Thursday, March 31, 2011

Faith in Our Churches

God is so big... isn't He?? I ask that as a question because sometimes I think in our churches we forget just how big God really is. In our personal lives there are times when God calls us to step out in faith such as loss of job, requiring us to move, asking us to change something we've always done, etc. And, in our personal lives, we generally just do it, because we have no choice. If God closes a door, we have to step out in faith as we open another one.

Why in our churches is it so much harder to step out faith? If God calls our churches to move in a different direction, why do we generally resist that move? Is it because we don't have faith that God knows what He's doing? Or is it because it's different than we've always done it. If God's calls us to move out into the community and serve others rather than staying inside among ourselves do we move? Or do we stay in where it's familiar and comfortable? Sometimes we think different is wrong; but sometimes different, is just different.

I have learned over the years that God does not call us to be comfortable. He calls us to be obedient. If we stay where we are comfortable, are we being disobedient to where God is leading? Are we trusting God? Or are we putting our trust in ourselves?

My advice if you are feeling very comfortable, is watch out. I have found that when you start feeling comfortable, God is about to move you... again.

In our staff devotional time on Monday morning we studied in Numbers 9 and the cloud covering the tabernacle. When the cloud moved, they moved. When the cloud stopped, they set up camp; maybe for a day, maybe for a few days, maybe longer. But always, they followed the cloud and where it was leading.

Do we as churches have the faith they had to just pick up and follow God at a moments notice? If we don't, we should. And back to my first comment, "God is so big... isn't He"? We all know how big God really is, so why is it so hard to follow Him when He's calling us to something different, something that might have to make us move our of comfort zone?

I am very thankful to be a part of a church that is not afraid to go where God is leading. I am very thankful to be a part of church that is not afraid to let God out the box and just dream about the places God can take us. A church that is ready to get up and move when the cloud moves. A church that is ready to do more than take a hop of faith, it's ready to leap. I heard one of the speakers this past week at the Tulsa Workshop (I believe it was Rick Atchley) say, "We all know where we are going, but it's the journey that makes it exciting!"

Is your journey going to be one of excitement or one of fear? Are you ready to let God out of the box and find out How Big God really is? I'm thankful to be a part of a church where the journey matters; the excitement never ends and the fear of letting God out of the box is gone!

For I know the plans I have for you, "declares the
LORD," plans to prosper you and not harm you,
plans to give you hope and future.


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Perfect... Is What We Are Not...

We've been talking a lot at church about being the type of people God calls us to be; being Jesus to our community; being Jesus to those we come in contact with. I don't mean preaching to people, I just mean being Jesus to them. But for some reason that sometimes seems hard for us to do. It's hard for us to just except people where they are, except them for who they are. Could it be because we don't know how to be honest with ourselves? We don't know how to be honest about our relationship with Jesus and what He's done for us; so we really don't know how to be real with other people? Could it be that we are so worried about what others think of us, that we use that worry to judge others? That we judge others based on who we think we should be (therefore who we think they should be) rather than who we really are?

There is a Casting Crowns song called "Stained Glass Masquerade". The first part of the chorus of the song has the following words:

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles that hide our pain

I think that sometimes, deep down we are hurting. Maybe hurting so deeply that we have no idea how to reach out to others. We pretend that everything is ok and put on our happy plastic faces because that's what we think we are supposed to do. We put walls around our weakness because we are supposed to always be strong. We can't let people see the real us because they might not like what they see. We have built up these walls not only around ourselves but around our churches. We can't reach people and show them Jesus because for those on the outside looking in, we all look perfect, we have it all together; because that's what church people do right? We don't want to looked flawed, we want to look perfect. What we don't realize is that by trying to "look" perfect, we are missing opportunities to show others what Jesus is really all about. We are missing opportunities to tell others how we make it through our imperfect lives. We are turning people away from us without us realizing it because they feel like they can never measure up to this perfection image that we've unrealistically created. We know we really are not perfect, we know we really don't have it all together, but what we do know is that because of Jesus that doesn't matter. Maybe if we quit trying to be so perfect and let down the walls around us, then those we come in contact with either personally or through our churches might see more of who and what Jesus is really all about.

The second part of the chorus says,

But the invitations open
To every heart that's been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

If we begin to realize that God's invitation to us is to just come; to come and let Him heal our brokenness, maybe we can stop trying to be perfect. And maybe then we won't see so many flaws in those around us because we will realize more of our own flaws. There was only one perfect person and he died hanging on a cross for us. I think it's time we stop living for perfection and start living for Jesus and who He's called us to be.

May we all be a blessing to those we come in contact with as we show our imperfections and may we all be Jesus to those around us. If we can do that, God will take care of the rest.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I
will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that
Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ sake,
I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions,
in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12: 9,10