Thursday, October 20, 2005

Head, Heart, then Hands

Recently we've been discussing our existence statement, "A Community of Christ-followers continually devoted to pursuing the fullness of God". It has come up repeatedly in our staff discussions that for too long the church has focused on the how and not the why. Even in the fleshing out of why we exist as a church it is possible to focus on the how and not the why. Why do we even desire to exist as a church? Because the love of Christ pursued us, found us, engaged us, changed our lives, and gave us a desire (and an opportunity) to serve Him by serving others. Paul says, "the love of Christ compels us." Compels us to what? For us, we feel compelled to pursue the fullness of God.

Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle says that the fullness of God has to do with experiencing Him with your head, your heart, and your hands. Experiencing God with our head describes our knowledge of God. We know about Him, we know who He is. We can tell you what He's like, what He's done throughout time, that He sent His son to die in our place and to pay the price for our sin. We know a lot about God, don't we? But knowing or even believing in God is not enough (even the demons believe that and shudder). There's no fullness in knowledge alone. We must next move to the heart.

You experience things with your heart when you spend time together. When we know or believe in God, we are drawn to Him, we want to find out more, we want to spend time with Him. As we spend time with Him, listen to Him talk to us through Scripture, pray and meditate on Him, worship Him, etc - something happens. We see that the love and grace He lavishes on us was not only for ourselves but for the good of others who haven't experienced Him. My heart, the center of my emotions, is sparked by being with God. When we are ignited by spending heart time with God, we are urged to take another step ... hands.

Hands has to do with serving. This can also be referred to as works. Works has become an attention getting word in the world of the heart. After all, works don't get you to heaven, knowing God does. Working hard isn't what gave us the right to be forgiven, grace did. It is true that faith is by grace through faith alone, but that's an incomplete picture of following Christ - especially pursuing His fullness. When we know God with our heads, experience Him and feel Him with our hearts, we are compelled to serve Him and live for Him with our hands. Ephesians says that God sets apart certain things for us to do and prepares/equips us to do them. If I don't make it to the works, then I'm not full.

I'm afraid that we've become comfortable hanging out in the heart and not made it to the hands. Now, there are plenty of people who are trying to bypass the heart with works and performance, but that doesn't work either. God is not impressed with our activity alone. God loves us, draws us to Him, then hand-picks us for specific tasks that in return give him the Glory that is due Him.

My prayer is that we struggle through these things. Our knowledge of God (and the things of God) should increase daily. Our experience of Him with our heart should also increase daily through the time we spend with Him. Finally, our lives should be consumed with doing the works and performance that He has created us to do. Intimacy with Him compels us to activity that He has prepared in advance for us to do. So, we shouldn't be afraid of works. For it is by His grace and love we are able to know Him and to participate in His drawing all people to Him.

Thank you, Jesus, that in spite of my humanity and depravity that you have prepared and empowered me to work for You as a part of Your plan. Use my head, my heart, and my hands.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

All in the Family

One of the greatest joys of a young church is knowing everybody. It's easy to get to know not only the heads of families, but the kids also. We don't have a bunch of programming for children, so we spend a lot of time together, and I've never been more grateful for that than Friday night.

We had a night we called "Porch & Altar". It was an intimate night of prayer and worship. Kaysa led us through a Lord's Prayer model of praying, and it was a great time of interaction with our Heavenly Father. When it came time to repent of our sin, to confess our depravity, and to allow God to forgive us and cleanse us ... one of our kids did that for the first time. It was one of the greatest joys of my ministry career. Brian and I were leading worship from the stage. We were singing Martin Smith's "Majesty" and I saw this young man tell his dad what was going on. Then I saw him tell his mom. It was beautiful. This young man was no stranger to God. He sits in worship every week soaking up truth like a sponge. Just this week his dad and I were talking about how close he was getting to becoming a Christ-follower. Friday night, with his parents praying on both sides of him, God called and he answered. I was later pondering the tragedy of many kids coming to that point with people they barely know at a camp or retreat or programmed event. Since it is the job of parents to disciple their own kids, I felt such a sense of completion watching this experience unfold. A 5th grader was saved with no invitation, no plea from a pastor desperate to see salvation - only the pursuit of a loving heavenly Father.

I pray that my son is raised in such a way that the love of God surrounds him continually. I pray that he would daily become more aware of what God is about and how powerful His love is. I pray that God would call him as clearly as he did my friend on Friday night, and I pray that just as my friend did, that he would recognize the voice of the shepherd immediately.

I was so relieved that as we pray for salvation in our church and in our community that I didn't have to do anything for salvation to happen except provide an environment of connecting with God. It truly is God's job to build the church - not mine.

Thank you Father, for drawing men to You as You are lifted up. May we see this continually. Amen.

Congratulations, Jack! You're an amazing example.