December 31, 2009
I was really excited and delighted about the “church Board Meeting” I was asked to take minutes at recently. “Business” was stuck to as business (stewardship rather than politics!) and the rest of the time really was a demonstration of the church in loving action – of “they’ll know we are Christians by our love” … foreign mission outreaches, interest in taking part in local street ministry, reports on individuals in the church who have various needs and how the church can reach out to them and help and support them, emphasis on praying before making decisions (decisions led by Your Spirit!), desire to work together with “other local churches” in local outreaches, and so on. I know that the speaker they’ve had over the past 3 months or so (as they are “without a pastor” at the moment) has really been emphasizing Your love and what Your church is meant to be… and has been kind of wondering if it has been “sinking in” ….
Well! I think You are giving Your word through him, and Your Spirit is softening their hearts and speaking to their spirits! What a change from the first meeting I took minutes at some time ago. Praise the Lord! Thank You, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit! Amen! I Praise You, Lord God! Yes!
Papa, I’ve been kind of haunted by that vision or dream or whatever it was, that that man had of Your vine growing along, and then coming to that church building and climbing over it and down the other side and onward, without entering. He had asked You for direction about continuing to attend there, and took it to mean that they should move on. When I heard him describe the dream, I felt cut to the core. I wondered what it might mean, even if it might mean that they are to close down and move on to other gatherings of your family.
But now I wonder if You just needed them to get down to “bare bones” (only about 10 people or so regularly attending – down from a one-time high in the 3 to 4 hundreds), with almost no income so that they’ve been forced to use funds from capital savings just to keep the building open and pay the overhead costs) so that they would have to turn from their own ideas, and from memories of the past, and so on, and actually turn to You. And pray. And seek Your face, Your purposes, Your plans.
I do see such a difference beginning to happen. And whether or not You were leading others to leave, I know a couple of folks were led by You to stay, even though they were discouraged and wanted to move on. They gave the decision over to You and You led them to stay, to do what they wouldn’t have done in their “own wisdom.” And I know of another person who had almost totally “moved on” already, but has been led back by You, to use his gifts of practical “hands-on” involvement and friendship.
I still don’t know about that big empty building… but even there the landlord has dropped the monthly rental significantly, and agreed to month-to-month rental versus long term lease requirements.
There was a time awhile back when I myself would have thought that all the “organized/ institutional churches” should just shut down and go back to “organic” formats like the early, NT, house/community church situation. Now I’m not so sure. I’m thinking now that You can use and work through all kinds of set-ups, organizational structures, situations… and cultural adaptations and so on…
That all You really want is that Your people love You, love each other, and love the world around them, desiring “that none should perish but that all should come to repentance.” If everyone walked in true “Your love relationship” with You – and by extension, with others – the whole “church structure/ institution” question would become pretty irrelevant, I’m thinking, because the focus would be YOUR focus, and those extraneous details would either shift to become simply tools in Your work, or if they are truly wrong/ interfering with Your purposes and will, they would simply disintegrate and fall away as Your people truly walk with You.
It itself, changing “structures” and “institutions” cannot make any lasting, significant difference (and may not, in many cases, even be “possible,” even on a superficial level), unless YOU are truly the new foundation and focus. So it seems to me that that is where we must go – to YOU ALONE! And if we are truly there, the You will change what needs to be changed – starting internally, individually (and then spreading into Your family, Your church… and from there into the “world”), in our own hearts, minds, attitudes, ideas, traditions, and so on… and that internal change will just naturally move outward to make needed changes externally.
As we see the world around us through Your eyes and heart, through Your Spirit joined to our spirits, our hearts will change to Your ways… and our hands will follow through, as we hear Your voice, and see Your works, and just naturally being to “work the works of God” – as Jesus did, setting us the example, teaching us THE WAY! Your way, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit – Lord God!
Eh! Thank You! (What a relief!) Praise the Lord!