Monday, August 22, 2011

The Church That I See...

The Church that I see...

As I have been interviewing with churches and answering a bunch of great questions, it has given me a chance to really reflect on what I hold in my heart toward what church is meant to be. As such putting them down on "paper" (so to speak) helps me organize my thoughts. Here's some random thoughts on the church that I see in my heart...

The Church that I see…
I see a church who plays together.
I see a church who prays together.
I see a church who stays together.
I see a church that is filled with people from the nations.
I see a church filled with people that are passionate and vibrant in their worship.
I see a church that has exciting (spirit), sincere (truth) worship.
I see a church committed to being agents of God’s justice in our community and around the world.
I see a church that ministers to and helps to lift the poor.
I see a church that champions the unborn and their mothers.
I see a church filled with people that are deeply connected to one another and deeply connected to the mission of the church. (A community impacting a community)
I see a church that is living blessed in order to be a blessing.
I see a church that so consumed with Christ that they are not hung up on preferences, but are willing to do whatever it takes to fulfill Christ's mission.
I see a church that rejoices and weeps with each other.
I see a church where people are looking for divine appointments all throughout their week in order to be God's Kingdom agents in the world.
I see a church that makes room for the next generation without abandoning them when change comes.
I see a church filled with people who want to press deeper into the journey with God, but are determined to take others with them.
I see a church who is committed to missions, both foreign and domestic.
I see a church filled with people whose lives have been transformed by the Gospel.
I see a church that embraces the supernatural in a natural way.
I see a church that desires and embraces spiritual gifts according to their intended purpose.
I see a church that doesn't just want to serve Jesus, but wants to bring Him pleasure.
I see a church whose facilities reflect the current mission and heart of God in their community.
I see a church that understands that the church belongs to Jesus and not the pastor or the Board or even the people. (we are stewards)

I see a church that will be creative in their expression and methodology, but will hold true to the unchanging Word of God in an ever-changing culture.

I see a church where the people are not just challenged but equipped to minister both in the church and in the marketplace.

I see a church that boldly engages in the marketplace of ideas today with compassionate, loving and thoughtful input from God's Word.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

God's Glory or Your Comfort?

I have always found the story of Lazarus a challenging story in John 11. When Jesus found out His friend, Lazarus, was sick he said in v.4 "This sickness will not end in is for God's glory." But of course Lazarus did die. His sisters, Mary and Martha, were deeply grieved. God's Word says in v. 6 after hearing the news and making this prophetic proclamation that Jesus "stayed where He was two more days." It was during that time that Lazarus died. But, He just said "this sickness would not end in death..."

When we face difficult trials and moments of great need, do we make allowances for God's will and God's timing? When we bring God our "news" of the latest events in our life, are we willing to trust even when it seems too late? Even when it seems the action of God seems to be inaction?

We of course have the benefit of knowing the end of the story. Lazarus was called forth from death and the tomb by the command of the Lord. But in between those moments there was real pain, real distress, real faith and hope that seemed to have been misplaced. It was too late right? Jesus failed to move and intervene. Mary and Martha may have been doing what we do, "did we sin and blow it?" "Is God too busy?" "Does He not love us like we thought?"

John 11 also contains one of my favorite memory verses (due in no small part too its length!). In v. 35 we read "Jesus wept." Why would the Holy Spirit include those two small words in the text for us to read through the ages? If you are like me then you have asked Jesus to glorify Himself through your life. You want Jesus to shine brightly and clearly for all to see. For this to happen it often requires you to be placed in situations where Jesus gets to come to the rescue and is thus glorified. In those moments when we are feeling the very real pain, distress and clinging to hope it is important to know that Jesus is right there with us feeling everything we feel. He is not unmoved by cares of our heart. Even though He knows the end of the story, even though He knows the joy that is coming, He LOVES us! He is deeply moved by the pain in our hearts.

God's will and God's timing might be beyond our grasp in those moments. Will you trust? Will you continue to allow room in your in your life for God to glorify Himself? Or will you live a greatly diminished life by only being guided by things like safety, comfort, least amount of risk? When it seems too late, will you continue hoping in the Lord; will you trust in His love for you?

Spend some time in John 11 today. See if the Spirit has anything to speak to your heart.