If you’re a member of LCC (or are just checking out our blog) you may have noticed that we’ve been really busy this year. We’ve added a new staff person (me), raised $40,000 to fund the building of our sister church in Dargout Haiti, have done numerous facility improvements like new chairs in the auditorium and new flooring in our student ministry wing. We’ve also seen lives change as God continues to work through our care groups and other ministries. Our Children’s ministry is busting at the seams as more and more people choose to worship at LCC and we’re literally running out of room to hold all these kiddos. The student ministry wing is running out of space as we’ve added a new transition class for 5th-6th graders and our youth group continues to grow and send out students to share the love of Christ in their school communities. Care groups, continue to grow and be an amazing part of LCC with an 80% participation rate. God is doing awesome stuff at LCC and has led and guided us to do the work of his kingdom.
A whole lot more of the enchilada
I was at a ministry conference and one of my favorite speakers was doing a talk on the Kingdom of God. He had spent an hour laying out an incredible amount of knowledge to a bunch of college-aged Bible students and I think he realized that he was going deeper than we were able to follow so he said this:
“If I can summarize what I’ve been talking about [the kingdom of God] is that there’s a whole lot more of the enchilada on this side of eternity.”
Some of the bad theology that I grew up with was that salvation was all about going to heaven, and conversely, not going to hell, but Christ in the gospel of Matthew talks a lot about this “kingdom of God” as if it’s something to come, but also something that’s here and now (Luke 17:21). NT Wright describes it like this:
“Jesus’ resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven.”
Salvation isn’t just about getting to heaven, it’s about bringing heaven to our families, friends, and community through the gospel of Jesus.
What happens when kingdom work gets messy?
Right around the time I was getting settled in at LCC, I heard the news that an offer was made on our building. Honestly, that made me pretty uncomfortable. I had just moved across Texas, my wife and I had fallen in love with this church and the thought of messing with anything related to LCC brought up quite a bit of anxiety and fear. What if we lose people? What if it falls through? What if this doesn’t work out and I’ll have to update my resume in a couple years? Nobody likes change especially when things are going pretty well. Why fix something that isn’t broken? Why mess with something that doesn’t need messing with? As I wrestled with these questions I realized two things:
- Half of my questions and concerns were governed by fear and selfishness.
- The other half of my questions and concerns were governed by complacency and a desire to be comfortable.
In this case, I had to swallow my pride and realize that it’s not about what I want, God doesn’t care too much about my comfort, what He does care about is His Kingdom and redeeming this world. It is very easy to trust God when He leads us to love people that are easy to love, serve the community in times and ways that work with my schedule, and in times when our church is growing and doing amazing things. It’s not so easy to trust God when He leads us into situations that are uncomfortable, messy, and have the potential to mess with your life in a big way without a guarantee it’s going to work out.
In 1 Kings 17 there’s this great story about a guy named Elijah. At that time in ancient Israel, a king named Ahab had been influenced by his wife to give up on worshipping God and instead worship a regional god, Baal, leading to a lot of devout believers in Yahweh being murdered for their faith. Elijah’s responds to this in 1 Kings 17:1 by saying: “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” What a statement to say to someone who had just killed all of your friends.
We see examples in scripture over and over again where people are put in messy, uncomfortable, and even dangerous situations and we see at the end of those stories that God was in control. Stories like Daniel and the Lion’s den, David & Goliath, Elijah on Mt. Carmel, the miraculous conception of Christ, Paul renouncing his life as a Pharisee. Proverbs 3:5-6 says:
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
There comes a point in our faith journey, where we have to take a step back and say “I don’t understand what you’re doing here God, but I trust that you’re in control”. I’m not talking about blind faith or “putting your brain on the shelf”, what I am talking about is that when our knowledge, wisdom, talents, and skills have been exhausted and God is leading us into a messy situation for His kingdom, are we still willing to trust and follow Him into the mess?
When I was in high school I got a job for my dad’s oil company. I was too young to do the dangerous stuff, so they sent me out to paint rusty pipes and cut the weeds around oil sites. My first day on the job this old timer looked at me and said really loud for everyone to hear: “your boots look real clean, boy”. If your boots are clean on a jobsite, you’re not doing your job and when I get to heaven I don’t want clean boots. I want to be able to look back at my life and see how God used me for the work of His kingdom, not look back and remember the times I was comfortable and safe. Doing the work of God’s kingdom is tough and if you’re doing it right it should affect your family, friendships, and career because Christ doesn’t call us to be believers, He calls us to be disciples. One of our church elders told me once that “If Jesus isn’t messing your life up, you’re not doing something right”.
Our journey as a church is about to get messy as we go through this process of moving to a new building. A lot can go wrong; this whole thing can fall apart at any moment. It’s exciting and this move is going to give us a lot more space and a front porch on a side of town where our neighbors are homeless shelters rather than neighborhoods and a Starbucks. Whether this move makes you uncomfortable or you’re excited about it, remember that it’s not about us, it’s about the Kingdom of God. It’s about sharing the enchilada of eternity, bringing a little bit of heaven to our community.
2015 is going to be a great year at LCC, let’s get our boots dirty.