The church is not a building. It is not about filling up seats and being consumers. We are called to embody the gospel and essentially be the church - the hands and feet, the temple of Jesus. With that said, there is something powerful when the body of Christ gathers together corporately as a large group in what we would call a "church service".
Tonight was one of those powerful nights. The last week was rough. This week is not gonna start off good either with a mid-term on the Qur'an that is taunting me. I was broken and worn down from life. Yet, as I drove to RH Fullerton, I came expecting that God would be on the move. I knew that what my soul and body needed was to gather together with the Saints. I did not know what God would do, but I was expectant that He would refresh and revive me tonight.
As the team was praying for the 7pm service, I was barely functioning. People could tell. It was bad, but the week had worn me down. By the time the 7pm had concluded, my countenance changed. Tiredness turned into energy; brokenness turned into hope; grief turned into joy. I was a changed man as I was able to let go of the flesh wounds of my week.
The expectant attitude, by the end of the night produced a brand new man. Once the 9pm was over, I realized that what I had experienced tonight was far more beneficial then sleep. It was far more relaxing and energizing then anything I could plan. What I realized, is that this expectant heart lead to the realization that even after a testing week I am ready to get back in the game and go run the race.
Where can you begin to be more expectant of God moving in your life? Where can you know that God is already moving? Where is it you need to God to transform and redeem in your life right now to allow you the agility and ability to run the race?
As a writer and communicator I love analogies, metaphors, imagery and similes. They are a powerful means of expressing oneself or a concept one is trying to get across. It just so happens that because I am a sports fan they usually rely a lot around sports. Today is no exception.
The past week started off beautiful and full of hope, it was amazing. I was so stoked at what God revealed and showed me. But, like always, God is trying to make sure I know what it is going to cost to follow Him completely, take up my cross, live sacrificially and carry His name.
So here is how I would describe my past week: This week threw me nothing but knuckleballs. Catching them is quite difficult and tiring; it is better to just wait until they have stopped moving and pick them up.
Jesus is good. He is worth it all. Thankfully, He has blessed me with the ability to carry a big load and has used many circumstances in my life to refine me into a man who will bend but not break, who will get knocked down but not beat.
This isn't my first rodeo. I'm not a virgin when it comes to ministry experience and going through the highs and lows of seeing people encounter Jesus. Just like in my life where I have times when I'm really in tune and times when it just seems like I'm bouncing off the walls and not paying attention to anything that God is trying to tell me.
But even with this understanding, it is funny how God is constantly using Middle School boys to teach me about the Gospel and myself. Tonight was no exception. I love my Middle School boys. I love being able to lead a Life Group at RockHarbor with about 10 of these boys. I love the fact that I get to come alongside their parents and assist their parents in teaching and showing these boys what following Jesus looks like. It is a privilege and an honor - one that I would never trade for anything in the world.
Occasionally though, there are moments and times where patience is tested and God has to keep reminding me that it is Him who does the ministry and not me. All I do is partner up with Him in the work he is already doing.
Tonight was one of those nights. I swear people must think I'm crazy for enjoying and wanting to work with these Middle School students - but helping them encounter Jesus is an amazing thing to be part of. One thing I love so much about Middle Schoolers is that I constantly find them teaching me so much about myself: my depravity, my inclinations, my defaults, Jesus, teaching, and ministry. Sometimes I feel they teach me more then I teach them.
The night was full of stress and Middle School craziness. At one point I almost cracked, I never do that. But at the end of the night I had the pleasure of praying a blessing over my boys and here it is:
"For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:14-21
It was a great reminder that God's the one who does the work and speaks to these boys not me. I only hope they know how much I care about them and long for them in the same way and fashion for them to have continuing encounters with Jesus...
I know it is now the second week of the new year but I don't do resolutions anyways. What I like to do is look back, remember and celebrate while looking forward and anticipating what God is going to do and how God is going to use me in the upcoming year. Ever since the holidays have passed I've been priviliged with the ability to reflect, pray and meditate on what God has done and is going to do - it's an amazing thing.
2009 like every year of my college career has been one of learning and trials. I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world. I'm so glad that my college career has not been easy. But of all the things that I will forever remember 2009 for is that it is in the Spring of 2009 that God showed up and began (key word) to add details to a calling of the Kingdom I'd been feeling for 5 years. It was this year where he added legs and pictures to the calling and vision He gave me 5 years ago. For that I'm extremely grateful and in typical God fashion, He used all kinds of trials and ways to get me to see it. I love it. In fact, I'm gonna be less cryptic now but to know more about what the vision and calling is, check out my other blog "Therefore the Cross". But in short, its to plant a church or at the very least to be extremely open to idea of planting a unique expression of the local church in order to advance the Kingdom and reach those who desperately need Jesus. It's gonna be a fun journey.
Meanwhile, 2010 has arrived. For a while I didn't know what to think about this new year - but the past week of meditating and praying has made me realize several things. 1) There is nothing set in stone for my life this year after May. 2) It's going to bring a new unique set of trials and learnings. 3) It's going to be full of learning about living with a thorn in the flesh. 4)It's gonna be an adventure. 5) It's going to be one of the most exciting years of my life.
Noteworthy things that 2010 will bring: starting my last semesters of college; graduation (unless my Senioritis defeats me); seeing and assisting with the launch and campus plant that is RockHarbor Fullerton; attempting to find a job that pays the bills and health insurance; starting Fuller Theological Seminary (I hope); moving to Fullerton (if I can find a job).
It's going to be an exciting year and those are just things I can honestly, faithfully, prayerfully count on being a part of. I know there are many surprises that I don't even know about yet.
Twenty-OH-Ten is going to be a great year. And I'm really looking forward to the unexpected...
"If you want to know what it is to follow Jesus - here's a good test. Do you love what he loved? Do you get mad at what he got mad at? Do you weep over what he wept over? Do you find joy in what he found joy in?" Mike Erre