I’m not in Africa starting a new church every week. Most days, I face nothing remotely life-threatening. I’ve recovered from leukemia and a marrow transplant better than most people do, and my “new normal” is a lot like my old normal.
In other words, I don’t consider my life all that exciting. It’s great, but not exciting.
As a result, I don’t think much about writing about my life. I need to, though. I say a lot of things about the Gospel, the real church, and the life of a disciple. How do I live?
Not perfectly, and I’m pretty certain you would not be awestruck by my holiness.
But I am in the church.
I went to California for two weeks, mostly to provide some encouragement for the church in Rick’s house. They were feeling a need for direction.
I rushed to the rescue!
Well, no, actually I didn’t. I did what I always do, whether I am visiting a big church, a small church, a “building” church, or a house church. I showed up, tagged along with them as they tried to follow God around, and I joined whatever they were doing with my whole heart, providing whatever help God was able to provide through a marred vessel like me.
The first night, I sat with one of the leading couples, and we talked about direction. I’d felt led to read Ephesians that day, and I was explaining the grand picture I sawe there when the wife told me she’d been reading Watchman Nee’s Sit, Walk, Stand, which is based entirely on Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus.
We, or at least I, left there pretty satisfied with what God was saying to us. The church is an eternal, grand, and glorious thing, and we should be aware of it, but our response to that knowledge is simple. We have to walk worthy of the calling with which we are called.
Don’t get distracted. Don’t despise the day of small things. Don’t entertain delusions of grandeur.
Instead, stop stealing and work so that you can give. Stop lying, and tell each other the truth. Honor each other above yourself. Forgive.
Diligently maintain the unity of the Spirit, and devote yourself to helping each other obey Jesus … in the simple things just mentioned.
This is sound teaching, according to the apostle Paul. Titus 2, which explains sound teaching, and it doesn’t get into glamorous things. Be sensible, love your wives, raise your children, work as unto the Lord, deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and look for the appearance of the One who gave himself to gather a unique people, zealous for good works.
I know that people like dissect the atonement, then explain why it gives them the right to sin. We prefer to give thanks for the atonement, then spend our time being careful to maintain good works. That’s borderline heresy in Protestant churches, but Paul called it a faithful saying that should be affirmed constantly (Tit. 3:8).
On the first Friday I was there, we talked about that idea. Yes, we talked about it. I didn’t preach it, nor did the sister who was reading Watchman Nee’s book, nor her husband who was part of that discussion. We brought it up, and God let it sink so deep that on Sunday morning, at least 3 people (I think 4 or 5) said they’be been thinking about Friday’s meeting all weekend.
On both Wednesdays I was there we wrestled (verbally) for hours with a brother who had some important questions. Each time, it took 2 or more hours to get to the root of the problem, to find out what was really bothering him. Both times, we found our point of misunderstanding, broke through into mutual joy and understanding, and left delighted at the answers the Lord provides and the work it sometimes takes to obtain those answers.
I did teach on the last Friday night. I got results that can be typical for me. Most folks are speechless. It takes minutes or even days for them to get around to talking. When I talk I get dead silence–with no one asleep, no eyes closed, and everyone looking at me–more than any speaker I’ve experienced.
Friends tell me it’s because there’s nothing to say. Everyone is thinking, “I guess I better go home and deal with this.”
I sure hope that’s true.
I live a lot of my life finding the next step. What’s next? What is God saying now? Where am I failing him?
Thus, when I show up somewhere, I don’t just sit down and teach. I get to know the people who are going to give me their precious time to listen to me. I pick their hearts to find out what God is saying to them. Then, when I’m in front of him, I simply put together what’s on their heart with what God has put on my heart, and I show them from the Scripture and from what’s going on around them what they ought to be doing next.
I’m not wrong very often. God is always talking to his people. If we will talk to his people, we’ll start finding what he’s saying to all of them. All I do is gather it up, put it together, and give it back to them cleaned up and easier to understand. Usually people are pretty excited about it because it’s what was already in their hearts.
I like exploring the will of God with his people, not telling them what to do. If they’re already at the point of realizing that God has called them to live just like their older brother, Jesus, then they’re as hungry to do nothing but the will of Jesus as Jesus was to do nothing but the will of the Father.
Sometimes those wonderful disciples don’t know there’s always a next step for them. I just work at helping them find it.
I am terrified of this post because I say “I” so many times in it. It’s what I feel like I was supposed to write, though. I suppose that if this post does nothing but expose how self-focused I am, then there’s benefit in that, too.
But maybe it will help someone else who is looking for the next step when our corporate or individual walk with God feels stagnant.