. Carmel, tongues of fire on the heads of several people at Pentecost, etc. Yet at other times, he shows up in a whisper to Elijah or he remains silent for hundreds of years. It's really all a mystery to me.

Signs of God continue to show up in all of our lives. At times, he is easily sensed through miraculous healings. At other times, we pray to him and wonder why he never chooses to show up. I believe if we are honest, we have all sensed God's obvious presence in our lives and sensed that he has completely forsaken us at other times.

In Mark 4, Jesus says to the Twelve, "You've been given insight into God's kingdom - you know how it works."

For those of us who have committed our lives to Christ and become transformed into his image, God has given us insight into the kingdom. As we live in the world, we must be committed to always looking for sightings, sounds, and sniffs of the kingdom in our own lives. At times, we will be amazed by God's kingdom when we praise God in a worship assembly. At other times, we will be amazed at the way God shares his kingdom through secular movies and music where we might expect never to find glimpses of his reign.

God is at work in the world! We are his representatives and ambassadors to people who seek him without even knowing the object of their pursuit. As detectives of the reign of God in the world, may we all begin to sense the ways he is active in our lives.

How have you seen, heard, or smelled the kingdom this week?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tremendous Welcome

To those of you who commented on my blog over the past week, I want to thank you so much!! Holly and I could not imagine the incredible welcome we have received. We are so blessed to be welcomed so greatly by the congregation at Littleton!

Holly and I are currently on vacation in California. We are traveling with our best friends from ACU and it has been a wonderful trip. When I finally returned to check my e-mail and blog, I was amazed by the overwhelming response from Colorado. From Littleton members alone, I had 41 messages welcoming Holly and me and letting us know we are being prayed for. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

It's so exciting to think about the future. What will be the focus of my first sermon series? Can I really preach every Sunday for the next 40 years? Have I been prepared for this task?

Yet, as I consider these questions, I am continually comforted by God's overwhelming power, mercy, and grace. His power is made perfect in weakness. It would be a sign of being unprepared if I didn't ask these questions. When we are called into ministries and situations that cannot be accomplished without God's help, we know we are in the will of God. He has called each of us to extend ourselves beyond our abilities and gifts so that he will receive the glory.

O Lord, grant us the willingness to step out beyond our comfort zones. Grant us enough failure to know how much we need you. Do not give us so many gifts, that we forget our need for you. May your Spirit guide us and lead us in the way of Christ. This is my prayer!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Ministry To Which We Have Been Called

If you have not heard the good news yet, I have accepted an offer to become the preaching minister at the Littleton Church of Christ in Littleton, Colorado (a suburb of Denver)!! We have such great peace and excitement about this decision. Though our search process has been long and uncertain at times, I could not imagine a better place to begin my ministry.

Though we will certainly enjoy this beautiful location, the most attractive part of my new job is the incredible people of LCC. During the entire interview process with the elders at Littleton, Holly and I could not have felt more loved and supported. The ministerial staff has an incredible reputation among churches in our tradition and I have heard nothing but good things about the administrative staff as well. In the coming weeks, Holly and I cannot wait to meet more of the congregation.

In the past week, my own discernment of my calling to ministry has been affirmed twice. A week ago, the professors of ACU acknowledged my call to ministry and blessed my future as a leader in God's kingdom. And just a few days ago, I got the call I had been waiting on for six years now. All of my education means very little without the calling of a church that discerns my gifts of leadership and preaching. With the call from Littleton, I feel completely sure of the ministry to which I have been called. Praise God for the work he has done in my life and for the ways he has called me into a position of impact in his kingdom!

To those who have mentored, befriended, taught, and prayed for Holly and me in our preparation for ministry, I want to thank you for all you have done for us! We will continue to covet your prayers, advice, and friendship in the future. God has placed you in our paths for a reason and we will never take for granted the blessings you have given us.

And to those at the Littleton Church of Christ, Holly and I want you to know how excited we are to minister alongside you. We have prayed for God to lead us in the direction of his choosing. We feel confident that he has done just that! We are excited to meet every one of you. We have been praying for each of you for the past few years now. May God bless you with his grace, passion, and peace.

To those who will be come to know Christ through God's ministry of grace spread through this weak vessel, I pray that God will open your hearts to his message. I know the Holy Spirit is already at work in your lives. God, help me in my role as a missionary among lost people.

God, may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And may we join you as your reign increases on the earth. Use us as your hands and feet among the hurting. Use us as your salt and light to infect a world of darkness with your light!