Well, I’ve been in my bed off and on for 3 days. The back injury (whatever it is) is getting mildly better and has left me with an inordinate amount of time to think. While this is not always a good thing, I thought I would just “blog” on some of these many thoughts right now.
About the body of Christ @ UBC
I think that she is getting healthier. I’m not implying a degree of sickness in the past, nor am I presuming that I am in any way a “cure” for whatever ails her. I simply see an increased love for the Word of God; an increased willingness to obey even the harder parts of scripture; and a desire to see “church” simplified to biblical proportions (which usually means fewer things that are much more significant and deeper).
I am seeing God bring sin to the surface in many people’s lives. Understand, church, that this is part of what God desires to do in our sanctification as individuals who make up the local body, which is the local representation of His greater Bride! We are to be purified and He will see to it. I love this church. When I consider her “my church” I believe it is in the same way that you consider her your own…(meaning, I’m no CEO who runs a multi-million dollar organization – Col.1:18 will take care of that in others’ eyes).
I am seeing a church that has a long ways to go. We lack significant fellowship, which I believe will be filled in large part by LifeGroups (community-based home groups to be revealed next year). Instead, we still call “socials” fellowships, when we need to guard such a biblically significant word to mean an intentional gathering of believers for the purpose of glorifying God and edifying the saints. Let’s face it, just because Christians get together does not make it “fellowship”, at least not according to scripture. I know it’s hard to essentially live out church in a vacuum devoid of consistent fellowship, but be patient, we will get there. Remember how effective our Wednesday night has become and, I believe, many of you are experience better family-oriented fellowship (truly). Just like a large ship, it cannot be “righted” in an instant. The important thing is that we continue to veer in the right direction and are moving more that way. And, I must add, you have done a fantastic job in embracing more change than I ever thought I would introduce in just one year. Thank you for your teachability and willingness. I believe we are reaping some benefit already.
I am seeing a church just start to love college students again afresh. Again, we are progressing, but numbers and programs do not reflect that as much right now as do relationships and heart. Once we establish the kind of tradition we desire in collegiate ministry we will see those numbers, but for now, re-engaging our “heart” toward the university is key. Remember to pray for the students and faculty on a regular basis. As always, remember that your burden and love for the souls of the men and women on that campus should ALWAYS exceed your love or passion for any of her teams. Keep the eternal perspective you have fought so hard to recapture.
About the Church @ Large
I have been reading about current theological and moral issues in the church and I am not that encouraged. I have read about “co-pastors” (husband and wife) in Florida divorce because “God has different callings on our lives” and they are continuing to serve in their local and itinerant ministries. I have read a quote from TBN’s founder, Paul Crouch, that “Jesus became materially poor so that we could become materially rich,” (TBN’s October newsletter – no, I don’t subscribe). I continue to hear of pastors commit adultery, stay hooked on pornography and treat these things as if they do not ultimately matter, and often their churches not want to lose their “giftedness” as preachers. WHAT DO WE HAVE TO SAY PUBLICLY IF SCRIPTURE SAYS NOTHING TO US PRIVATELY!!!
Lest I be anymore of a chief hypocrite, I have struggles and have lusted in my heart and with my eyes BIG TIME along the way. I desire for no sin to remain and long for repentance with each failure. I have established accountability that at times is stronger than others. Bottom line, I seek blamelessness (short accounts and a confessed life) rather than perfection (impossible here and a self-righteous pursuit). With that said, though, I cannot help but think that what Peter made clear:
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
1 Peter 4:12-19
We have all types of suffering in our lives individually and in the life of our church. The overriding truth is, God is sovereign over them all and is the only one worthy of praise, for if we are currently suffering for righteousness, it is only a matter of time before we suffer for our sin. As fatalistic and pessimistic as that sounds, it should evoke in us humility and radical dependence on God.
Join me in thoughts of renouncing weak-minded, weak-willed approaches to the Christian life and live biblically radical. Live as one who is empowered by the same Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead. Rise and walk, church! Do not allow either your flesh or the Evil One rob you of joy in Christ. You may not suffer from horrific sins of the flesh, but if you delight in anyone or anything else than Christ, then your misplaced affections are enough.
May God examine us and establish His purity on our lives for His renown and to the greater joy of the current unbelievers who make up the majority of the 14000 who reside within just one mile of our church’s campus!