Sunday, June 3, 2012

More Than Just Moving

Sitting in church today I realized that I only had one Sunday left….next Sunday.  I think I am in denial.  In two weeks my family will be moving.  We will be skipping over to a neighboring state to live.  I am really excited about the move.  I see incredible ways that God has PROVIDED!  It is so clearly evident that God is leading us as we make this transition, but, alas, there are still so many unknowns. 
One of the main reasons we are moving is to do, Lord willing, a church plant/church revitalization in the not too distant future with some sweet and dear families.  I have been thinking through what this church plant or revitalization means.  We are not moving to an area where no one has heard of Jesus.  It is the exact opposite.  We are moving to part of the “Bible Belt!”  So why do a church plant there, you may ask?  Well, I think it is because I have grown up in the “Bible Belt” area.  I know that churches are filled with people who just “do church” every Sunday.  They can talk some Christian lingo.  They may go to the church that their parents and their grandparents went to.  It is just what their family does.  There are churches where tradition is LAW (when there may be no Biblical basis for that tradition what so ever).  Many churchgoers will have their certain pew that they sit in and would be in an absolute uproar if anyone dared sit in their spot.  The preacher best be done on time and not say anything to make too many people uncomfortable.  You may see churches that have a ton of programs to boost attendance, but the true Gospel of Jesus is not really taught in those programs.  So this leaves you with a bunch of people going to church because of an attraction or because it makes them feel good, but that is really no reason to go to church at all.  You also have people who do not go to church, but they feel the morals that they have been raised with will save them.  They believe in God and do good so that is good enough.  And you will also have those people who do not care one iota about God too.
So, again, why are we doing this church plant/revitalization thing?  So we can change a church and make it new and improved our way???  Because we have ALL the right answers and all these other churches are doing it wrong?  No.  Just as there are dead, dying, or deceived churches there are also those who truly strive to proclaim the gospel.  We don’t want to tell these churches they have to do things to our certain prescription.  We are moving to do a church plant/revitalization for those people who have heard a false Gospel---you have a little bit “of Jesus loves you” with a whole lot of “do good and earn your way”, with a “make sure you are at church EVERY SUNDAY and EVERY time the doors are open”, with some “make sure you stay away from these certain sins or these kinds of people”, and Wahlah!  You are saved!  You are taught that if you pray a prayer when you are 8, or 20, or 50 you are saved---it doesn’t matter if there is any evidence of Jesus changing your heart at all.  You prayed it so you have your ticket to heaven.  We are also moving for those people who are really turned off to church because of all those reasons listed above.  They see the absolute hypocrisy.  They think that is what God’s Word teaches. 
So what are we planning to DO exactly???  Well, to be honest, we are not completely sure.  I believe as, over time, all the families move down and we meet people and talk with churches, God will make it clear the exact needs and how we are to go about serving.   He will show us whether we need to plant a church or come along side a church who is asking for help.  But in the mean time, we are going to LOVE people.  We are going to seek to get into their lives and build a relationship with them.  We want to show that while we are so very far from perfect, Jesus has radically invaded and changed us.  Jesus impacts every aspect of our lives.  “Church” is not something we just “do;” rather, it is a community of people who commit to love each other in a way that points to Jesus.  We want to show that we all are SINNERS in desperate need of a SAVIOR.  We cannot save ourselves with how good we are because all our righteousness is like filthy rags.  We desire to show that the Gospel is essential to EVERY aspect of life.  And this is NOT just “religion.”  It is not just burdensome and a list of things to make sure you do so you will be saved.  The Gospel rescues, it delivers, it frees, it gives peace that surpasses all understanding, it changes lives.  My heart is for those people who, perhaps, are believers and do love Jesus, but they have never understood what true Biblical community looks like.  This is not a place where gossip reigns and you have to hide behind your mask so no one sees that you are imperfect.  True biblical community is where you take off your mask and everyone sees how yucky you are.  It is where everyone knows that everyone NEEDS Jesus because everyone is just as much a sinner as everyone else.  It is where you walk together and encourage each other in our fight against sin and in our desire to love Jesus and become like Him more and more.  It is where you have a brother or sister speak truth to you even when the truth hurts or it may be so very hard to believe.  It is where you love one another sincerely.  This is the beauty of the Gospel, of our Savior, and His church. 
Do I think everyone will want all of this?  No.  Do I think this will be easy?  No.  I am sure there will many many times when I wonder what in the world I am doing and why I am doing it.   Do I think I will perfectly love everyone around me and serve others perfectly all the time?  No.  Do I know what this will really all look like exactly?  No.  All I know is what God is calling us to and the burden He has placed on my heart.  So, I also ask for prayer.  That we will truly do what God has called us to do---to love the lost and broken in whatever ways He may call us to.
I am also so incredibly thankful for the church my family has been a part of for the past 6 years.  While this church is not perfect (because no church is), I cannot ever adequately put into words what they have meant to me.   They have become my FAMILY.  They have taught me what is means to treasure Jesus.  They have taught me how the Gospel truly does apply to every sin, every hurt, every aspect of life.  I have watched women model submission and respect and husbands model servant leadership.  I have observed so many families seek to parent their children in a way where Jesus is CENTRAL.  I have observed those who pour out their lives for the Gospel---whether it be at work, at home, in their neighborhood, in their city, or all of the above.  I have lived in sweet Biblical community (and, no, it is not perfect all the time either J).  And I have learned SO MUCH MORE than I can ever out into words through the teaching and example of those in this church body.  This church is one of the main reasons that I will cry BUCKETS when I move.  So, to this church family I will say that I love you, I am eternally thankful for you, and that you are in my prayers.  May the Lord bless you, keep you, make His face shine upon you, be gracious to you, and give you peace.

We sang the song, God of Justice today at church.  I believe it says what Christ’s mission and His mission for the church is quite well.

God of Justice, Saviour to all
Came to rescue the weak and the poor
Chose to serve and not be served

Jesus, You have called us
Freely we've received
Now freely we will give

We must go live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken
We must go
Stepping forward keep us from just singing
Move us into action
We must go

To act justly everyday
Loving mercy in everyway
Walking humbly before You God

You have shown us, what You require
Freely we've received
Now freely we will give

Fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out Lord 

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