We begin a new, important series today. It’s a time that I’ve been looking forward to for a while. And I want to begin by sharing my thoughts and wishes as we continue our journey over the next month …
- I want the best for you!
- I want the best for this Valley!
- I want God to be honored in our life together!
This series will be straight talk about our upcoming decision as we talking about where we’re headed and the implications of our decisions. The decision we’ll make on 2/7 is a big decision. On that night, we will decide how we’re going to move forward and how best to make disciples for Jesus Christ in our communities.
Now, let me insert here that I have pretty much stricken the word "merge" (or "merger") from my vocabulary (regarding this situation). Businesses merge. But the church is not a business; it’s a living body. Bodies unite, they become one (or not).
Wrong questions, at this point, are questions like, What can we do to survive? When we ask that kind of question, our focus becomes how we can bring people in for the purpose of paying the bills and keeping the doors open (rather than making disciples of Jesus Christ).
Right questions, on the other hand, include, Are we going to be missional? How are we going to reach people in our Valley and form disciples of Jesus Christ?
Fact is, whether we unite or not on 2/7, the process (beyond the vote) will be much the same — gaining a clear sense of mission and intentionally mobilizing to make disciples of Jesus Christ in this Valley! We may do that as three separate churches, or as one new church, but the process will be much the same, either way. So 2/7 is not the end but the beginning!
And either way, it will involve changing many of our methods. I love the quote I read this week …
"… here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often." (John Henry, Cardinal Newman)
Well, let’s look at the story we find ourselves in, in Numbers 13-14.
After the Exodus …
The Exodus (the deliverance of God’s people) was not an end, it was a beginning. Once they were delivered, God gave them a mission: "Send men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to
Israel. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes."
We, too, have experienced an "exodus" if we know Jesus! And Jesus has also sent us on mission!
The Call …
The Call is simply to follow Jesus!
- "Come, follow me."
- "You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit that will last …" (John 15.16)
- "I … came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10.45)
- "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." (John 20.21)
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL …
>> Follow Jesus with reckless abandon!
There’s really no other way to follow Jesus than to follow him with reckless abandon! People who follow Jesus with reckless abandon aim to know Jesus, live like Jesus, and be like Jesus.
>> Be a representative of Jesus in the world!
"But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1.8)
We are called to be witnesses of Jesus, Christ’s representatives in the world. Christ’s representatives in the world aim to love people, invest in people’s lives, invite others to join them on their spiritual journey, and are part of a community with other people who are also trying to live with reckless abandon.
>> Join the Revolution!
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28.18-20)
Jesus said, "All those who want to be my disciples must come and follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And if they follow me, the Father will honor them" (John 12.26).
Abandon it all for the sake of the call!
Steven Curits Chapman sang a song called, “For the Sake of the Call,” which includes the words …
We will abandon it all for the sake of the call. No other reason at all but the sake of the call. Wholly devoted to live and to die for the sake of the call.
Are you willing to "abandon it all for the sake of the call"? What are you willing to give up? What are you willing to die for?
"Hope is born when you are willing to die for the right reasons." (James Harnish)
I bought a new CD yesterday, a Casting Crowns recording. On my way to church this morning I was listening to one song over and over (a song I’d not heard before), because it really speaks to where we are today. Listen to these words …
"If you ask me to go preach to a lost world that Jesus saves. Well, I’ll go but I cannot go alone, ’cause I know I’m nothing on my own."
I love that. It’s reckless abandon, but it’s reckless abandon that’s absolutely dependent on God’s presence. That’s what we need here, isn’t it? People who are recklessly abandoned, people who are willing to go anywhere and do anything, but people who won’t go alone, not without the presence of God’s Spirit in their lives!
What is God saying to you?
What is God saying to you through this message? What is God laying on your heart about the journey we’re on?
What steps is God leading you to take?
What will you do with this message? What will you do with what God is saying to you today? What is the next faithful step for you to take? What step will you take this week?