Month: January 2012

A Living Hope

1 Peter 1:3

We have such a wonderful song in our hearts to sing because of the living hope that Christ gives us. This morning my time with the Lord, took me to a place where I am reminded that I not only have hope, but that the hope I have is a “living” hope.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 

Last night in corporate worship the Lord moved on the hearts of many people in the group. When I think about how He moved among us in our worship, I begin to understand the “living hope” the apostle Peter is describing. As we worshiped the living God, he made himself known to us through prophetic words, softening hearts and tearing down the kingdom of the enemy.  It was an amazing sight. God was showing us what living hope can do.

As we started to worship last night, we first listened to a song from a CD and then we played some live music. At one point the Lord took us to Psalm 95. Three things are happening there in that Psalm. The celebration of God, the response of His people to who God is and then in verse 8, “if you hear his voice”; the expectant result of praise and worship. Its not a formula but a cultivating of the heart to create a place for God to speak and for His children to hear Him. It is His good pleasure to reveal Himself as our living hope, through the praises of his children.

Hope we place in people and things is powerless. A hope in a job, paycheck, skill or talent- all empty. We don’t have to just hope that our day gets better, or hopefully this impossible situation will work itself out. We can turn our heart to praise and worship the One who gave us a hope that is alive, that is moving, working, changing, creating; all on our behalf. This is the gift of “living hope” from God, because of what was done on the cross through Jesus Christ!

Rejoice in Him today, with thanksgiving in your heart and a song on your lips! Then you will be face to face with the manifest presence and joy of Lord. You will no longer have an empty hope but a living hope, to carry you onward and upward!

 

 

The Raw Materials

1 John 3:24

Perfect Church THIS WAY

Its an amazing and beautiful thing to watch God build His church. Years ago, there was a time when I would never have said those words. At one point I thought I knew what “church” should look like and how it should be put together. And why not? I didn’t grow up in the church and I was saved at an age when you have most things figured out. I could objectively look at things from an outside perspective. That’s why God called me to “build His church” right? Wrong, oh so very, very wrong. I knew my version of church would never be perfect but how arrogant was I in thinking that my idea of church and worship was better than other models I had experienced in the past. Its been a long, humbling road with many valleys and some tough climbs but by the grace of God, I have finally reached the top of a revelation. God has shown me His “church” as it should be and it shatters any idea I ever had.

But how did this happen? I didn’t give anyone my opinion or instruction of what God’s church should look like. I wasn’t able to complain to anyone or slip my “suggestions” into the “suggestion box”. Ok, I joke but be honest with yourself; that’s where a lot of our secret thoughts tend to go when we think about the question, “How do you do church?” How feeble our efforts are to invite God, the One true King, who with merely a spoken word set all of creation into existence- we invite Him to visit our “church” for a couple hours on a Sunday morning! How arrogant we are to think that we could build something with our hands that would be more beautifully crafted than the temple God has created for Himself to dwell in (1 Cor 6:19)? God is not in a building, a decor, or program. To come to this mountain top and be a witness of God’s craftsmanship I had to remove myself from the equation. I had to let God be God. That almost sounds cliche’ now a’days but we desperately need to take that truth into our everyday lives. What He will show you is a church built on a solid foundation of deep, committed surrender to His Lordship. When we can do that, we will see the true church of the Lord being constructed brick by brick.

It starts with laying a foundation by inviting His Kingdom to come and war against our own. On that foundation, that place of submissive humility, He will begin to lead you to others who have bowed down to His sovereignty and together like a master mason, He will join you in relational, spiritual intimacy with them. There you can freely confess to one another your burdens, your sins, and rejoice with one another in the healing work of the Lord. You will be gathered together with the saints in open, vulnerable, expressive, intimate worship of King Jesus. I understand more than most, this is a frightening scenario. I have learned to guard myself when I have been wounded. We would much rather be in control, calling the shots from our set of plans. So many times I have seen Gods children be filled with a joy of being called into their community, to build a “church” but quickly feel defeated when it falls flat, because it never started with deep relational intimacy. We want to put the carriage before the horse. The building came first or the website, etc. We can easily build places to retreat to when our foundations are shaken, rather than places to reclaim or conquer. We must know our plans will be shaken and they will fall (Heb 12:27). They always do. Yet, when we trust in the Lord to do His work in us, realizing that we are the Lords church, that He dwells in us and we are to take Him to others, we begin to understand. Jesus exampled to us how to “wash feet” and be intimate with our heavenly Father. Jesus showed us how the building of Gods church was the reconciliation of His people. As my good friend and pastor once told me; we are stewards, beloved vessels of His glory and that glory is not ours but His alone. These are the keys I have found to seeing God’s church built. While walking in deep relational intimacy with God, suddenly when you least expect it, there it is all around you and a part of your spiritual DNA… His church. The biblical, effective body of Christ.

I hope no one see’s this as some kind of rant against a particular way of doing church because its not. Just so its said, we are not talking about building an actual building either. Whatever denomination you hold to or dont, this is only an observation and encouragement to survey your surroundings. Look at the foundation of how you are “doing church”. Are you inviting God’s Kingdom to come and war against your rule (Mat 6:9,10)? Are you connected in deep, intimate, confessional relationship with others who have the mind of Christ (Heb 10:25)? Are you inspired by the revelation of God in your corporate worship? The well known lead worshiper Louie Giglio said,

Without true glimpses of God we will invariably try to shrink Him down to our own size rather than allow even the tiniest taste of His infinite glory to stretch our mind and soul upward as we try to fathom His.

If you find yourself trying with great frustration to “do church”, and your efforts dont consist of the above mentioned raw materials; I would simply say STOP- put down your blueprints and go to the Lord. With a child like faith ask your Heavenly Father how you can pick up a hammer and start building church with Him.

Side Note: Ok, so this wasn’t a short post- I couldn’t help it. I’ll try harder next time. 😉

e. perry