The Gathering…in a year.

I had someone ask me this week where I hope The Gathering will be in a year.  It didn’t take me long to come up with a few things I hope to see this church being in the coming year:

sappling1. Strong disciples. That is something every church intends to accomplish, but few actually do. This involves God’s people getting very serious about their relationship with Christ and investing the time and energy into developing a spiritual digestive system that can handle the meat of the Word.  Churches are most often filled with little, baby Christians who have to be bottle fed the very basics of the Word.  I want to see our people growing to a point of desiring to dig deeper and experience Jesus every day so that they can live lives that indicate a deep relationship with Him.

2.  Community integration.  I want us to become so involved in our community in so many different ways that if we were to disappear tomorrow, the community would miss us and be worse off with our absence.  We need to focus on our Jerusalem so that the people immediately surrounding us are strengthened and encouraged because they were not only told the Gospel, they were shown it.  That is going to take creativity and desire on our part.

3.  Growth.  I want to see us growing, not from transfer growth (people shifting from church to church), but because our church is so plugged into our community, people are encountering Christ and being transformed from death to life.

4.  Missional Focus.  I want to see our people so tuned into the mission that we are constantly looking for opps to go and serve.  I want to see us hungry to change the world; to impact it with the Gospel for the glory of Christ.

Every single one of these are do-able in 2010.  I believe God is calling us to great things for His glory.  It begins with personal revival, a hunger for His Word, and a desire to draw closer to Him every day.  If you are currently a part of The Gathering, are you ready?  We’re on the starting line.  Now, it’s time to run the race!

The Lord Will Fight For You

Reflex Hammer

What do you do when you feel absolutely overwhelmed by life?  When you are trying to live a life of integrity, like I talked about yesterday, but attacks come from every side?  What do you do when, like David talks about in the Psalms, there are “those who speak evil against my life.”  How do you respond?

I know for me, the first thought is to strike back! Been there?  Yeah, I think it’s just our nature.  The question is whether or not that is the right thing, the noble thing, the godly thing…even the helpful thing.  I know that the times I have reacted have been the times that things have been the most chaotic and destructive.  Most of the time, I have to go back and apologize and hope for a mulligan.  The key, then, is not to react, but to respond.

A reaction is like being tapped below the knee cap, causing an involuntary, thoughtless jerk.  “Jerk” is probably a good word to describe us when we simply give a “knee-jerk” reaction to attacks and circumstances, isn’t it?

A response, on the other hand, implies calculation, thought, intentionality.  At least it does to me.  When I react, I lash out.  When I respond, I take the time to think it through and then conduct myself according to those plans.  It’s harder, but most definitely better.  In the end, it takes less time because I don’t have to go through all of the pain of fixing what I just made worse.

There are certainly times when a response may call for firmness and directness.  There are times when confrontation (even sometimes heated) is required.  However, this kind of exchange as a thoughtless reaction will hardly ever (if ever) provide satisfying results.

There are other times, though, when the best response is no response. Sometimes, people act in ways that are so ludicrous that it doesn’t even justify a response.  Attacks that are based on and built upon lies will not, in the end, stand.  Sure, they will hurt for a while and there may be some people who believe them, but fighting back just plays right into the hands of the Enemy.  Sometimes, the very best approach is to just sit still, place it in the hands of God and let Him deal with it as He wants to.  He’s big enough to do that, you know.

I was exploring this subject more in depth this morning and came across the following excerpt from a post by John Piper from way back in 1981.  It was an incredible encouragement to me.  Hopefully, it will be to you.  Let me know what you think on the subject.

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came up against Jerusalem when Hezekiah was king. So Hezekiah gathered the people and the commanders together in the square at the gate. If you memorize what he said to them you will know the power of God in a new way. He said:

Be strong and be courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with them; for there is one greater with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.

Then the writer adds, “And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah, king of Judah” (2 Chronicles 32:7, 8).

I want it to be said of me, “The people took confidence from the words of John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church.” That’s my goal: “the advancement and joy of your faith.” What is the “King of Assyria” in your life? Whatever it is, remember: “there is one greater with you than with him!” If you trust him, the LORD almighty is on your side and will fight your battles! “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today…The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still” (Exodus 14:13, 14). (emphasis added)

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