Last evening during our monthly leadership meeting – a subject came to the forefront and it carried throughout the balance of our time together. It surrounded the importance of the church retaining its family-feel and its relational-calling. Read Acts 2:46-47 for a great reminder. Certainly we (the Church) must keep our focus exclusively on Christ, Who is the Head of our family. He is the One, by the presence of His Spirit, Who lights our path and directs our moves. He is the One Who assures us that He will never leave us nor forsake us.
As I was thinking of the concept of “family” on my journey home after the meeting – I started to realize just how much warfare the family has faced in recent history. If we are all transparent, even within the confines of our own family that shares a common love and bond, along with the same physical address, we know that life itself can pull things in many directions and that culture will attempt to redefine everything. Stress comes. Anxiety increases. Needs multiply. Jobs are lost. People quit. Kids test. Uncertainty settles. Discouragement looms. Things can quickly get out of balance (if we let it). The All State motto seems to ring so true: “life comes at you fast.” And as a result, decisions are made, sometimes impulsively and without consulting the counsel of God. As a result, some of those decisions are self-centered and irresponsible. Again, let’s be transparent: It happens when we forget priorities; when we lose sight of Christ as the centerpiece; when we become negative and cynical.
The Church is to be God’s Family. Christ came, lived, ministered, died, and was resurrected for everyone. It was a universal gift: “whosoever shall believe will not perish, but will receive eternal life.” When He is Lord of our life, we are united in Him and with Him, we are brought into His family, His community, His Church triumphant; and even though we sometimes minimize it or fail to remember it – it is no less true. There is overwhelming support for this in the NT. The Church is non-negotiable and foundational in what God is accomplishing until Jesus returns. This is to be embraced. A family that lives together, loves together…celebrates and cries together…prays together…and grows and develops together. When Jesus stated, “I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it,” I also hear these words echo in my heart and soul: “I will build My family, and hell will not get in the way.” Just give Him the glory right now! Surely if God is for us – no one can stand against us.
So many passages rush to my mind and heart. I could cite dozens all throughout Scripture. We know them – we believe them. Yet, sometimes we fail to put them into motion; we fail to implement. That’s not God’s fault – it’s our fault. Lord, please forgive me, please forgive us, when we’ve missed it. Help us not to miss it again. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
We are His dearly loved children, and it is a wonderful gift to be part of His Church Family. But much like our own family, the church family faces challenge. You better believe that anything God has ordained and set apart – the enemy is on the warpath against. The question is not: Will we face challenge? The question is: How will we respond? Now, there are as many ways to respond as there are words on this blog post. Here are some of the ways people respond: run; dodge; quit; relinquish; self-seek; disengage; push a personal agenda; etc. You get the point. We all know this – nothing really new. However, we are called to: persevere; mature; grow in knowledge; serve others; become less; surrender; live the life; overcome the petty things; etc.
God continually shows us the most excellent way: the Way of His Son. We, the Church, are to follow Him. That may not be real desirable to some…others may outright reject it. But it doesn’t make God’s way any less necessary. Our Message is Jesus Christ. Our Vision is to bridge relationships and build lives for Him. Our Mission is to go into the whole world, into this community, and give away Jesus to make disciples. Our desire is to lift up His Name and believe He will draw all people to Himself. But we must be willing, and obedient, and sincere. And I believe that this (Bridgeway) family is.
The new year is just 13 days old (going on 14). God has entrusted us with a harvest field. In what ways, in 2011, can you help your Church Family lift up the Name of Jesus to this region, so that lives might be transformed for His glory? Will you partner with us? Will you stand with your family? Will you pray for the vision, for the people, for the community, for the ministries the Lord has given us, and for me? I covet your prayers, and I want you to know I am praying for you. I am going through the church directory 3 times each week, lifting up all the faces and names that the Lord places on my heart. On a personal note, and I want you to know this: I am seeking to make this year (2011) my most prayerful one yet. I want to walk with Jesus in a closer and more intimate way than in any other year of my life, thus far. On a corporate level, I hope and pray that we all want more of Jesus and His presence, all throughout the Church and His ministries, than in any other year thus far. And I believe it is going to happen!
Let me close with a prayer: Father God, we glorify Your Name for Who You are, what You’ve done, and what You’re doing right now. In the spirit of unity and oneness, we ask in Jesus’ Name for an outpouring of Your grace and fire; in our lives, in our families, and in Your Church. Give us passion and energy in this new year. Help us to be strong and courageous in a world that is far apart from You. Help us to seize opportunities to spread Your Truth and Word faithfully, even in the seemingly darkest of situations. Lord, it is my desire to walk ever closer with You this year. Make it fresh and profound. And for anyone else who desires this – bridge us closer together, that we would do it not only individually, but in a unity that can’t be known apart from You. I want more of You and less of me, in every way. And Lord, for those who really aren’t sure about all of this – I pray that the lives we live will speak louder than words ever could. Let our light so shine before them, that they will see You, and You in us, and the works we do for You and others, and give You all the glory! Yes, may our lives bring You maximum glory and may they expand Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
God is love, and you are loved! I am humbled to be in the family with you…