Move Forward

So I have this picture and I want to share it with you. Here it is, it was given to me by a young man that I got to shepherd. It is a privilege to pour into his life and I am honored to even know him and call him friend. I was wrestling one day last Fall with hearing God and he noticed. I was IMG_0861sitting in the coffee shop he managed and he walked over and gave me this note. It is written on a torn off piece of a coffee filter, (how apropos), I now have it up on my wall under my writing Plexiglas. Let me share with you the situation.

 

I’m sitting in a coffee shop sipping my $4.00 latte’. This day I wasn’t so much talking and visiting as I was praying and listening. I needed to hear from God. I needed to be quiet. I was trying to understand the next physical step our church needed to take: to build or not to build? See, I have a 4 phase plan given to me from God for our physical location, but I was trying to skip phase 3 and save up some money for phase 4. We were doing well, but something was off. That something was that I believed God had given us a plan and asked me to lead it; all the phases, in order, and timely. I clearly was hearing God say, “If you don’t do what I ask, how can I lead you forward?” But, I was still wrestling it was a scary number to me.

How long are you going to ignore God?

So this young man comes over and pops down a note on 2 cents worth of paper product and it became one of the catalysts for a $250,000 build out. “Take the next step. Move forward.”  The project was 7 months from “go” to finish and we only owe $11,000. Wow God you are so faithful. I ponder that note often since it is on the wall next to my head. I look left and there it is at eye level calling to me to heed.

My mind is kidnapped every time

I don’t want to write to you about a building project, but rather that God still speaks to you in very conventional and unconventional ways. His voice is ringing out, but sometimes we can’t hear it for all the noise in our lives. We sit down with our Bibles but the kids, the day, the dogs, and work, steal our minds and runs off with them. We have been mentally kidnapped. We try to just stop and breathe during the day but the phone rings, someone comes in our office and we are kidnapped again. Some days it feels like we are going nowhere and we don’t know if we should take a step or not.

Move Forward

This post is for you. You have been hijacked by the problems of life. Maybe your kidnapper is bad decisions that you made and now the consequences have come calling. Maybe the kidnappers are rejection and divorce, indebtedness or deadendedness. Maybe your abductor is the lie that, nothing will change, so you might as well sit down and stew, and whine, and mull, and wallow in your self pity. It may be something else entirely. I want to say to you, “Look at the picture.” Just stare at it for a second. Here is a word from God from an unconventional place: “Take the next step. Move FORWARD.” (emphasis mine) You need a word today and that word is, “Take the next step. Move forward.” It might be scary, it might be ridiculous, it is entirely possible that you will be the only one that understands the need to do it, but do it!! God is in front of you saying, “Follow me,” he is not behind you screaming, “Get a move on.” May God reveal himself to you today!

Kevin and KelseyOn a side note

It just so happens that this past Sunday was this young man’s last Sunday with us after 7 or more years. I performed his wedding, blessed his children and now, this past weekend, we blessed and commissioned him and his family to Detroit Michigan, to go on staff at a church there.

He took the next step and he and his wife are moving forward.

YOU CAN’T HANDLE DEEPER!!

You don’t want deeper:
YOU CAN’T HANDLE DEEPER!

cropped-deep-water-1Can you hear Jack Nicholson in, “A Few Good Men,” screaming at Tom Cruise in the courtroom as you read that? No? Read it again, I’ll wait.

I bet you did that time.

“The church is a mile wide and half an inch deep.”

Does that sound familiar to you?

How many times have I heard someone say that the church in America needs to go deeper? Seriously, this is not new, I have heard this since 1977; the year I surrendered my life to Jesus.

Delirious the band had a song out a while back that began, “I want to go deeper, but I don’t know how to swim.”
What a great lyric, right?

What did Jesus tell us?

I hear people describe deep as theological and somewhat complicated, and yet it was my Jesus that said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matt 29-30 NKJV

My yoke is easy and My burden is light? What is it that I am being told here? Jesus went out of his way, all the way from the throne room of God almighty as a matter of fact, to make things simple and uncomplicated.

My YOKE = my interpretation of Scripture

My BURDEN = my expectation of living it out.

It would be very much like Jesus saying today, “Hey, come learn from me where we will keep it simple stupid.” KISS.

Did Jesus say, “We need to go deeper?”

There are stories upon stories, interactions upon interactions, recorded even as primary sources in the Bible. These people were there, yet I cannot find one instance of Jesus “Going Deeper.” I cannot find one time that Jesus waxed theologically eloquent to be perceived as deep, intellectual, educated or even holier than thou. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus came 2,000 years ago and stood against the “Spiritually Elite” of the day, and we dive into the shallow end of the spiritual pool trying to make it “look deep” so we can become the very elite Jesus lined out? Trust me, I have met people that believe they are spiritually elite. Before you say “Not me,” take a good look at your attitude. What about your actions? I’m not ranting, I am challenging you just like I challenge me. We are so easy on ourselves and so hard on others aren’t we?

Jesus kept it simple and avoided “Deep;” Love God, love people as yourselves he said. It isn’t complicated but it can be hard.

Wrestle with it

So I’m wrestling with what it is that people are saying when they say we need to go deeper. I think it has to do with becoming more “Biblically literate.” I would be a big advocate of that. (But Sunday mornings are not for your Pastor to put you through Bible College because you don’t want to quit your job, sell everything and go yourself.) As people dive into their bibles, however, instead of taking Jesus’ yoke, people make up a new yoke all on their own because it fits the narrative they want to follow. They make their own Jesus and accessorize him like a Barbi Doll: God wants me happy, God wants me wealthy, God says my sin is ok. God is a Calvinist, God is an Armenianist. We have to be Jews to be Christians. It goes on and on.

Really, Prosperity?

It is very sad when people tell me “affluence is a sign, the proof, of the favor of God.” What a lie. Surely all good gifts come down from the father of lights. Truly I believe that. What of the Christians around the world that die every day at the hands of heathens andindex_barometer001pagans though? They die in poor, third world countries, martyred, are they hated of God? Prosperity is wonderful, but as an indicator of God’s favor it is a poor theological barometer. Some of the wealthiest people in the world are not Christians, are they more loved by God than me? Does not the enemy appear as an Angel of light? Doesn’t he exist to distract us and lead us astray? Wouldn’t he be most successful if he were to do that with sparkly, shiny baubles and prosperity?

Name Names

Honestly, I do not believe that most of the people crying out for a “Deeper Church” really know what they are asking for. Let’s wade in just a bit. Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28 to go into all the world and make disciples. Now let’s go deeper. Name the disciples that you have made since you personally have come to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

Name the people that you have poured into and drawn close to Christ with and then baptized or attended their baptism. See what I mean, if you cannot name names, then I am telling you that you can’t handle going deeper. Surely Jesus is still doing what he was doing when he commanded his actual disciples to make disciples. Right? Why would he take up residence in you just to stop doing the very thing he came to earth to do? No, no he wouldn’t.

Jesus commanded us to give a cup of cold water to those that need it. When was the last time you did that? Feed the hungry rather than explain to your children that they just givingneed to get jobs? Sound familiar? Give your cloak to someone who needs it? Sell everything you have and give to the poor then hit the road and tell people about Jesus? No?

Go and Do the Doing

You aren’t even serious about going deeper are you? (I have met some that are) But let’s just be serious here, you can’t handle deeper if you won’t even do the simple and obvious. To people that cry out against the church I say, it is time to get over your self, get off your pew, or chair, and show us you are serious. You want the church to go deeper? Jesus made going deeper doing the doing. Go do it. He didn’t make it about knowledge, but love, and love is a verb. Plant a church with the people you have led to the Lord.

Jesus said, we do. That is the Jesus definition of Deep

You want to go deeper? I really do think it is a good idea. Let’s try this, take time each day to read Jesus words in the Bible; you pick the version. Then, when you see that Jesus saysimg_8534to do something, make it a part of your prayer life and your serving life and your giving life to DO IT. Watch what happens when that begins to take place in the lives of the church.