I hope your week is off to a great start. I just got back from Dallas, where we held this year’s ABC staff retreat. Several of our staff members were able to get away to plan, prepare, and pray over all the ministries of our church. We were honored to partner with Prestonwood Baptist Church for a portion of the retreat, as the church graciously opened their doors to our team. We were privileged to hear from their executive staff, tour their facilities, and our staff members were able to spend time with their counterparts at PBC. It was a great moment of iron sharpening iron, and our team left inspired to continue to offer ministry with excellence here in Austin, TX.
This week, there will indeed be a lot of ministry happening here at ABC. It will all start on Wednesday night at our ABC Kids Open House. Our staff and volunteer teams will be opening up our classrooms for parents and children to meet their new teachers, all while enjoying some free ice cream and fellowship. Our Student Ministry will be hosting a 6th Grade promotion party on Saturday to welcome our newest students into the ABC Student Ministry. This is all leading to our Promotion Sunday, where we will move all our kids and youth up a grade level this weekend for the start of a new school year. Our BFG classes will get in on the celebration through a fantastic breakfast social in the Great Hall called the “BFG BFG” (Bible Fellowship Group Breakfast Food Gala). I hope you’re planning to come early and come hungry to enjoy this fantastic breakfast spread provided by our volunteers. We’ll also be honoring our first graders through a 1st grade Bible presentation during each worship service, and we will have a time of prayer for all of our students and educators heading back to the classrooms . It will be a big day in the life of our church, so I encourage you to make plans to join us and consider who you can invite to be a part of the excitement.
I’m so grateful that our church continues to press on in ministry and mission. As we all know, times remain challenging for our city and our nation. COVID numbers have obviously gone up and many unvaccinated people have flooded our hospitals. The political divide seemingly continues to widen, inflation keeps rising, and many in our country are left feeling dejected. In some ways, I think our friend Daniel could resonate with where we are at. If you remember last week, Daniel received a vision that was largely discouraging about his own nation. He began to understand that God’s people were going to be persecuted and opposed by foreign nation after nation in the years to come. The vision in fact even included a terrible disruption to Israel’s worship and the desecration of God’s holy temple. It was a lot of bad news to soak in, and the Bible tells us Daniel was overwhelmed by what he saw. Daniel explains, “And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days.” (Daniel 8:27a).
Daniel was so grieved by all the bad news, that he had to stay in bed for a few days to process it. I would presume he was perhaps frustrated, saddened, and even anxious over what he saw his nation was going to endure in the generations to come. I believe many Christians in our city feel the same way as Daniel. So many feel stuck, as they too grieve and fear what will happen to our nation in the years to come. Like Daniel, consistent bad news has shaken many of us up, and for some, it has even paralyzed them in their spiritual progress. Sadly, many have been “laying in bed” spiritually for well over a year. Some continue to sulk, worry, and even get angry as they don’t see a way to move forward. And while the bad news of our land is indeed real, just as it was for Daniel, I think it’s important for us to learn from Daniel’s response. He said, “Then I rose and went about the king’s business” (Daniel 8:27a). Daniel did not stay in isolation and remove himself from the problems of his culture. Instead, he got out of bed and continued to walk in God’s purposes for his life.
I believe that is a message many in our country need to hear. Like Daniel’s situation, yes, things are hard, and yes, we seem to receive more discouraging news every day. Nonetheless, we too are called to get up and get to the business of our King. Paul tells the church, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). If you are in Christ, God designed you to walk in good works. If you have breath in your lungs, God has purpose for your life. And the text does not say that we are only supposed to walk in those good purposes when we are walking in good times. In fact, the book of Daniel shows us that perhaps good works are even more essential during hard times. We are called to serve God and worship Him in all seasons; we cannot simply choose the convenient ones. My hope is that all of us will get to our King’s business this week just like Daniel. May we all worship Him with a community of believers. May we serve His church with our gifts and build up His body. May we be His hands and feet outside of the church walls, and look for opportunities to shine light and hope into dark places. And may we not allow fear and discouragement to rob us from walking in God’s purposes for our lives. God has good works for you to do this week, but you will only walk in them if you get out of bed.