July 20, 2014

Big Thoughts

Every week here at South all those serving in some capacity join together worship to focus, talk through the day and pray. We call it the huddle. Each month a different elder handles the discussion, giving a scripture thought to challenge us for the day.

Today, Jim led. He shared with us the following lyrics from The Earth Falls Asleep by Abandon Kansas.:

I’m convinced that the world that we see is a curtain, behind which vast realms await us of uncharted marvels in oceans of mercy inside my father’s eyes and the mountains are grand stands that sheets of blue skies rest upon pealed back with ease by yours hands to reveal a glory I’ve never dreamed

He then said, “Today, I want you to think big thoughts.” He challenged us to see past the mundane, the tasks at hand that always have to be done. He encouraged us to see something bigger going on in the day, to be ready for something bigger. Then he prayed and we were done.

It was so simple, yet so beautiful and mind blowing. Think big thoughts…

We are a part or something bigger, something beyond what we see right here right now. We are a part of something beyond what we planned to eat today, or the coffee we stopped and got on the way to church. We are a part of something bigger than this week, our jobs, or our lives. We are a part of something that has been going on for generations and generations. Really, its been going on since man fell in the Garden and separated humanity from God via sin. God has been chasing us ever since with an unrelenting love. And, when we accept and embrace that love, we become a part of the pursuit.

That means it is not just about me. It is is not simply about the church that I serve, or even the churches of Christ/Christian churches here in Lansing. It is not even about all the churches here in Lansing. It is about all of us, one entity who are called brothers and sisters of Jesus because of the cross - the Church, the tribe, the Kingdom of God - whatever you want to call it so you can grasp the bigness of it. Actually, it is about us and beyond us. It is about the unrelenting love of God working through us to redeem the world.

It is about us here AND it is about our brothers and sisters in Mosul, Iraq. They are being persecuted by ISIS (an Islamic group). ISIS came through in the last few days, marked their houses with an Islamic symbol that means “Christian” and gave them three options.

  1. Leave
  2. Convert to Islam for the sum of one pound of gold
  3. Die by the sword

To them, faith is real and in their face right now. Move on from your homes, confess Islam with payment, or die. How would I do in that situation? Think big thoughts…

Where does faith take hold in our lives? When will we pull away from the mundane and live lives that matter? Think big thoughts…

July 16, 2014

An Early Camp Morning

This was written last week in the midst of camp. I think it was on Tuesday, but it is all a blur now….enjoy!

Today I sit in a place of honor. I’m in David Joe’s spot by the fireplace here at Michiana Christian Service Camp. For as long as I’ve been serving here each summer, I can remember David Joe sitting in this place every morning, pouring over the Scriptures and listening to what God had to say to him each morning, allowing himself be filled so he could pour into the students that day.

A table away normally sits a woman named Day. Every morning you can hear her playing her lap dulcimer and singing in songs like Come Thou Fount to her Creator - a daily ritual in her life that feeds and fills her soul, a soul that loves God, life, and students. She calls our students children. If you were to meet her you would understand why. She has a deep motherly love for the students we get here at camp. She loves them like she loves her own children. She hurts for them because the world is harsh to them. She wants to wrap them up in God’s love, to help them change and see a bigger life that they could have, a life shaped by the Cross.

These are only two of the many people I am lucky enough to work with year after year here at camp. I could share story after story of people like David Joe and Day. Each would have its own uniqueness because of the individuals involved.

In their uniqueness, though, they have a unity about them. While each has their own story, there is a common thread that binds them together. It is not really fair to say that it is a thread. What binds them together is much bigger and stronger than a thread. What binds them together is thick and strong like a ship’s rope, compiled by thousands of small strands of cord and fiber. It is God’s story - a story of creation, failure, and redemption - where love overcomes everything.

It is that story, God’s story, that we share year after year here at camp. It is wrapped differently each summer, but at its core it is the same. God created the world and saw that it was good. He created man and saw that his creation was very good. He gave man free will to rule over the earth and bask in God’s glory. Unfortunately, man wanted more for himself. He wanted his own glory. So, through the fall of Adam and Eve, humanity separated itself from the Creator.

In all honesty, God could have walked away then. He could have given up on this rebellious creation who had life by His own breath. He could have given up on us. But He didn’t. He pursued us with His tenacious, constant love all the way to the cross.

The cross is why we exist as a living temple…a tribe devoted to proclaiming God’s glory, a tribe devoted to living out the story and helping others learn what the story is–how it feels, tastes, and smells. We are the present Kingdom of God here and now. May we live to our potential.