Well, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation like Sunday during our 2nd service. One of our faithful members suddenly fainted while I was preaching and we had a medical suddenly land on us. As normal, the folks at CLF responded with prayer, care, and concern. The sanctuary was silent as I called ‘911’ and others administered the medical care needed. Once the ambulance arrived, we prayed again for our dear brother and his wife. And then, I finished preaching the sermon I had prepared. It was a surreal Sunday. One that reminded all of us of how short life is and how precious our fellowship is.
On Sunday afternoon, after visiting with one of our other members who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, I was able to speak with the Christian brother who fainted. He had just been released from the hospital and all signs are pointing up for his health, which is amazing. But, in his typical dry sense of humor, he said, “You know pastor, when you started preaching I wondered, ‘does the Lord really want him to preach on this?’ and then I fainted.” Then he started laughing. I told him that I finished preaching because, knowing him like I do, he’d be really upset with me to allow him to disrupt our service and keep me from preaching. He loved it and so did his wife. It was a great, touching moment to a long, challenging day.
There is so much to be said about the Church. I really wanted to help all of us see how the Church benefits to our souls. The combo of “drawing near to God” and “drawing near to one another” was challenging for us. Especially in the independent and isolated Northwest. My hope was that we would see how valuable and precious the family gatherings are to us and that we should make them a priority in our lives and calendars.
But let me say a few things about the Church:
- The “vision” that God has for the Church, in my mind, really begins at Creation. There we see God making man in His image to represent Him. As we know, Genesis 3 tells of our Fall, and the rest is history. But we see God making a community with Adam and Eve and their family. The Church is to be a ‘people’ who represent God as His image-bearers.
- And then in Genesis 12, when we read of God calling Abram. In that calling, it’s the first time that God called a group of people to represent Him. That people group was Israel.
- When we get to the New Testament (and I realize I’m jumping ahead quite a bit for the sake of time), we see Jesus calling disciples and beginning to gather a ‘people’ for Himself.
- The mission of the Church is very clear from Matthew 28:16-20. It’s to make disciples. This really does give us our marching orders and we must be singly devoted to that task. And in our world, this is critical because so many churches or ministries tell us that we must focus on many social issues: abortion, sex trafficking, drug abuse, homelessness, poverty, etc. But while those things might be an outflow of some disciple-making efforts, they are not the main-mission of the church. It’s like getting the steering wheel off by 1 centimeter in your driving. Not very long and you’ll be in a ditch somewhere. This is why the elders and leaders of the Church must be doggedly focused on the mission of making disciples.
- I’m pretty sensitive to the way the Church has hurt people through the years. I have ministered to many who’ve been hurt and sadly, there have been times, that I’ve hurt others. I found though the years that much of the ministry I’ve done or been involved in has been helping people unwind from hurts in the churches they’ve attended. I’ve had many who never want to darken the door of a church again, show up at CLF and now call it their home church. And, throughout the years, it’s been a privilege to watch people reconcile past hurts with previous church leaders. I ache for both sides of this equation…because I am both leader and church attender. And I love Jesus and I love His mission for the Church.
Thoughts about God’s grace in shocking times:
On Sunday, several people told me how grateful they were with the way our church responded to the emergency that I mentioned about and they mentioned how calm I was throughout, which allowed the church to remain calm. Well, after some consideration over what transpired, here’s how I see all of this. There are moments in life that just hit you. You don’t plan for them and more likely than not, you don’t desire them. And it’s in those moments that God’s comfort, strength, and grace carry you. I saw this in the brother’s wife who was sitting by her husband when he collapsed. She asked for help, but then with incredible strength and grace, let others care for him and prayed. She is a rock! But this was grace at work! For those of in attendance on Sunday, we saw God doing amazing work in and through His people. It’s a day that I will not soon forget because God’s grace and Spirit was so tangibly present with us.
Coming up next:
This coming Sunday, we will look at 1 Peter 1:3-9 to see that, as God’s children, He is preparing us for glory and we should not be surprised by the various trials we face. We’ve decided to extend the “Children of God” series another week to cover this topic/text. I’m looking forward to celebrating Jesus with all of you.
From the Cheap Seats:
- No Kevin DeBruyne…not good. Liverpool this coming Sunday, the Tottenham, and Arsenal makes for a huge month for Man City in the EPL. Now, I will say, 9 wins in a month in the Premier League was amazing to watch. And yes, I’m enjoying soccer.
- I’m a tad confused by the MLB and MLBPA conflict from this weekend. So, MLB wants to delay season and play 154 games and then pay players for 162 games and MLBPA turns it down. And if they turn it down, the season starts on time, but it limits the commissioner from postponing the season or giving him too much power. Ok…clear as mud. But please, please…can we have some baseball??
- Super Bowl hopes…please be a good one. Who do I want to win? I hope the Bucs win, but I’m torn because I love Andy Reid and I like Patrick Mahomes. Part of my desire for a Bucs’ win is 2-fold: 1) The “no risk it, no biscuit” attitude of Bruce Arians, their head coach. I really like that guy. And 2) I’ll never forget how bad the Bucs were in the 1970’s. When asked about his team’s execution after a particularly bad game, their head coach at the time, John McKay replied, “I’m in favor of it.” It would be cool for them to get another Lombardi.
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.